So I got a revision request for Firebird from my dream agent August 30th, and I am 5,000 words away – TEN PAGES – from reaching my goal of 75,000 words, up from 50,000 when I had initially sent it to her, which is hardly a novel. Editing has been so much fun and, unlike cutting scenes, given me the excuse to flesh out the story and add 20,000+ words of background, exposition, and exciting scenes in Buyan, home to the Slavic spirits and gods, and a feisty little witch named Anya.
What originally started as a retelling of Princess Anastasia’s disappearence and subsequent childhood with Russian spirits serendipitously ended up a retelling of Stravinksy’s Firebird ballet, with a thousand princesses dancing in King Kaschei’s palace of glass and ice, a firebird of a witch, Father Frost’s crankybastard heir, and a family of Russian monsters headed by the king of the forest, a leshy that would rather read by the fire than rule. Long time followers of my blog may remember when I started Firebird at 21, and now at 23, it is hours away from being done. I only have a few more chapters left to edit and then I’m done after four months of revisions in which a lot of personal life shit went down, I lost my job, got straight A’s in grad school in a new program, and Orange Mussolini got elected. It’s a miracle I even had time to write.
Even if it ultimately gets rejected I now have a solid fantasy to submit to publishers, and this has been such a great experience. In the past three years I have finished two novels and started two others that I’m looking forward to finishing – Space Oddity and Darn Precious Messiah, each of which I have made significant headway on. Darn Precious Messiah draws on my abiding love for New Orleans, Voodoo, jazz, Marie Laveau and Roman Catholicism and of course, Cajun food. Space Oddity is a tribute to David Bowie, a space rock opera about a punk guitarist named Iggi and her stoner alien roommate that turns out to be the Sumerian god Enki. To say that I write strange niche novels is an understatement. I wrote a Thelemic romance about Samael and Eve that is an allegory for mental illness, a retelling of an obscure ballet with Baba Yaga instead of a dumb prince, a book about a girl saving New Orleans from the Petro lwa Marinette with the help of Papa Legba, Mister Carrefour, and Raphael, and finally a spoof on Ancient Aliens about a Bowie cover band in space.
I also have my first short story coming out tomorrow in Eternal Haunted Summer and my first professional publication in Apex Magazine came out in time for Halloween, a poem that I’d worked on since I was 15 and inhaled American Gods.
My Neil Gaiman phase may be over, but I am still telling stories about American – and yes, Russian and Sumerian – gods and spirits. Writing, besides being an environmentalist, is my act of living devotion, and the gods and angels and demons have been telling me their stories my whole life, and I can only try to capture their grandeur in prose and poetry. The spirits and nature, arguably reflections of each other, are my greatest inspiration, and while the stories I tell are by no means from the gods’ mouths, they honor them. I think Pagan fiction is a much needed genre and a way to heal a fractured world – by telling stories of our wonderful gods and spiritual allies, we can begin to give others hope.