- You’re a busy Creatress! How do you balance your time between managing and creating new material?
I make a lot of to-do lists! It’s honestly pretty hard to keep up with social media, my newsletter, and e-mails while also finding time to create blog posts, articles, artwork, and new books. I try to find a balanced approach. I want to stay accessible to my readers and fans – they deserve that much – but I also have to maintain my sanity. I limit my online time, which helps a lot. And I try to focus on just one thing at a time: Whatever I’m doing at the moment, whether it’s writing or art, I try to let that be the only thing I’m thinking about, so everything else just falls away.
- Where did your love of the ancient world come from?
I have to credit that, first and foremost, to the amazing librarians at the public library in the small town in Florida (USA) where I grew up. I didn’t get any real history in school until I was a teenager – I think that’s quite common. But from the very beginning, the librarians were happy to feed my desire for books about ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and so on. Something about those cultures just rang my chimes, and it still does.
- As a Magical Writer and Artist, how do you incorporate your own magical and spiritual practices into your work schedule?
I try to look at all the work I do as a kind of devotional to the divine, an active part of my spiritual life, and a creation of magic in the world. I don’t like to separate my spiritual life from the work I do; they intertwine together in ways that feed on each other. Obviously, when I’m writing books and articles about my spiritual practice or spellcraft, there’s an inherent magical and spiritual component there, and I often begin and end that kind of work with meditations and/or offerings. But even when I’m writing fiction, I do things like draw Tarot cards to help flesh out characters and tease out plot points. If you think about it, any act of creation – writing, art, music composition, dance – is a kind of magic.
- How would you describe your own kind of Witch Lit and what direction do you feel it’s heading?
Lately what I’ve been feeling is the connection between all the different areas in my life that I used to think were separate, all the books I’ve written (http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/books/). So the non-fiction spirituality books that I’ve written aren’t really in a totally different category from the novels, or even from The Minoan Tarot or The Minoan Coloring Book, for that matter. They all touch on the magic that underlies our existence, in one way or another. I’m heading more toward fiction these days than I have in the past, simply because that’s an easier way to express that magic in way that people enjoy.
- Are you happier storytelling or sharing your teaching and healing skills in non-fiction?
I enjoy both. It’s not so much that I’m happier doing one or the other, but that I think they have different applications, different circumstances where they’re the best choice or the best fit for the audience. Writers have long known that you can quietly slide “crazy” ideas out into the public mind in fiction a lot more easily than you can if you present them “straight up” in non-fiction form. And fiction lets us explore the imaginal realm so wonderfully. But non-fiction also gives us a handle on our world, whether it’s history or spiritual practice or health and wellness or other topics. I guess I’m a smorgasbord writer – I like a little of everything! LOL
- You are both traditionally and self-published; what led to these different ways of publishing and do you have a preference?
So when I finished my second novel, The Bed (http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/the-bed/), I went ahead and self-published it. My main reason was that the market for fiction is really tight and it’s hard to get a contract with a conventional publisher. Because I had already been through the process once, I felt confident I could do it again. Since then I’ve self-published another non-fiction book, Labrys and Horns (http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/labrys-and-horns/), and have put out a second edition of Ancient Spellcraft as well, with a self-published second edition of The Wiccan Wellness Book in the works for this autumn.
My experiences with my publishers have been largely positive, but the market has changed substantially since my first book in 2001. The economy is much tighter than it was then, and publishers simply don’t have the finances to be able to support authors as well as they used to, and that’s certainly not their fault. Since authors now have to do so much of the marketing themselves, even if they have a publisher, at this point I’m willing to put in the effort to self-publish since my royalties on each book are so much higher this way.
My first book, Ancient Spellcraft (http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/ancient-spellcraft/), was conventionally published, and that was due to my being friends with the wonderful Pagan writer Trish Telesco, who introduced me to the publisher, New Page Books. I did my second book, The Wiccan Wellness Book (http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/wiccan-wellness), with them as well. So when I was looking to release a book I’d written about Minoan spirituality, I sought out a publisher again (Moon Books this time, awesome people) and published Ariadne’s Thread (http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/ariadnes-thread/).
But in the meantime, between the second and third non-fiction books, I had written a novel, Jaguar Sky (http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/jaguar-sky/), inspired by a trip I took to Central America. I released it a chapter at a time on my blog, but then I got people asking if I could publish it in book format so they could have it all in one place. So I took a brave leap and self-published it in paperback and e-book form. The process turned out to be easier than I had expected.
- Who are your role models in the writing world and why?
I’d love to be able to write like a combination of Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams all rolled up into one – I love their take on the world, how they wiggle their way to the underlying truth via both darkness and light. But I find Neil Gaiman to be an especially good role model because he’s so honest about the human part of the process: how hard the work actually is, the struggle with imposter syndrome, the need to get your stories out there and bring them to life. There’s so much more to it than just sitting down at the computer and typing.
- With the knowledge and experience you’ve gained so far, what advice would you give to aspiring Witch Lit authors wanting to make a living from their writing?
The standard answer to that question is, “Don’t quit your day job.” I think a more nuanced answer is, it takes more effort and creativity to make a living from writing these days than it used to, so expect to put in a lot of time and effort. And don’t expect to be the next J.K. Rowling or Terry Pratchett. Few of us make it to that level of success. Really, it’s about the Magic Three – you have to be insistent, persistent, and consistent. Keep at it. Don’t quit. Keep writing, keep learning, and keep growing until you’ve gotten to where you want to go.
- What does your writing/ creative process look like? Are you fixed on routine or do you work in cycles?
I tend to be fairly goal-oriented and task-oriented, complete with a to-do list where I check off completed activities. Since my workload and the types of projects I do varies widely from week to week and month to month, I don’t have a set routine. Instead, I work from a prioritized list: What has a deadline? What do I need to finish before I can move on to the next step? That sort of thing. I do like to alternate practical, nuts-and-bolts activities like editing and formatting with more creative endeavors like writing and art. That way I don’t get stuck in a rut or end up with writer’s block.
- What have been the major life lessons/challenges which have influenced your work the most?
My first child, Anna, was severely disabled. The support of the local Pagan community during her short lifetime was a godsend, and helped me realize that I’m capable of far more than I usually give myself credit for. It was during those years that I wrote the first draft of Ariadne’s Thread and began writing fiction in a serious way. Being her mother taught me that I’m braver and stronger and far more patient than I thought I was, and those are invaluable traits to be able to recognize in yourself if you’re going to jump off the deep end into a writing career.
- What personal qualities do you think a Witch Lit author needs to have and why?
Imagination, obviously, and the ability to think outside the box, whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, poetry or songs. Our modern world doesn’t exactly encourage the kinds of ideas that Witch Lit authors play around with: magic, energy, the interconnectedness of all things even on an invisible level. I guess being a little headstrong doesn’t hurt, either, since if you’re writing Witch Lit, you’re definitely forging your own path!
- What do you have bubbling in the Cauldron at the moment and what is on the horizon?!
I’m in the middle of revising and updating The Wiccan Wellness Book for a second edition that will be released in late September. The new edition has fresh resources, spiffed-up rituals, and even brand new illustrations and cover. I’m also working on a historical novel set in Minoan Crete, focusing on a priestess who has to contend with the changes that happened at the end of Minoan civilization. I can’t say when it will be done, but the first draft is well on its way.
- If you could spend an hour with anyone (alive or dead) you hadn’t met before…who would it be and what would you ask them?Just at the moment, I’m wishing I could have a conversation with Vandana Shiva, who is still very much alive. She’s a scientist and conservationist who focuses on food sovereignty as a big part of her environmental activism. I’d like to ask her how her background in the Vedic spiritual tradition has influenced her values and beliefs regarding issues like biodiversity, genetic engineering, and alter-globalization. I get the feeling that she senses the magic beneath it all and, like me, is both saddened and angered by the way our modern society’s worldview has undervalued the less tangible aspects of life, those aspects that Witch Lit brings to the fore.
To find out more about Laura and her work, visit her site HERE: