Mac Fallows, writer and composer, first began pitching the idea of a musical book for teens and adults to publishers in the late eighties. However he was unable to take his idea very far at that time without the technology to support his vision.
Instead, Mr. Fallows set out to travel the world in search of new challenges . . . as well as stories. He went on to write and produce over 100 songs in a dozen languages in places including Dakar, Mumbai, Prague, and Santiago, for singers including Youssou N’dour, Shankar Mahadevan, Pape and Cheikh, and Kavita Krishnamoorthy.
Along his journey, Mac Fallows lived with taxi drivers and their families, camped in farmers’ fields, butchered bulls, sold tea, raised chickens, translated travel contracts, worked as a session musician, a construction worker, a teacher, and toured the biggest festivals in Europe as a member of one of Africa’s most celebrated bands.
Wondertown is the first true musical story he’s published. It includes a full-length fantasy novel, 12 related songs and 17 illustrations.
If you had to describe your book in two sentences, what would they be?
Wondertown is an allegorical fantasy with 12 original songs embedded in the story, sung by the characters themselves. The story itself centres around Neil Abbott, an undersized, introverted 11-year old boy with the ability to know about people by touching their possessions.
Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your current work?
“He was already cast in the shadow of the grown-up he’d become, his expression wrought by his unwavering scrutiny of the world around him; he was the one his schoolmates would recognize in fifty years, the one whose mind was already free and whose features were already sharply defined, the sort of almost-twelve-year-old you didn’t touch unless he was deathly ill, falling backward off a roof, or asleep.”
What are five important things that you take into consideration while writing your story?
I think a lot about keeping my approach consistent and locking down the narrative voice; I’m constantly trying to identify where I’m writing irresponsibly. I try to keep the characters in character when they’re interacting with each other- that’s important, especially when there are songs. With a musical novel, you have to constantly think about how the song is going to play into the story. You really want to move the reader/listener when the song hits, and a lot of things have to be in place in order for that to happen.
Why should readers pick up your book?
It’s a completely new kind of reading experience. The book succeeds on its own, I think, as do the songs. But together, they take the reader to places regular books typically don’t. If you like fantasy novels, musicals or both, Wondertown is right up your alley.
What was the turning point when you realized you wanted to write and share your voice with the world?
I was pretty young. Songs came first, then stories. I always wanted to move people and once I realized that combining music and stories was a good way of doing so, that was it.
What genres do you prefer to read? Which do you enjoy writing in?
I like 20th-century American literature. Fantasy is probably the genre I most like to write in, though.
What five things would you have with you at all times if you had to be prepared to take a trip at the drop of a hat?
My wife, my two daughters, my credit card and my gri-gri, a good luck charm I picked up in Africa that’s supposed to keep me safe, according to the holy man who made it for me.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
Flight. Aside from the numerous benefits, I can’t imagine a more amazing feeling — except perhaps breathing under water, which would be a close second.
What footprint do you want to leave behind in this world?
I’m satisfied with the one (or two) I’ve created with my wife. Of course, if I could figure out the secret to population control, that would be even better.