Interview with...Nimue Brown
Originally published July 2016
What authors/ books influenced you in your early days of being a Pagan/following your spiritual path?
I grew up reading Alan Garner, and went from there to Kevin Crossley-Holland's version of The Mabinogian, so I think that was where I started. My first contact with Druidry books was Emma Restall-Orr's work. In many ways what's been most important for me moving on from that, has been the natural history, science, psychology, philosophy, poetry, and fiction I've read over the years, and keep reading. Druids who also write this way are especially appealing to me - Robin Herne, Brendan Myers, Graeme Talboys... What drew you to your path?
The realisation that it was everything I had always longed for! Trees, harps, myths, poetry, mystery and philosophy... I grew up aware of Pagansim, but while the magic of witchcraft held an appeal, I knew it wasn't really me. I recognised Druidry as home pretty much as soon as I encountered it. Where do you find inspiration for your books?
By looking for what's missing. What do people need that isn't currently available? I find material by poking into things that make me uncomfortable. Through the blog I've become fairly adept at saying things that aren't normally acceptable and exposing things normal people won't talk about. Where I am most useless, I am, weirdly, also often most useful. How did you become an author? Was it something you intended to do or was it by accident?
I set out to be a novelist, a calling that goes back as far as I can remember. Yet here I am spending much of my time writing non-fiction books, and graphic novels, and other things I hadn't planned. The writing was deliberate, the shape it has taken continues to surprise me. I'll go wherever I can be useful which has meant editing as well, and at the moment colouring for a graphic novel series (it's not unusual in comics for one person to do the lines and another to do the colour). What do you feel makes a book worth reading?
That it has the capacity to spark new ideas in the mind of the reader. It's what we are able to discover in ourselves while reading that I think tends to be really exciting. Are you working on a new book right now and if so what is it?
I have a number of things on the go, in various states of disarray! I've just finshed a short book on working with the elements, I'm trying to write about Pagan Pilgrimage, but I'm doing that through the blog because I'm having trouble keeping it going. It's a great subject, but I'm not quite where I need to be. I've got a novel out this spring - When We Are Vanished - and I'm slowly writing another one - Spells for the Second Sister. I'm really interested in Witch Lit as a genre. At the same time, I'm being a colourist - John Matthews has adapted Le Morte D'Arthur to be a four volume graphic novel series, my other half, Tom Brown is doing the art, and I'm helping out a bit by colouring. And I know colouring-in is supposed to be therapeutic and whatnot, but this is a whole other thing, and quite intimidating! Do you write part or full time?
Part time. I've tried being an author full time and it means poverty, and it means feeling pressured to deliver work that can be relied upon commercially, and I've found this kills off my inspiration. I write more effectively when there isn't the financial pressure to achieve. Having spent a lot of years wrestling with this, I would rather write the things I think are worth writing, than try to write things that look easy to sell. I'm not very good at being popular, I'm not a best seller, but if what I write is useful to someone, or uplifts someone - job done. Being part time gives me the freedom to work that way. My working life creates opportunities to engage with real people and real situations, so I'm not off in my head and out of touch with everyone else, which can otherwise be an issue for me. What's the hardest thing about writing?
Finding an audience. For me, this is critical, because there's no point writing just for me. I see a book as an engagement between author and reader, and if I can't find readers who want to engage with it, I've failed. This also creates issues around getting bogged down in the numbers. How many people have to read a book for it to be worth the vast amounts of time it takes for me to write one? How does that compare with the other things I might have usefully done with that time? It's not a balance I'm easy with. How can other readers discover more about you (website/facebook links etc)?
I blog most days at www.druidlife.wordpress.com - it's a wide ranging blog, including poetry, fiction, a work in progress, politics, green living, mental health stuff, and whatever has caught my interest this week. I'm on pinterest https://uk.pinterest.com/nimuebrown/ facebook - https://www.facebook.com/nimue.brown twitter - https://twitter.com/Nimue_B What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Do it for love. 95% of authors do not make enough to live on so if you aren't deeply motivated by what you're writing, the odds are the industry will just break you. Write about what interests you, what fires your imagination, and then try and find people who feel the same way about similar things, and connect with them. This does not guarentee success, but it does mean having a good and meaningful relationship with your own work. There are tons of pagan books on the market, what do you think makes you stand out from the crowd? Other people may offer solutions, quick fixes, easy ways to transform your life. I offer questions, challenges, uncertainty and possibility. For the vast majority of readers, who want the quick fix books (even though they never deliver what's promised) I assume I stand out as something to stay well away from. For a minority, its those same things - the uncertainty, the poking about in difficult things without the balm of simple answers that seems to forms the basis of attraction. Which one of your books are you most proud of? This is why I'm useless at marketing my own work. I tend to feel about books, that they are like coughing up hairballs, or if I'm feeling more romantic, they are like owl pellets. Things I have digested, and processed, and hefted back out into the world. Which of my hairballs do I like best? Often what I feel after writing is the relief of having got it out into the world. When a Pagan Prays was certainly the hardest to cough up and therefore probably has the most bones in it...