Jackson Biko alias Biko Zulu is a renowned Kenyan writer, blogger and columnist who recently released his first book, Drunk.
The multiple award-winning blogger is also a columnist with the Saturday Nation and the Business Daily newspapers. In 2015, he was named one of the Top 40 under 40 men in Kenya.
He talked to Nation.co.ke about his sources of inspiration, writing journeys and words of advice to aspiring writers.
1. You authored your first book, Drunk while still working on other things; tell us about your writing journey.
It is now nine years since I started writing for my blog.
At some point everybody I met started saying, “Oh write a book! It’s time!” Everybody! I didn’t think it was time, but I guess I’m still a teenager inside and is prone to peer pressure. So I wrote a book.
It was tough…Tougher than writing a blog. I’m glad I did it though, because it was out of my comfort zone and what I was used to; short furious 3,500 word essays.
2. What would you say is your strongest influence to writing? What inspires you to write?
People. People say interesting things. People do interesting things. There is never a shortage of content when you plug into people.
3. You wrote a good chunk of Drunk in a tree house in Elementaita and later finished it at English Point Marina. What would you describe as your ideal writing space, and does this always have to be?
My ideal writing space is a place that doesn’t have a crying child. Otherwise I can write anywhere; Airport lounges, Cafes, Farms, Offices… But ideally, I write best in silent environments. No music. Sober. I can never write like Hemmingway- with a drink in hand.
4. What are some of the challenges you faced in writing the book?
Insecurity; that nobody would like it… that I would sell only four copies. I have four siblings, that’s the least they can do for me. I also found it so hard to stay interested because it took me a year to write it.
There is a sort of literary imprisonment that comes with that, having to keep going back to these characters’ lives for a year! You get sick of them and their challenges. It’s hard labour!
I also found that time was a big challenge; given that the book wasn’t my bread and butter and as such I had to juggle it with paying writing jobs that ideally should have had priority.
Make that labour of love.
5. Tell us about your favourite book and what you are currently reading?
Is there anyone with a favourite book? The world is full of such astoundingly beautiful and diverse books to cling onto the notion of favourite book. Plus, the book I swear by now will not be the book I swear by tomorrow. In high school, for instance, I thought The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger was my favourite book. At university, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt did it for me. Not anymore! Since then I have fallen love with many books. And they keep changing.
6. What is your word of advice to a starting out writer about the creative process?
Read. Read. Read. There is no writer who ever wrote well from just watching TV and spending time on Instagram.
7. Finally, besides the blog, is there another book in the works or what should we expect next?
Oh, here we go again. Sigh.