I am so excited today to share with you a recent interview I did with Author Moss Whelan who has written Gray Hawk Of Terrapin. It is one of the best interviews I’ve ever done. He has provided such insight into him as a person and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!
What drove you to write? Do you feel that anyone can be a writer?
I think anyone can become a writer, but there are a lot of people that don’t need to. I’ve been spending so much time around Fantasy writers that I’ll fall into conversations with people who act like they are meeting a unicorn. Which they kind of are, I suppose. But being driven to write is what it takes. You have got to have a story burning inside you that you want to communicate. And the weird thing is that it’s a public service. Writers provide the elixir vitae that people need. We need storytellers. I need storyteller. I’m a very unhappy person who has to go on a quest every day to rediscover the center of everything. That’s what drives me.
Along the same lines…..What qualities do you think a writer needs?
Hmm. I’ll straddle that fence. The writing game is easy. Anyone can crank out a book. You put it on the shelf, maybe in a notebook or printed out, and that’s it. The publishing game is a whole other game. You’ve got to be a rewriter. You’ve got to be willing to look at your story and say, “This is a block of stone that I’m going to carve into a statue.” That hurts. That makes you cry. You want it to be good, but it’s not–and it never is. It never can be. It’s a never ending quest for perfection. You go into the forest and face your dragon / ego. But that’s not all. You have to work with people. If you want it to be good, you have to listen to criticism. You have to say thank you for eviscerating me. May I have another? And one day, you wake up and you are bulletproof. On a good day.
What drew you to the Fantasy Genre.
It’s not a literary gender to me. It’s psychological paradise. It’s a state of mind that I get to return to. I get to talk with you and other people about the most important part of us. And, can I communicate what it’s like to get a free pass to Tolkien’s Faerie, to Return, and then then try to invite people into their own headspace. “Hey. This isn’t about you or me. This is about all of us. We can really get some work done here. We can ask the big questions. We can share this medicine inside.”
I find the idea of Inberl the green lion fascinating how do you come up with the idea of him?
Inberl grew in the telling. Initially he was planned as a mentor kind of character. The guise of green lion came from The Red Book by Carl Jung where it symbolizes the process of healing the psyche. The world of Terrapin is a reflection of the human mind, you can see it in the mandala-like layout of the map and the various city states of consciousness. By the end of the rewrites, when Prodigy Gold said, “Yes. We are going to tell this story,” the green lion had become connected to the world building and one of the powers of the world. Ultimately, Inberl is the personification of the state of One’o’Clock, one of the pieces of my own mind, and dearly loved.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
It was Tolkien. I read Wizard of Earthsea which was a love hate; it being like looking into a mirror. I had a bad childhood: illness, crime, poverty, abuse, and death. Narnia was verboten in the commune but I’d heard a recording of The Hobbit and read LoTR. It meshed with playing D&D with the other commun kids. In the mid 90’s I wrote fantasy as an intentional way to return to my experience of Middle Earth. I studied Beowulf in college because of him and then read “On Fairy Stories”. That galvanized everything for me: there was a way to Return. I went to Oxford to visit his grave and say thank you for that way back home. He’s my hero.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Yes. The E of P (The Enterer of Pictures) was the first book that I could say, “I love this, and I want to share this other people.” That was 25 years ago. My current agent said it had great setting, but that I should study Creative Writing for character. This is another case of listening to people. She was totally right. I knew she was right. So I got back into school, college, and studied. I held onto the The E of P as long as I could but it began to grow out of its shell. The world became Terrapin and the main character became Mool. But I’m cool with it: there is no Gray Hawk of Terrapin without The E of P.
What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The chapter that meant the most was the climax. In the end, there was so much hope there. During writing that scene, I was listening to Jim Henson singing “Rainbow Connection” and wanting to communicate that hope. What is most important? What is essential? Can I communicate that? Can I get that in a reader’s head and have them share that dream. I was just tweeting with a local speculative / gaming restaurant about inclusivity. Is there a way we can get kinder and cooler? Is there a way that we can put fear and hate aside? We’ve got a lot of work to get done in the next hundred years, and that chapter is me taking aim and addressing that issue.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to?
The one character that I need to return to is Azimyodi. My bright-browed center of everything is the axis mundi of Terrapin, the character around which the entire world spins. There’s a lot issues that I’m exploring there: self-esteem, individuation, transcendence. I ask questions like: “Why aren’t we talking about this void inside us? Why aren’t we addressing the cause of addiction? Why is there so much silence?” Why do we focus on the outside world when we could be looking within Imagination?
Is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Time travel as geography! I’d love to drive a car from one time to another. So, meet with dinosaur people in a prehistoric city, then drive over to a UFO city of machine people. I’d like to really smash that barrier and say, “It’s happening now. Let’s have a great time.”
Gray Hawk of Terrapin is a heart-wrenching Y/A fantasy by Moss Whelan that introduces Melanie (Mool) Fraser.
Ever since her father’s death, Mool has been talking with an imaginary green lion named Inberl. When Mool’s mysterious uncle gets sick, she and her mother take the train from Vancouver, Canada to the inner world of Terrapin, where Inberl is arrested because he’s looking for Gray Hawk. Springing into action, Mool sets out to rescue Inberl.
Mool’s know-it-all cousin, Olga, helps track down family friend Parshmander who might know how to save Inberl. They corner Parshmander at home, where they overhear mention of Gray Hawk, but the girls are captured and interrogated. Upon release, Mool feels success when she sees a secret map, finds a hidden bridge and crosses it with Olga. On the other side of the bridge, they find a secret city that keeps Terrapin at war.
Prepare yourself for a wrenching journey laced with evil, chronicling histories of cruelty, kidnapping, and false imprisonment in search of meaning and justice.
Moss Whelan (1968) born in Vancouver, British Columbia, is the Canadian author of Gray Hawk of Terrapin published on January the 12th, 2018. He is an English Literature Bachelor of Arts, a Creative Writing Associate, and possesses a Diploma in Writing for Film, Television, and Interactive Media. He is active in the online Fantasy community and teaches Creative Writing. His work depicts a return to transcendent self-esteem in contrast with world views that shape perceived reality. He received the President’s Award at Douglas College and the M. Sheila O’Connel Undergraduate Prize in Children’s Literature at Simon Fraser University. A survivor of PTSD, he hopes to be a voice for continued access to mental health.
Twitter: @moss_whelan @prodigygoldbks