The Next Chapter

Why actor and comedian Mary Walsh decided to write a novel

Comedian-turned-author Mary Walsh on what inspired her to write Crying for the Moon, a coming-of-age story mixed with classic mystery elements.
Mary Walsh's debut novel follows a young woman coming of age in the late 1960s. (HarperCollins Canada/LimeLight Group)

Mary Walsh is an actor, comedian, author, and member of The Order of Canada. As a performer she is known for playing a range of wacky characters, but with her first novel, Crying for the Moon, she is creating characters in a different way. The book is one-part coming-of-age story and one-part murder mystery. Set in St. John's and Montreal during Expo 67, the novel is as dark and gritty, as it is comedic. 

Mary Walsh spoke with Shelagh Rogers about her debut novel and the importance of storytelling.  This interview originally aired on Sept. 11, 2017.

On what books mean to her 

"Books were always so important to me. They saved my life, I suppose. People always say, 'Oh, you use books as an escape,' but I never think of them as an escape. They are a portal, a doorway to lives that you're not living. I read a lot and I always wanted to be one of the people — one of those magical people — who opened all those doors for me."

On her choice to write a murder mystery

"There was a year where I was really sick, where I did nothing but read noir. They were so much a part of my life that I began thinking that way. So I decided, because I was in love with them at that time, to go down that road. It was a harder road than I knew that it was going to be. I want to to tell everything right at the top, and of course, that's not what a murder mystery is about."

On finding comedy in tragedy

"It just seems to me that life is like that. Sometimes in the darkness — at wakes and things, there's lots of laughter — and it just seems to me that there's a lot of comedy in the saddest thing, and a lot of sadness in the funniest thing." 

Mary Walsh's comments have been edited and condensed.