Your name and what do you do?
I am Thomas Mlanda Kalume; a budding writer yet an established reader (laughs). I am a practitioner of the writer word.
What is the writer’s Guild?
The Writers Guild Kenya is a movement, quintessentially. Registered as a publisher, Writers Guild seeks to create opportunities and offer a platform to budding writers for the growth of their creativity, and exposure of their work; thus positioning them for breakthrough.
What is the latest book you have read?
I am at that critical stage in life when quarter life sets in – youth. As youths, we tend to be restless, unsteady and even unsure of almost every component of life, which is unsettling for me. I hope to steady my ship. I have therefore been reading fiction that revolves around psychology. My latest read is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
Do you think Mombasa residents have embraced reading?
No, and the situation is severely wanting. It is a cloud with a silver lining, though. I remain optimistic that the various initiatives that are currently ongoing, which seek to cultivate a reading culture among the people will eventually achieve the desired effect.
How do you deal with a writer’s block?
Music is my go-to zone whenever I need to call in the creativity. Deep, soulful, classic music tends to draw me into a small world of imagination and infinite possibilities. In that world, creativity reigns supreme.
If you were given a chance to introduce a reading program in schools, how would you do it?
What a timely question! I am currently working with Gabriel Dinda, the founder of Writers Guild Kenya to launch Set Book Help. This is a programme that aims to bring secondary school students to witness the beauty of literature by offering them in-depth analysis of all the set books in the curriculum. We plan to visit schools, offer stage analysis of the set books, launch an exclusive blog devoted to the analyses, and also a platform for us to interact online with them. Since the secondary school stage is such a transitional one, we hope to spark the students’ interest in the written word so they may develop a reading culture and carry it into the world. Our work of challenging the ‘Kenyans do not read’ belief shall only have started.
Do you prefer e-books or paperback?
I am an old-fashioned type (laughs). I prefer paperbacks.
Do you prefer reading alone or with a book club?
I enjoy those silent moments, tucked away from everyone and everything else except a book.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I believe life is not about the individual but rather what the individual does for others, and how much others benefit from it. In 10years, I believe I shall have made a mark in the literary world, to have brought people to appreciate the value of reading and realise that most of the world’s problems (if not all), can be solved through books. In the words of Beyonce, I shall be at peace to look back and say, ‘’I was here.’’
Life is full of amazing possibilities – if only you set yourself free.