Search
  • Heather Steadham

No One Can Pick Just One!--Inside the Kidlit Studio with Bernard K. Mensah

Updated: Sep 6



After a summer of self-care for the three folks behind Inside the KidLit Studio, we have returned--and with a new name to put on your radar!


If you haven’t visited Bernard K. Mensah’s website yet, stop reading this right now. I’m serious! Click on this link and have a gander at one of the most colorful, dynamic, intriguing homepages of all time.


Done it? Good. Now let’s talk about the person behind the page.


Bernard lives in Belper, a village in the UK, but he grew up in West Africa--Ghana, to be specific. He’s got a self-described “wild imagination,” and his self-published debut, Rambunctious Kwame and the Case of the Missing Birthday Banku, is available now for free on Kindle. And you can find his second book, The Rainy Day Zoo, on the beautiful website you just saw.


This new face to KidLit enjoyed our crazy questionnaire, and we enjoyed reading his answers--where much of the time, he couldn’t pick just one. And thank goodness he didn't; his double answers make for twice the enjoyment.


1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

A difficult question! I started writing with a dream of bringing Ghanaian and African

stories to a global audience for the sake of my children and others like them. I want to

provide a mirror for those kids and a window for others to see, understand, and

experience our rich culture and history in storytelling. I am proud of the fact that I

have some exciting traditional publishing news that I hope to be able to share soon!!

I’m excited that publishers are more open to stories that center very different

experiences.

I also have a great passion for providing quality and accessible literature, especially to

Ghanaian children. As a result, I cofounded an imprint, Haberman+Nerds to find fellow

African storytellers and illustrators and to train up-and-coming African creatives

where I can. I’m not an expert, but I believe strongly in sharing what little I know to

uplift people! My second self-published picture book launched as a limited edition

hardcover edition on Kickstarter in June. We will also launch a special competitively-

priced edition solely for the Ghanaian market in August. This is our mission, to price

our books, not for profit but for accessibility.

So in a very roundabout way, my greatest achievement is my kids, because, without

them, I wouldn’t be doing any of this! I wouldn’t have the passion, drive, and be looking

for the opportunities I am now to increase African and Ghanaian representation in

literature. They keep me going when things are difficult and believe me, things do get

difficult!


2. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Ooh good question. I love food and my kids. I think the perfect situation would be to

have unlimited access to all the different cuisines I love (Japanese is a very close second

to Ghanaian food) and to be able to create and write without the pressures of modern

life. Preferably on a beach with perpetual sunshine with the kids splashing about in the

water. All I need is a replicator and a magic wand I think to make it happen!


3. What is your most treasured possession?

Going to sound really geeky, but my computer. I am tied at the hip to it--it’s my

conduit to multiple worlds when I write. It’s my diary when I need to journal and it’s

how I make money to pay the bills in the real world as a Software Engineering Manager.


4. What is it you most dislike?

Willful ignorance and close-mindedness. My parents brought me up as a global child.

We traveled quite a bit and, through that, I gained great respect for different cultures

and viewpoints. I try to bring my children up the same way, even though we don’t get to

travel as much as I would love to. What I find quite disconcerting, especially in the age

of internet access, is adults who refuse to engage with readily-available information so

they can make informed decisions and opinions.


5. What is your greatest extravagance?

My speaker system. I am a secret audiophile and I have been known to spend quite a bit

(for me) on getting the perfect system for music and tv. I play music almost every day

in the evening and there are fewer greater pleasures than listening to a superb

reproduction of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and hearing the individual, subtle

guitar strums and the soft pauses as he sings. Magical!


6. Which talent would you most like to have?

DIY! I am utterly hopeless. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but I definitely prefer to have

an expert do things. I have nightmares of the house falling down around me because I

botched something up!


7. Where would you like to live?

Japan! It’s my spiritual home. I love the richness and variety in the cuisine and the utter

predictability of life juxtaposed with the different experiences you can have there. The

trains run to military precision, they are so prompt you can set your watch by them! At

the same time, every area is different in its cuisine and mannerisms. I’ve been there a

few times, and every time I am amazed at the different flavors and experiences you can

have.


8. What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty and loyalty. I am not the best at keeping in touch, so my real friends know that

even though I don’t check in every five minutes, I will have their backs regardless of

what is going on. Pick up the phone, send me a message--whatever works--and I will

be there!


9. What's the weirdest thing about you (that you're willing to share)?

Well, I don’t know if it’s weird, but my brain works like a comic reel 24/7, with

commentary. Sometimes, it’s funny commentary, too, so someone might see a smile on

my face, and I’m chuckling at the commentary on something that happened probably a

few days ago!


10. What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?

My dad used to be a fighter pilot; I would love to try my hand at that! Or perhaps a

doctor.


11. Which living person do you most admire?

Going to cheat and choose two :). Jason Reynolds for his unique perspective in his

stories and his wisdom. Every time I hear him speak, I come away inspired and with

the energy to do my bit to change publishing any way I can! And Nnedi Okorafor for her

consistent flying of the flag of African literature. She is a great inspiration for me and

her work is spectacular. I highly recommend Ikenga as an excellent middle-grade

introduction to her body of work!


12. Who is your favorite hero/heroine of fiction?

Going to cheat here too, sorry! Deadpool and StarLord--both smart alecks with a great

sense of humor. I aspire to be as good with comebacks as they are!


13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Get myself back into martial arts shape. I was a black belt in several martial arts a few

years ago. Kids, old age, and my knees not being what they used to be have made that

pretty much impossible. Can I get robot knees, please?


14. What is the favorite book of your childhood?

Anything written by Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie.


15. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year? (Doesn’t have to be KidLit.)

Lots of really great books to be honest! But The Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi

Adeyemi is a firm favorite, followed by Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alson, and

in the early reader space, Unicorn and Yeti by my friend Heather Ayris Burnell is

hilarious!



More about Bernard:


Bernard's website (which you better already be familiar with!): https://www.booksbybernardkmensah.co.uk/


Bernard's Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/bernardkmensah

20 views0 comments