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A Novel Journey - Kay Moon

A descendant of polygamous ancestors who, like the characters in his novel, fled to Mexico to escape the law’s retribution in the United States, Harold K. Moon himself knows a little of frontier conditions and expectations. His parents left Arizona, where he was born during the Great Depression, and settled in Idaho, where even modest housing with modern plumbing was an inaccessible luxury to the penniless newcomers. Years of industry on wind-swept Idaho farms eventually yielded minor relief from penury. An affinity for letters and a reasonable education changed his outlook and his circumstances. Following a period of service as a missionary in Argentina and several years in pursuit of university credentials, he spent more than forty years in academe, teaching Spanish and French at Syracuse University and Brigham Young University, with periods of residence in Europe and Mexico.

The father of nine children, he presently enjoys relief from university rigors and hopes to complete several writing projects and dandle his grandchildren on his knee as they visit him and his devoted wife (he has but one!) in Orem, Utah.

I was so delighted to interview Harold K. Moon, whom I know as "Kay." I think you'll enjoy him too!

What book or project is coming out or has come out that you'd like to tell about?

What can I say? I would like to tell about the three novels I have published, and even the volume of short stories I published several years ago. I suppose I would like to address most urgently my latest novel (current year), Horse Stone House.

Tell about your journey to publication . . .

I wrote the first piece I dared show anyone when I was in high school. Of course, I didn't publish it, or even try, but it occurred to me that publication had to be a possibility. While I was in college, I wrote several short stories and began my adventure with poetry, again without any attempt to publish. While I was still fighting the PhD wars, I wrote several papers, and finally got the courage to send a couple of them to professional journals, and they accepted them. That was quite pleasant. I published many professional articles after that, with pleasure, but with limited satisfaction. I finished the last PhD battle and accepted a position at BYU, and continued to publish articles, then took on a literary text book, which was accepted by Blaisdell Publishing Company, a division of . . . Was it Holt? Anyway, they sold out to Xerox College Publishing, who didn't stay long with the text-publishing business and sold out to John Wiley, and in the juggling from company to company, my book got short shrift. In the meantime, I wrote and published two books on Alejandro Casona, a famous Spanish playwright. I later wrote a text in Spanish with Peter Ashworth, and continued to publish articles. But I wanted to do my own novels, so I bootlegged time after hours and wrote a couple of novels, submitting one of them to the Utah Arts annual competition. It won first prize in the Young Adult division. I got the word over the phone, and I was stunned. I got over it, and thought surely it would be easy to publish that one. It wasn't. It was years before it found its way to bookstore shelves and public accessibility. The other novel became four novels by the time I got through revising. Two of the four are now in print.

Do you still experience self-doubt . . .

Of course. Don't you?

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

I don't know. I'm sure I'm still making them, though.

What's the best advice you've heard on writing/publication?

Keep on trying.

What's the worst piece of writing advice you've ever heard?

Frankly, I don't catalog that kind of advice, so I can't say.

What's something you wish you'd known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration . . .

Can't say. I just wish I had known more people in the field.

Is there a particularly difficult setback that you've gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

I got a provisional contract with a company I won't name, and the two editors I was working with gave me sterling reviews and great encouragement, but felt that I should revise parts of the work, and perhaps divide the rather sweeping, epic-like narrative into more than one novel (a good suggestion). At that point I was called to serve as bishop of a student ward and pretty much abandoned my writing efforts for a season, and both editors I had dealt with went to better pastures elsewhere, and by the time I was released and found time to take up pen again, I was forced to deal with new Pharaohs who knew not Joseph. I abandoned association with that company and started over.

What are a few of your favorite books?

Shakespeare's complete works, Cervantes—particularly the Quixote, Wallace Stegner's works, particularly Angle of Repose and All the Little Live Things, Jane Austen's novels, Miguel de Unamuno's works, particularly San Manuel Bueno, Mártir, Miguel Delibes's El Camino, Charles Dickens, etc.

What piece of writing have you done that you're particularly proud of and why?

I like them all. They are my brain-children. I cannot choose favorites.

Do you have a pet peeve . . .

No.

Take us through your process of writing a novel . . .

Well, I don't have much to say here. I write in long hand—I never could feel inspired with my fingers on a keyboard. Then as I transfer the hand-written material to the computer, I do my first and most extensive revision. I then do many more.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

Of course. I would like to make friends through the words I am able to put together—I would like an audience. My fondest hope is that my Mormon writing (which is what I do most of where fiction is concerned, and perhaps my fiction is exclusively Mormon in tone and content) will bring greater understanding for the faith I profess.

Was there ever a time in your career when you thought of quitting?

I don't think so. There are discouraging moments, though, aren't there?

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Favorite: Having finished a work. Least favorite: Not having it finished.

How much marketing/publicity do you do? Any advice in this area?

No advice. I'm not the one to consult in this regard. I do very little. I don't know how.

Have you received a particularly memorable reader response?

Yes. Those who read my books respond favorably, and most of them are knowledgeable and intelligent. Of course, when they talk to me about my books, they aren't likely to be too critical, are they?

And there ends the interview with Kay Moon. He really is a delightful man and author. You may purchase his books by clicking here.

A Novel Journey - Kay Moon A Novel Journey - Kay Moon Reviewed by Candace Salima on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 Rating: 5