Tag Archives: pagan fiction

Pagan Fiction

It might surprise you to know that there is enough Pagan fiction for it to seem sensible to talk in terms of genre. Over the years I’ve done a lot of work as an editor and book reviewer, and as I’m openly Pagan, these tales tend to find me. I think the genre is an interesting reflection of us as a community.

There are a lot of authors who are not Pagans, but who use Paganism as a way of getting the paranormal side of ‘paranormal romance’ sorted. I can’t say I have any great enthusiasm for this, it tends to be fluffy and not like anything that might happen in your actual life. There are a lot of Pagan authors too. Most are writing ebooks, because traditional print is insanely hard to get into. Romance and erotica are reliable sellers, so authors with a desire to get paid once in a while often gravitate there. The majority of Pagan fiction I’ve encountered, falls into the romance genre, with varying degrees of eroticism.

What makes a romance Pagan? Obviously one or more of the participants has to be an active and practicing Pagan for a start. It’s not unusual to make the Paganism central to the romance – lovers meet through social Pagan situations, their relationships are changed and challenged by rituals, spells, contact with the divine and so forth. Look around the Pagan community and you’ll see a lot of Pagan couples. It isn’t easy being in a relationship with someone who isn’t Pagan and doesn’t get your world view. Possible, mind, and plenty of people manage perfectly well.

From an author perspective, the tendency of Pagans to be a little bit outside the mainstream, a bit edgy, unconventional, sometimes marginalised – it’s good material, getting an interesting tale is that bit easier. People who have it too easy are no fun to write about. With the gothic hat on, the tension between magical insight and possible madness is an absolute gift.

Then there’s the reincarnation issue. The most popular theme in Pagan romance fiction, whether the author is Pagan or not, seems to be reincarnation. The couple were together in a former life. They are soul mates. Maybe they struggle to realise that at first. There will be some kind of barrier, it’s not a proper romance if you don’t have to suffer a bit along the way! There may be adversaries from past lives lurking about, eager to harm, or destroy them. The love affair may have some cosmological implications. It makes for a charming sort of story, even more romantic than regular romance, because this stuff is forever.

I got to thinking about this. Why is it that we don’t tell reincarnation stories about other kinds of relationship? If we do reincarnate and there are lessons carried on or people we keep having to engage with, there must be other stories. The person you killed last time around. The lover you feel all maternal about who was perhaps your child in a former life… there are so many ways to create messy, complex and interesting stories out of reincarnation, that I wonder why we’re so hooked on the tale of the eternal soul mates. Possibly because it’s more comfortable and easier to resolve.

From an authoring perspective, and as a reader, I much prefer stories that are complicated, messy, difficult to unravel, and where it’s not always clear what the right outcome would be. That doesn’t rule out romance, of course, it just rules out tidy romances. It led me to writing this – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FJ58GRA (short story, including love, death, paganism and enmity)

What kind of stories do we want to tell about ourselves? Do we want realistic Pagan fiction, or romanticised, fantasised versions? Do we want Paganism in all genres? How do we want people to see us? Would we welcome more realistic depictions from non-Pagans, or are the fantasies that we can shrug off as ‘not us’ actually more comfortable?

If you’d like to try Pagan murder mysteries, historically set, can I recommend you pick up ‘A Dangerous Place’, by Robin Herne, http://www.amazon.com/A-Dangerous-Place-ebook/dp/B00EPQ7Y40/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381128425&sr=1-1&keywords=dangerous+places+robin+herne which contains a full and rich depiction of human behaviour, and is splendid. It demonstrates that there is much more scope within Pagan fiction than the fantasy and romance end, which currently tends to dominate.

Hunting the Egret

One of the things I’ve been able to do as a consequence of having more internet and electricity, is look into a bit of self-publishing. I’ve written far more books and short stories than are currently available, and I thought it would be fun to put some of it out there. Ebook land is a shifting and unpredictable place, in which publishing houses come and go, so much of the work I have lying around has been published by someone at some point, and then reverted back to me as houses fell by the wayside. Not to imply that I am some kind of publishing kiss of death…

For the last few weeks, while clearing my head between drafts of the next Druid book, I’ve been working on revising Hunting the Egret, which previously went out into the world under my old name. This was the first book cover Tom ever did for me, so it was a bit of a nostalgia trip for me. However, Tom hadn’t had chance to read the story, so I tested it on him during the revision process. It’s a gothic love story, full of Pagan magic and messed up people. It comes from what I now think of as my messed up romance period. The basic premise that even the most weird and troubled person might be able to find a soul mate motivated me to write a great many stories, often for the erotica market. Many of them do not strike me as worth dusting off. However, having gone back to Hunting the Egret, there’s a lot of things going on in it about how the characters see the world.

I’ve managed to rework it so that it remains very much about the dynamics of power exchange in relationships, without being excessively adult. 50 Shades it most certainly isn’t, and there’s a kind of irony in toning down what could have been a BDSM erotica novel, now that sort of thing is really popular, to bring out the gothic lovestory aspect instead. When it was first published, BDSM erotica was niche and hardly discussed. Yeah, I’m clever like that.

However, I felt the original version was unbalanced, with too much time spent on the sex lives of the characters and not enough else explored in detail, so I’ve redressed that in a number of ways, and I feel better about it. I think when you’re putting content into a book in order to make it sell, you’re on a losing streak already, more often than not. I figure, the vast majority of books do not sell in the thousands anyway, so I might as well do the work I love, put that out and see if I can find a few people who like what I do. I’ll save the trying to do it for money for projects where someone offers to pay me upfront, because the rest is just gambling anyway. And who knows, maybe gothic romance with a dash of Paganism is poised to be the next big thing. I sincerely doubt it, but it would be a great deal of fun if that happened to be the case.

I’m going to blog a few excerpts and some wider reflections on the project over the coming days, but in the meantime if you are curious, Hunting the Egret is on kindle – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EKJCPY6 with a createspace version one day, and there is a print version over at Lulu – http://www.lulu.com/shop/nimue-brown/hunting-the-egret/paperback/product-21147485.html It could show up other places too, but there’s no knowing how long that might take.

I like feeling in control of my work some of the time, and I like how it feels to be sharing a story that really matters to me. Only when I came back to rework this tale did I realise how much it was about my own desire to find a soul mate, someone who would accept me as I am. That he created the cover for me, and I did not know that I had already found the person I needed, is a strange thing to look back at.

In regular fairy tales, beautiful princesses live happily ever after with the elegant prince of their choice. In my fairy stories, poverty stricken freaks with outlandish backgrounds and serious hang-ups manage to connect with each other and heal their wounds, and overcome their demons a bit. Looking across the table at the lovely man drawing on the far side of it, I know that kind of story is actually possible. Oddly ever after…

The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil

Yesterday’s interview with Jack Barrow leads me neatly to today’s pondering of his book, which I have read. I had no idea how much I wanted this book until it turned up, but it turns out that I’ve been craving this kind of thing for a long time. Our Mr Barrow is a magician, he knows his stuff, and thus when he sets out to write comedy magical fiction, he does so from a basis of understanding, and the results are kickass.

Most fiction writing about magic, occult people and Pagans comes from the outside, and it’s usually there to be a plot device, spice the story up or cover a plot hole or five. Often this depresses the hell out of me, especially in the paranormal romance genre.

The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil features four guys who I know I’ve met, somewhere along the way. The geeky, overweight, slightly intoxicated ones who might be totally ridiculous, or might, on the other hand, be all that stands between us and certain doom. This book is full of chaotic magic that is all about the power of your will and imagination, not at all about having the right coloured candle. The insights are so on the money, and so funny… I laughed out loud a lot.
Furthermore, this isn’t just excellent magical writing, its damn fine writing. Mr Barrow has a self conscious narratorial style (Not unlike Robert Rankin) and plays with the nature of fiction and reality in a seriously effective way. It is a clever, clever book. I rarely find a book that both surprises me and holds together, but this one does. Most of the time I had no idea where it was going, but it went there, and I followed along, alternately giggling and being impressed.

Now, The Hidden Masters have the potential to be a series, which would be splendid, to which end, lots of copies need to wing their way out into the world. The publisher, Twin Serpents, is not big. However, I’m a firm believer in small publishing, and in getting more good stuff out there. If you like Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Robert Rankin, if you like clever, knowing, very funny writing, and if you’ve been aching for the kind of magical realism that comes from inside the English magical tradition, this is your book. Seek it out now.