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Clara makes her literary mark with debut novel

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The whole nine yards: Clara Fay and her novel, Mark of A Crescent Moon (Photograph supplied)

Clara Fay has published her first novel, Mark of a Crescent Moon.

It took almost five years to complete; the idea came as she neared the end of her 30-year career with Bacardi Limited and pondered her retirement options. “I've always wanted to write.

“In school, I was actually quite good at it. But in the late ‘70s it's not something that was talked about – how to make a career out of writing. So I went into accounting.”

A course in journalism offered at the Bermuda College in conjunction with The Royal Gazette in 2008 gave her the opportunity to “leverage [her] writing skills”.

Ms Fay followed that up with a freelance writing certification course through which she discovered a person “looking for someone to write books about Bermuda”.

It’s how she came to author Greater Than A Tourist – Bermuda: 50 Travel Tips From a Local and 50 Things to Know About Birds in Bermuda: Birding in a Sub-Tropical Paradise.

Meanwhile, Bacardi recognised Ms Fay’s “writing abilities and creative skills” and the spirit company’s annual global report ended up in her lap.

“I did that for 21 years,” she said. “That was the creative side [of the job], actually visualising how a beautiful book would look and be presented to shareholders with the story of the company, the branch and whatnot, and then melding that with my skills as an accountant.

“It was one of my absolute favourite things to do.”

The whole nine yards: Clara Fay and her novel, Mark of A Crescent Moon (Photograph supplied)

About two years before retirement she decided it was time to turn her attention to fiction writing.

“I take my hat off to people who write books, because it's a process – and I had no idea. I come from an accounting background, and then I moved to corporate communications, but to actually put a book together and publish it, it's a lot. It's a whole different talent pool.”

On retiring she hired a coach and spent a year editing Mark of A Crescent Moon.

“She really taught me a lot about structure and protagonists – the whole nine yards,” said Ms Fay, who also appreciated the “amazing supportive communities out there for women writers” that she found online.

In particular she benefited from Alexa Bigwarfe’s “absolutely incredible” Women in Publishing Summit.

“She runs a school that is for women …[it covers] the whole field of writing books that are either traditionally published or indie published.

“She just gives you the guides to whichever route you'd like to take. It's all there at her school, it's all there at her summit.”

It helped her to transform Mark of A Crescent Moon into the version that is now on sale.

“Dancing between the modern world and 6th century Scotland, this riveting tale blends portal fantasy with an exploration of what it means to align with one’s true self,” a synopsis of the book reads.

“Returning to her home town in Nova Scotia after a bitter divorce, Fleur seeks to rebuild her lost self-confidence, and, more urgently, to discover the meaning of recurring dreams of a mysterious woman pleading for help.

“When a strange letter arrives from Scotland, Fleur's grandmother announces a connection between Fleur's dreams and a shadowy ancestry: generations of women said to suffer from an ancient curse.

“Fleur travels to Scotland to claim her disputed inheritance. There she stumbles upon a hidden portal of standing stones, and must race against time to unravel the mystery of the family curse.”

The idea came in part from her travels through Scotland’s Inner and Outer Hebrides.

“They’re the most incredible places and they just spoke to my soul. They have these beautiful standing stones – megalithic sites – and when you're standing in the middle, there’s an energy, they’re meant to be energy vortexes, and no one knows why they're there.”

In Portugal she was equally captivated by megalithic sites that predated the more “commercialised” Stonehenge by 2,000 years.

“Portugal seems to have really recognised what they have in terms of these treasures because they post the signposts on the highway but it's absolutely not commercialised – it could be in a farmer's field, this huge megalith.

“The first [one I saw was] 7,000 years old and it just blew my mind and I think that's kind of what influenced me to build a story around the energy of the megalithic sites.”

Although the book might appear to fall into the fantasy genre it is “more of a spiritual journey”, the author said. “We're all on a spiritual journey one way or the other. Whatever your spirit is, whether you call it God or not, just that source of energy that’s in your life.

“I've kind of been on this journey myself for the last 15, 20 years and I wanted to embed that into a story so that people who understand and are on that path will get it and people who aren't yet on that path will enjoy a fun story.

“So that's kind of where my head was at, just to try to give a story that might have a deeper meaning to people.”

Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese helped her through a difficult time in her life, Ms Fay is hopeful her book might do the same for someone else.

“Everyone goes through a difficult time [at some point],” she said. “When I went through my difficult time, it just spoke to me.

“It was something to hold on to when the world was throwing chaos around me. And so I just thought if there was one person out there that [my book] resonates with, then that'd be really cool.”

She has been “humbled” by the feedback she has received from reviewers of the book, none of whom are friends or family.

“I was just absolutely delighted to get something from official reviewers that was positive. It was just incredible, absolutely incredible.”

As such, the “transition” from finance to fiction has been “wonderful”.

“I have to say that I'm really excited and pleased with what I have done so far – before retiring and since retiring. It's been a fun journey.”

Mark of A Crescent Moon is available at Brown & Co, Bermuda Book Store and on Amazon.com

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Published April 24, 2023 at 7:50 am (Updated April 25, 2023 at 7:57 am)

Clara makes her literary mark with debut novel

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