Author Interview – Karen Runge

Karen Runge writes the kind of edgy, gritty realism I really enjoy. Her intensive character portrayals of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances always take you just a step further than you are willing to go, leaving you unsettled and uncomfortable at the end of her tales.

Her work has been published by Grey Matter Press, Books of the Dead Press, Shock Totem and others. Her first collection of short stories released earlier this year Seven Sins is a grisly and captivating collection which ventures deep into such themes as betrayal and deception, sexuality and the loss of innocence. Her stories touch on the unspeakable – miscarriage, incest, necrophilia – against a backdrop of domesticity and romance.

I was excited to have a chat with Karen about her work. I knew she wouldn’t shy away from the ugly and beautiful truth of things.

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VMN: Hi Karen, welcome!

What attracts you to writing horror and dark tales? Why do you think horror is important as a genre?

KR: Thank you, Veronica! Horror – particularly psychological and trauma horror – is important because in a world where many choose to bury their heads in the sand, it’s the one place where we can explore dark realities in a safe setting. It allows us to experience vicariously the worst that humanity has to offer. This is important because if we don’t face an issue, we have no way of dealing with it with empathy or in fact finding any way of reaching something close to understanding. I once heard a writer – unfortunately I forget who – say something along the lines of, ‘Don’t be scared of the horror writers, it’s the romance writers who should really terrify you.’ How true! At least, in that those who are open to stepping into the darkness through their art are not in denial of anything. Horror offers a balance to the realities it describes. Not so much true in other genres, I can’t help but think. (I now hear a horde of Fantasy fans simultaneously unsheathing their swords… sorry, guys!)

VMN: That’s a hilarious quote, and quite true, some romance writing is utterly terrifying!
I like your notion – that horror fiction provides us with a way to deal with the reality of darkness in our lives.
As a woman writing horror do you feel you face any particular challenges or difficulties that male authors do not?

KR: Yes, unfortunately. As a budding horror fan, I noticed often that when I talked about horror films or novels that I’d enjoyed, scenes of carnage that gripped me, anything in that vein really, the male reaction I got was often one of amused disbelief. Like horror is a ‘boys club’ or something, and my interest in it was somehow entertaining to them, and not to be taken seriously. And that’s just on a fan level. As I started writing my own stories and sharing my own thoughts on the genre, I hit this at another speed. One that was often pretty condescending. I’d like to temper this by saying it wasn’t all the guys around me, it wasn’t every male horror fan I struck up a conversation with – but it was many. Female genre fans and creators have to step up higher, shout a little louder, to be sure that we’re actually being noticed and listened to – that our love of the genre isn’t seen as some quirky, cute attempt at getting male attention by faking our interests. But then, we know why we’re here. And what woman doesn’t like a challenge, right?

VMN: For sure and it’s great to see many emerging women horror and dark fiction writers stepping up.
The depiction of female adversaries and villains in our popular culture mythology really fascinates me. In many ways I think we rein in and limit our ‘bad’ female characters more than our ‘good’ female characters. The female protagonists in Seven Sins are original and unpredictable and allow the reader an intimate insight into the complexities of being a woman. 
What inspired and motivated you to create the women in Seven Sins?

KR: Me, too! It was exactly this same fascination that motivated me to create the female characters in Seven Sins. Stereotypes regarding the nature of the female tend to divide into two specific, predictable groups: The Madonna and The Whore. Women are either soft little angels who can do no wrong, or they’re sly, conniving temptresses. As a woman, I don’t much appreciate either representation. I’m sure not many do. People – male or female – are far too complex to be boxed in like that. It’s not just Seven Sins; I take this on to some degree in any of the stories I write. To me it isn’t even necessarily a conscious exercise. I try to create characters that come across as real, and in doing so their complexity knits itself together as a matter of course. No ‘good’ woman is entirely a Madonna, just as no Whore is by definition heartless. My female characters in this collection are not necessarily bad people. They’re misguided, damaged, pushed. No matter how repulsive their actions, not one of them started out with the intention to do evil. And isn’t this the way it most often works in life, too?

VMN: Their flaws are intriguing and depicted without resorting to clichés, it makes the characters very relatable.
What ideas of femininity did you aim to portray and/or challenge?

KR: I wanted to portray that a mother’s love is not necessarily unconditional. That there’s nothing to say women are more capable of mercy than men. That a suffering woman will not by default retreat to graceful tears instead of lashing out. I wanted to challenge our natural assumptions on these points because they are more than a little suspect as it is, and yet I see them consistently showing up in films, TV shows and books. I think this kind of unreality in the way we stereotype the female is actually pretty dangerous. Again, let’s throw a little blood over the Madonna. Let’s give the Whore a halo. There’s plenty of evidence clear in life that what we assume and what transpires are under no obligation to match up, and yet I don’t see close to enough of these realities portrayed in fiction. I would like to see more. Count Seven Sins as my own coin tossed into the hat. My own attempt at tilting the scales back to a place a little more true to life.

VMN: Many stories in Seven Sins revolve around birth and children – the loss of children, the abandonment of children, the desire for children. Motherhood is contentious ground of female experience. So much of a mother’s inner world still remains taboo and not discussed openly, things like post natal depression for example. What are some of the ideas around motherhood and birth that you wanted to write about and explore?

KR: I think I had it in for the Madonna with this collection. You’re right – shades of the ‘motherhood’ dilemma show up in many of the stories here. We know it’s not only men who abuse children; we know not all mothers automatically love their kids. But we assume this so strongly that when we’re faced with real-life stories that show the opposite, it’s a helluva shock to us. I’m just as shocked as the rest of us, and yet I’m the first to try flip the thing around when I approach these subjects. These ideas are deeply ingrained, even though they really, really shouldn’t be. I wanted to show that a mother’s love can warp itself into devastating shapes (My Son, My Son and The Orphanage), or not exist at all (The Philosopher). But I wanted to do it with empathy, because of course there’s so much more going on than simple bullet point acts and consequences.

VMN: Your characters are driven to madness by grief or the accumulation of emotional pain. The theme of ‘feeling too much’ comes up often. Is this something you personally relate to? Do you think being an empath is a common trait, and perhaps a valuable tool, for writers?

KR: When my father read this book, he said to me, “Every one of these stories revolves around obsession.” I hadn’t spotted that myself, but when he told me this I realised it was absolutely true. Obsession is a single stride deeper in from empathy. Madness is just one big step deeper in from obsession. This is what writers – particularly dark fiction writers – tend to do. Stand on one spot, signpost it, and then get running to see where they wind up from there. I think the ability to be empathetic, to see and feel as far as you can into the other side, is invaluable to any writer who wants to create something ‘real’. And yes, the ‘feeling too much’ thing is definitely something I relate to personally. Thank God I write though, or I’d probably be just like one of my characters! From what I’ve seen and the other writers I’ve come to know, I think this particular tic is true for most creative artists. We do feel too much; we are at risk of going mad because of it. In that way, creating isn’t just a hobby or a profession. It’s a very necessary pressure valve.

VMN: I love the sexual overtones in your work, it is not erotic but more like currents of repressed, explosive desires. Some of the stories in Seven Sins are tragically twisted coming of age stories. Sex and horror are intricately linked, would you agree?

KR: Most definitely, yes. I write about sex a lot for this exact reason. It alone is such a complex thing that it provides miles and miles of material. In itself, it holds many shades of horror – the power, the force, the surrender, the slaying. And let’s not assume that it’s always the feminine doing the surrendering, and the masculine doing the slaying. There’s something brutal about sex, as much as it can be beautiful. It not only has the power to create life, but it can also completely destroy. It can be a catalyst for love – and for hate. And – get this – every living being on this planet is hard-wired to seek it out. As much as people talk about ‘love’, I’ve always felt that sex has more to do with the animal in us than it does the soul. But also, that it’s the uniting line between the two. It’s a fundamental, frighteningly powerful part of life. Suppress the need for it, and the results can be devastating. Give in to it too much, and you find yourself on another level of madness. I explored that particular angle a lot in Faces. There are busloads of potential horror stories in these simple concepts alone. It’s not about the erotic – or not only. It’s very much about the animal, and all the ways it influences the soul. Is that horror? Of course it is. Of the most visceral, relatable kind you can encounter.

VMN: So true, the most horrific experiences in life often have a sexual element, not just in the obvious scenarios, but every act of aggression, humiliation or emotional suffering relates to sexuality, I think.
Your work covers quite a range of settings, topics, landscapes. What kind of research did you do to flesh out your stories?

KR: This varied from tale to tale. A lot of these stories fell onto the page more or less fully-formed, though I recall doing way more research than I wanted to on, of all things, the anatomy of caravans when I was penning The Philosopher. It’s the dumbest details that can sometimes send you trawling the internet for hours on end, because you don’t want to describe something and then find out you’ve got its fundamentals all wrong. The Orphanage was the most challenging – that involved a fair bit of medical research, very little of which wound up in the final draft. But those long hours did at least give me the background to feel my way through what I was talking about. I’ve long wanted to meet a horror-friendly paramedic I could pitch my grisliest questions to. Trawling pages of medical text to find a single relevant paragraph often feels like a monumental waste of time. Hey, any takers??

VMN: Ha! I’d like to befriend an anatomist myself. I loved the caravan details! While reading I actually thought Wow, Karen must have spent a lot of time checking out caravans! I’m a big fan of research, those little details make a big difference, even if they don’t actually end up in the finished piece.

What are you currently reading? Which authors do you find engaging and inspiring?

KR: I’m currently ripping through Kathryn Davis’ Duplex. It’s amazing. Magic Realism set to full quirk – it reads like something from a dream. It was a gift from my mentor and editor at Concord Free Press, Stona Fitch. He knows exactly which types of books will speak to me. Generally though I’m a pretty easy reader; as a writer I’m always learning from what I read, even stuff I don’t particularly like. I think it’s important to stay open like that. Generally though, I loved Clive Barker’s earlier work (again… sorry Fantasy fans! You guys are really gonna have it in for me by the end of this interview!), and can read his Books of Blood over and over without getting tired of them. Others that easily top my list are Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, Ian McEwan and Mo Yan. Jack Ketchum never ceases to amaze me. These writers tackle their stories and subject matter with a perfect balance of brutality and empathy – something I strive to emulate. It’s sheer magic.

VMN: I hear your first novel is coming out soon from Grey Matter Press, any updates on that? And what else have you got in the works at the moment?

KR: It is indeed! We’re talking marketing and cover art at the moment, which means it’s imminent (which in publishing means, give it another few months!). The title is Seeing Double, and it’s set for release early next year. I also have a new short, Angeline, which will be out soon in Simon Dewar’s Suspended in Dusk II, published by Books of the Dead Press. And there are a few other things in the pipeline that are still a touch too fresh to be ready for public announcement. As ever, we stand in one spot, signpost it, and then see where we go from there. I’m strapped in and ready for the ride. Hope to see you there, wherever I may wind up.

VMN: Looking forward to it! Thank you so much for your time Karen, it has been great chatting with you.

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Karen Runge was born in Paris, France, in October 1983. The daughter of a diplomat, her family lived in France and then Gabon before returning to their native South Africa when she was a young child.

She is a dark fiction author and occasional artist, with works published in various anthologies and horror magazines from around the world. Her debut solo short story collection, ‘Seven Sins’, was published in June 2016 by Concord ePress.
She currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Visit Karen on her blog: https://www.karenrunge.wordpress.com
Stalk her on Twitter @RungeKaren

Seven Sins is available from Concord ePress and  Amazon

 

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Author Interview – Erik Hofstatter

Erik Hofstatter is a self-described ‘schlock horror’ writer. His short stories make you feel like you’re sitting beside him at a bar as he buys you another drink and shares his tall tales. But like most vagrants who preach at the bar, his easy charm is a cover for a complex mind that suddenly takes a dark turn, unsettling you in your seat.
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His first collection of short stories Moribund Tales, released in 2013, touches on the Gothic and ghostly with flashes of black magic, a collection about betrayal and revenge.
He followed this up with the short novella The Pariahs, a carefully constructed chilling thriller that demonstrates his versatility as a story teller. Next came Katerina, a fun and quirky read about the unusual romance between two likeable outcasts, a medieval arms dealer and a prostitute. This year he released Amaranthine and Other Stories, tales that entertain, creep you out and, at times, disgust!

I enjoy Erik’s work, it is sharp and clean writing with just the right hit of weird and dark. He has been working hard at perfecting his craft and has another novella coming out very soon.

I was thrilled when he agreed to sit in my reclining leather chair and let me pick his brain.

Welcome Erik! Now just relax, let us begin…

Tell us about your writing process, how and when do you work , do you have any weird writer quirks?

Hold on, lemme take a sip of rum first! Right, that’s better. My writing process is fairly simple. I outline each scene, develop characters etc. Many authors prefer to just write and let the magic happen. Sadly, I’m not one of them. I need to know where I’m going every step of the way. Planning is important to me.

As for when, time is precious. Most writers have full-time jobs, families and other commitments. I try to squeeze in a few paragraphs whenever opportunity permits, usually Friday nights or Saturday mornings.

What attracts you to the horror genre rather than any other? What compels you to write dark tales?

519-9gQ6m6L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_You know, I tend to ignore genre and themes. I write what I feel. I simply bleed out my feelings on the page and the readers can decide which blood group they belong to. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to write what you know. And I do. I draw inspiration from life experiences and most of them are dark. I was baptised by pessimism and can’t scrub it off.

Who are your influences as an author? Whose work makes your jaw drop in awe?

One of my current favourites is Gary McMahon. I worship his characters. They’re beautifully flawed, world-weary and instantly relatable. Gary is known to be the king of urban horror and rightly so. I own copies of most of his books and can’t praise them enough. The man writes pure gold. I was so smitten that I got in touch with him, confessed my love, and he agreed to read Rare Breeds (my upcoming novella from Dark Silo Press). He enjoyed it enough to provide a blurb. I almost fainted.

How do you deal with writer’s block and self-doubt? How do you keep yourself motivated and inspired?

The entire creative process is emotionally rewarding, I find. Holding the finished product in your hand is an incredible feeling. Life is full of misfortunes, people come and go, but this is yours and yours alone. No one can take it away from you.
And then there are the readers, of course. They are my anchor. I’m plagued by self-doubt just like any other writer. All those endless hours sacrificed behind a laptop and for what? That’s where the readers come in. When I finish a good book, I seek the author out (usually via Twitter) and I’ll let them know how much I enjoyed their story. Positive feedback is a powerful motivator and trust me, they’ll appreciate it! I’m often drowning in self-doubt, it’s pulling me under, and I struggle to breathe. But then I receive an e-mail or a tweet from someone who enjoyed my tale and their words are like a lifeline—they make it all worthwhile.

I’ve been fortunate enough not to be stricken by a writer’s block just yet. Ideas are shoaling in my brain constantly and I’m always scribbling something down. Inspiration comes in many shapes and guises. A conversation with someone, an article I read, a film I watched, a song I listened to, or a situation unfolding on the street—anything! The faintest spark can burst into a flame.

41UK9Ts9IzL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_You have an active presence on social media. Self-promotion and marketing plays a big part in an indie author’s success, I think. Do you agree? Do you enjoy that aspect of the business?

Yes, I try to keep an active presence on social media (Twitter in particular) as I enjoy interacting with readers and fellow authors. I conversed with some fascinating people over the years and formed lasting friendships. As far as self-promotion goes, yes, I agree—it is a necessary evil. It’s also thin ice. No one likes spam so you have to be savvy about how you market yourself. It’s perfectly acceptable to announce new projects and tweet about them for the first few days, but if you’re constantly spamming people with links to your books you’ll end up alienating them. The best promotion is word of mouth. When people read your story and like it enough to tweet/post about it. That’s what you want. If you spent hours tweeting about your own book and how fantastic it is no one will take you seriously. I won’t anyway.

It’s also important to bear in mind that your readers might be interested in you as a person, not just your books, so share fragments of your daily life, too. What film did you watch? Where did you go on a trip? Which band do you like? Etc. No one wants to read a timeline filled with Amazon links.

Your stories touch on all kinds of subject matter. Do you do a lot of research for your story ideas?

That depends on the subject. If I’m stepping into an unknown territory then yes—meticulous research is vital. But at the same time, I dread it because I’m losing valuable writing time. The setting and culture I chose to tackle in my debut novel for example, is unlike anything I’ve ever written before. I’ve spent hours perusing various articles.

As a writer, what do you think are your strongest points and which areas do you feel are the weakest and would like to improve?

My main disadvantage is English. I’ve lived in the UK for many years but English is, and always will be, my second language. I can’t change that. This means I have to work twice as hard. Because of this curse, I accepted that my prose will never be good enough to be regarded as high-lit. Hence the term Schlock. I’d like to think that plotting is one of my stronger points and that it compensates for flawed prose. I enjoy toying with the reader and my aim is to keep them guessing (and entertained) at all times. I also like to think that I improve with time and repetition. I want my next book to be better than the last—in all areas!

I’ve noticed that your Eastern European heritage creeps into your stories often, in characters, locations and themes. Tell us about your background and how it influences your writing.

I was born in the Czech Republic but subsequently lived in Austria, Ireland and England. I travelled across Greece, Spain, Malta, Germany—most of Europe, in fact! I’d love to visit other continents someday, too. I think it makes a nice change to read a story that’s based in an exotic location or unusual surroundings. Diversity is important. I was raised in a different cultural background and my parents emphasized morals that seem to be forgotten in other cultures. Still, England is my home since puberty so I’m a bit of a hybrid!

I hear you have a few new releases coming up soon, including a novella? Tell us all about it!

Crystal Lake Publishing released a third volume of their popular anthology Tales from The Lake recently, which I wrote a story for, but missed the deadline due to my tardiness! The editor, Monique Snyman, got in touch and informed me that they would still like to buy my story and use it as an extension of the anthology on their new website. I was chuffed! Crystal Lake is one of the leading indie publishers and I’m a huge fan of their books. The story is entitled Symbol of Beauty and should be out soon.

As for the novella, I couldn’t be more excited! I wrestled with Rare Breeds for two years, re-write after re-write after re-write. Then when I deemed it ready, a publisher accepted it and then strung me along for months so I was forced to withdraw. Eventually, I found a loving home for the story in the arms of Brian Kaufman of Dark Silo Press. We aim to release it on Halloween. I’m very proud of this one.

Plans for the future? vsEYk1oClSMDbJxKZNEHpRWXa0js7E9thgSmhCWYINY

Well, for me it’s all about baby steps. I started writing flash fiction, then shorts, then novellas and now I’m gearing up for the big one—a short novel! I began writing last year and have about 40k so far. It’s a mammoth of a story and I’m excited but equally terrified! Wish me luck!

Excitement and terror make a good pair, I think! Thank you so much for your time Erik, it’s been great talking to you!

Thank you for inviting me! Always a pleasure, Magenta.

Check out Erik Hofstatter’s website. Follow him on Twitter ,  Facebook and Instagram.
His books are available on Amazon.

 

 

Author Interview – Jaclyn Cherie

“You need to burn in the fire of your truth.” – Jaclyn Cherie

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As an ongoing project I will be interviewing up and coming indie authors. My first guest on board is a prolific blogger, non fiction writer and occult practitioner.

Jaclyn Cherie is the creatrix of The Nephilim Rising, a blog that has quickly amassed a huge following in its short lifespan. Since its launch in 2015 her Facebook page has hit 28K likes. Jaclyn has successfully expanded into other ventures, such as her jewellery design and apothecary brand.
Likes and followers are certainly not everything, but they do give an indication of audience reach. Jaclyn’s work has obviously tapped a collective nerve.

As we have all heard by now “The Goddess is Rising”, the divine feminine is returning to stake her claim after thousands of years of oppression. What often remains unsaid is that a goddess rises through shit and tears, with blood stained hands, righteous fury in her heart, and she’s not here to play nice. A goddess rises through ruthless self determination. And that’s where Jaclyn Cherie comes in. Amid the waves of goddess commentators, she is a raw, brave and original voice.

Firstly, she is a left hand path practitioner, a self proclaimed Luciferian witch and feminist, and let’s not underestimate that radical stance.
Secondly, the scope and purpose of her writing is diverse. She is not afraid of taboos, tackling topics like sexuality, BDSM, mental illness, patriarchy, female genital mutilation, psychic vampirism and the ethics of cursing.
She shares her own wisdom and experience on occult topics and aims to educate by sharing research. Her down to earth language, avoiding intellectual jargon, is what makes her blog so accessible and popular.

Jaclyn’s blog documents the beginnings and development of her own empowerment through magical practice. Her writing is emotional and passionate. Her enthusiasm for the material and the thirst for knowledge that drives her are obvious. With brutal honesty she shares her initiations with us, through times of doubt and pain, joy and realisation. This is what makes her work unique. Jaclyn shows us what ‘goddess rising’ actually means.

I had a chat with this dark goddess; about her journey thus far, her plans for the future and the upcoming release of her published work.

First up, tell us about your involvement in the book “LUCIFER – Light of the Aeon”, to be published at the end of August by Black Moon Publishing. 

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This will be my first published piece of work, and I cannot express how excited I am. To become a published author was one of my dreams when I started this journey, I just never thought it would happen. I never thought any of this would happen to be honest.

The book itself is a group effort put together by a collective simply known as Rebels; we aim to personalize Lucifer and Luciferianism. As a contributing writer I hope to add the fire and brimstone that I am known for while being vulnerable and honest by telling a story very dear to my heart. Lucifer is not just a deity, or a metaphor to me, He changed me. Similarly, Luciferianism is not just my Philosophy, it is my lifestyle.

I want the book to resonate with people, more importantly, I want it to create dialogue of a topic so many avoid, and so many more don’t understand. I believe this book has potential to be a key for many.

What motivated you to begin The Nephilim Rising?

The story of NR, as I have come to call it, is actually comical in the most ironic way. I started the page as an act of rebellion; I was an Admin on another Facebook page, one that I still Admin for to this day, and I did not agree with the direction the other writers and contributors were going in.

I wanted, and desperately needed a place for my ideas, thoughts, madness, and to tell my story without the creative influence of anyone else. So, I started NR. The name came to me in a dream actually; only after the fact did I learn that it was a song by a mega popular metal band, Behemoth.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that NR was going to be a brand, a movement and a revolution. The idea in and of itself was so much bigger than just me, and I was at the mercy of this energy…this Muse.
I stick to one Philosophy when it comes to my page and that is, “stay true to you.”
The day to day workings of the page, and what I post and discuss are often a reflection of what I am going through personally, or something that is weighing on my mind.

Some weeks it will be dark and talking about summoning Daemons, the next few weeks it will be soft and Feminine; the page goes where my mind does, and my mind has no limits. You will see evidence of the ebb and flow of my Cancerian Soul in all my creative work.
NR will always be a true reflection of myself; quirky, macabre and provocative.

How do you think your writing has developed since you began the blog?

This blog has been paramount in helping my writing skills and people skills for that matter. It has opened the doors for so many opportunities that I would not have been afforded otherwise.
Basically, I owe everything I have now to a Facebook page, and blog. Surreal.

In the beginning I had this idea that because I was not college educated and didn’t always use proper grammar and such, it meant I wasn’t and couldn’t be a good writer; whatever that is. I think this is something that many writers, and artists in general struggle with but for me it was almost paralysing.
My writing is still the same style it always has been but admittedly is much more polished, and fine-tuned since I started this venture in December of 2014.

I actually met the Editor and fellow contributor of, LUCIFER: Light of the Aeon because someone showed her my blog and she then found me on Facebook; this is in fact how all of my publishing, and work opportunities have come to me. I have the deepest gratitude for NR and the Spirits who stand behind me as I create my empire.

The focus of your blog sometimes steers towards practical “how to” posts , such as protection or channelling techniques, often in response to requests from your readers. How do you feel about your role as a teacher and guide for others ?

The idea of being considered a teacher or guide terrifies me, and I think it always will. For a really, really long time I denied that I was a teacher altogether, I thought admitting so meant I was snobby, or egotistical. Who am I to think I am a teacher, you know? I learned that denying it hindered my personal growth. I believe I am a teacher because I am aware that I am always a student; I also think that I have become a guide for so many because my page is a beacon—I am a beacon.

I don’t want my readership to think like I do, or to have some cult like, doe eyed, numb minded following; I just want people to find the strength to think as an individual through my personal testimony of what it means to walk this path.
The practical posts are often by request, yes, but some are just because they are needed! So, so needed!

There also, generally speaking, seems to be a huge void of practical information that is written in a way everyone can understand and apply to everyday life.

In your posts you speak passionately about ‘community’, meaning in particular the occult community, with a concern for open dialogue and education on relevant issues. For example, some of your posts have addressed the difference between LHP and RHP, the question of free will and karma; with the intention of clarifying misunderstanding. Can you speak a bit about your interest in community and how you see your role within it as a spokesperson for the Craft?

I walk the Left Hand Path because I am an individual but as a Spiritualist I am well aware of the power of unity and the collective conscious, and unconscious.
I don’t believe in some kumbaya world but I think we damn sure can do better than we are now; both collectively and within our own community.

We seem to be so divided on issues, and this whole idea of the Spectrum and where we fall on it. Light has become synonymous with good, and dark with bad; I just want to break up some of these misconceptions so that people can really begin to dive into themselves, and the ancient knowledge that is, literally, at our fingertips.

As Witches and Humans, really, we need to be free to explore our world, our minds, and bodies without restriction.
I want, and urge people to break free of their comfort zones and live outside the proverbial box; only by stirring the pot, and instilling a sense, a need for, community can this be done.

I know that you have had to deal with more than your fair share of criticism and judgement as NR has expanded. How do you cope with and respond to criticism? How has it changed you and your work?

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I am actually a very sensitive person and because NR is an extension of myself, any criticism given is almost always taken personally. It has gotten much, much better in the last few months, and I now know when people are just being trolls, and when there is actually truth behind their words.

I think an important part of being a public figure is being able to handle criticism, and being able to admit when you’re wrong; I think an equally important part of being a public figure is knowing when to tell them to fuck off.

I choose my battles now, and have no problem banning people who cause a problem; engaging is just not always worth it. I have found that my page, and myself are targeted more than other pages because I am a Woman. I have been challenged many times by people wanting to know if I knew what I was talking about in regards to the Occult. As if a Woman can’t be into the LHP and Dark Magick.

Now, the criticism given is motivation to do better and be better; nothing fuels success like the jealousy of another and a passion to remain true.

Many of your posts stretch beyond the sphere of the occult and address issues of social justice and politics. They are intricately related spheres I think, what are your thoughts on this?

I absolutely believe that mundane issues intertwine with Magickal issues on the personal and collective levels.
“It’s all relative” comes to mind…
I have always been interested in politics, and social issues; at first I didn’t want to take on or incorporate them into my blog but one day it just happened, and it resonated hard with people.
I strongly believe in the collective, that is no secret, and I think it is this belief along with the hope I hold for humanity that causes me to write about issues all across the board.
We need to not be afraid to discuss issues that make us uncomfortable and that is why I bring up topics that others don’t dare touch.

Social media has its advantages and drawbacks, it is certainly a demand and supply market place. When follower numbers grow so fast as is the case with NR, I imagine it can be quite an energy strain at times. How do you cope with the expectations placed on you?

I don’t cope, actually, and that is something I am working on.
The expectation to perform, if you will, is self-imposed but that doesn’t make it any less heavy, or stressful. I want to keep my readers entertained and interested but also preserve energy and time for myself.
I find that on most days I am running on empty and those are the days when I focus on remaining true to myself, and not getting caught up in the numbers and stress of it all.

It’s hard to not take it personally when I lose a couple of likes and know that it’s because of something I posted, or said. Conversely, it’s super intimidating when there is a massive spike in the numbers; it’s like stripping down to my Soul every day for strangers, both terrifying and thrilling.
I try to draw boundaries more, and have more moments of rest, but as I mentioned before this is so much bigger than just me, and I know there are Spirits, both Ancient and Ancestral that stand behind me, and it’s because of them that I push forward.

It’s because of the need for words such as mine that I put myself second. Oddly, it is through serving the greater cause that my personal mission is fulfilled; self-preservation through service, what a contradiction. How fitting.
I have been and am blessed beyond measure.

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What are your future plans for The Nephilim Rising and as an author?
Other projects in the pipeline? 

The plans for the future are as vast and unknown as the Universe itself. I can say that I plan on expanding the Shop and offering more ritual items, and home goods. I also am contributing to an upcoming Poetry book with the Luciferian flare. I think self-publishing a few practical books of my own might be in the future, too.
I don’t have a set course, or destination, I just know that if truth is my fuel I cannot lose.

Carpe Diem; Carpe Noctem; Carpe Omnia

Thank you so much for your time Jaclyn!

You can connect with Jaclyn Cherie on The Nephilim Rising,  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and through her Etsy shop.

LUCIFER: Light of the Aeon, Written by Rebels, Edited by Diane Narraway, is due for release by Black Moon Publishing in late August 2016.