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From the Architectural Drawing Board to Becoming an Author

By Patricia K Rutiba (Author of Knights in Kampala)

When I was a little girl, my mother insisted we read a lot. At first it felt like too much work, but it was not long before I started enjoying being transported to different times, places, realms and meeting many amazing people in those books. I consumed books by Enid Blyton, Hans Andersen, Grimms, classics like Little Women, A Little Princess, Wuthering Heights, and Anne of Green Gables. 

When I moved on to high school and began to read books by African writers, the stories did not give me much appreciation for the beauty of Africa and did not promote positive aspects of our cultures, the way the European books I had read did for theirs, I longed for novels that described Africa's vivid colours and lovely people, not just the problems.

Outside of my architectural work, I work with my husband Daniel Rutiba to groom young people. We encourage them to build healthy lasting relationships, get mentoring in areas where they want to excel and love their country enough to do something about the problems they see. In the 12 years of working with these young people, we have learned to appreciate them, and the odds stacked against them. In our youth, we had older people speaking regularly to us about etiquette, social responsibility, family, relationships and so on. Unfortunately, many of these young ones have grown up in dysfunctional homes with adults too busy chasing their own dreams to teach them life skills. Many elders unfairly dismiss them brashly saying they are selfish, entitled, impatient and have embraced vices from other cultures via social media. These young people are pushing themselves to be better men and women. They read good books, search for mentors, and watch inspiring material. Observing them inspired me to write the kind of African stories I wanted to read about in high school.

When my husband read a few pages of my manuscript, he encouraged me to turn it a novel. I began to piece together the mini stories into one intricate tale. Somewhere in the middle I got writer’s block and suspended the writing. During this period, my daughter asked me to write about an African Cinderella since we had just seen a book with 32 versions of Cinderella from all over the world except Africa. Those musings gave birth to The Blue Beads, a work of fiction set in pre-colonial Africa. This process helped reignite my creative juices and I returned to my manuscript, finishing the first draft in 2015. I got an editor who gave me an overview, looked at two chapters in detail but became busy and I got a second one who edited the entire manuscript, but I was still not satisfied.

A friend of mine, Dorothy Kisaka, introduced me to a writing coach, Jackee Batanda of SuccessSpark Brand Ltd. I signed up for the one-day book class and from the lessons learnt, I needed to go back to the drawing board. I revised my entire manuscript, redesigned details based on principles I learned in the class, making it a more enjoyable read, with more dialogue and deeper character development.

With my manuscript complete, I did not know what to do next. While I was wondering about the intricacies of publishing, Jackee Batanda invited me to attend a session where Joan Mugenzi, one of the students from SuccessSpark Brand, shared lessons from her publishing journey. Joan is the author of Corporates at A Crossroads: Knowing that Your Job is not Eternal and Acting on that Knowledge. Her story inspired me to follow up the process and in 2018 I went to Longhorn Publishers, considered to be the biggest publishing house in East Africa. I submitted my manuscript and only discovered after about nine months that their niche is textbook publishing. I retracted my manuscript and embarked on my self-publishing journey. Today, with the help of Dr James Magara and Sam Adeyemi, my novel, Knights in Kampala, is available on Amazon. Its paperback edition was launched in November 2019.

Order copies from Patricia K Rutiba on 0772587956