Nine-year-old Matica lives in a remote village on a dry plateau in the Andes of Peru. She moved to Peru when she was five with Australian missionary and schoolteacher parents. Because Matica is trapped in the body of a two-year-old, her growth handicap has caused her to be rejected by the local people and they would not accept her into their community or allow her to play with the children.
With patience and a sense of adventure, Matica befriends a pair of condors. A strong bond and love develops between them.
Matica rescues the egg the condors, Tamo and Tima, are trying to protect from poachers and nurtures it to hatching. The egg hatches on her 10th birthday and she names the new fledging Talon.
Many adventures unfold, including her finally being accepted into the local community. And something totally unexpected…
This is the beginning of many incredible adventures with Talon and Matica. It is a story of hope, determination and love.
INTERVIEW WITH CHILDRENS FANTASY AUTHOR GIGI SEDLMAYER
1. Your heroine is nine years old. Is she based on someone you know? Tell us about your main character.
I let Matica, my main character, speaking in her own voice. It’s best to describe her and the books:
My name is Matica and I am a special needs child with a growth disability. I am stuck in the body of a two-year-old, even though I am ten years old when my story begins in the first book of the Talon series, TALON, COME FLY WITH ME.
Because of that disability, (I am saying ‘that’ disability, not ‘my’ disability because it’s a thing that happens to me, nothing more and because I am not accepting it as something bad. I can say that now after I learned to cope with it.) I was rejected by the local Indians as they couldn’t understand that that condition is not a sickness and so it can’t be really cured.
It’s just a disorder of my body. But I never gave up on life and so I had lots of adventures roaming around the plateau where we live in Peru, South America, with my mother’s blessings.
But after I made friends with my condors I named Tamo and Tima, everything changed. It changed for the good. I was finally loved. And I am the hero and I embrace my problem.
In better words: I had embraced my problem before I made friends with my condors Tamo and Tima. I held onto it and I felt sorry for myself and cried a lot, wanting to run away or something worse. But did it help me? Did it become better? Did I grow taller? No, nothing of that helped me.
I didn’t have those questions when I was still in my sorrow, but all these questions came to me later, after I was loved and was cherished. One day I looked up into the sky and saw the majestic condors flying in the air. I made up my mind. I wanted to become friends with them.
I believed if I could achieve that, all my sorrow and rejection would be over. And true enough, it was over. I was loved. I even became famous. And so, if you are in a situation, with whatever your problem is, find something you could rely on and stick to it, love that and do with that what you were meant to do. And I never run from conflicts.
2. Where did you get this idea for your series premise?
Surviving cancer and finding myself still alive after two years of just sitting around, waiting to die, I finally came to my senses again.
Since I couldn’t work at a traditional job any longer, couldn’t stand or sit too long, had too much damage due to the radiation. It is very painful, Albert, my husband, taught me how to use a computer.
Earlier, in my teen years, I wrote lots of little animal short stories by handwriting. Nothing came out of them. I just loved it. I remembered during this time I started to write since there was nothing else for me to do.
In the beginning, I wasn’t sure, in which language I should write. But then I decided to write in English since my English became better and we live in an English-speaking country.
I wrote many short stories and entered them into competitions and often got very good reports back, which gave me confidence and inspired me to go on writing.
One of the short stories was about Talon and Matica. Judges from the competition loved the story, so I thought, I could develop a series about Talon and Matica. And so the TALON series came to life.
3. Tell us a bit about your world where the stories take place.
I want people to see and learn that they are not alone if they have a disability, or an affliction, or anything they might think is wrong with them. My book is to guide them to get self-confidence, to learn and to cope and to deal with all sorts of afflictions, conditions, and disorders, even being rejected by other people; to learn to face and to deal with being different, as Matica is, but again can read it as an adventure story.
Matica learned after she made friend with the condors, that she can be the person she is meant to be. Her parents never said anything negative to her.
They always lifted her up, even when Matica often wanted to run away or would do other bad things. But thinking of her positive parents, she never did. And now she is happy to have that great adventure with her condors.
Mira, Matica’s mother is saying: “Look for your condor as my daughter has done.”
She doesn’t mean a real condor, like her daughter, has found but something that works for you and relates to you. The message is: Like it, relate to it, love it and love who you are, or do what it takes to be who you want to be.
Quote from my book:
If you don’t know how to go on in life whatever it might be, even if you have a disability, find a “condor”.
That is what Matica did. Matica found the condors, but every person can find something else that they relate to, stick to it and do and be confident with it to get there, where you want to go, where you want to be. And then, as Matica, you can handle every problem and difficulties. All the rejections are bounced off of you.
“Teaching Children Self-Confidence through Service to Others.”
Children today face immense pressure to fit in with their peers. This pressure is leading to record rates of depression among preteens and teenagers, to suicide. Parents look for ways to build their children’s self-esteem; however, teens look to their peers and popular culture for acceptance rather than their parents.
This puts parents in a challenging situation. Most children of this age group have issues with acceptance and this is explored and resolved in a positive manner within the story line of the Talon series. Matica shows children and teens that they can overcome great obstacles with love, patience and a selfless attitude toward helping others, and experience exciting adventures on the way.
4. What was your favorite part about writing this story?
I wanted to let children and parents know, that they don’t need to suffer more than they already do. So:
Children suffer from all sorts of affliction and through my book they can learn how to cope with everything, as Matica did, the main character in my TALON books.
She had to learn it in her early life. Children can find their “Condor” as Matica did. Not literally a condor, but every child, or adult for that matter, that are battling with non-curable afflictions should find something that lets them forget what is happening to them. Finding a “Condor” would help them to overcome that.
Parents can read my book to younger children so they can see that they are not alone, but that they can overcome it in a positive way, not in a negative way. I say:
Children with special needs, or with a 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. My books are not only for children. As I said, adults face some illnesses as well, so my book is for adults as well as for children.
5. Do you have a favorite scene?
That is a story I will copy I wrote in the 6th book and love it:
Still grinning and thinking of Talon, how they found his egg, how she raised him to become the great and mighty condor he is now, she closed her eyes. And there she found herself lying on Talon, feeling his feathers under her, flying high up over the mountain and directly toward the moon.
It was eerie for her to see the moon becoming bigger and bigger. It looked white and big with black lines everywhere. What is Talon doing? she thought. We can’t fly out to the moon? Can we?
Next, she saw Talon’s head in front of her, grinning and tilting his head and looking at her with big eyes, then he blinked his eyes and opened his beak as if he would show his teeth if he would have some, or as if he would start talking to her. But then he grunted.
Just as she wanted to ask him, what it is, she found herself lying on Talon once more, flying towards the moon. When they were really close, a fracture appeared at the moon crust. They could follow the fracture with their eyes as it spread over the moon crust and become wider. She actually could hear the crack and flinched. Even Talon flinched.
They kept hovering and watched and wondered what would come out of that.
Another crack followed and another, crisscrossing the moon crust. They also became bigger and wider and then big, black holes appeared where the moon crust was before.
All of a sudden the pieces they were left of the moon crust fell away and disintegrated into the atmosphere. One big piece flew directly into the line where she was flying on Talon. Instinctively she bent to the side, as Talon curved away as well. The piece soared past them. Then the moon cracked open, split into half.
Matica wanted to jump up and scream out: that can’t be. But she was way too excited what was happening next and she had to follow and see the next seconds. She kept laying on Talon, watching amazed the transformation of the moon, as Talon still flew further.
No moon was left by then instead a huge bird had emerged unfolding its enormous wings. Then, very slowly the huge bird flapped its wings, one beat after the other and flew away, away from her and Talon.
She screamed out, “Wow, that’s amazing”.
6. How much research did you do, before you started writing? Outlines, or bare minimum information?
After I had decided to make the story about Matica and Talon as a series, I spend 3 whole days in the library to learn everything about Peru, their people, the land and of course about the condors. In that time, nothing was
At that time, nothing was available on the Internet as it is now. I also couldn’t find any real good pictures of condors. Now there are so many good ones. Love them all.
7. Does real life influence your stories?
To face myself. When I started to write the book, I never thought of the things that came out then. I wanted to write an adventure story for children and see what came out of that. Because, like Matica, I was rejected in school, not because of the growth handicap she has. I had other things. I had to face what Matica is facing, rejection and learned from writing the book, more and more to cope myself, to overcome my own rejection and to
Because, like Matica, I was rejected in school, not because of the growth handicap she has. I had other things. I had to face what Matica is facing, rejection. I learned even more from writing the book how to cope with myself, to overcome my own rejection and to realize that I have survived a deadly disease.
In a sense, it changed my life as well. I have more confidence now as I never had before. I never thought I could write a story like that. But now? I can and I will write more stories about Matica and Talon and her adventure, her life.
8. How many books have you written?
I have published 5 books up to now in the Talon series. I am writing the 6th book now. There will be another 4 or 5 books still to come in the series.
1. TALON, COME FLY WITH ME
2. TALON, ON THE WING
3. TALON, FLIGHT FOR LIFE
4. TALON, CONNECTED
5. TALON, ENCOUNTER
9. Do you have a ritual or special place you write?
I just need a quiet place and a window to look out of now and then to see some trees and birds singing. No music beside me, it would distract me too much. And the ideas just flow out of my hands, my fingers flying over the keyboard.
10. Do you prefer laptop or desktop, when writing?
I sit at my desk, even though I do have a laptop, but not for writing on it, too small. So I have an extra big screen with a Keyboard. I prefer that very much.
11. What type of books do you read?
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. Lewis: The lion, the witch and the wardrobe and the rest of them all.
And then I do love science fiction as well:
Frank Herbert: The Dune series. All of them
Ben Bova: Mars and all his other books.
I guess they are all adventure, exploration, fantasy and imagination books.
12. What is “a day” in your life like? How do you juggle it all?
I am writing nearly every day. So it’s daytime since I can’t work any longer. (Radiation damage.) Sometimes I have too many other things to do, but mostly I do write every day. Well, today I am writing at the interview, to get the answers out.
13. Any advice for new authors starting out and self-publishing?
Never give up. The success may be right around the corner. When you give up, you never will find out. So stick to it and go ahead.
14. So far… From writing to publishing, what do you find the most difficult or challenging?
After I finished writing the first novel in the Talon series 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 even lost count of them. I tried for many years. I failed.
Next, I approached an editor and agent and she edited my book properly. She loved my book and she tried to place it with a conventional publisher. But she too failed.
So I looked up all the self-publishers here in Australia and decided to let my book be published by BookPal in Brisbane. 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, the layout of the book, the distribution, and making an eBook. They also wrote a press release.
When I finished the second book in the Talon series, I approached them again. They were a bit too expensive for me by then. But a friend of ours offered to pay for me because he just loved the first book. He thought the books have to go out. People have to read them., and in the meantime. I finished the third book and published with BookPal again.
But now, since I finished the fourth and the fifth book I had to look for another publisher since BookPal became too expensive for me. I found Aurora House. She is doing a very good job, even better. We re-published the first 4 books with new covers. Better. And she is publishing the fifth book as well.
15. Do you have any other projects in the works right now or in the future?
Writing the next 4 or 5 books in the Talon series.
16. What is your planned next release in the series?
I have planned to release the 6th book late this year.
17. Any last words for the readers?
Some Excerpts I like to write here:
Amos said, ‘Size is nothing. The heart is all that counts. And you have the best, softest and most caring heart I ever have encountered. Because of your heart, you survived the hardship the Indians have put you through.’
Matica smiled. ‘Thank you, Amos.’
“Lack of knowledge can do so much damage, cause so much pain.”
Her eyes clouded over when she continued. ‘Well, in a way they have told me, I know. But again, it is only now because of Talon. I see.
He could hear bitterness in her voice.
‘Do not judge them and do not let it bug you. They did not know better. I thought you knew that. We still have to learn and understand not to reject unexplained things but help that person.”
“Be you, yourself, be happy again. Don’t let life pass by you. Don’t look back, look into the bright future. The future is as bright as the promise of God. Smile – it’s the most beautiful attire.”
“I can do it. These four words are the most power-filled words.”
“Self-pity is a useless emotion.”
“Self-pity can ruin one’s life.”
“Love and acceptance for each other, without boundaries.”
Thank you Juneta for the great opportunity allowing me to express myself.
All the best for you. Thank you
Gigi Sedlmayer writes teen and young adult adventure fantasy focusing on “Teaching Children Self-Confidence through Service to Others.”
Gigi loves writing and spends most of her time at the computer, developing new story lines.
She was born in Potsdam, Germany moving to New Zealand in 1975 with her husband, Albert. In 1992, they moved to Australia with their two daughters.
She is a long-term cancer survivor who loves traveling, 4×4 touring, swimming, gardening, handcrafting, reading, fossicking (a term referring to prospecting), and watching adventure movies on DVD. Read more about Gigi on her Amazon page.