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Faghayai Ogoun loves to tell stories, but admits she’s never found true love

faghayai ogoun

Photo courtesy of Faghayai Ogoun

What inspired you to write your first book, Chasing the Horizon?
I’m not sure if there was any one thing or any one moment that I can pinpoint to say, “Yeah, this did it.” I know that I love stories. I love telling them and I love hearing them. As a kid, I was always told stories. Stories of my ancestors were great. I remember asking my mother why people always sang by the riverside. Her answer could have been as simple as, “Oh, it’s because of the ways of the people.” But instead, she told me about the people that lived under water and how they helped the people of the village, but were not appreciated. So they, stopped coming out. Now the people in the village sing songs of forgiveness in hope that they will come back. I guess, storytelling was always around me.

But to answer the question, what I was inspired by was the need to understand me and help me and others to love self from the inside out. Too many times, we, women especially, look for love and acceptance from our surroundings. There was a need in me to share my feelings about knowing your self-worth and relating with others from that space of self-awareness, in order to have a healthy and fulfilling life, and relationships.

The story came to me. It was something that found me. That’s the best way I can put it. It was like, I had to write it like a woman in labor and is about to give birth. There is nothing she can do but to push once the baby is ready to come. And that’s how it was for me. When I felt it in me, all I can do, was to write it down.

Do you have a specific writing style?
The technical term to define my writing style is called “Panster,” which is one who writes as it comes. For me, I saw the beginning and the ending before I started writing. I wrote as if I were telling a very good girlfriend a very interesting and intimate story.

What books have most impacted your life (or life as an author)?
I enjoy reading books, be it novels or self-help books, which forces me to reflect on the choices I make in my own life. Books that takes me out of my comfort zone and into a different space. I love when authors takes the reader into the psyche of the main character, both fictional and nonfictional. I love stories, so I have been impacted by many authors like, Maya Angelo, Tony Morrison, Nelson Mandela, Harper Lee, James Baldwin, Eckhart Tolle, Ernest Holmes. The list goes on and on.

What books are you currently reading? Why this author?
I am currently reading The Major of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy and Africans in America; American’s Journey through Slavery by Charles Johnson, Patricia Smith and WGBH Series Research Team.

Thomas Hardy writes from a different time period, so the way he tells his stories intrigues me. The words he uses and the way he constructs his sentences, arouses my curiosity me. He is just a great story teller. And Charles Johnson, writes with feelings. His words puts put exactly where you utter be in order to feel exactly what the story is telling. He is a great historian and an awesome writer.

What new authors have piqued your interest?
M. Shannon Hernandez is a new author that wrote a memoir about leaving teacher to pursue her passion full time. I enjoyed her book because it gave me motivation and confirmation that I was on the right path; to fulfilling my goal of making writing a career for me to provide for my family and help others to realize their self-worth.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your latest work?
I’m not sure if there is anything that I would change about my latest work. But if I had to pick something, maybe I should’ve trusted my inner voice more. Nevertheless, I am truly grateful for all the experiences I’ve had. The support and advice that has been given to me, has lead me to this point. Every experience, good or bad, is an opportunity for me to learn about who I truly am. So, I keep moving forward.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing or coming up with a concept for a book?
For me, coming up with a concept is not what I find challenging. I mean, life is happening all around every one of us. Every person on this planet has a story, because we’ve all lived through one another. But once you have the story, how do you want it to flow from one line to another, from one paragraph to the next, and from one chapter to the next. To me, that’s the challenge.

What was the hardest part of completing this project?
You see, I loved the story before writing it. I even fell more in love with it as I wrote more lines into the story. Once it was done, I became protective of my book because I was unsure of how others would receive it. Letting someone read it for the first time and waiting for their response was the hardest part of completing this project.

What advice would you give other writers?
I would say to other writers, believe in your story. You don’t need anyone’s approval in order to tell your story. There will not be a better time or situation. You have to create the space to let that passion flow out of you. The time is now! So start writing!!!

Describe the process of getting published.
There are too many sites to count on-line about publishing. Research “how to publish a book.” In this day and age, information is easier than ever to find. Make Google your friend. Research self-publishing vs. Traditional publishing and decide which method suits you best.

What were the literary, psychological and/or logistical challenges in bringing your work to life?
Not holding back with who characters were and what they experienced was hard at time. I had to be as authentic as possible without sensationalizing the experiences the characters had. These women in book were open, raw and vulnerable. I had to get into their minds and understand them which was, at times, challenging, but I wanted the readers to get the story in its truest form without comprising any part it.

Chasing the Horizon book cover

Everyone’s process for writing is different. Explain yours.
Being that I love telling stories to people, I took that approach when writing. I always kept in mind that I was telling a story that was interactive in a way, like a conversation with some friends over dinner at my house. In that way, I always kept my readers in mind each time I wrote.

Please provide three “good to know” facts about you. Be creative. Tell us about your first job or the inspiration behind your writing.
1) I have never been in love.
2) Family means the world to me. My kids are my driving-force.
3) I am big on vibes and energy.

What is the mission you set out to accomplish with your voice in this book?
The book is about making choices and learning from them. We all have experiences that we look back on and wished we knew more about life so we could have made better decisions. The mission I set out to accomplish with this book is to unite people of all walks of life and show them that through trials and tribulations builds humility and character.

Who are the authors you reread and why?
From the list I mentioned earlier and many more. Their books have influenced me as a writer and as a person.

A great book has what?
All the elements to grab your interest and keep you hooked.
A great book has a theme that conveys a message that is relatable to the reader and is applicable to your life. It has to have a great plot. The storyline is important especially when the plot is unpredictable. The characters make the book very interesting. The setting helps out with storyline and the characters. It affects how the characters react and behavior.

What is the gift of reading and why does it open up a new world?
Reading is the gift that keeps on giving. Through reading, lives are saved, people are connected and information is shared. It allows you to visualize, learn, imagine a story and it can relate to your life.

1 Comment

  1. ATLchick3 on June 30, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Great article!