The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Cathy Farr

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Cathy Farr

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Summary: We loved Moon Chase and Moon Crossing and when author Cathy Farr popped into Bookbag Towers we asked her all about fellhounds, Thesk, and how she feels about being a writer.
Date: 22 April 2012
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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We loved Moon Chase and Moon Crossing and when author Cathy Farr popped into Bookbag Towers we asked her all about fellhounds, Thesk, and how she feels about being a writer.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Cathy Farr: When I was writing my first book, Moon Chase, I always imagined I was telling the story to a boy of about thirteen. But after going to so many bookshops to do signings, and so many schools, this image has changed completely – now when I write I see a sea of people of all different ages, literally from about 8 to 80. An elderly lady bought one of my books at a signing in Newport last summer and when I asked if it was for a grandchild she replied, "Good Lord, No. It’s for me!" She then told me she was 84 and liked nothing more than a good fantasy adventure.

  • BB: We loved reading about fellhounds, the huge wolfhounds that are an essential feature in your stories about Thesk. What inspired you to create them?

CF: I fell in love with Irish Wolfhounds when I was young but I had to wait a long time before I could get one myself. Finn, my wolfhound, is four now and he was the inspiration behind the hounds in the both books. It was by watching his personality develop from a puppy that I was able to really see how the fellhounds should be – although I must stress, he's a lot more laid back than the hounds in my stories, a gentle giant – he comes to all my school visits and signings and the children love him.

  • BB: Thesk is a wild world, full of commanding landscape. Is it based on anywhere you know?

CF: Yes, it's based on a few places actually. The wild landscape was drawn from time I spent in Scotland; I worked in Turnberry in Ayrshire for a few months and used to go up on the train from Cardiff. I just couldn't believe how big the scenery was – especially on the West coast where I was. Just before we had Finn I took my husband up there; we stayed in Inverness and explored the Highlands by train for a week. It was just as beautiful as I remembered it, so powerful. Lovage Hall, though, is much closer to home. I walk Finn through a beech wood nearly every day – it is so firmly embedded in the story for me that I really do expect to bump into Lady Elanor one day!

  • BB: Characters in the books refer to Wil as a seer, but really he is a seer-in-waiting. When he learns to control his abilities, how powerful is he going to become? We're dying to know!

CF: Well, I'm just formulating book three now, so we'll have to see!

  • BB: Where and how do you write?

CF: My husband converted our garage into an office for me when we moved here five years ago. Its lovely – peaceful apart from the birds – and the heated floor helps in the winter! Unless it's raining Finn Lies on the grass outside and comes in every now and then for a cuddle.

I try to write everyday when I'm working on a book, but I never work on the weekends. It's odd, it just doesn’t feel right. I take Finn for a walk in the morning and think about what I'm writing – I get my best ideas wlking Finn – then I come back have breakfast and review what I wrote the previous day and do some initial editing. In the afternoon I start writing from where I left off. So you could say it's two steps forward, one back every day. Sometimes I write 200 words, sometimes 2,000, it varies a lot.

  • BB: What is the best thing about being a writer?

CF: I don’t really like to plan too much as I always find it changes as the story develops. I love the way the stories evolve in my head; sometimes things happen on the page as I'm writing and the scene takes an unexpected turn. For example, there is a character in Moon Crossing called The Jackal – he didn't turn out at all how I'd planned. The best thing about writing stories is that I'm the first one to find out what happens in the end!

  • BB: And the worst?

CF: Having a 200 word day when the ideas just don't come – it feels like wading through treacle.

  • BB: What would be your Desert Island book?

CF: Wuthering Heights, without a doubt, I've read it so many times. I discovered it after the Kate Bush song came out in the 1970s. Before that I wasn't really a big reader, but that book just captured my imagination and from a few scenes in Moon Crossing, I think you'll agree, its stayed with me ever since.

  • BB: Which three books should every child read?

CF: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – I read it when I was 14; it's got it all, passion, cruelty, kindness, gothic darkness – a great story.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – it really made me think about how humans treat one another. The Hobbit – wizards, dragons, dwarves, adventure in spades – a great story that just gets the imagination buzzing.

  • BB: What's next for Cathy Farr?

CF: Well, I'm just starting the think about the third of the Thesk stories. At present it's lots of notes in my three notebooks (one in my handbag, one in my car and one in my office) plus a host of memos and texts on my phone from ideas I get when I'm out with Finn. The working title is Ghost Moon but I’m not making any promises that it won't change. In the meantime I'm experimenting with another genre; I'm writing a story about a lady called Madeleine Edwards. She's very selfish and self-centered and the story is called, It's all about ME. It's set in modern times and is aimed at a more adult reader. It's really fun to write and I'm really hoping that the end result will make people laugh. I've tested the first few chapters out already with a couple of people and now they're begging me for the rest! As long as I'm writing and people keep enjoying my books, I'll keep writing; it's what I've wanted to do all my life and I'm now getting the chance to do it. What's even better is that people really like what I'm writing.

  • BB:Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, Cathy! Very best wishes for the future amd we look forward to visiting Thesk again soon.

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