Cathy Marie Buchanan Interview
August 25, 2009
the author of The Day the Falls Stood Still
It was great to have author Cathy Marie Buchanan visit the blog on August 25, 2009, to tell us more about The Day the Falls Stood Still, a love story set on the Canadian shore of Niagara Falls in 1915.
Growing up near Niagara Falls, did you find them as spiritually compelling as your characters do?
I once attended a wedding reception at Queen Victoria Park Restaurant, overlooking the falls, and was taken aback when the out-of-towners spontaneously stood up and applauded when the floodlights were turned on, lighting up the falls. My surprise, I think, came more from being unaccustomed to the reaction of people seeing Niagara Falls for the first time than from having grown immune to the magnificence of my own backyard. This moment came during my first years living away from Niagara Falls, the years when I first discovered it was possible to miss a river.
In The Day the Falls Stood Still Tom describes the Niagara River as "something that would cause a man walking by to stop, and maybe fill with wonder for a bit and be lifted up from the drudgery of his day." While I cannot claim to be as spiritually involved with the falls as my characters, I have absolutely felt the wonder Tom describes. I think it is the reason I wrote The Day the Falls Stood Still.
In your novel, Bess finds it difficult to believe or explain Tom's uncanny foreknowledge of events on the river. Do you find it easier to identify with Bess's disbelief or Tom's acceptance of the mysterious?
There was a time when I would have unequivocally sided with Bess, certain that rational explanations existed for all things mysterious. But as I approached the end of the first draft of The Day the Falls Stood Still, my much-loved father died. The depth of my grief was astounding to me, as was my inability to grasp the concept of mortality. My bewilderment found a home in Bess, and to make her real, I read books about faith, the loss of faith, and its emergence. And as read and wrote and pondered, I glimpsed something that could be called an acceptance of the mysterious as a possibility for me.
If you could go back in time and meet William "Red" Hill, the inspiration behind Tom Cole, what question would you ask him?
I'd like to ask Red Hill how he felt about ever more water from the Niagara River being diverted away from the falls for the massive hydroelectric development taking place in his lifetime. I expect that, like Tom, he would be dismayed. With progress very much in vogue, it would have been an unpopular opinion.
Cathy Marie Buchanan's article "Tales of Niagara Falls"
Review of The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
See listing for The Day the Falls Stood Still at Powell's Books
See listing for The Day the Falls Stood Still at Amazon.com
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