Interview with Kenneth C Ryeland

When did you first start writing?
I was taught to write detailed, accurate technical reports when I trained as a mechanical engineer in my teens and twenties. Later in my career I began to write articles for various learned bodies and discovered that I had the ability to make them sound interesting! My first attemp at writing for pleasure was when I began to record my experiences whilst living and working in West Africa during the late sixties. Later, I pulled all these snippets together and produced my memoir, "The Up Country Man", which I began to write in 1995, recounting my adventures in secessionist Biafra and the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war. It seemed natural to continue to write about West Africa and I have subsequently produced two fiction novels and a compendium of eight not-so-short stories, all set in the imaginary West African country of Nibana.
In which genre do you normally write?
All of my books occupy the Action /Adventure genre, even the memoir has lots of action and adventure! It just seemed to come naturally to me and reflects the interesting and eventful times I experienced during my working life in Africa, the Far East and the Middle East.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Filling the day with activity of some sort. Since I am now retired, a widower and all three of my children have left the family home, I tend to rise early and get the household chores out of the way, together with any correspondence, phone calls or domestic accounts. After a light lunch, I like to walk the footpaths and quiet lanes of Berkshire (UK) for a couple of hours, thinking up new plots or working out new twists to the book I happen to be working on at the time. I then spend the afternoon writing until about six in the evening. After dinner, I like to read or watch TV.
Do you have to do any research for your books?
Most certainly! All my books required some research since the stories are entwined with actual events that took place in West Africa during the 1960s and so it was important to get dates, places and events correct. It would be unforgivable to mention things, buildings or places that didn't exist at the time. Discerning readers will soon spot mistakes of this nature.
How long did it take you to write your books?
My first book, "The Up-Country Man", took about five years to write and entailed a lot of research and thinking! My other three books, which are fictional, took about 12 months each.
What is the message, if any, you are sending to your readers?
All my books are set in West Africa during the 1960s, even the memoir, and I wanted to convey to my readers, who may not be familiar with the region, what it was like to be an expatriate and an ordinary African in sub-saharan Africa during those turbulent times. Sadly the situation has not changed much for the ordinary Africans, they are still subjugated and oppressed by tyranical despots who rob the treasuries and exploit the natural resouces of the country for their own good. I think true democracy will be hard to achieve in sub-saharan Africa due to the tribalism, nepotism and corruption that exists at every level of society. I guess you could say that my message to the reader is: This is what happens to countries when the rule of law is subversed, ignored or made by factions with self-interest at heart.
What do you like about being an Indie author?
I like the freedom and independence it provides to the individual with an interesting story to tell.
Who are your favourite authors?
I have a very catholic taste in books, but like to read factual accounts of historic events. However, my favourate fiction writers are Nevile Shute, John Grisham and Wilbur Smith.
What is your favourite book?
My favourate book, which I read every couple of years or so, is, "A Town Like Alice", by Nevile Shute. The second world war was resposible for millions of dead and it disrupted the lives of even more millions. This story is typical of the bravery and determination of the many ordinary people who were caught up in its all embracing power to kill and maim. In the book the horrors of the prison camps and the forced march through Malaya are well described and based upon a true account of a group of Dutch women in Indonesia. Whilst the first part of the story is full of pain and misery the second part is an account of the "get up and go" attitude of the survivors of the war and their determination to build a better society. It reminds me of my own parents' struggle to build a life after the conflict. The book is a metaphor for the power of love, enterprise and triumph over the ravages of war. A classic!
Which of your characters is your favourite and why?
This is a hard one. I enjoy all my characters because they are so diverse and it is difficult to pick just one. However, if pushed for an answer I would choose Inspector Bello Akure who appears in "The Last Bature" and "The Mine". Here is an African police inspector watching the infrastructure and financial stability of his country (Nibana) collapse around him due to the corruption of the politicians and, subsequently, the military junta, but he maintains his composure and his integrity and does the right thing, no matter what.
Published 2013-12-06.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Mine
By Kenneth C Ryeland
Series: Tales from Nibana, Book 3 · Inspector Bello Akure, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 109,330. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2012. Category: Fiction
"The Mine" is a political thriller set in Nibana, West Africa shortly after gaining independence from the British in 1962. With secession and civil war imminent, an archaeological find initiates a chain of events that lead to police investigations, MI6 involvement and the printing of large sums of money. An abandoned mine becomes the focal point when the main characters discover its secret.
Juju-Men
By Kenneth C Ryeland
Series: Tales from Nibana. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,900. Language: English. Published: December 30, 2010. Category: Fiction
This is a single story from the "Tribal Gathering" compendium. Ade Soyoyi and Bande Abaleko are persuaded to deliver a package to the local Freemasons’ Lodge by a houseboy, and this minor indiscretion leads to death, destruction and chaos in the Western Region of Nibana.
Hot Metal
By Kenneth C Ryeland
Series: Tales from Nibana. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 16,200. Language: English. Published: December 30, 2010. Category: Fiction
This is a single story from the "Tribal Gathering" compendium. Peter Stafford and John Hughes visit the ancient town of Ifun and encounter a mysterious African boy in the forest. Later, after strange happenings, the repercussions reach out to Peter Stafford’s family far away in England.
Boom Town
By Kenneth C Ryeland
Series: Tales from Nibana. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 21,320. Language: English. Published: December 30, 2010. Category: Fiction
This is a single story from the "Tribal Gathering" compendium. Charlie Robinson is employed to open a new branch of the company in the oil-rich Enube River Delta of Nibana. After many difficulties he succeeds, but civil war and sabotage finally renders all he has worked for lost. Miraculously, out of the chaos and destruction comes an opportunity for riches and a new life.
The Last Bature
By Kenneth C Ryeland
Series: Tales from Nibana, Book 2 · Inspector Bello Akure, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 102,750. Language: English. Published: September 27, 2010. Category: Fiction
This is a policeman's story set in Nibana, an imaginary West African state, shortly after gaining its independence from the British in 1962. What begins as a straightforward investigation quickly turns to intrigue when the superpowers vie with each other to secure a breakthrough in weapons technology. The action moves quickly, giving the reader an insight into the grubby world of espionage.
Tribal Gathering
By Kenneth C Ryeland
Series: Tales from Nibana, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 104,590. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2010. Category: Fiction
Tribal Gathering is a collection of 8 stories set in an imaginary West African state shortly after gaining its independence from the British in 1962. Betrayal, revenge, ignorance, pride and stupidity intermingled with witchcraft, African Deities and Freemasonry, these stories have it all and Ken Ryeland deals with them in his usual consummate way to provide interesting and compelling reading.
The Up-Country Man
By Kenneth C Ryeland
Price: $4.69 USD. Words: 179,940. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2010. Category: Nonfiction
In April 1967, a young British Engineer arrives in Nigeria to take up his new job. On being transferred to Enugu, the capital of the troubled Eastern Region, the regional military governor declares secession and the Republic of Biafra is born. The Federal Government immediately declares war and Ken Ryeland finds himself trapped inside the rebel enclave as Federal troops close in for the kill.