Originally published 7th September 2016
Interview with author Mabh Savage:
What authors/ books influenced you in your early days of being a Pagan/following your spiritual path? I vividly remember reading Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen when I was quite small and being enthralled by the idea that there is another world that runs alongside ours, only visible at certain times or by certain people. This was the first time I ever heard the Morrigan mentioned, and I was drawn to find out more about the inspiration behind Garner’s world. My parents were both Wiccans at one time and always witches, and they fostered my love of fantasy and ‘wyrd’, as well as a love of nature and animals. The stories of others who felt this connection really drew me, and still fire up my inner child. Jenny Nimmo’s Magician Trilogy was another series that made me realise there was a direct connection between Celtic folklore and modern day fantasy, and again, that animals could be truly magical, such as the snow spider herself. What drew you to your path? I was surrounded by magic from being a very young child. I was born to two Wiccans, had a Wiccan name as well as the one on my birth certificate, and was always curious about the artefacts that appeared from time to time around the house. I asked so many questions: how could a fishing float be a crystal ball? Why did cards tell the future? What was the candle lit at Samhain for? I became an atheist in my teens, but quickly realised I was missing a part of myself and after leaving a rather stifling relationship in my twenties decided to try and rediscover the missing bits. I learned about the science behind meditation, did small, solitary rituals and began to build my identity back, stone by stone. It wasn’t long before I fell in with some like-minded people who were also heavily influenced by Celtic mythology and folklore, and I was blessed with several patient mentors from whom I have learned so much. I always feel like a beginner though. I always feel like I have only begun to scratch the surface. Where do you find inspiration for your books? From the everyday, mostly. I’ll experience something that feels magical to me, write notes about it, then realise I can write more about it; explore it in depth. The birds singing; a cloudy day suddenly broken by bright sunshine; a day with my little boy; a walk on the beach. I am rarely struck by true awen, when I just have to write and write without a pause, and when I am I rarely know where this has come from! I was inspired to write my first book by a dream- how cheesy does that sound? But the second book, Celtic Witchcraft, was just me trying to piece together my path for someone else to understand, in a way that might inspire them to tread their own path with confidence and joy. How did you become an author? Was it something you intended to do or was it by accident? I’ve always loved writing. I wrote poetry from a very young age and have written songs for many years. I keep journals and notebooks that are scattered all over the house. I actually wanted to write fiction, originally, and am still working on this! But the non-fiction stuff seems to have taken over. I did a chapter for Essays in Contemporary Paganism, and was inspired (again, by a rather silly dream) to turn this into a book. I talked to a very nice bloke at the publisher who suggested I submitted a proposal. I received a contract a couple of months later and haven’t looked back! It’s quite surreal really. What do you feel makes a book worth reading? I like to feel that the author is really speaking to you, rather than lecturing you. I enjoy a conversational tone and find it helps me retain the information better. A book shouldn’t be written just to prove you know more than everyone else. A book is a way to share knowledge or experience. And books are for entertainment. That is their primary purpose. Even a book for learning should be pleasurable to read. Are you working on a new book right now and if so what is it? I have so many ideas. I wanted to write about the Celtic god Lugh, and I’m also toying with the idea of a book about the symbology of corvids: crows, ravens, jackdaws etc. My problem is I have too many ideas then get so bogged down in ‘real life’ I don’t take the time to sort them all out! I’m also working on several pieces for forthcoming anthologies, including pieces about Athena, Hekate, Heimdallr and Goddess worship. Do you write part or full time? Part time, sadly. I’ve only been published quite recently and the pennies from that aren’t yet enough to keep a roof over our heads so I have a rather boring day job too. I really wish I could balance better the demands of a paying job, being a mum and also being an author and journalist. I write a regular column plus other articles every month for Pagan Pages and several other publications as and when required, so I’m often working to a deadline both at home and at the office. It can get quite stressful. What's the hardest thing about writing? Keeping going when the awen runs dry. Some days I am so tired, and I also suffer from depression which can be very difficult, and yet I know I have to write- not just because of my deadlines! But because it feeds my soul, it’s what I love and if I give in to fatigue and despair I will lose a piece of myself. Quite often if I’m having a very dry day, I will write a poem or two, and that sometimes sparks the fire to write more, or simply leaves a glowing ember that reminds me I’m doing OK. How can other readers discover more about you (website/facebook links etc)? I blog at https://soundsoftime.wordpress.com where you can read my rambling and poetry. I’m also on www.facebook.com/mabhsavage and twitterers can follow me @Mabherick. What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Just write. Don’t think about it, don’t agonise over it, just do it. Write about what you are passionate about, what makes you hum inside; whatever is a piece of you that you can transform into words and display on the page for others to see. Oh and don’t hunch over your laptop. Posture is very important! There are tons of pagan books on the market, what do you think makes you stand out from the crowd? Good question. One thing is the amazing cover art by my sister, Kirsten Savage! For the innards? I write from my own experience and I don’t presume to know what your experiences, beliefs or spiritual leanings are. I simply want to inspire you on your own journey, and to empower you to find your own inspiration. Which one of your books are you most proud of? Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft simply because of the amazing feedback I have had from some wonderful readers. I have been absolutely blown away with the positive reception.