An interview with Fiona MacVie
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Peter Weisz (Pronounced – Wise). I am 56.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in the east end of London, England in 1961 and I grew up in an area called Saint John’s Wood, which borders the beautiful Regent’s Park in Central London.
Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e. your education, family life, etc.).
I was adopted as a 2-month-old baby into a wealthy Jewish family. I have one older sister, also adopted. My adoptive family was large, as my dad was the eldest of 10 brothers and sisters and I had a number of cousins, aunts, uncles etc. My parents provided well for me, but were very strict regarding etiquette and my behaviour. I remember family lunches, birthday parties, outings and nice holidays abroad. My father was a very religious Jew and I went to Jewish schools and spent many days each week accompanying my dad to the synagogue. It was not something I enjoyed. I was not the best of students although I did well in the subjects of music and English. I was very sporty, football, golf, cricket, athletics. School for me was punitive and boring. I met my birth family when I was 35, my real father was no longer alive, but I met my birth mother and 4 brothers and sisters who were all musical like myself, which was very intriguing. My adoptive mother is still alive, age 95, still living in London and I skype with her regularly. My birth mother died 3 years ago but after meeting her twice we did not keep in touch. I am however still in touch with my brothers and sisters through Facebook. By the age of 15, I was playing in bands and this became my career for 30 years, as a performer, producer, singer / songwriter, keyboardist and guitarist. I have done thousands of shows throughout Europe with various different bands over the years. I was married for 15 years, divorced in 2002 and I am now in a long-term relationship with my life partner Freda Roetjens. I emigrated from London to Cape Town in 2007. I have 2 sons, Gabriel and Jesse and a daughter Shayna, plus 3 grandchildren, Ava, Ari and Eden. I have always been an avid reader of all manner of mystical, transcendent, preternatural and arcane writings, both old and new. In my mid 30’s I began to study Psychology and Psychotherapy and qualified in 1997. I now practise full time in Cape Town, as well as still doing a few music shows here and there and concentrating on the writing and publication of this, my first book.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I have recently started a new music band called AIRTIGHT. After a 10-year period when I gave up performing I decided I wanted to do some more gigs before I got too old. I also busy myself helping and mentoring up and coming musical artists here in Cape town. I also still write songs and I have recently finished the composition of a major theatrical musical show called “LIFE”, which as it suggests, is the story of life from the beginning of the universe, throughout the ages and progressing into the future. It tells the story of the 2 main characters, who I have named Adam and Eve who take a magical journey from past to future where they intermingle with peoples throughout the ages and explain how differences need to be resolved in order for the world to become a place of peace. There are spirits, mystical and fantasy beings as well, with whom they interact. There is a full musical score comprising of 22 original songs with orchestral arrangements and a full dialogue filled with humour, romance, tragedy and mystery. It is a totally unique show, demanding a large cast and a variety of the most modern special effects. It is currently pending production in South Africa, The UK, America and Europe…. and if there is anyone out there who wants to hear more and has money to invest, I would be more than delighted to hear from them!
Obviously, writing this first book has taken up much of my time over the past few years, as there has been a lot of research involved and my work as a therapist also keeps me very busy. I see clients 10 or 12 times a week who have emotional or psychological issues and I have to say, that it is this work which brings me more fulfilment in life than anything else I do.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing poetry and songs when I was in my early teens, the content of which were mostly fantasy based. I would write nonsense and whimsical poetry and humorous musings inspired by Spike Milligan and Lewis Carroll and others of similar ilk. My first full book, THE UNIVERSAL MIND, is about consciousness and the nature of reality and I remember as a 15-year-old boy, chatting in the park next to our school with friends, about my ideas of time and space. I was very inquisitive and was by that age reading books by Carl Sagan, Eric Von Daniken and others with similar captivating subject matters. I began to delve into the world of philosophy and Eastern mystical teachings. I also became fascinated with the Dead Sea Scrolls and spiritualism. I would jot down my own thoughts, trying to make sense of the world and started to develop my own ideas as to its intrinsic nature and also the nature and true character of life.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have been made aware that until my first book is published, which will be happening this week, I am not actually considered as a writer…merely an aspiring writer. But I was top of my school classes in English language and literature and I had been writing many short stories, poems and songs, as mentioned above, since before I was a teenager. It was only when I convinced myself that I should write a full book about my ideas and beliefs concerning the nature of the self and the universe, at about age 50, that I realized I could be a writer. I started to believe in myself, my literary abilities and acquired knowledge and I committed to write a book and see to where and what it would lead.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I always loved to read. Comics as a child and then children’s books, notably those of Enid Blyton and as I grew older I read many books concerning the nature of life, the universe and everything by current authors such as Paul Davies, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Oliver Sacks, Eric Von Daniken, Neale Donald Walsh, M Scott Peck, Deepak Chopra, Paul Davies, David Icke, Christopher Hitchens, Gregg Braden and others, including a number of philosophical texts by Nietzsche, Kant, Berkeley, Spinoza, Hume, Russell, Descartes, Kahlil Gibran and so forth …… also books on psychology, Freud, Jung, Klein etc. plus a number of more ancient writings by Plato, Aristotle, Darwin, Rumi and other mystical and esoteric literature from times past, including some Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, all with differening viewpoints, plus a host of other books containing the thoughts and views of scientists and seekers, some which resonated well with me and some not. Plus, I had a fairly decent knowledge of ancient Jewish texts due to my religious upbringing, so I finally decided that I had every right to add my own personal views of life to the list of growing “new-age” and “spiritual” titles that were on the bookshelves of stores I regularly visited. I felt I had some very salient and erudite ideas and theories to put across. I wanted to turn my hobby into something more substantial. I did not want all the knowledge I had accumulated over the years to go to waste, as it were.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
At first, the book was called The Avatar, but after a couple of films then came out with the same title and the word became more popular in usage, particularly in computer games and simulations, I changed it to The Universal Mind, as I felt it was a good description of the contents
of the book and would entice people to find out what I meant by this phrase. It reflects my belief that consciousness pervades our universe and is not something produced by life forms alone, rather – consciousness came before life existed, from the pure potential before time itself and has manifested into what we perceive to be as the matter of our universe and ourselves. I felt that if I saw a book with that title, I would want to know more.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
This particular book has been challenging in the sense that the major chapter is written in a somewhat sagacious fashion, as if coming from a higher intelligence or spirit. It is written in a prophetic manner. I have tried to remove myself from myself, and look at human existence and the nature of our universe from a different perspective. Other than that, I do not find it difficult to write, but one needs new ideas – and inspiration, which does not always come when you want it to.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The book is based on my own personal views as to what life actually is and why we exist, which I have gathered through my reading and research on this subject. I believe that the book is very thought provoking and quite realistic in that it is a combination of scientific, spiritual and religious concepts which I have married together to enlighten the reader as to the workings of the mind and the universe. It is neither fact nor fiction. It is a book of concepts. It is based to a certain degree on events in my own life, as I have for as long as I can remember, been searching for answers as to the reason for our existence.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I travel in my mind.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I had an idea for a cover picture, and a friend found a picture online which was almost exactly what I had in mind so I bought the photo design from a website.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. Primarily that this universe is made up of nothing more than movement and vibration which have arisen from pure potential. Can it be, that this complex, living, breathing, sophisticated, opinionated, creative and conscious entity that we call human, is made up merely from a few invisible atoms of nothingness? We are not simply made from flesh and blood – we are beings of an infinity of dimensions, too vast to contemplate, but our brains and our senses are only able to perceive that which is rooted in matter, for that is the substance from which we believe we are made. I would like the readers to question their belief systems and be wary of how they treat and raise their children – to allow them, with guidance, to think for themselves, rather than teaching them what to think. To learn to be honest in words and deeds and accepting of others. To constantly question their motives in life and to seek serenity and fulfilment rather than money, power admiration or glory.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Presently, I very much enjoy works by Christopher Hitchens, as he is of great intellect and is not afraid to be outspoken concerning his beliefs, which are similar to mine. He is a true scholar and his books are riveting. He is not afraid of reproof and stands whole-heartedly by his opinions concerning religion and science. He has prodigious academic capacity and is able to forward his opinions with great lucidity. Also, Gregg Braden, who backs up his fascinating theories of the construct of our universe with scientific fact and his research, notions and ideas are all extremely interesting and exciting. Deepak Chopra too, has been an inspiration to me, as he is a qualified medical scientist with a religious eastern background and his books contain enthralling subject matter from both sides. His manner of writing is to attempt to put across his ideas concerning all things mystical and scientific to the layman and his viewpoints and thoughts are well explained and easily understood. He is indeed a great thinker.
REPORT THIS AD
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I have to say, that all my friends, on social media and in real life have been very supportive and encouraging. It would be difficult to name just one person outside of my family but my girlfriend Freda Roetjens, (who I refer to as my wife, as we have lived together for 13 years) has been the most supportive of all.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Partially, as I work as a therapist and musician as well.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Possibly. But I have thought about leaving things out so I can put them into my follow up book if the first one proves to be successful.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learnt that it is much more difficult to write a book that I am satisfied with than I thought it would be!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Don’t procrastinate. Write one sentence or one phrase at a time if need be. Make bullet points at any time, day or night.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
This world we live in is an illusion. Reality is not what it appears to be. The reasons for saying this are explained in my book. And stop being angry with each other!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I read more than one book at a time but at the moment I am enjoying “A Cabinet of Philosophical Curiosities” by Roy Sorensen.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I was a big fan of any kid’s comics as a young child. Also Dr. Seuss – “The Cat In The Hat”, plus all of Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” stories and also “Where The Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak. Alice in Wonderland too, by Lewis Carroll and “Peter Pan” by J. M. Barrie.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Sometimes I cry for no apparent reason, but generally I have no reason to cry as my life is peaceful and I am very content with things. Family Guy makes me laugh. South Park makes me laugh. English Wit and humour make me laugh and a large number of British comedians and laugh out loud comedy TV shows such as The Young Ones, The Alan Partridge series, Not the Nine O’clock News, Monty Python, Bottom, Little Britain, Blackadder, Fry and Laurie, Peep show, Mitchell and Webb, Red Dwarf, Father Ted, Black Books, Absolutely Fabulous, The I.T crowd, The Office, Extras, Miranda, Catherine Tate, Life’s Too Short, Mrs. Brown’s Boys, plus many more. John Cleese being at the top of my list of comedians. Parody and satire make me laugh.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Albert Einstein. Because as well as being a genius, he overcame great obstacles and religious persecution in his life and he was very sharp witted and funny.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Reading. I don’t really have time for other hobbies. My work as a therapist is very fulfilling and as a musician very good fun and now as a writer, very interesting. I don’t need hobbies.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Horrors, comedies, adult cartoons and CGI films, nature, history and scientific programs.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I am easy when it comes to food. I don’t eat much meat. I enjoy a home cooked meal with vegetables or pasta, I am fond of a good flavoursome cheese and I like my fizzy drinks, chocolates and crisps. Favourite colour – purple. Music – classical – Greig, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Mozart, Schubert, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, – or rock music – Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Elton John, Motorhead, Dire Straits, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Eric Clapton and similar.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Read and watch TV or you tube.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Remember friend as you pass by, As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so you will be, Prepare yourself to follow me.