Our intimate interview with the author of Message To God, Mr. Franck Olivier Houngnikpo
VTP: Where are you from?
FOH: I am from the Republic of BENIN
VTP: When and why did you begin writing?
FOH: When I was a young man, I was inspired to write by my uncle, Mathurin C. HOUNGNIKPO, who is also a writer. But as time passed by, it went beyond mere tendency and became my passion. From there on, I began improving my writing skills, realizing I had the talent for it. And, through my dissertations, comments, and redactions in college, it became even more evident. This has been about eight years now.
VTP: What inspired you to write your first book?
FOH: The almighty Lord nourished my thought. HE actually blessed me with this jewel.
VTP: Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that idea?
FOH: As I’ve said earlier, God inspired me. But he did it via my surroundings. I woke up one day, taken by a strange awe, something told me: “Franck, listen well to people around you today.” And I did. But to my surprise, I noticed the convergence in how men address God. Either walking, standing, sitting, kneeling or even lying down, we all talk to God. It was obvious to me that day that as human beings, irrespective of who we are or what we do, not to talk about where we come from, we need God. Since we never stop sending messages (prayers for others) to God in many ways. Therefore, I decided to write and show the whole world the intrinsic relationship between men and God.
VTP: How did you come up with the title?
FOH: “Message to God” is all I could think of. I wouldn’t call it “prayer”, because, for me, it might not necessarily be a prayer. But indeed, I know it is a message.
VTP: How much of the book is realistic?
FOH: Some realistic from overhearing people praying, and the rest are fictional.
VTP: What are you trying to achieve with it?
FOH: I want to touch the world in a particular way. This is not just about writing. It is about impacting. This is a journey that displays a bit of how men talk to God; under their roof or not. So, I am looking forward to exposing what men do in hiding.
VTP: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
FOH: What I sincerely find challenging in this book is how to write the messages in a way that depicts our individual conducts. Because I wanted something realistic and not too fictional. That was a great deal for me.
VTP: What was the hardest part of writing your book, Message to God?
FOH: Ok. That was when I needed to get a connection between all the messages. I needed a link so that the entire text could be one. I’d cogitated for many weeks before I got an idea.
VTP: What brought you to write this book?
FOH: My neighbor unknowingly led me to this.
VTP: Who is your most important source of inspiration?
VTP: Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
FOH: Sure. I fancy authors like Aime Cesaire, Plato, Henri Lopez, Jean Pliya, Shakespeare, Pierre Corneille. Talking about books, I love hundreds of books (either French or English) such as Anowa, Cid, La marmite de Koka Mbala, The greatest virtue, Condamne a ne jamais naitre, Lolita, Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, Pride & Prejudice, Hamlet, War of morality…
VTP: What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview?
FOH: Would you ever stop writing?
VTP: How would you answer that question?
FOH: I wish I could, but it is already flowing in my blood. Let me write til I die. Then, I shall stop writing.
VTP: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
FOH: Wow! Writing is not a joke. If you ever discover that you can, write properly and develop new concepts. Mostly, I would urge them not to be in a hurry to publish. To cap it, write more than you publish. It is called, “Hard work’’. But please, if you can’t, don’t try to become a writer.
VTP: Do you have any advice for other writers?
FOH: I would especially ask them to continue with the good job.
VTP: What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
FOH: African heart.
VTP: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
FOH: It is fun to read. Unfortunately, everybody does not know that. Dear readers, I would ask you to try and educate those who do not know what they are losing by staying afar from books. Moreover, I thank you, my readers, because, without you, there won’t be any need to write. You strengthen me to think better in order to inform, educate and entertain you. Thank you for reading my books.