Author Cathy Farr would certainly agree with the saying a dog is man’s best friend. Her Irish wolfhound, Finn, has been a constant companion for four years and also inspired her first novel Moon Chase.
In Cathy’s story the villagers of Thesk, a wild and dangerous fantasy land, rely on the protection of the Fell men and their hounds to defend them against the Wraithe Wolves. For Cathy, having Finn allowed her to picture this world and the personality of the hounds.
“People who know wolfhounds describe them as people, they always have a knowing expression,” said Cathy. “He watches me as though he’s trying to understand me.”
At nine foot long, Finn attracts plenty of attention during his walks with Cathy in Cosmeston Park, near their home in Dinas Powys. These trips provide exercise for Finn and inspiration for Cathy.
“When I get blocked and I haven’t got an idea I go to Cosmeston,”said Cathy. “There’s a bit at the back which is a bit barren and it’s great to get a feel of what the fells in Moon Chase might be like.
“If I go down to Cosmeston everybody wants to know about the book and about Finn. It’s really nice, I answer all their questions.”
Finn is also popular when Cathy visits local schools to talk about her book. Last month he accompanied Cathy to twenty different schools in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. During these visits Cathy shares her passion for writing and reading with pupils.
“When I go to schools I’m really glad to see how many children are aspiring to be writers,” she said. “The book is especially popular with young boys.
“It’s very fast and pacy, it includes bows and arrows and big horses running around. The story grabs them and they keep reading.
“I wasn’t very good at English, I wasn’t that widely read. But I used to pore over song lyrics. The first novel I read was Wuthering Heights and I only read it because of the song. Kate Bush inspired me to read, you never know what’s going to kick people into reading.”
Cathy’s second book, Moon Crossing, follows on from Moon Chase and will be published between May and July. To write this Cathy used a technique called free-writing, each chapter was written spontaneously as the story gained momentum and characters came to life.
“I just find it easier to go with the story,”said Cathy. “It comes out of my head when I’m writing it.
“There are bits in the book I didn’t know would happen until they happened. When I started Moon Crossing I had a specific idea of what the end was going to be. But when I got there I realised there were far more stories than I had intended. That scene is in the middle of the book now.”
This month Cathy received a draft front cover for Moon Crossing, which she is hoping will help to make her book stand out on the shelves.
“Moon Chase happens in the night-time so the cover is dark and black,” she said. “The second story is set in a big town. There’s a lot of fire and gold is mentioned, so the cover is orange and gold. It should jump out at you.
“I’ve left it open-ended again. I have the opportunity for a third book, but I don’t know if there will be any more. I didn’t think there was going to be a second book, so I don’t want to promise anything yet.”
Cathy has her own website which you can see by clicking here.
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