Writing about the occult is one of those issues that brings my writer self and my Druid self into conflict. From a Druid perspective, I don’t believe that there is anything outside of nature, although my notion of ‘nature’ includes the scope for much that could be deemed ‘supernatural’. (Ghosts, spirits etc). As a Druid, I don’t find any of these things inherently creepy or disturbing. As with all aspects of life, some bits are better than others. I’ve been creeped out by things I couldn’t explain, but I’ve also been happily surprised and inspired.
From a writing perspective, stories about happy benevolent contact with things magical get dull really fast. The best occult tales are horror and spine chillers. Think Phil Rickman, the hugely popular Dennis Wheatley (who I haven’t read) Clive Barker and no doubt many more. The occult is inherently uncanny, beyond our knowledge and control, dangerous and hard to tackle. As a plot device it drives stories wonderfully well.
The pagan in me wants to write a positive, magical realism, with a pagan take on the world in which magic is not evil. The writer in me… won this time round.
‘Dead Sexy’ is dark, and the occult, where it manifests, is not friendly at all, or safe, or benevolent. It’s a story I’d been working up to for a while. There was a jewellery box, with the name ‘Octavia’ on it. She was part of my family, and went mad. That’s all I know about her. The first time I heard about her, it stuck in my head, and I’ve made up stories before, trying to imagine what might have happened to her. All speculation. The Octavia in this story is someone I created, borrowing the name and drawing on the inspiration. Otherwise, this is complete fabrication.
It’s not the first time I’ve written scary evil occult stuff, either. The writer in me apologises to the druid in me on a regular basis. At some point, there will be reconciliation and I’ll write a creepy occult story with a druid hero or heroine, and that will balance out entirely.