Hannah — Author’s Interview (podcast)
Kate Allison interviews Balam Abello on his recently published book, “Hannah Intrepid Wayúu”, an illustrated romantic adventure novel. You can listen to it via a podcast or read the full transcripts from this in-depth phone interview, which runs about 18 minutes long.
1. Balam Abello's book interview .
Good evening! My name is Kate Allison. Today we are pleased to interview Mr. Balam Abello, about his recently published romance-adventure novel called, “Hannah Intrepid Wayúu!” So let’s get started… Shall we?
1. BIOGRAPHICAL DATA
(QUESTION) Once again, Mr. Abello. Hello and welcome! I hope you are doing well today and, congratulations on your recently published novel. I bet you must feel quite excited about this accomplishment. And being that you are a newcomer to fictional writing, I am sure, our audience would love to know more about you. So why don’t you briefly tell us something about you? Will you?
(ANSWER) Good evening Kate. First of all, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to interview with you, today. Oh yes, please call me Balam, if you don’t mind. And yes I feel do quite good today, thank you for asking. Listen, I was born in Panamá, grew up in Venezuela and then I moved to the United States, where I have lived most of my adult life. Since it’s kind of unusual, I guess I might as well tell you that my name, Balam, comes from the Po-pol-Vuh, the book of myths of the Maya. From early childhood on, I developed this great curiosity for knowledge, life and adventure. And my writing style has been influenced by English, Latin American and of course Universal literature, in general. Also there is a strong influence from my professional background, which is Information Technologies.
2. FROM TECHNOLOGY TO FICTIONAL WRITING
(QUESTION) All right then. Balam, it is generally accepted, that “tech” types are not as creative, when it comes to the art world. It seems that engineers tend to be more left-brain oriented, which is the part that deals with logic, order and structure, vis-à-vis the right-brain. And we know that the right-brain is associated with artistic expression, free thinking and imagination! Also, you have been an Information Technologist, for several decades, all throughout your professional career. But do, tell us… How did you manage to make the transition from I.T. to Romance Fictional writing?
(ANSWER) Now, that’s a pretty good question. Ah, let me see. Like I said earlier, ever since I was a child I’ve always had this great deal of curiosity about the world. And this fascination has made me delve into seemly different areas of interests. For example, I read literature all my life, frequently enjoyed all kinds of artistic venues such as classical music, jazz concerts, the Opera, the theater, musicals, films, and I even practiced ballroom dancing, for a while. As a teenager, I had my own garage rock band, too. But what is most interesting is that when I was eighteen, and entering college, my vocational evaluations strongly suggested that I should become a writer, a journalist or even a musician. So you see, apparently there was this latent interest in the arts, and writing in particular.
3. ABOUT THE BOOK
(QUESTION) You know! I thought that the novel moved pretty quickly, over varied scenarios. Also, there were quite a number of rather distinct characters, introduced in it as well! Furthermore it seemed that it jumped from one story line to another. At first, it kept me guessing as to what it has to do with the whole of the story. You could say that it is fast paced and a bit eclectic too. Could you tell us a little bit more about the novel, without giving away the whole, plot?
(ANSWER) When I was writing the novel I was thinking in terms of the film industry. Not that I was writing a movie script per se, but more like a combination of a typical novel, a play and a movie script, combined. To be honest, in some scenes I could even see the camera crews, actors and directors rolling these fast paced and exciting scenes, that take place on the streets of Düsseldorf, in Germany. Or even the wild wedding party in la Guajira, in Colombia. Let alone the dangerous storm at sea, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. But more to the point, Hannah Intrepid Wayúu is a fully illustrated novel. The novel takes us from Hannah’s parents and how they came to meet, to her being born. It describes her childhood days in this exotic and natural world of La Guajira, in Colombia, and finally her adolescence, and high school years in Germany. Also, there is an apparent unrelated parallel story line that takes place in the United States; in the Mid-West to be more specific. I am sure that many US readers will identify with this story, since it evokes traditional small-town high school life. These parallel stories depict each of their main characters as being so different, from one another. And this is due to the extremely different backgrounds where they grew up. Of course, there are quite a number of arcs or bridges that connect this first volume with the other two upcoming volumes, in the trilogy.
4. SPANISH VERSION
(QUESTION) Balam, you said that you were born in Panama. So I presume Spanish is your native tongue. This version of the book was written in English. However being that the Spanish speaking market in the United States is quite large and growing, not to mention the whole of Latin America and Spain, I wonder if there are any plans to publish it in other languages. Do you have any plans to publish this novel in Spanish and if so, when?
(ANSWER) Fortunately, I can say that the Spanish manuscript is almost completed. We need to work on the design, illustrations and typography to get it out to the Spanish speaking audience, as soon as possible. We expect to have it out, say, no later than end June of this year, that is 2013.
5. ABOUT THE TRILOGY
(QUESTION) You mentioned that, “Hannah Intrepid Wayúu,” is a trilogy. From what I understand, some of your readers are already asking, when will they see a continuation to the story? When can we expect to see the second volume out on Amazon.com? Also, is there a name the series?
(ANSWER) Yes, we call it the “Hannah Wayúu” trilogy. We are planning to have volume 2 out, in the first quarter of 2014.
6. ABOUT A CD VERSION OF THE NOVEL
(QUESTION) Today it is very common to see dramatized CD versions of popular novels. This is useful, not only for the visually impaired, but for people that do not have time to read. For instance they can listen to an audio CD while driving to and from the office. Are you planning on releasing an audio CD any time soon?
(ANSWER) We will have to wait to see what our readers want. It is certainly possible to come up with an audio CD to fulfill such market need. Nevertheless, Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader already comes with the capability to read the novel for you. Our novel was designed from the very beginning to be easy to listen to, using this feature.
7. ABOUT THE MOVIE
(QUESTION) Balam, you mentioned that while writing the novel, you actually thought in terms of a movie shoot. In other words, you could picture movie scenes in your mind’s eye. I have to say that while reading the novel myself, the scenery descriptions and moreover the dialogs, did come across as if one was actually watching a movie. Are there any plans to make this book into a movie?
(ANSWER) Thank you for your question, Kate. Now if there are any takers out in your audience, I would be more than willing to listen to them… Ha-ha-ha! But seriously, we are already contacting a few people in the industry to sense their opinions, and to see the viability of such project. This would be a wonderful undertaking, to be sure. One last thing I would like to add. There are a couple of notable and internationally famed Venezuelan movie actresses, who are actually Wayúus themselves. We are in touch with one of them in particularly who is interested in taking part, in such project.
8. ABOUT AN ILLUSTRATED NOVEL
(QUESTION) Hannah Intrepid Wayúu is an illustrated novel. Some of the images are actually quite breathtaking and illustrate, to a “T”, the particular passage in the book where it’s located. We are accustomed to illustrated children’s books. But I would imagine that some adults might not be too keen on an illustrated novel. Could you tell us a little more about the reason for coming up with an adult illustrated novel?
(ANSWER) You are right in that there are people who may find illustrated novels a little distracting. Perhaps, robbing the reader of their imaginations, if you will. And to an extent, I do see their point of view. However, if we go back to the premise that this novel was constructed to mimic an actual movie, then the illustrations help a lot, to convey the imagery. So far, the comments have been quite positive. Now, I would like to add that before 1920s, many books had illustrations. These were truly master pieces of engraver’s art. However, during the war, that is WWI and WWII, paper was hard to come by so illustrations went out of use. Also, the movie and photographic industries played a role in the demise of the illustrations, as well. Today, illustrated books are coming back. Furthermore, the future augurs the use of full multimedia elements on eBooks, and this means more illustrations and animations, to be had. Lastly, I would like to add that I created all the illustrations myself.
9. ABOUT THE INTENDED AUDIENCE
(QUESTION) I noticed that the novel makes a lot of references, to fashion. In fact, some of the character’s descriptions emphasize what they are wearing. I wonder if this has something to do with the book’s target audience. What is the target audience, and does fashion play an important role in this?
(ANSWER) Again, that’s an excellent question, Kate. We think that this book will go well with the “Young Adult” (YA) and older female audiences. You could say the 16-to-35ish, city dwellers, with at least high school education or more; an educated group to be sure. Also, fashion does play a pivotal role in the setting of the novel. Particularly in those passages that relate to modern day Germany. You could make an analogy to contemporary TV shows like Sex and the City, Fashonista Series or Project Catwalk, which emphasize the fashion industry, to name but a few. I don’t know if you noticed but there is an illustration, for which we made a poster, which is free for download at our web site, and it deals with modern day eclectic and perhaps industrial grunge fashion for young people. We call it Avant-Garde Berlin Style.
10. ABOUT THE COSMOPOLITAN ASPECTS OF THE BOOK
(QUESTION) One thing that struck me was that there are many phrases written in other languages. This is the first time that I have seen this. As I understand it, the book is intended for an English speaking audience. Could you tell us a little more about this?
(ANSWER) You are quite correct. In addition to English, there are other five languages used, throughout the novel. However, every time a different language is used, there is the corresponding English translation. The reader need not read any other language than English and he or she will not miss a thing. The idea behind utilizing all these other languages is to give the novel a certain cosmopolitan, international and foreign flavor to it. Since the reader will immediately find the corresponding English translation as they read right through, they will feel as if they actually understand these foreign language sentences; perhaps spicing it up and improving their reading enjoyment.
11. ABOUT WHERE TO OBTAIN MORE INFORMATION
(QUESTION) Balam, I am sure that your fan base will know where to find you or information about upcoming books and / or events. But for those listening in on this show, who are unfamiliar with your work. Do tell us. Where can they find more information about the novel, and, are there other works in the pipeline?
(ANSWER) We do have a presence in all the major social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn. However, the easiest way to find out what’s going on is to go to our web page. “balamabello.com”.
12. ABOUT KEEPING THE READER ENGAGED
(QUESTION) In a world in which time is a precious and scarce commodity, and where people are demanding ever shorter messages, like in twitter. It would seem that keeping a reader’s attention, or interest, is a difficult task. There is no question that more people read today, than ever before. Some of your readers’ comments attest to how you managed to keep them engaged with your book. But do tell us, how do you manage to keep them engaged at all?
(ANSWER) Going back to the movie parallel and how this technique influenced my writing style, perhaps, like in a movie, I managed to keep the scenes fast paced and varied enough, to draw their attention. Coming from the technology field, I used Text-To-Speech computer voiced synthesis extensively. I had the computer read out loud, in multiple voices, with multiple accents and gender, continuously. This helped me accommodate my prose so that it reads, as if someone was actually talking to you. I used simple and modern day language, so that the reader would not have to stop to think about the meaning of any given word, that he or she was unfamiliar with. The purpose of it all, was to make reading my novel, as easy as pie, so to speak: it’s almost like eating a chocolate mousse… and “we know” everybody loves chocolate mousse, don’t we? … Ha-ha-ha!
13. ABOUT PROTAGONISTS AND CHARACTERIZATION
(QUESTION) The characters in your novel are quite different from one another. Yet you managed to quilt them into a whole. It is not common to have an international and cosmopolitan novel intertwined with local customs from an aboriginal Caribbean ethnic. And yet the novel builds on this, effectively and almost effortlessly. What was your source of inspiration to come up with this kind of romantic adventure story?
(ANSWER) Hannah Intrepid Wayúu is loosely based on a dear and former close friend of mine called Hannah. She is from Germany, and this is why her country of origin plays a pivotal role in the novel. My familiarity with Venezuela, Colombia and certainly the United States where logical additions towards creating the setting for the novel. However, and this may sound cliché, but nevertheless it’s true. As many authors have said in the past, these characters appeared in my mind’s eye, almost as if they wanted to write their own stories. Of course, there are many personal experiences that have found an outlet in the overall story. I can tell you this much, I can personally relate to each one of these characters, however minor, or large their parts might be. You could say that they mimic people that I have encountered one way or another, throughout my life. By the way, this made the job of coming up with these characters, a lot easier. Lastly, let’s not forget that I am a researcher at heart. And there where oodles of research done for this novel.
14. ABOUT THE TIME LINE
(QUESTION) Balam, earlier you told us about two distinct timelines in the novel, or two parallel stories, if you will! As I recall, I don’t think that in the first volume of this trilogy, the protagonists, or any other characters, intersected from one storyline to the other. But I am certain that there is a reason for this. Could you tell us why did you create these distinct storyline, and, what is to become of these characters in the future?
(ANSWER) Hannah and Robert, who are the major protagonists in each of the two story-lines that you mentioned, are quite different from one another. I needed time to evolve these characters separately, so that the reader could get a good vantage point as to how they came to be the way that they are. There isn’t a lot of age difference between these two characters, which is good. But the settings where they grew up are in fact, quite different. It is obvious that when they do meet, they will probably be a major cultural clash amongst the two. Now, it remains to be seen if it will be possible to work out their differences and perhaps form some kind of strong romantic bond. But I guess we will have to wait and see until the second volume comes out; won’t we? … Ha-ha-ha!
15. ABOUT FUTURE INSTALLMENTS OF THE NOVEL
(QUESTION) Oh, my gosh! Time has gone by so quickly talking about this interesting novel. But before we leave for the day, I am sure our listeners will want to know, a little more about what is in store in the “Hannah Way-you”, trilogy. We don’t want to leave them disappointed; don’t we? Could you quickly tell us, in just a few minutes, what should we expect in future installments?
(ANSWER) Part of the answer lies in the Epilog section in the back of the first book. The ending was so abrupt; I didn’t want to leave my readers hanging. I have already mapped out a general outline for these two upcoming volumes. They will be more interesting, fast paced and passionate, to be sure. The characters will be more seasoned and certainly more complex. After all, they are, like any one of us in real life, being transformed by the sum of their experiences. One thing that will put the breakdown of the trilogy in linear context is this: The first volume is about the early years up until they become teenagers. The second volume deals with them, coming of age and their mid-life years. The third volume will present them in their latter part of their life, which I may add, will not be common, at all. Because these characters continue to be feisty, daring and audacious. They certainly evolve much more and discover wonderful truths along the way, in their life long journey or quest.
I would like to thank Mr. Balam Abello, for this wonderful interview, about his recently released novel called, “Hannah Intrepid Wayúu”. On behalf of all our listeners, this is Kate Allison. Have a good night, and I wish you all the best!