|Pat Bertram Interview
Gisela (Gigi) Sedlmayer, Author of “Talon, Come Fly With Me”
January 27, 2012 — Pat Bertram
What is your book about?
My book is about Matica, the main character in the Talon series. She has a rare disorder of her body. She is trapped in a two year old body even though she’s ten years old, in the first book of the Talon series, TALON, COME FLY WITH ME. It’s her story about her adventure, her courage, her inspiration, her love.
Matica’s missionary school teachers moved from Australia to Peru, South America, into a small community. Here the local Indians don’t understand what is wrong with her, so decided that she wasn’t allowed to play with their children, thinking that she is demon possessed or something similar. Lonely and with the blessings of her parents, understanding her misery, she roamed around the plateau of Pucara. Often she was thinking of running away so she didn’t need to face the rejection and the bad talk of the local Indians. But one day she saw the condors flying high up in the air and there and then, she made up her mind, to make friends with them, thinking that they could help her to become somebody, to get self-confidence and so would be accepted by the local Indians. Because she actually wasn’t a negative thinking person, she was a positive thinking person and hated her life as it was. So she had to change it and she did. Her parents always lifted her up as well and told her that there is something special out there, just for her. And she believed them and after two years she found it.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
After I survived a deadly disease, I started to write short stories for competitions. I didn’t get the first prize but very good comments. That inspired me to go on. And so, one of those short stories I wrote about Matica and Talon. And there it came to me, that I could actually write a book about her, and then why not a series? And so the Talon series started.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
Matica is me, in all aspects. Not that I have her affliction, but other things and I was rejected many times as well. So yes, Matica is me.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Her name is Matica and her story is for children as well as for people of all ages to teach 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 she is different. But in spite of being different, she is a loving person in her nature. She loves to help, to be there when needed. But she couldn’t do it in the village, because of the rejection she has to face.
How long did it take you to write your book?
I started to write when I recovered from the deadly disease and that was now nearly 20 years ego. I have rewritten the first story TALON, COME FLY WITH ME many times. I have sent it to conventional publishers again and again. But I always got the rejection letter back. Then I thought I might need an editor, since English is my second language. And so I found Annette Hansen, thinking that’s what was wrong. After she brilliantly edited my manuscript I have sent it to more conventional publishers, my editor even sent the manuscript to several publishers. But still we would get that rejection letter back.
Then I decided to self-publish it. And so the first book was published by BookPal end of 2009. And now I am in the process of letting the second book TALON, ON THE WING and the third book TALON, FLIGHT FOR LIFE publish with the same self-publisher. I hope with these three books out, that the world will see what they have with them.
Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)
I spent three full days in a library to get full information about Peru and their people, the land and about the condors and everything else I needed before I started to write the first book. In that time, there was nothing really available on the Internet yet, as it is now.
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
I write the story as it comes to my mind. I am not much of a thinker. I just write it down as it comes to my mind. But then comes the polishing, and that is the main thing for me and I love that part of the writing. And that means rewrite it, and rewrite it and rewrite it until I am happy and satisfied with it and can’t find any other words for it. That can be after 15 to 20 or even more rewrites. But I have to be completely satisfied with it.
What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
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 it can be read as an adventure story.
Matica learned, after she made friends with the condors, that she can be the person she was meant to be. Her parents never said anything negative to her, they always lifted her up. Matica even 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, relates to you. Be like it, relate to it, 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 bounce off you.
What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?
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 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.
Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?
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. I plan to write about 8 books in the Talon series. The second book TALON, ON THE WING and the third book TALON, FLIGHT FOR LIFE are getting published right now.
What are you working on right now?
I am writing on the fourth book of the Talon series, TALON, HUNTING THE HUNTER. It is finished but I am on the first rewrite. Many still to come. I would like to get it finished by the end of this year with all the rewrites.
Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?
I like to reach every reader, not only the ones who need to get more confidence or have to face rejection in their lives, because it’s still an adventure story behind all that. It’s the voyage of Matica.
What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?
That it is so very difficult to get published. I don’t understand that the conventional publishers don’t see the potential in my book or even for that matter, for all the other new writers out there who are in the same boat as I am. I have the feeling that these publishers might not even read the manuscripts they are getting from new writers and so, without reading the manuscript reject it because of the writer being a new writer.
What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Never to give up. That is my motto and I am sticking to it since I got so many rejection letters back from the conventional publishers. But I will get there. So, never give up. One day it will happen, because you don’t know when it will be, it could be just around the corner, just tomorrow even.
What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?
‘Be you, yourself, be happy. 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.
‘Love and acceptance for each other, without boundaries.’
‘Self-pity is a useless emotion.’
‘Self-pity can ruin one’s life.’
‘Don’t say negative words. They don’t help you.’