The Heroine’s Journey of Audrey Hazel

What is the best thing that I love about my work as storyteller?

Telling stories allows me to live many lives. Each time I am working on a new book, I’m amazed by how much it takes over my life. I get lost in the world I am creating. I lose myself in my character’s adventures, and lives. Sometimes, as I write, I hold conversations with myself and my characters. This is actually a big part of my writing process. It allows me to sort through my ideas and translate them into coherent text. To me, each story, whether fictional or not, is very real.

What is my idea of happiness?

Happiness to me is freedom. Freedom to pursue whatever I want to pursue. To travel as I wish. To eat as I please. To be unapolgetically who I am, without the fear which holds us back from being truly free.

What is my greatest fear?

Stagnation. Especially in my work. Just like many other writers, I have a tendency to start several writing projects at once. Some mature into novels, while others fade from my mind. The idea is to have many projects which stimulate me to always think creatively. However, I don’t always complete all these projects. I hate to think that one day, I might leave behind dozens of unfinished stories. It is a fact I have had to accept as a writer; not all stories get a tidy ending.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

I tend to start too many projects at once. Most often, some of these are in completely unrelated fields. I wish I could laser-focus on one thing at a time until I saw it through. However, because I get bored quickly, it’s easier to juggle several projects.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?

That is an easy question. Popular Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I stumbled across a few of her novels as a young reader. Two of her books were especially transformational for me: The Thing Around Your Neck and Half of a Yellow Sun. She inspires me to tell authentic stories. Her life-like characters stick in my mind. I aspire to tell stories which change lives, just like she.

What is my greatest extravagance?

I am a book hoarder. I spend way too much on books, novels in particular. I definitely buy more books than I could ever read.

On what occasion would I lie?

Haha! This feels like a trick question. Honesty is the best policy. However, if push came to shove, I would lie to spare the feelings of someone I cared about.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

My work is always time bound. This results in tremendous pressure especially as editorial deadlines begin to roll around. In order to meet deadlines, I must put in long hours, sleepless nights, and drink countless cups of coffee. It takes me a while to recharge after completing a book.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

There is not a particular place where I was happiest. However, I find fulfilment in my work when it allows me the freedom to pursue my creative aspirations. I enjoy working with clients and guiding them to bring to life their unique book concepts.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

Hmmm… that’s a tricky question! If I could, I would mute my inner critic. Sometimes, I have outrageously high expectations for myself. Often, this encourages to push myself and approach projects ambitiously. However, this quest for perfection also cripples me in many ways.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

My greatest achievement was self-publishing my second novella, Keepers of the Mara. This story is set in colonial Kenya in 1957, only six years before the country gains its independence. The plot centres around two game keepers, Kapai and Koinet who are native game scouts, tasked with protecting the Mara.

This novella explores the volatile political landscape of colonial Kenya. While working on it, I realized how much I enjoy digging into the past and crafting stories. I was already an avid historical fiction reader, but working on this book cemented my interested in writing historical fiction.

Where would I most like to live?

There isn’t a specific place I can think of. However, I very much prefer city life to

country life. For me, country life is too quiet and too unsettling. I like fast cities where life moves swiftly.

What is my most treasured possession?

My laptop, obviously. It contains dozens of uncompleted and completed drafts. As a freelance writer, I also heavily rely on it for work. Due to the nature of my work, I travel with my laptop constantly. This allows me to promptly respond to my clients’ needs. My laptop and I might as well be joined at the hip.

What is my most marked characteristic?

Although I may appear shy, I am quite verbally expressive. (I refuse to use the word “talkative” because of the negative connotations attached.) In fact, when clients meet me face to face, they often point this out. Perhaps because this is very unlike their idea of me; which might be a shy, introverted writer. Haha!

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

Java Coffee House in Capital Center. While I was working on Keepers of the Mara, there was a specific booth therein where I would sit to write. This spot became my escape in many ways. The plot for this novella took shape in that spot. What I liked most about it is I was able to observe the goings-on of restaurant, while still maintaining the distance to focus on my work.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?

I love pizza. I am always in the mood for pizza with extra cheese. Artcaffe in Nairobi has great pizza. I also enjoy barbecue ribs from Eka Hotel along Mombasa

Road.

What books influenced my life and how?

Two books come to mind- Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, and While I Was Gone by Sue Miller.

Both these books revolve around a strong female protagonist who overcomes the uncertainty of change, betrayal, and married life. Despite what life throws at them, these women remain uncowed. I read either book when I was in particular need for inspiration. As a writer, these books influence me to create reactive characters. Characters who hit rock bottom, yet still claw their way up to reclaim their place in the world.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

Bob Marley, always and forever. I would listen to his 1976 album, Rastaman Vibration. His music has seen me through some rough days. I would choose it to be my final comfort in a heart beat.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Harry Potter. I read the first book, the Philosopher’s Stone in primary school. I fell in love with the series then. It is not the possibility of magic which draws me in, rather it is the story of a young boy who shows exceptional courage even when he needs to stand alone. He faces his demons and triumphs in the end.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

My big brother, Mike. He believes in my potential most. He inspires me to think out of the box. His encouragement in my countless projects, keeps me going.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime?

The Revenant. It is an outstanding performance by Leonardo DiCaprio. I recommend this movie to everyone.

What role does stories play in my life and work?

Stories are a huge part of who I am. Good stories inspire us to live life courageously. However, great stories teach us lessons which we carry with us for a lifetime.

What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life’ mean to me?

To me these words are an encouragement to take charge of life. We are free to live life on our terms. As such, these words remind me to approach life with a keen consciousness/ awareness. We have the power to overcome our circumstances, and live the life we truly desire.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

My long-time friend, Ervin. We both share a passion for literature. Whereas he is a gifted poet, I am a fictional writer. I am certain he has read all my work- even before it was any good! We have also collaborated on various creative writing projects, which makes him my greatest fan, and partner in crime.

Which people or companies would I like to work with in 2021?

1. Kwani Trust Workshop

2. The FEMRITE – African Women Development Fund Non-Fiction Workshop

3. The Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

4. Association of Ghostwriters

5. United Ghostwriters

Which people in my profession who can make a real difference in my creative career would I love to meet in 2021?

1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

2. Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

3. Henry Ole Kulet

4. Ngugi wa Thiong’o

5. Jenifer Nansubuga Makumbi

6. Oyinkan Braithwaite

7. Namwali Serpell

8. Ondjaki

9. Elnathan John

10. Margaret Busby

What project, in 2021, am I looking forward to work on?

I have several irons in the fire, actually. However, I look forward to completing two of my novels in 2021. I have been working on both since 2018. I hope next year is the year I finally get them published.

I also hope to embark on several new ghostwriting projects in order to expand my portfolio.

Where can you see me or my work in 2021?

I am in the beginning stages of launching my author website. Once it is ready, fans will be able to view my work through it. The link will be available through my LinkedIn page.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

To me, this phrase is a reminder that our passions are not bound by our worldly concept of time. When you are passionate about what you do, there is never need to retire from it, as it is part of who you are.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?

Ervin Amayo (founder of amayoervin.wordpress.com)

Magdalene Muhiu (founder of maggymuhiu2016word.wordpress.com)

Ivy Robi (founder of thejointafrica.wordpress.com)

How can you contact me?

You can contact me through +254112361054

or reach me through- https://www.linkedin.com/in/audrey-hazel/ghostwriter/

or my site- peninthat.com

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