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LitiTalk: Keeping up with Saratu Danjuma

Hey readers! I have been itching to give you another interesting interview session and finally I have done it! If you missed the first issue, click here. In this session, I chatted with Saratu about the first part of her story titled “Guilty Pleasures”a story that explores relationships, deception, cultural norms and society’s ills.

Saratu Danjuma is a 26 year old practicing lawyer and aspiring author from Lagos, Nigeria, her “lieu de naissance”. Before she moved back to the country, she lived in France and England; she speaks English and French (which she says is “quite rusty” at the moment). She is inspired by anyone who chases their dreams and finds a way to contribute to the progress of their community/country as well. If she had to pick someone, she would say the late Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian novelist, poet, critic and professor popularly known for his first novel, Things fall ApartAccording to her, he revolutionized African Literature and his courage inspires her immeasurably. She once reviewed the famous novel while she wrote for the arts section of her University Newspaper, The Epigram.

Saratu Danjuma

Saratu Danjuma

I know you guys are already getting très excited! so I’ll just dive into the interview session!

Tell me about your life at France? Where did you stay? What were your favorite places to visit and your fondest memories?
I lived in France for a year whilst studying at Sorbonne University in Paris. My apartment was on rue de rivoli in the quatrieme (4th) arrondissement in an area called St Paul, very close to Le Marais. It was sublime! My fondest memories were weekend mornings wandering around Les Marais (lots of quirky vintage shops, cafes, art galleries, trendy bars etc. The area attracts a young cool crowd as well), I loved museum hopping (The Louvre, Musée D’Orsay etc are great but my favorite museum was just 5 mins from my apartment and called the Musée Européenne de la Photographie- they always had incredible photography exhibitions), The guys who lived next door to me (mes voisins) always had these incredible soirees where all their friends would come over and just drink wine and chat. Those were so much fun. They organized a little birthday dinner for me back then which was lovely. Ah good times! Spending Easter with a friend’s family in Tours, by the Loire Valley in Central France is another great memory. I even miss my evening jogs at Jardin Tuileries. I could go on and on!

It says in your profile that you tried wake boarding and didn’t have the best experience, what exactly happened?
Haha! That happened whilst I was at Uni. I joined the waterski and wakeboard club assuming that being able to swim would be enough. I didn’t anticipate how tricky it would be to stay balanced on the wakeboard whilst holding on tightly to the cable attached to the motorboat. The force of the boat’s speed was too much for my puny arms so I let go and was flung gracelessly into the icy water.

So the title of the story is “Guilty Pleasures”, why did you choose this title?
The title is “Guilty Leisure” and I chose it because of the intrigue in the story. There is a lot of merriment depicted beside some disquieting behavior.

What inspired this story?
It was inspired by my fascination with relationships involving deception and secrets.

Tell me about your writing process.
I almost never have every detail of my story planned out before commencing. I just need a strong idea and solid characters to start. I want to indulge in the wonder of discovery the way my readers will. This means that I do end up re-crafting my story halfway in, which is fine. I can’t stand writing on touch screen surfaces so would rather lug my laptop around than my iPad; I have to hear the keyboard clicking as I type. I’m also funny about the fonts I can write in.

What audience do you write for?
I write for everyone

Any outside research involved in the story?
Any research done was very minimal since there nothing really intricate or complicated in the storyline. It wasn’t at all intellectually demanding compared to some of my other stories. It was a fun story to write.

The story features scenes from different parts of the world eg Venice, London, NY and Paris, are the pieces of these locations influenced by personal travels?
In this story- not really. Being well traveled to a certain extent makes me want to exploit more settings, cultures and types of characters in my work but I write as much about places I haven’t visited as the places I have. Research is a powerful tool.

You have lived in two continents, how has that influence your world views and the way you write?
 It’s definitely enlightened me and made me more open minded.

Why did you decide to do the story in parts?
I flirted with the idea of making it serial at first but wanted a break from those characters by the time the story was done so figured I’d just let it end at that point. However, when the first few people who read it asked me where the rest of it was and insisted I continue it, I knew I’d have to write a part 2 at least.

So there’s a little story in there that I found very intriguing- the story about Simi’s grandma and grandpa. From two different class backgrounds and yet they fall in love. A very romantic concept but some might say not very realistic, what is your opinion on the extent to which a simple story like yours should reflect reality?
I don’t think it is unrealistic, I personally know of real relationships like that. People of different social backgrounds, races, religions and political affiliations, fall in love all the time. That said, I write fiction and will inject as much realism as I feel is necessary. Even if you don’t believe it’s possible, I’d love for my readers indulge me and believe that in this instance it actually did occur.

Do you think in a class conscious society like ours, it is possible for two people from extremely different class backgrounds to fall in love like Simi’s grandparents? And if so or if not, why and on what grounds?

Love is inherently a dynamic emotional state or force. I think it’s absolutely possible. Usually when an individual can’t imagine personally falling in love with someone of a different social bracket it’s hard for them to imagine why others would do it, but it happens. Whether it will eventually affect their relationship further down the line is a completely different concern but it really does happen.

Children don’t know that kids can see and can be damaged by actions of their parents, would you say that Simi’s actions are partly due to her dad’s unfaithfulness?

I think kids get affected by what they see growing up, but as an adult you can always choose to make better choices than your parents did. It can be tricky though.

We’ve gotten this image about Tolu from Simi’s view, can you give me a scoop of who Tolu is in his own view? Are we going to get Tolu’s perspective in the second part?
You’ll have to read Part 2 for that! There’s definitely a lot more to him that you got to see in the first part of the story.

There are a lot of issues like how the rich and powerful are not brought to justice that are reflected in the story, was this intentional or consequential? 
Yes, that was intentional right from the start.

As a lawyer, do you find this to be true?
Absolutely, it’s no secret that the Nigerian Criminal Justice System leaves much to be desired.

There you have it! You got all the details here on LitiTalk! Be sure to share the article and your thoughts on the story!

Read the first part of Guilty Pleasures here. 

Make sure you keep up with Saratu on her twitter page here, 

and don’t forget to love the arts, follow your dreams and read a book. Till next time, I’m Kofo Adebiyi.

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Non-Fiction Fiction: Fatima

Fatima.
She stayed away from us,
Sitting on the cold dirt while the flies swirled around her.
She would let no one near her.
Even if you wore the brightest smile,
Fatima will stay away.

She touched the sands because they had always been there to comfort her. When she fell, they were there to scrape her flesh open so that she could bleed and remember that she was alive.
Even if the home decided to send her away, the sand will always be there for her.
Rough little stones under the flesh of her feet,
Always reminding her that she was alive.

The little thing refuses to eat a thing, many have been the people that betrayed her while offering her a meal.
Her eyes bore no hope,
Perhaps because the world had given her none.
If you think death is the worst fate of mankind,
You should have seen Fatima.
No smile or frowns,
Just a drifting soul hoping it’ll end soon.
She can’t tell her story,
So i write it for her.

Although I am safe now,
The ghosts still haunt and hunt me,
Knives cutting, hands rubbing and piercing inside of me.
Blood and more blood,
All in the secrets of a dark room.
In the dark of the night,
Left alone,
The rains beat me down too
And the sands are my friend,
They should be with me when I die.
But i wake up in the daylight,
In this safe house.
I want to thank them for saving me,
But all I see are these ghosts, piercing me… Blood, blood and more blood…
So i go back to touch the sand,
Because they will always be with me,
Even when I’m dead.

If you think that death is the worst fate of mankind,
You should have seen Fatima.