Animals Speak

Where Animals Talk

We continue the Author Interviews on Magical Realism and other questions that interested us in connection with the brand-new South African novel ‘The Immortal Life of Piu Piu’ , conducted by Arteby Publishing (AP) on 17th January, 2016, based on a series of 10 questions. Please follow the transcript below. The Interviews will be loaded to YouTube in due time. Here is Author Interview 6. Just in case you have missed it.

Author Interview with Bianca Gubalke

THE VIDEO WILL FOLLOW

AP: What struck me immediately when I read your book is not only your closeness with the animal kingdom, but also how you integrated animals as major characters. Animals that speak like in a fable. Did you grow up with pets? Why did you focus on animals when you could have chosen people? In other words, why did Anata choose a life as a bird rather than that of a human being?

BG: This is another one of my favourite topics! As you know, I was born in Namibia. I spent my happiest days on the farm or in Etosha with the game ranger and his kids. Etosha is known for its wealth of big game to this very day – elephant – I mean big elephants – rhino – including black rhino . . . the big cats like lions, cheetahs and leopards, lots of giraffes, hyenas, many different antilopes and around 350 bird species – and there’s much more. Although we had lions walking through the garden at night, I loved to wait at waterholes to watch a carnival of wildlife in many different shapes and sizes all coming together to drink. I have so many memories . . . Some still give me goosebumps today when I think how naturally we moved – often on horseback accompanied by one of more dogs – in a world filled with so-called predators!

In those days my Mom observed that I spoke ‘funny languages’ when I slept, and that I laughed a lot – well, I kept on communicating with animals in my dreams . . . especially – wait for this – with giraffes! I remember it till today. The joyful side of it makes me smile even now. It’s the feeling that went with it, this ease. Trust. Joy for life. And also the moments of surrender. . . the inevitable transition as part of the circle. So much to learn from!

Love of Nature

If we love Nature – and we live close to it again here in Noordhoek – we’re naturally in tune with it, sooner or later. We’re in synch. We’re more conscious of the Oneness that encompasses ‘All that is’ here than in a city You can almost feel it vibrating in the air, rippling across your skin. But we cannot force it; we have to allow it. Just as it takes time to actually see in the bushveld – meaning for your eyes to adapt to spot animals that might even be just a meter away from you. I saw exactly that just recently : everyone was keen to catch a glimpse of that gorgeous serval cat that had to be somewhere – but no one saw it! So everyone walked on . . . but the cat was hiding in a tuft of grass – in full sight – hardly a meter away ! So you develop a form of intuition where you know what to do – or not. In a way, you sense and respect the animals’ space – and vice versa. The Bushmen were – and those who live in Nature still are – incredible masters at this. They lead us through the wild in Botswana – stretches reeling with lions, hippos and elephants, including the most dangerous of all: the buffalo – without anyone wearing a weapon! It takes knowing, respect and love. This implies that there’s no fear – only ONE can reign – so we meet in a space of trust. That may be the secret.

It’s the same space play-expert Dr. Fred Donaldson refers to. He’s known all over the world for ‘playing’ with wild animals – like bears, lions and wolves – but he adapted his experience to develop strategies to help human beings to get in touch with themselves and others through trustful ‘play’. In this way, many discipline problems, power struggles and relationship disorders in the lives of especially hurting children, gang members and even prisoners could be solved fast – I’ve seen this myself.

Back to Piu Piu . . . but it’s all related and so wondrous to see and learn from!

I remember clearly that the game ranger tested us kids all the time. He was himself an outrageously courageous man, leading by example. But now – with hindsight – what he taught us was COURAGE – and that’s not the absence of FEAR . . . but it’s a big step in the right direction. That’s why in The Immortal Life of Piu Piu’ the Elder says to Anata, in the first Chapter,: “Courage is not the absence of fear.” It’s also a famous quote from our beloved Madiba, Nelson Mandela, of course – and he knew what was meant. He knew that Fear had to be turned into Love – only one can rule.

Why I chose Animal Characters

Actually, as we’re doing this Interview, it seems to me that choosing animal characters for my story was a natural . . . logical progression. They’re a part of me, my life, my memories – it’s a world where I feel at home. To this day, I live close to Nature and literally every encounter in my story is based on what I experienced myself – even the three scenes with the Cape cobra. There’s a small video on YouTube showing the one that visits me in my Studio on hot summer days. The mongoose comes into the kitchen, and birds – be it wild peacocks or small swallows and sunbirds – walk or fly in and out as they wish. What I find so endearing is that they come by their free will. No one forces them. They trust. I trust. That’s all it needs.

Besides enjoying it so much, I found it also very liberating to let the animals talk. They’re all quite some characters and keep surprising me with their wit and presence while I write. Besides, it’s easier . . . or more inspiring . . . to explain complex concepts when animals express them – as in a fable, as you mentioned earlier. As animals are completely controlled by their nature, the reader has no need to be ’in control’, feel ’superior’ or be cynical. Adults tend to be relaxed and laugh more when the child within is released, which then naturally identifies with one or the other character in the story.

Anata chose to reincarnate as a bird – why?

When we choose to reincarnate, our future birth is determined by desire.

In the story, Anata wants to fly . . . to fly freely. Being free – in other words, independent – is one of her major desires. It’s funny, as that’s her – and our – natural state of Being in the nonlocal domain. But how can we experience. . . live it . . . in a material plane, on Earth?

In accordance with her desire, her choice… the physical plane equips her soul with the exact body it needs to fulfill that desire. Remember what one of her tribe says as she leaves: “Life is a desire, not a meaning.”
It’s a crucial statement . . . It keeps sinking deeper and deeper into me from the moment I first read it!

The question is why did Anata choose to live her new life from an animal perspective?

As she said in the first chapter, she wanted to experience ‘the other side’. She had always been a winner – perhaps even an oppressor in a way – in her past lives. That’s what she knew. Now she chose to be a ‘victim’ rather. Dependent and vulnerable. She’s an orphan, to begin with. She’s a bit lost as she doesn’t know who she is as everyone around her is so different. While this is not important in the beginning, it starts to bother her as she grows up and tries to find her place in the world out there – separate from the rest.

I don’t want to give the story away – but there will be some horrendous obstacles she has to overcome – all building towards the biggest one of all: Fear!

Why did the author write this story?

For me, it was predominantly a matter of the heart. What do I mean?

Firstly, I wanted to explore the world from a different perspective, one I love and know quite well. A world most of us love and that’s disappearing a little bit more each day. To raise awareness – as while there are many perceived differences, there are many similarities as well. We all come from the same Source. We’re all interconnected. We all have a soul. Everything that exists has meaning.

Secondly, I was absolutely driven to write for a number of people I had in mind. Not only the babyboomer generation – as myself and as I mention in my ‘Note to the Reader’ – but real people I know, including some who’ve come to me for help. People who currently suffer. Which doesn’t mean I exclude anyone else who’s drawn to this story – as, deep down, we all feel incomplete . . . we’re all searching for wholeness. At this time, many believe that we – as a species – are going through a valley of tears . . . and they don’t see or sense or even know that there is  l i g h t  waiting as we pull ourselves up and out with the tools we have within. I wanted to create a journey of joy . . . of inner healing . . . and hopefully, of discovery and finding . . . of inner peace. I wanted to write fiction – including the MAGICAL and the REAL as I always do – as it’s part of one same Consciousness.

I wanted to write a story that’s entertaining, surprising, and liberating at the same time. And who doesn’t adore Nature and love their pets? I knew I’d hit a chord.

And lastly, I believe that it’s easier – meaning more acceptable for the reader – especially a sick or handicapped person or someone who was hurt, is in pain or worried for some reason – all babyboomers know what I mean – to identify with Piu Piu when she fails and goes through all her drama – than if she had been just another person. These parts will hurt less on a personal level – as, for instance, we can’t fly – except in our dreams. My hope is that my readers are drawn into a healing journey where they can forget . . . grow beyond their own suffering, pain and insecurities . . .  while their focus is directed towards the solution . . . overcoming fear and being free!

AP: Thank you – that’s a good moment to end this part of the conversation! I think you made your point clear and thank you for drawing us into that wondrous realm that is so close to your heart! Let’s have a drink before we move on to question 8!

Please stay tuned; the transcript of part 8 of our Arteby Author Interview with Bianca Gubalke on her book in the literary genre ‘Magical or Magic Realism’ will follow soon!

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From Fear to Freedom

About the non-local domain

Arteby Author Interviews delivers Part 6 of this Author Interview about the brand-new South African novel The Immortal Life of Piu Piu’  conducted on 17th January, 2016, based on a series of 10 questions. We invite you to listen to the author’s answers to question 6 – and, if you wish, you may follow along on the transcript below. In case you have missed it, here is Author Interview 5.

Author Interview with Bianca Gubalke

AP: You wrote this book in 12 chapters, of which the first and the last chapter act as a frame to the story. So we have a story within a story. Today, let’s focus on an that intriguing place – although it’s not a place – that you describe in this frame: the so-called ‘non-local domain’. Without giving the story away, could you explain where we actually are?

BG: I’m delighted to do so. When it comes to books, 12 is my magical number! I knew right away that I’d be writing 12 chapters, although they differ in length. And you are right: the first chapter and the last one form a frame for the story. Whereas Piu Piu’s story plays here on planet earth, these two chapters are set in a different dimension. This dimension is called the ‘non-local domain’. It is also referred to as the nonphysical reality, and it has many other names – like heaven, nirvana, paradise, Zion or Elysium to name some – and it means different things to different people depending on their cultural background and beliefs. Here we refer to it as that unknown realm beyond time and space where spiritual beings come from – and return to after death.

Where is Home?

One of today’s very wise and gifted leaders in the body, mind & soul evolution, Dr. Deepak Chopra, refers to the non-local domain as ‘ . . . the source of all relative expressions. It is a realm of unlimited possibilities, but it has none of those expressed values in it. Therefore it has no time, energy or space in it, yet it is the source of all energy, time and space. The non-local domain does not contain atoms, molecules or subatomic particles, yet it is the domain from which all subatomic particles arise.’

It’s not an easy one to get one’s head around – it’s more accessible through our heart, our intuition, our senses. But let’s talk about the frame and an easy way to look at it:

Imagine your home is in Cape Town and you plan a trip to Berlin. So you start off in your Cape Town home, have your holiday in Berlin, after which you return back home. HOME is the important word here . . . You start off HOME – you go somewhere for a while – and you return back HOME. So your trip to Berlin is actually a story within the story of your normal life at HOME.

Now just think of your life as a journey to planet earth – instead of going to Berlin. You are born and you die – the normal cycle . . . as in Nature: you come and you go. The question now is: where do you come from – before you are born? And where do you go to once you die? We know that we are spiritual beings having a life experience in physical form. We know where the physical form goes – sooner or later – but what happens to that eternal spark of energy that leaves the body when it dies, the soul?

The Soul of Man is Immortal

“The soul of man is immortal” said the Greek philosopher, Plato, back well over 2000 years ago – just to name one as the concept of reincarnation goes back much further than that. There are many concepts as far as the afterlife and reincarnation are concerned; it’s a wide and wildly interesting field. The fact is that there’s an explosive interest in this matter as, right NOW, more than one hundred baby boomers are facing their own mortality – or immortality rather, as I prefer. For many it’s a real wake-up call – as we discussed before. For those readers who haven’t exposed themselves to these concepts yet, the fact is that about one third of the Western world alone believes in the survival of Consciousness after death! Besides there’s been a lot of ground-breaking scientific research into this field over the past 40 to 50 years, especially also through Past Life Regression by pioneers like Dr. Michael Newton, Dr. Brian Weiss, Dr. Gary Schwartz and others. And as we discussed before this interview, I qualified as a hypnosis practitioner myself – not only to help heal people from their fears, but as one of the many stepping stones that allow me to have access to higher studies within this field – that was so natural to me as a little girl . . . as it is with most little people – until something happens. I won’t tell you though . . . read the book!

Noone puts it more aptly than Deepak Chopra: ‘Physical death is that period in the non-local (spiritual) domain before the next quantum leap of creativity which takes us to rebirth or reincarnation. And as we wait, cooling our heels, we’re stored as possibility waves.’

About Heaven and the Afterlife

I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘possibility wave’ but I like it! But coming back to my story, I’m just the story-teller opening up a doorway for my readers . . . inviting them to imagine . . . even experience . . . what it could be like if that other dimension were true – the dimension some refer to as heaven and the afterlife. I like to refer to it as HOME.

And what it would mean to us and the way we live our lives, if we truly grasped the dimension of our immortality – well, at least a little bit of it! If we understood that we are our own judges – meaning that if we were oppressors in one life, we’d want to experience ‘the other side’ by choosing to be a victim in another.

Wouldn’t we look at one another . . . and care for one another differently, if – deep down – we knew this was true?

Of course, everyone will read and understand this depending on who they are and what they believe. This has little to do with religion, this has to do with the soul, that part of us that is free. Where we as human beings all know one another, where we are both the observer (while in the non-local domain) and the observed (during our lives on earth) – and most importantly, where we are all expressions of ONE.

Fear of Death and Dying

As my intent in this story – besides entertaining and being informative – is to inspire my readers to lose their fears – and I do real work on that with real people as well – the question I asked myself was: what is our biggest fear?

The answer is the fear of death and dying. Ask anyone out there.

So that’s my topic. And as I believe that we cannot approach this topic through intellectual analysis, I created a story that addresses the child within us before it was hurt and started to hide. It’s a story based on a real story where animals talk and convey complex ideas in an easily acceptable and digestible way.

So if there were nothing to fear – would we still be afraid?
What if we knew that we held ourselves responsible for our actions – how would we live our lives?
What if we knew we could live any life we wanted, would we still envy others for who they are or what they have?
Would we still want to be someone other than we are – a unique and magnificent expression of ONE?
What if we knew that living on the streets fulfills someone’s mission – would we still judge?

When Fear turns into Freedom

It’s all about absorbing and acting upon these thoughts to achieve transformation. That’s my sincerest wish – that my story helps readers to turn their fear into faith and freedom. REAL freedom!

And as you know, I’m just the storyteller . . . but I need a glass of water now!

AP: Wow, we covered a lot and time just flies! So let’s move quickly to question 7!

Please stay tuned; the transcript of part 7 of our Arteby Author Interview with Bianca Gubalke on her book in the literary genre ‘Magical or Magic Realism’ will follow soon!

South African Literature

Author Interviews

Arteby Publishing (AP) conducted an Author Interview with Bianca Gubalke, author of the new South African magical realism novelThe Immortal Life of Piu Piu’ , based on a series of 10 questions. Here’s question number five. While there were technical glitches with the video, so it’s not finished yet, the transcript is – and you may follow along below. In case you missed the previous part, here it is: Author Interview 4.

Interview with Bianca Gubalke

AP: Your story plays in South Africa. I notice that you unite different races and cultures within one family, including the strong presence of an imaginary ancestor, which is quite typical for African Literature. Is this a political story?

BG: No, I kept politics entirely out of it . . . although taking any particular viewpoint always has . . . somewhere . . . a political edge, if you will.

This story – as confirmed by a number of readers – is a gentle . . . someone called it ‘therapeutical’ . . .  journey to that hidden place within us that no one talks about when we are little people. Nor does it ever appear in schools. So it is bound to lose its significance. Then we tend to neglect it . . . and eventually forget about it as we grow up as separate individuals in this, our so-called REAL physical world. This is a tragedy as it’s the purest, most vulnerable and hence most precious and authentic spot we all own. It’s where we are our true selves. It’s a place where we are closest to our soul. Therefore, it’s also the place where we are all connected – and I really mean everyone, free from any form of judgement or privileged hierarchical corset. A place where we know and love one another – not in a romantic fashion, but in an encompassing, unconditional way – as the magnificent energy beings we truly are.

About the Survival of the fittest

As our courageous heroine soon finds out directly from her dad, the dominant reality of life on earth is that we live in a dualistic time-constrained plane, where we are drawn into a cruel game called  ‘The survival of the fittest’ . This implies scarcity thinking instead of abundance wisdom, fierce competition instead of mutual cooperation. Everything seems to serve a purpose, after which it’s cold coffee, thrown away, disposed, gone – and fast! This leaves little room for empathy and magic, and as we’re subliminally conditioned to ‘fit in’ – from the cradle to the grave – we lose touch with our true selves, our essence. We lose our dreams, and worst of all: we allow ourselves to be overpowered and dominated by the many expressions of . . . FEAR!

Sadly, this is a way of abandoning our hope and giving up on our dreams. We’re dying to who we really are – instead of exploring what we came here to be!

About Fear

We all have fears. Love cannot breathe where fear reigns – and what we fear, we attract. So we want to find a path to identify, understand, and overcome our fears – fears like jealousy, abandonment, death. This is what is addressed in the book, on a much deeper level, of course. Reading the book with time and inner focus will be a healing experience in ways that may surprise!

To get back to your question: yes, I bring a number of races together in a very natural way, each nourishing and enriching the other with their cultural heritage and wisdom as I believe it should be. Our differences were never meant to separate us, but to show the rich diversity of life!

To give you an example:

About African Fiction

Our main protagonist, Pippa, is the offspring of an African woman – whose ancestors came from Namibia and Germany – and a South African dad. She is a typical ‘Rainbow Nation’  kid – a result of true magic – call it ‘Madiba Magic’ . . . but don’t forget, in those magical, memorable days in 1994, it was a whole nation that connected as ONE and reached for ONE dream! A whole nation! Imagine that! I was blessed to be part of that unique moment in space and time . . . and I will write about it . . . one day. Not now. In this book, race or political criticism are not the issue – going back to our roots and discovering our passion and purpose are.

We all have them – and if they’re buried, we need to dig them out in order to free ourselves and fly!

As such, our young and inquisitive heroine is not only conscious of something happening ‘to her’, but she uses all her courage – sometimes in bone-thrilling adventures – to discover and understand what it . . . and who she . . . actually is. While her closeness to Nature and the many wild creatures who are her constant guides, certainly help, she regularly clashes with her dad, a pilot and contentious figure whose temper forces her to reveal her strength. But – through a wonderful coup of MAGIC that blends into her REAL world – it will be her German great-grandfather, a botanist, long dead, who supports her in her quest for knowledge and takes her back to her roots.

Sorry! I won’t reveal more.

But I assume this is the ‘strong presence of an imaginary ancestor so typical in African literature’ you alluded to here. Whereby my vision differs: to me, the German Great-grandfather is by no means imaginary . . . he’s REAL! If he was . . . he still ‘is’ . . . as time only exists ‘here’, and all we do as we pass from life to life to life is changing our frequency, our vibration. Which means a number of things . . . with many more things to be discovered, but it’s an area of intense research we’re advancing into right now – and this is so very exciting – and I feel beneficial! – for all of us!

On a lighter note: time has a different dimension in Africa, you know. Especially, in Namibia . . . where I was born, where I love to return to from time to time . . .

I’m just the storyteller . . .

AP: Thank you, Namibia is a magical country indeed! It’s good to speak freely about race in a country like South Africa – the famous ‘Rainbow Nation’. Which brings me to my next question, number 6!

The transcript of part 6 of our Arteby Author Interview with Bianca Gubalke on her book in the literary genre ‘Magical or Magic Realism’ will follow soon!

Fantasy Literature

Modern Fairy Tale for Baby Boomers

Thank you for joining us for part 4 of this exciting Author Interview on Magical Realism that was conducted by Arteby Publishing (AP) on 17th January, 2016, based on a series of 10 questions in relation to the magical realism novel “The Immortal Life of Piu Piu”. If you’ve just joined us for the first time now, 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. If you missed it, here is Author Interview 3.

Interview with Bianca Gubalke Bianca Gubalke

AP: A reviewer called your novel “A Modern Fairy Tale for Baby Boomers” – is this the audience you’d like to address?

BG: Yes – I’d specifically like to address baby boomers – I’m one of them – but not only! Thank you for asking.

First of all, I’d like to differentiate a little, if I may.

Probably, most readers assume that ‘magical realism’ and ‘fairy tales’ – in other words fantasy fiction or fantastic literature – are identical, but they’re not the same. It’s a matter of ‘belief’ or ‘believability’.

Fairy tales are part of the realm of the fantastical – new worlds are being created, supernatural events take place, making our imagination as readers spin. We are drawn into a fantastic world – ONE world – with fairies, trolls, monsters and witches and so forth. In a way, we actually escape into another – unreal – world . . . and while we get our lessons, and we recognize certain archetypes – the queen, the innocent girl, the courageous knight, the evil dragon or whoever they may be – the story itself remains ‘outside’, meaning it’s not part of our daily, normal life. It remains in the domain of our imagination. We’re always aware that it’s unreal and unbelievable. “It’s just a fairy tale…” people often say.

I don’t say that this is correct. I believe there’s much more to fairy tales, myths and legends than we as ‘grownups’ dare to admit as we are such masters at suppressing our subconscious . . .  while  little children definitely see this differently . . . but that’s just as it ‘normally’ is, as we’re conditioned to be.

As discussed previously, in magical realism we are also firmly rooted in one world, but this is the REAL world, as we know it from our everyday lives. Then, however, and through what most of us perceive as MAGIC or a fantastical element, something ‘unlogical’ happens as another reality – the so-called MAGICAL REALITY – becomes part of it. What we perceive as supernatural blends perfectly with our familiar, real, mundane world. So as a writer I don’t invent a new world; I just show the magical within the world we live in, the world we know. The way I see it, personally, however, is that magic IS part of our normal world – we just have to open ourselves up to it to see it. “What you are the vibration of, appears. The rest remains invisible to you.”

Magic redefined

I also believe that MAGIC – as a term – will have to be redefined as more and more people open themselves up to and understand their own spiritual dimension – something that’s possible for you, me, everyone. The difference between this, our physical world, and the non-physical world – the so-called ‘non-local’ domain as Dr. Deepak Chopra calls it – appears to be a matter of frequency and vibration. Gifted seers, psychics, and spiritual masters seem to have the ability to adapt to that frequency at will. Like changing a radio station. There’s fascinating and scientifically proven evidence of this out there. We’re living in very exciting times…

So are baby boomers my target audience? Also – but not only!

I often find that mothers pass on my book to their daughters – or best friends. I love that! We all know about the surge of interest in the survival of consciousness after death as over 100 million baby boomers begin to face their own mortality. That’s a lot! Baby boomers have always shaped the Western world quite significantly, and they will continue to do this as they decide on a dignified, peaceful, conscious transition mode. All this is reflected in popular movies and television shows such as Afterlife TV and Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday, as well as trailblazing programs on YouTube and TED that are watched all over the world.

This is where the magical realism love story ‘The Immortal Life of Piu Piu’ comes in: Set in a land of shifting realities – South Africa, between Nature’s paradise and a ruthless world – and based on true stories and human-animal bonds, this fascinating tale reveals how one powerful girl and the wild creatures who are her constant guides, join in the ultimate adventure: to unlock the mystery of life after death.

This was my logline – but I like to quote from my PRESS RELEASE:
“Each life is a leap of faith. You leave ‘home’ and you venture into the Unknown. And while you discover a world brimming with darkness and light that seems to toss you around, you realize who you are. This is your chance to realize your own true greatness and turn fear into faith . . . and freedom. Real freedom!”

This is – so-to-speak – the ‘solution’ I offer to my fellow baby boomers who rarely took time for themselves, time to come to terms with what’s lying ahead, to free themselves from fear – a fear that easily gives rise to physical and mental illness as I have witnessed so many times. As I’ve laid it out in my ‘NOTE TO THE READER’ in my book, all is rooted in my own search and experience, it’s not a fairy tale. But yes, I understand that one might call it ‘A Modern Fairy Tale’ due to its magical angle. Helping people to find peace and strength within themselves has always been a passion of mine, and the magical realism perspective in my novel allowed me to transport what may be perceived as extraordinary concepts in an ordinary way.

Here I’m just the storyteller . . .

AP: Thank you for your openness – it needs courage and we appreciate that.  Let’s move on to question 5.

Thank you for your interest and your time. Please stay tuned; the transcript of part 5 of our Interview with Bianca Gubalke on the literary genre called ‘Magical or Magic Realism’ will follow soon!