Interviews

“It is very personal and true” A. R. A

By H Suranga Thilakarathne

Ababa Abiem is a published American author of South Sudanese descent. Her debut publication has given voices to millions of voiceless women across the world. 

Talking to The Asian Review, she said, “It is very personal and a true story.”  

“Sometimes, we do not get a chance to thank each one who has helped us in our Journey.” Let the readers get a chance to know about all the important people who have played a part in this ‘Author Journey of Yours’.

If I sit here and do not acknowledge my parents for their consistent support in my life, I would be remise to do so. Both my mother and father have been my biggest cheerleaders when I couldn’t see the end to my own pain. My father is a writer, and growing up, I would always tell myself I was going to one day write like my father and uncle. I am grateful to have such examples in my life that have pushed me to pursue dreams that I never thought I would be able to accomplish.

When and how did the idea of writing a book come to you? Can you tell us a bit about your book? 

When I was going through my healing journey, I found myself journaling daily, processing through my emotions, and what I thought were just journey entries continued on to become chapters in a book. It was then that I realized that what I was writing could help someone else unlock their healing as it was for me.

Reading your book, I felt it is very personal, did you face any author blocks during the process of writing? If so, how did you overcome them?

My book is personal, and my biggest fear was having my ex-husband find out about my book and getting backlash from him. I had to keep my book private for almost a whole year after publishing it. It was on the anniversary of my “freedom” that I decided I no longer needed to be in hiding because I knew my book was not written in a matter to degrade my ex-husband but instead to help for my own healing process but also anyone else who has walked through pain in silence.

Your father is also a writer, diplomat. How has he influenced your book? And writing? 

My father has influenced me in many capacities of my life, but my writing has been stretched due to the critiques he made growing up when I was in school. My father did not know that I was writing a book until I was finished writing it. I told him he would read it once it was published. This may have sounded disrespectful but I wanted my writing to be influenced by myself because this is a story I personally went through and I didn’t want that to be diminished by his corrections that could have been made if he edited my writing.

Reading your book, what do you want your readers to take home? Can you elaborate a bit?

My biggest takeaway for those who read my book that I want my audience to know is that there is hope that can come from traumatic circumstances.

According to you which are the 5 books everyone should read and also who are your top 3 Authors and what impact they had in your journey as a writer?

My top authors I have enjoyed reading are Francis Chan and Trevor Noah.

What has been your most cherished experience as an Author? 

My most cherished moments have been hearing people share their thoughts on the healing that they experienced because of reading my book. I also had one college student come to and share that she was going to use a portion of my writings in a project that she was working on in her bachelor of social work program.

Can you describe/outline your typical day? How do you keep yourself focused and productive as a writer in your busy day-to-day schedule?

I am a social worker and soon to be a professor. Currently, I am not working on any writings but hope to finish a children’s book soon. I work full time while doing work for my South Sudanese community as a social worker, while also serving and three boards for nonprofit agencies.

Would you try writing any different genre other than a memoir in your next book? Tell us something about your upcoming book.

The next book I plan on writing is a children’s motivational book.

What if you were given the power to change one thing from this world? What would you change?

War and the traumatic impacts that it has on individuals years later. If I could get rid of all mental health diagnoses, I would. Being imprisoned by your own thoughts and being unable to get yourself out of them is one of the most debilitating things an individual goes through. It would be my heart’s desire to eradicate such things.

What if you had all the money in this world? What would you do first?

The first thing I would do is give money to my church to provide the continuation mission of what we do. I would then pay the rest of the mortgage off for my parents’ house. I would be sure to give money towards my nephews and nieces would then send money back home to South Sudan and Ethiopia to my family members there. Once I have taken care of my family, I would pay off my student loans and establish my own mental health facility in South Sudan.

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