Saturday, April 10, 2021

Tracy Traynor’s "Grace In Mombasa" is #227 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION

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****Tracy Traynor’s Grace In Mombasa is #227 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered
that you would like to share with us?

What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I published in Nov 2018, I started writing it in Jan 2018, but it had been in my mind for about 5 years before I started.

Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work?  And please describe in detail.  And can you please include a photo? We have converted the small bedroom in our house into a study for me.  It is a small room but has a nice large window that I can look out of as I write and watch the clouds race by, and the birds sitting on the roof of the house opposite.  I am surrounded by book cases.  My computer table is in front of the window.  On the wall to my right is my WIP white board, where I make notes on my next two books.

What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? I am a speed-typist, so my books are written straight into a word.doc, which I need as I am dyslexic and my spelling is atrocious!

I very rarely listen to music, I work best in silence.  Sometimes when I am writing my fantasy books I listen to Enya as it puts me in the mood.  But I didn’t listen to anything whilst writing Grace in Mombasa.

I am a coffee-holic, so up to 2pm I will drink lots of coffee from my filter-coffee maker.  After 2pm, I switch to tall glasses of iced water.  The cold keeps me alert, just as much as the caffeine did in the morning. (Left: Tracy Traynor's writing space.  Credit and Copyright by Tracy Traynor)

I am a morning person and feel more alert before lunch, so I will write then if I can.  However, when I am nearing the end of a book I will work late, say up to 11pm as I am in the throws of ‘nearly there.’ (Right: Tracy Traynor's whiteboard.  Credit and Copyright by Tracy Traynor)

Please include just one excerpt and include page numbers as reference.  This one excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer. Chapter 21. P263.  The chapter is called, You Can’t Out Give God.

 12th December 1963

The noise was deafening.  Cheering, singing, chanting, stamping.  Throngs of people were swaying, jumping, and waving their arms in the air.  It was joyous and amazing and would be a day that Grace would never forget.  It was the day Kenya received independence from Britain.

Grace stood on the hospital veranda and smiled as she watched Mombasa celebrate a day that was long overdue.  Tribal and family groups danced along the street, the Dogos with their nose rings, the Embu with their grass skirts and monkey headdresses, and the Kikuyu men with their bodies adorned with strings of beads.  The crowd as one bounced to the chanting, arms in the air, broad smiles by one and all.  When her legs grew tired from standing, Grace returned to her room.  She tried to do some work but was unable to.  The infectious joy of the country infiltrated every part of the day, and went right through the night to the next day.

Lying awake on her bed listening to the drums and the chanting as the sun began to rise the next day, Grace wondered what would happen next.  She had read Kenyatta’s book ‘Facing Mount Kenya’ and felt sure that he was an honourable man who would lead the country in the right direction.  But what was to become of her life?  Would she be able to stay?  Should she stay? 

The town was finally becoming quiet and Grace was just dropping off to sleep when a nurse knocked on her door.

“Mrs Grace.”

Grace roused herself.  “Yes.”

“Please come, there is a man asking for you.”

Beyond tired, but also curious, Grace got out of bed and threw her dress on, slipped her feet into her shoes and opened the door.

“Who wants me?”

The nurse threw her a worried look.  “Aluoch.”

“I don’t recognise that name, should I know him?”

The nurse just looked at Grace with wide eyes.  “Come,” she said.

Instead of leading the way to one of the wards, the nurse led Grace towards the uninhabited part of the old building.  “In there.” The nurse pointed towards a dark room before turning and running back to the main part of the hospital.  

A man suddenly appeared in the doorway, making Grace jump.  “Mrs-God?”

Grace gulped and nodded.

“Come.”  It was a command she couldn’t refuse and she followed the man into the room.  Once her eyes had become used to the dim light, Grace could make out a small boy lying on the floor.  She could hear him moaning quietly.

“What’s wrong with him?” Grace asked.

“Snake bite.  You fix him.”

“I can’t, we need a doctor and quickly before the poison seeps through his blood.  Do you know what type of snake bit him?”


“Nooo.  We have to get him some anti-venom immediately or he will die.  Quick, pick him up.”


Grace turned to look at the man properly for the first time.  He was taller than average and lean.  His eyes were bloodshot and his skin covered completely in scars.  Her eyes travelled to his hand, which held a machete.

She took a step back.  “You know he will die without medicine?”

“I watch you for long time, Mrs-God.”

“Oh,” Grace didn’t know what else to say.

“I saved you in Nairobi on speech-day.  You walk right into Mau Mau path.  Aluoch,” he stopped to thump his chest, “save you.”

“You were the man who told him I was Mrs-God?”

“Yes.  I saved your life, now you save his,” he pointed to the boy.

“Let me fetch the doctor, we have had medicine delivered this week, you are lucky, I’m sure we will have some anti-venom left.”


“Why not?” said Grace getting distressed as time was running out.

“Police look for us.  You fix him, Mrs-God, just you.”

“I can’t, I need the medicine, let me see if the doctor will let me have it without coming back with me.”

Aluoch swung his machete.  “No.”

The boy started rasping, his ability to draw breath becoming harder.  Grace sank onto the floor beside the boy.  Oh Lord, she cried in her spirit, please help us.  Without any real expectation that the prayer would be answered, she started to pray aloud.  She started with the Lord’s Prayer and then launched into a cry for mercy and for a miracle.  As she prayed, she could hear the boy’s breathing becoming more laboured.  She opened her eyes and looked at him.  He was such a young lad.  Then the memory of laying hands on Bernice came to her and she reached over and placed a hand on his chest.

“Dear Father-God, in your mercy and by your grace, please draw the venom from his body and let him live, that your name may be glorified.”

The boy coughed and spluttered so hard that his body jerked upright into a sitting position.  He coughed and seemed to be choking.  Grace wrapped her arms around him and continued to pray.

Another cough brought a pile of blood shooting from his mouth.  Grace stroked his head and continued to pray.  Then as suddenly as it had started, the coughing stopped, and he lay back in her arms.  For a moment, Grace thought he had died as his breathing had become so still, then he opened his eyes and looked up into hers.  Dark brown pools of gratefulness stared up at her.

Grace looked up at Aluoch, not too sure what to say.

“Odinga?”  Aluoch said.

“Ndiyo baba,” the boy answered.

Aluoch let his head fall backwards and a sound came from him that pierced the air.  When the cry stopped, Aluoch leant down and none too gently pushed Grace out of the way so that he could pick up his son.  Without looking back, he ran out of the room.

Grace started crying.  “Father-God you are wonderful beyond words, and so mysterious.”

When Grace told Oborneo what had happened he had been furious with the nurse and would have admonished her for eternity if Grace hadn’t told him to stop.  

“She shouldn’t have taken you to him,” Oborneo said with fists clenched.  “He is a known killer; no one knows how many people he has killed.  I can’t believe that God saved his son, he deserves to die.”

“Oborneo!  That is a terrible thing to say.”

“If he had killed your family, you would think so too.”

Grace paused for a moment.  “I suppose I might, but God works in mysterious ways and we don’t know what the outcome of last night will be.  Maybe God will change his ways?  Who knows?  I shall pray for his soul and for the safety of his son, Odinga.”

Why is this excerpt so emotional for you as a writer to write?  And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? Because I met Moira Smith, the woman whose life story this is about, I feel very emotionally connected.  Moira was a small, white woman, living in a dark place, battling to bring God’s peace and joy into the lives of the local people of Mombasa.  

I didn’t meet her until a few months before I left Mombasa, and unfortunately only had the opportunity to meet her twice.  The first meeting was short, the second much longer where we sat for a while and she told me some things about her life.  Not all this book is true (I don’t know about her life before being a nanny in London and then getting on board the ship to Mombasa) so it is not a biography.  (Left: The Rod to Mombasa)

But I saw where she slept in the Mombasa free hospital and how dedicated she was to spreading the Good News.  Those two short meetings touched me deeply and I was never able to forget her.  Her self-sacrifice of her life to help others moves me to tears every time I think of her.  I cried many times when writing this book, especially the ending.  I give her a happy ending in this book. (Above Left: The Town of Mombasa )

In truth, she died in the hospital where she lived.  Her last act before she died was to give away her medicine to someone she said, needed it more than her.  When I lived in Mombasa the knowledge that you can’t out-give God was placed in my heart by several miracles that God moved in my life.  His way of talking to me, and His love in what we give away, has shaped me. (Right: Civil Native Hosptial in Mombasa whre Moira Smith died)

Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt? I don’t have any rough drafts I’m afraid.  I work on one word.doc from beginning to end so all the rough drafts get deleted as I go along. (This is the Civil Native Hospital, as it was when Moira first arrived.  It has gone under lots of changes since then.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of Moira.  I reached out during research for the book to people who had known her but they didn’t have any.  The church that buried her tried to find living relatives in the UK, but were unsuccessful.

50% of all my royalties earned from sales of this book, go to Barnabas Outreach Mombasa, who are working with local people.  They help set women up in small business with a £50 loan, and they’re building a small school and medic center.  In this way, I feel like I am keeping Moira’s spirit alive in Kenya. 

A story lover from an early age, Tracy Traynor waited until she was fifty-five before chasing her dream of being an author.  Now, she is an award-winning, Amazon bestselling author who writes in several genres. (Right: Tracy Traynor's Facebook Logo Photo)!/tracy.traynor.9

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for a very thoughtful and thorough blog, you've done a wonderful job, thank you.