Interview with Linda Ballou

What genre do you write and why?
That is a conundrum. My proudest achievement is my historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i. However, it was a great pleasure to travel the world collecting stories for my travel memoir Lost Angel Walkabout-One Travelers Tales. I have a host of non-fiction travel articles to my credit that are viewable on my site.  Right now, I have a young adult novel titled Cow Girl Jumped over the Moon in the works. I do not fit into a traditional publishing slot or in that pigeon hole. That is why I am thrilled to have viable, independent publishing options available.

Tell us about your latest book.
Most recently I did a second edition of Wai-nani: fabled history couched in magical realism set in pre-contact Hawai’i. I have received wonderful reviews from Hawaiians and mainland readers as well, but there was a nagging complaint that the cover image of Wai-nani did not look Hawaiian. My new cover is graced by “Celebration of Life,” a photo by Randy Jay Bruan who is recognized internationally for his authentic native images. It captures the spirituality and mysteriousness of ancient Hawai’i. I fixed a few technical problems, added a map of old Hawai’i by artist Paul Strickland, and included a list of Book Club Questions at the back of the book.

What marketing are you using to promote your book?
The internet is the light for independent authors, but I don’t rely on it alone to market my books. Naturally, I have a platform website and a blog to share relevant messages, but I also do events locally. Having two books in different genres is like having two children and giving them equal time. I have created a power-point presentation called “Whet Your Wanderlust” for Lost Angel Walkabout that takes people to destinations in the book. For Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i I created a “Night in Old Hawai’i” in which I take people to sacred historical sites throughout the Islands. Since I travel as much as possible, I am not available to Skype with book clubs, so I created brief video clips to answer the questions listed in the back of the book. The answers are on YouTube. Just search my name and go to the playlist “Book Club Answers.” I love this idea and hope that readers will find the videos so entertaining that they will share them with friends.

What is the best thing about being a writer?
Being a writer makes me a part of the long conversation, i.e. culture layered upon itself built from the emotions and thoughts of other minds over the millennium. I love having a voice. It is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. I research my topics heavily and am very aware of reader sensibilities. I am careful to be accurate and true to myself in my writing. Writing gives me purpose and continuity. It also allows me to meet lots of wonderful people on an intellectual plane that I enjoy.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Somewhere between researching the life of Ka’ahumanu and creating the fictionalized Wai-nani, I fell in love with my heroine. So smitten was I with the fiery, brave personage of Ka’ahumanu (Wai-nani) that I determined to tell Hawai’i’s story through her eyes. Even though born into the rank and privilege of the royal class, she railed against harsh punishments meted out by priests and ruling chiefs vested with the power of gods. She questioned the status quo and confronted authority. She was clever and moved like water around her enemies, solving her problems with intellect rather than force. She faced her fears and pushed through them becoming stronger in adversity. And finally, she lifted the dragon tail from her path and rose to become the most respected and powerful woman in all of old Hawai’i. To me she was the ultimate empowered female and a forerunner to the modern independent woman. I saw myself in her and grew stronger in telling her story.

Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
Absolutely! In my talk “Lessons Learned from the People of Old” I share the spiritual practices and beliefs of the ancient Hawaiians. I have incorporated many of these concepts and practices into my daily life. For instance, in my meditations I actively cast from my bowl all stones of anger, jealousy, regret, and other low emotions that are blocking life-giving light. I have become a practitioner, not just an objective observer of the Polynesian culture.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your books?
Wai-nani casts a hypnotic spell that transports readers to ancient Hawai’i. Whether you are reading for escapism or to learn more about a seductive and mysterious culture filled with magic, Wai-nani takes you with her on an epic journey.
My arm-chair travel collection takes readers on adventures they would not likely undertake. They don’t have to worry about getting altitude sickness, straining a muscle, or flipping their raft. The travel articles on my site are full of nuts-and-bolts information for guided trips they might enjoy duplicating.

Who Inspires you?
People who are fulfilling their potential and living life to the fullest.

Linda Ballou
What books or authors have most influenced your life?
In a piece I wrote called “Jack London and Me” I share how Jack’s paths and my own crossed at more than one intersection. His most famous works were written about the Gold Rush that took place near my home town—Haines, Alaska. He was born in Oakland, California and so was I. He loved the Islands and recorded many of legends handed down by kanaka that I used in the telling Wai-nani’s story. Jack’s daring approach to life inspired me to become a travel writer.
“I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. . . The proper function of man is to live not to exist.” Jack London

When you are not writing, how do you spend your time?
My mission is to get to as many beautiful places on our planet as I can before they are gone! It’s a tough job, but I’ve hired myself to do it!

What formats are your books available in?
Both of my books are in the Kindle Store and are available in print on Amazon and all major online distribution sites. I like to sell off of my site so I offer free shipping for both books. If you buy Wai-nani on my site, I include Wai-nani’s Wayfinder which is a map I created of sacred sites on the Big Island for free. I have a narrator working on the audio format for Wai-nani that I hope to have completed by the end of this year. I believe you have to offer your work in as many formats as possible. I am grateful for all the opportunities to present my work that are available to me today that I couldn’t have dreamed of ten years ago.



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