Balthazar Rodrigue Nzomono-Balenda, known as Rodrigue or Balthazar is a French-born Danish author, originally from the Republic of the Congo. Balthazar was born in Oullins, which is a suburb in Lyon, in France and his parents were diplomats in South Africa, before he and his family moved to Denmark. His parents, André & Rose Nzomono-Balenda were diplomats under the mandate of the former Congolese president, Pascal Lissouba. In 1997, there was civil war in the Congo as presidential elections scheduled for July 1997 approached, tensions between the Lissouba and Sassou camps mounted. On June 5, President Lissouba’s government forces surrounded Sassou’s compound in Brazzaville and Sassou ordered members of his private militia (known as “Cobras”) to resist. Thus began a four-month conflict that destroyed or damaged much of Brazzaville and caused tens of thousands of civilian deaths.

Balthazar has written two books, The Depth of My Soul & The Struggle of Power & The Fight for Survival. He is a multimedia designer and a student at the Nordic Multimedia Academy (NOMA). Balthazar identifies himself as a French born Congolese because he is more connected with the Congo and France than Denmark. He speaks French, English, Lingala, Norwegian, Danish, partially German, Dutch and Afrikaans. Balthazar learns Chinese and Japanese in his spare time, he writes poems, paints and goes out and enjoys himself.

Thank you for this interview, Balthazar.  Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I am from both France and the Congo, meaning that I was born in France and I am originally from the Republic of the Congo. I was born on August 29th 1981 in the suburb of Oullins, which is in Lyon. My parents were diplomats in South Africa for the Congolese embassy. My father, André Nzomono-Balenda comes from the Republic of the Congo and my mother, Rose Nzomono-Balenda comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) and she has 31 siblings. So you see, I have a very big family around the world.  My family and I were in South Africa from 1995-1999. While the civil war erupted in the Republic of the Congo because there was a state coup against the Prof. Pascal Lissouba and people who worked under his mandate, my dad included had to be tortured and  and killed by the current president, Sassou. Luckily it didn’t happen and we now live in Denmark where I got the citizenship. I am a multimedia designer and I am a student at the Nordic Multimedia Academy. When I don’t study I enjoy life, I paint, I write poems and I learn to make web pages. I am a member of the International Society of Poets and I publish poems at the International Library of Poetry. I am an Atheist, even if I am an Agnostic – Atheist. My atheism is more important to me and I don’t value my agnosticism that much because I like to be decisive. I was raised as a Christian and I was a believer in Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit, but I realized that religion has done more harm in my life than good.  That’s why I have given up on being a believer. I have realized that I believed a lie.

I have been writing poems for 6 years and I have been thinking about writing books, since 2004. In my beginnings, I started to write articles about circumstances, I did not like in the Danish society. Such as their tough migration policies, their approach to integration and so on. I wrote also about other themes that I wasn’t satisfied with in different Danish news papers and some international news pars too. Things like: Terrorism, discrimination, xenophobia, and poverty in Africa etc.

At what point in your life did you make up your mind you were going to become a published author?

An acquaintance of mine recommended that I should write books when I showed him my poems at poetry.com’s website. There were also a couple of my acquaintances from Bosnia, who had the same opinion and they did because they were not certain that both poetry.com and allpoetry.com could be trusted when it comes to copyright laws.

Was there anyone in your life that you can give credit to helping pave the way?

I would like to give credit to I-Proclaim, my publisher for giving me an opportunity to be a published author. When I struggled to find a publisher who would help me publish my book, I felt like giving up and I was in a situation where I did not want to be a published author anymore. I –Proclaim has also shown me how to promote my books. I also credit to Pump Up Your Book Promotion for offering the possibilities to reach out to my readers, when I struggled reaching out to them. Dorothy Thompson is a hero to me and I believe she is really serious about seeing me being a successful author. My mom, Rose Nzomono-Balenda and my dad, André Nzomono-Balenda have been very helpful for giving me an opportunity to reach such a goal. My siblings, my friends and acquaintances have also been awesome encouragers and I am forever grateful to them.

If you could trade places with one author who you have admired over the years, who would it be and why?

I would trade places with Ayaan Hirsi Ali because she is a brave person. She has been my inspiration, since the first time, I heard about her. She criticizes Islam for its authoritarian ways of thinking because Islam demands too much respect from the West, but gives none. Women and other types of people are subject to hateful propaganda by many Muslim extremists who can’t stand free speech. I am very proud of her and I encourage her to keep fighting hard because her cause is very important. It is really a shame that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has not been a Nobel Prize Laureate for peace, even though her causes are so important. May be, the International Nobel Committee does value the importance of our freedom. May be, the International Nobel Committee does recognize people who risk their lives to fight for freedom and justice. Ayaan Hirsi Ali made famous move called Submission and it is a good movie. She made it with the late Mr. Van Gogh who was killed by extremists whose ideology is violence. I wish that someday Ayaan Hirsi Ali wins the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book, The Depth of My Soul?

It is a book of poetry and in the book, I focus on injustices such as wars, corruption, war crimes, religious fundamentalism, child abuse, dictatorship etc.

I focus also on the fight for freedom, justice and peace and the hope for a better world etc. I express myself through poetry because poetry goes beyond logic and I express my emotions about these circumstances.

What was the inspiration behind your book?  Why did you feel a need to write it?

CNN was the inspiration behind my book because I see many injustices happening in the world. I hear about corruption, dictatorship, human rights abuses and I’ve realized that we can talk about our politicians ignoring such facts, but we have a responsibility to remind them about their roles and the promises they talk about. I do it by writing books and I hope my book makes a difference.

How long did it take your book to be published from the time you submitted and was accepted to the time it was finally released?

It took me over 6 months to publish my first book. I had a hard time finding a publisher who will publish my book. I contacted several publishers, but I had to pay them before my book could get published. There is a publisher which does not publish and sell my book, so I had to pay and sell my books myself. I was down and I quitted because I was frustrated and I felt like I could not publish books because I had to pay publishers for it. When I found I-Proclaim, I was skeptic about their service, but I decided to overcome my scepticism and I discovered that their service is what I needed. I struggled with the documents of my book because they had to meet a certain number of inches from the top to the bottom and from left to right etc. I said to myself, I either had to make changes or see my book get published in a way that would not please the audience. When my first book was published, I was glad that I started to jump all the time. I-Proclaim gave me some guidelines about promoting my books and they sent me another document that I have to fill up and send back. I will do it soon.

Can you tell us a little about the publisher who published your book?  How have they been to work with?

I-Proclaim is an imprint of Dorrance Publishing Company — The Nation’s Leading Author Services Company Since 1920. Our family of imprints provides authors with the level of personalized service they require to become a published author. Full-service print on demand publishing imprint offering authors complete page design services, original cover design, editing services, original illustration creation, full-color and black and white books, a variety of book trim sizes, an ISBN and copyright. Authors can provide their manuscript on paper or in a digital file. RoseDog titles are printed when ordered and can be purchased on-line or through brick and mortar stores. Book promotion services are also available.  It has been enjoyable working with them because they are very honest when things go right or wrong. I-Proclaim would not publish your book, if they view that your book if your book is not good enough to get published. They give you an opportunity to make changes.

Do you blog?  If so, what can you tell my readers about the advantages of blogging as a useful tool in book promotion?

Yes I blog and there are many good advantages blogging, if you have the money to pay Google for your ads sense. In my case, it was not good because I was limited financially to be able to pay for my ads sense. But with www.redroom.com, you can write blogs and promote your book for free as well and it seems to work for me.

Do you have a website?  Do you manage it yourself or do you have someone run it for you?

I have a website, which is www.ganymedeweb.com  and no one runs it for me. This is not a business website, but a personal website where I promote myself as a multimedia designer. I also talk about the poems, I have published and the books that are available.

What’s next for you?

I am preparing myself for more interviews in April and I cannot wait to be interviewed. I hope some news media will make an appointment with me so that I can be interviewed and be known around the world.

Thank you for this interview, Balthazar.  Do you have any final words you’d like to share with my readers?

I would like to tell my readers that there are other books which have been published.

My second book: The Struggle for Power and the Fight for Survival; focuses on man’s desire for power and his fight to survive. Its link is: http://store.i-proclaimbookstore.com/stforpoandfi.html

The Struggle of Power and the Fight for Survival is my second book of poetry and it is about man’s desire to survive and in some cases to have power to take different directions in life and our societies.  In this book, I talk about themes that affect us all from one way or the other: Financial crisis, corruption, dictatorship, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, farm killings in Zimbabwe and South Africa, hope for mankind and the legacy we want to leave behind.

My third book: Freedom of Press  focuses on journalists who get killed because of doing what they love most, brining us the news. It is also a book of poetry.  And the link http://store.i-proclaimbookstore.com/frofprsidu.html

My thanks to Christiane Amanpour from CNN for bringing this topic on Youtube and I owe this book to her and many other journalists who risk their lives reporting in dangerous places. My hope is that the families of the victims get the help and the justice they need so that they can be healed.

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