I just opened this month’s beautiful copy of Spider Magazine to find my story, “Mr. Mosop’s Kukus” accompanied by Mikela Prevost‘s beautiful illustrations.
I wrote the first draft of the story about my two youngest daughters and our lovely neighbor, whose beloved chicken Pepper (buddy to white hen and friend, Salt) met his sad fate at the teeth of a raccoon. Elspeth and Bea took him a card and chocolate and in a few months, our neighbor summoned them back to name his two new chickens. Elspeth gave up her naming rights and generously let her little sister name both chickens after herself: Beatrix and Fern. If there had been a third chicken, it probably would have received the name Cockroft.
I sent the first draft of the story to an editor, but the setting proved too common; everyone writes about chickens, the editor told me. So when an editor at Spider asked if I could submit a story set in Kenya, I set to work researching East African chickens and came across the amazing kuku kuchi, a large, strong, beautiful chicken that is helping to transform villagers’ livelihoods in Elgeyo Marakwet County, which is one of the most gorgeous places I have ever visited, near the Rift Valley, lush and full of gardens and trees. I really think Prevost captured the beauty of this magnificent part of the world!