Blog, For Readers, Q&A 8 months ago

#LoveOzYA Q&A with Mary Greenwood for MOONTIDE

Mary Greenwood won the 2022 Hawkeye Publishing Manuscript Development Prize, which led to her debut novel, Moontide, being published in 2023.

#LoveOzYA’s Dayna Smith caught up with Mary to find out more about the inspiration behind the book.


For those people who haven’t read it, what’s Moontide about?
Moontide is about a young woman, Fiadh, and her struggle to reclaim her humanity from the wolf that consumes her mind and body every night. In her pursuit of freedom and restoration, she meets Brenna and Túathal, who are seeking answers of their own. Their story is woven with parallels and dualities. Each of them was set on a path by the actions, mistakes and sins of those who went before them. At the centre of it all is the abandoned lighthouse, drawing them together and begging them to heed the past and make things right.

Where did the inspiration for the novel come from?
The initial inspiration came from a creative writing prompt I was given at school. Through that exercise, I met the character who would later become Fiadh, one of the main characters of Moontide. She was small, fragile and desperately alone. But she was also dangerous, forced to transform into a savage, mindless wolf. I was struck by that juxtaposition and wanted to explore it further.

Later, I was pondering the similarities and differences between werewolves and selkies in folklore. Both creatures transform from human to animal and vice versa. However, from the stories I had come across, werewolves are commonly depicted as not in control of their transformation and as dangerous to people, whereas selkies are in control of their transformation but at risk of being misused and mistreated by people. So I thought it would be interesting to write a story where both creatures met, interacted and learned from the other. I wasn’t sure what they’d learn until I was well in the middle of writing.

You won the 2022 Hawkeye Publishing Manuscript Development Prize. What impact did that have on the book’s development?
Winning the Manuscript Development Prize meant that my manuscript underwent professional structural, copy and line editing, which definitely fine-tuned my words. But on top of that, the judges’ feedback was very helpful in pointing out weak areas in my manuscript. The feedback I received gave me the opportunity to re-assess certain elements and figure out which scenes to rework to improve the story as a whole.

If you could shapeshift, would you choose to turn into a wolf or a seal? Or another type of animal?
To be honest, I probably wouldn’t pick either wolf or seal. But I think I’d like to change into a barn owl. They’re my favourite animal – so beautiful and ghostly.

What do you hope readers take away from the book?
There are a lot of themes in Moontide that I hope readers will ponder and enjoy parsing out. But mostly I hope readers feel like they’ve stepped through the pages into the wintery wild and joined Fiadh, Brenna and Túathal on their journey. It’s the characters that make the story, and I hope readers find friends in them as I have.

Any plans for a sequel?
Moontide was written as a standalone, but a few months after I’d stopped working on it, I realised there was more to explore. The characters had more to learn about themselves and their world. They had started to face some of their challenges, but I wanted to continue on that journey with them. So yes, I have the first inklings of plans for a sequel.

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