Today we’re sharing a chat with one of our valued team members, who is the lead writer for our upcoming digital newsletter, Passport Africa.
Aminata Jalloh is the author of The Biggest Little Brother and blogger behind the page Readers Inspired. Growing up as a Sierra Leonean living in the United States, she had a difficult time reconciling the way Africa was represented in popular media and literature. She believes having access to books from the youngest age can be the windows and mirrors to enhance not only cultural competency but also engage readers.
Q: Ami when did you decide to become a storyteller and what incident led you to that?
A: I was never the one to journal or to write for leisure. But whenever I did write, usually for school or an extracurricular activity I participated in, I was told that I had a knack for storytelling. Despite the positive feedback, I still would only write creatively when asked to do so. It wasn’t until I started my career, at that time as a primary school teacher, that I actually began to see myself as a storyteller.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?
A: I draw inspiration from my heritage as a first-generation Sierra Leonean-American and experiences living in Sierra Leone, the US and the UK. I am inspired by the complexity and beauty of how family is conceptualized in many African households and how our identities transcend nationalities and country borders. I am so proud of my heritage and the diversity within African heritages is so inspiring to me.
Q: How do you combat writer’s block?
A:I do struggle with writer’s block and I find taking breaks from what I’m working on to be particularly helpful. I also discovered that spending time with young children helps me with writer’s blocks.
Q: What’s your preferred writing environment?
A: I am pretty flexible when it comes to my writing environment. As long as there is a good cup of tea then I am in my writing zone!
Q: Do you precisely plan what the book is going to look like, or do you write and see where that takes you?
A:I am not sure if it is just that I’m right-brained in nature or from my teaching background, but when I decide to write a book I do plan out the core message of the book and then start writing. However, I cannot always say that my initial concept is where I end up landing with my final product.
Q: Lastly what advice do you have for aspiring writers?
A: Do not let imposter syndrome stop you!