INTERVIEW: Leila Tualla

 

For the record, please state your name. Leila Tualla Martinez

 

What inspired you to become a writer? I started journaling in middle school for a school project, and my teacher – Mrs. Spradley – told me I could write, and should look into it. I don’t journal as often as I like now, but she was the first one that inspired me to keep going.

 

What are your hobbies? Reading and writing, mostly. I like to bake.

 

What are you passionate about? Family, faith, and how to make the perfect soufflé. Ha! But I’m passionate about maternal health due to my previous job, and my own experiences.

 

What interests are you into? Cooking, mostly. I’m also interested in getting to know how to blend of two cultures (Mexican/Filipinos) in my household.

 

What social media do you use to contact with your fans? Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

What is your username on the different social media platforms? 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/leilatuallam/

Instagram: @leilatualla

Twitter: @leilatualla

 

What did you do before you became a published author? I was a Nutritionist, and Trained Breastfeeding Educator for a local Women, Infant, Children (WIC) agency.

 

Do you have another job other than writing? Chasing after two tiny dictators/stay at home mommy now.

 

How long have you been writing for? Full time, I’d say only just 2-3 years. But on and off since I was 13….er 21 years now.

 

What’s your writing style like? I like dialogue; so I write as if I’m talking to someone. Lots of 1st person POV, introspection, etc….lots of run on sentences.

 

What’s your favorite genre to write/read in and why? To write in? I’m still trying to figure that out, actually. I already wrote a contemporary Christian YA, and currently working on a memoir, and a scifi fantasy. I can’t say I have a favorite between the three. I read everything but horror, so I can’t pick a favorite genre to read, either.

 

What’s your least favorite genre to write/read in and why? Ha. Horror because writers are imaginative creatures, and I don’t want that crazy scary stuff in my head either.

 

Some writers have something playing in the background, do you and what? I like silence. I can’t concentrate if there’s noise.

 

What’s the inspiration behind your books? I really like exploring our place in the universe, in faith, and who we are in all our relationships. I like understanding people’s motives, and trying to differentiate between their words, and their actions. I’m a people watcher. People inspire me. If you give people a chance, they’ll show you their true character.

 

If you could do it all over again, would you change anything about your books? I don’t think I’d change anything.

 

Is there anything you found particularly challenging about writing? Focusing! I get distracted pretty easily. It’s hard for me to just sit still, and write. I try to focus on mini goals, such as writing a page a day, or sitting down just for 10-15 minutes.

 

Who are your cover designers? My publishers were the ones that picked out the cover.

 

What authors are your inspiration? Mitch Albom writes like he’s talking to you. I really like that……or maybe that’s just me. I’m currently obsessed with Penny Reid. She’s freakin’ hysterical, and amazing, and writes about weird people finding their weirder soulmates.

 

What is your take on fanfiction? They’re interesting. I think it’s great that some people can take to an entire series of a show, and write their own alternative ending or put two people who shouldn’t be together for various reasons, end up together in their fanfic.

 

What advice would you give any newbie author or anyone that wants to pick up writing? Keep going. Don’t stop writing, or dreaming about what you hope to accomplish. And explore different genres, and write different things to find whatever voice suits you. I don’t believe that there are any rules for writing. Most of us writers, just wrote.

 

What are your fondest childhood memories? Growing up in the Philippines, and enjoying the beaches, and the food. I have fond memories of my grandfather telling me all sorts of stories. 

 

If you Don’t mind tell us a little about your personal life? I am a Filipina American married to a Mexican American, with two kiddos. Our house is loud with only the 4 of us, and gets louder when the in-laws get together.

 

Do you have any causes, charities, foundations that you are passionate about and donate to? if so why? how did you get involved?

The Preeclampsia Foundation is my biggest passion. May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. During that month, I blog all things preeclampsia related, such as my NICU experiences, grief over not having that first moments with my baby, anxiety that it’ll happen again, and this is all a big dream and I’m still in the hospital watching and waiting for her.  I try to participate in their virtual walks, or do campaign to raise money for education, awareness, and finding treatments for Preeclampsia. In 2012, I was diagnosed with Preeclampsia with my daughter at 26 weeks gestation. I didn’t even know what it was about except that I had high blood pressure, and would end up having a premature baby. I ended up having her at 31 weeks. She was 3 pounds, 4 ozs, and spent 6 weeks in the hospital. I know now that it is more than just high blood pressure. It’s a series of things that happen to our body as the placenta is forming. I had a rough time, as you can imagine. The only thing that got me through it all was praying, and writing. In 2015, I got pregnant again, and this entire nightmare started. I just wish I could be at ease, and enjoy pregnancy like most expecting moms, but it’s hard when you’ve been through this before. With my son’s, the experience was different. I had between 26 weeks and 31 weeks to research and think about the gravity of the situation with my daughter. But with my son, I went to work that morning with a headache. My vision started getting blurry, and I was nauseated and vomiting. I ended up driving to the hospital within the hour, and by the next morning, my blood pressure and symptoms stabilized enough to have him. I was 34 weeks, 5 days. It hit me that fast. My stories aren’t as different as other Preeclampsia survivors, but I have met and befriended moms who lost their precious babies, because they were misdiagnosed, or just didn’t know what was happening. I’ve been through it, and it sucks, and it’s scary. Whatever I can do to hold a mama’s hand and let her know that I’ve been there, and I was scared, and it’s okay to be afraid, and cry it out every day, I’ll do it. The Preeclampsia Foundation was there for me during, and after my experiences, and I’ll always give back for that reason.

 

Do you have any pets? No.

 

Fun Questions!

 

What age were you when you were first kissed? 16, at a truth or dare game.

 

Who was your high School sweetheart? I didn’t have one. Theatre geek all the way.

 

What did you want to be when you were little? A teacher.

 

What is your favourite colour? Purple.

 

What is your favourite food/s? Chinese
What are you afraid of? Heights, bikes, falling mostly.

 

How old were you when you first got drunk? 23.

 

What was your first car? 2001 Dodge Stratus.

 

Did you live in a house or apartment when you were a child? House.

 

What was your favourite tv show as a child? My little Pony.

 

What was your favorite book? This is tough one. But these three have been in the top since I started to enjoy reading at 13: Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Tolkein’s The Hobbit, and Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

 

Who did you have a crush on when you were in school and how old were you? I kind of remember my first crush. His name was Alan, and all I remember about him was he could do the splits! I think I was in 1st grade.

 

Tell us a little about yourself. Perhaps something not many people know about? Can you share with us the best way to contact you and where to find your work? This is where you have the floor.

Most people think I’m not very girly because I’m usually in sweats, no makeup, and my unbrushed hair is usually covered up in a baseball hat. But I own more dresses, and skirts than I do sweats and jeans. I can’t walk in heels for the life of me, but I buy high heels because they’re just so beautiful, and sexy. I just like to look at my shoe collection – ha! One day, I’ll learn how to walk in them. Favorite flower is daisy, and my second favorite color is pink. The best way to contact me is through facebook. But email works best: tuallaleila@gmail.com and they can find my work on my site: www.leilatualla.com

 

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with us!

 

We also need a picture for the interview. It could be of anything or anyone you want!

 

 

 

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