Interview by Tarak Ghosh

1.You are such a writer who can say with confidence ‘Get a grip on yourself and do something good with your life’. How do you get this energy?

I am writing now for the last 20 years after surviving cancer and following two years of just waiting to die. After these two years I began to think again and came to my senses as I described myself. I had to do something with myself, and as I thought, show the world that I survived and can go on living. And if I can do it, so can you.Since I couldn’t work at my traditional job any longer, I started to write, remembering the time I was writing short animal stories as a teenager, in German. 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. Albert, my husband, taught me how to use a computer and I wrote many short stories. And to show the world what I can do, I entered them in competitions. More often I got very good reports and comments back, which gave me confidence to go on writing and that I am on the right track. One of the short stories was about Talon and Matica. Judges from the competition loved the story and so I thought, I could develop a series about Talon and Matica. And so the TALON series came to life.My motto was and is: “Teaching Children Self-Confidence through Service to Others.” Children today face immense pressure to fit in with their peers. (As I faced in my own life) This pressure is leading to record rates of depression among preteens and teenagers and this 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 adventure on the way.

2. Your life is larger than a novel. What realization made you determined to take challenges?

When I grew up, I realized that I couldn’t go on in life what I was doing. I lived in a shell, as I described myself, I lived like a turtle, but hardly came out. I realized that I couldn’t go on like that. I was rejected by many people and in school as well. I was put down. But then, when I met my husband Albert, I realized that I am a person as well, that I am not a turtle and that I, like everyone else, have a right to live. My husband saw me, my inside and married me. And so I became the person I was meant to be.

3. You have studied architectural drafting and once that was your profession also. At resent writing is your passion and profession. What is your inspiration?

I have to say, my own life. Matica, the little girl in my story is me. I am not handicapped as she is, but still she is me in all aspects. I wanted to write a story about a handicapped or challenged girl to show readers what they can achieve if they put their minds not to the negativity but to the positivity. (As Matica had to learn it as well, and I have done nearly my whole life myself. Being rejected in school as well, I was always an outsider, keeping to myself in the turtles shell, had hardly any friends.) And since I love birds, I decided to let her have a bird. But then came, what bird? And then the idea went even further. What is if she could fly on the bird? That would be something. But to do that, she has to have a disability to be very small. But again, the bird has to be big as well. And there the condor came to my mind. I loved the condors before. Amazing birds. They are the biggest land birds (vulture) on our wonderful earth. And so the story about Matica and Talon came to existence. And then I had to set the scene in Peru close to the great Andes where the condors live. And so it came, that I decided to let her family go to Peru as missionary from Australia.

4. Your two little daughters gave you the courage to go ahead. Do you think ever to write a novel based on them?

Our daughters gave me the inspiration in the first place to go on living, because they needed me, their mum. It was even in these two years, where I didn’t do much, just waiting to die, that I always thought, I can’t die, I have to be there for them. And no, I haven’t, because my husband Albert has written the adopting story down, all our hardship and the waiting time. Everything.

5. What is the secret behind writing the ‘Talon’ series?

No real secret. I just wanted to let the world know that, when you put your mind to something and really want it, you can achieve it. Matica was rejected by the local Indian because of her disability. She hated that state, but couldn’t do anything against it. As it is in real live. But, there is always the ‘but’. Even that Matica was not always happy, but she tried to be. And so she chose being kind over being right. She had to learn it as well, but she learnt it well, as I have as well. Because if you think like that, you’ll be right all the time.A quote from my books: “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 just what Matica does in my book, TALON, COME FLY WITH ME. Now she can handle every obstacle…In the beginning Matica acted out of instinct and her own survival. Only so she could cope with the rejection.

6. You spent a part of your life in Germany and New Zealand. Have you written any short story or series based on the custom and culture of those countries?

No, I haven’t. I was writing beside my work in Germany, little stories, mostly about horse stories. Unfortunately I never kept them or they were lost. They were just for me. I loved doing it and let my imagination wander and be the person I was writing about. And so I lived in the written world, not really where I actually should live. I had a hard life, because I had to change so many schools, that I didn’t have any friends anymore, because I knew I would lose them again. So I spent my time in my stories.I would love to see them again now, but that’s not possible, unfortunately. When I survived the deadly disease and I started to write, I started to write short stories, in English. I loved doing it, and so I even sent them in for competitions. I got lots of very good comments back, and that gave me confidence to go on and that I was on the right track, but never got the first price. But I wasn’t seeking for that. I would say, I was testing the new field for me. I still have all these short storied, and weave them into the Talon books, as Matica is dreaming them. They are all about animals as well.

7. Give us an idea about your popular series ‘Talon’.

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 available in 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.The first book TALON, COME FLY WITH ME is actually the introduction how Matica is feeling about her new live in Peru. And so she is finding the condors and made friends with them. Poachers stole their egg and Matica with her father rescued it again. And so Matica is incubating it and calls the chick Talon. She also trains Talon to be the majestic bird he has to be and helps him to fly.  The second book: TALON, ON THE WING is all her incredible adventure flying on Talon after an accident.The third book: TALON, FLIGHT FOR LIFE. She and her father Crayn venture to the next big city to get medication and food they can’t get from the local Indians and the tickets to get back to Australia for a holiday. On the way back something very bad happens. Only Talon could and will rescue them and help her father not to die. The fourth book: TALON, CONNECTED is completely different. She learns how to live with the Indians and help them.I am working on the fifth book: TALON, HUNTING THE HUNTER. It is the end of the poacher.Book six, they have the holiday in Australia and find out that they have to go for a year to India to replace a missionary who is going on holiday. Matica misses Talon very much, but encounters other incredible adventures.Book seven and eight and nine, in India. And then they are coming back to Peru. And what she encounters there then.

8. Who is your favorite character from your book and why? What does she/he do that is so special?

I let Matica speak again. She is very good in explaining, since she lived it.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 would it help me? Would it become better? Would 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. Here and now, 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.

9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

To face myself and being the hero in my own books. And as Mira and Matica are saying in my books:‘Sometimes the worst and greatest problems in life cannot be solved. They can only be outgrown.’ And I have been outgrown them. Many times, I might say.Yep, I certainly am the hero of my story. I am even a hero in how I befriended the condors I named Tamo and Tima. I am also a hero raising Talon, the offspring of Tamo and Time, to the majestic condor he needs to be. I am a hero because of defeating the poachers, defeating my sorrow.

10. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Word of mouth. Tell all your friends about the Talon books. That would help.My motto is, and I hope everyone who is reading my books, will see them and go after them.“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.“Let your smile change the world, don’t let the world change your smile.”“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 just what Matica does in my Talon books. Now she can handle every obstacle…“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.”

11. You’re a writer, an architectural designer, a handicraft artist. Which do you prefer in introducing yourself? What impresses you more?

I am very creative with my hands. Love doing things. But it’s always periodically. First I started with pencil drawings on the big ship we came over from Germany to New Zealand. There was nothing more to do for me. And seeing that I loved doing it, and seeing how the people loved them, I went on in New Zealand. But strangely enough, I couldn’t really sell them. So I went to oil paintings. I loved it as well, but again, I couldn’t sell them. Then came the next thing, cross stitching. And again the same story. I did always animal, since I love animals. I still have them all. The pencil drawing, the oil paintings, the cross stitches. All animals.

12. Give us an insight into your main characters of your short stories, novels or series.

I let Matica, my main character, speaking in her own voice. It’s best to describe her: 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 happened 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, 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. Here and now, 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.

13. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Live life the fullest, as much as you can. Smile as much as you can. As Crayn said in my book: Let your smile change the world, don’t let the world change your smile.And: Smile – it’s the most beautiful attire.  And: “If you don’t know how to go on in life, whatever it might be, even if you have a disability, find a ‘condor’.” Not literally, but something you can rely to, something you love doing, something to help others. Whatever it is, that makes you happy. The condors made Matica happy. You have to find yours.

14. Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet, and why?

I have to confess, that I do not have anyone I would really like to meet. I never had an idol or so to live by. I tried my best to live, to love and to be.

15. Do you think the new age children are moving away from reading storybooks? If yes, what are the causes behind it and what’s the way out?

That is difficult to say. I think the time of the computers and games are playing a lot that children, sadly, are not reading as much as they should, to brighten their few, to escape into a different world, into a magical world, into flying on a condor. They would never find out, what it is, to see all these. It is sad to know that.I have heard something very good and I do believe that: A child, who reads, will be an adult who thinks.Parents should more encourage their children to read books. There are so many out there. And they are all good, particular my Talon books series.Thank you Gigi Sedlmayer. May God give you more strength and courage to write for us.Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself and to let Matica and her condors express herself. Bless you allely.