It is Contemporary Fiction Week at Crooked Cat Books Facebook Page – and I’m in the company of two awesome authors. We’re sharing titbits, and here’s my second one…


Flash forward thirty years, during which time I was lucky to remarry. We brought up our family, which grew to six children, in an idyllic life with horses, cows, dogs, chickens… within a twenty mile radius of Nairobi. I started writing BREATH OF AFRICA in the 1970’s, and became immersed in the story. But there were complaints; Mum was always late; she never answered questions; she even forgot to pick someone up from school. So I gave up.

When all but Dennis – our afterthought with no thought – had left the nest, I finally had time to take the Know Kenya Course at the Nairobi Museum. That was when I discovered that my brain still worked. I took the Museum Guides’ Course and volunteered at the Museum for a year. The pre-history gallery fascinated me, which is why pre-historic digs are featured in BREATH OF AFRICA. I joined the Museum Society Committee, and became involved in producing a cookbook in aid of the Society. Suddenly, events began to fall over themselves.

I’d have to produce the material on computer. I was a proficient shorthand typist but I was far too old to start learning about such new-fangled stuff. A friend chivvied me along.

“Come on, Jane. I’ll lend you my word processor. You’ll be able to teach yourself!”

I was doubtful, but I did want to produce that cookbook. So I accepted her offer, and took home the baby Amstrad, complete with instructions on how to use it.

What a marvel is the computer! – As a tool, mind…

The cookbook was published. My mind boggled at the enormous potential that lay in the computer. I wanted to know more, and more.

I did a Pitman’s course. But it wasn’t enough. I found a University in Australia willing to enrol me for a distance degree course in 1990. I worked far into the night, while doing a day job to pay for it all. I ended up with a Bachelor of Business degree which allowed me to get a work permit and start my own consultancy in Nairobi.

My career was established. I had my life before me. I was in my mid-fifties.

Isn‘t it strange how life gets all upside down, sometimes?

When we moved to the UK at the turn of the century, I wallowed in nostalgia. I went through old letters and diaries, researched Kenya’s history, and dug out my old book.

At the end, Caroline and her friend Michael are at the coast…

“The sun casts long shadows over the beach, and she changes into a pair of shorts, picks up a kikoi to wrap round her shoulders, and chooses a long stick … The dogs emerge from their stupor, stretch from end to end and shake themselves. With a final flick of their tails, they trot after Caroline down the path to the beach.

Michael is waiting for her, hatless. He is almost bald now … Their feet sink into the stiffly clinging sand, leaving deep prints as they turn northward this time, to skirt coral cliffs and paddle among the rock pools. The thunder of the waters beyond the reef a kilometre away, shifts a tone.

‘Tide’s turning,’ Caroline mutters, as they quicken their steps to round the point and stride along the wide sands …”

I always value reviews, especially from authors well established in their own fields.

Published reviews can be found on my website:

And now, at last, I am working on the sequel!

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3 Responses to AN UPSIDE DOWN LIFE – Episode 2

  1. Miriam says:

    Ha! You’re doing what I’m planning to do – write a sequel after writing a completely sort of novel. Do you think there’s an advantage to that? You come to the sequel with a fresh outlook, maybe?

    I enjoyed your excerpt.

    • jbwye says:

      Yes Miriam – I hope it will prove an advantage. People have asked me what happened to the characters – so I can tell them! Actually, BofA was originally intended to be much longer, but I decided to cut it off after 30 years. The sequel explores new ground, and engages with the problem of charity in Africa – hence my research in Kenya earlier this year.

  2. yvonnemarjot says:

    Reblogged this on The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet and commented:
    More from Crooked Cat’s contemporary fiction week.

Comments are closed.