Left Isis
Right Isis

April 19th, 2024

My Tell Me Your Story guest for April is the remarkable Eva Moon , acclaimed author, humorist, songwriter, and internationally produced playwright, award winning, optioned screenwriter, and performer. She is a former blogger for the Huffington Post. Her plays and musicals have been staged across the US and UK, and her solo musical show, “The Mutant Diaries: Unzipping My Genes” is available streaming on Amazon. Her first novel, which follows the adventures of a grown-up human Pinocchio in fascist Europe between the world wars, was released in March 2023. Eva’s story of creating meaningful art from even the worst events of one’s life is beyond inspiring!

Eva Moon : Resilience After Trauma

People often ask (as any writer knows) where I get my ideas. If I’m feeling flip, I tell them I get the jumbo pack at Costco. But the truth is, I don’t consider myself a “writer” in the sense that I set out to have a career in writing or even that I particularly enjoy the process. I started as a musician and performer. I wrote to have material for the stage, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.

But when it comes to work I don’t perform – short stories, plays, screenplays, and novels – I consider myself more of a victim of them in the sense of the movie “Alien.” I have no choice but to write the stories that are chewing their way out of my chest.

This was certainly the case with my novel, “Pinocchio’s Guide to the End of the World” which came out last year. The book, which has won awards and critical acclaim, is a rollicking adventure, telling the story of what happened to Pinocchio after he became human and grew up. It’s set in the turmoil of Europe between the world wars, during the rise of fascism, and takes him on a wild journey with nothing less than the free will of humanity at stake. But it was something much smaller and more personal that drew me to him as a character.

Some years ago, I learned that I carry the BRCA1 genetic mutation, which gives me an 87% chance of breast cancer and a 55% chance of ovarian cancer. I made the wrenching decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy and total hysterectomy. Both surgeries happened within three months, while I was also helping to care for my mother who was dying of cancer from the same mutation. To say it was a difficult time is putting it mildly, but I survived and even found new purpose and appreciation of life’s precious fragility.

The first writing I did about my experience was a one-woman musical comedy called “The Mutant Diaries: Unzipping My Genes” which I have performed across the U.S. and in the U.K. I’ve raised money for cancer research and reached many women facing similar journeys with a message of hope and resilience. It’s currently available streaming on Amazon Video. At first, I didn’t want to write about it at all. I had such a different image of myself. I was a performer – a cabaret-style singer who flirted with audiences in cute sequined cocktail dresses and high heels. The last thing I wanted to be was a poster child for invasive medical procedures. But my good friend and mentor, Penny Orloff, encouraged me to write the show and she was right. It flooded out. In about a week or so I had most of the text and nine original songs. My first performance was for my mother in hospice just a few days before she died. Doing the show helped me over the worst of my transition, but I still had more gnawing at me, wanting to get out.

After Mutant Diaries, I wrote another play, “First You Jump” which tells the stories of five people facing life-altering decisions. They have no way of knowing which is the right choice, and no way of finding out later if they made the right one or not. Just like I will never know if I would have gotten breast cancer or not. Every choice we make means another choice forever closed to us.

And even after that, I was still haunted by trauma and the questions it raised about identity. I have 65 inches of scars. My body was so changed that I couldn’t resolve a disconnect between my inner and exterior selves. At times I couldn’t shake the feeling that this new, altered person was not the real me. That’s when I became fascinated with Pinocchio.

Here was a character who began life with one body and in a single stroke, was granted an entirely new one. We always assume it was happily ever after from there, but was it? I had first-hand knowledge that your former self lives on even when a new one has taken its place. Maybe Pinocchio felt Impostor Syndrome, aware that people saw him and assumed he was like them, but knowing inside that he wasn’t at all; that part of him would always be that wooden boy.

So, in the midst of his adventures in my novel, he is constantly searching for his true, authentic self and his place in the world. Writing about him helped me find my own peace with my various (and missing) parts. I think it’s also helped others connect with my work. We all change over time; we all have to constantly reassess how we fit in. If you’re lucky it happens slowly, bit by bit. Sometimes it happens all at once.

Now, I’m working on a new novel that started chewing its way out when my father died after years of dementia. It will explore how relationships with our parents change as we ourselves become older. And, like Pinocchio for my body image, I’ve once again turned to literature for inspiration. In this case, Don Quixote (but female and in the present day) is my companion along the road of discovery.

Perhaps one day I’ll be done with processing hard times, and I can get back to writing silly songs to entertain you with. Or perhaps even silly songs have things to teach us.


Check out Eva’s website at https://evamoon.net

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