Please help me welcome creative author, Gigi Sedlmayer. Thank you, Gigi, for coming by today.
- Please tell us something about yourself.
I was born on the 19th of May 1944 on the east side of Germany, in Potsdam, Berlin.
My family escaped to the West just before the infamous wall went up. We moved around in Germany, following work my dad found, changing schools at least 7 times (I really lost track and lost all my friends with it, until I was so scared to make friends and actually never learnt proper conversation) until finally settling in Munich where I studied architectural drafting and met Albert in 1965, marrying in December 1967. I worked as a civil draftsperson in various private consultancies in Munich.
Since my uncle was a writer, I tried to write short animal stories beside work, when I had the time. I think I wanted to see if I could write as well. But nothing further came of it, but I developed a love for the written word and consumed books.
In May 1975, my husband and I immigrated 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 1988, we decided to adopt (we had no children of our own) and became adoptive parents of 3 ½ year old twin girls from Fiji the year after. We lived in New Zealand for eighteen years and moved to Australia in September 1992.
One year later I was diagnosed with cancer. After operations and radiation, I withdrew, thinking that I would soon be dead, like my friend who had died of cancer, but my two little girls gave me the courage to keep going. After two years, still among the living, my brain started to work again, so I thought, “Get a grip on yourself and do something good with your life.”
Since I couldn’t go back to work, too much pain and damage from the radiation, I remembered the time when I wrote short stories and got inspired again, seeing my husband Albert writing the story of our adoption. My English became increasingly better so I pressed on to develop my creative writing.
I started again with short stories and have sent them to competitions. I didn’t get any praised but was highly commended. So I went on and one of the short stories was about Matica and Talon. Thinking it through, I thought I could do a novel out of that one.
And so I started the series about Matica and Talon.
- When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
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.
And this came, because my father had to go from city to city, wherever there was work. So I had to change schools around 9 times. In the end I didn’t had any friends anymore. I was afraid to get them then would lose them again. Hence I was in the turtle. No one was allowed to touch me, or get to me. And so, actually, I never really learned to communicate properly.
But 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, still in Germany, Albert, an Australian, I realized that I am a person as well because he treated me as a real person, that I am not a turtle and that I, like everyone else, have a right to live. My husband saw the real me, my inside and married me. And so I became the person I was meant to be.
Then I learned that I was very good with my hands. I could create thing that people loved.
Immigrating to New Zealand on a great big ship, I started to draw with pencil. In New Zealand I draw with oil, and then came toy making, after that, since I couldn’t do it anymore, because we adopted twin girls from Fiji, I started to do cross stitching.
And now I write. That is the work now I was meant to do.
For everything there was a season for the different things until I finally found the right thing I was meant to do, writing.
- What process do you need in order to write?
When I started the story and knew I had to set it in Peru, because only there are flying the majestic condors around, I sat in the library for 3 full days; studying everything about the Indians, their land, their culture and about the condors, their habits and all.
In that time, when I started to write, there was nearly nothing available in Internet. Now, when I have to look up something, everything is there.
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 turtle’s 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.
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.
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 learned 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.
And something else: I had to face myself and being the hero in my own books. And as Mira, Matica’s mum, 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 and so has Matica. 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.
- Please share your books with us and a synopsis of each.
The first novel: TALON, COME FLY WITH ME
Nine-year-old blond Matica lives in a remote little village on a dry plateau in the Andes of Peru. She moved here with her Australian missionary and schoolteacher parents when she was five years old. Ever since she could remember she faced cruel rejection because of her growth handicap. She is trapped in a body the size of a two-year old. Because of that the local Indians wouldn’t accept her into their community or allow her to play with their children.
Under the watchful eyes of her parents who understand her, lonely Matica explores the plateau for entertainment.
Back when she was seven years old she had noticed a pair of condors soaring near the mountains. With patience and a sense of adventure she befriended them and named them Tamo and Tima. A strong bond and love developed between them over the next two years.
The book begins here when Matica is nine.
Tamo and Tima try to fight off a couple of poachers, but the poachers succeed in stealing their egg from its ledge. Eventually Tamo drives them away but the poachers leave the egg between some boulders on the plateau. Being unable to bring it back to the ledge, Tamo and Tima make it clear to Matica to take care of the egg, so she does.
Exactly on Matica’s tenth birthday, the condor fledgling Talon hatches. The book then describes in detail how Matica helps Talon grow into the majestic bird he was meant to be.
Two months after confidently flying, the most unbelievably amazing thing happens. What Matica had dreamed of ever since she first befriended the condors, actually unfolds. That changes her life so completely that she can now see a positive side to her handicap. The Indians then fully accept the new Matica into their community.
This is the beginning of a time of incredible adventures with Talon and Matica, which continues in subsequent Talon books.
The second: TALON, ON THE WING
What Matica has dreamed ever since she first befriended the condors actually happened in the last chapter of the previous book, Talon, Come Fly with Me. And now the adventure continues.
Finally accepting Matica into their community with that incredible event, the Indians of Peru love seeing her together with Talon and his parents, Tamo and Tima. Now she has to tell all of her adventures with her condors to her classmates. Matica’s mother isn’t very impressed with that event, but she finally is turning around as well and loves seeing them together in that intimate way. Her mother first saw danger in it, but after seeing how safe Matica is with Talon, her mother gave her the go ahead.
Matica is now happy that she is small and doesn’t want to have it any other way. She is accepted, she is loved and she can have incredible adventures with her beloved Talon. What more could she have? All her rejection and hardship is over.
In this book Matica has scores of incredible adventures and near disasters with Talon. Also, a love between Amos and Matica develops.
The third: TALON, FLIGHT FOR LIFE
Matica is walking with her father to the city of Cajamarca to purchase some food, medication and the tickets for their six-month holiday in Australia.
On the way she misses her condors terribly, but still has an adventurous time with her father as they walk through rain forests and other parts of the beautiful country of Peru, seeing macaws, toucans, monkeys and even a puma.
In Cajamarca they heard that the poachers are back, asking for condors. Matica becomes distressed, and wants to go home quickly, to tell her condors.
On the way home they visit an old Incan dwelling. And there, her father falls ill with high fever after he is bitten by a spider.
Not knowing what to do, Matica calls for her condors. But the wait until they arrive is the hardest time she has ever had to endure.
The fourth: TALON, CONNECTED
Matica still lives in the small village of Pucara with her brother, mom and dad, who is recovering from his near-death experience. Her 11th birthday is coming up and the things she is about to encounter proves she is very brave.
Events take a sudden turn when she is invited to see Elcano, the very old and frail father of the village elder Pajaro. Not once, but three times he summons her. She is afraid of him but he fascinates her. He calls her ‘his daughter’. Why? The amazing things he is about to tell her could be life-changing, things she had never thought about.
Matica nearly jumps out of her skin at what she is told. ‘Who me?’ she questions herself, ‘Really me?’
Will Matica be able to cope with these life-changing disclosures?
In the midst of all this, the poachers are back, looking for eggs and birds…
TALON, CONNECTED is far more than a kids’ story. It is a story about growing up, friendship, and the challenge of moral choices and respect. Ride along during the ongoing adventures of Matica and her best friends, the condors Talon, Tamo and Tima, characters many readers already know and have learned to love.
- How do you come up with ideas for your stories?
I started to write the Talon series for children for the age of 9 years to teenagers. But, as reviewers tell me my books are for all ages, from 9 to 99 years.
Children suffer from all sorts of affliction and through my books they can learn how to cope with everything, as Matica did, the main character in my books. She had to learn it in her early life. Children can and should 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 books to younger children so they can see that they are not alone, but that they can overcome their affliction in a positive way, not in a negative way.
I know that there are lots of people and children out there, who are not accepted by their peers. Children are getting bullied in school, driven to suicide. We know that first-hand as well. We have adopted Indian twin-girls from Fiji. Mostly they were accepted, particularly in our church. But when I went shopping with the girls, some people looked at us, with the look on their faces that would say: How can she do something like that?
Since I went through the things Matica is going through, Matica is actually me. (I am not handicapped but faced lots of rejection in my life as well.) Matica and I, we are one person and we are looking for acceptance.
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.
But I think that 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.
I also like to 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 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. 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.
- What projects are you currently working on?
I have four books published in the Talon series now. The fifth book is on the way. It is called. TALON, ENCOUNTER. Just got the cover for it. It’s great. And I am working on the sixth book. I don’t know the title yet. I plan around 9 books in the series, as my imagination flows.
- What do you expect to accomplish in 2015?
My expectation is big. I expect to sell many books. Or is it my wish? Well, whatever, yes, I expect that. That people finally see what they get with my books.
- Please share your links and where to purchase 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
- Is there anything else you would like to share?
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, Gigi, for coming today and spending time with my readers and me. It was a sincere pleasure to have you here and learn more about you and your wonderful books. Your books will make a difference in many children’s lives due to their important life lessons and positive themes. Please keep in touch for you are now part of Jemsbooks family.
Thank you, readers, for stopping by to read about this talented and creative author and her wonderful books. Please check them out on her links. You will be amazed and delighted by the stories.
Remember: Reading Gives you Wings to Fly!