Today we sit down with inspiring author GiGi Sedlmayer to hear about her work, her inspiration and a bit about her. She is truly inspiring. Please enjoy this latest installment of 20 Questions.
Q1) When did you first realized you wanted to be a writer?
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 through the radiation and 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 hand writing. Nothing came out of them, I just loved it.
I remembered this time and so 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 to go on writing and inspired me to go on.
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.
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
I started to write, after I realized I was still under the living, after the cancer scare. That was 1994. Two years later I started.
One of the short stories was about Matica and Talon. And there I decided to make them as novels with several books.
I then spent three 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 Internet as it is now. I also couldn’t find any really good pictures of condors. Now there are so many good ones. Love them all.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I am writing nearly every day. So it’s daytime for me, 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.
I just need a quiet place and a window to look out all now and then and see some trees and bird singing. No music beside me, it would distract me too much. And the ideas just flow out of my hands, my finger as they fly over the keyboard.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
That people 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 meant to be. Her parents never said anything negative to her, they always lifted her up, even Matica wanted often to run away or even 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, relates to you. 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 problems and difficulties. All the rejections are bounce 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 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.
Q5) How are your books published?
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 outlaying 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 then. But a friend of ours offered me to pay, because he just loved the first book and thought, the books has to go out, people have to read them. And now in the meantime I finished the third as well 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. http://aurorahouse.com.au/ She is doing now a very good job, even better. We re-published the first four books with new covers. Better. And she is publishing now the fifth book as well.
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
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 afflictions and through my book they can learn how to coup with everything, as Matica did, the main character in my TALON books. She had to learn it in her early life. Children can find a “Condor” as Matica did. Not literally a condor, but every child or adult for that matter, they are battling with none curable afflictions, should find something that let 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 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 books are for adults as well as for children.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?
That was 1996. I was just 52 years old. First I started to write short stories, after I found myself still under the living after the cancer scare, because there was nothing else for me to do. I had too much radiation damage at my rips and tissues, and I have very bad feet. So I couldn’t get a job where I have to stand or have to walk a lot. So writing was the best option for me.
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like to relax, go for a drive with my husband with our 4×4 bar, into the hinterland of Australia or even further, when going on a holiday, into the outback of Australia and hunting for fossils.
I also like gardening, watching good movies and DVD’s and, I am reading a lot, books or kindle.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
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.
Q10) What does your family and friends think of your writing?
My family, and friends for that matter, love seeing me writing, but unfortunately have not read any of my books.
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
To face myself. When I started to write the book, I never thought of the things they 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, even from writing the book, more and more to cope with myself, to overcome my own rejection and to realise 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.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
I hate to do the promotion. Why isn’t there anyone out there, who would love my books and so would take them and promote them for a fraction of the money the promoters are charging. I can’t do it myself, and I can’t give the books to someone and pay. I just don’t have the money.
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have published five books up to now in the Talon series. I am writing the 6th book now. There will be another four or five books still to come in the series.
My favorite book is the fourth book, TALON, CONNECTED
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
Not really, I only say, when you start writing, don’t give up. Go on, press on. The success maybe right around the corner. When you give up, you will never know. So stick to it. And with writing you are becoming better each day.
And what I am doing is, reading, reading, reading other books and write reviews. That will help your writing. Well, it helps me.
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of thing do they say?
The thing is, when someone finally is getting my books and reading them, they all love them and write mostly 5* reviews. But getting the people to buy my books, that is the very hard part. I ask people and they say yes, but I have to provide a free copy. It’s very frustrating.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
I started writing the books for children and for YA, but, when I got the first reviews and they tell me, like nearly all reviewers tell me now, that everyone should read them, and mothers should read them to younger children. Because of the message the books are giving. As I have described in question six and others.
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
It must have a good story line and a good message, as my books have, I believe.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
From a young age, I was making up stories. Mostly in that time, about horses. In my teens I wrote them down, but nothing came out of them and I lost them. So, I guess I always wanted to express myself in the written word.
Q19) Where can we find your books?
My website: http://www.gigisedlmayer.wordpress.com
YouTube animation clips for the Talon books:
First book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0ontac7S20
Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favourite works?
Sure. Here are some excerpts I like from my books.
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.”