Today I’m delighted to host Lull Mengesha, the author of “Alia Tero: The Many Lives of Darren Datita” on my blog for an interview. Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed, Lull!
Leigh: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thanks for sharing my story. I’m currently living in Oakland California where I’ve been for the past two years. I work in tech and left corporate life a few years ago and now work for a small start up. I grew up in Seattle and my family is from Ethiopia. My hobbies outside of writing are finding cheap travel deals, spending time with my little sister and going to any event that has the word #trap in it.
Leigh: How did you get into writing?
Accidently. I wrote my first book The Only Black Student as a guide for students I was working with on campus at The University of Washington. It started as just a few students I was mentoring that I thought might appreciate some feedback and advice on navigation. Turned out that the book and the advice was relevant to educators and students at campuses across the country. I hit a nerve and was able to have speaking engagements with students and in those moments I realized I might have created something valuable.
Leigh: How has your Ethiopian American background shaped your work as a writer?
Being an immigrant makes you constantly look at how to inject yourself into an existing framework. That’s the challenge and gift of having the outside perspective, you have fresh eyes to the same experience most people have seen for years. Also growing up with parents who were navigating America the same time as me made us partners in our discovery where any new experience was fair game for interpretation. Having to articulate your perspective to both parents about America and your Ethiopian heritage to your American friends allows you share stories with more empathy.
Leigh: What was it like to collaborate with Scott Spotson?
Scott was amazing to work with for several reasons. Scott is a seasoned writer who I reached out to after having the framework of Alia Tero figured out. I was struggling with how each character developed through each rotation. After working with Scott I realized I had a lot more issues in my writing! He’s a thoughtful writer who’s humor is a good match with mine.
Leigh: How did the concept of the world of Alia Tero evolve?
Alia Tero developed as a way for me to cope with a lot of transitions toward the end of my college life. A close family member had dealt with a violent trauma that completely changed his trajectory and life. As he rehabbed and healed I would sit and write what I pictured to be a more perfect way to deal with violence and justice. This then in turn became only a small part of a “perfect society.” Over the years it has gone from being extremely cynical to hopefully a more positive and funny experience for Darren our main character and his adventures. Now that we’re starting to get feedback from readers the common theme is that we’ve created something unique and enjoyable which is a great take away from something that started out in such a dark space.
Leigh: Tell us about the mission of LMP (Lull Mengesha Publishing).
My goal has always been to empower the communities I’m a part of and that broadens as I gain new experiences. My first book was to empower students and my second project was to empower future entrepreneurs. The goal of Alia Tero is to create an interesting and new space for what life could be like. None of the technology in Alia Tero is impossible for us on earth.
Leigh: What advice would you give to Millennials, ready to enter college, but daunted by the price tag and the paperwork?
Be as frugal as possible! What I see in my adult life is that friends who were frugal and didn’t rack up a lot of debt are living more flexible lives. They’re able to explore a lifestyle that they want versus focusing on what will give them the income and money needed to support themselves.
If I could do things over again I would have applied for more scholarships, more schools and participated in a study aboard program.
Leigh: What other books have you written and where can readers find more about you and your work?
The Only Black Student:
Lull and his ladybugs
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Lull-Mengesha/e/B004YSH2HS
Thank you very much, Lull, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.