[Today, we sit down for a quick interview with author Daniel Fisher. Here, he discusses his solo personal practices; his new novel, Date With Death; and his upcoming projects.]
ev0ke: How do you define your personal spiritual path? Does it have a name, or is it more intuitive and eclectic?
Daniel Fisher: Predominantly I’m a solo practitioner who never had one specific vein or discipline. My earliest memories are of talking to the voice on the wind and communing with the trees, so I suppose it started as intuitive. Yet, as the years went by, I found I had a passion for study and learning the folklore and traditions of differing belief systems from around the world; understanding the shared history that all pagans have, regardless of path. [A history] where it was driven underground and even now is so terribly misunderstood. If I can help shine a light on the why and the how people believe, I think it dispels some of the ignorance in the world.
ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or spirits do you honor in your tradition?
DF: The Great Mother, the ancient spirit of the earth, is a principle component. I’ve found I have a connection to the primal force that ruled the Neolithic iconography of the Mother. From that arose the principle of duality, god/goddess and all the shades in between. If I was to name some of those I have an affinity with, I’d sit writing this until the end of creation. The spirits are abundant and each, from every culture, has their own unique personas and attributes. Pan to me is far different than Cernunnos. As is Ereshkigal from Hel. They are them and I am me.
ev0ke: You recently released your first novel, Date With Death. First, congratulations! Second, the story is described as “a lighthearted romp through the cemetery of romance.” Usually “lighthearted” and “cemetery” don’t go together. How did you come up with the idea for this book, and how did you go about crafting such different elements into a single narrative?
DF: When I was a small child around the age of five, I was a giant fan of Edward Gorey, who wrote The Gashlycrumb Tinies. It spoke to me, the way he mocked society with macabre humor. So, growing up, I’ve tried to do the same. However it’s more than that. Death is only one more aspect of the great wheel of creation; without death there would only be entropy. Western society has an irrational fear of death and dying. Me? I believe if you can’t laugh about death, then you’re already dead.
ev0ke: The protagonist in Date With Death, Dustin Ney, spends the novel uncovering secrets and discovering his true self. Without spoiling too much, can you give us some hints as to what these are?
DF: Dustin was always that weird kid, the one the other kids were afraid of. He had different beliefs and his family had different traditions. As an adult, his traveling companions in the story treat him as the stoic, unassuming push-over that they want him to be. However, as the tale unravels, Dustin sheds that façade to become a man who knows what he wants and is tired of hiding his true nature.
ev0ke: What sort of research went into writing Date With Death? Lots of trips to the library? Hours online?
DF: I came up with the premise, and from that, using a cursory understanding of folklore, I was able to make an outline. The real trick was doing the research, a combination of combing through my books and scouring the inter-webs for Egyptian translations, and ancient Roman, Mayan, Chinese, and other representations of death that weren’t hackneyed or insulting. Troubleshooting the minor differences between the “left side of Anubis” and Viddus, for example. Many a long night trying to get subtlety, which I’m not known for.
ev0ke: What advice can you offer writers who are just starting out and hoping to be published? Mistakes to avoid? Things they absolutely must do?
DF: A big mistake would be to quit. Keep going. Keep at it. Don’t expect friends and family to review and give their opinion; they never finish the work. Edit, edit, and edit; this is crucial. If you get frustrated, put it down but come back to it later. The answers can’t be forced.
I’m a big fan of accuracy, so whatever basis I start at, whether historic or dystopian, I follow one rule: if I create a system of majik or a way of divining, those are the rules for that story and that world. I don’t add a random element at the end that doesn’t follow the ways or workings I created from the start. No sudden clashing of the wands where spirits come out, or M. Night Shyamalan plot twists; just a deep understanding of what my characters can and cannot do in their world. That to me is key.
ev0ke: Where can readers find Date With Death?
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
DF: Currently I’m editing my new series, The Place of Things. It’s a four part-er. Hopefully the first book will be available later this spring. I’m writing a sequel to Date with Death, that I haven’t settled on a name for yet, and a short story called “A Guy, A Girl, A Corpse, and A Cat” which is about a three way relationship formed around murder and revenge killing. So, of course, it’s a comedy.
[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her published work can be found there.]