Interview by Bill Wetterman
Today I have the unique pleasure of welcoming Gisela Sedlmayer to my blog site. Her Talon series hit home for me on several levels. By way of introduction, Gisela grew up in Germany, married an Australian, has lived in New Zealand, and now resides in Queensland, Australia. She is a cancer survivor and mother to two adopted Indian girls from the island of Fiji. Please welcome, Gisela Sedlmayer.
Thank you, Bill, for giving me the opportunity to express myself here. I appreciate that very much.
In your unique story, Talon, Come Fly with Me, a nine year old girl, who’s only a little taller than a two-year old, befriends a pair of condors and ends up raising their offspring from an egg. The sages say we write what we know. To me this story lifts the human spirit. How did you take your life’s experiences and create this idea?
I am happy to hear that my story lifts the human spirit. But when I started to write the story, it didn’t occur to me that it would. After I survived a deadly disease, I couldn’t go to work anymore. My husband said, “Why not start writing again, you loved it.” Yes, I was writing animal short stories in my early life. Nothing was done with them, but I loved writing them. Why not again?
So I wrote some short stories, this time for competitions. I didn’t win first prize, but I was highly commended. One of those stories was about Matica and Talon. Out of that short story I developed the novel and then a series. I realized that a lot of the things I wrote about Matica came from my life—particularly the rejection. I never thought I could write about rejection. But it fitted so wonderfully.
In my early life, I experienced rejection. Not in the way Matica did, I didn’t have her growth-challenge, but I had other things. I was always shy and didn’t really fit in. I was standing outside looking in when all the other children were playing. My parents loved me, but they never found out, that I had speech dyslexia. I have never learned to carry on a good conversation.
So in a way, Matica is me. She experienced what I went through. She talks and thinks like me.
My father had to move to where his work was. So my life was disrupted. We moved around Germany from one city to the next. I changed schools nine times. When I’d just made a friend, I would lose that friend. So in the end, I stopped trying to make friends anymore.
I wasn’t bullied in school, but I know that many children who are bullied in school commit suicide. My husband and I know that first-hand. We have adopted Indian twin-girls from Fiji. For the most part, they were accepted, particularly in our church. But when I went shopping with the girls, some people always looked at us strangely, with the look on their faces that said: How can you do something like that? Or similar.
I say: Children with special needs, with disabilities, or with handicaps, 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 what my book, Talon, Come Fly With Me, is all about, not only the first book, all the books in the series.
I believe every reader can relate to what you’re saying. When a writer connects with the emotions they felt in their past, and then places those emotions into their characters, the writing itself soars. Thanks for sharing.
A question raised by your book, and the others in your series, has to do with the misunderstanding humans have about other living creatures. How do we learn the true purpose of the creatures around us? How do we save the endangered species so valuable to our planet? Was one of your purposes when you developed this story to raise the reader’s awareness of this problem?
I didn’t think about that in the beginning. It came to me in the middle of writing the first book. I wrote mostly about Matica, the rejection she felt, and how she could overcome her loneliness and be the person she wanted to be. She had a lot of love and she couldn’t give it to anyone. Yes, to her parents and her brother Aikon, but she had no friends. She wasn’t even allowed to play with the Indian children in the community where they lived in Peru.
But then I thought about the condors. They are an endangered species, so I might be able to help them by writing the story about Matica and Talon, the condor. I wanted to make people aware that there are actually living, wonderful majestic birds. And they are worthy to be saved. Make them aware that poachers are doing so much damage in the animal kingdom.
When I read about the poachers, I thought about the highland gorillas and the elephants whose lands numbers are shrinking to human greed and superstition. Authors have a role to speak for them.
Are the characteristics Matica possesses similar to your own adopted girls?
No, my girls never really had that problem, we made sure about that. Those characteristics are my problems, the rejections I faced in life. As I said earlier, I went through most of them myself. I was rejected. I couldn’t speak properly.
Comments made about Talon on Amazon emphasize the appeal of your story to ages 9 through 99. To what do you attribute such a broad audience?
Being an animal story, I wrote for children at first from the age they could read books. But then, thinking about Matica and her afflictions, her problems, her rejections, I realized the book was for every age. Talon is for people going through similar things Matica did, rejection, or other problems they might have. So they can read the story and can learn to get a “Condor”, as Matica did. Not literally finding a condor, it’s a figure of speech. As my “Condor” is now writing. I am slowly receiving recognition and good reviews about my book. So I hope to find a publisher who will publish my books.
Every person should look for something they can do to express themselves. That may be writing, art, facing physical challenges, but something they can achieve to gain acceptance and be the person they want to be.
Let’s talk about the whole realm of self-publishing. You chose BookPal in Brisbane, Australia as your publisher. Why did you make that decision?
After I finished writing the first novel about Matica and Talon, I wrote query letters and sent my manuscript to several conventional publishers here in Australia. And guess what? I always got that rejection letter back. I tried for many years. I failed.
So I looked up all the self-publishers here in Australia and decided to let my book be published by BookPal. At that time, they were new here in Australia and weren’t as expensive as the rest. They did a very good job with the designing of the cover page. They did the outlaying of the book, everything. They also wrote a press release and did the distribution. My book is now available at all bookstores and all Internet outlets as ebook, and on Kindle at amazon.com.
When my second novel in the Talon series was finish, Talon, On The Wing, I approached them again. What horror, they’d become too expensive. That’s why I am looking for a conventional publisher now. But I am not approaching them. I hope they will find me.
Ah, popularity unfortunately increases price. So BookPal must be doing well. There is always a direct correlation. Until you mentioned the price increase, they seemed to be the answer for many good authors, particularly with their aid in marketing. They still may be for those who can afford them. Some writers may be able to afford price increases as a cost of doing business. Others may not.
You’ve been highly successful in publicizing your work. How many of your interviews did you set-up by yourself, and how many were generated by BookPal?
BookPal booked view book signings for me around the Gold Coast. They also arranged a radio interview with 2 NM in Hunters Valley, New South Wales. I believe the interview went well, but I never heard from anyone on how well it went.
I also booked a lot of book signings around the Gold Coast myself. They always went very well. Then I got into Facebook. Here I advertise my book as well and all the reviews and interviews I am getting now are from Facebook.
On Facebook I approached people who did author interviews and asked if they would interview me about my book. They did. A few asked me if they could do an interview with me as well. I love that.
How much influence has your Christian faith had in the direction and content of your novels?
Actually, not as much as I thought it would. Well, Matica’s parents are missionaries and were sent from their church in Australia to Peru. They followed the call and went. The influence is in what I don’t write. I try to write to show everything in a positive way—never letting the negative overtake me.
What advice can you give an unpublished author on marketing their work for publication?
It is not easy to get into the publishing world, as I have found out firsthand. But I say, never give up. If you give up now, you’ll never know what might be just around the corner. Just write on. It will happen. One day, you will be discovered. As I hope to be discovered. I’ve been writing now for the last 15 years and trying to get into conventional publishing houses. I know it will happen one day. But with this business, you definitely need patience. Stay positive. Be persistence. It will happen.
My book is now available in all the Internet outlets. Also you can buy my book from my website: www.writersportal.org/Gigi
Thank you, Gisela. I wish you continued success.
Thank you, Bill, for giving me the opportunity to express myself.