Twilight Times Feature
with Wendy M. Peterson
Interviewer: L. Quillen
1. Does your creativity express itself in ways other than writing?
Yes, I think so, very much. If you can believe the astrological profile of character types, being a Leo is to be creative. I spend ninety percent of every day writing, composing and messing around with digital art programs.
Because of having so much time to create, these last few years have been the happiest of my life. I left a full-time job five years ago even though I had no money and was in debt, because for so long I'd been unhappy doing boring nine-to-five jobs. It was a tremendous risk as I lived alone and had a large mortgage. But I'd often read that if you follow your dreams then the universe (or God) will support you. Amazingly, my financial situation never deteriorated that much; and I've always managed to pay bills while doing the creative work I enjoy.
2. Do you feel you were creative, even as a child?
Even though I'm intensively creative now, when I was young I had no creative outlet whatever. I grew up in a household where these things weren't really encouraged, so I remember watching a lot of TV and reading voraciously. People who could write or paint or play an instrument seemed Godlike to me, and I always assumed such things were beyond my reach. I was always a dreamer, though, and would have fantastic adventures in my imagination.
3. Could you share with the story behind the story? In other words, how did your writing lead you to your first novel?
My first novel (which I turned into a musical play but still have to complete the book version) came about because of my love for fairy lore. On-going and constant research of fairy mythology seemed to bring alive my creative urges when I was in my early twenties. For over a decade I wrote and rewrote this continually growing epic based around the mythology of Faerie - rather than the folk tales. However the novel, Magination: A Little People Magic, resembles a contemporary Arthurian saga in that it combines mystical Christianity with the magic of Faerie.
4. How did you prepare for the creation of your first novel? How much research was necessary?
In a round-about-way, I've researched The Tail of the Sea Witch for decades as it encompasses many areas of magical and new age thought that I've culled from a huge array of books borrowed or purchased from theosophical libraries and alternative book shops.
The idea for the storyline came to me powerfully and unlike any other I've written. One day I seem to 'hear' a little girl's voice in my imagination speaking the first paragraph for The Tail of the Sea Witch. I was so intrigued by her story, that I spent the next ten years persuing the rest of it. What unravelled was fascinating and sublime. I think it's the best story I've written so far.
5. What kind of reaction do people have to your writing?
I write in a new sub-genre of fantasy that I like to call 'glitter lit'. This style focuses on joy, beauty, colour and the magic of nature and the mysteries that sparkle from the edge of our reality. Conflict, the mundane, the violent and the evil are omitted. Personally, I'm sick of conflict in my real life, so why should I indulge in it in my imaginary one? And I believe the adage that what you focus upon and think about tends to manifest in your life.
When I tell people my aim is write stories without conflict and focusing on a kind of magic reality, they become sceptical even aggressive in their conviction that you can't have entertaining stories without some kind of conflict. However, my favourite stories as a child were Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree series which were mainly wish-fulfilment stories, yet containing some conflict that I always thought detracted from the rest of it. That's not to say my stories don't have moments of excitement or challenges to be met. They do, of course, but these are 'conflicts' of a kind that are uplifting, fun and energising; not nerve-wracking, depressing or distressing.
I guess I have a kind of 'paradise now' approach to story telling. I see it as no coincidence that with the increase in violent computer games and media entertainment has come an equally violent upswing in schools.
6. Do you find anything difficult in the writing process, and if so what?
When I want to create an other-wordly, yet believable and fully-rounded character, I always find this to be a huge challenge. So many fantasy stories are populated by elfin characters who behave exactly like human ones, the only difference being in their appearance. This, I don't think, is good enough. A character from another dimension or world should reveal these differences in almost everything they do and say and believe.
7. Do you currently have any writing projects?
I don't have time at the moment to start anything new as I'm busy promoting The Tail of the Sea Witch and preparing illustrations for my third story to be published by Twilight Times Books (April next year): Bewitched and Enchanted. While writing the story, I thought pityingly of the huge task I'd set for the illustrator, never imagining that it might be me. Once it's finished, though, it will be a visually stunning book.
8. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I want to thank the people who've contributed huge talents to the sea witch project: Ardy Scott who wove sheer magic with eleven full-color illustrations and has been so wonderful to work with; Art Elswick who composed and arranged the powerful music for CALLING OUT TO THE SEA AND ILLUSIONS; Bob Spear who composed and played the superb music for LULLABY; lastly, but in no way leastly, Lida, publisher of Twilight Times Books, who coordinated the project and had the faith and courage to be the first to take me on and saw it all through with amazing efficiency while enduring a never-ending serious of rewrites.
I'd also like to say to future readers that this project was done completely with you in mind, and my greatest wish is that it gives you some moments of rapture and inspiration.
Like the sea witch in Wendy's story, The Tail of the Sea Witch, she lives near a beautiful, deserted beach. Also, like the sea witch, when Wendy first moved to the small seaside resort, her neighbors speculated on whether she could be a witch. Not that she wore a black pointy hat or performed laps around the property on a broomstick; but she did live a reclusive life with just her menagerie of animals - including a charismatic goat called Jack - and she often wore an exotic array of clothing.
Is art imitating life? Again, just like the sea witch, Wendy isn't telling.
Wendy has been writing children's stories and musical plays for nearly twenty years. Her aim is to create stories and music that uplift the spirit, enchant the senses and inspire the mind by taking the reader beyond the limitations of mundane thinking into a more brilliant and exciting reality.
Visit Wendy's web site.
Read a poem by Wendy.