Karen Ngunjiri Liang is a trained Aeronautical Engineer who never practiced, but found her niche in fiction writing. She has authored 2 novels and says the third is in the works.
Karen grabbed headlines a few years ago for marrying a Chinese man, who thought ‘Ngai'(Kikuyu for God) was a curse worse.
She shared her story with the KenyanVibe.
Your Facebook posts are hilarious, was your childhood that interesting?
Mine was that of a regular Kenyan child. I think there are a lot of interesting things we experienced growing up in this country.
What is it like being married to someone from a different culture?
It’s very interesting. There was this day my husband went to the village and was treated to those very lengthy Kikuyu prayers; you know those ones that are led by your grandma’s friend and she prays for everyone and everything including the vehicle which you will be travelling in which is made with human hands. It’s usually so touching.
So anyway hubby is there obviously floating through the Kikuyu prayers but he does get the word ‘Ngai’ being used repeatedly. Now he hears people use that word all the time and has always assumed it’s a curse word, you know like how people say oh s*** because let’s face it that’s how we use it. So the guy is in utter shock, surprised that people would use such a word in prayer.
But perhaps what shocked him the most is the fact that somewhere in the midst of the long prayers an elderly woman who was visiting fell asleep! As in homegirl just went to sleep and started snoring loudly! Man, there is nothing like seeing your country through someone else’s eyes.
Haha! That’s hilarious. What is the most enjoyable aspect of the same?
Getting to experience life through another person’s world view
You are an engineer by training, where did your interest in writing novels come from?
Writing comes naturally to me. It’s my way of relaxing. So, if I have 20 minutes to spare over a lunch break, then I’ll be writing something. I refer to myself as a chaotic writer since I have a tendency of writing in the midst of noise. It is from everyday life that I receive the inspiration for characters for my different novels.
I can remember writing stories as far back as when I was 10 years old. As a teenager, I would fill kasuku exercise books with fiction stories but it wasn’t until 2 years ago that I decided to start packaging my stories into publishable manuscripts. I’m on my 3rd book now.
10 years old, wow! Knowing what you know now about innate gifts how would you raise your children differently?
Unlike the times we grew up in, there are numerous programs now that one can enroll their child for, programs that focus on sharpening specific gifts. My parents encouraged me as much as they could to explore my gifts.
I will definitely be on the lookout for any strong interests or natural talents that my children exhibit and explore different programs I can enroll them in so that they become proficient in the same from a tender age.
Your first book, Diary of a Clueless Farmer is quite an interesting read. What’s the inspiration behind it?
I’m a country girl. Growing up in Naromoru, Nyeri Country, life was quiet, serene and even-paced for the most part. Having attended a University in China and now living in Nairobi, writing this book felt like the perfect escape. I get tired of city life from time to time. Combining my childhood experiences, passion and creative fiction writing saw the birth of this book.
How do you juggle between all your responsibilities; wife, mum, career woman and author?
To be honest, I’m still figuring it out. There are days that like, “I got this!” Then there are days I wonder, “I’m I doing it right? Is this how it’s supposed to be done?” Having a supportive spouse and family helps me deal with these responsibilities better.
What else excites you?
Travelling, knitting, and trying out DIY stuff
In your opinion, what is the secret to getting ahead?
Walking with God and allowing him to show you your unique path because if you find what God truly wired you for, you will desist from competing with others.
If you were to do one thing differently as far as your past is concerned, what would it be?
I would not date as a campus student. That was such a waste of my time. I agree with Benjamin Zulu, there is a right time to get into relationships and early 20s is not it.
In your opinion, how can the youngsters in this generation package their gifts in a way that brings them monetary returns?
I believe we are living in the best of days for creatives because it’s easier now for one to follow their passion. There are numerous channels of output in our dispensation, learning how to monetize the same might require sharpening of skills and learning from others how to create that conversion.
What do you think of this trend; posting sensual images in the name of ‘socialiting’ with the hope of creating a career as a social media influencer?
The problem with that it has no longevity. Soon, there will be a younger girl on the scene, prettier, curvier and all. You will end up losing yourself in the process of trying to remain relevant