The Long Awaited Q & A with Mary Farr about her Literary Horse Noah Vail | HumorOutcasts

The Long Awaited Q & A with Mary Farr about her Literary Horse Noah Vail

July 15, 2014
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horse2In the past year, I have had the pleasure of working with and chatting with Mary Farr. I am a big fan of  Mary’s book Never Say Neigh; An Adventure in Fun, Funny and the Power of Yes, which is written by her wise and sage horse, Noah Vail. The book has won accolades on a national and regional level.  Even with the awards, some people seem confused about Noah Vail.  Sure, he has more than 129,000 Facebook likes, but still there is a shroud of mystery around this dapper horse, so we are going to try to demystify him.  Mary and Noah were kind enough to answer some questions for me.  For more detailed info on Mary Farr and Noah, please check out Mary’s author page at  HOPress-Shorehouse Books.

Never Say Neigh has reached such a diverse audience. Why do you think that is?

I believe it’s no accident that the character Noah Vail and the book Never Say Neigh appeal to a diverse, international audience. From Israel to Australia, and Brazil to the Netherlands, Noah’s fans seem to recognize his writing as a source of benevolence and humor. At the heart of their recognition is what I believe to be a human longing for peace and connection to one another. Today’s hugely successful modes of communication flood us with important information, but also inundate us with plenty of violence, unhappiness and fear. My goal, and Noah’s character serve as voices of compassion and healing in a clanging world of dis-ease.

 

While Noah is a horse with the ability to not only talk but write, you are careful to say he is not a children’s book character.  Why do you make that distinction?

Never Say Neigh is filled with child-friendly stories, though many of its messages are aimed at adults. For example, one chapter deals with the untimely death of a friend. It explores how we care for those we love, and how we say goodbye and support one another in our losses. This material came directly from my years as a hospital chaplain. Another chapter takes the concept of successand turns it on its head. Again, this grew out of listening to people struggle with some pretty unrewarding expectations of success. I’ve also watched these holistic approaches to healing deliver rich and sometimes unexpected rewards. Ultimately, the horse puts the information “out there” and lets the reader reflect on it. Noah just struck me as more accessible to readers than a chaplain chattering on about delicate matters.

 

What are the lessons that you hope to impart through Noah?

One lesson I hope to impart through Noah’s character is that civility and fairness really do matter. It makes no difference if the topic is dysfunctional government, unfettered greed, racial discrimination, or gun violence, as a method of solving disagreements. We become part of the solution only when we’re willing to stop talking long enough to listen to one another. I also hope that Noah’s character delivers the kind of humor that causes a reader to laugh out loud. I’m a firm believer in humor as a healing tool and have seen it brighten the day of many patients and hurting friends.

How has your long and established career in the healing and health field spurred your desire to create a character around your horse Noah?

Healing and health are comprised of so many facets. We typically think first of medicine and all the ways it can cure and mend the body and mind. Yet, there are countless other elements that contribute to healing. Creativity, freedom, joy, connection to others, faith, and humor – all these and more influence the quality of our lives and health. Using Noah as the storyteller, gives me a kind of childlike freedom to explore all these topics without feeling the need to act like a grownup. The horse is both honest and free from any human expectations of correctness.

Some people think that Noah is just a character but indeed he is a real horse.  Does Noah get upset when people confuse him as a fictional “person”?

Anybody who has grown up with cats, dogs and other pets can probably tell you about their favorite one. Maybe it was the Labrador retriever that smiled a toothy grin and watched TV, or, the cat that flushed the toilet. In my case, I have owned many horses through the years, and Noah Vail has been the most charming character of all. He loves to wear hats, he loves women (and mares), he has been known to pluck a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich out of an unsuspecting diner’s hand, and he’s a joy to work with. Noah was a natural for this new role as author, in part because he’s such fun. He also demonstrates a kind of horsey wisdom about people and often reminds me of how much I have yet to learn about life and living well.

Donna Cavanagh

Donna Cavanagh is founder of HumorOutcasts.com (HO) and the partner publishing company, HumorOutcasts Press which now includes the labels Shorehouse Books and Corner Office Books (HOPress-Shorehousebooks.com). As "den mother" to the more than 100 aspiring and accomplished writers, producers, comics and authors, Cavanagh's goal is to allow creativity to flow. She is a former journalist who made an unscheduled stop into humor more than 20 years ago. Her syndicated columns helped her gain a national audience when her work landed in the pages of First Magazine and USA Today. She teaches the how-to lessons of humor and publishing at conferences and workshops throughout the country including The Philadelphia Writers' Conference and Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. The author of four humor books, Cavanagh hopes her latest book, How to Write and Share Humor: Techniques to Tickle Funny Bones and Win Fans, will encourage writers not only to embrace their humor talents but show them off as well.

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