Tag Archives: author

What a good novel should have …

Of course, this is only my opinion but for a good novel must have the following attributes …

  • Fully 3D characters
  • Excellent description of places, so you feel you are there
  • Complexity – nothing is simply black or white
  • Heroes who get it wrong some of the time
  • Bad guys who get it right some of the time
  • Events and characters that explode cliches
  • The ability to make you think, turn your values upside-down, if only a little
  • The story should grow you, your attitudes, as it does those of the protagonist

Novels that have all this do not grow on trees :-).

I’m currently re-reading Frank Herbert’s “Whipping Star”, it has all of these qualities and is still brilliantly thought provoking after 38 years.

What do you think? What makes a good novel for you?

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Phil Rickman

I’ve mentioned Phil Rickman in a couple of blogs now, because he’s an author I enjoy and admire. However, he’s not yet anything like as famous as he should be, so it occurred to me that I should devote a blog to saying a bit more about who he is, what he does, and why he has a significant pagan following.

 I first encountered Phil Rickman some years ago when he was interviewed by Pagan Dawn magazine. In that piece he talked about his interest in the occult, and his not being a pagan. Even though I’d never heard of him before, it was a sufficiently interesting article that I still remember it, many years later.

I used to review fiction for White Dragon – a pagan magazine based in the UK. Rowan, the editor, offered me a Phil Rickman novel, so I said yes. It was ‘The Fabric of Sin’ and brought me in a fair distance into his Merrily Watkins series. It stood alone perfectly well. I sometimes had the sense that there currents in the background and developments that might seem more important were I following the entire series, but the story itself made sense. I was impressed. A while later I picked up two stories from earlier in the series – “Midwinter of the Soul” and “A Crown of Lights” these too stood alone, and I filled in more character detail. I eventually got round to the first one – “The Wine of Angels” and now some of the larger story arcs make more sense.

The Merrily Watkins series follow the adventures of said character. She’s a widow, and single parent to a teenage girl, Jane. Merrily is a vicar, starting out when female vicars in the UK were unfamiliar and radical. Then she gets into exorcism – Deliverance Ministry, which puts her in an odd place in relation to the Anglican church. Her daughter dabbles in paganism. The stories are mysteries, although murder is not always the focal point – one centred around a suicide. The first one is heavy on the body count, but I suspect the author of not imagining he’d get to do a whole series. Rickman has an engaging writing style, good plots, interesting twists and a large cast of very strong and compelling characters, many of whom appear in more than one story.

His appeal to pagan readers stems partly from the character of Jane – he’s very much captured the teenage girl drawn to witchcraft, with all the challenges, pitfalls, mistakes and wonders that journey can involve. As a female vicar working with the supernatural, Merrily is easy to empathise with. I can’t help but feel she’d make a very good druid, in other circumstances. Frequently the occult elements of the story provide the tension and the bodies. Satanists feature as bad guys, but so do church figures, media folk, farmers, landed gentry… Rickman will keep you guessing. Witchy types are just as likely to be the good guys as the villains. So he’s very even handed in portraying occultism, and this is very appealing.

Rickman has done his homework. He knows his history, folklore, superstition, and plenty about occult practice, and natural magic. He might not be claiming to be pagan himself, but he has a great deal of insight into what might have been, and into what contemporary paganism is like. He reflects modern paganism (warts and all) in a way that is entirely recognisable, without relying on stereotypes, clichés, or too much melodrama. Reading his work as a pagan, I tend to feel that I am reading about people I recognise, lifestyles I know, and that’s rather pleasing.

The other great source of appeal to pagans is the degree to which his stories are rooted in landscape. Places, and their history, buildings and their connection to human activity, the wonder and danger of the wild, the magic in the apple tree… these things Rickman understands. Set along the Herefordshire border with Wales – an area rich in history, the Merrily Watkins stories have roots, and bring the landscape vividly to life. The sense of place, of season, of land and living close to it permeates his writing, and this will speak to any pagan soul.

His homepage is here – http://www.philrickman.co.uk/pages/Home.html and I heartily recommend checking him out.

An introduction to a new columnist…

Hello and welcome to my new column!

Before I post my first article, I thought I would do as other new writers to The Pagan and the Pen have done, and take a few minutes to introduce myself.

My name is Edain Duguay, I was born and raised in the East Midlands of England and I have loved writing from an early age. Indeed, I wrote my first book at the age of nine and hand bound it. Admittedly, it was a class project but an enjoyable one and became bitten by the writing bug. During my teens I wrote several fictional stories, some got finished and some, sadly, did not.

Life then intervened. I got married to my first husband, had a daughter and began an interesting career in local government. During my career, I also studied at university part-time until I gained qualifications in computer studies (various) and in Local History, as you can imagine it was a very busy time for me.

Several years later, I was able to find some time to return to my love of writing and, in 2006, I created Wyrdwood Publications (although it was known by another name at that time) and our first online publication was The Pagan Activist. The Pagan Activist was a free online Pagan newspaper with columnists and articles from around the globe. It ran solely on donations from the general public and was read in sixty-four countries, until it’s closure in 2009.

My first eBook, ‘Pagan Poetry for the Seasons and Festivals’, debuted in 2008. It was published by Wyrdwood Publications and since it’s release has remained as Wyrdwood Publications #3 Best Seller. In 2009, I released my next eBook: ‘Pagans on the Wildside: Campfire Cooking’. This eBook was an instant success and has remained as Wyrdwood Publications #1 Best Seller since it’s release.

During 2010, I will continue to work on my children’s Pagan eBook series: ‘The Witchlets of Witches Brew’. There are two, of the eight titles, released so far; Holly the Hasty Witch and Ash the Solitary Witch. Two more eBooks in this series are scheduled to be released in 2010, while the last four will be released in 2011.

Finally, I’m in the process of editing my first print book (or pBook): Chameleon. It’s the first part of the paranormal/fantasy series, The Chameleon Sagas. I have also begun writing the second book in this series: Castrum Lucis.

My other interests include watching movies, sewing and reading copious amounts of books. I am also interested in a more self-sufficient lifestyle and on my blogs, I post about homesteading, writing and my Pagan life here in Canada, with my Canadian husband.

Now, with this background, you may be wondering what I’ll be writing about on The Pagan and the Pen. I have been fortunate enough to be a founding member of an ADF Grove and an Asatru Kindred and for several years I have walked the path of a Pagan/Heathen. With this in mind, I shall be posting on various aspects of Heathenism, giving Pagans some basic information about a Heathen belief system and how some of this information can be included in the everyday life of Pagans. Also, I will be comparing various aspects of Asatru and ADF Druidry along with a couple of interviews with Heathen authors who publish through Wyrdwood Publications.

Hopefully, you will find my posts interesting, informative and thought-provoking. I look forward to writing for The Pagan and the Pen  on the 17th of every month and reading your comments.

Thank you for taking the time to read my introduction and my first column will be posted shortly.  🙂

Blessings to your Hearth,

Edain
Edain Duguay.com
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, eBook Author and Blog Writer

Author of the blogs:
English, Pagan and in Canada
Worlds Of My Own Making
Gramarye, The Magical Homestead

Contact Edain @ FacebookTwitterYoutubeBlogger

Being a writer

I’ve been watching an interesting debate unfold on an egroup, about whether role play gaming is a productive thing for an author to do. Some folks, myself included, think yes. Others feel it wastes time, and distracts from the important business of Being A Writer.

As bardcraft is an important part of the Druid tradition, I’ve spent a fair while talking with other folks about what a bard needs to do, in order to truly walk that path. Creative expression is a big part of it, of course. However, there was agreement that it takes more than making things, to be a bard. I think it also calls for more than spending time writing to be a good author. You have to live, experience and explore in order to have stories to tell.

For a bard, listening is a vital skill. We listen to the music, songs, poetry and stories of fellow bards, and we learn from them. We listen to the words of the people around us, and the truths that come from their hearts, even if they aren’t beautifully presented. We listen to the wind, the songs of birds, the whispers of the ancestors and the cries of the future being born.

 We listen to the silence.

To my mind, writing (and any other creative expression) should not be about separating yourself from the world. Paganism is all about embracing life, in all its richness, and any practise that isolates us, is at odds with that spiritual dimension. Writing should be an act of engagement.

Therefore, I must argue, any kind of experience or pursuit is a valid one, for the bard and author both. Not just valid, but necessary. We need to be out in the world, listening, experiencing, feeling and thinking. And no one should spend their days sat at a computer, tapping out words to the exclusion of all else. That isn’t living, it isn’t honouring nature within us.

If you want to be an author, take some time to live, in the manner of your choosing. There is far more to being an author than that part of the process involving crafting things out of words.