I recently got a copy of Same Elephants by Ghanaian American author Marjy Marj. Marjy Marj is the author of ‘The Shimmigrant’ and ‘Same Elephants’
Same Elephants is a fast paced fiction about an immigrant ‘Sasha Badu’ in search of a better life. She meets 3 friends – Rakiya, Jane and Aviva in college and they become friends. Rakiya and Sasha soon find themselves in trouble after they are accused of trespassing when they visit to Jane and Aviva’s apartment to help them settle as roommates. The friends embark on a peaceful protest to educate the community about the damages of stereotyping.
Marjy Marj’s books – The Shimmigrant and Same Elephants are funny and relatable. Her books are also educative and talks about the complexities of life and how we can unravel it. I loved the fact that Same Elephants explored friendship, stereotyping, women among others. I must admit that the book speaks the truth in a simple way.
After reading ‘Same Elephants’ I reached out to the author and she agreed to an email interview. Here are the responses:
Booktique Ghana: What is it like being an author from Africa and writing about your experiences and background?
Marjy Marj: I’m proud of my heritage. Love sharing bits and pieces of Ghanaian culture in my writing.
Booktique Ghana: What inspired your book “Same Elephants?
Marjy Marj: Same Elephants is a call for unity amongst humans. Lack of representation, inequity, diversity and the power of love are some of the factors that inspired my writing.
Booktique Ghana: Tell me about the writing process? How hard or easy was it creating the characters? What was your work schedule like when you were writing this story? How long did it take to write the book?
Marjy Marj: I do my best writing at dawn. However, I’m fond of writing down ideas in google docs throughout the day. I loved creating the characters in the book. Sasha is a character from my first book. It was really nice bringing her into the Same Elephants family. Rakiya is a combination of characters molded into one strong person. She reminds me of several strong African and African-American women in my life.
Aviva is a character inspired by my Jewish roommate. She is my window into a different culture. And Jane is a combination of some of the hip white folks that I’ve met along the way.Since I do most of my writing very early in the morning, I’m able to keep a regular work schedule. Although I started writing Same Elephants in 2010, I was motivated to finish it after the release of my first book in 2019.
Booktique Ghana: Walk me through the cover of the book? People usually say do not judge a book by its cover but the cover of your book speaks a thousand words.
Marjy Marj: The cover of the book is a statement. The color yellow signifies healing, abundance, self confidence, empowerment, happiness and positivity. Alternatively, the color could signify deceit or cowardice. The women on the cover symbolize the diverse characters in the book.
Booktique Ghana: Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?
Marjy Marj: I love them all! But I dig Rakiya! She speaks the truth and helps Sasha understand prejudice and the presumptive nature of society.
Booktique Ghana: I like the fact that you wrote some part of your book in what I call “Ghanaian English? Only a Ghanaian would understand some words and phrases in the book. What was your reason for throwing in a few Ghanaian words and phrases?
Marjy Marj: I’m a simple writer who likes the idea of writing in one’s voice. I want the readers to hear ‘our’ voice when they read my work.
Booktique Ghana: Are you making money from writing?
Marjy Marj: Yes, I’m fortunate to earn an income from my book sales and speaking engagements
Booktique Ghana: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have currently?
Marjy Marj: Ha! How did you know? Quite a few…
Booktique Ghana: Which African Writers do you look up to?
Marjy Marj: I look up to several authors of African descent. They may be African or African-American. Genres range from fiction to nonfiction.
Booktique Ghana: At what age did you start writing? When did you first realize you want to be an author?
Marjy Marj: I think i must have started writing before I turned 9 years old. I used to make up fun stories when I was a kid. I don’t remember the moment when I realized I wanted to be an author. I’ve had the urge to write or produce since my elementary school days when Mama and I watched plays at the Accra Arts Center.
Booktique Ghana: Does your family support your career as a writer?
Marjy Marj: My family is the best. Both my nuclear and extended family are supportive of my writing.
Booktique Ghana: What do you do when you are not writing?
Marjy Marj: My life is one big adventure. Visit marjymarj.com to learn more. You can also follow my social media to see some of my dance moves. @thismarjymarj
By: Abena Maryann