Writing for Change: Interview With Author Pius Agbangbatin

We recently interviewed author Pius Agbangbatin, one of the winners of our 2021 Story of the Year Contest. Pius is from Benin, West Africa, and wrote the book Born in Danger

Pius' experience as a writer started almost eight years ago. He's always been an avid reader, and he developed his passion for writing in senior secondary school. Now, he has decided to turn his passion into a career.

Tell us more about your book. Why did you write it?

I wrote that story as a way to advocate for the respect of the human rights that people with albinism, just like any human being, are entitled to. It’s just heartbreaking to hear accounts of the kind of experience they’re exposed to in some parts of Africa and the least you can do with written words is to bring awareness to that shameful situation, hoping it can really fuel change.

What prompted you to write for Storyshares?

I was looking for a way to assess my writing style and was convinced that the best step toward it was a contest. I landed on Storyshares website after some research and decided to enter their writing contest. But the other reasons that prompted me to choose Storyshares is their commitment toward nurturing the habit of reading in all of us and the hope that my message of humanity would reach thousands of readers if given a chance.

What advice would you give to a writer working on their first story?

Well, I feel a little on the spot to give such advice since I’m hardly an authority in that area, but what I can advise is what I learned from one of my favorite authors, Stephen King—Read a lot and write a lot. Reading introduces you to worlds of ideas, builds up your imagination and sparks your inspiration but most of all, it helps you learn the ways of the craft. That first story would see the light of day and enjoy a life of its own in print or digitally but for that to happen, reading is one the keys. You’ll also want to set your mind on a positive frequency so you can have all the drive and motivation you need to work on your story from start to finish.

Are there authors that you turn to for inspiration and mentoring?

Well, where do I begin? I’m attracted to a variety of writers like James Patterson, John Grisham or E.L. James, but Stephen King is my go-to author when it comes to finding inspiration. In fact, when you can churn out hundreds of pages for just a book with such a memorable record in the craft, you definitely have something to say about inspiration and you’re undoubtedly an inspiration for aspiring writers. His insightful book “On Writing” is actually one of my favorite.

What are the easiest/most difficult parts of the writing process for you?

From experience, the most challenging moment is the drafting. Sometimes you may have the right ideas but can’t seem to weave them into an engaging story line. That’s when you have to put in a lot of thinking so you can eventually hit the perfect tone and pace for your story.

Do you have a standard routine when it comes to approaching writing?

Yes. I like writing in the morning for a couple of hours, usually right after I pray. Sometimes, life happens and my routine can get derailed but I usually strive to write a few lines before bedtime.

What tips do you have for overcoming and dealing with writer’s block?

That moment when you’re lost for the right words happens even to the most seasoned authors and it’s just frustrating. But what I learned from Stephen King is that you can’t leave the work undone just because it gets hard, either emotionally or imaginatively. So when it happens to me, I like to take a break and come back to it later. And when the machinery of my creativity is still jammed for inspiration, I just try to fill the blank page with whatever comes through my mind until I get it right.

Where do your ideas come from?

Well, I think they just happen. I usually have the bigger picture of what I’d like to write down acting as a magnet to attract the relevant ideas for my story, and most of the time, those relevant ideas easily come along. So I’m more like a pantser.

Read Born in Danger today!