Monday, 8 August 2011

Interview with Gisela Sedlemayer, author of the Talon series

My lates review, TALON, COME FLY WITH ME, has proven to be a sweet, wonderful start to what promises to be a fantastic series for children and young adults, not to mention a great opportunity to remind adults that differences don't matter. I couldn't resist the chance to find out more about the interesting tale of Gisela, the lady behind this gorgeous series.

*What inspired you to start writing, and how long have you had the desire to publish your own work?

From a young age I wrote short animal stories because I loved to read them. Nothing
was ever done with them, but I really enjoyed writing them. But it stopped when I married my Australian husband, Albert. Eight years later we immigrated to New Zealand. Here we became Christians and since we didn’t have children, we adopted
Indian twin girls from Fiji.

Finally we immigrated to Australia, back home for my husband.

One year later I was diagnosed with cancer. Thinking that I would die after two years, as I heard people do when they have that affliction, I just vegetated. The Television was my friend. I was there for the girls; I was there for my husband; however the thought that I would die soon was always on my mind.

But after more than two years of that, (I started to hate that life) I think you can say that I came to my senses, because I was still alive and so I realised that I would be still alive for many years to come.

Hence my husband asked me, since I couldn’t go to work anymore, “Why not start writing again? You loved it.”

Yes, I loved it, but what could I write now and in what language? I wrote the short stories in German in that time, living there, born and growing up there and working. Here, in an English speaking country, I have to write in English. My English wasn’t so good yet. But through watching the TV and speaking to our friends and to our girls, my English improved. I never went to a school to learn it.

In a scrapbook I started to write short stories again. It was terrible, crossing out, writing over it. It was such a mess. So my husband showed me how to use our spare computer. How beautiful was that. I wrote many different short stories and I loved it; even Australian stories.

Next I became a member of the Queensland Writers Club. Here I found out that you could send your short stories for competitions, which is what I did. I didn’t get the first prize but I got several very good commendations.

That gave me the motivation to go on, even in English, without an editor at that time.

The desire to get published came along with it. I thought that children should read my stories, after all they are animal stories and children love to read about animals.

*How about the Talon series? What was the spark that spurred you to write this sweet tale?

When I wrote the short stories for the competitions I also wrote a short story about the growth handicapped Matica finding condors. It’s about her rejection in her short life, her hope, her inspiration, her adventure and her love. I also thought that children with affliction could learn from it as Matica did, to cope with all situations they are in.

And then I thought, I probably could write a novel about her, maybe even a series.
And so the TALON series began.

*It may seem like an obvious question, but why direct it to young adults and children?

Children suffer from all sorts of afflictions, and through my book they can learn how to cope with everything, as Matica did. She had to learn in her early life too. Children can find a “Condor” as Matica did. Not a literal condor, but every child or adult for that matter: if they are battling with incurable afflictions, they should find something that lets them forget what is happening to them. Finding a “Condor” would help them to overcome that.
Maybe parents can read my book to younger children so they can see that they are not alone, but that they can overcome things in a positive way, not in a negative way.

I always say: Children with special needs or with a disability, or who are handicapped don't have an illness, so there is no cure and it's not contagious. They want what we all want: to be accepted.
And that is the moral behind my book TALON, COME FLY WITH ME; not only the first one, but all of them.

*How much research did you do before starting to write? Or did you research as you wrote it?

When I first wrote the short story about Matica, which is now 15 years ago, I didn’t do any research. But when I thought about writing a novel about her, even a series, I went into the library to learn everything about the condors, the Indians in Peru, and their land. It took me 3 days to find out everything.

*What kind of adventures can we expect for the second and third instalments?

Great adventures are to come. I won’t tell you now, it would spoil the stories to come if you knew all beforehand. But one thing I can say, Matica is experiencing everything she dreamed of since she befriended Tamo and Tima.
Plus the end of the poachers will come.

*Is there a particular message that you want the target audience to learn? Environmental awareness and care for animals comes to mind.

Yes, the main message is, as I said earlier: Children with special needs or with disability, or are handicapped don't have an illness, so there is no cure and it's not contagious. They want what we all want, to be accepted.

But again, any child or adult needs to know that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel; That it is not the end, that it is just the beginning of their incredible life.

And, yes, awareness of the environment, awareness of endangered species, as it is with the condors.

*Did you expect such great reactions to Talon?

No, not in such a wonderful way, but I hoped it would be.

I was very disappointed when I got the first review from a professional reviewer here in Australia. My heart sank into my legs while reading it and I thought: do people not understand the bigger meaning behind my story, what I wanted to tell them? What did I write wrong that she was writing such a bad review? What can I change to get the message out so the people will understand the bigger meaning behind my book?

But then I got short reviews from friends who have read my book. They all loved it.

And then Jonathan Vos, one of these friends, said something that let my heart come back up into my chest: “This is almost a picture perfect pitch. If you had 45 seconds in an elevator with Spielberg or Lucas, this is just what you'd say. Prefaced with a 5-second hook: "It's like Harry Potter meets Indiana Jones, but with cute kids."

And then came the review from David Broughton and then yours.
Thank you so much, Casey-Lyne.

I believe I might have read the review you mentioned, and I must say it is unnecessarily harsh, and she has seemed to miss the story behind it.
As for my review, I’m thrilled to have read it, and more so that you are so happy with my review. You are most welcome, and I can’t wait for the next two books.

*Do you have any other projects in mind?

I am not thinking of any other projects, yet. I am thinking only about Matica and Talon, and how the books will be continuing. They are all in my head, in rough form. I’d like to put something else in every book, some other adventures, endeavours and journeys. Since I do have lots of short stories and they are not published as yet, I weave some of them into the stories. I am planing about 8 books in the TALON series.

The second manuscript, TALON, ON THE WING and the third manuscript, TALON, FLIGHT FOR LIFE are both finished and professionally edited in the TALON series. I am working on the fourth manuscript now, TALON, HUNTING THE HUNTER.

In the meantime I am waiting and hoping that a publisher will discover me and my book, and in doing so will take my books over, since I self-published the first book. But I can’t do it any longer. I don’t have the necessary means to repeat that venture.

*What is your favourite genre to read? Favourite author?

I have several authors I do like, children’s authors but adult authors as well.
I love Cornelia Funke with her books, Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath;
Philip Pullman: The Golden Compass, all three books;
Christopher Paolini: Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr;
C.S. Louise: The lion, The witch and The wardrobe and the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia.

And then I do love science fiction as well:
Frank Herbert: The Dune series in its entirety;
Ben Bova: Mars and all his other books.

I guess they are all adventure, exploration, fantasy and imagination books.

*On your site, , I see you've travelled quite a bit. What would be your favourite place that you've been to so far?

My favourite place is There, where I am just at that time. Now we live in Australia, so Australia is my favourite place. We explore it all now and then, when going on holiday.

Since my parents had to move in Germany a lot in my younger years, going where the work was for my father, I have no real feeling of a “home”, as lots of people say that they have. I have not. With the constant moves came school changes; I changed schools 9 times. And that is very bad for a child. Hence, my personal knowledge of rejection.

And now, “home” is where I live right now and that is my favourite place.

*What would your advice be to those out there struggling with their writing?

My advice for fellow struggling writers is to never give up. It will happen one day. Because if you give up now, you will never know what was just around the corner, you don’t know what you will have missed.

Thank you Casey-Lyne to give me the opportunity to express myself in your interview. Loved it.

Thank you, Gigi, for giving me the opporunity to read such a morally wonderful tale, and find out more about you, you're a fascinating lady!

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