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Interview with...Dorothy L Abrams

Originally published June 2016

What authors/ books influenced you in your early days of being a Pagan/following your spiritual path?

Starhawk’s Spiral Dance followed closely by her Dancing the Dark were the first two pagan books I read on recommendation of my priestess Lydia Athena. I had to put them down several times an hour and shaker my head. Starhawk presented an entirely different way to think. Instead of a universe divided into light and dark, good and evil, she present a unified view of all that is. She taught us to embrace the shadows as part of the light and the light as part of the shadow. What drew you to your path?

I left the fundamentalist church to save my sanity about 7 years earlier. Then when I started seeing on of my co-workers in a romantic relationship, he was interested in witchcraft. In fact we were in the breakroom one afternoon when the coffee machine malfunctioned. It took my money and produced no coffee. Using it was something like coffee roulette. One never knew if the cup would come first or maybe the coffee or creamer. On this day nothing came out. I returned to the table grumbling so Eric went over and touched the machine lightly then pushed the button. It produced a cup, coffee and cream in that order. I asked him how long he’d been a witch to which he responded “All my life.” However he’d had no training and wanted to know more. I knew someone. The rest is history. We joined Lydia Athena’s circle and hived off to lead our own group 8 years later. Where do you find inspiration for your books? Some are compilations of the classes I have been teaching at the Web PATH Center for around 20 years. Some are Goddess inspired writings that emerge from Full Moon rituals or other high energy events. Sacred Sex and Magick is a point in case. Our spiritual community was celebrating the full moon when I was encouraged by the moon goddess to write this book. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with writing a book on pagan sacred sex and said so to the group. One of the women jumped in and offered everybody’s help so we could write it together. I agreed but wondered how it would work. The next thing I know Trevor Greenfield at Moon Books was asking if anyone would write a book about sex magick. The synchronicity was unmistakeable. I worked as editor and scribe, but the content is truly a group effort so it appears as Sacred Sex and Magick by the Web PATH Center. How did you become an author? Was it something you intended to do or was it by accident? I always meant to right from the time I handed in a short story in high school English class and was told it was the perfect short story. I know now the teacher was saying it hit all the standard elements of short fiction in a traditional sense—his definition of perfect. However, a lack of nerve, a crisis in confidence led me first into teaching and then anti-poverty activism and finally into civil service where I investigated discrimination cases. I was “too busy” to write. After I retired I started working on some past life novels that have yet to be published. I published a number of essays in PagaNet News, a now defunct pagan print journal. I wrote some short fiction for Pagan Writer’s Press anthologies and an essay for Sorita d’Este of Avalonia Press. Then along came an invitation from Trevor Greenfield of Moon Books to writers on the Pagan Writers’ Community facebook page to submit book ideas. The winner(s) would get a shot at publication if the manuscript lived up to the proposal. I did and it did. That was Identity and the Quartered Circle published in 2013. I’m not sure I was convinced I was an author until I had a full length book out, so I see that book as my turning point. What do you feel makes a book worth reading?

Quality narrative. The book needs to flow well, be readable and make me care about the subject in nonfiction and the characters in fiction. If the author doesn’t catch my heart, I’ll put the book down and not finish it. Are you working on a new book right now and if so what is it?

I have 3 works in progress, soon to be four. I haven’t submitted any of them yet. One is My Dead Family about spirit communication. I wrote the most of it last year in connection with the NaNoWriMo group summer camp (on line). For those unfamiliar with the group, it connects writers with deadlines. In November we each write a 50,000 page novel and submit our daily progress to the website. They act as cheerleaders to keep us going. I’ve participated twice and finished once. They run a similar program in the summer. I elected to write a 25,000 word nonfiction title with an eye to submitting it to Moon Books Pagan Portals. It needs polishing.

The second is Consciousness and the Gods, a follow up to Identity and the Quartered Circle. I’m still researching consciousness. This too is a compilation of class material I developed at the Web, but I discovered my ability to discuss consciousness intelligently needs some work. I think this time I will aim at the 25,000 word limit for Pagan Portals. I learned from Identity that although I like heavy tomes that bend my mind, other people have a difficult time with them. So, same level of material; new approach.

The third is my past life novel Witches of Fawsetwood set in the 1100’s. It is finished and I am editing it. Again. I am looking for a publisher interested in big books of historical fiction blended with magical realism. We did some interesting spell work and meditation at the last full moon. Hummingbird who does the impossible says we will have this project done in 30 days, so hang on to your hat. I’ll be interested to see how that works out. I’m just along for the ride apparently. The fourth venture is a short story for Moon Books Witch Lit Anthology. I haven’t written a contemporary story since that perfect one in high school English. Everything has been historical fiction. This is a good challenge. I’m still seeking a character to talk to. Do you write part or full time?

Part time. I have a large amount of responsibility at home even though I am retired from the work place and can’t commit to the writing schedule I would like. What's the hardest thing about writing?

Freeing up my personal time. Once I begin the words simply flow. I even enjoy editing. However between my husband’s schedule and the rescue cats we care for and the Web PATH Center needs I feel stretched. How can other readers discover more about you (website/facebook links etc)?

Catch me on face book Dorothy L. Abrams—Writer’s Page for Sacred Sex and Magick and for The Web PATH Center. I am usually the voice posting, forwarding and writing there although there are others. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Start early and keep at it. Be merciless editing your own material and then have another experienced blue pencil go over it. Don’t submit a manuscript too early. Let it sit for a while until you can be dispassionate about it. Think deeply about everything. Some of those thoughts will go into your books. There are tons of pagan books on the market, what do you think makes you stand out from the crowd?

Age! I have let this wine mellow a long time and it is pretty good. Most of my writing will take people deep into the pagan experience.I’m not a teacher for dabblers. I also am known as a good speaker/teacher which means a great deal to me. In October 2016 I will present a paper at the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall UK on Ancestor communication at Samhain. I am excited about that opportunity. It ties in with My Dead Family mentioned previously. The event coincides with the museum’s 2016 exhibit Glitter & Gravedust Which one of your books are you most proud of?

The Witches of Fawsetwood It details my life as an uppity young miss in 1174 and helps me see that who I am now is the logical consequence of who I was then. Eric and I have travelled around Cumbria and found where the cottage was. We are certain the Greyhound in Shap is where Brackenbyre Inn stood. The stone circles ate still standing in bits and pieces. The castles are there in ruins. For the most part I wrote from memory and channelling and then visited the UK and found the places right where they should be. It’s been an astounding experience.

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