Expat life means many things to Pauline. It’s an adventure. It’s a path to new professional opportunities. It’s a way to fix her strained marriage. She put all these hopes into moving to Nairobi. Things did not go as expected.
Now she’s trying to establish a life in Nairobi. She’s figuring out what to do about her marriage. She’s working as hard as she can to get her career back on track. But one thing after another keeps going wrong.
Pauline is struggling.
Expat life doesn’t always go as planned and isn’t always what you think it’ll be.
Tilly and her family have been expats for ages. Nairobi was meant to be a two-year post, just the next stop in their many adventures abroad. Somehow, two years turned into nine without her even noticing it. She loves Nairobi, as do her husband and their three sons.
She stopped thinking of Kenya as a new, exotic location years ago. It’s just where she lives. She has practically become a local and her life is fully enmeshed in Nairobi. She hasn’t even thought about the next move, until now.
She’s ready for a new career, but is it worth exploring if they have to move in a year or two? Part of expat life is knowing that you have to leave at some point. But what if she doesn’t want to say goodbye? Could she stay?
Zara loves her job in child protection services. She believes in the work and is passionate about helping and protecting children. But, after many years in the field, she has grown tired of going from assignment to assignment every year or two. She hopes she’ll be able to find something solid in Nairobi, where she was supposed to be instead of shuttling back and forth to Mogadishu.
She’s ready to settle down. She wants to stay in one place long enough to make a real difference. That’s her ndoto, her dream.
I’ll be doing a reading of Nairobi Ndoto on Friday, March 3rd at 7:30 pm at Shakespeare & Company Booksellers. I’ll speak a little bit about the book and read from the first few chapters to give an introduction to the three main characters: Tilly, Pauline, and Zara. There will be wine and friendly faces.
If you’re in Vienna, I hope you’ll stop by.
Shakespeare & Co. is located at Sterngasse 2, in the First District in Vienna. You can take a look at the map below or scroll down a little further to see directions from the bookshop’s website.
I recently shared my Nairobi Vision Board from Pinterest. Here’s the vision board for my current project, set in Vienna. As I progress with this novel, I’ll share more information. In the meantime, the vision board offers up some hints.
My latest challenge is promoting Nairobi Ndoto while working on the next book. Engaging on social media, contacting book bloggers, looking up contests, and running a giveaway takes time. I’m happy to spend the time, but I need to balance that with writing.
I imagine this will be a process of trial and error until I get it right. I’m going to try limiting book promotion to one hour on one day of the week. This can be anything from research, to social media strategy, to requesting reviews, to creating assets that I can use in promotions. Then, on the other days of the week, I’ll engage on social media briefly – just enough to interact with people and sometimes post something. We’ll see how that goes.
I’m hoping this will be enough so I can focus more time on writing.
Nairobi Ndoto is by no means a memoir. But aspects of my life in Kenya definitely inspired parts of the story. The fantastic weather, the abundant nature, the crazy weather, and the matatus are all real. Here’s a little taste of the elements of my Nairobi life that pop up in the novel:
The novel is about three expatriate women who find their ndoto—the Swahili word for dreams—have become a nightmare when their world is thrown into turmoil by murder. Tilly, Pauline, and Zara each dreamed of a life abroad in Kenya filled with adventure, opportunities, and new beginnings. Reality didn’t match the dream.
If you’re interested in the story and want to check out the book, you can get it in ebook and paperback formats through Apple Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Thalia, and more. You can also order it through your local bookstore.