Glass of Wine. Glass of Milk Blog Feature: An Interview with Authors: Kirsten and Aiyven Mbawa

On the 12th of June 2020, we were featured in a blog post on the amazing Glass of Wine, Glass of Milk Mum and Son book review blog. Read below to share in the detail😊
Kirsten Mbawa - Author of Sagas of Anya
Aiyven Mbawa - Author of Land of the Nurogons
I recently had the privilege of reading sample chapters from two YA/middle grade books, Sagas of Anya and Land of the Nurogons, after which I was eager to read the entire books! Both have just been released. I am thrilled to introduce to you two amazing young authors, sisters Kirsten and Aiyven Mbawa. Kirsten is 12 years old, and Aiyven is 11 years old. They aren't good writers "for their age." They are simply good authors. When you point out their ages, however, it becomes clear that there is something particularly special here. Look out, Christopher Paolini*, these girls are already ahead of you!
Mbawa Books website: http://mbawabooks.co.uk/home-%26-news (You can order their books on their website or on Amazon – they are available on Kindle Unlimited right now! Sagas of Anya Land of the Nurogons)
Glass of Wine, Glass of Milk (GWGM): I first came across your book reviews on Instagram. When you started reviewing books, were you already writing yourselves, or did that come later?
Aiyven and Kirsten: We started writing our books before we began reviewing other books. We submitted our entries for BBC 500 Words competition in February 2019 (the story ideas of our books) and did our first review in April 2019. It was only after June 2019 when the BBC 500 Words results were published, and we didn’t make it, that our parents thought it was still worth progressing our stories to full books. You see, prior to BBC 500 Words 2019, we had written several short stories (we may publish them someday), so we had been writing for a good 2-3 years before that. To tell you how our reviews came about, one evening, we were all sitting in the living room and talking about our love for reading etc, when Mum had this sudden idea to begin reviewing other people’s books. We weren’t sure at first and thought it would be one of those ideas that we think of but push aside after a minute or two, but we decided to take to the idea, and now it’s one of the things we’re most commonly known for!
GWGM: You are both in a unique position as pre-teen authors. How have your peers reacted to you writing? When I was 13-14, my best friend wrote fantasy books, which I loved reading. Have your friends played any role in the creation of your books? How have your teachers responded to your writing careers?
Kirsten Mbawa
Kirsten: We were about mid-way through our first draft when I started secondary school so I didn’t mention about my book to anyone at school so as not to rock the boat too much. I wanted to get settled it first☺ However, it was difficult to keep it under wraps when we were featured in our local newspaper in February on World Book Day 2020! My friends and teachers were incredibly supportive, even featuring me in our school newsletter which increased support for our kickstarter campaign. It was highly embarrassing though that my friends called me famous and asked for my autograph.
Aiyven: My school took a bit too well to the news. You see, my school is a very small but friendly school. Mum had told our head teacher about us publishing our books, and a few days after I had to bring in my book and show the class. Afterwards, we had an assembly that I would never be mentally prepared for. My head teacher called me up in front of the whole school to talk about my book, and I stood there and smiled, feeling quite hot in the face but pleased all the same. Afterwards, my friends were all begging for “autographs” and many teachers and pupils alike approached me in the playground to talk about my book.
GWGM: Kirsten, what inspired you to write about the Victorian time period in Sagas of Anya? Your website notes that you are a history buff. How did this fascination develop?
Kirsten: Whilst I was writing my book I was reading a lot of Victorian books set back in the day like Hetty Feather, Wave me Goodbye, etc. These books Inspired me to write my own book that was also set in that time as I loved the Victorian style of writing ✍🏾🤓 My fascination definitely developed from Jaqueline Wilson. If you don’t know her, Jacqueline Wilson is a 74-year-old children's and adult author. Jacqueline Wilson writes a lot of books set back in the day, so that really inspired me as I love her books!! There are also lots of shows I used to watch set in the Victorian times, for example Hetty Feather, which is based on the Jacqueline Wilson book, Hetty Feather.
GWGM: Aiyven, the world you've created in Land of the Nurogons is fascinating. What was your inspiration? Are there any particular fantasy writers who have influenced you?
Aiyven Mbawa
Aiyven: I was definitely inspired by Percy Jackson. As a class read, we read Percy Jackson, and everyone took to it incredibly. We did a writing project similar to the book, creating our own heroes and doing extremely fun activities to create gruesome monsters for our heroes to fight. When it came to writing the adventure of our heroes, I loved it. Writing an adventure tale was amazing fun.
Oddly, some people say that my book is very much alike J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, but I only started reading the series when we were proofreading; our mum would only let us read it when I was almost 11! Now, though, the series is one of my favourites.
GWGM: Can you each name an all-time favourite book, or do they change regularly?
Kirsten: Definitely, for me, my all-time favourite book changes, not even every year, but more like every month! Currently, it is The London Eyemystery as I’ve just read that and it’s fresh in my brain. I really like that book because it’s very mysterious and holds you hostage until the end of the book where explains everything! It was also very realistic and not like those happy-go-lucky children’s books, even though this book is still for children.
Aiyven: My favourite book used to be Percy Jackson & the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan. My favourite book at the moment will have to be Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. Her books are so so good, her descriptive writing is epic. I didn’t start reading her books until a couple of months before my 11th birthday because mum said the world must or should be suffering from Harry Potter fatigue and she wanted us to read a variety of other authors first☺ Funny, we got stuck on Jacqueline Wilson instead, so much we had to do a 3 month Jacqueline Wilson fast☺
GWGM: What were your favourite picture books/authors?
Kirsten: One of my favourite picture books was We’re Going On a Bear Hunt. I remember loving all the sounds and actions that you could do with the book. At school, we used to practice and practice then we’d perform the actions to the book in front of the whole school! It was quite nerve-wracking as I was just a little reception but also very fun and exciting.
Aiyven: I haven’t read many children’s books in my time. During my younger years of school, we had reading stages that I think went up to twelve (I may be completely wrong)? I quickly finished these stages at around the middle of Year 1, and became a free reader, free to read whatever I pleased instead of having to be set a specific book. This showed off my reading knowledge, but also limited the amount of memories I have when it comes to children’s books. Despite this, I remember loving the Kipper the Dog series and bringing in my favourite Kipper teddy for show-and-tell. I also loved Tiddler and the Just So Stories.
GWGM: And finally, this is an unprecedented time we are living through. How has the coronavirus impacted your writing?
Aiyven: The dreaded COVID-19 has definitely ruined our book launch! We were planning to have a book launch in April but we’ve had to cancel/ postpone it until we get the all-clear on the Corona Virus.
A great big THANK YOU to Kirsten and Aiyven Mbawa!!!
Buy the books:
You can order their books directly from our website, Waterstones or Amazon
*Christopher Paolini wrote the first draft of Eragon when he was 15.

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