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Interview

Readersvoice.com interviews Michael Hoeye about his writing and reading.

Michael Hoeye continues on what went into the mix to create watch-making mouse Hermux Tantamoq...

READERSVOICE: Do you write for a particular audience or just write what you enjoy?

MICHAEL HOEYE: A good question. I guess I do both. Mostly I write to come to terms with my imagination. I have a strong imagination. And that has not always a good thing. It has certainly not been easy to figure out what to do with it. I have spent of lot time trying to discover a place, a discipline or a process where my imagination can run its course without playing havoc with my life. I discovered Pinchester entirely by accident. An unexpected combination of letters in a word game spelled out “Hermux Tantamoq.” That odd name opened a door into a world that exists entirely in the realm of possibilities. There could be a mouse named Hermux. He could be a watchmaker. He could live in a city named Pinchester. And one day the door to his shop could open and an intriguing young mouse could walk in. She could be in trouble. The possibilities began to multiply. They spilled over into real life. Or at least real imaginary life. Or is it imaginary real life? For example: I could be a writer. I could write a book about Hermux. I could publish that book. There could be readers who might enjoy it. They could be adults or children. Maybe I could even write more books for them.

RV: What influences went into Time Stops for No Mouse?

MH: Content-wise Time Stops was influenced by my experiences of moving to New York City as a young, hopeful artist in the late 1970s and finding myself to be completely out of synch with the city. I was moving in slow motion and it took several years to begin to get up to speed. People were far more complicated than I was used to. They were more demanding. More devious. And often much more fun. Living in New York is definitely a contact sport. It took me a long time to get over the bruises and see the humor of it all.

Literature-wise there were several influences. I don’t think I have ever quite gotten over the first time I ever saw the film, The Maltese Falcon. I saw the film before I read the book which in this case is not such a bad thing to do because the film was inadvertently very true to the book. That is a great story in itself. But back to the movie. I had heard about it for years. But this was pre-VCR, so it wasn’t possible to just order up any movie you cared to see. You had to find it in a revival or catch it on late night TV and endure the cutting and the commercials. At that time I was living in Manhattan near a wonderful movie house called the Regency. One rainy Saturday afternoon I went there to see The Maltese Falcon. Could anything be more perfect? I don’t think so. I won’t ruin the ending for anyone who hasn’t seen or read it. Let us just say that when the lights came up, I was still so shocked by how

things had turned out that I had trouble finding my way out to the lobby. The sleight-of-hand about the falcon inspired the Linka character.

Stylistically I was influenced by Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I read that as a young teenager and was completely mesmerized by its sense of reality. The story is told through letters and journal entries. It has a moving point of view and a changing narrative voice. I thought it would be fun to build Time Stops with newspaper articles and ephemera like invitations and advertising. It was.

The last influence was one of spirit. I was reading Roald Dahl at the time. I love The Witches in particular. Then I read Boy, his autobiography. I was impressed by the liberties that Dahl had taken in transforming relatively mundane events from his life into outlandish tales. It was shortly after that that I wrote the first scene with Tucka Mertslin.

Tucka was inspired by many people but one of them was a next door neighbor of mine in Manhattan. She was a fascinating character. We weren’t exactly on friendly terms. When I wrote that scene I imagined that the true story of my relationship with my neighbor was like a trampoline. To get to the written story – a story that would fun for someone else to read – I had to bounce. Before I knew it, I was practically bouncing off the page. After that I had to learn to cool it down a little.

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