The People Who Write Questionnaire: Ayesha Harruna Attah

By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond (NEBH)

Ayesha Harruna Attah Photo

Ayesha Harruna Attah (AHA) wrote and published her first novel, Harmattan Rain, with a fellowship from Per Ankh Publishers and TrustAfrica. Harmattan Rain was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Africa Region. Ayesha was educated at Mount Holyoke College and Columbia University and received an MFA in creative writing from NYU in 2011. Her second novel, Saturday’s Shadows, is forthcoming from World Editions in the Fall of 2014.

NEBH: If your life (so far) were a book, what would the title be?
AHA: The Thousand Adventures of the Ghanaian Nomad.

NEBH: What is the greatest story ever told?
AHA: The story of creation, in all the different forms it takes–whether it is Adam and Eve in Eden, a big bang, or an old woman pounding fufu pushing Nyame higher up and up into the sky.

NEBH: Who is the greatest literary character ever created?
AHA: The characters in The Wind in the Willows. The whole lot of them—the Mole, the Rat, and the Toad.

NEBH: Which living or dead writer would you most like to share a meal with?
AHA: I would love to have coffee with Naguib Mahfouz in a café in one of Cairo’s alleys.

NEBH: What is your favorite word right now?
AHA: Rubicund.

NEBH: What word has always looked or sounded strange to you?
AHA: Kerfuffle.

NEBH: How many words have you written today?
AHA: Do emails count?

NEBH: Where have you had your most exhilarating writing experience?
AHA: It goes and comes in waves. Sometimes you ride the crest of the wave, sometimes you don’t. In my forthcoming, novel, Saturday’s Shadows, writing Kojo’s story was always exhilarating. He’s funny and self-absorbed, yet totally adorable and he says the most ridiculous things.

NEBH: What is the thing about writing that you most deplore?
AHA: The guilt that overcomes me when I’m not writing.

NEBH: What is the thing about writing that you most love?
AHA: I love that I get to be several people at once and experience lives totally different from mine.

NEBH: What stereotype about writers have you found to be true?
AHA: That writers drink a lot?

NEBH: What’s the biggest misconception about writers/writing?
AHA: And this will contradict my last answer … not all writers are tortured souls.

NEBH: What’s the one thing no one would ever guess about you from reading your writing?
AHA: Just how shy I can be!
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is the author of Powder Necklace and the founder of the blog People Who Write. Named among the 39 most promising African writers under 39, her work will be featured in the forthcoming anthology Africa39.




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