A Visit with Jane Bwye   10 comments

This week’s interview is with Jane Bwye – who has been on the blog before, but it’s been a while. She was working on a new book. Welcome back to the blog, Jane.

Jane Bwye Author PicThank you for asking me round to your place, Lela. I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska. I guess it’s the idea of all that snow and the remoteness which appeals to me.


We are remote, that’s for sure. So what have you been up to since your last visit to the blog?

You want to know a little bit about me…. I wasn’t quite born in Kenya, but lived there for over half a century.  Now my husband and I are retired in the UK. Our family of six children and seven grandchildren are scattered over three continents, so I have developed a taste for travel. In order to fuel this urge, I mentored small business start-ups and enjoyed it so much, I continued on a voluntary basis when the funding ran out. I am about to try public speaking (see my webpage: http://janebwye.com/talks ). I joined Toastmasters International eighteen months ago, and relish the feeling of power when addressing a captive audience. I have an audition with the Women’s Institute on the 19th April, so please spare me a thought.


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I have always been a bookworm, and as a teenager I dreamed of writing my own book, full of tingly love scenes. When I went to University I wanted to be journalist, and my first commission was a series of “Letters from Oxford” for the Kenya Weekly News. I have written short stories, articles and columns intermittently ever since. But the culture shock of living in the UK was too great, and I left Oxford after a year to go back to Kenya and get married to the man I’d left behind. I told him I was giving up my career for him, and I wanted five children; but it was no happily-ever-after story, because he died after twenty months, leaving me with three small children (including twins). I remarried, and am passionate about my family; everything else is dropped when they are around.


Jane Bwye Africa

What is something you can’t live without?

Of course I cannot live without a book to read, even when I know I have more important things to do. I taught myself how to read and knit at the same time, so I didn’t have to feel guilty, although sometimes the children suffered one sleeve slightly longer than the other, when I was carried away by a story.


What do you get up to when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I live life to the full. Exercise is important, and although I don’t ride any more, I still play geriatric tennis and walk regularly. I judge dressage frequently, belong to a choral society, and play bridge.


Have any of the books you’ve written had a transformative effect on you?

Writing Breath of Africa had a transformative effect on me. It served as an excellent catharsis after having to leave Kenya. I indulged in nostalgia while pouring over old letters and diaries, and researching biographies and histories. The exercise of writing, learning how to craft a plot and edit, then trying to find a publisher, absorbed many years, and before I knew it, I’d become used to living in a very different world.


Do you have a special place where you write?

The world is my oyster! I have written everywhere. In bed before getting up in the morning, or writing a diary at night with old-fashioned pen and paper; at my computer; sitting on a bench on the south downs overlooking Eastbourne. On my travels I have filled notebooks with chapters while visiting family in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Australia, or friends in Ireland. I can sit in a corner and isolate myself even though family are bustling around me, but I prefer to overlook a garden or a field, or better still, the African bush. One place I cannot write is on aeroplanes or in airports.


Jane Bwye 2bookpic

Do your books have any recurring themes?

I am an optimist. I firmly believe that there’s always hope, even in the direst of circumstances. This is the recurring theme which governs my life and my writings. I like to think that Africa will overcome its shortcomings, especially the evils of corruption, through the sheer pressure of enlightened citizens shaming their leaders. As a Christian, I know how to seek an answer, and writing my books have helped me to search for solutions, for I allow my characters a free rein and am often surprised by what happens.


I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

A remote Alaska cabin would be a wonderful place for me to be quite alone to commune with God and nature. I would bring several pens and plenty of notebooks; I would write a diary, maybe become a bit philosophical and try to put the world to rights. I would need my kindle, as it contains the Bible which I read every day. Perhaps I will load it with old favourites. It’s years since I’ve re-read War and Peace, and it is about time I got to grips with the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I would need my binoculars, and a bird book; oh – and a walking pole, as I am sometimes unsteady on uneven ground.


Tell us about your books.

Breath of Africa was written for myself. But it was also inspired by the “tribe” novels of Nicholas Monsarrat. I wrote to him, saying the picture he painted of Africa was bleak and violent, and asking if he intended to write a more optimistic story. If not, I might be tempted… His widow replied saying that Nicholas had indeed intended to write such a novel: “Every good wish for the task ahead,” she said. “I expect it will seem daunting at times, but I hope it will give you great pleasure and satisfaction too.” You can read her original letter here: http://jbwye.com/2012/12/10/there-is-always-hope-shining-through/


I love that! What a great encouragement to you as a writer. But you didn’t stop with Breath of Africa. Go on.

I Lift Up My Eyes had been mulling around in my mind for many years. It was prompted by watching the sad consequence of a broken marriage after a friend’s husband was severely injured in an accident. Neither of them could handle the trauma of the change in their lives. I thought it was such a tragedy that they should have to suffer through no fault of their own. The process of writing took me on an exploration towards a solution, and I hope it may provide food for thought for readers in similar circumstances.


How does your Christian faith reflect itself in your writing?

I am an author who is a Christian. I don’t write specifically for a Christian audience, because I don’t feel qualified to do so, and I guess I prefer the gentle approach.

I have enjoyed your virtual company, Lela. I wonder if we’ll ever meet in the flesh?


I would love that! England seems a very long way from Alaska, but not so much now that Icelandia does an over-the-pole flight in summer. So where can readers find your books?



Amazon.uk Author page:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00BOK0NN4/

Amazon.com Author page: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_pdt_bl_sr?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=Jane+Bwye

Website: http://janebwye.com/


10 responses to “A Visit with Jane Bwye

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  1. Reblogged this on Daermad Cycle.


  2. She sounds lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Jane Bwye.


  4. Pingback: A Visit with Jane Bwye | Jane Bwye

  5. Thank you Lela, for this conversation – It happened so long ago, I’d forgotten!


  6. Thanks, Aurora, and Jane for this interesting and entertaining interview. 🙂 — Suzanne


  7. Pingback: Another One Bites The Dust | Jane Bwye

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