The Author's Corner
TWPT: Tell me about where you are in your spiritual life and how you came to be there?
PT: Wow... talk about an odd road. Grew up Lutheran, spent five years as a Pentecostal missionary and singing on gospel tours in Quebec, went to college and became an agnostic, and then ended up in Boston MA having psychic experiences. Those scared me half to death... I thought someone had slipped me odd drugs in a drink (no kidding, I was that naive). Fortunately I met a shaman and a cabalist who recognized the symptoms of magick knocking at my doorstep. They explained energy to me and gently helped me find my way "home" to what I call folk magick.
TWPT: If I might what kinds of experiences were you having that were psychic in nature? How did you happen to meet the shaman and the cabalist at just the right time? Exactly what is folk magic and how does it differ from what others classify as magic?
PT: Object reading. I'd touch people's jewelry and see images. Pretty scarry when you have no clue what's going on. The shaman was a guy who became my husband and I met both him and the cabalist in the SCA (a historical group). I can only define folk magick in my terms but to me it is the blending of superstition and lore - the place where magickal traditions found a safe haven for many years of political correctness - into a functional system of magick. For example. one bit of lore says red is scarry to certain mischievous fairies, so if I were being bothered by that kind of Fey, I would use a red amulet.
TWPT: Was there a turning point in your life when it became crystal clear that this was the path for you or is it something that you have always felt inside you?
PT: You know, I once thought there would be a definitive moment for that, but now I see those moments are on-going. There are so many times I find myself saying, "wow" I'm so glad I'm here. It happens every time a spell works beautifully, or when I travel and meet the other wonderful people in our community who are truly "family" -- or when I watch our children dance the ritual fires. Each of those moments tells me one more time that this is my Path, for now and always.
TWPT: What kinds of paths have you incorporated into your eclectic view of spirituality? Would you go so far as to classify yourself with a particular name or is that something you'd rather not do?
PT: Oh, I'm a tossed salad magician to be sure ! Since I've studied global traditions, there are very few cultural paths that haven't sneaked in somewhere. That's how I like it. The more I study, the more I see how various magickal systems have a core of truths around which that special energy revolves. So long as I gently and respectfully use traditions, I'm open to new things and new ideas.
TWPT: What kinds of truths do you see as being prevalent in many of the magickal systems that you have studied? Are there any that are absolutely essential or are they all interchangeable depending on your point of view and preference? Out of curiosity what are some of the paths that you have incorporated that play a major role in your belief system?
PT: There's some Celtic, lots of core shamanism, some Eastern philosophies, some Anglo Saxon, and a little modern Wicca tossed in for dressing (smile). As for core beliefs - (A) personal responsibility seems to be one. Life is truly what YOU make it. (B) power in all things - nature, the stars, and ourselves. We need to truly recognize ourselves for the powerful, and really sacred things that we are (and believe it), but we also need to honor the sacredness of others and the earth (e.g. not try to have dominion over it). (C) being good people and making life better - the core of most religions is to do just that and magic is no exception, except in this case you're an active participant in the process of transforming outlooks and actions. (D) Honoring some vision of the Sacred Parent - you see it in Egypt, China, Scotland, small unnamed islands, and right in our own back yard. . (E) living proactively - a lot of magick was designed to stop problems BEFORE they happened, and if that didn't work, then turn away the unwanted energy afterward.
TWPT: When was it that the desire to become an author first hit you? Was it something you had thought about as a career option at some point in your life?
PT: Oh, that's a great story. I have my entire career thanks to a case of the chicken pox (guess I was itching to write). Really! I got stuck at home for a week. For a type A personality, work-a-holic, that's torture. So, not knowing what else to do I cleaned out my filing cabinet and tried to write a book.
TWPT: That seems awfully simple, how in the world did you decide what it was that you wanted to write about considering the endless supply of topics that would confront the average writer?
PT: Quite literally I took everything out of my notes and scribbles in my filing cabinet and cut and pasted to death. Funny, as I look back, that first process did seem awfully easy. It was afterward (when things got serious with the publisher) that the real work started.
TWPT: What was the first book that you wrote specifically for the Wiccan/Pagan market? Were you pleased with the outcome of that initial entry into publishing?
PT: Victorian Grimoire was the end result of what began with the chicken pox and a year of working closely with Llewellyn. They took a poet and taught me to be a book writer. From there, things kind of snowballed. Before I wholly realized what was happening it was 8 years and 30 books later! I find writing very addicting. One idea/topic leads to ten more you want to explore and writing has always been a passion of mine. To be able to live my passion is amazing -- if that's not magick I don't know what is.
TWPT: You said that Llewellyn taught you to be a writer, could you elaborate on the relationship that you have (had) with Llewellyn and how they were able to help you with your writing? What is the typical process for you to write a book and see it published, I'm sure it isn't as easy as it sounds?
PT: Llewellyn had some editors and an acquisition manager who were very patient. They saw something they liked in my work and walked me through the changes I needed to make to create a functional book. That taught me a lot from a hands on standpoint. Every edit (and there were several from cover to cover) showed me new things I needed to learn. I still have two books in print with Llewellyn and am hoping to do a new one as soon as we can have a meeting of the minds about what best to write.
The typical process depends on which publisher you deal with. Some only accept whole book submissions with a proposal, while others will accept a 10-20 page proposal and work from there. After one of these goes to acquisitions, they decide if they want it or not. Presuming they do, you get a contract (sometimes an advance on royalties), and you get busy providing a disk, marketing information, etc. Then you do an author proof of their edit, and another after that. You may have to at some juncture provide art or find artists (again depending on the publisher) and the book goes to press. Then the real work begins -- supporting your title in the public eye.
TWPT: Were there any concrete goals you had in mind for that first book?
PT: None at all. I never expected to see a contract let alone a book. It came as a complete surprise.
TWPT: What do you want a reader to take away with them after they have finished one of your books? Some facts and information or something more?
PT: I want the reader to feel like they're in my living room talking to me -- no pretense, no facades, and no guru syndrome. I know that my form of magick won't work for everyone, but if it sparks ideas of their own that WILL work, that's the key. When you write in the New Age sector you have to get away from the numbers game and realize that if you help one person then the book has done its job.
TWPT: You have been quite prolific as an author to this point, do you see this as a continuing trend for the near future? Do you have some favorites that still make you feel that writing is worth all the effort it takes?
PT: I'm going to slow down my book production somewhat. I'd like more time with my children and to travel and speak to the community so I know what people want/need in future books.
My favorites so far? That's tough. Books are like children, you love them all differently. I love Goddess in my Pocket because it was the first time a publisher let me really play and have fun with my writing. 9-5 Shaman (coming out later this year) changed me spiritually on very deep levels that are hard to express. Cat Magic was fun because I LOVE my kitties. See, when you're writing your entire life becomes a microcosm of that topic for 3-6 months because you're focusing 40 hours a week on it. Putting out all that energy manifests in some interesting ways. You wouldn't believe the chaos when I was working on Dancing with Devas... three months of fairy mischief.
TWPT: Could you give us a sneak preview as to what the 9-5 Shaman will cover as far as subject matter goes? Just a general look would be nice.
PT: It looks at core shamanism (the ideals and practices common to global shamanic practices) and how to effectively apply them in our concrete jungle -- something shamanism isn't always suited for ! Nonetheless shamanism teaches us a lot of valuable things that do translate into our world like living prayerfully and thankfully, the necessity of silence, and the importance of our tribes (family, friends, extended family, etc.)
TWPT: What kind of advice might you have for someone considering this particular field as a career?
PT: Don't quit your day job. I'm serious. It can take years to establish yourself and be making enough money to support your lifestyle, whatever that may be. Also seriously consider how much time you can devote to your art. I give at least 25 hours a week, and most weeks much more than that. Additionally I travel once a month, help other writers with their books, etc. etc. This can put tremendous strain on any other responsibilities you have -- family, jobs, etc. Be prepared for those changes, and the ones you will experience in yourself. There's a lot of struggle with your vision of spirituality and who you are when you first start working on these kinds of books (and it usually doesn't stop)
TWPT: What kinds of changes have you seen in yourself as a direct result of your writing and the books that you have turned out? How is it that close examination of what one believes tends to create a struggle within your vision of spirituality?
PT: Consider for a moment that I've invested 30,000 hours since 1991 in histo-cultural, religious research alone (this is not writing time, nor promotion). There is no way you can read all those ideologies, and ponder them for what you're writing, without coming face to face with hidden doubts, things that challenge your current ways of perception, etc.
TWPT: Are there any particular character traits that make a person more suitable for being a spiritual author as opposed to writing fiction?
PT: Tenacity, realness, warmth, approachability, walking the walk (not just talking the talk). People don't want to be preached to. They want choices, good insights, hints that come out of what you LIVE everyday. They also want a sense that you truly understand of what you write, and haven't just recreated other books you find on that topic.
TWPT: Do you find that there are authors jumping on the spiritual band wagon to write their books who don't have the needed experience to speak to their audiences with first hand knowledge?
PT: Of course, but that's true with a lot of things where people perceive there's a profit to be made. Magick isn't immune to money changers, profit seekers, egotists, control freaks, etc... just like any group we need to be wary and aware that there will be those looking to take advantage of our spiritual hunger.
TWPT: You mentioned before that once a book is published the real work begins. How is it that you promote your books and keep it in the public's eye?
PT: First, I have my website at www.loresinger.com To me the web is the future, especially for Witches and neo-Pagans who often still feel the need to remain anonymous. Second, I lecture somewhere in the country at least once a month (much more than that and my kids get mad!). Third I'll often pay for promotional flyers and mail them to the people on my mailing list. Fourth, I network with people like yourself telling them about my work and hope for interviews, the chance to write tie-in articles as I do presently for Pan Gaia and Sagewoman, or minimally a book review. Fifth, I never overlook the chance to network or gather a positive promotional blurb on a book from someone with a "name." Finally, whenever I'm at a bookstore I offer to sign a few copies for the store owner.
Most recently I've been given a whole new avenue for promotion - that of co-hosting Goddess tours to Hawaii in 2001 and Italy in 2002. Anyone who would like more information on these wonderful adventures can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
TWPT: How do you see the web helping Wiccans/Pagans? Is this something that you see replacing face to face contact or something that compliments the real world contacts we have with others along this path?
PT: The web is an amazing tool for education, communication, and fellowship. No matter where we may be, we need not feel so alone. For solitaries, it provides a way to avoid group dynamics while still getting feedback and good ideas from others of a like mind. Some people even have on line covens and use the electrical lines to convey magick. I think it's a great compliment to real word contacts, especially since many of the people who I've come to care about in our community live thousands of miles away!
TWPT: Is there a point where promotion and publicity for the latest book becomes merely commercial with little concern for the spiritual message that an author is trying to communicate and how do you keep this from happening with your own works?
PT: I suppose the potential for that happens with more main stream books. For example, Goddess in my Pocket has been criticized because it has a lot of humor in it, and is really a folk magicians collection vs. one suitable for someone involved in strict tradition. Some people consider the humorous aspect *commercial* when for me, it's part of the joy in my magick. So some of this depends on your perspective. Until you really get a main stream book out there, you don't have to worry about this too much, and most times you get to see advertising copy and make suggestions before it goes out.
TWPT: I asked that last question because many times a spiritual author is judged by different standards than a sci-fi or fantasy author in regards to their work. Do you find this to be true in your own career?
PT: Oh heavens yes -- didn't you know, new age authors aren't "real" writers?! Giggle! We're just some novel, momentary flash in the pan...sigh. I would say that New Age authors are not taken as seriously, but we also don't make the kind of money that sci-fi and fantasy writers usually make -- and that all boils down to supply, demand, and market. Despite the popularity of New Age books, they're still finding a place in the market and trying to really grab a piece of the publishing pie. One group of books that's done this very well is the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, but they're the exception.
TWPT: What kinds of involvement do you have with the community on an ongoing basis?
PT: Mostly my travel and lecturing. I'm a solitary Witch by nature. I interact with various BBS sites like Mystical Grove's, and my own yahoo club on the web (www.clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/folkmagicwithtrishtelesco) but really the best involvement is one-to-one. Those fun moments with people after a lecture, eating a meal with them... discussing kids, and life in general. That's where things really come together.
I also presently am starting a Writer's Midwife service to help new spiritual writers get off on the right foot. This way I help can bring the voices we need to the spiritual community as a whole, and give those people who I see as having an important message a little nudge in the right direction. Beyond this I try to support various gatherings in some way, I donate manuscripts and personally made products to groups to support Pagan land funds and other important causes, and similar things like that.
I'm also consulting with New Page Books to help them bring out a whole new line of magickal books designed with our growing community in mind. As soon as they have a few titles produced and their website up, I'll be adding more information to my site about this.
TWPT: How does your family feel about having an author in the house? Are there any rules for those times that you are spending 25 hours a week working on your next book?
PT: Try more like 40 hours a week right now (smile). No, no rules. I've taken a great deal of time creating a rhythm in my home that the kids are used to. I know that children, especially my 2 year old, isn't going to always be cooperative -- especially when I'm on a business call! So, I let people know what's going on, and what I'm dealing with. I'm a real person, I have a real family, I scrub my floors, have to make lunches, and have to run a business while looney toons are playing in the background! It's just something you adjust to and roll with -- hopefully without throwing anything.
TWPT: There always seems to be numerous opinions about how we are doing as a community but I thought I would ask anyway, what are your ideas as to what has been accomplished in the Wiccan/Pagan community to this point in time and what still needs some work?
PT: Public awareness is the number one thing we still lack, that and a continuity of ideas about who/what we are and what we're trying to do. We almost need pagan apologetics, but everyone shudders at the idea. Yet to my thinking one of the reasons we're not more successful is that we don't have this central source to point to and say "we are here!"
Another problem is that we still tend to be our own worst enemies at times. For all our talk of tolerance, we're a rather intolerant bunch - often critical of other people's ways of working magick because it dares to go outside our vision of spirituality. It reminds me of the old joke about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, only in paganism it's how many witches put their altars in the east! We really need to start dropping the pretence and be real, truthful, and thankful instead of so critical (unless of course it's a matter that's hurting people).
On the upside I do think neo-paganism is starting to come of age. I watch the next generation dancing the ritual fire and see that they're really "getting it!" They feel the magick -- they don't need to pick it apart. It just is. If our kids are gathering that kind of natural awareness, we're doing something right.
TWPT: Is the next generation you refer to mostly those who have been raised in homes that had been open to different spiritual paths or are they seekers who have found their way to this path on their own? What kind of qualities with the leaders of this next generation need to take the movement to the next plateau?
PT: The children of which I speak have been raised in open homes. The qualities that our leadership require are pretty standard: honesty, forthrightness, wisdom, the ability to communicate to the public effectively (in and out of our circles), realism, personal balance, vision for the future combined with a respect for the past, an awareness of their strengths and limitations, and the ability to roll with the fast transformations in our society
TWPT: We would like to thank you for taking time out to talk to us and share with us your ideas on the Wiccan/Pagan community. We wish you much success in all the activities that you are involved with and are looking forward to your next book. Blessings to you and yours.