What you need to know:
- I enjoy reading while commuting in a matatu, especially when stuck in traffic jam.
- I wouldn’t hesitate to share the books, especially with people I hold dear.
- Sharing a book is giving to others what you also received, I wouldn’t want them to miss out.
Stephen Siloma is among the Kenyan authors who have embraced the changing tide and ventured into e-publication.
His writing portfolio features five e-books and numerous articles on contemporary issues published on the website Silomasays.com. Some of his e-books include: The Rebirth, Letters to God and The Lost Tear.
A Christian believer, Stephen uses his writing as a platform to inspire good morals in young people.
In addition, the 26-year-old IT professional is also the founder of Nijali Foundation that seeks to end the stigma on mental health through art such as creative writing, photography and music.
Last year, the foundation published a free e-book, I will Soar, featuring 40 poems by different authors in support of raising awareness on mental health issues.
“I write from my soul, and I write to impact," says Stephen.
What are the three most memorable books from your childhood?
There is this wonderful story book my mother bought me when I was seven years old; it was called Map on the Wall.
I do not remember the author, but the story was about a young boy who had been kidnapped. He stumbled upon a map tucked away in the wall where he was being held captive, and it helped him figure out his location. The story was action-packed and my young mind indulged gleefully.
Next is Siku Njema by Ken Walibora. I was around nine years old when I read the book. It was one of my sister’s course books in high school; she let me borrow it and I found the story very intriguing.
Finally, the Swahili short stories collection Alfu Lela Ulela (Au siku elfu moja) -- a Longman publication. Growing up, I really loved getting lost in these Swahili stories.
How many books on average do you read in a year and do you have a favourite spot where you read your books from?
Well, this will not be very impressive because I only manage to read 10-12 books a year, that’s roughly one book per month.
Favourite reading place? The matatu -- especially when there is heavy traffic jam which, in Nairobi, is almost every other day.
Which are your two most treasured books and why? Would you lend them out?
You Were Born Original Don’t Die A Copy by John L. Mason. This book is full of punchlines and great quotes that I have jotted down on my Google Keep.
Thorn in the Flesh by R. T. Kendall is my other all-time favourite as it has helped me answer very tough questions I had about God.
Sure, I wouldn’t hesitate to share the books especially with people I hold dear. Sharing a book is giving to others what you also received, I wouldn’t want them to miss out.
If you were to become a character from a book, who would you be and why?
Msanifu Kombo from the book Siku Njema. He is a passionate writer who draws inspiration from his many hardships in life. This raw passion makes me want to be just like him in my writing.
If you had the opportunity to meet three authors, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Ken Walibora, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o and Sidney Sheldon.
Ken Walibora and Ngugi wa Thiong'o shaped my childhood and teenage years and I am forever grateful that they made me fall in love with reading.
As for Sidney Sheldon, his book, The Doomsday Conspiracy,did it for me; I loved it to bits. If I was to meet him, I would just gush over how great that novel was (laughs).
In your opinion, is writer’s block an actual challenge faced by writers or it an excuse for procrastination?
I think it is both. For the better part of this year, I have had a writer’s block that has really affected my writing; staring contests with a blank screen means no writing at all.
On the other hand, I have friends who are quite gifted in writing but are expert procrastinators.
Have you ever had a bad review for your work? What did it say and how did you deal with it?
Oh yes! I write a lot of articles online and share them on social media, including WhatsApp groups. Now, when you put yourself out there in the online space, be sure the comments will come both good and bad in equal measure.
Starting out, I used to despise negative criticism. Sometimes, I would even take fault with the critic but with time, I have gotten wiser.
I appreciate that people have a different way of seeing things and for me, I pick what is useful and discard what is not; Chew the hay and spit out the sticks.
My writing has greatly improved because of this mindset.
What are your thoughts on society’s reading culture today in the face of popular culture?
The reading culture in Kenya has greatly improved thanks to technology. It is easy for people to skim through online articles and e-books or even download and listen to audiobooks.
Social media allows us to share content more conveniently, further enriching our reading.
E-books versus hardcopies, what is your preference and why?
Oh well, despite lauding technology and being an author of several e-books, my personal preference remains hardcopy. The weight and smell of a book is simply amazing.
What are you currently reading?
Two books: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl and Peter Horrobin’s Healing Through Deliverance.