Tuesday, August 8, 2017

BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature at Witches & Pagans, Interviewed by Rebecca Buchanan

Rebecca Buchanan, editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer and editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, has asked to interview me on my debut poetry collection, Diary of a Sorceress, and other writing-related topics.  You can find my interview here on the BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature section on the Witches & Pagans website.

[Ashley Dioses is an accomplished poet, whose verses deal with the weird, the fantastic, the mythical, and the strange. She kindly agreed to an interview with BookMusings, in which she discusses her love of poetry and Poe; how she went about publishing her debut collection, "Diary of a Sorceress"; and her future projects.]

BookMusings: How would you describe your personal spiritual path or interests?

Ashley Dioses: I consider myself a non-Wiccan witch with Celtic, Norse, and Left Hand Path leanings.  My interests, however, are very broad and I have studied many different areas of the occult and esoteric.

BM: Your poetry is often described as “weird” and “gothic.” What attracts you to that style of writing?

AD: Fantasy and horror have always been favorite genres of mine ever since I was young.  My dad wrote poetry and read his poems to me as a child all the time.  When I discovered Edgar Allan Poe in middle school, and found out that he wrote poetry as well as fiction, it amazed me at how wonderful his poems were.  They were horror and Gothic themed.  At that time, it never really occurred to me that poetry could be horror or fantasy related. My dad wrote children’s poetry and that was all I knew.  When I read Poe’s work, I decided I wanted to write horror and Gothic poetry.

As for the “weird” aspect, that came many years later.  When I met Kyle (K. A.) Opperman online, he told me about the “weird” genre, which I never heard of before. When he gave me H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and George Sterling to read, I felt like I was coming home. I became lost in these stories and poetry and began writing poetry inspired by these authors and others.

BM: Who are some of your favorite authors of “weird” and “gothic” works? Who are the must-reads?

AD: Edgar Allan Poe, Clark Ashton Smith, H. P. Lovecraft, William Beckford, M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood. As for must reads, if we’re talking poetry, Clark Ashton Smith, George Sterling, and David Park Barnitz.

BM: What does your writing space look like, and what sort of research goes into your work? Do you have books stacked everywhere?

AD: Everything happens on my bed.  My bed is my desk. I’ll usually have my laptop open with books sprawled around me. Up until recently, I had so many stacks of books that they were hazardous. So I cleaned out half my closet, brought in an old wooden bookshelf I found outside (after I cleaned it), put it in my closet, and started organizing my books. My floors are now book free.

As for research, I do put in a good amount of effort. In fact, I find research to be one of the best parts of writing. I have shelves dedicated to non-fiction for research books. Those shelves will contain everything from Gothic culture to the history of ‘real’ vampires to fatal women to medieval European weaponry to Viking battle tactics.  

BM: How did you settle on the title, Diary of a Sorceress?

AD: Oh man, this is a long story.  To answer that question, I’d first have to tell you how the Sorceress came to exist.  Diary of a Sorceress manifested from a poem that Kyle and I collaborated on, shortly after we got together. The poem, "Sorcerously Entwined," is about a Sorcerer who has unrequited love for a Sorceress. The Sorcerer planned to kill himself with a brew he created using plants from her garden, but found out that by drinking it, he would be connected to her. Their fates would be entwined and if he died, she would as well. Together, they try to find a way to fix this, yet the Sorceress ends up dying in their attempt. The Sorcerer must make a deal with a demon to enter the Otherworld to find her soul. Time is racing as a powerful demoness, out of jealousy, tries to stop them from reuniting. Their lives as the Sorceress and the Sorcerer come to a tragic end, yet their story continues in another life.

During this time I wrote a few different poems about the Sorceress and decided that all these poems could potentially be like her diary entries.  So that was when Diary of a Sorceress came to exist as the title for this collection.

BM: How did you decide which poems to include in the collection? Were there some which you just knew absolutely had to be included?

AD: That was definitely a tough decision. I always wanted to publish a poetry collection and I had written over one hundred poems since I read Poe for the first time and decided I wanted to do this. But, being a preteen/teenager and not knowing the mechanics of formal poetry well, my poems during that time were less than stellar. Despite the fondness I had for many of my old poems, I knew I had to just start from scratch if I wanted to make it shine.

Yes, "Night Play" and "Midnight Strides," were two poems that I absolutely had to include in this collection.  They were both written when I was twelve years-old and represent my everlasting love for unicorns and flying horses.  

BM: Diary of a Sorceress includes a number of illustrations. How did you decide which poems should be accompanied by an illustration, and how did you go about finding those artists and illustrations?

AD: I wanted my illustrations to represent all the different themes and aspects this collection encompasses.  I have four sections in my collection with themes being fantasy/dark fantasy, nature, romance/erotica, and horror. If a potential reader decided to flip through the book, I wanted at least one illustration to catch their eye and interest. I wanted at least one illustration per section and, with my horror section being the biggest, the majority of the illustrations will be there while still keeping to a variety of themes.

I have a few artists as friends on social media and I decided to ask around and see if any of them would be interested in this sort of project.  Steve Santiago was recommended to me by Joe S. Pulver, Sr. so I checked out his portfolio and really liked his work. I messaged him and he agreed to illustrate my collection.

BM: You are publishing your collection through Hippocampus Press. Why that publisher, and would you recommend them to other poets?

AD: I heard of Hippocampus Press through the grapevine.  During that time, Hippocampus Press was coming out with a new weird poetry journal, Spectral Realms.  I wrote and polished a few poems and submitted them to the editor, S. T. Joshi.  He responded by not only taking them for the journal, but also telling me that if I made a poetry collection he would publish it.  I was blown away and immediately got to work on creating one.

Anyone who writes in the horror, fantasy, Gothic or weird genres would find a great home here.      Hippocampus Press also has a soft spot for formal, metrical poetry.I would highly recommend them to poets who write in that style.  The publisher, Derrick Hussey, is an amazing guy and wonderful to work with.  I’ve only had great experiences being published by them.

BM: Where will readers be able to find Diary of a Sorceress?

AD: Readers can find Diary of a Sorceress on the Hippocampus Press poetry section and on Amazon when it is printed. [Note: available for pre-order now, with a release date of October 2017.]

BM: What other projects are you working on?

AD: I am compiling a juvenilia horror poetry collection with poems I found salvageable.  I am editing them to my current standards.  There are currently around fifty poems slotted to be in it.

I am also working on a new poetry collection that will be darker than Diary of a Sorceress with more Gothic and horror themes.

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