Welcome back to Monday!
It's time for a special treat!
I have Gabriella Balcom dropping in - she's a multi-genre author and a fabulous person to talk with!
Some authors have a range so wide and a scope so varied that it’s difficult to ‘pin them down’ in a few words. Best-selling author Gabriella Balcom can write science fiction, fantasy, children’s literature, literary fiction, poetry, horror, humour, romance and more. Gabriella Balcom lives in Texas, loves reading and writing, and can be reached on Facebook.
Thank you, Adam, for interviewing me. I appreciate it very much.
Hello. I’m Gabriella Balcom and I live in a small town in Texas. Woods surround my home and I love being able to see animals and hear forests sounds daily. I write in several genres, including fantasy, horror, sci-fi, romance, and literary fiction. I also write poems, children’s stories, and occasionally in other genres.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
My mother taught me how to read and write when I was quite young, and I was surrounded by books and writing materials from my earliest memories. Quite literally, reading and writing were my first loves. My initial “creations” included lists of things beginning with the letters of the alphabet, but I moved on to stories. At the age of six, I won a writing contest, and I started composing poetry a few years later. I had several poems published when I was fifteen, more when I was sixteen.
I stopped writing after starting college, and for twenty-plus years, I stayed busy with school, jobs, marriage, having children, and later, with divorce, work, and single parenthood. Although I missed writing and thought about it, I only did occasional, work-related pieces until 2012. I couldn’t hold back the words anymore at that point; they poured out of me as if floodgates had opened. My writing was cathartic initially, but turned creative. At the end of 2017, I wondered if I could earn money with my stories, joined my first Facebook writing group, and a submission call caught my eye. I wrote two stories for it, hired my first editor, and submitted my works. One was accepted. I joined other FB writing groups, submitted for consideration in other anthologies, and I’ve continued doing so ever since. I’ve had 307 creations accepted for publication as of the beginning of April.
Writing is a choice for some people, but for others, it’s an internal fire or drive, and they can’t not write. I’m one of the latter.
2. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Many things inspire me: the woods around me, animals, plants, smells, music, things from my past or others’ lives, my dreams for the future, pictures, my imagination—pretty much anything and everything.
3. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I work full-time (forty to fifty-four or more hours a week) in the mental health field, so I plan my writing around that. Typically, I try to allow myself two to four hours prior to leaving for my job each day, and some after I get home. When I’m off altogether, I focus on my writing more, anywhere from eight to eighteen hours/day.
4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if others would consider this a quirk or not, but I type on my laptop while sitting cross-legged on my bed. In the background, I keep music playing low, not only because I enjoy it, but to drown out distractions outside my room. I position my notes beside me, have others up where I can see them, and sometimes have story-related pictures here and there. In addition, I keep markers, index cards, and a notebook beside me so I can jot down things that pop into my head. I always have water, blue Powerade, or fruit juice nearby, and sometimes snacks like fruit (oranges, apples, blueberries, strawberries), cheese and crackers, chocolate, etcetera.
5. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy listening to music, watching good movies and TV series, reading, traveling, taking photographs, driving around (especially on back roads), scrapbooking, and being in the woods or mountains.
6. What does your family think of your writing?
I’m a private person, and prefer to keep the most meaningful, intimate things to myself. I do the same with ones that are devastating and shattering. With that said, I didn’t tell any of my relatives that I wrote until a few years ago, and even then, I only told some of my children. They were and are supportive. I haven’t told any other relatives.
7. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have four books out, and will tell a bit about each one.
A. On the Wings of Ideas
On the Wings of Ideas is a multi-genre anthology of short stories, and I won the publishing contract from Clarendon House Publications when one of my works was voted best in the book in which it first appeared. My anthology includes:
*****Jakob has survived everything life’s thrown at him, but can he survive his beloved mother’s death bed request?
*****Ralph deteriorates by the day, and Gertrude would do anything to save him, including sneaking into a top-secret facility.
*****Serial killers fascinate Bobby, who’s developed some unusual hobbies of his own. No one knows. No one would even guess.
*****Edwina and her classmates are storming Area 51. It’s an adventure to boast about for them, but for her, it’s a matter of life and death.
*****Sandy struggles with low self-esteem after an abusive marriage. But she’s shocked when a supernatural being gives her a chance for some well-deserved payback.
*****Mei longs for one thing more than life itself, and appeals to a goddess for help.
*****Dahlya wants to help an injured cat, but her father knows he can’t afford to feed it. He can barely keep himself and his daughter fed and housed.
*****Maggie stresses about Joe constantly. If anything happens to her, who’ll take care of him?
*****Sluuge has been trapped for eons, but the Boundary is about to come down.
*****Ruth’s attempt to save a badly damaged rose plant leads to her being unexpectedly transported to a marvelous, magical world.
*****Becky the Blabbermouth delights in trouble-making, but she’s about to learn karma is real.
*****Sylana hides in terror when He appears. Will her invisibility and protection spells work? Is war about to begin?
*****Jenny tries and tries, but can’t write a good story about fairies, and travels to Ireland for inspiration. If only magical creatures were real.
*****Kevin’s discovery shocks him. Could that be—a monster?
B. Worth Waiting For
This romance was published by JayZoMon/Dark Myth Publications after I won second place in their 2020 Open Contract Challenge (a competition in which one-hundred-plus writers competed for publishing contracts and monetary prizes).
It’s never too late for love, and getting older isn’t the end. Sometimes it’s just the beginning.
When Wilfred’s wife died, he was devastated. Their young children were, too. He left his military career and raised them alone, never regretting his choices. Years passed by, and being single was the norm for him. Being single was comfortable.
But Wilfred never dreamed he was lonely—not until Sadie came to his door.
C. The Return
The world doesn’t know about the compound hidden underground, and the wealthy investors funding it want things to stay as they are. It’s 2030, and scientists have made numerous scientific advances. They use cutting-edge technology with their Feline Service Units and Human Replicas—HRs, as they’re commonly known. However, most of the research being conducted in the facility is illegal. If animal rights’ activists had an inkling of what went on, they’d clamor for justice. Human rights’ activists would scream for the rooftops.
Tensions are mounting, and things are not as they appear.
D. Free’s Tale: No Home for Christmas-time
Humans aren’t the only ones who dream. Dogs do, too.
Christmas is coming, but Free isn’t anywhere close to being happy. He’s dreamed of a loving home forever, but knows his chances of ever having one are slim to nonexistent. He’s homeless, injured, starving, and well on his way to freezing. But then he runs into a group of larger dogs, and wonders if he’s about to die.
You asked which of my books is my favorites. I don’t have one, because I love them all. I’m quite proud that publishers liked my work, believed in me, and I’m even more pleased that a couple of my books won competitions.
8. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me. It’s both cathartic and builds my self-esteem.
9. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Someone constantly interrupting me or talking nonstop during my writing time aggravates me to no end. I’m especially irked if the other person is yammering for the millionth time about problems, but hasn’t done anything to address them.
10. Have you ever gotten writer’s block?
Although I know a good number of writers deal with this, I haven’t had trouble with it. I typically have the opposite problem, in fact: so many ideas flooding my mind that I have trouble dealing with all of them.
However, my writing is affected if I’m worn out, stressed, overwhelmed, or sick. If I have trouble focusing, thinking clearly, or moving forward, I take a break and try to unwind. I put music on, focus on the words or beat, and let my mind relax. Or, I don’t focus at all and just let my thoughts float. Sometimes I watch shows I like, go outside for a while, sing, drive around, spend time on social media, read, or do other things I enjoy.
11. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I’d say, “Believe in yourself, no matter what. Don’t let anyone make you feel worthless or drive you to give up on your dreams. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to do things which mean something to you. If writing is one of your aspirations, then pursue it with every fiber of your being. Put regular time into learning, improving, growing, practicing, and always—always—BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!”
In addition, I’d tell myself not to stop writing when I did, but to continue non-stop.
12. What is an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Unfortunately, I grew up in an abusive home. I learned very early that abusive words were powerful, and could wound and produce lasting pain. I'm glad I also recognized the great power for good that books hold.
13. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
The wolf. I admire wolves’ strong family ties, loyalty, and how they mate for life and persevere despite being misjudged, misunderstood, and targeted at times.
14. What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters, if anything?
The majority of my stories are not based on actual people. I do draw upon reality now and then for personality traits or life events—such as in my story, “Nun or Not?”—but most of the time I don’t. Even when I do, I stretch what I use beyond the truth. Some real people who “inspired” me were abusive monsters, so if I owe them anything at all, it would be the ringing declaration, “I survived in spite of you.”
15. How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?
I’m working on a sci-fi novel; it’s a little over 42,000 words long, and I’m a chapter or two away from completion. In addition, I began a fantasy story two years ago which is around 12,000 words, but I haven’t worked on it in a while. I have ideas for numerous stories and have a few ranging from 4,000-9,000 words apiece which I need to finish or make decisions about. Now and then, I reread them and add or revise.
16. What do you have coming next?
I have a horror novella pending publication in November, and the stories I’ve chosen for it are truly chilling and terrifying. I’m also working on a fantasy series of novellas featuring castles, knights, magic, and dragons. Three are completed, and I’m deep into the fourth; after I finish it, I’ll do the fifth/last. I plan to self-publish the series, and will check into book covers soon.
Something I do regularly is submit works for possible inclusion in anthologies. I have several short stories, poems, and drabbles which will be included in anthologies which will be coming out. They are multi-genre.
Adam, I want to thank you for interviewing me. I truly appreciate your time and effort.