Daily Archives: June 24, 2016
Posted by authorcamilson
Isabelle, thanks for being my guest today. Tell us about you.
If I were an animal, I would be a mountain goat – minus the goat. I love the outdoors, and mountains in particular and whenever I have a chance, I am on one: hiking, biking and/or skiing. Despite now calling myself a writer, my first love was math and quantitative models. I used to love just working with my computer. But my life now could not be more different. I hardly even build a spreadsheet, and spend my time talking and managing. It is interesting how life evolves when you are open to it.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Whenever I get asked a question of who is my favorite person, or role model, or who I’d like to hang out, I could easily tell you that there isn’t one person in particular, but that there are a ton of people that I admire and that, them, collective, would give me the inspiration and all skill sets. But to properly answer the question, I’d have to say one of the players in the Warriors basketball team. I know they just lost… but I would like to be with them to feel the energy of their team, witness the camaraderie they built together, and have that feeling that only winning a sports game can give you.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
As it is usual with those who have early starts that are difficult, it becomes easier to just put it in the past and never truly revisit it. That is what I did. I creative a narrative for my life that did not include my childhood. I did not want to be defined by it, nor ever be labeled a “victim.” But when my first son was born, I felt this strong desire to tell my story. I wanted him to know who I was, what I overcame, and that all we had in our life was a result of a lot of effort to bring us to the fortune we currently we enjoy. And that desire never let up. I just kept writing and writing. Years after, I took a writing class on a whim and for the first time I shared my story, with total strangers. Their reaction astounded me. They wanted to know more, felt inspired by it and asked me to tell the rest. That is when I realized that a story of a girl who grew up within a dysfunctional family in the jungles of Brazil was actually relatable to many people. I believe it was the first time I truly realized that there was a common humanity to us all.
What is your writing process?
I don’t really have a set process. As I usually have my computer nearby, whenever I have a block of free time, I open it up and start writing. In fact, I am writing this interview under the canopy of a redwood tree while my son is getting ready for a baseball game. My process is simply finding – and capturing – time.
Tell us about your main character
Leaving Shangrila is a memoir, so naturally, I am the protagonist of the story. It is challenging to write about oneself in a way that does not feel self-serving, self-critical, or its flip side, self-aggrandizing. I took great care to write about me, and all others in my story in the context of the facts that occurred. I did not want to portray myself as a victim, which I could easily have done. Nor did I want to portray myself as a hero, as I suppose I could have given how I was able to overcome the adversity in my life. But neither of those would be true. I had plenty of flaws, and not all of those because of how I grew up. I believe I owned them in the book. I believe they made me who I was and informed the decisions I made.
If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.
I am not sure I am aware of the teenage actress within the age range for the story, but I would like it to be someone like Tora Birch (who is definitely an adult now and would not the person) when she played My Girl years ago. Mostly because she was so tenacious, and unafraid, even though she was still vulnerable and scared.
What are you working on next?
What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
Start early. I heard this advice myself, that is, to start promoting the book a year before it gets out. I did not pay heed at the time… so when I finally started focused on marketing, I felt completely overwhelmed. There were so many avenues, at all kinds of different price points, and I also have to say, a lot of predatory people who offered their services for thousands of dollars, without much of a guarantee of what would be the outcome. It is challenging to sift through all the information and make informed decisions that are right for your book. I enlisted friends who have published books as advisors, but also I relied heavily on the Book Acquisitions Editor because I felt that he was someone I could trust. So besides the starting early (a must), do find someone you can trust – and who is willing to help you – to sort through the maze.
What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
I suppose what seems to be everyone’s favorite: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I find the book extraordinary in how she developed the characters, told the story. It is the only book I can remember that made me cry. And I related to one of the sisters, Isabelle (not only because we share a name). She was so strong, so wanting to become bigger than everybody’s expectations of her. She wanted (and did) to make a difference. She took risks.
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
It depends how you define that. I could brag about speaking multiple languages, or some prowess intellectually or professionally. But I don’t think at the end, life is about that. I just simply and actively try to be the best person I can be. I love deeply, I choose honesty, I persevere through adversity, I nurture my friendships and I try to help others. Is that special? I would hope not, because I wish all people lived like that.
You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
If I could have a superpower than I could impose on others, it would be to erase all lying from the world.
List 5 things on your bucket list:
- Travel in Iceland for at least a month
- Complete the 10 day (or is it 11 day) hike around Mount Blanc through France, Switzerland and Italy with my family.
- See my children achieve happiness in life, however they choose to get there.
- Achieve professionally something makes a meaningful impact in the world. My job is important, Leaving Shangrila hopefully will inspire countless people. But I mean something larger, some that can tangible make the world a better place. I don’t know what the metric it is for that yet.
- Retire at 55 (by retiring, I mean not needing to work, but choosing to work if I want to).
Where can readers find you on the web?
My website is www.isabellegecilsauthor.com
Any final thoughts?
If you read Leaving Shangrila and wonder what it is you can do, do the following:
1) Choose honestly, always. The only people who benefit from lies are no one.
2) When something seems amiss with others, just ask whether all is right in the world. Do something. And something other than think “that is none of my business.” Imagine the people you could help!
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