Author Interview 174 – Gabriella Balcom


Gabriella Balcom

United States

Gabriella Balcom writes fantasy, horror, romance, sci-fi, literary fiction, and more. She loves great stories, forests, mountains, and back roads, has a weakness for lasagna, garlic bread, tacos, cheese, and chocolate, and adores Chinese, Italian, and Mexican food.

She’s had 280+ works accepted by publishers including Barrio Blues, Black Hare Press, Black Ink Fiction, Blood Song Books, Breaking Rules Publishing, Celestial Echo Press, Clarendon House Publications, Dastaan World, Dragon Soul Press, Eerie River Publishing, Fantasia Divinity Magazine, Inner Circle Writers’ Magazine, Insignia Books, Iron Faerie Publishing, Paper Djinn Press, Pixie Forest Publishing, Raven and Drake Publishing, Reanimated Writers Press, Soteira Press, Stormy Island Publishing, Suicide House Publishing, Sweetycat Press, The Great Void, The World of Myth Magazine, and Zombie Pirate Publishing.

Gabriella won the right to have a novel published by Clarendon House Publications when one of her short stories was voted best in the anthology in which it appeared; her book, On the Wings of Ideas, came out afterward. She was nominated for the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award, won second place in JayZoMon/Dark Myth Company’s 2020 Open Contract Challenge, and her novelette, Worth Waiting For, was then released. Gabriella’s novelette, Free’s Tale: No Home at Christmas-time, was published at the end of 2020, and her sci-fi novella, The Return, came out in 2021. Another novella pends publication.

Her Facebook author’s page: https://m.facebook.com/GabriellaBalcom.lonestarauthor

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 deathbed 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. For them, it’s an adventure to boast about, but for her, it’s a matter of life and death.

*****Sandy struggles with low self-esteem after an abusive marriage, but 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?

Romelia:   WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR ARTISTIC PROCESS?

Gabriella Balcom:   Marketing is the hardest for me, followed closely by finding time to write. I work fifty hours a week, sometimes more, and drive to and from another city for my job. Sometimes it’s hard to schedule time for writing, much less other things I’d like to do, too.   

Romelia:   DOES YOUR FAMILY SUPPORT YOUR CAREER AS A WRITER?

Gabriella Balcom:   I don’t write full-time as a career, and work in the mental health field. However, I hope to someday make enough money writing that I can quit my regular job and write full-time. I’m a private person, and the majority of my relatives don’t know I write. I told some of my children I do, and they’re very supportive.

Romelia:   IF YOU HAD TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY AS A CHILD OR TEENAGER TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER AS AN ADULT, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Gabriella Balcom:   I wouldn’t do anything differently then, but I’d change the time period after I married. That’s when I stopped writing. I was super-busy with marriage, having children, and work; I was even busier as a single parent after I divorced. I often met myself coming and going and didn’t write creatively for more than twenty years. I missed it and could’ve benefited from never stopping. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t stop. I’d use writing as a catharsis and hone my skills at the same time.

Romelia:   HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK?

Gabriella Balcom:   That depends on the story and overall length. Once I wrote twenty to twenty-five thousand words in ten days. Another time, I completed a novella (slightly over ten thousand words) in the same time period. I finished a book during NaNoWriMo one year, too. But some creations take longer than others, especially if I’m working overtime, dealing with other issues, or dividing my time among multiple projects. One novel I’m working on stands at forty-seven thousand words. I churned out more than half of that in a few weeks but set it aside to work on other things. When I returned to it, I added additional chapters. I’m two or three chapters away from completing it at this point. 

Romelia:   DO YOU BELIEVE IN WRITER’S BLOCK?

Gabriella Balcom:   I believe other people experience it, but I typically don’t. With me, ideas flood my mind a lot, and I have trouble jotting them down and finding time to work on them.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed because of work, family crises, or things like COVID yanking the proverbial rug out from under me last September. I was fine one minute, hadn’t been exposed to anyone with COVID, and my kids hadn’t either. Then BAM! It hit me hard and fast, and I was stuck at home but unable to enjoy it. Thankfully, my case wasn’t serious, and I came through it okay.  When I do get overwhelmed, I try to distract myself by listening to music, watching movies or series I love, or doing other healthy things.

Romelia:   AT WHAT POINT DO YOU THINK SOMEONE SHOULD CALL THEMSELVES A WRITER?

Gabriella Balcom:   I believe anyone who loves writing and does it is a writer.

Romelia:   WHAT DIFFERENCE DO YOU SEE BETWEEN A WRITER AND AUTHOR?

Gabriella Balcom: Some people may differentiate between the two, but I don’t. I use the terms interchangeably.

Romelia:   HOW DO YOU PROCESS AND DEAL WITH NEGATIVE BOOK REVIEWS?

Gabriella Balcom:   I haven’t had overly negative ones yet, but I’m sure I will someday. I’ve gotten some that bothered me a bit, however. Reading them, I could see the reviewers hadn’t read my book(s) completely, because they mentioned inaccuracies. I don’t dwell on that, and just put it out of my mind. 

Romelia:   WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR WRITING PROCESS?

Gabriella Balcom:   I’d have to say finding time to write when I want to is difficult.

Romelia:   HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING OR WHEN DID YOU START?

Gabriella Balcom:   I began writing stories when I was little, started composing poetry when I was twelve or thirteen and had poetry published when I was sixteen. But I stopped writing when I got married. My life was busy and I didn’t start writing again till 2012. It was like floodgates opened, and words came pouring out. This was cathartic at first, but my writing turned creative eventually.

At the end of 2017, I had the idea to try and make some money with my stories. I joined my first Facebook writing group, saw a call for submissions, and wrote two stories. I hired my first editor, submitted the stories, and one was accepted. It was “Bobby—You’d Never Guess.” After that, I joined another writers’ group on FB, sent things in for other calls, and more pieces were accepted. I’ve continued ever since.

Romelia:   WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A WRITER WORKING ON THEIR FIRST BOOK?

Gabriella Balcom:   If writing is important to you, don’t stop! Keep going and believe in yourself, even if others don’t. We have to cheer ourselves on sometimes. With that said, I want to stress how important editing is. We should put out work that’s in good shape and worthy of readers. Many people assume what they write is fine as-is, but they may have dozens of errors (grammatical, telling vs. showing, mixed-up time frames or characters, etc.). That’s why using a professional, reputable editor is important.

Romelia:   WHAT, TO YOU, ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF WRITING?

Gabriella Balcom:   I think a writer needs to be able to present a story in a way that’s interesting and holds readers’ attention. It should produce strong feelings—bringing them to tears, having them on the edge of their seats, or shaking and terrifying them (in the case of horror stories). And, stories should be error-free, showing the writer cared enough to produce quality work and respected his potential readers.

Romelia:   WHAT COMES FIRST FOR YOU—THE PLOT OR THE CHARACTERS—AND WHY?

Gabriella Balcom:   I typically start with a character who’s experiencing something. I don’t know the overall plot or how the story will end. 

Romelia:   HOW DO YOU DEVELOP YOUR PLOT AND CHARACTERS?

Gabriella Balcom:   They lead me, per se. Sometimes I’ll get flashes of things my characters are experiencing, and I’ll go from there. Other times I’ll start with a theme, like for a specific submission call, and ideas will pop into my head. I don’t do initial outlines but I sometimes go back once I’m well into a story, and list points in outline form; this helps me see the overall picture and if I missed something.

Romelia:   WHEN DID YOU FIRST CALL YOURSELF A WRITER?

Gabriella Balcom:   I didn’t think of myself as a one until sometime last year. I was writing, submitting works, getting acceptances, hoping for more, and longing to be a successful author one day. Then it dawned on me I was a writer. And, I’ve had many successes, even if they weren’t profitable money-wise.

Romelia:   HOW DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS A WRITER?

Gabriella Balcom:   I post online about my acceptances, although I don’t do this as often as I should. My publisher’s post, too. Social media is the main way I learn about submission calls, and my author page is a way for readers and others to learn about me.  

Romelia:   WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE PART OF PUBLISHING?

Gabriella Balcom:   It’s exciting for me when publishers accept my stories, and even more so when they want to publish my books. I feel all warm and content and float along for days.

Marketing is my least favorite activity, mainly because it takes time and mine is limited. I always want to use any time I have for writing.  

Romelia:   WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO AN AUTHOR WHO WANTED TO DESIGN THEIR OWN COVER?

Gabriella Balcom:   That’s great if you know what you’re doing and have the skills. But I suggest you get feedback from others before publishing, in case you’ve missed something. It’s important for covers to look polished and professional, and I’ve seen many that are the opposite. These give bad impressions and no doubt turn potential readers away.

Romelia:   HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN AND WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE?

Gabriella Balcom:   Four of my books are published, and I’ll tell a bit about each one:


A. 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 deathbed 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. For them, it’s an adventure to boast about, but for her, it’s a matter of life and death.

*****Sandy struggles with low self-esteem after an abusive marriage, but 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 is a romance. It was published by JayZoMon/Dark Myth Publications after I won second place in their 2020 Open Contract Challenge (a competition in which writers can win 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 is sci-fi, published by Black Hare Press.

     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 from the rooftops.

     Tensions are mounting, and things are not as they appear.

d. Free’s Tale: No Home for Christmas-time is a novelette I self-published.

     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 favorite. I don’t have one, because I love them all. I’m ecstatic that publishers liked my work and believed in me. I’m even more pleased some of my books won competitions.

Romelia:  WHAT PART OF THE BOOK(S) DID YOU HAVE THE HARDEST TIME WRITING?

Gabriella Balcom:   The fighting scenes

Romelia:   WHAT PART OF THE BOOK(S) WERE THE MOST FUN TO WRITE?

Gabriella Balcom:   I love writing, and enjoyed working on numerous portions.

Romelia:   WHICH OF THE CHARACTERS DO YOU RELATE TO THE MOST AND WHY?

Gabriella Balcom:   I can relate to some of my characters’ intense emotions (loneliness, terror, a strong desire to help, overpowering love, etc.) because I’ve experienced strong feelings myself. However, I don’t relate to all of my character’s experiences, because most of my writing isn’t based on my own life.

Romelia:   IF YOU’RE PLANNING A SEQUEL, CAN YOU SHARE A TINY BIT ABOUT YOUR PLANS FOR IT?

Gabriella Balcom:    I’m planning a sequel to The Return, and all I can say about is the world’s in danger and doesn’t even know it.

     Free’s Tale: No Home at Christmas-time is the first in a series. The next one or possibly two will be about Free again. After that, I’ll start focusing on the other dogs who met and helped Free.

     Worth Waiting For is a stand-alone story, and I’m not planning a sequel at this time.

     On the Wings of Ideas is a collection of short stories, and I intend to expand some of them into individual books.

Romelia:   TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY ABOUT YOUR ADULT LIFE.

Gabriella Balcom:   In my family, we love cats and dogs, and ours have been real characters with strong personalities. One of our cats liked getting on a couch she wasn’t allowed on [because she’d invariably start sharpening her claws on it]. I fussed at her one day about being on it and put her down. She gave me a nasty look in return. Later, she deliberately jumped on it again, waited till I noticed her, then squatted and peed on it—looking at me the whole time.

Romelia:   DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN A FEW SENTENCES. TELL ME SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU AND SOMETHING YOU HATE ABOUT THE WORLD.

Gabriella Balcom:   I live in a small, rural area surrounded by trees and love it: the smells, reduced traffic, nature sounds, and animals. Squirrels, rabbits, deer, bobcats, foxes, and coyotes are some of the ones I see and hear.  I’ve lived in bigger places but my heart’s in the county. I enjoy watching movies and series, listening to music, driving back roads, scrapbooking, and collecting things like shells, crystals, and postcards.

You said to tell something people don’t know about me. I’ll share two. First, my children mean so very much to me, and it kills me to see them hurting or being mistreated. No one deserves that, especially not them. Second, although I love my family, I need regular amounts of alone time to unwind and recharge. In fact, I have to have it to function well.

What do I hate about the world? People who are quick to judge without knowing the facts or caring about them. One person misjudging another can be a small thing, but sometimes it can be huge. Assumptions can result in gossip being spread, people’s feelings being hurt, or worse, their day-to-day functioning, and very futures being impacted or destroyed.

On the Wings of Ideas

Worth Waiting For

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Worth-Waiting-Gabriella-Balcom-ebook/dp/B08NXYGPDD/

The Return

Amazon link: https://bit.ly/39y9iOL

Free’s Tale: No Home at Christmas-time

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08R2DW2N2

My Facebook author page:  https://m.facebook.com/GabriellaBalcom.lonestarauthor

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