Interview with Philen Naidu - My Life My Africa: A Real African search of Love, Freedom and True Community

Can you tell us a little about your books and yourself?

Well, I released my debut book in May 2013. It was a 13 year journey that started when I was 23 and questioning my identity and purpose, feeling really alienated and unwelcome in the world. This search eventually led me to a place within myself that demanded a decision: either I continue a life of pretense, or I drop everything and follow my heart. I chose to follow my heart. This led to a 5-year African adventure that took me into the depths of the unknown, where tribal people co-exist with Africa’s wildest wildlife. It was an adventure I could never have imagined. But I won’t give away too much, because that will ruin the story, for those who haven’t read it yet!

Get the Book - My Life My Africa.

As for me, I am a traveling Soul, an adventurer devoted to serving those in need. I have a deep passion for the marginalized, neglected and impoverished ... especially the children. I founded the My Life My Africa Children’s Foundation as a vehicle for me to serve through, but I am still questioning whether this was the best way, or whether I should rather partner with already established organizations and communities as I travel. I am leaning towards the latter, but we’ll see what time reveals.

What inspired you to write your books?

Currently working on my 2nd book, my inspiration remains the same. After discovering how lonely I am in an illusory world of fleeting material attractions, I decided to change the course of my life and to go in search of Love, Freedom and True Community. My books are the real life adventures on this Journey. Book 1 took me for 5 years into rural Zambia, Book 2 took me into an urban slum community of 80 0000 people in South Africa ... and I am currently in the south of India, capturing the story of Book 3.

I am a spiritual man who believes in the Divine, and my inspiration for writing comes through this Divine connection, as it is revealed to me ... and more importantly, as I listen, because this noisy mind is full of distractions!

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Writing my book has been more of a lesson to me than anything else. And I think that as long as I write, I will continue to evolve at my best rate. Obviously there are the writing skills that develop. And then it took time for me to find my REAL voice and to be comfortable with this, rather than pretend to be someone I am not.

I found myself struggling to be completely honest, for fear of what opinions people would hold against me, so I compromised my Truth along the way, though my intention has always been to be completely honest and transparent.I also learned how selfish I am, until my editor – who is the BEST in the world! – taught me how to think about the reader and to take their hand and walk them through my story.And finally, I learned that I will never be fully satisfied with my work, but that this is the point and I must learn to let go at some stage and to trust the process.

What are some challenges that you faced while writing?
I think my answer above covers this question. But to add onto it, one of the big challenges is the alienation from everyone around me. I get so locked into my own story that I see everyone as characters or, if they are not characters then I see them as insignificant. So this is tough. It’s lonely.And then another challenge has been that when I am writing, I stop reading ... and since I have been an avid reader since childhood, this is something that does me little good.Then of course, there are countless cigarettes, coffees, vodka martinis and whiskey’s ... as I struggle to break through creative barriers.

Who or what in your life would you say influenced you the most?
My father is my hero and role model. He is the one who gave me wings to fly. He taught me to dream and encouraged me to pursue my dreams with full faith.
My mother has been an anchor, and it is coming from her womb and her home that has provided me with the security I needed to be a traveling Soul.
And then James Redfield, Graham Hancock and Paulo Coelho have been largely responsible for my spiritual awakening and this calling to be a writer/adventurer, that I now follow.

What are your hobbies and interests away from the desk?
Travel, travel, travel!! And with this comes the exploration and sharing of different cultures and foods, which I love. Music, dance and anything creative is a joy to me, and then I am also just a simple guy who enjoys sports and just hanging out.

What does “success” mean to you?
This is a tough one. On the one hand, if my books can generate royalties to sustain my simple life on the road, I would consider that ‘success’ ... BUT that is not completely honest, because without a partner to love and to share the Journey with, it would be meaningless ... and without a deep sense of stillness and inner peace, it would all also be worthless.So ultimately, ‘success’ for me, is to do the work that has been assigned to me to do, with no attachment to the outcome.
And in the process, to find inner peace ... and ultimately the beautiful woman to love and share it all with.

What are your current projects?
Have just started Book 2, and am looking for sponsors to help me sustain myself in India while I do this. And then am currently investigating a few orphanages in the Andhra Pradesh and Kerala districts of India, to get involved in.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Trust the Voice within you, and just start writing.Whatever excuse pops into your head, know that it is your enemy that has no other purpose than to destroy your joy.
Just write. Don’t think about sales or audience or grammar or spelling or publishing or anything ... just start writing ...right now!
And keep a journal with you ... always ... everywhere you go ... even the toilet.
And buy a copy of Steven Pressfield’s ‘The War of Art’.
And stop saying ‘I want to write’... start saying ‘ I am a writer’ ... because you are.
And most importantly, ENJOY THE RIDE!

My Life My Africa (US) 

My Life My Africa (UK) 

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