Arteby Author Interview with Bianca Gubalke

Noordhoek Magic

This is Part 3 of the Author Interview on Magical Realism by Arteby Publishing (AP) on 17th January, 2016. We recommend you listen to the author’s response and thoughts on the video (if available) – alternatively, you may follow along on the transcript below. If you missed it, here is Arteby Author Interview 2.

Interview with Bianca Gubalke Bianca Gubalke

AP: Bianca Gubalke, let’s move to question three: You point out the importance of “…a sense of place” in your novel. So where does your magical realism story take place, and why?

BG: Here are the coordinates: 34.104 ° South, 18.360 ° East! If you want the short version!

Well yes, the choice of a location is always crucial and has a big impact. I think it’s even more important if you write Magical Realism than other genres. The big masters I’ve read a long time go were all firmly grounded in their home country, if I remember correctly . . . like  Gabriel Garcia Marquez . . . with ‘One hundred years of solitude’ in Colombia, Isabel Allende with her ‘House of Spirits’ in Chile, and an African author I really liked, Amos Tutuola, in Nigeria. I think it was essential for their success and, following the philosophy I pursue in my story about ‘The Immortal Life of Piu Piu’, the place where we are born has a significant impact on our lives, as we are shaped and conditioned by our environment. Grace, Pippa’s African mother in my story, explains this at some stage.

Did you ever ask yourself WHY you were born where you were born? WHY does that matter? What was specific to that – looking back?

In that sense, and with hindsight, I sometimes wonder why I chose a place in the middle of nowhere, between three portals to infinity: the Atlantic Ocean, the Namib Desert and the Milky Way? And – after spending almost 30 years in Europe and travelling all over the world – I’ve just returned to that same spot again!

Was I looking for a hidden meaning?

Well, besides growing up with an acute awareness . . . that of being enveloped by a subtle web of energies – the energy of water, of earth and of air – that place definitely determined three things I can think of immediately:

1. the notion of being a tiny spark of energy, a little piece of Consciousness that matters . .  that really matters! – within a limitless magnificent whole;
2. a sense of belonging and interconnection with all beings and dimensions; and
3. the absolute need for cooperation and communication between us all – as we’re all on a journey together.

So the place where I was born and grew up played a role in who I became, and so does the place where I live. It is what I know, it is where I belong, it is a small village called Noordhoek at the Western Cape coast of South Africa. The idyllic Noordhoek valley hugs the mountain ranges below Chapman’s Peak – mountains that stretch from Cape Town and its emblemic Table Mountain, all the way down to Cape Point, with the crystal seas of the Atlantic Ocean washing white beaches and crashing against steep shores. The region was declared a Natural World Heritage site in 2004 – ‘A unique setting in a unique place’, says the Elder in my book.

What else is so special about Noordhoek – in the context of this story?

Nature! Be it in terms of animal wildlife or the many endemic plants, Nature plays a significant role in my story. In fact, Pippa, the young female protagonist, is so obsessed with protecting . . . preserving . . . even eternalizing it . . . that in her attempts to get back to her own roots and find solutions, she frequently experiences two realistic scenarios simultaneously. Situations that are – according to our linear understanding of time – more than two-hundred years apart! She is highly aware at all times; she’s not in a dreamlike or trancelike state at all. Everything is REAL – but MAGIC is the golden bridge that connects those different planes of reality, and allows her to dance between worlds . . . which is the title of the series.

While I knew Chapman’s Peak as a kid, Noordhoek wasn’t even on the map. Over the past decade, it has become an ‘in-place’ where jet-setting homo sapiens of all cultures, colors and beliefs have replaced the wild antelope… and the occasional lynx… that came down every night to the local watering holes. But not everything has changed. Whales still get their babies in the bay, the fish eagle’s distinct cry echoes across the valley, and porcupines, mongoose, Cape cobras as well as the Western Leopard Toad – just to name a few – abound in the valley – and in my story – each adding their simple, natural flavor to the daily MAGIC that makes the REAL world so worth living here!

That’s why I chose Noordhoek! 

In its own mysterious way, Noordhoek is a magical place where different worlds co-exist as one reality.

And besides, this magical Noordhoek was home to a REAL wild Egyptian goose called Piu Piu, who lost her ability to fly . . . until she discovered the MAGIC within her . . . and her own REALITY changed.

I’m just the storyteller . . .

AP: Thank you for bringing this magical place – Noordhoek – closer to us!  Although you desribe it exquisitely in your book, it’s good to hear it directly from the storyteller! Which brings us to question 4 .

Please stay tuned; the transcript of part 4 of our Interview with Bianca Gubalke on her new magical realism novel ‘The Immortal Life of Piu Piu‘ will follow shortly.

Meanwhile, you may want to read the latest PRESS RELEASE.


Magical Realism Genre

How to choose the genre of a book

Welcome to Author Interviews 2 by Arteby Publishing (AP)! If you love good literature and fiction – and perhaps you have read… or are reading… the brand-new fiction novel ‘The Immortal Life of Piu Piu”, then this series of short interviews – focusing on the literary genre ‘Magical Realism’ – is for you!

So how do we choose the genre of a book? Is it important when we start writing? Do we leave it up till the end?

The following is the second excerpt of ten of an Interview conducted on 17th January, 2016. Here’s question 2 – we recommend you listen to the author’s response and thoughts on the video, and, if you wish, you may follow along on the transcript below.

BG: Whether I wrote it with a specific genre in mind? No! Not at all. It was actually my copy editor who suggested this genre as the ideal classification for my story.

I only knew what this story was all about, and who I was writing it for. I had a lovely girl in mind, a spiritually very aware young lady – first at a young adult age – when she was still aware of who she really was – and then, much later – when she had become part of the conditioned, stressed and often anxious babyboomer generation we find in today’s world. These are all busy people like us . . . and we suddenly realize that life just flies faster and faster. . . and we know very well that there are things that matter and that you want to get down to . . . because these are things that worry you, some even traumatize you . . . but then life just happens and you never do?

Sounds familiar?

All those of us who give our time to others instead of investing at least part of it in ourselves? That’s who I address and I explain this clearly in my ‘Note to the Reader’ -because the very special person who was to write the Preface, the Introduction, tragically left this earthly plane before she could.

So, no, I didn’t think about genre. Perhaps I should have? But most of the story just streamed through me at a time when I was almost blind for a while after a major eye operation, hence forced to get away from the screen and everything else. Later, I structured it, rewrote parts again and again – the normal process – then it was edited – and eventually, after a good year or so, when it was ready for publication, that’s when the question about the genre came up.

As the message of the story is so clear, I knew it would have to go under Fiction, Spirituality, Metaphysical, even Visionary. That’s where books with a kindred spirit can be found. Books like Richard Bach’s ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ . . . that two beta-readers interestingly mentioned independently, possibly because it also has elements of a fable where animals talk. I’ve seen the movie long ago and I love Neil Diamond’s velvet voice anyway, but I haven’t read the book yet. But yes, there certainly is a kindred spirit that I really like.

But when Lexi came up with ‘Magical Realism’ it immediately made sense to everyone. And I’ve got to tell you . . . in the mid-80s, I absorbed real magic when I spent some time in Nepal, in Bhaktapur, where I made a short documentary. Nowhere else have I seen the real and the magical world merge as seamlessly as there! It often kept me wondering in which one I actually was? Without that little movie, I’d hardly believe I’d ever been there . . . it was that different to everything else I knew. It was a totally different dimension in every way. I brought paper. . . beautifully hand-crafted sheets of vegetal paper with me from there. At the time I did a lot of Artwork and thought I’d use it as a support. But I couldn’t. It felt just so precious and perfect as it was. I can close my eyes and just feel it carrying me back into that mystical world below the Himalayas. I still have this bunch of papers . . . and as you will see when you read the story, it inspired a very specific moment in the book.

So – to get back to your question – I did not think of genre when I decided to write ‘The Immortal Life of Piu Piu’.  But, as you said, it’s a multifaceted story – and perfect for any pet or animal lover as well. I’m sure we’ll talk about that soon.

AP: We sure will! We’ve still got a lot of interesting material to cover – if that’s fine with you! Thank you, Bianca, let’s get to question 3!

Please stay tuned; the transcript of the third part of our Interview with Bianca Gubalke on the literary genre called ‘Magical or Magic Realism’ will follow soon!

Meanwhile, you may want to read the latest PRESS RELEASE.


What is Magical Realism

Is it Magical or Realistic?

Welcome to Author Interviews by Arteby Publishing (AP)! If you love good literature and fiction – and perhaps you have read… or are reading… the brand-new fiction novel ‘The Immortal Life of Piu Piu”, this series of short interviews – focusing on the literary genre ‘Magical Realism’ – is for you!

So what is magical in realism? Do you know?

The following is the first excerpt of ten of an Interview conducted on 17th January, 2016. Here’s question 1 – we recommend you listen to the author’s response and thoughts on the video, and, if you wish, you may follow along on the transcript below.

AP: Bianca Gubalke, you chose a specific genre for your book: Magical Realism. Let’s talk about that.  What exactly is Magical Realism?

BG: You have to classify your literary work in order to be found – be it in shops, libraries or On Amazon. Like many books, my novel falls into multiple categories. It has elements of Mystery, animals can talk like in a fable, and it is a true love story that connects this world – that we call the REAL world – and what lies behind this REAL world: which may appear fantastical or UNREAL or MAGICAL to others.

So, what makes this story stand out, also in terms of plotlines, are the multiple planes of Reality . . . realities we can access through altered states of consciousness  as we do quite naturally when we dream at night. . . or meditate. . . or when we are in a trance or hypnosis.

In Magical realism we are…

  • Firmly grounded in the world we know – we have a clear vision of the REAL world – we don’t invent it, it’s what we know, it’s what we are familiar with. It’s LOGICAL. It’s the REALISM part of Magical Realism.
  • But now something UNLOGICAL happens! To transport a certain idea… or concept… or message the storyteller integrates elements that – on the surface – appear UNREAL. Meaning, that in this normal REAL world, something FANTASTICAL . . . MAGICAL happens. And these MAGICAL events happen in such a normal way. . . that readers accept them with ease as part of their known, common, normal world.
    We’ve all been pre-conditioned by myths, legends and fairy tales! In this sense, the MAGICAL realm… some refer to it as SUPERNATURAL… blends perfectly with our so-called REAL world. Now there’s MAGIC in the MUNDANE… one flows seamlessly into the other. . .
  • There are two worlds – and through his writing… driven by his intention to tell his story, his message, his truth… the storyteller provides bridges, openings or gaps in whatever separates the here and the there, the REAL and the MAGICAL, the visible from the invisible world – to pass on his message in a different way. A path that the reader can easily follow from one into the other realm… sort of navigate between the two. Just as we naturally do when we dream, for instance. It’s nothing new. We’re doing it quite naturally every day. Magic IS part of our mundane… so-called REAL world that most of us are so fiercely attached to. Too attached to see. . . to REALIZE. . . that there is so much more! That we’re actually part of a magnificent MAGICAL realm!
  • “Be in the world but not of if.” That’s from the Bible, John 17:14-15. Over one billion search results on Google. That tells us something. We’re a world in motion.  We’re shifting. . .
  • In my magical realism story The Immortal Life of Piu Piu we just have to open ourselves to see it. “What you are the vibration of, appears. The rest remains invisible to you.”

AP: Thank you, Bianca, this was very enlightening. Let’s move to question two: Did you focus on writing a Magical Realism novel? And if so, who may have influenced you?

If you enjoyed this, please stay tuned; the transcript of the second part of our Interview with will follow soon! Meanwhile, you may want to read the latest PRESS RELEASE.