Leila Tualla is a Filipino American writer, poet, and Christian author. She is a preeclampsia survivor and advocate, and blogs about “Life after Preeclampsia,” at www.tuallaleila.blogspot.com. After her second baby, Leila had postpartum depression. She is thankful that her family and those who supported her, stood with her and helped pull her out of her darkness. Her faith in Christ was, and continues to be, her daily lifeline. Leila is humbled daily by God’s saving grace.
When she's not writing about her preeclampsia or postpartum journey, or chasing after her tiny miracle bosses, she can also be found buried in books. Leila reads various novels throughout the year and her book reviews can be found at www.leilatualla.com.
Isabelle: Why did you start writing poetry? What do you try to communicate through your work?
Leila: I started writing poetry to express some things that I couldn’t voice out loud. I normally write fiction and there’s a difference between building up this world that I’ve created, versus finding the words to express the world I’m in. Poetry kind of helped bridge my thoughts and turn them into something almost tangible. I like to think that when people read my poetry, they get that sense of me in my world, who I am, my faith, my tears and trials and my hopes.
Isabelle: What themes do you find emerge from your work? What defines you as a writer?
Leila: Faith has been the biggest theme across my work, whether it’s a novel or a poem. I’m nothing without my faith and you can definitely tell that.
I’m finally at a point where I can confidently say, I’m a writer. I like to write about God and faith because I’m still trying to find God and perhaps, I’ll come across Him in my words. I’m also a mom, a mental health advocate and preeclampsia survivor and I want those struggles to come across my writings, but I don’t want them all to define me. I’m more than those labels, but I understand that I can’t write without taking my experiences and my convictions out of my writings.
Isabelle: Do you believe in 'writer's block'? What inspires you to write?
Leila: Yes and no. I believe in getting stuck at a point in a story and not knowing where to go from there. I believe in distractions. Ha! If I ever get stuck and have a “block,” I usually free-write or do a brain dump of anything that’s going through my head and usually, I figure it out.
I’m inspired by my family, my children, my Filipino culture, travels, people and their motives. I love dialogue and people listening and watching inspire me…especially, since they don’t know that they’re being watched or listened to. People are fascinating, even if they don’t think they are.
Isabelle: What are you most proud of as a writer?
Leila: I’m terrible at finishing things. I start projects and never see them through to the end. I get side tracked or get bored with what I’m working on and move on to the next thing. So I’m proud that my distracted self managed to finish a novel and a poetry collection. I’m grateful that I kept going.
Isabelle: If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Leila: Carry a notebook everywhere because you are not going to remember to jot it down when you get home.
Isabelle: Tell me a bit about something you're working on at at the moment.
Leila: In Storm of Hope, I wrote about 40 poems and I’d like to have the full 100 poem collection. I started working on a collection called, “the Token Asian writes.” It’ll be about my experiences as the lone Filipino growing up in a small Texas town, how I’ve assimilated, my experiences with racism and finding an identity as an American.
Links to Leila's work;
Storm of Hope: God, Preeclampsia, Depression and me
We are Not Alone: An Anthology for Mental Health Awareness