This issue, we sit down with Inanna Gabriel, co-founder of Misanthrope Press. Gabriel — who is also co-editing the Pagan fiction anthology Etched Offerings — discusses the dearth of mainstream Pagan literature, the importance of critique for developing writing skills, and the allure of StrowlerCon.
Eternal Haunted Summer: If you could correct one common misconception about Paganism (ancient or modern), what would it be?
Inanna Gabriel: At one time, I would have said the misconception that we were Satanists. But people seem to have, as a general rule, gotten over that one. These days, I much more often encounter people who simply don’t understand that it’s an actual religion (or group of them, anyway.) It seems all too common for people to believe that those of us who call ourselves “Pagan” are ultimately just making a statement that we’re not Christian, not that we have any actual or specific beliefs of our own.
EHS: How do you define your own spiritual path or tradition?
IG: Hmm … that’s a hard one for most of us to answer, isn’t it? LOL. Most of the time, I just call myself “Pagan,” though I’m not at all afraid of the word Witch, either. I don’t use the label of “Wiccan” for myself, even though most of my more organized practices are almost purely Wiccan in nature, mainly because I’m not initiated in a specific Wiccan tradition. A lot of initiated Wiccans are bothered by non-initiates calling themselves Wiccan, and I’m just not attached enough to the label to annoy people unnecessarily.
EHS: Along with C. Bryan Brown, you are the co-founder and co-owner of Misanthrope Press. Why did you decide to found a publishing house, and how did you go about doing it?
IG: It was sort of a snowball effect, really. We’d both been writing for a long time, and had been seriously submitting our work for a few years. We’d both been thinking, separately, that it would be fun to try running our own magazine, and Chris was the first one to voice that aloud (though he still swears it was me!) We wanted a publishing company name to put behind the magazine, and Misanthrope Press was born.
EHS: Why the name Misanthrope Press?
IG: I’ll be perfectly honest here and say the meaning is perfectly literal. Chris and I, while perfectly nice and friendly people, really are misanthropes at heart. The name was actually another case of us thinking alike, because we both came up with the name separately and suggested it to each other!
EHS: You are also co-editing the Pagan fiction anthology Etched Offerings: Voices From the Cauldron of Story. How did you come by that title, and why an explicitly Pagan collection?
IG: I wanted to do a collection of Pagan fiction because it’s so under-represented. There’s no shortage of non-fiction, and a growing body of books of personal essay,s etc., and of course Pagan poetry overload is just a Google search away. But actual prose fiction is a lot rarer (though it’s growing in the YA arena) and I wanted to try to start filling that void.
The title took a lot of back-and-forth developing between Chris and I over a couple of days. I knew I wanted to include “Cauldron,” since I thought that was a good metaphor for a multi-author anthology, and I liked “Etched” to give sort of an ancient feel to the idea of writing. I couldn’t figure out etched what, though, and Chris finally came up with “Offerings.” As soon as he said it I knew it was perfect!
EHS: What are you looking for in submissions to Etched Offerings?
IG: We’re looking for stories that are relevant to a modern Pagan. We want a good mix, so we’ll hopefully be able to include some mythological pieces, some sci fi/fantasy pieces, and some literary pieces. The type of story I’m personally most interested in seeing are ones where one or more of the main characters are Pagan, but where the story isn’t actually about that. I want to see characters facing challenges that anyone could face, then using their particular Pagan perspective and spirituality to find their way through those challenges.
EHS: When will Etched Offerings be available, and where will readers be able to find it?
IG: We were originally planning to be releasing it right around now, actually, but our first round of submissions quite frankly didn’t have enough on-topic submissions to fill the book. So we’ve reopened through the end of April and are hoping to have the book out in the Fall of this year.
It’ll definitely be available in our own online bookstore and on Amazon, plus we’ll be reaching out to some local shops to try to get into some of them as well.
EHS: There aren’t many publications out there that self-identify as Pagan. Can you recommend some of your favorites? Or, Pagan-friendly publications?
IG: Really, lately, I’ve been getting my Pagan information mostly from the internet. I read The Wild Hunt blog every day, plus I listen to a good few Pagan podcasts. (In fact, Chris Orapello, the host of the podcast “The Infinite and the Beyond” is going to be doing the cover art for Etched Offerings, and Cory Hutcheson who co-hosts the podcast “New World Witchery” will have a story in the book.) As for podcasts, I’d of course also highly recommend “The Wigglian Way,” as well as “Media Astra ac Terra.”
EHS: Have you found the Pagan literary community to be welcoming of a lesbian voice? Or have your experiences varied?
IG: I honestly can’t say. I’ve published a couple of things that are lesbian in nature, and a few things with a Pagan influence, but the two haven’t ever really crossed paths.
IG: CMC started with Chris, me, and a third writer friend, Nova C. Hooper. It’s grown slowly from there, until we’re now a strong group of eight people who are all serious about improving our writing. For me, at least, having a writers’ group is invaluable. It keeps me on track with my writing, and it gives me a network of like-minded people to talk about the craft and business of writing with on a regular basis. Our group also publishes a short story anthology every year, so it’s even increased my publications list a good deal!
EHS: What is Title Goes Here:?
IG: Title Goes Here: is our baby. J This is the magazine Chris and I came up with that started the whole publishing snowball.
EHS: What other projects are you working on?
IG: Specific to writing, Chris and I are working on a co-authored novel, based on a world he created some time ago. We’re also getting started on the next anthology for CMC, which is going to be our second shared-world type anthology.
EHS: Which book fairs, conventions, or other events will you be attending in the foreseeable future? Will you be able to make StrowlerCon this year?
IG: I’ll be at MARCon in May, Context 24 in August (both in Columbus, Ohio) and possibly Confluence in Pittsburgh in July. Chris, his wife, and I will most likely be at the Earth Warriors Festival as well, and I attend Faeriecon in Baltimore every year. So far, there aren’t any Strowlers events scheduled for 2011, but if and when any are, I’ll definitely be making an effort to get to one. We’ll be at Mythic Faire this coming weekend (March 11-13), but that’ll be over, of course, by the time this runs. I’ll hopefully be hooking up with S.J. Tucker while we’re there, to talk about Etched Offerings — she’s going to be doing the introduction to the book for us!