Episode 47: Why It's Important to Tell Your Story Your Way with Novelist Maaza Mengiste (Part II of II) - Shereen Kassam | FunnyBrownGirl

This week I talk about balancing a Full-Time Job with a Creative Passion! Check out the YouTube video here – https://youtu.be/w4trvPrIfAo, as well, as my first vlog about being a stand-up comedian – https://youtu.be/hrKB6b47DO4

We chat about past interviews with creatives who had or have a Full-Time job while pursuing their creative passion.  Interviewees include Shereen Ladha, JP Lambiase, Abi Varghese, Maaza Mengiste, and Tissa Hami

This week’s guest: Maaza Mengiste, the author of The Shadow King, selected by the New York Times as one of the 100 most notable books of 2019

Who is Maaza Mengiste? 

Maaza Mengiste is a novelist and essayist. She is the author of the forthcoming novel (September 24, 2019), The Shadow King, called “a brilliant novel…compulsively readable” by Salman Rushdie. Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was selected by The Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books and named one of the best books of 2010 by Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and other publications. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Scholar Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Creative Capital. Her work can be found in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Granta, The Guardian, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and BBC, among other places. Maaza’s fiction and nonfiction examines the individual lives at stake during migration, war, and exile, and considers the intersections of photography, memory, and violence. She was a writer on the documentary projects, GIRL RISING and THE INVISIBLE CITY: KAKUMA.

Key Questions answered by Maaza Mengiste:

  • How to stay motivated
  • How she writes
  • How to write historical fiction
  • What is a Full Bright Scholar
  • What’s the best piece of advice Maaza’s received
  • Maaza’s definition of success
  • What inspires Maaza
  • What is a habit that has helped Maaza be successful
  • What does Maaza want her legacy to be

Maaza Mengiste Discusses:

  • The highs and lows of being a creative entrepreneur
  • Advice for creatives
  • What’s next for Maaza

Key Takeaways from Maaza Mengiste:


  1. Force yourself to work on your passion everyday
  2. Keep working the way you want to work.  Let the people come to you
  3. The story comes first
  4. Don’t give up
  5. Be immersed in the creative process 

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Social Media Info

Connect Online:  

Maaza Mengiste – www.maazamengiste.com

Shereen Kassam – www.funnybrowngirl.com


Maaza Mengiste – @maazamengiste

Shereen Kassam – @funnybrowngirl


Maaza Mengiste – @maazamengiste

The Shadow King – @theshadowkingnovel

Shereen Kassam – @funnybrowngirl




Check out this episode!