Interview with Gisela Sedlmayer by Charlotte Blackwell
For my first interview of the Great Canadian Blog hop/giveaway I would like to Welcome Gisela (Gigi) Sedlmayer. She is the author of the Talon series for children and adults. Talon sounds like such an interesting adventure story and I am so excited to have Gisela here today.
Charlotte (CB): Gisela thank you so much for come to talk with us today. I think this will be a lot of fun and was so happy when you agreed to be interviewed by me.
Answer: It’s my pleasure to talk to you. I was actually surprised, when you asked me if you could do an interview with me. But I have to say I was happily surprised. So, here I am talking to you. Love it. And thank you so very much Charlotte, to give me the opportunity.
CB: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Answer: I, Gisela (Gigi) Sedlmayer was born on 19. May 1944 in Potsdam, a suburb of Berlin in Germany.
My family escaped to the West just before the infamous wall went up. My family moved around in Germany until finally settling in Munich, where I studied Architectural Draughting and met Albert in 1965. We married in December 1967. I worked as Civil Draughtsperson in various private consultancies in Munich.
During that time and hearing that my uncle was a writer, I tried myself to write short animal stories. But nothing further came out with that but I developed a love for the written word and started to consume books.
In May 1975 my husband and I moved to New Zealand. Because of language challenges I started a handcraft business. As a specialty I made colourful parrots of which I sold thousands in a few years.
In 1983 we became Christians.
In 1988, after years of careful consideration we decided to adopt and became adoptive parents for twin girls the year after.
We lived in New Zealand for 18 years and moved to Australia in September 1992.
Two years later I was diagnosed with cancer. After the operation I just vegetated around, watching TV all day. But I was always there for the girls, never forgot them, but I was always thinking that I be dead in a few years anyway. But suddenly my brain started to work again because I realised after few years I gave myself that I still lived. So I told myself, ‘get a grip on you and do something out of your life’.
And so I thought about the time where I was writing short stories but then again, I had to write now in English. But I thought, I would give it a try and see how it would work out.
Albert taught me how to use a computer and so I developed many short stories. I have sent them in for competitions and got sometimes very good reports back, but none made it for the first price. But it gave me confidence to go on writing. And one day the idea of the Talon series came to me.
Now I love writing, but I also love gardening and cross-stitching and love to see good adventure DVD’s or going to the movies.
CB: I read you biography on you website (I will link your sight here) and I must say you have lived an amazing adventurous life. Did you get the idea for an adventure story because of everything you have experience personally?
Answer: Not in the beginning. But when I started to write, it came to me, that lots of the things I was writing, came from my life; particular the rejection. I never thought I could write about that. But it fitted so wonderfully.
CB: Aside from the adoption of your twin daughters what would you say is the biggest adventure you have taken on?
Answer: Actually there were many adventures in my life.
I married an Australian. I med him in a draughting school in Germany, in Munich. He said right from the beginning, that he want’s to go back to Australia. Since I had no sense for ‘Home’ I said, that is fine with me. After 8 years marriage, we immigrated to New Zealand because, even that my husband was Australian I wasn’t allowed to come to Australia. So we immigrated to New Zealand. There we became Christians and then we adopted our Indian twin girls from Fiji. They were special needs children. After 18 years in New Zealand, my husband wanted finally to go back to Australia. So we immigrated back to Australia. Since then we are here and love it here. Only living here for one year I was diagnosed with cancer. It was a very hard time for me. But I guess, it made me a stronger person. Believing in life, believing that we are here for a purpose. Loving nature, loving life, loving birds and all the rest of the animals. And, as it is written in the bible: Love yourself as you love others. That is my motto. I hate seeing cruelty, animals or people.
CB: You are a cancer survivor, as is my sister. I am amazed at the strength that my sister has shown. You mentioned that you feared the worst, what was it that finally made you realize that you would survive and what advice would you give to others battling cancer or any other disease?
Answer: After the operation and the radiation (it damaged my tissue and bones quiet a lot and so I still suffer from that) I did nothing. I waited to die. I was there for my husband, I was there for my children, they were only small in this time. But otherwise? I did nothing. The TV was my friend. So one year went by, another year went by. Then suddenly, one day, as if I got a knock on my head, I looked up and realized that I was still under the living. But what now? Should I go to work? But what should I do? I had no idea. That night I walked with my husband and talked. It was actually the first time after the operation that we really talked. I was alive again. Suddenly my husband said, ‘Why not start writing. You did it before.’ I looked at him, stunned. Writing? What should I write about? Animal stories again? In English, in German? I told him that I would think about it.
So next day, I actually sat down and started to write a story. It flowed out of my hand. Just like that. Didn’t need much to think about, it just came. I wrote the story in a scrapbook, with lots of crossing out and writing over it. It looked a mess, after I inspected it. I thought that couldn’t go on like that. But I loved the writing.
Next weekend my husband showed me how to use our spare computer. Oh, how beautiful that was. No problems with crossing out there. My story developed nicely. Then I found out, through writing clubs, that you could send your story to competitions. I did. I didn’t get the first price, not the second either, but I got very good comment. It inspired me to go on. I wrote a lot of short stories, send them all in. I always got good comments.
So finally I started to write about a bird. I love birds. So I wrote a short story about Matica, the growth-handicapped 10-year-old. Her rejection in life, her hope, her inspiration, her love. Then I thought, I could write about her and make a novel out of it, even a series. So the Talon story began.
My advice is: Find a “Condor” as Matica did. Not literally, but every child or adult, that is battling with something, should find something that let you forget what is happening to you.
And, never give up in life, there is always something coming around the corner.
CB: You used to write short stories have you ever published any of them or thought about putting together a collection of shorts?
Answer: Up to now I have not published any of the short stories, but I weave some of them in the Talon series now. Most of the time as dreams, Matica has. But when I am famous, and a publisher likes my stories, then I will asked if they could put all my short stories into a book.
CB: Throughout the years you have lived in various places all over the world. Is there any place you would love to live for a while?
Answer: Wherever we lived, that was my home. Because I never had the feeling to have ‘a home’, as I have seen others have and described it even to me. When I was little, my father went wherever there was work. So we moved in Germany from city to city. And so I went to 9 different schools. In the end I never made friends anymore, because I thought I would lose them soon anyway. I was lonely in the last few schools, but that was okay with me. I choose to be lonely. So, when I write the story about Matica, I know what loneliness is. And so, no, I don’t have a place. We live now on the Gold Coast of Australia, and we love it here.
CB: What are your writing habits?
Answer: When the girls were little I had a fixt time where I was writing. And that was during the school hours. I picked them up from school then we made homework together, then cocking until my husband came home from work.
But since they grown up, my writing habit is different. One day I write all day, one day only an hour, or two. I have not given me a rule or a writing habit. But I write every day.
CB: Would you mind telling us a little about your book TALON today?
Answer: Since I went through the things Matica is going through, Matica is actually me. (I am not handicapped but faced lots of rejection as well.) Matica and I, we are looking for acceptance.
I say: Children with special needs or with disability, or are handikapped 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 all about my book TALON, COME FLY WITH ME, but not only the first one, in all of them.
CB: Your site says this is the beginning of the adventures for Talon and Matica, will there be more books to follow and can you tell us about them?
Answer: Yes, there are more books to come. I plane about 8 books in the Talon series. But only the first is published up to now. The second, TALON, ON THE WING, the third TALON, FLIGHT FOR LIFE are finish and professionally edited. I am working on the forth TALON, HUNTING THE HUNTER.
The first book TALON, COME FLY WITH ME. This book tells that Matica with her missionary parents come to Peru. Because of her growth handicap the local Indians don’t accept her into their community. Lonely she is looking for something else to play. So she, with great patience and a sense of adventure, befriends Tamo and Tima. A strong bond and love develops between them. And then, she with her father rescues the egg from poachers and she incubates it and names him Talon. The book describes in detail how Matica helps Talon grow into the majestic condor he was meant to be.
The second book TALON, ON THE WING is about how she finally is accepted into the community because of her preserving the endangered condors with her great deed.
And what Matica had dreamed of ever since she first befriended the condors, actually had happened. It started in the last chapter of the previous book, Talon, come fly with me. Matica flew out of the hut when Talon became frightened after a spark of the open fireplace nearly hit him.
In this book she has scores of incredible adventures and near disasters with flying on Talon; also a love between Amos and her develops.
Matica is now very happy that she is small and didn’t want to have it any other way. She was accepted, she was loved, she could fly on Talon. What more could she have? All her rejection, her hardship, her loneliness was over. It is as if a door was opened for her that was shut before and now she begun a new life. It was a new era in her life.
Also the Indians promised Matica that they would always protect the condors from any poachers, if they ever would return.
The third book, TALON, FLIGHT FOR LIFE.
Because Matica’s family have decided to go on holiday back to Australia, Matica and her father walk to the next big city of Cajamarca to purchase the tickets and some food supply and medication for Pajaro, the spokesman of the village. They would be away for a week.
This is a test to see how Matica would cope with being away from her condors when they go on her holiday. She misses them terribly, but still has an adventurous and very good time with her father walking through rain forests and other parts of the beautiful country of Peru. She sees macaws, toucan, monkeys and a tame puma in the city of Cajamarca. They even encounter a wild puma on the way. Talon comes every day and visit them wherever they are and so Matica is flying on Talon.
In Cajamarca they heard that the poachers are back and snooping around, asking for condors. Matica is devastated, and wants to go home quickly, to tell her condors, that they have to be aware, that the poachers looking for them.
On the way home they visit an old Incan dwelling. And there, shortly after, a nasty, huge spider bit her father Crayn on his ankle. Finding the spider, she had to kill it, in spite of her not wanting to do it, it was just too big for her, because her father wasn’t able to help her, since he was in incredible pain. Affright and disgusted, she kills it.
But that wasn’t enough. More of those nasty spiders were crawling around, and so Matica had to kill another one.
Her father had a bad reaction of the bite; his leg swells to double its size. He becomes very ill and delirious with fever. Matica doesn’t know what to do and calls for her condors who come and save her father’s life with a life-giving leaf.
The forth book, TALON, HUNTING THE HUNTER the poachers are back. Since the condors with a life-giving leaf healed Matica’s father, Matica has to show the leaf to the elders of their community, Pajaro’s father, Elcano. Elcano is old, very old and in the brink of dying. But Pajaro insists that Matica is seeing him and show him the leaf.
Matica is frightened, but she went with Pajaro to see Elcano. Elcano is a very wise and educated man. He wants to take the leaf but then decided not to take it. It would have made him whole again. His life is finish, he said, and Pajaro should take over the village.
When Elcano dies Pajaro build a pyre for his father. But just as they started the ceremony, the poachers are back.
The fight begins between the Indians, Matica and her parents and the condors.
The poachers want revenge and want to get hold of Talon to kill him so Tamo and Tima could have another egg that they could steel and sell it for lots of money to a zoo.
But Matica’s family, the Indians and the help of the condors become engaged in the biggest fight of their lives. They conquer and defeat the poachers until the police is coming to bring them to justice.
After the big fight, Talon flies with Matica to a region she has never visited before to show her something special; a mother puma with three newborn cubs.
Also, Talon and Matica celebrate their birthdays – Talon’s first and Matica’s eleventh.
CB: How did you go about getting published? (do you have an agent, publisher, self published)
Answer: I tried for many years, writing query letters myself to several publishers here in Australia. But I always got that rejection letter back. Then my editor became an agent for a short time. She tried as well. But again with no success. And because of all the rejection letters (I lost count of them) I approached a self-publisher here in Brisbane, Australia. They published my first book TALON, COME FLY WITH ME. They did a very good job with designing the cover. They also wrote a press release and did the distribution as well. So my book is now available in all the Internet outlets, like amazon.com and barnsandnoble.com and so on. I also did many book signings here around the Gold Coast after it came out.
But now I approached an agent. He has it now and I hope he will take it over. I wanted to try to get into the conventional publishers, because I can’t do self-publishing again. It is, simply said, too expensive to do it with the finished second and third manuscript.
CB: Do you have any advice you would give other writers?
Answer: Never give up. That is my advice. One day it will happen, that is my believe and I hold tight on it. Because if I would give up, what have I achieved? Nothing.
CB: Where can Talon be purchased?
Answer: See as above. From my publisher direct or my website or from all the Internet outlets. You can also get it by amazon.com for kindle, ebook, ipad and so on.
CB: Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?
Answer: This year I got very good reviews from professional reviewers. They are all in my website.
My dream is, that a publisher will find me and see what the books about and so will publish them all. And, I also got an assessment where he was saying, that he can see the books as movies. So yes, I would love to see my books as movies. Like the Harry Potter books and movies.
CB: Thank you again for joining me today, I look forward to hearing more about the TALON series and have added it to my TBR pile.
Answer: Thank you Charlotte for giving me the opportunity to express myself in the interview.
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