WHY I WRITE
by Gabriella Balcom
Please welcome Gabriella Balcom to the Writers Journey Blog.
I'm Gabriella Balcom, and I’m excited to announce my horror novella, Down with the Sickness and Other Chilling Tales is coming out November 22, 2022.
I was asked why I write, and the answer is simple—I have to. Reading and writing have been as important to me as breathing throughout the majority of my life. This may sound like an exaggeration to you, but I assure you it isn't.
My father was a teacher and linguist; my mother taught before my birth, working in a library afterward. Books surrounded me from my earliest memory. My mother began teaching me to read and write when I was one year old, my father introducing me to other languages. However, these things alone didn't make words important to me.
I was an only child, and spent my time alone other than my mother "playing school" with me. Once I'd mastered reading and writing, she turned her focus elsewhere. My father spent his spare time on hobbies. They never bought a TV, but loved movies, so we went to them a lot. They routinely took me to libraries, where I checked out dozens of books. Although my parents participated in work events, they isolated themselves in their personal lives. We visited very few people, and my father didn't allow anyone in our home. Similarly, I wasn't permitted to visit classmates, and none could come see me.
A tabby cat took up residence under an old car my father had when I was three or four, giving birth shortly after. She was my first friend. I remember crawling under the car to pet, talk, and read to her.
But my connection to words was truly solidified by something else, the thing that had the greatest impact on me.
My father came from another country, was much older than my mother, and had a dominant personality; my mother was passive. He emotionally abused both of us, but I alone was battered physically. Once, when I was two, he raged in the front room, smashing and demolishing things, while my mother snacked nearby, tuning him out. I ran to my room at the far end of our home, and heard him stomping in my direction. My room was tiny, the closet full, and the one hiding spot was under my bed, positioned in a corner. I crawled underneath, scooting as far back as I could—up against the wall. If I could've escaped into the wall, I would have. My father didn't find me, and I stayed hidden for hours while his rampage continued. The next morning he acted as if nothing had happened.
However, his "explosions" usually ended differently. My belongings were destroyed. I was beaten with pieces of wood, his hands, his long, metal keychain, or anything at hand; occasionally, I was knocked flying. I could've died many times. My mother never intervened.
His physical abuse stopped when I was ten. One evening, he walked over to hit me, and I went to meet him. I'd had enough. He saw that in my eyes and never struck me again...
I didn’t share the above to horrify or garner sympathy. I did to show why I desperately needed an escape. Something to give me hope for the future. Something to hold onto and provide warmth. Stories did just that, lifting me straight out of hell, transporting me to magical kingdoms, places where people laughed, were happy, and triumphed over evil. I experienced kindness, friendship, wonder, and learned of individuals enduring misery, how they survived, and countless other things. Need I say more?
My first "writing" was listing animals beginning with the letters of the alphabet, but I moved into creating stories. Cats figured into many of them. I won a writing contest when I was six for my composition about animals who became friends. I began journaling when I was eight, writing poetry at thirteen, and I read and wrote constantly.
Once I finished high school, I stayed busy with college, work, marriage, and children, later with divorce and single parenthood. I stopped writing except for work-related articles. I felt prompted to write numerous times, but didn't until 2012 when I couldn’t hold back the words anymore. Ideas had always flooded my mind, and poured out of me as if a floodgate had opened. I wrote a lot. My initial writing was cathartic, but it turned creative. In 2018, I wondered if I could do more with it and joined a Facebook writing group. I noticed a submission call, wrote two stories, and hired my first editor. My "Bobby—You’d Never Guess" was accepted and published in A Contract of Words.
More of my works (360 total) have been accepted or come out since then, as well as my first book, On the Wings of Ideas (released by Clarendon House Publications). I won the publishing contract when one of my short stories was voted best in the anthology in which it appeared. I was nominated for the Washington Science Fiction Association's Small Press Award and won second place in JayZoMon/Dark Myth Publications 2020 Open Contract Challenge (around one hundred authors competed for cash prizes and publishing contracts). My novella, Worth Waiting For, came out afterward.
I self-published Free's Tale: No Home at Christmas-time, and Black Hare Press released my sci-fi novella, The Return, in 2021. Dark Myth Publications is publishing my horror novella, Down With the Sickness and Other Chilling Tales on November 22, 2022, and four others pend publication. Each acceptance has thrilled me, and I've dreamed of my writing having a strong impact on others.
Everyone has a different opinion about words. As for me, I view them as much more than shapes on paper. They brought me company when I was alone, warmth in the midst of coldness and cruelty, hope when I was in despair, and I can truly say they saved me. They continue to be important to me now.
Thank you very much for interviewing me, Elaine. I truly appreciate it.
Bio: Gabriella Balcom lives in Texas with her family, works full-time in the mental health field, and has loved reading and writing her entire life. She writes fantasy, horror, sci-fi, romance, literary fiction, children's stories, and more, and loves great stories, forests, mountains, and back roads. She has a weakness for lasagna, garlic bread, tacos, cheese, and chocolate, but not necessarily in that order, and adores Chinese, Italian, and Mexican food. Gabriella has had 350 works accepted for publication, and 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, and won second place in JayZoMon/Dark Myth Company’s 2020 Open Contract Challenge (a competition in which around one hundred authors competed for cash prizes and publishing contracts). Gabriella's novelette, Worth Waiting For, was then released. She self-published a novelette, Free’s Tale: No Home at Christmas-time, and Black Hare Press published her sci-fi novella, The Return, in 2021. Five other novellas pend publication. You are invited to visit her Facebook author page: https://m.facebook.com/GabriellaBalcom.lonestarauthor
Dive into these macabre horror stories, but be careful not to close your eyes. Evil lurks unseen. Supernatural beings keep watch and monsters lie in wait. Some plot vengeance, while others crave human flesh.
*Crystal idolizes rock stars and longs to be one. What would she be willing to do to make her dream come true? Lie, cheat, or steal? Would she go as far as to kill?
*Elaiyne envies Sonora’s golden skin, blonde hair, and slender body, and goes to extremes to try and be like the other girl. But Elaiyne isn’t the only one wanting to be someone else.
*A naga becomes karma personified when she confronts a parent.
*Bettie struggles to breathe after Rodney blows cigarette smoke in her face. He couldn’t care less — and does worse. But The Watchers see everything, and they have something special in mind.
*Wahasi stalks through the swamp in cocodrie — crocodile — form, infuriated at her lack of food. However, she has a plan involving the sorcerer, Kula, and the townspeople better watch out.
*A true brat, Brad tries to hurt his sister and defies his parents, but he’s not the only bully around.
*Abner is delighted to visit Aokigahara Forest, which is rumored to be haunted, but Sharyn isn’t.
*When a Siamese cat nears the home of a Chihuahua, the dog makes his displeasure known through piercing yaps. However, something startles him.
*Shane dares Angeline to spend the night in The Devil’s Hand, and if she succeeds, she’ll get to borrow his fancy Dodge Charger. The site is rumored to be haunted or cursed, but she knows that’s hooey.
*Tricia is prideful about her looks, loves bullying, and makes a younger girl feel worthless. But she has a surprise visitor — Ria, also known as Justice.
*Life post-COVID has been anything but happy. Deaths skyrocketed. Nuclear bombs hit. Food dwindled. Cole, Vera, and Marianne survived, but they have little left to eat. Rovers are out and about, and must be avoided at all costs.
*Dean likes pushing people around. When he damages his grandfather, Charlie’s, Venus Fly Traps, Charlie isn’t the only one who’s upset.
Gabriella Balcom’s book includes the above stories and more. Some of her works have been described as masterpieces in the horror genre. They will alternately horrify you, touch your heart, make you shiver, and have you on the edge of your seat.
Reader comments about some of her creations include:
“…this is a thrilling ride …”
“Best plot twist …”
“…great job putting unique twists … highly recommended …”
“Wow, just freaking wow!”
“I was deeply disturbed … loved every minute …! Bravo!”
“Heartbreaking and devastating.”
“Holy shit … that was so creepy. I loved it!”
“I want more, more, more, more, dang it!”
“I got chills reading this story.”
“Exciting and horrific.”