Do you experience Joy when writing? Would you like to learn how to write and publish a book?
Then you will most likely be interested in this article. Today, I am interviewing Philomène Luyindula Lasoen about her personal experience as a published writer.
Philomène curently lives in Cape Town, South Africa. I had the pleasure to meet Philomène when I was doing volunteer work in Cape Town in 2002. We have not seen each other since then but we stayed in touch.
After you read this interview, let me know: Do you feel inspired to write the book you have been wanting to write? And/or to read Philomène’s book?
Let me know in the comment section below. I look forward to reading your answers! 🙂
- Philomène, Can you Tell us about Yourself?
- Can you Tell us about your Experience as a Published Author?
- What is your Book “The Widening of the Womb and other Stories” about?
- How about the Money?
- What Final Words would you Like to Share with our Readers?
- Good Resources for Writers?
- And Now?
- My Secret
Philomène, Can you Tell us about Yourself?
I have the strangest names! Philomène means ‘the one who has many friends’ and I have indeed been trying to add to my incredible collection of friends since my tween years. When I was about 12, I would count the number of hugs and kisses I received on the playground. This would often reach a bit more than 100, yet I have always had a shy side too.
I am sometimes the most boring person and due to occasional anxiety I cancel parties at the last minute unless I host. And I am quite happy to organise events for over 100 people, it is such a lovely number!. At other times I do cook ups and bring together people who were always meant to meet.
Luyindula Ndevolo is the Kikongo for ‘think before you act’. I would say that it is heavy advice to gift to a newborn. Because I am from the early 70s generation, I am part of those who have their individual surnames rather than a family one. I am of course quite impulsive!
Aside from these qualities, the narrative of my life is slightly complicated and yet it is my only path. I am the daughter of a Congolese couple. My mother Nkelani died in a road traffic accident when I was 4 as we were crossing a street. I was holding her hand but have no recollection of the event except a fear of soldiers because there was no police in Kinshasa and we were taken to an army camp.
It is our neighbours who came to fetch me even though our lives would not have become intertwined without my mother’s death. They were a wealthy white family in a rich suburb but there was a plot next to their property whose owner let my mother erect her shack on.
In my current context, that is when living in South Africa, I cannot imagine that a woman with infants is the way to prevent someone moving onto your property. But we found ourselves near this other family who became my very own instant family. So I also have a French mother and a Belgian father.
My biological father is alive again – I say that because I was told in 1995 that he passed away. He is a humble man full of love and tenderness. I hope to meet him again and then I will write more stories.
Can you Tell us about your Experience as a Published Author?
I have been wanting to write for as long as I can remember but only voiced it around the time that I was 13.
When I turned 40 I decided I could no longer blame my parents for not following my dreams so I asked around for courses.
I was directed towards the author and medical doctor Dawn Garisch and attended one of her memoir writing courses. She is brilliant and we must choose our guides well even though they are presented to us in unexpected ways.
Instead of writing my memoir, I seem to have attempted to write multiple ones for women who died several centuries and millennia ago.
I feel compelled to write. Writing is my true language. It is my happy place just like gardening actually – that I dry a single rose, arrange a bouquet or grow a large cabbage, flowers and plants bring me joy.
In terms of writing, I may ink only two lines about Grace or versify. Also, I will be ready, quite soon, to submit the manuscript for the sequel to my first book.
For The Widening of the Womb and Other Stories, I went the self-publishing route. Almost as a reward, I was told by someone who reads well into my life that it was what I needed to do: a birthing of something that was wholly mine and for my own benefit.
I don’t think I could have done it before I turned 40. If you haven’t been told that 40 is the new teenage life, let me tell you that in my case, I was hormone mad, self-absorbed and selfish… just selfish enough to make time to write and market my book a year later.
I still get a shiver of pleasure when I am referred to as a writer. Sometimes even the word poet is used and this actually feels like ‘future me’. In 2018, one of my poems on xenophobia was published in the anthology Disrupting Denial: Analysing Narratives of Invisible/Visible Violence and Trauma. This I think is the best book for individual and community healing.
I do not want to go the self-publishing route again (for book that is. I intend to publish a journal/dream diary). I am aware that even with the best publisher, I would have to do a lot of marketing. So I would say that publishing a book is a journey into self-love because you have to read your own words over and over and tell the world how amazing they are. [laughter]
What is your Book “The Widening of the Womb and other Stories” about?
The Widening of the Womb is a collection of short stories. The title is the English translation of the name of Rahab, a woman whose story in the old testament is not given the attention it deserves but I have made it my central story.
Her narrative addresses the issues of exile, revolutions, shifting power, transactional sex, community. Hopefully this is what my book is about: exploring the past, fighting the erasure of women, discovering healing paths for our contemporary selves through the medium of stories that come from an ancient sacred text.
I have delved into the old testament from a feminist lens but perhaps specifically as a Christian black feminist raised in an atheist family. And may I also add that the other combinations of my background impact on my reading and retelling. So wealth and poverty and privilege and humility seep into my characters’ thoughts.
My characters are splendid even though I say so myself. They have come to live with me, waking me in the night to share their mischievous plans and then I had nothing else to do than to start typing.
How about the Money?
The Methodist Publishing House advised me to go the self-publishing route for this first book because feminist theology even in creative writing still comes across as a religious book.
I think that I have successfully marketed it outside of this limited identity since it appeals to people of all and no religion as well as folks of all ages and genders.
But! Yes, there is a but. In South Africa, a religious book is a best seller if it sells 450 copies and I would have earned about 1 euro per copy. At this stage the ebook is doing well and my sales from the first print batch brought me 3 times more than what I was told to expect should have I gone to a publisher.
So I am grateful for all the advice I have been given and all the help and encouragement that came my way because as in The Alchemist, I can say that the universe conspires to lead us into our desires.
What Final Words would you Like to Share with our Readers?
May I quote from a little passage in the book? It is something we always need to be reminded about:
“The trail of Light we’ve left behind us only gets dimmer to our own eyes. To others, it shines brighter – an accumulated history of sparkles and beautiful moments.”
Good Resources for Writers?
Are you a writer who would like to live from her pen? Or would you just like to improve your writing skills?
I am currently compiling a list of good resources for writers. Bookmark this page and come back to it later to check it out.
Alternatively, you can also sign up for my newsletter below and be informed when this compilation is ready.
If you are French-speaking, I can already recommend this free online webinar with the free guide “Les Trois Choses à Savoir pour Vivre de sa Plume”.
Well, dear reader, let me ask again, do you feel inspired to write the book you have been wanting to write? And/or to read Philomène’s book?
Let me know in the comment section below. I look forward to reading you! 🙂
You can also connect with Philomène on her book’s FaceBook page by going here.
To our Joy and Happiness,
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