GABRIELLA, THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS INTERVIEW! IT'S SO GREAT TO HAVE YOU.
NOW, I KNOW YOU ARE A FICTION WRITER AND LIVE IN TEXAS. TELL US MORE ABOUT YOURSELF.
My mother taught me to read and write when I was very young, and both she and my father had tons of books in our home. I've loved reading my entire life and writing, too. I live in Texas with my family, but I've lived in various other places including California, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Utah.
In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, watching movies and episodes of my favorite TV series, taking photographs, traveling, and collecting various things. I love forests, mountains, and back roads, along with exploring them. I have a weakness for lasagna, garlic bread, tacos, cheese, and chocolate, but not necessarily in that order, and I love Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE A WRITER? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST STORY ABOUT?
I first thought I was a writer when I was five years old, but I was convinced of it was I was thirteen. I wrote mainly poetry then, and words flowed out of me all of the time. However, I stopped writing when I was seventeen; I'd left home and was occupied with college and work. I stayed busy with my marriage, divorce, and being a single parent. In fact, I didn't write for many years but started up again in 2012, and it felt as if a dam had burst open inside. Words just poured out.
When I was five, I wrote my first real story and won an award for it. The story was about a cat, dog, and chicken meeting, liking one another, and moving in together. The theme was friendship.
I'M FROM THE SOUTHWEST, AND I LOVED THE GEOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL REFERENCES. HOW MUCH RESEARCH DID YOU DO FOR “SHADOWS OF THE ANASAZI?”
I knew some basics about the Anasazi before starting my story, but there were many things I didn't know. For example, I'd visited Cliff Palace in Colorado and I knew pueblo-dwellers had vanished from there. I also knew they'd lived in New Mexico. But, I hadn't realized they were actually in the Four Corners area of the United States—including Arizona and Utah.
When the idea for my story came to me, I wanted to immerse myself in the Puebloans’ lives as much as possible, so I read books, articles, and research papers about their ancient homes, beliefs, symbolism, artifacts, travel routes, etc. As I did, I felt I was with them or their spirit was right there with me. I looked for pictures related to their lives, kept those near me as I wrote, and I listened to their music. My story is full of symbolism.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MORE OUTLANDISH STORIES OR LEGENDS THAT YOU HAVE HEARD ABOUT THE ANASAZI OR OTHER NATIVE AMERICAN GROUPS?
I read something hinting that the Anasazi weren't from earth to begin with, but had come from outer space. Following this train of thought, their returning “home” wasn't surprising.
However, I'll focus on more “reasonable” theories, three in particular. (1) In the past, people suggested a great drought forced the Anasazi to move. However, research has shown that they'd survived other droughts, so another in and of itself wouldn't have been sufficient cause for them to leave the Four Corners area. (2) It has also been propounded that the Anasazi became somewhat disillusioned with their gods and spiritual beliefs. They might have been attracted to other religions flourishing relatively close to their homes, and moved to where they'd be with others who held the new beliefs. Researchers studied certain Anasazi descendants, and discovered they hadn't carried all of their ancient beliefs with them to their new homes. This adds weight to the argument about them embracing other religions/gods/beliefs and possibly moving in accordance with this. (3) Some have suggested the Puebloans might have been alarmed by changes around them, specifically others encroaching on their homelands and/or fighting and violence. If this is accurate, they might have felt the need to move to a safer area.
IF YOU COULD GO TO ANY HISTORICAL TIME PERIOD, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU GO TO?
That's a hard question, because I'd like to go to more than one.
I think I'd like to be in Europe for the end of World War I and start of World War II. Some of my ancestors lived there during the wars; they survived, despite many hardships. I'd like to meet and talk with them, have a sense of what they went through, and/or experience part of it with them.
However, I'd like to meet Jesus and speak with him, too. I would also love to travel back in time and visit with more of my ancestors and famous authors, artists, and inventors like Poe, Frost, Dickinson, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Tolstoy, London, Tolkien, Longfellow, Blake, da Vinci, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Tesla, etc.
WHAT GENRES DO YOU WRITE IN? WHAT GENRE(S) WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN?
I write fantasy, horror, drama/thriller, romance, sci-fi, modern, children's stories, and occasionally in other genres, depending on my mood and the ideas that pop into my head. I'd like to be more effective with everything I write.
WHAT THREE KERNELS OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A NEW WRITER? A SEASONED WRITER?
My advice would be the same for both:
(a) Never give up. NEVER. Rejections can sting. A lack of sales can, too. So can publishers completely failing to grasp your works. But, things can always improve. Your creations may not be right for certain publishers or venues. Or, you may need to improve your writing (showing versus telling, correcting spelling, punctuation, tense, etc.) Every day provides you with an opportunity to start fresh, and chances to be more and do better. Even if you get discouraged, don't let that hold you back. Get right back up and keep trying.
(b) Editing is a good idea. I mean it. You can learn a great deal from an editor—not just any editor, mind you, but one who good, reputable, and who respects you and your works, not trying to rewrite things to match their own preferences.
(c) Burn “a” into your mind. If you need to, write it down and put it up where you'll see it all the time.
HAS THAT AUTHOR BEEN A LITERARY INFLUENCE? IF NOT, WHICH AUTHORS HAVE BEEN?
I can't answer this because I've read many things by many authors. Some of them have a place in my heart—a large number of them—but I don't know that they influenced my writing. What I can say, though, is that I've been inspired each time I've heard about now-famous authors who kept being shot down but never gave up.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING WRITING PROJECTS. WHAT SHOULD MY READERS LOOK OUT FOR?
I have stories and poems pending publication by: Black Hare Press (What If?, Eerie Christmas, Pride, Lust, Hate, Jibbernocky, Love), Celestial Echo Press (Twofer Compendium), Dragon Soul Press, Eleanor Merry's DARK X-MAS anthology, Fantasia Divinity Publishing (Wishes of Illusion, Waters of Destruction, Earth of Oblivion), Dastaan World (Athena), The Great Void Books (Black Veins), Soteira Press (Horror USA-California), World of Myth, and more.
Earlier this year, I won the opportunity to have an anthology published by Clarendon House Publications. I put my manuscript of stories together, recently submitted it, and I look forward to moving forward on the project.
Currently, I'm working on several drabbles, poems, and stories (some novel-length). A few of them are for specific submission calls, but others aren't. I hope more of my works will be accepted for publication, and I dream of having books published, maybe even in the near future.
ONE LAST FANTASY QUESTION: DO YOU THINK WRITING CAN TRANSFORM THE WORLD? IF SO, HOW?
Yes, I believe it can transform the world and already has. Writing opens our eyes to possibilities we might never think of on our own. It can free us from our current circumstances, and help us dream of anything and everything. Sometimes dreams are the only things helping us survive.
WHERE CAN READERS FIND YOU ONLINE OR ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
I hope you'll visit my author page at: https://facebook.com/GabriellaBalcom.lonestarauthor
GABRIELLA, THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME FOR US. I LOOK FORWARD TO INTERVIEWING YOU IN THE FUTURE.
Thank YOU for your kindness and support. I want you to know how very much I appreciate you interviewing me. Your questions got me thinking, and even prompted more story ideas in my mind. LOL! I wish you the best in all your writing and other endeavors.
Dr. Jesú Estrada,