Exploring the Magic of Intasimi Warrior Book Series with Shiko Nguru
With the Writer Spotlight Series, we create a positive image for young girls to refer to by having conversations with different writers and illustrators. This month we have been doing Q&As with many writers, to get to know more about them and their work. Here, we are showcasing all the questions we have asked author Shiko Nguru. We discuss her middle grade book series, Odwar vs. the Shadow Queen.
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Congratulations on the release of your second book, Odwar vs. the Shadow Queen, which is part of the Intasimi Warriors. What was the inspiration behind the plot?Thanks! I would say two things: First, I wanted to convey the message that
inner strength is just as important as physical strength. The first book dwelt a
lot on outward manifestations of power as the Intasimi Warriors learned their superpowers. In this book, I wanted to remind readers that there were other ways
to be powerful and to show strength through compassion and understanding.
Second, I am really interested in giving voices to women in history who have been silenced. The villain in this book is such a woman - we grew up hearing about her as part of Lwanda Magere’s legend. We knew she existed, but we were never told about her backstory or why she might have done what she did. I really wanted to explore that…what might have motivated her actions.
What sources [research] did you use for the intriguing development of each character as they continue on their journey? What are the important elements when creating a character’s personality?
Books and TV are significant sources of character research. When I’m writing, I read a lot of books featuring young characters. For example, I’m just about to start Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor and just started watching Supa Team 4 on Netflix. Seeing the work that other creators have done is great inspiration and inspires my creativity.
When creating characters, I always make sure that each character’s personality draws deeply from my own experiences and that of those around me. It’s easier to write them because they’re believable. I also think it’s important for characters to be vulnerable and flawed so that their journey is meaningful.
Do you think that ancestral fables have affected how we think and understand the world today?
Absolutely! Ancestral fables reinforce cultural values and remind us of our traditions. We keep African culture alive when we tell these stories to our kids.
What has been your favourite memory whilst writing this novel?
Writing this book reminded me of travelling during the school holidays from the city of Nairobi to the countryside where my dad grew up. I always looked forward to this time of the year - we didn’t have a tv in our upcountry home and would spend all day playing and listening to the grown ups tell stories of when they were younger.
Quick Fire Round
What is the last song you listened to?
Shut Down by BLACKPINK. I was trying to explain to a friend what K-Pop is and why my 12-year-old daughter is obsessed with it!
Which character do you think you relate to the most - from your latest book?
Odwar. I was that kid who really wanted to make my parents proud in school and at home.
What is your favourite quote?
Comparison is the thief of joy
About the author
Shiko Nguru is a Kenyan author and content creator, sharing her motherhood journey in the most genuine and beautiful way she can. Odwar vs. the Shadow Queen is the second novel in her debut series, inspired by her love of East African mythology.