Abiola Abrams Interview
Conducted by Lucille Perkins Robinson
LPR: Lets get acquainted with you first, Abiola. When asked to interview you, I thought, What in the world am I going to ask her when everything I could possibly learn about her is on her website at http://www.abiolaabrams.com? So here I am struggling to get this going. At the top of your website you’ve listed writer, film maker and TV big mouth so I know you have a sense of humor. With all your activities, humor would have to be a large part of coping, wouldn’t you say? Tell us a little about yourself. What would you like the general public to know about you?
AA: I am a passionista and a storyteller. That takes different forms. I feel connected to an inner sense or joy and fun. I know that this may sound corny, but I truly believe that part of my purpose on this planet is share that joy, to empower using storytelling and fun. That’s where author, art filmmaker and TV blabbermouth come in!
LPR: I think that’s an admirable purpose. Tell us, please, what made you decide to write a book.
AA: As a TV personality and art filmmaker, people were surprised to see that I’ve written a novel but I’ve been a writer all of my life. Writing is my first art. My debut novel Dare, recently published by Simon and Schuster / Pocket Book, is about two women on a wild, fun and gutsy ride to the center of themselves and the crazy missteps they make along the way.
LPR: When did you start, what do you write and what was your first publication?
AA: My first publication was actually a children’s story that in first or second grade was contributed by my professor to the Smithsonian Institute here in the states. So far I have been unable to track that down. Maybe I will have to go down to the Smithsonian and demand to see it. (giggles) I also wrote a lot through middle school, high school and college. I have been online keeping a journal in one form or another since 2002 although it wasn’t called a blog at the time. People can find that at www.thegoddessfactory.com.
Oh – pardon the ramble; you mean when did I start Dare? For some reason it’s a confusing question to me when people ask how long did it take to write Dare because I feel like the correct answer is 30 years. With first novels we have pretty much been working on them all of our lives! You are in the UK so Dare was available worldwide in January 2008.
LPR: Actually you answered correctly, thank you, Abiola. I haven’t had a chance to read Dare yet. Its theme is about two women who dare to “to live by their own gutsy rules.” Will you tell us a little about the book? Is it based on your own life?
AA: I can’t deny it any longer – the fans won’t let me!! (laughs) The main character Maya Hope does contain quite a bit of the Abiola experience, shall we say. Maya and her best friend Athena take off on a zany and satirical journey through the world of hip hop and media spin. You’ll find elements of today’s bad girls ripped from the headlines in Dare. At the beginning of the story Maya is a sociologist a dead end job recovering from a devastating breakup. Her best friend Athena, an aspiring rapper, is much more let the chips fall where they may. Maya ends up having to step in and represent Athena at a big hip hop audition with a Diddy type character. Next thing you know, they are on the ride of a life time and Maya is trying to choose between two men who are simultaneously desirable and undesirable. The novel is based on the classical German fable Faust which is about selling one’s soul to the devil. I actually include book club questions in the back, so many reading groups are reading it and using these guides.
LPR: Very good. Did you follow a writing schedule or just write as you found the time? Do you enjoy writing?
AA: I love writing. Even on the pulling teeth days I feel that I am living my purpose. I write best on schedule. Deadlines and page minimums are my friends.
LPR: Do you plan to write another book and will it be a sequel to this one?
AA: There is a related novel though not a sequel yet. Every day a couple of readers email me looking for a sequel. I am working on a non-fiction project and another novel right now. My goal is to write one new book a year.
LPR: I know you’ll be able to accomplish that goal. Suppose a new writer came to you for advice. What would you consider the most important advice you could give this new writer?
AA: I’m so glad you asked this because one of the main questions I get is on how to get started. Now I can just direct aspiring writers to this interview! Many aspiring writers contact me asking how they can get a deal before they’ve written anything. The best way to get started writing is to just write. Wake up a half an hour earlier every day and write five freeform stream of consciousness pages just to start flexing your writing muscles. That is the best thing that you can do.
LPR: Your television activities were mentioned earlier. So you host Abiola on BET. Is this correct? How did you get started in hosting this show? Whom do you pick to interview? What are the topics you most want to cover? Do you enjoy it? Are there other shows you host? Can you tell us about them?
AA: I absolutely love making television. It is the quickest way to reach people en masse. My BET show “The Best Shorts” is in reruns in the US and Caribbean and my episodes are in first run on BET UK. I have also hosted shows for HBO and NBC.
The really fun hosting job that I currently have is a show called Planet Abiola which is based online. It was created in partnership with blackplanet, which is the largest web community for African Americans and the 4th largest social networking site behind only myspace, facebook and AOL/Bebo.
The Planet Abiola Show is a talk variety show and my co-executive producers Kristal Mosley and Patrick Reis come with a wealth of TV experience. We interview everyone from musical artists and authors to persons of interest. One of the crazier segments we do is called Manville where I am the only woman in a room full of men to find out what the boys really feel. Check it out! I’ve learned new terminology like “slide ho.” Fascinating! (giggles)
LPR: That’s the kind of information a woman needs-how to please a man. *smile* As a director, what kinds of films do you direct?
AA: My film work has the same objective as all of my work – I use pop culture to empower culturally, emotionally, politically and sexually. Please watch on my site and comment.
LPR: This interview is a little sketchy at best. Do you have anything else you’d like to tell us? Perhaps what times and what channels you’re on television so we can tune in and watch.
AA: Noooo, this is a great interview Lucille. Your readers can now follow me on twitter.com/abiolatv and find mingled with the minutia of my life posts about when to catch me in the media. The Planet Abiola Show can be found at www.planetabiola.com, blackplanet.com/planetabiola and we’ve recently made the episodes available on www.youtube.com/user/planetabiola.
LPR: Please tell us what we can find at your website.
AA: My interactive site has everything from video to audio clips, advice, blog posts, affirmations, rituals, fumbles, comedy and vlogs. It’s a lot of fun. Inspiration for the rest of us. As I say, The Goddess Factory, which is what my site and empowerment movement are called, is not your mother’s motivation. There is more community building to come, but please come explore everything including my archived Goddess Factory podcast.
LPR: I’ve visited your site a few times and can vouch for the encouragement and entertainment you offer. Thank you, Abiola, for taking the time to answer all my questions. Please keep us informed on any new books you have published. I have thoroughly enjoyed this interview and want to urge all our readers to check out Abiola’s website. This is a woman well worth keeping an eye on. Very encouraging to those who desire to realize their dreams, but feel unable to bring them to pass.