BY THE BOOK: Maryan Noor Yussuf
Maryan Noor Yussuf is a 20-year-old Kenyan author of Somali origin. She has authored two books titled I Will Be Back and Nobody Knows My Pain, a fairy tale and nonfiction respectively.
They were both published when she was in high school which she completed in 2018.
She is currently studying Journalism at St. Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya.
What are the three most memorable books you have read so far, and what makes them so?
My three most memorable books are Pocahontas by Linwood Custalow, TheKite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Long Way Home by Michael Morpurgo. They are memorable because they connected with me emotionally and were really fun to read.
How many books on average do you read in a year, and do you have a favourite spot where you read them from?
In a year, I can read between forty and fifty books depending on my daily activities. My favourite spot is my bedroom especially at the far corner of my bed near the window.
Which is your most favourite genre of books? Do you have any reason?
My favourite genre is fiction. When I am reading fiction, my imagination runs wild and it starts popping with new ideas.
What is the size of your book collection as of now? Where do you get them from and what motivates you to?
My book collection? Wow! I don’t even know where to start… I have so many books! I think I can even start a library. I mostly get them from bookshops or those book vendors in town. I buy books according to their cover page and blurb.
Which are your two most treasured books and why? Do you normally lend them out? Why do you or don’t you lend them out?
My most treasured book is Becoming Michelle Obama by Michelle Obama. It is her memoir. Then the second one is The Sands of Time by Sidney Sheldon.
I do not lend them out because I have learnt that the moment you give someone your books, they either fail to return them or spoil them!
If you were to become any character from any book, which one would you choose and why?
Well, I know it is weird to say this but if I were to become a character in a book, I would definitely be a villain! I think I love villains because they always get to do whatever they choose to.
If you had an opportunity to meet three great authors, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
The three are definitely Mark Twain, Sidney Sheldon and Khaled Hosseini. I really love their books. In fact, these three authors are my role models in the writing industry. Their books are based on life experiences and they relate to my imaginations.
If you were to recommend three books to a 10-year-old, which ones would they be and why?
I’d recommend Pocahontas by Linwood Custalow, I Will Be Back by Maryan Noor and Trio Troubles by Jennie Marima because they are easy to understand.
There is also a lesson against sibling rivalry and another lesson that love can transgress across borders, and lastly it’s all about having fun!
Have you ever had a bad commentary about your writing? What did it say and how did you deal with it?
Yes. It stated that I was somehow incompetent. That was before I got published. I felt really bad about it but I continued reading and perfecting my writing skill until it was good.
What are your thoughts on the appreciation of fairy tales in Kenya?
Honestly, it is pretty good, especially with children. During book fairs and festivals, so many children show up. They buy fairy tale books.
Some even confess that they have read many fairy tales especially the famous ones like Cinderella.
Young adults in Kenya majorly read school set books and textbooks and rarely read other creative books, why this trend? How can it be changed?
Well, I think they are not really exposed to creative books at a young age… Book clubs should, therefore, be formed in schools in order to encourage learners to develop a good culture of reading creative books.
E-books versus hard copies, what is your preference and why?
Hard copies. I don’t have to worry about charging my gadgets. Hard copies give me an away time from devices.
What was your last book that you read and how did you find it?
It is called True Fire by Gary Meehan. A very awesome read! I liked the flow of the story and the transitions from one scene to another.
If you weren’t an author (and journalist in the making), what would you be?
I would be an athlete because I love running and it’s the next big thing in Kenya…
What piece of advice would you wish all aspiring authors to keep in mind?
Do not give up. Keep writing. Keep perfecting it. Read as much as you can so that you can get new ideas.
Do not copy another author’s style. Be your own author.
Write what you do not find in the book shelves.