[This issue, we sit down with witch and author, Deborah Blake. Here, she discusses her personal spiritual practices; her forthcoming book, The Eclectic Witch’s Book of Shadows, as well as past series; and work with The Artisans’ Guild.]
ev0ke: How do you define your personal spiritual path? Does it have a name, or is it more intuitive and eclectic?
Deborah Blake: That’s a tough one. I started out following what most would call a Wiccan path, although it was slightly non-traditional in that my high priestess led our group on her own. These days, I would call myself a Witch, or an eclectic Witch, because I have expanded my practice to include many things from a variety of paths.
ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or other spirits are honored in your tradition?
DB: I honor all Deities, really, whether they are from my general path or the paths of others. I often call on God and Goddess in a non-specific way, as well as the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit.
ev0ke: You have written and published a number of books over the years, ranging from practical advice to paranormal romance and suspense. What is your writing process like? Hours of research? Long walks outside? Piles of scrap paper covered in notes?
DB: Ha! I don’t really love research, although I do it when it is necessary. The amount of research really varies from book to book. Many of my Witchy nonfiction books are primarily based on my own practice, so they don’t require a lot of research. But some, like The Little Book of Cat Magic (which you would think, since I’ve had cats my whole life, wouldn’t take much researching) involved myths and history, so it meant looking up all sorts of things.
For most of my fiction, I write an outline, along with detailed character studies, and then sit down and write the first draft with a small amount of daily revision. Then I revise it again, and get editorial notes, and do it again.
ev0ke: The Eclectic Witch’s Book of Shadows is set to be released in September 2021. Many of your books deal with the practical realities of life as a witch in the twenty-first century. How much of this advice is based on your personal experiences? And what advice do wish you had been given to you when you were first starting out as a witch?
DB: Here’s the thing about my books — they’re almost entirely based on my personal experience. I don’t try to tell people how they should practice. I give them suggestions based on what works for me, and then tell them to make it their own. I hope that I make the process easier, and remind my readers that there is no “One Right Way,” only the way that works for them.
I guess that’s the advice I wish I had been given. There is no right path. There is just the path you walk, and if the one you’re on doesn’t feel right anymore, try veering in a different direction. No one can give you the answers (not even me). You have to listen to that quiet voice inside and follow your own heart and spirit.
ev0ke: Can you give us a hint as to what we will find in The Eclectic Witch’s Book of Shadows?
DB: A little bit of everything. LOL. Some herbs and stones and other basics. Even a few recipes. Hopefully everything you will need to start your own personal Book of Shadows, should you choose to do so.
ev0ke: Your urban fantasy/mystery series Veiled Magic is up to three books. What do you find so appealing about that genre? And do you plan to continue the series, as full novels or short stories?
DB: I love urban fantasy because it allows you to play in imaginary world that sometimes resemble our own. Veiled Magic is set in a world much like ours, except certain paranormal creatures are real. (No, not vampires. But yes, dragons … in a way you have never seen them before.) That series is finished, but I might do something else in my Baba Yaga series of paranormal romances based on the famous Russian witches. Who knows?
ev0ke: The paranormal romance Baba Yaga series and Witch Ever Way You Can draw on Russian folklore and fairy lore, and indigenous American traditions, respectively. They also contain lots of suspense, magic, and mayhem. Considering the popularity of the genre, what would you like to see more of in paranormal romance? E.g., diversity of characters? Different polytheistic traditions? More in-depth research?
DB: Thank goodness you don’t ask any deep or complicated questions. *hits head on desk* AHEM. Honestly? I love stories that touch on new and different backgrounds. That’s how I came up with the Baba Yaga series in the first place — I wanted to write a retold fairy tale that hadn’t been done a million times before. I love it when I discover a book that centers around an obscure legend or character, or a setting that is new to me.
ev0ke: The Everyday Witch Tarot was released by Llewellyn in 2017, followed by the Everyday Witch Oracle in 2019. Did you approach Llewellyn with the idea for these decks, or did they come to you? How long did it take you and artist Elisabeth Alba to create the decks, and what was the collaborative process like?
DB: Llewellyn actually came to me with the idea, which was pretty amazing. I was in the middle of the Baba Yaga series and super busy writing fiction at the time, so my first reaction was, “I’m just too busy.” Then I thought about it and said to myself, “You IDIOT, you can have your own tarot deck!” So naturally I said yes. I’m so grateful I did. They sent me four possible artists to look at, and the first one whose website I went to was Elisabeth Alba. As soon as I saw her art, I knew she was the one, and I literally begged Llewellyn to ask her. We had such a great time working together, and it was as if she saw exactly what was in my head and put it on paper. We had such a blast working together, a couple of years later we came up with the idea for the oracle and presented it to Llewellyn. Thankfully they loved it, and it allowed us to correct a huge mistake we made in the tarot (which is otherwise wonderful) of not being inclusive enough. There was much more back and forth with that deck, trying to get it exactly right. Hopefully we did.
ev0ke: When you are not writing, you also run The Artisans’ Guild, make jewelry, read tarot, and work as an energy healer. Do these different parts of your life compete with one another, or do you find that they stimulate and influence one another?
DB: They all use different aspects of who I am. Running a shop full of artists gives me a chance to be practical and contribute to my local town, making jewelry exercises a completely different creative side, and reading tarot and doing energy work allow me to tap into my spiritual gifts. They’re all aspects of that strange and wonderful creature that is Deborah Blake.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
DB: I have a completely new fiction series coming out in February, starting with Furbidden Fatality. The books are cozy mysteries, which are light, humorous, and fun — something I think is perfect for our current stressful times. The books are set in a small town in the Catskills, and feature a protagonist who has an unexpected lottery win and ends up spending it saving a rundown local shelter. The tiny black kitten who adopts her and is featured in all the books is based on my beloved familiar Magic the Cat, who I lost three years ago, and the shelter itself was inspired by a fabulous local shelter where I got two of my four current cats. Part of the proceeds of each book sale will be donated to that shelter, because they do such amazing work in my community.