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Interview: T.M. Wallace, Author of Under a Fairy Moon

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T.M. Wallace began her writing career at the young age of eight when she won a short story contest and was published in a local newspaper. Ms. Wallace went on to write her first book at the age of 10, called “The Adventures of Pinkstar,” about a stuffed rabbit who magically comes to life.

Ms. Wallace later received her Master’s degree in English Literature from Carleton University and has a degree in Education from the University of Ottawa. Her first novel, Under A Fairy Moon was a quarter-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.  

T. M. Wallace resides in Whitby, Ontario, Canada with her husband and four children. Readers can learn more about Ms. Wallace by visiting her website.

Please tell us a bit about your book, Under a Fairy Moon, and what you hope readers take away from reading it.

Under A Fairy Moon is a fantasy novel for ages eleven and up. Young Addyson Marten moves next door to Mrs. Tavish, who is rumored to be a witch. Addy becomes obsessed with Mrs. Tavish’s beautiful garden and sets out to explore it: only to become trapped in a twisted fairy-tale world, where she must win a game of Fairy Chess against real fairy creatures in order to return home.

Though the novel seems like a simple fairy tale, there are much deeper lessons to be learned. This enchanted garden has some definite parallels to the garden of Eden, and the dark places in Mrs. Tavish’s garden reflect the dark places in Addy’s own soul. When Addy speaks to the stone sentries in the garden, they come to life and have some important news for her: Just as the stone chess-pieces are both light and dark, so there is both light and dark within Addy. To win the game of Fairy Chess, Addy will not only have to battle with the black chess-pieces, but also overcome the temptation to darkness within her own soul.

Who are your favorite characters in the story?

I have two favorite characters – Addy and a mischievous pixie named Enitua. Addy is both strong-willed and imaginative, and I can certainly relate to that. Enitua is just pure fun. Her tantrums and her general unpredictability made her a fun character to write, and I hope, to read about.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

I love the descriptions of the Garden, as though it were a living, breathing being – beautiful but malevolent. The descriptions give insight to Addy’s particular brand of imagination. Here’s one I particularly like:

“… Then the flywheel of panic slowed and she dropped to the ground, her breath returning. She stared at the Garden from its rich, cool underbelly.
The Garden stared back, and here it had many sets of eyes to see through, many pairs of white smooth hands reaching to pull her deeper into its wild heart. An army of giant stone forms stood in the clearing before her, some with arms outstretched as though to beckon her into their midst. The giant statues towered over Addy, their shadows monstrous pools of ink staining the rocky ground. Addy stared from one statue to the other, feeling a little faint. She was exactly where she had been yesterday when she had heard the ghostly voice.”

If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?

Enitua, my mischievous pixie, would be a delight to see on the big screen! I think that Helena Bonham Carter could do a marvelous job of portraying her particular brand of chaos. I would want an unknown to play Addy – a young girl who could aptly portray Addy’s innocence, yet someone strong-willed and deeply moved by imagination.

What are your favorite aspects of writing?

I write for the joy of it, the poetry. I write for the love of seeing the printed word on the page and for the whirlwind of sensitivity, welling up from my heart and soul, bubbling up onto the surface of my mind – creating its own weather. What is important, is the music of the writing, the marriage of thoughts and soul, marking my particular place in the universe.

Your least favorite aspects of writing?

Words will always be inadequate: I won’t always hit on the perfect word-images, convey the exact shade of blue or mood of my soul. That is what is painful. Also, writing is an act of violence. It tears open wounds in the consciousness, allows you to bleed your emotions. It can be as painful as it is beautiful – a kind of soul-labour.

Who are some of your favorite authors/books?

C. S. Lewis is my favourite author of all time. I would like to live in Narnia! I also enjoy Lucy Maud Montgomery, J. R. R. Tolkien, John Bellairs and Diana Wynne Jones. I think the best books are fantasy books. Fantasy is the language of the soul, it allows you to talk about great truths, like the war between good and evil, the power of the soul, or the nature of human beings and their Creator. Fantasy talks about real truth – only the truth is wearing different clothes, to give us new perspective.

What are you reading right now?

Right now I am reading Percy Jackson’s Sea of Monsters, as well as Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.

If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors — dead or alive — who would they be and what would you serve them?

I would invite C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, J. R. R. Tolkien, L. M. Montgomery and strangely, Philip Pullman. Philip Pullman is perhaps an odd choice – because he is a self-professed atheist and I am not. Yet, I think we could have some lively, thought-provoking discussions. I would have to serve a vast variety of foods – probably a buffet – to satisfy the surfeit of imagination in that one room!

What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?

The book I wish I could say I had written, is one that is not yet written … it is that great book that I have yet to write. It is the book that is still in me, taunting me. Every book I write, I wonder: is this the one? The one that says all that I have to say in the best, most vibrant prose? It never is. I will probably never write that book, for if I did, there would be nothing left in me to write!

What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Ghandi

These words are a challenge to the writer in me. A writer often writes the world the way he/she sees it. I would like to write it not as it is, but as it can be: full of beauty and goodness and innocence, even in the face of great evil.

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