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The Author's Corner

 



Gwinevere Rain

Visit Gwinevere Rain's website

 

 

Confessions of a
Teenage Witch

 

Spellcraft for Teens

 

Moonbeams & Shooting Stars: Discover Inner Strength and Live a Happier More
Spiritual Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a Teenage Witch:
TWPT Talks to Gwinevere Rain

©2005TWPT


TWPT:  How typical is it to find the Wiccan path as young as you did? With the dissemination of information being as widespread as it is these days do you think that this will be more commonplace in the future?

GR:  I first found out about Wicca when I was fourteen. The more I learned about the religion, the more it felt right for me. I am not sure if my experience is typical or not but I do know that the majority of practitioners I speak with are in their teens and twenties. What really surprised me was when my first book Spellcraft for Teens came out,  I had received a few correspondences from young people around ages nine and ten. It goes to show that people find Wicca during different life stages and that’s okay! I am happy young adults are investigating spirituality and questioning religion - it illustrates a positive level of individuality and maturity. 

TWPT:  Where was it that you received your first exposure to the ideas and concepts of Wicca and how long before you realized that it spoke to your spirit in a more meaningful way than did your previous path?

 GR:  I learned about Wicca because I went searching on the Internet. I had wanted to know if Witchcraft and spells were real. At fourteen I was curious about spirituality. I think at that time movies, TV shows and books about young Witches were flourishing, but I truly think that I would have been drawn to the path even if that type of media wasn't out there. Eventually, after sometime on the Internet I began to decipher what was fact and what was fiction. It was amazing to me that people were Wiccan and the more I learned about it, the more I felt it was the religion meant for me.  My family is catholic but growing up it wasn’t pushed upon me. Holidays like Christmas were about family togetherness more so than the religious context. I think this less conservative upbringing helped me avoid feeling guilty about researching a new path. Aspects of Wicca spoke to my spirit in a way that was so liberating; a feminine deity, empowering Magick, individual responsibility instead of patriarchal rules, direct contact with the higher powers and the flexibility that came with personalization. I can truly relate when someone says they’ve always been Wiccan at heart. 

TWPT:  Tell me about who it is that you are writing for and what you hope to be able to communicate to your target audience.

GR:   My main readership is comprised of teens and people in their early twenties. Spellcraft for Teens was for a younger crowd (about 13 to 16), my second book Moonbeams & Shooting Stars was for females 16 to 18, now Confessions of a Teenage Witch branches out covering a wider market 16 to 24 male and female. I keep the gender and age group in mind each and every time I write. It’s important to me because I want to give the best advice without talking down yet catering to their needs. As to communicating a clear message it would be - you are not alone. 

TWPT:  Do you ever see yourself as a bridge between the teens and those who are further along the path helping each to see the truth of the other?

GR:    I do see myself as one of the people bridging the gap between teens and older, more seasoned practitioners. I don’t think I am alone in this pursuit. More and more people are recognizing that there is a break down in dialogue among teens and adult Wiccans. The older generation sometimes stereotypes young practitioners and teens can’t always relate to adults. It is my hope that with some effort this will change. 

TWPT:  As you get further from your teen years do you still expect to be writing for a teen audience or will your writing reflect your personal growth and follow the teens that you have connected with as they grow older?

GR:   I really like writing for teens its something that I want to continue to do in the future. Mainly because this is an age group in which so much change takes place and you really struggle to find who you are. I would however like to transition from YA nonfiction to YA fiction. I recognize that I have a lot to learn in regard to this type of writing but I am eagerly willing to take it on.  

TWPT:  Were you surprised when the publisher accepted your first book for publication? What were some of your first reactions to the news and the realization that lots of folks would be reading and evaluating your words?
GR:  
I am not sure if surprise is the right word, it was more a mixture of excitement and relief. I had written the book over several months, then submitted it to two publishers, when I received interest it was a relief knowing that my effort was worth while. The excitement came after I signed my contract and it was “official.” Once I realized many people would read my work, I was a little nervous what they might  say. A sixteen year old writing a book isn’t all that common, so I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be. Luckily, it turned out to be positive and encouraging. 

TWPT:  Your new book Confessions of a Teenage Witch is currently out on the book shelves and I'm sure that our readers are wondering who this book is written for in terms of the content. Beginner, intermediate or advanced practitioner. Who would benefit from picking up a copy?

GR:  Confessions of a Teenage Witch is mostly intermediate, but I enclosed a Q& A chapter to get beginners more up to speed. The intermediate aspects come from the issues addressed in the book; coming out of the broomcloset (expressing one’s beliefs to friends and family) creating a circle casting, developing your own spells, compiling various elements for a personalized Sabbat ritual. It’s very much about building upon skills that one already has and taking those abilities one step further. 

TWPT:  Was it difficult to share portions of your personal Book of Shadows during the course of writing Confessions of a Teenage Witch? In what way were you using these excerpts to illustrate your new book?

 GR:  I think at first I was hesitant. I questioned how much I actually wanted to reveal, but after weighing out the positives and negatives, I decided to follow my intuition and move forth. I didn't add everything, I kept a few parts out because they were too personal. If I didn't open myself up, then I don't think the book would have turned out to be what it has become. I wanted to show a progression of learning to convey humor, honest and openness. I think you can trust someone who says "look these are my flaws. I am not perfect." After all there is no such thing as a perfect Wiccan. 

TWPT:  You spoke in your new book of the impact of not being allowed to participate in a study group because of your age. You felt rejected by this person who would not let you join because of your age. Don't you think that it is for the teen's protection as well as the adults in the group to have some guidelines about teen participation in study groups or covens even with parental permission?

GR:  If the person who posted the notice had initially clarified that it was for adults only, I wouldn’t have contacted her, but the notice lead me to believe it was an informal study/discussion group for anyone to join. Additionally, I had permission from my mother. It wasn’t a coven, so I felt I should have been able to attend a discussion group for Wiccans in my area. I see nothing wrong with creating guidelines and if someone is under the legal age of 18 then parents should definitely be involved. Out right banning is not fair, especially if an age requirement isn’t clearly stated upfront. 

TWPT:  Has your writing made you a spokesperson for teens following the Wiccan Path? How do you feel about that responsibility?

GR:  I don’t like to think of myself as a spokesperson but I make an effort to help voice concerns of teens and try my best to squash stereotypes cast upon young Wiccans. It’s never been my intention to speak for a whole group but instead I hope my comments spark discussion and highlight topics otherwise ignored. I take my responsibilities very seriously because whether intentionally or not what I do/write/say might effect the way young adult Wiccans are perceived. 

TWPT:  When was it that you started writing seriously with the idea in mind that you would like to see your material published?

GR:  From the beginning I wanted to send my ideas and experiences out into the world. I started writing book reviews for an e-zine called Cauldrons & Broomsticks (which is unfortunately no longer published) from there I realized the age gap of writers versus who they were writing for. I was driven to develop my own book because I felt there was a need for a guide that was for teens by a teen. That's how Spellcraft initially developed and I just continued from there catering my writing to a young, smart readership. 

TWPT:  You mention in your book that you are primarily a solitary practitioner but do you ever get out and work with groups on occasion?

GR:  As a teen I wasn't welcome in groups so I focused on solitary work. Additionally, it can be hard to find practitioners in one's area that you really jive with. Although, I love being a solitary and will remain one, I can see myself connecting in a group setting in the future. 

TWPT:  What are some of the unfair criticisms and/or unkind words that you have heard directed at teens concerning Wicca that are just not true? How would you answer some of these criticisms?

GR:  Most critics are about teens abilities and intentions. I've heard things like "they are only in it for the spells" or "they are too young to understand." Teenagers are drawn to Wicca for a variety of reasons and it's just not fair to lump a whole diverse group of people under one negative (and false) assumption. Additionally, young adults do have the capacity to understand deep symbolism and philosophy. I've read serious debates held by teens on my message board, The Wicca Cauldron on the Wiccan Rede and various other topics relating to the Craft. I really have to say that adults shouldn’t under estimate the power and intellect of young people! 

TWPT:  Tell me about how your parents reacted to the news that their daughter wanted to follow the Wiccan path. Is there anyway to work through this situation so that no one ends up alienated from the other?

GR:  My parents are divorced so the reaction I was concerned with was my mom's. I let her know from the beginning that I was interested in Wicca. She was hesitant but only because she didn't know anything about the path. Once I learned enough to explain it clearly then she was fine with the idea of letting me explore further. I recognize that most teens may not have such open-minded parents so I developed a whole section in Confessions of a Teenage Witch to address these concerns. I am not sure if there will ever be a clear cut way to make both parents and teens satisfied, religion will always be a challenging subject. 

TWPT:  Have your parents been supportive in your efforts to succeed as an author?

GR:  Definitely supportive! In fact for both Moonbeams & Shooting Stars and Confessions of a Teenage Witch my mom and I collaborated on the photography. Every black and white photo was planned and discussed to death. But it was worth it in the end because I love the final result! 

TWPT:  What are some of the advantages (if any) of starting your path at an early age instead of coming to it after having spent many years on a different spiritual path?

 GR:  I think that one of the advantages would be that in your teens you are growing as an individual and take on change naturally. Often religion comes into play, growth and change are part of the process so being young and focusing on religion you mature both personally and spiritually. Plus, there isn't a build up of say, 25 years of another faith competing with Wicca.

TWPT:  After having several books published so far what are your thoughts on the process of getting a book out of your head and into a printed format? Was it as hard as you thought it would be?

GR:  Writing a book is a solitary journey and each author has his or her own method. I usually take several months to fully formulate a concept, then as I write, I know the exact topics and chapters. Some days are easy but on other days I have a hard time finding my "flow." I write from my heart and hope that shows on the page. 

Dealing with the business side of publishing is a lot harder than I first anticipated. Most writers don't talk about the struggle to obtain respect. I've had disagreements about covers and constantly struggle to obtain substantial publicity. It's hard too, because people think I make a lot of money and I really don't. I truly believe there is a conflict between perception and reality in this line of work. 

TWPT:  Many of the older practitioners have had to learn to go to the internet for contact and information but do you think that having grown up as part of the internet generation has made you more comfortable with the possibilities that the internet offers for networking and sharing your ideas with the Wiccan/Pagan community at large?

GR:  Almost all of my communication with Wiccans is via the internet. It is a great place for networking and debates. But at the same time there are unscrupulous people who want to take advantage of young people using the guise of Wicca. This is something teens should be made aware of and be on the look out for. When meeting someone offline you should be extra careful. Just because someone says they're a Wiccan doesn't mean they are a good person. 

TWPT:  What kinds of feedback have you been receiving from your readers about your early books and your latest book Confessions of a Teenage Witch even though it has only been out a short while? (out July 5, 2005 from Penguin)

GR:  I am really happy with the feedback that I have received from Confessions of a Teenage Witch. I think teens are relieved to see something new and different. Plus, guys are glad its not a pink girly cover! Book reviews thus far have been positive and I am very thankful for that because I have a habit of taking reviews personally. Some readers who have read my previous books are commenting on how they see I’ve developed with my writing. That is so very meaningful to hear. 

TWPT:  Do you ever use this feedback in attempt to make your future projects more useful to your readers and the things they want to read about?

GR:  I used a lot of the feedback from Spellcraft for Teens and my website http://www.copper-moon.com/  when formulating Confessions of a Teenage Witch. Had I not incorporated these concepts, Confessions would be another book entirely. Teens asked for various subjects and I made sure to put them in! 

TWPT:  Do you enjoy the process of researching, writing and editing your books? Is it more pleasure or more like work for you and why?

GR:  Towards the beginning of writing my books there is a level of excitement. Its so new and fun, I want to expand upon outlined ideas. Usually I feel like I have plenty of time. Then towards the middle I find my stride and am used to the daily grind. At the end, I worry so much thinking I’ll never get it done, nobody will like it, I want to rewrite portions, and I am exhausted. When I go through editing after its written and I am facing a deadline, I am like a walking ghost, I stop making sense when I talk, I become an insomniac worrying more. Then I finally mail it to my editor and take a few personal days to come down from the experience. So it can be a pleasure but there are times where I just get so overworked its hard to enjoy something that feels more like a burden. This is part of being a writer, and I just always hope when the book comes out that the hard work was worth it. 

TWPT:  What are some of the challenges currently facing teen practitioners and how would you like to see some of these areas addressed over the coming years?

GR:  Coming Out of the Broomcloset to one's family is one of the biggest challenges for teen Wiccans. Because there are many misconceptions about this path and a lack of tolerance from other faiths, it is a big struggle for young adults. Another challenge (as I’ve mentioned already) is working out conflicts with adult practitioners and overcoming stereotypes. In the upcoming years I think we’ll see a slow evolving of tolerance and acceptance. The more that teens step up and say “we
won’t be treated like this anymore” the more we’ll start to see authentic change. 

TWPT:  How much misinformation does the media dole out in regards to what a Wiccan or Witch would look like or do in regards to their practice and how does that misinformation mold what teens expect when they first decide to follow the Wiccan/Pagan path?

GR:  I think the media follows what’s profitable; power crazy teens worked for the movie The Craft, the TV show Charmed is going into its eighth season and Nicole Kidman recently made a hit with BeWitched. The don’t care about accuracy in fictional portrayals but they do aim for pretty female actors. The misinformation about magical powers and effortlessly casting spells can filter into the mind of a person interested in Wicca. Yet, with some research and awareness facts can be separated from fiction quite easily. At the very least, these entertainment bits spark discussion and open the way to saying “hey, that’s not what I do.” 

TWPT:  Do you find that the real-time chats on the internet help you to have a personal connection with other Wiccans/Pagans around the country even though you might never meet them face to face? Is this a good substitute for face to face meetings or is this simply something that fills the gap when you are isolated? What are the risks of this medium?

GR:  My conversations with teens over IM or via e-mail are important, they don't just fill a gap in my schedule. I enjoy hearing feedback and conversing about really life issues. It's not only across the country either, I speak with a diverse group of young adults based all around the globe. The best part is helping someone and letting them know I value their opinion. I can't meet everyone face to face so its a wonderful alternative. 

TWPT:  Finally are there any last thoughts you would like to share with the readers of TWPT or those who might decide to pick up your latest book?

GR:  Imajicka, thank you so much! I hope that your web viewers have enjoyed this interview and gotten to know who this Gwinevere Rain chick is. As to you visitors, if you decided to pick up a copy of Confessions of a Teenage Witch, please let me know your thoughts once you've finished reading it, you can contact me through my website http://www.copper-moon.com/ . I always love feedback! Love & Light ~ Gwinevere Rain

TWPT:  It was great talking to you and I wish you a long and successful writing career as well. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.