Tag Archives: celebrating pagan fiction

Book Release: A Fading Amaranth by Shauna Aura Knight

To make this clear: This is not my book that’s being released. Shauna’s new novel, A Fading Amaranth, is out in e-book with a print release to follow. I haven’t even actually read the book yet — but I have read portions of it, and I have read her other fiction, and I am so excited about this I cant stand it. I have a small number of obligatory reads to get through first, but this baby has mode to the top of my list once that’s done because, you know, vampires. *rubs hands gleefully*


From the blurb: Nathaniel’s been a vampire long enough to grow weary of glamoured seduction, and he’s lost his poetic muse. He meets reclusive artist Alexandra—her telepathy has overwhelmed her for years, and she can bear no one’s touch. However, she can’t hear Nathaniel’s thoughts, and she’s immune to his vampire glamour. During scorching nights together, they rediscover their passion for life.

When a Faerie creature stalks Alexandra, the lovers find themselves snared in a paranormal battle alongside Chicago’s mage guardians. Worse, Nathan’s rising bloodlust places Alexandra in danger. Will she master her abilities before going insane? What will they risk to be together?


Look, if you haven’t checked out Shauna’s fiction by now (what’s wrong with you?) that’s okay, you can fix that. As an author, her world building is detailed, lush, believable, and fits the stories she’s telling. I love when writers manage to make the world around as much a player in the story as the characters are. Alexandra and Nathan are interesting, intriguing people, and I love seeing them interacting together . .. and, you know, ‘interacting’ together. Because, be advised, Shauna’s stories run hot, if you know what I’m sayin’. I am so looking forward to diving into this book!

An Interview with C.S. McCath — Celebrating Pagan Fiction series

For the next installment of our Celebrating Pagan Fiction series, I’m extremely excited to share my interview with C.S. McCath. I discovered her work when I read her contribution in The Shining Cities (an awesome anthology with amazing stories and the seed that sprouted the Celebrating series). I purchased her collection The Ruin of Beltany Ring and was so very happy that I did so. (Ah the instant gratification of e-books!) Her power with words, with imagery, her skill at taking your heart and manipulating it with such stories — how strange, to adore having our hearts played with, but she does so with such a deft hand. A brilliant author to have discovered, and I’m honored that she’s taken time to answer some questions for this interview. Enjoy!


What is your pagan tradition/path?

beltanyringI’m a gnostic Druid with a Buddhist practice, which is to say that I revere the natural world and value the internal spiritual process. Of note, I’m a Druid member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, and I live in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where there is a strong Buddhist presence (Gampo Abbey is located here, in Pleasant Bay). Because I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, rigid belief systems make me uncomfortable no matter what their origins might be, so I’ve never been able to embrace any branch of Paganism with a well-defined religious structure. I’m also less ritual-focused than I used to be and prefer to express my spirituality in meditation, wildlife rescue and vegan advocacy.

How does your particular paganism or spiritual path influence your writing?

I don’t set out to include elements of my present spiritual path in my fiction and poetry, so my work isn’t necessarily Druidry or Buddhism-focused. However, I have and do include Pagan themes in my writing overall; from religious ideologies to ritual to lifestyle choices, but this is more an artifact of my twenty-eight years in Paganism and the world-view it continues to shape in me.

Having said this, I think it’s important that readers be exposed to Pagan themes in fiction and poetry. Paganism is a minority religion, and there are so many prevalent misconceptions about who we are and what we believe. If all we offer the world by way of explanation are historical and instructional materials, then we don’t give non-Pagans the opportunity to identify with us as protagonists, antagonists and supporting characters in the human story. So whether ‘Pagan fiction’ is a genre or a means of identifying certain motifs in storytelling of all kinds, I support its growth wholeheartedly.

Was it a conscious decision on your part to write about pagan topics or was it a natural outgrowth of ‘writing what you know’?

It was both. Because my world-view is Pagan, I’ve written what I know quite a bit. However, I’ve also written for Pagan audiences because I thought my work might find a welcome there. I’m really happy to find that it has!

Do you view your fiction as religious fiction, in that it has either a didactic or an inspirational purpose?

Inasmuch as storytelling teaches us how to be human, I write fiction with a didactic or inspirational message. However, I think there is a subtle, but important difference between the work of a bard and the work of a religious fiction writer. The bard’s voice is an outgrowth of her place in a community, which means that she speaks for her people in praise, satire, hero tales, object lessons and the like, and her underlying message is always ‘this is who we are’. The mainstream religious fiction writer speaks to her people, which is why so much work in that genre is didactic or inspirational. It serves much the same function a sermon does, and its underlying message is ‘this is how you should or should not behave’. At the root of these two kinds of storytellers are the kinds of communities they work in; tribal and accountable to one another vs. individual and accountable to God. I hope we live in the former sort of community, and so I try to write as if we do.

There is an abundance of pagan-friendly stories on the market these days, especially with the gaining popularity and ease of independent publishing. Do you find there is a difference between material written by pagans about pagan or pagan-friendly stories and material written by non-pagans about pagans or pagan-friendly stories?

I think people who write self-consciously Pagan fiction are more careful about appropriate representation of the faith. I also think they take the elements of Paganism seriously; Gods, practices, community and so forth. Conversely, people who simply use Pagan tropes to tell a story are often riding the popularity wave of paranormal storytelling and either don’t know how or don’t care to be respectful to Pagans and Paganism. That’s why I really appreciated Deborah Blake’s “Witchcraft for the Paranormal Author” series of online workshops. Sadly, they aren’t running any longer, but they were a great service to non-Pagan writers, I think.

Where do you hope to see the future of pagan fiction go?

I want for it to have an equal place among the other literate voices of the contemporary Pagan community and to serve a function apart from non-fiction writing, blogging and the like. I want for it to freely describe, envision, praise and critique us with the tools unique to storytelling so that we can come to better understand ourselves by seeing through one anothers’ eyes.

Who are your favorite pagan fiction authors and/or what are the titles of some of your favorite pagan fiction works?

I’d rather point you in the direction of a brilliant, online resource for Pagan fiction, Eternal Haunted Summer. Rebecca Buchanan has been a tireless supporter of Pagan storytelling for many years, and EHS is a well-curated journal. Go explore the archives. You won’t be sorry.

[I can only heartily concur with that! Rebecca is providing us with a wonderful resource, and you should definitely take advantage of that!]

Lastly, tell us where we can find more about you and your available work?

I have a short story entitled, “N Is for Nanomachine” forthcoming in Rhonda Parrish’s A Is for Apocalypse anthology, and you can explore my other published work by visiting my web site at csmaccath.com. I’m also blogging for PaganSquare.

Interview with Darragha Foster — Celebrate Pagan Fiction series

I’ve “known” Darragha online for a spell (hah! I’m so clever!) and I’d known for most of that time that she wrote, and wrote pagan fiction. In fact, she’s one of the people I had in mind when I started this series — because her writing is damned good. It’s a bit embarrassing that I have, at this point, only read her With Intent release. So many stories to read, so many stories to write, still haven’t figured out how to re-arrange time to my liking!

Please enjoy this next installment of our Celebrating Pagan Fiction series, and thanks again, Darragha, for taking the time to answer these questions.

What is your pagan tradition/path?

DF_TTIH1_WithIntent (1)I was Northern Trad before I even knew it had a name. At age 10 my walls plastered with posters and art of the Norse gods. I devoured everything I could find on the subject. I took two years of private lessons in Icelandic during high school and made my first (solo) trek to Iceland in 1979. There, my life changed forever when Odin rolled up at the national museum (see FATE Magazine, January 2001) 🙂 The basis for my first published novel, “Love’s Second Sight,” occurred shortly after my Odinic blessing when I was pulled into an astral adventure after falling asleep on a church lawn beneath a statue of Leif Eiriksson. Twenty-plus years of research and a return trip to Iceland solidified my path as an Aesir-loving author. That said, I have been a practicing Buddhist for 30 years with the SGI-USA.

How does your particular paganism or spiritual path influence your writing?

Loki made an appearance as my muse in 2003. I wrote that rather epic mall encounter/adventure into a fictional account in “Devil King of the Sixth Heaven” in the anthology “Teaching Old Gods New Tricks.” Knowing I had a muse, and knowing his name and his penchant for spicy fiction propelled me. I find allowing my muse to *inspire* me at his leisure makes for darn good stories. (I believe a Hail Loki would be appropriate here).

Was it a conscious decision on your part to write about pagan topics or was it a natural outgrowth of ‘writing what you know’?

I hadn’t really considered my writings pagan until it was pointed out to me. I write what I know, what I love and from my heart. I honor the gods with every click of the keyboard even if I’m writing about shapeshifting whale gods or demon cowboys.

Do you view your fiction as religious fiction, in that it has either a didactic or an inspirational purpose?

I hope my writings inspire others in some way, but my intent has never been so. I once had a reader email me and say, regarding “Love’s Second Sight,” that upon reading it aloud to each other, that it was the best foreplay they’d ever had. Nice! So, if that couple had a religious experience while reading one of my books, praise the gods.

There is an abundance of pagan-friendly stories on the market these days, especially with the gaining popularity and ease of independent publishing. Do you find there is a difference between material written by pagans about pagan or pagan-friendly stories and material written by non-pagans about pagans or pagan-friendly stories?

Nah, it’s all good. Like Loki has said (UPG alert), “The Marvel universe is totally off, but at least it keeps my name on people’s lips.”

Where do you hope to see the future of pagan fiction go?

I think pagan fiction is holding its own in a fickle industry. I’d like to see it marketed in broader categories so that more readers will pick it up and enjoy it.

Lastly, tell us where we can find more about your and your available work?

I write as Darragha Foster, Elspeth MacLean and El Mac.

I’m on Amazon.com under all three pen names and all over the place online as Darragha Foster and Elspeth MacLean. El Mac is my “man/man romance shorties” and they’re only on Amazon.com

My publishers are LSBooks.com and Forevermore Publishing.



Getting this up a bit late in the day — sorry about that! I’m still distracted by the snowstorm that’s got me housebound with mere inches on the ground.

An Interview with Shauna Aura Knight — Celebrating Pagan Fiction series

For this installment of Celebrate Pagan Fiction we’re talking with Shauna Aura Knight, whose story Werewolves in the Kitchen is part of Wild Shifters, an anthology released by Jupiter Gardens Press. Shauna has written both fiction and non-fiction, and while she admits to not having spent as much time on her fiction as she’d like to have (ah, what I wouldn’t give for enough hours in the day for all of the things that need doing!), I am certainly glad she’s found the time for it! Thanks, again, for joining us here, Shauna!


What is your pagan tradition/path?

I practice an ecstatic path. I sometimes use the term “shamanic” for the work that I do; the word shaman is problematic because it’s often misused. I use the word shaman in the anthropological sense to refer to my job. In this definition, what I mean is, the shaman, witch, or druid of the tribe was the one who was facilitating rituals, offering spiritual and clergy services. While I have a background in the Reclaiming tradition and I’ve done work with Diana’s Grove, I have worked to go deeper with some of the ecstatic trance techniques that tribal shamans are certainly fluent in—singing, dancing, drumming. In my case, I’m typically serving an urban, non-tribal community.

The types of rituals I facilitate are deep, transformative rituals that are participatory and cathartic. Ecstatic rituals that use intensive trance techniques to help each of us explore our own shadows, as well as work through what holds us back and get at what inspires us, help us to reach for the best in ourselves.

I’m not sure that’s a tradition but it’s the work that I do.

How does your particular paganism or spiritual path influence your writing?

I would say that the more I’ve learned about ecstatic trance techniques and the particular magic and math of sound, the more that has made its way into my writing. Beyond that, I very much believe in the power of our own hero’s journey, our grail quest, the pilgrimage and labyrinthine walk of our lives as we face challenges…I believe in the power of that journey to transform us. I believe that the darkest night can lead us to the very best in ourselves. I believe that each and every one of us can be a hero. That each of us has a deep divine within if we could just tap it, connect to it.

Heck, even some of my villains become heroes after walking that long, difficult road and making their mistakes and then learning from them. I believe that each of us can be the hero, that each of us can change the world, that we can transform to become more than we are.

My spiritual path is all about myth and the power of story. Ancient myths still have a hold over us, and our own stories and myths have power too. Many of my stories—like the rituals I facilitate—contain that moment of transformation, of deep revelation.

And some of my characters are deeply spiritual people, whatever their faith happens to be. Whenever they are in a moment of mystic, divine communion, there’s always a ghost of my own experiences with in that. Those moments have shaken me to my core, and they transform my characters as well. No one is ever quite the same after getting a glimpse of the divine, I think, even if it’s just a feather-tip touch.

Was it a conscious decision on your part to write about Pagan topics or was it a natural outgrowth of ‘writing what you know’?

Write what you know is always a factor. Or perhaps even, write what inspires you. I have Word documents full of hundreds of pages of epic fantasy and urban fantasy and I’ve created an entire religion for that world that is absolutely informed by my own spiritual path. I cannot wait to finish some of those stories! But they are big stories, and they seem to need a little more time to gel. Right now, most of my characters are Pagan or are at least, spiritual but not religious, in my romance and urban fantasy stories.

For the paranormal romance and urban fantasy stories, I admit it’s easiest to work with Pagan characters because when they end up with strange magical powers or dealing with vampires, Faeries, shapeshifters, archangels, and deities, they have at least some idea what’s going on instead of being totally freaked out.


In my story A Winter Knight’s Vigil, I actually was striving for something else—I wanted to write about what I’d call “realistically Pagan” characters. They’re modern Pagans out at a retreat in the woods. They engage in ecstatic ritual work, but there’s no visitations from gods or magical powers other than the cathartic work of their own magic, their own transformation, their own self-reflection. I wanted to offer what actual Pagans are doing out there on a spiritual retreat.

Do you view your fiction as religious fiction, in that it has either a didactic or an inspirational purpose?

I wouldn’t really call it religious fiction. Some of the stories do have a didactic or inspirational purpose, though, it’s always secondary to the characters and their story. All of my current and forthcoming stories have Pagan characters. A Winter Knight’s Vigil features a Pagan coven. I had two several intentions with the story. One is I wanted to show the experience of ecstatic ritual work in a realistic way that readers of any faith would be able to follow. And, if people actually get some experiential shadow work out of reading the story, that’s cool, but it’s not what it was primarily written for.

Another intention I wanted to explore that idea of small group dynamics, and how hard it is to get a small group together and work together without power struggles, gossip, and drama tearing the group apart. What happens when two people start dating within a close-knit community? What happens to a coven?

A final intention is that I wanted to explore some of the romance novel tropes around sex. I won’t spoil the story, but most romance novels—despite being written by women—feature sex where the heroine is able to just easily have an orgasm from whatever the hero is doing to her. And it’s not realistic. So I wanted to offer some really hot, erotic scenes that aren’t necessarily following those tropes. There’s lots of ways to have an orgasm, and the dominant culture puts a value on orgasm from intercourse, which causes shame for a lot of women who can’t do that. I plan to explore that further in future romance stories.

Werewolves in the Kitchen features Pagans living at a spiritual retreat center, though I never specifically go into anything overtly Pagan in that story since the story didn’t really call for it. I’d describe Ellie as an agnostic Pagan, with Jake and Kyle being more animistic.

I do have a couple of longer works that I’m finishing up. One deals with a woman, Angel, who is devoted to Aphrodite and she uses Middle-Eastern frame drumming and other trance techniques to deepen her connection to Aphrodite. Another deals with three brothers under a Faerie curse, and each of them finds their soul mate only to find they must complete several difficult tasks for the Faerie Queen. As it turns out, the three brothers are a Scorpio, a Sagittarius, and a Capricorn, and their One True Love is in many ways their opposite, across the astrological wheel from them; a Taurus, a Gemini, and a Cancer. Part of the magic of the story and woven into the tasks they must overcome is each brother coming to terms with his own flaws, connected to the appropriate astrological sign. I don’t think anyone’s going to become a master astrologer from those three stories, but they might get some interesting insights.

There is an abundance of pagan-friendly stories on the market these days, especially with the gaining popularity and ease of independent publishing. Do you find there is a difference between material written by pagans about pagan or pagan-friendly stories and material written by non-pagans about pagans or pagan-friendly stories?

I do think there is a difference. I’ve read a number of stories—and for that matter, watched a lot of TV shows—that use the words Witch, Wiccan, Druid, Shaman…and these stories very often focus on someone who somehow mysteriously has magical powers, vs. someone who chose a particular spiritual path. Sometimes they’re written by someone who doesn’t understand Paganism, sometimes they are written by Pagans, and what it ultimately does is reinforce two different definitions of those words. Like Witch—does it mean, someone who chose a particular spiritual path, or does it mean someone who is whatever religion but just happens to have a mysterious magical power and the ability to cast hexes or spells. Those are two very different things, but the definitions get conflated, and both Pagans and non-Pagans do it. I think Pagans sometimes write magical powers the way they wish it happened; I know I’m certainly in that camp on occasion with some of my fiction.

Pagan fiction, on the other hand, tends to offer overly-described complicated rituals that perhaps have meaning for people initiated into that particular tradition. Or, tends to have a lot of hand waving or long diatribes about how “Witches aren’t bad, we’re just XYZ,” or go in depth about the burning times or other discrimination. I think these writers have their hearts in the right place, but there are skillful ways to write these things. Some authors do it better than others.

I think that the show Charmed articulates my frustration; they use the word Wiccan, but they are referring to three girls with magical powers, vs. a religion, and so they really misuse the word.

That being said, I think that the mysterious, the magical, and the fantastic will always have an allure and an appeal to fiction writers. My hope is that, over time, more writers will find a resource and ask questions so that they can use more accurate terms. I think that we—Pagans—have to live with the ambiguity of the words Witch, Druid, etc. meaning different things. In our own fiction, we can at least be clear whether we’re referring to someone’s spiritual path, or that they are a witch because they have magical powers. Those are two different things.

Where do you hope to see the future of pagan fiction go?

I hope to see Pagan fiction get better and more professional. A lot of the Pagan fiction that I’ve read needs better editing, stronger stories, stronger writing. Then again, that’s true of a lot of indie-published fiction. Though the advent of digital publishing and self publishing means that Pagans at last have a chance to get fiction published, but self publishing often means that writers put out work that isn’t as high quality as it could be. I’d like to see more Pagan writers striving for excellence.

I’d also like to see Pagan characters that are less…I don’t know how to put it. I dislike the word fluffy, but sometimes that’s what I see cropping up in Pagan fiction. There’s a stereotypical Pagan character I see in Pagan fiction who has long internal monologues or proceeds to lecture people in the story about Paganism and what it is or isn’t. Again, there are smoother ways to communicate that Pagans aren’t our stereotypes.

Who are your favorite pagan fiction authors and/or what are the titles of some of your favorite pagan fiction works?

You know, I don’t really have much of a list. I haven’t had the luxury of much fiction the past years for various reasons.

I used to love reading Mercedes Lackey, and it turns out that she’s Pagan, though I didn’t know that when I read her fiction. My favorite work of hers is her Vanyel trilogy, which is a fantasy series, but I liked her Urban Fantasy featuring the Pagan character Diana Tregarde. I also like the early Anita Blake stories by Laurell K. Hamilton, who came out as Pagan.

I’ve been looking forward to getting exposed to more Pagan fiction authors out there, so I’m really glad to see these spotlights on your blog so I can keep an eye out for Pagan authors I might want to check out.

Lastly, tell us where we can find more about your and your available work?

http://www.shaunaauraknight.com is my main web site and you can find links and excerpts to all my books, fiction and nonfiction, there.

I have a Facebook page and blog geared toward my fiction writing, https://shaunaknightauthorartist.wordpress.com

If you’re interested in my Pagan leadership and community building writing and work, here’s my Facebook and blog for those:

Speaking of Erzabet Bishop . . . .(a review)

I was torn.

It’s December. December is a time when my ability to do much more than sleep and work goes out the window. I read fiction exclusively during December, if I read at all, because the brain power cannot handle much more than that. Tell me all the story, please don’t make me have to work at any of it. That sort of thing.

I long ago set aside any and all genre-specific snobbery. I will read anything. Anything at all, because I want the story. I want to be touched. I want to be moved. I want to connect — to the human condition, to other people, to fictional people, to great big experiences, to the small experiences, to different people at different times. I want to experience situations I might never otherwise experience, and I want to go places I’ll never likely get to in life. I will read any genre. I will read any age group. I will still read picture books. (Especially when they involve the work of either Charles De Lint or Charles Vess. Just saying).

So, I unabashedly read romance, and I unabashedly read erotica. I have preferences, of course. Just like anyone else, there are types of stories I prefer over others, and in the interest of full disclosure I’ll admit that erotica is not high on my go-to list. I enjoy explicit sex scene as much as the next person; it’s generally the story-to-sex content ratio that I dislike within the erotica genre.

However, Erzabet Bishop’s Erotic Pagan series came highly recommended. And, really, didn’t I want to be supporting pagan fiction, and pagan fiction writers, with not only my mouth but also my money? And, truly, could I not skip a few sodas and buy some reading material instead? Maybe a short story format would level the ratio to a more Jolene-approved balance.

BELTANE FIRES by Erzabet Bishop
So, I purchased Beltane Fires, the first of the Erotic Pagan series, and if there was ever a story to get me hooked into this series, this was it. Take one pagan woman, add Beltane, a bonfire, and a not-exactly-human deity into the mix, and I’m pretty satisfied before the sex even begins. These are my favorite stories to read, and to write: humanity brushing up against The Other. Magic and wonder alive and raw in our midst.

I, er. Tried. Really. To space out the rest of them. They’re short, you see. And there’s only three of them thus far. And I have all these other books out from the library still, and this other book i’m supposed to be reading for a review in a few months, and work is busy, and other things to be doing, and it’s Yule still, and . . .

But I bought the other two, during the week. A reward, you see. For having to deal with retail during the week before Christmas. Samhain Shadows and then Yuletide Temptation. Given how much I thoroughly adored the first of these, I was surprised that thus far, Samhain Shadows has been my favorite.

Bishops writing is fantastic. She reaches right in and touches you were it hurts. Her characters are fresh and alive, her dialogue flows naturally — or stumbles naturally, depending on the exchange. I’m so glad to have discovered her writing, and I hope that you will be, too!

Sanctuary Farm is out!

My new short story Sanctuary Farm is now out, along with the whole, awesomes Autumnal Issue of Eternal Haunted Summer. Once again, Rebecca has done a fabulous job at getting material out there for us, and to us, and you really out to hop over and take advantage of her hard work and generosity.

She also wrote a review for The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales, which has me squirming in my seat and blushing quite a bit. A helpful review, too — because the critiques address the fact that I need to not let things (like formatting tables of content for example) scare me into not doing them, and also reminds me that just because things are obvious to me, they may not be obvious to others. I’ll admit that I formatted the eBook before I actually read many eBooks, so eformat aesthetics were not something I had much experience with. (FQoSBaOT is going to be getting a revision in the future to fix those things, just not until I’m into an editoral phase. Right now, it’s all about Born of Flame, you understand).

I also want to push C.S. MacCath’s The Ruin of Beltany Ring, which is also reviewed in this issue. Read the review, but more importantly, go and buy a copy of the book. You won’t be disappointed.

An Interview with Rebecca Buchanan (Celebrating Pagan Fiction)

Last week I presented an idea and, in return, I’ve gotten a fair amount of nibbles. Scheduling and interest will determine how frequent these posts are, but for now I’m happy that there is interest other than just mine own. I am also fairly thrilled that my first interviewee is none other than Rebecca Buchanan; her work and her obvious passion for storytelling was a big part of my wanting to create this series to showcase pagan fiction. Thank you, again, Rebecca, for taking the time to answer these question and to talk shop for a bit.


JD: What is your pagan tradition/path?

RB: I am Hellenistai, meaning Hellenic polytheist. I honor the Greek Gods and Goddesses. I consider myself a revivalist, rather than a reconstructionist, as I have adapted ancient practices to modern life. I also occasionally honor Deities outside the Greek pantheon, too, such as Isis and Anubis. And I have a strong interest in other traditions. I may focus on the Greek pantheon, but I find other Deities and mythologies *fascinating*.

JD: How does your particular paganism or spiritual path influence your writing?

RB: My spirituality has a *huge* influence on my writing. Actually, one could say that it is virtually the sole focus of my writing. My poetry is devotional in nature: I’ve written hymns and prayers to Deities as varied as Adonis, Bragi, Epona, Hapy, Ishtar, The Kathirat, Kuan Yin, Nemesis, Pomona, Rosmerta, Skadhi, and Zeus, to name a few (and *boy* are there a lot of Gods out there!).

It’s the same with my short fiction. While I write in a variety of genres and sub genres — fantasy, magical realism, horror, science fiction, et cetera — they almost all feature the Gods and Goddesses in some way. The Deities may appear in person, or influence events from behind the scenes, or the story may focus on a devotee.

And, yes, I am currently working on a novel, when I have the time. 🙂 It’s an alternate history romance, set in an alternate San Francisco which started as an Athenian colony. There is a gigantic statue/temple of Athena on the island we know as Alcatraz. And lost treasure. And shapeshifters. And the Romans are coming!

JD: Was it a conscious decision on your part to write about pagan topics or was it a natural outgrowth of ‘writing what you know’?

RB: Hhmmm. A bit of both. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Even as a child, my writing featured powerful, magical, numinous beings. My earliest tales were (very bad) Mary Sue fairy tales and myths, with thinly-disguised versions of myself as either the powerful fairy woman or Goddess, or the beautiful warrior princess who saves the day. *eyeroll*

Once I made the conscious shift to polytheism, my writing became much more deliberately focused on the Gods and Goddesses, their myths, and their ancient and modern devotees. It’s actually kind of hard for me to generate a story idea which does *not* center around one of those elements.

JD: Do you view your fiction as religious fiction, in that it has either a didactic or an inspirational purpose?

RB: It depends on the audience. 🙂 I hope that Pagan readers will find the stories both inspirational and entertaining; I hope they realize they are not alone in their devotions. As for non-Pagan readers … I seriously doubt my stories will suddenly inspire someone to begin honoring the Gods; rather, I hope they are entertained, and do not feel like they have wasted their time or been letdown.

JD: There is an abundance of pagan-friendly stories on the market these days, especially with the rising popularity and ease of independent publishing. Do you find there is a difference between material written by pagans about pagan or pagan-friendly stories and material written by non-pagans about pagans or pagan-friendly stories?

RB: Oh, definitely. In the overwhelming majority of cases, there is a noticeable difference in attitudes towards the Gods, polytheism, mythology, folklore, devotional practices, the environment, and even death in books written by Pagans versus those written by non-Pagans. Pagan authors come to the material with personal experience and a respectful awe of/belief in the Gods. That is reflected in the stories they tell. Most non-Pagan authors treat the Gods as characters, as tools to further the story the author wants to tell; and, too often, Pagan characters are just caricatures. It is also blatantly obvious when a non-Pagan author fails to do her/his homework, for instance, getting historical facts and myths wrong, misrepresenting the Gods, and so on. (Making the Deity associated with death or war the villain, for instance, is a big pet peeve of mine; it’s just lazy writing!)

I should qualify that statement by acknowledging that there are exceptions. It depends on the skill of the author — and sometimes the religious affiliation of the author is not entirely clear. MR Sellars, the author of the Rowan Gant mysteries, identifies as Pagan; Erynn Rowan Laurie, author of fireflies at absolute zero, is a Celtic Reconstructionist; H Jeremiah Lewis, author of Strange Spirits, is Hellenic; and Starhawk is part of the Reclaiming Tradition. On the other hand, I have no idea as to the spiritual affiliation of Kevin Hearne, the author of a great urban fantasy series The Iron Druid Chronicles; the same goes for Zoe Archer (The Blades of the Rose series), Kelley Armstrong (urban fantasy), Elaine Corvidae (fantasy and mystery), Seressia Glass (paranormal romance), Kylie Griffin (Goddess-oriented fantasy romance), or a host of other writers.

And … um … I should also add that just because a Pagan-friendly story is written by a Pagan does not make it *good*. I’ll take a tale rich with complex characters from a non-Pagan over a piece of drivel by a Pagan any day.

JD: Where do you hope to see the future of pagan fiction go?

RB: I want to see it grow, not just in quantity but also in quality. I want more, better stories. I want short stories, novellas, novels, anthologies, literary journals and poetry chapbooks. I want great stories by out-of-the-closet Pagan authors available not only through small press publishers, but also through the big time publishers. I want to be able to buy great Pagan stories directly from the authors at conventions and off their personal websites, but *also* find them on the shelves of libraries and mainstream bookstores.

JD: Who are your favorite pagan fiction authors and/or what are the titles of some of your favorite pagan fiction works?

RB: Oh, gosh, where to begin? When it comes to out-of-the-closet modern Pagan authors, I highly recommend

Andrew Gyll, author of Shadow Gods and Black Fire;
Galina Krasskova, who writes mostly nonfiction, but she has published some poetry pieces;
Erynn Rowan Laurie, especially fireflies at absolute zero;
H Jeremiah Lewis (aka Sannion), especially Echoes of Alexandria and Strange Spirits;
P Sufenas Virius Lupus’ anthology, The Phillupic Hymns
Lykeia’s poetry collection Hymns From the Temple;
Douglas A Rossman, especially his Theft of the Sun anthology;
Ruby Sara edited two terrific anthologies entitled Datura: An Anthology of Esoteric Poesis, and Mandragora: Further Explorations in Esoteric Poesis;
Starhawk, especially her children’s book, The Last Wild Witch.

Circle Magazine contains some great poetry and short fiction every issue, as do Parabola, Pentacle, and witches&pagans.

There are also a few Pagan-friendly works that I highly recommend:

Aphrodite’s Kiss by Julie Kenner;
The Artesia graphic novels by Mark Smylie, an epic fantasy series starring a witch warrior queen;
The Blades of the Rose by Zoe Archer, which is a great 19th century magical Tomb Raider-esque series;
The Children of Odin and The Golden Fleece by Padraic Colum and Willy Pogany;
Earth Mother by Ellen Jackson and Leo and Diane Dillon;
Greek Myths by Ann Turnbull and Sarah Young;
A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects by Catherynne M Valente, as well as her poetry collection Oracles;
Medusa Jones by Ross Collins;
Omens by Kelley Armstrong;
Rain on the Mountain and Tyrant Moon by Elaine Corvidae;
Seducing the Jackal by Seressia Glass;
The Tomb of Zeus by Barbara Cleverly.

JD: Lastly, tell us where we can find more about you and your available work?

RB: I blog semi regularly at BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature at PaganSquare. I edit Eternal Haunted Summer, a Pagan literary ezine. I am also editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the publishing arm of Neos Alexandria; most of my short stories and devotional poetry appear in those anthologies (I am particularly proud of “Alexander’s Heart” in The Shining Cities, and “Black Leopard” in Written in Wine). I’ve also published stories on Bards and Sages Quarterly, Cliterature, and Luna Station Quarterly. I keep an up to date list of my publications at Eternal Haunted Summer so check back regularly for — I hope! — new listings.