Reclusive writer and composer Mac Fallows first began pitching the idea of a musical book for teens and adults to music and book publishers in the late eighties. But without the technology to support his vision, he didn’t get far.
So instead, he set out to travel the world in search of new challenges . . . and 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 the way he 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.
Thank you for this interview, Mac. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I was born and raised in Canada. I first began pitching the idea of a musical novel to book publishers in the late eighties, but without the technology to support the product, I didn’t get far. So instead, I traveled the world looking for new ways to bring the concept to market. I 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 the way I 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.
I’ve been writing my whole life, though Wondertown is the first musical novel I’ve published.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
Wondertown is a full-length fantasy novel that includes twelve original songs—each one an extension of the story sung by the characters themselves- and seventeen illustrations from acclaimed illustrator, Emrah Elmasli.
The story centres around Neil Abbott, an undersized, introverted eleven-year old boy with the ability to tell about people by touching their possessions. He doesn’t fit in either at home or at school and rarely speaks to anyone, with the exception of his grandmother, who has a secret talent of her own.
One day, after a particularly difficult week, Neil asks his grandmother if she thinks he’s normal, and she responds by telling him the remarkable story of an unlikely hero, who long ago crossed the five parts of the world to free his only friend from a demon lord.
Filled with hidden meaning, vivid images, and songs that bring the characters to life, Wondertown is an unforgettable journey to a place inside each of us few of us dare to go.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I didn’t really intend to write an allegorical fantasy, but as soon as the story came to me, it was pretty clear what the genre was.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
Leaving space for the songs and not going too deep in any one aspect of the story.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
Self-published. As far as I know, no traditional house has published a musical fantasy yet.
Was it the right choice for you?
So far, so good!
How are you promoting your book thus far?
I’m promoting in the usual manner- social media, book blogs, reviews- though I’m also working with school boards to get Wondertown into their curriculum. Many schools are looking for unique content for their tablet-based programs and Wondertown is a perfect fit.
How is that going for you?
Working with the school boards is a slow process. Ask me in a few months.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
Reaching out to people I knew was a great way to get things kicked off and to move a few hundred copies out of the gate.
Do you have another job besides writing?
Yes. I hold an executive position in one of Canada’s largest media companies.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
What’s next for you?
I have a lot of material I’ve recorded over the years in different countries that’s never been released in North America, so I’m going to work at getting it all online. I’m also working on the follow-up to Wondertown, Silas and Josephine.
Thank you for this interview, Mac. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Sure. You can find me at www.wondertownproject.com
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