Sep 2, 2011

Q&A with Ellen Banda-Aaku

Ellen Banda-Aaku was gracious enough to do a Q&A for Seize the Moment. This is a complement to the book review of her latest book, Patchwork,  that I published a few weeks ago. I enjoy such interactions and I hope you do too. Without further ado here’s what Ellen has to share about her life and work!

When did you start writing and who/what inspired you?
I started writing about 8 years ago. I Moved to Ghana and found that I had some time on my hands so I wrote a story for children and entered it for the Macmillan Prize for African writing. Surprisingly my story won! [This book, Wandi's Little Voice, will be reviewed here later this month] 

You started off with children’s fiction. How/why did you make the switch to adult fiction?
Patchwork started as a book for children. But as I wrote it, somehow it changed in terms of tone and length so I finished it as an adult novel.

Do you plan to return to children’s fiction?
Yes I do. I plan to start a book for teenagers before the end of this year. Plan being the perative word here.

How did you come up with the idea for Patchwork?
I don’t really plan my stories they tend to just grow inside me. However, after I had written Patchwork I realised that I draw a lot from things I saw when I was growing up. Things I was unable to ask questions about.

How would you best describe the story in this novel?
As a coming of age story?

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not really. I would like my readers to enjoy the story and to take from it whatever they wish.

Which of your characters do you most relate with (please give a brief explanation of why you relate to him/her)?
Interestingly, I don’t relate to any of them. However, my favourite characters though are Bee, Sissy and Grandma Ponga.

There is some criticism of African literature that it continues to focus on AIDS, poverty, war and violence and in doing so, plays in to Western stereotypes. Your thoughts?
My view is that literature should reflect a balanced reality. AIDS, poverty, war and violence unfortunately exist in all societies, the problem arises when they are portrayed as prevalent mostly in Africa to the extent that it over shadows all other positive aspects of the continent.

What are you working on right now?
Nothing at the moment.

Most people write part time. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I teach Creative Writing

What do you like most about being a writer?

I get to do what I love doing.

What do you like least about being a writer?
The lack of financial rewards.

What book is sitting on your coffee table or night stand right now?
Little Liberia by Jonny Steinberg

If you're interested in learning more about Ellen Banda-Aaku, please visit her web site. Her work can be purchased online through and 


I absolutely appreciate interactions like these :) So lovely of Ellen to do it. As an aspiring writer I find it encouraging. Thank you :)

Glad you enjoyed this Sunshine. I think such interactions are really crucial in a world where a writer hopes to reach readers from all parts of the world.

Just read the review of her children's book and saw this as a related post. Her answers were brief but it's a good interview all the same. Thank you both for sharing.

Thanks for the interview. I hope that Patchwork comes to West Africa and soon.

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