Getting to Know Linda Ballou
Topic: Author Interview
Linda Ballou the person:
1. What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
I am an Earthiest. (One who seeks balance and harmony in nature.)
2. How do you think others would describe you?
People see me as a wildly adventurous and independent woman. Some even view me as inspirational because I embrace life with such intensity. Others just think I'm crazy.
3 Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
I love to be outdoors. I love, gardening, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking -just about any excuse to get out in it.
4. Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.
The big animal love of my life was my mare Ginger. She was short on legs and long on heart. We did cross-country jumping courses, dressage and explored every trail in the Agoura Hills of Southern California together. She was my best girl friend and I will always love her.
5. What is your most precious memory?
That's a hard question because it precludes others of equal intensity. Perhaps, those days with Ginger when I was living out my favorite childhood fantasies are the most precious in the "beloved dear" sense of the word.
6. What is your most embarrassing memory?
I actually went to a Halloween party wearing egg on my face. I used to give myself a skin-tightening facial using egg whites. I always found the way it distorted my face in the privacy of my own bathroom amusing. I thought it would have the same affect on others if I went to the party as a burn victim. It did not. The people on the crowded dance floor were repelled by my appearance and moved away from me in waves. I learned a lesson that night about how people's perceptions of you can be stronger than the reality of who you are. I washed the egg off my face and returned to the room feeling quite sad.
7. If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life?
Selling Real Estate to support my eating habit and traveling to as many beautiful places as I can before they are no more. In short, the same thing I have been doing, I just wouldn't be taking notes of my stay. This would leave room in my life for home and backyard makeovers as a fun, creative outlet.
8. In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.
Gallivanting travel writer and photographer, Linda Ballou, died in her sleep at the age of 103. A self-proclaimed gusto grabber, it was expected she would do a header off of a horse, or get caught in a keeper in a fury of white-water. But, no!
She lived a long and glorious life. She got to most of the places she wanted to experience and finished most of the writing she started before she went to the other side.
Her legacy includes Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii, the culmination of a long-standing love affair with the Islands; Lost Angel Walkabout, a spirited collection of one traveler's tales and The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon, a young adult story that let her be the grand prix jumper she could only be in her dreams. Her ashes are to be scattered in the Queen's Bath, a lava rock pool, on the edge of Secret Beach on the north shore of Kauai, her spiritual home.
Linda Ballou the writer:
9. Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?
I took a sabbatical after I graduated from Northridge University in California with a B. A. in English Literature. I moved to Kauai and lived on the north shore for one year to answer this question. I needed to know in my own mind if my work warranted the discipline, dedication and "setting apart from the rest of world" that writing requires. While there, I wrote what is arguably the worst screenplay in the history of God, but I enjoyed the process and decided that indeed I am a writer. I made a pact with myself to work hard to perfect the craft and made the inner commitment to the sacrifices required to become a good writer.
10. What is going on with your writing these days?
The thrill of getting Wai-nani out my drawer and into the streets for starters! This frees me up to get back to Lost Angel Walkabout, my travel collection that is more than half way home.
11. What are your future goals for your writing?
Finishing my travel collection is on the top of the list. But, I have also been working on a series of Great Outdoor Days in L.A. for about the last decade. I hike in the Santa Monica's regularly. The lovely trails I wander provide me with sustenance and time to digest input and prioritize actions. I have hundreds of wonderful photos of the flora and distinctive landscape. One fine day that book will be done. Plus, the rewrite of Cowgirl is moving up to the top of my ever growing list. In between larger projects I do soft-adventure travel articles.
12. Can you describe a typical writing day for you?
I read something at night that will enlist my subconscious to provide me answers in the morning for a given project. I review notes in the morning over my coffee. Then I go to the computer immediately, avoiding opening distracting emails, and write. I work for a couple of hours undisturbed by calls or business matters. This way I am not frustrated about not getting my work done and my mind is freed up for the material world by noon. After lunch, I go outdoors to do either a domestic walk in various neighborhoods enjoying the lovely gardens in California, or I hike in the mountains. In the evening when I return, I research topics on the net and attend to marketing jobs.
13. Why do you write?
It gives purpose and continuity to my life. It has also been a way of coping with emotional challenges. At one point I was crawling around on my hands and knees in mind-bending pain from a back injury. That was the beginning of Cowgirl. Writing that story distracted me from the nagging, chronic pain I was experiencing. I think one of the best books on writing was written by Steven King while he was coping with injuries incurred when he was run over by a van. It also gives me a great deal of joy to share my work with others and allows me to raise my voice in the chorus of twittering artists.
14. What writer most inspires you? Why?
Jack London, not just because he was America's greatest adventure writer, but because he lived life with such fervor. He was true to himself. He gave of himself to budding writers and cared about his fellow man. He said story is desire, struggle, and realization which equals character arc. This is the essence of all great stories.
15. How do you define your writing?
It is the best of me.
16. In one sentence-what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?
Timeless, evocative, informative, sensual, caring, insightful, fun to read are all adjectives I would like used when describing my work.
Linda Ballou the details:
17. Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?
At http://www.lindaballouauthor.com/ you may click on numerous travel articles, I have a photo gallery on my site that people enjoy. If you purchase Wai-nani from my site you receive free shipping. If you go to the About Linda page your reward will be to discover the "Secret of Youth".
18. Is there a place where readers can reach you?
19. Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?
Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii-Her Epic Journey is my debut novel.
20. For new readers-what can they expect when they read Wai-nani?
Bare minimum they will come away with a better understanding of the Hawaiian point of view and a greater sensitivity to the nuances of their culture. They will be able to decide whether my heroine should be revered s the Mother of the People, or whether she should be remembered as the "flaw that brought down the chiefdom." I have tried to capture the poetry and sensual beauty of the Islands as well as the deeply spiritual aspects of the Hawaiian people. Hopefully, the reader will feel that Wai-nani has taken them to a place that they can't get to any other way.
They should come away with a greater empathy for the Hawaiian people and their sorrow in the loss of their gods, land, and laws to outsiders. Their culture has been enriched in some ways and diluted in others from the influx of people to what Mark Twain dubbed "the prettiest fleet of islands ever to anchor in the Pacific." Even though their numbers have been decimated by intermarriage, disease and wars and there are only a few full-blood Hawaiians alive today, the mystique and romance of their heritage lives on.
21. Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers-what would you like them to know about you and your writing?
Emerging as a writer is a bit like a butterfly scratching out of its homely chrysalis. The earth laughs in flowers, but the butterflies spread her joy. I hope to be a butterfly that brings enlightenment and appreciation for nature's jewel box in a creative non-preachy way. All of my travel stories, books and essays bring the reader closer to nature's rhythms, balance and beauty. An earthiest is one who strives to achieve balance and harmony in self, and therefore family and society, through a close and personal relationship with nature. The Navajo's call this condition Hozho, the Hawaiian word for the state of perfect harmony is Pono. I say many roads lead to the same truth. The fun is finding your own way.
Posted by joyceanthony
at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 22 June 2008 3:53 AM EDT