The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Alumna’s life trek shapes island adventure tale

An ugly duckling turned into a swan.

This is how a CSUN alumna describes her life’s journey from an awkward and lonely childhood to a satisfying adulthood filled with a lot of companionship. Linda Jane Ballou, 61, realized early in life that she did not fit in with kids her age. She always felt like an outsider, so she turned to books for comfort and camaraderie.

“Through reading, I became more evolved than my peers,” Ballou said. “I found books more stimulating than conversations with people.”

When she was 13, Ballou said she and her parents moved to Haines, Alaska, where she discovered her passion for writing as a high school student.

After graduating, Ballou said she returned to Southern California on her own, where she attended the Orange-based Chapman University for one semester before transferring to CSUN. Ballou dropped out to focus on work, she said. Ballou obtained her real estate license, and she worked as a receptionist for a radio station and as a waitress in Beverly Hills.

Lacking intellectual stimulation in the workplace, Ballou returned to CSUN and earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature in the mid 1970s.

Ballou said she went to Hawaii after she graduated, where she spent time meditating and reading books on the beach.

The experience inspired Ballou to continue writing a book she started several years, “Wai-nani: High Chiefess of Hawai’i – Her Epic Journey,” she said.

The book, a recently released historical fiction novel, is about a young woman who rebels against her father’s authority and swims away from her home. A dolphin named Eku accompanies her on a journey that tests her strength and character. It is based in Hawaii during the time of Captain James Cook, a seventeenth century English adventurer who made the first European contact with the people of the Hawaiian Islands.

The book’s publication has encouraged Ballou to continue writing, she said. Ballou is working on several pieces, including “Lost Angel Walkabout” and “Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon.”

Friend and fellow author Anna Maria Prezio said Ballou is a very energetic person who manages to get a lot done in a little amount of time.

Vicki Watson, a long-time friend, said, “Linda loves natural resources and hiking. She gets close to the soul of nature, and she loves to travel.”

Ballou, who makes her home in Valley Village, hikes in the Santa Monica Mountain Recreation Area on a weekly basis, her personal Web site indicates. She is also “keen” on hiking and riding on horseback through the Eastern Sierras, her Web site indicates as well.

The Web site also shows she has ventured to New England’s White Mountains, the South Island of New Zealand, and she sailed a 32-foot boat during her time in Kauai.

Though Ballou is eager to complete her upcoming novels, she said she refuses to put too much pressure on herself, which is why it took so long to release “Wai-nani.” Ballou said she does not want to write books solely for financial gain.

She already has a job. As a real estate agent, Ballou sells four-bedroom homes for Dilbeck Realtors usually priced at $911,000 in Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Topanga and Studio City, shows the Web site for Homethinking, which helps prospective homeowners find real estate agents.

“I don’t stay up late and write,” Ballou said. “I go out and enjoy life.”

“I believe that money is a corrupting element in art,” Ballou said.

Writing books has given her balance and equilibrium for the first time in her life.

“I’m a whole person now,” Ballou said.

“Reaching self-actualization is my ultimate pleasure. I have presented myself to the world and they are loving it,” Ballou said with tears in her eyes.

“I’m not a loner anymore. That’s the beauty of it,” Ballou said.

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