Meet an author: Ayesha Harruna Attah
Ayesha Harruna Attah is a Ghanaian born writer. She currently lives in Senegal. She has authored three novels, Harmattan Rain, Saturday’s Shadows and The Hundred Wells of Salaga.
1. When and where were you born?
I was born around midnight in Accra in December 1983.
2. When did you start writing and why?
As a child, I drew and wrote stories and stapled them together to peddle them to the neighborhood children, so I have always written. Later, the pamphlets would turn into essays, bad poetry in diaries, and attempts at plays. The decision to actually live off my writing came when I began journalism school in 2005.
3. At what point do you know that a story/book is complete?
It’s a tough question. For the last book, we (my amazing editors at Cassava Republic and I) edited up to the last minute, so I am not sure there is such a thing as a complete book. With all three of my books every so often, I think, “Oh! This thing could have also gone in this direction; would have been so strong.” But you learn to let go. Otherwise, it becomes a rabbit hole.
4. What’s the hardest/easiest thing about writing?
Hardest thing: drowning out the voices that tell you you’re an imposter or no good. Easiest thing: the beginning of a new story or book, when the world is filled with endless possibilities and no one has to read your work yet; it’s just you, the page, and a million ways in which the story can go.Hardest thing: drowning out the voices that tell you you’re an imposter or no good. - Ayesha Harruna Attah Click To Tweet
5. What books would you say shaped your writing?
Several of Toni Morrison’s books made me want to be a writer. Sweeping family sagas like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible were also books I read when I was young that took me on incredible journeys. I badly wanted to write similar books about where I was from.
6. Are you working on anything at the moment?
I am working on a non-fiction book on the kola nut and how it shaped West Africa.
7. How do you feel about bad reviews?
Don’t like them! But, what would life look like if everyone gravitated towards the same things? Most likely insipid. I know some people are going to love my work, and some people not so much, and I have to accept that as part of the writing life.
TBD- Are you working on anything at the moment? Ayesha - I am working on a non-fiction book on the kola nut and how it shaped West Africa. Click To Tweet
8. If you could be a character in a novel you’ve read, who would you be and why?
Not a character per se, but I would love to live in Italo Calvino’s books. Especially in Imaginary Cities. Life would never be dull.
9. If your life was a book, what would the title be?
Titles are not my forte, but in the spirit of long titles that were popular a few years ago: The Bird and People Watcher who Lived by the Sea.
10. What kind of music do you listen to? Titles?
A bit of everything. It really depends on my mood and what I’m doing. When I’m writing, some of my favorite musicians are D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, classic highlife musicians like CK Mann, and musicians from Mali, such as Oumou Sangare! When it’s time to celebrate or let loose, give me hiphop and R&B from the late 90s any day.
11. Tell us something about yourself that your readers probably don’t know.
I love making homemade ice cream.
12. What books by a Nigeria Author would you recommend to a friend?
So many of them: The Famished Road by Ben Okri; The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta; Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta; Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi; Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀. I could go on and on.