Interview with Gisela Seldmayer. #books.
- Gigi, could you please tell about yourself? Where you grew up, the places you lived, your family and your current place of living?
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 own children) 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 years 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 started the series about Matica and Talon.
2. What kind of person are you?
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. 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. I did a view for friends, but that was all.
And then came the time, for writing after the trauma of the cancer and I survived it. I just love it now and wait for the big day, time, where the books are sold every day, and then, that they are discovered and made a movie out of them. I still hope. I will never give up hope. (From Spielberg)
Something else I like to say here.
When I grew up, I realized that I couldn’t go on in life with what I was doing. I lived in a shell, as I described myself; I lived like a turtle, but hardly came out. (That coming from having no friends, as I said earlier.) 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 was a person as well, that I am not a turtle that live in the shell, 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.Could you please tell from where comes your inspiration for writing?
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.
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.
4.What are your books about? Why do you write?
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 happenes 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.
5. What you are currently working on? Any future plans?
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. Don’t know the title yet. I plan around 9 books in the series, as my imagination flows.
I love writing and spend most of my time at the computer, developing new story lines, since my girls are growing up. I also love travelling, 4×4 touring with my husband Albert, swimming, gardening, handcrafting, reading, (a lot) fossicking and I enjoy good adventure DVD’s or going to the movies.
You can find out more about Gigi and her books at: