Interview with Wendy Waters – Author of Catch the Moon, Mary
Peter: Wendy, your book Catch the Moon, Mary was one of the most touching and inspiring books I’ve read this year. It’s one that I will not forget and I’d like to congratulate you on writing it. I am delighted that we have the opportunity to conduct this interview. Many thanks for making the time available.
Peter: What inspired you to write your book, Catch the Moon, Mary?
Wendy: In 2011 I volunteered as a singing teacher at Oasis Crisis Centre, a safe house for homeless youth. My role was to help the musically inclined find a pathway into the industry. I was only there for a year but in that time, I met dozens of young people whose home lives were so dangerous they preferred the risk of living on the streets. Some ran away as early as seven years of age. To survive the loneliness and terror many invented imaginary friends or guardian angels upon whom they could call when it all got too much. For many, these imaginary friends became the only anchor in their chaotic tidal existence. The story grew from there but of course, I made the angel quite real.
Peter: I appreciate the novel has several layers and perspectives for the reader to connect with. What is your hope that readers get from reading your book other than it is a very entertaining story?
Wendy: I would love people to open their hearts and minds to the possibility of an unseen dimension in which dreams and hopes can germinate and take root in reality.
Peter: Mary was such a wonderfully drawn character with a backdrop of sexual abuse and deep personality issues. How emotionally challenging was it to write her character and some of the more disturbing scenes?
Wendy: For me it was cathartic. All of us have had dark passages in our lives. No-one lives in a fairy-tale. To enter the dark spaces in our souls and transmogrify the pain into Art is to heal.
Peter: How much research did you undertake in exploring mental illness and personality traits with Mary, James and the other characters? What research was the most revealing?
Wendy: I did no research. I have Aspergers and have also struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. James was me at my darkest and most disenfranchised. Mary was me as I emerged into the light through the conduit of music and writing. Re-entering the darkness was not difficult as I carried the light with me this time.
Peter: You turned the spiritual aspect of angels, God and heaven upside down in this story. What was your objective with this viewpoint?
Wendy: I wanted to explore the idea of the saved becoming the saviour. My belief in angels is solid and based in direct contact. They challenge and inspire and prompt us all to achieve excellence in our chosen fields and sometimes they will do whatever it takes to make us shine. I also wanted to explore the tragedy of an immortal unfettered from a sustaining heavenly hierarchy and forced to use the human gift of free will. The inevitable mistakes manifesting as “sin” would then erode even the brightest soul when redemption was no longer on offer. The tragedy of such a great angel falling from grace gave my heroine, Mary, the opportunity to rise above her own pain and damage to become the angel’s saviour, thereby freeing her from her own dark past and turning her from victim to redeemer. Personally, I believe all salvation lies in helping others as opposed to expecting God and angels to save us.
Peter: It is evident from your writing that you have a deep love and passion for literature and music. What is it about each that gives you the greatest pleasure? How difficult was it to accommodate both appropriately in writing your book?
Wendy: Music flows through my soul all the time. I love it the way some people love food. In my darkest times, only music has the power to realign my soul and settle the anxiety that occasionally rises like a tide and threatens to drown me. Music calms me down and takes me to a different place. I believe music is the language of angels and needs no translation in any realm. If I was lucky enough to meet an alien, I would play him/her Beethoven’s Song of Joy and I think we would connect, assuming, of course, they weren’t tone deaf!
Literature raises me to the same level as music when the words are arranged in such a way that the genius of the author’s soul shines through. I am as much in love with language as I am with music and a good book can reduce me to tears and raise me to laughter and inspire me to be the best writer I can be. I feel, I personally know, the authors whose works of genius have the power to illuminate my soul.
I had no difficulty at all combining music and words because they
are always intertwined for me.
Peter: There is an inspirational message in your book, to dream, live your dream and dream big, even in the face of obstacles? What is your big dream?
Wendy: I have many dreams but perhaps my biggest dream is to leave behind a body of work that will inspire future generations to find and follow their dreams as I have found and followed mine.
Peter: Do you use story boarding or mapping processes to develop your plots and interactions, or do you go with the flow and follow your instinct and gut feeling? Would you therefore describe yourself as a plotter, pantser or plantser?
Wendy: I work in an unusual way. I write the first line. It may take me a year to find it but once I do the entire story flows from that one line. Not sure what pantser or plantsers look like lol but I can say with certainty I am not a plotter!
Peter: Do you use particular software applications or utilities to support your writing activity? For example, Scrivener or Grammarly.
Wendy: No, I use a dictionary and a Thesaurus.
Peter: What are the greatest benefits and restrictions to being a published author? Do you get involved in finalising other aspects of the book, for example, the cover design, narration and the promotion of the book?
Wendy: The greatest benefit to being a published author is that your work is “out there” finding the people who will enjoy it. I don’t think there are any restrictions. I chose the cover of my book. I saw a photograph of a three-hundred-year-old angel in a Dublin Cemetery taken by gifted photographer, Des Cannon. I tracked him down (it took me three months) and asked him if I could use his brilliant photograph for the cover of my book. He said yes. I work hard to promote the book. It’s definitely part of an author’s job these days.
Peter: How much time do you spend on writing compared to promoting your books?
Wendy: I put in an hour a day on twitter and social media promoting my book. I don’t write every day because I am also a musical theatre lyricist/book writer with a show in development right now. The show is called The Last Tale and I am working with a gifted composer, Shanon Whitelock.
Peter: What authors have you most admired and have had an influence on you?
Wendy: I fall passionately in love with authors whose words become part of my soul. In no particular order my great loves are Emily Bronte, Truman Capote, Paul Gallico, Oscar Wilde (my first great love with The Happy Prince) Charlotte Bronte, Joanne Harris, Jeanette Winterson, Lord Byron, T.S.Eliot, Henry Miller, Virginia Woolf, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and others whose names escape me but I love them all.
Peter: What is your favourite book you’ve read over the last 12 months?
Wendy: The Genius of the Few by Christian O’Brien in which he explores the progenitors of the human race and posits the possibility that religion is a derivation of worship for people who were technically more advanced than their neighbours and that in-so-doing we as a species have missed the opportunity to intuit the numinous, extraordinary and truly inspiring entity that illuminates the spaces between the notes we comprehend as reality.
Peter: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Wendy: Forget the marketplace. Be true to your own genius and do not settle for a commercial compromise. Believe in yourself and keep going until your own words move you to tears, laughter and joy. Give the world your best work.
Peter: If you had a dinner party and could invite 3 personalities from any period in history who would they be and why?
Wendy: Oscar Wilde because he gave the world The Happy Prince and inspired me with a passion for literature when I was only seven years old. Jesus Christ because he gave the world the best advice it’s ever ignored, and if we ran out of wine… and Emily Bronte because I’d like to ask her how she knew about nature spirits and how she wrote Wuthering Heights in her twenties!
Peter: Can you give us any insights into any future books or projects that you’re working on?
Wendy: Yes, I am working on a musical, The Last Tale, right now with composer, Shanon Whitelock. It’s the story of Scheherazade, the teller of the 1001 Arabian Tales. It’s ten years after she’s told the last tale. She is a celebrity beloved of her people and responsible for putting Baghdad on the map. However, her mad husband, King Shariar is so riddled with jealousy of his beautiful wife that he plots her abduction and murder. She is duly abducted and spirited away to the desert where her abductor will kill her. However, the people want her rescued and so King Shariar chooses the most incompetent rescuers he can find, two sailors who wrecked their boat and are stranded in Baghdad. To get the reward to fix their boat they offer to go off into the desert, find the Queen and return her to Baghdad. King Shariah gives them the wrong map, salty water and feisty camels and is satisfied he will never see them or Scheherazade again. However, against all odds, the sailors find her and overpower her abductor. They are about to return the Queen to Baghdad and collect the reward that will pay for repairs on their boat when Scheherazade informs them she will not go back. I won’t tell you how it ends but let’s just say, happily.
Peter: How can readers learn more about you and your work?
Also, in development is a film and ballet of Catch the Moon, Mary. The music for both is being composed by the stunning composer, Tish Tindall.
Peter: Wendy, I appreciate you taking the time for this interview. If there are other snippets of information you wish to provide, please feel free. I would like to congratulate you on this wonderful book and I wish you massive success for the future.
Wendy: Thank you so much for your support and the marvellous 5 Star review and for giving me the chance to speak in this interview.