So to begin, I’d like to know your full name.
No middle name 😁.
Oh that’s nice. Where were you born?
Oron, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.
That’s where you’re from also?
Yes. Urue Offong Local Government, precisely.
Tell me about your childhood. What was it like growing up?
I was raised by a single woman as the only child, with novels for siblings. I was bullied through secondary school and I expressed my self-pity in my notepads. It veered into more productive content. About the home, there was nothing much to make of it, other than I spent most of my days alone with books.
Wow, that’s interesting, and to think a bunch of children go through this scenario daily. It’s awesome to see how you channeled all the negative energy to writing. What are some of your favorite things? (Book, Color, sport, subject, etc)
Wow. I didn’t have a favorite book. I read everything, but mostly fiction – Anything by Hardley Chase (original and fake Chase), Ian Flemmings (007 Series), Nick Carter, Don Pendleton (Mack Bolan Series). Read a couple of Mills and Boons but romance wasn’t my thing, so I left it. I never had the luxury of a favorite color either. I read mostly spy/detective/crime stuff, I wasn’t into sports. (Nice. I read Hardley too. Kept me company as a child) Oh Chase is quite common and popular, which is why there a lot of Chase novels out there that were not written by René Lodge Brabazon Raymond. I also loved Agriculture – because, I was raised in a village and farming supported my mum’s income.
So talking of income, how was it at home? Was it steady?
Oh, Akwa Ibom State Government has never been known to pay regularly. My mum worked with the General Hospital in Oron as a nurse, so income wasn’t steady, which is why we had to farm and sell the produce to support the little home.
That must have been challenging
Well, yeah! Mum, did what she could and we were okay. There was always food on the table.
Is she still with you?
Yeah, she’s retired now in Akwa Ibom and I am resident in Lagos
That’s good to hear. What about the friends you had grown up? How did they influence you?
I had one friend in primary school and Two in secondary.
I owe my creative bent to the friend in primary school. His parents were literature teachers and buffs. All the story books and novels I read while growing up came from him. They had about five shelves of novels.
Incredible! That’s a lot of novels.
Did you attend religious activities, growing up? What are the challenges you’ve faced because of your beliefs?
Yeah. I attended religious activities. My mum was and is still very churchy but after secondary school, adolescent rebellion set in and I veered off. Christ found me in 2007. My greatest challenge was graduating and receiving instructions to create Christian content. I wish I could say I have been burning ever since but I am just a struggling Christian trying to make sense of my walk with Christ.
Hitherto I was already writing for local TV and that instruction was hard to follow, is still hard to follow, seeing I have responsibilities. Also, I find in me a conflict to take in illicit content prevalent in the media today and a desire to stay off. Simply saying, going to the movies or not.
What about school? Tell me about your academic history. (Primary school, secondary school, University, any other degrees?)
Primary School – Infant Jesus’ Nursery school/Onyieme Montessorri Primary School (1989 – 1995)
Secondary School – Methodist Boys’ High School/Methodist Senior Science College Oron(1995 – 2001)
University of Lagos (Psychology) – 2005 – 2009 Just a B.Sc
Okay Nice. You mentioned earlier how you were bullied and expressed yourself in writing. How often did you express yourself with the ink and when did you eventually start writing professionally?
Writing was cathartic for me as a teen because I was bullied a lot. I spent my days expressing my thoughts on paper, but my pieces then were mostly on self-pity and loneliness. I remember my first poem pad in Junior Secondary School, I believe I was thirteen then. I gave it to a cousin to read and she said, “Billy, why are your poems always sad? Isn’t there anything happy about your life?” That remark changed my perspective and I started writing about things other than my self pity.
I write as often as I can, which is almost everyday because it also happens to be something I do professionally. I wrote my first script for TV in 2004 – It never got produced. My first show to be broadcasted was about 5 episodes of “Family Affair” directed by Kingsley Omoefe. That was 2005.
That’s pretty cool. What is your favorite genre to write? Being a professional writer, which author influenced your work and how did you improve over the years, What was the process like, Who helped you through?
I have a myriad of authors whose works I respect (this is not an endorsement of them as people, as I don’t know them personally),– some of them are Mario Puzo, Robert Ludlum, Ted Dekker, Dan Brown (he does his research), Stephen King. These are all Fiction Writers
For non-fiction – Robert McKee, Christopher Vogler, John Piper, John MacArthur, Francis Chan, Tim Keller, Charles Spurgeon, C. S Lewis (I love his fiction too). I read a lot of books on writing and film-making. Even when I was in university. I would cover my course syllabus early in the semester and borrow writing/film-making books from the library to read. I watch YouTube videos too. You’d be surprised at the depth of writing materials on YouTube.
I can say through the years, I have spent more money buying books than buying clothing items. Improving over the years was and is still hinged on research and study. About a preferred genre, I am not sure I do crime and fantasy well For TV, drama comes naturally. And when I write for Stage, comedy comes naturally.
But the most important thing in any genre I choose to write per time is the audience I am writing it for. Once the audience had been identified, it is easy to understand their needs and deliver. Audience and Value.
Awesome! You’re a well read African! Give me some gist on your book, Jesus in Jeans. (what inspired you to write it? When did you finish? When did you start? What were the challenges you faced writing and publishing?)
With “Jesus in Jeans” (JIJ) I just wanted to write the Jesus Story in contemporary times I started research in 2010, then started writing in June 2012 (Stayed in my apartment for two months without leaving the compound).
(How did he eat?)
When Pastors say, Daniel survived the lion’s den, what is the lion’s den in 2017? The routine was simple – wake, devotion, drink coffee, workout, work till 7 or 8 pm, sleep. That was the cycle I was living in a family apartment, so I didn’t need to step out to get food.
(Ok. Praise God.)
I don’t think I would do that anymore, seeing I have responsibilities now.
About publishing, it took me three years. I contacted Thomas Nelson and they rejected my manuscript because it wasn’t solicited, but they referred me to their self-publishing arm – WestBow Press. The major challenge I had was funding the publication. It took everything I had and some to publish the book in 2015. There you have it.
You finished writing the same year?
Within two months, because it was a marathon write.
In the publishing industry and among your audience, was there any opposition because of the Christian view?
I don’t think so, even though it wasn’t widely accepted I didn’t get any obvious opposition.
How would you describe the plot and setting of the book, was it easy bringing someone from 2000 years ago to 21st century?
Hmmmmm. The plot is simple – Jesus’ story; he came, battled with the “Syndicate of Religious Lawyers” and was framed for a crime he didn’t commit, then was sentenced and executed. It wasn’t easy merging the settings and some people think I took it too far. For example, the scene where Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman by the well – She was married 5 times and living with another man (Harlot, so to say). The well was forbidden for Jews (a nightclub is forbidden for Christians). So I made “Jay” (Jesus), preach to a stripper in a nightclub. Is this something Jesus would do? I will ask him when I see him.
What are the hopes you have for the novel? What kind of impact did you intend to make with it and what kind of feedback did you get, how did you feel about them?
My hopes for the novel? Help my generation see a relevant Jesus. Not a teacher who lived 2020 years ago but a homie who also happened to be God I was disappointed after publishing, because the book didn’t “blow” as I thought it would. Also, I was hoping to distribute it free in Secondary Schools, sadly my budget wasn’t high enough because I printed in the US. Howbeit, I distributed to about 6 schools, then I gassed out. However, I know better now.
That must have cost a lot. But I’m sure you didn’t give up. Are there any more of your works out there, what other occupations are you involved in?
I have a blog that I haven’t posted on since last year (you found the blog. Shame). I’m hoping to change that this month – C.I.A (Christed I Am). I am also a documentary filmmaker – I create documentaries, video profiles, presentations, commercials through my company Ideomania Limited.
I like the style of the blog, It’s really relatable. So What are the goals you are still working towards?
Per Goals – The vision is to establish a movement where any one who wants to create any form of Christian content can come, learn/develop the necessary skills, receive funding and shoot out. When I say Christian content, I mean anything arts and entertainment that proposes the relevant Christ.
That’s a really wide vision. I trust it will be actualized because this is what the world needs and what better way to start than in the immediate community. So what have you done so far that you are more proud of? How do you want people to remember you?
I believe that question is too early for now. Right now, I am more Jonah than Paul and I don’t believe I have done the best I can. So, nothing.
Well thankfully, Jonah got out of the fish eventually, I believe you will too. So Bill, Is there anything you do currently that you have decided “you know what? I would never do this again God help me”, and is there anything you would love to do over again?
Okay, procrastinate! I do that more than I should. Anything I would love to do over? I am not sure.
Being a creative, do you have someone who supports you through your process? A significant other perhaps? ( Are you married?)
Yes, I am, to a beautiful woman.
Wonderful! How does she contribute to your creative process? Oh, and what’s her name? If you don’t mind sharing.
She’s my number one critic. She reads all my works before they go out. Her name is Ibiene Bidiaque.
I’d like to hear your view on a prevailing issue in our society. What do you think is the problem with morality in our society? As Christians, what is the reaction to it and should it be that way?
Today, humans want to uphold morality and discard God. That is our society’s fault. The moment God is excluded from the equation then there is no single truth – no standard for morality I believe the entity who created this standard is God. Hence, there is no morality without God. So if this entity isn’t human, who or what then is this entity? An entity that isn’t human because humans cannot create a standard because all humans are flawed. I am no religious authority and I do not have any titles. My views are mine and must not be seen as doctrine – search for doctrine in the Bible. I am just a struggling Christian trying to make sense of his walk with Christ. But I know this, our society will never attain morality until it exalts God.
Then, any words for young Christian creatives out there?
For young Christian creatives, you have the Holy Spirit, allow Him lead. Even when you can’t make sense of where you are .
I forgot to ask; How old are you? And when is your birthday?
I turned 32 on July 31st.
Great conversation, Bill. It was nice getting to know you and we look forward to seeing more ground breaking work from you.
Thank you for having me, I hope my views will remain mine and seen as holy. We all learn. And I am always open to learn as long as Christ tarries.
Speaking with Bill taught me to take the creative process a step at a time and to be focused(how do you stay 2months in isolation writing?!). I do hope you learnt more.
To purchase a copy of Jesus In Jeans please follow this link https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Jeans-Bill-Bidiaque/dp/1490866574
Interviewer: Ifeanyi Chikereuba
For: The Christ A Poet Team