This issue, we sit down with Rhavensfyre, the nom de plume of married writing duo KL and Roxy. Here, they discuss their new Pagan erotic anthology series, Elemental Passions; their popular far title, Ladysmith; and offer advice for other self-publishers.
Eternal Haunted Summer: There are quite a few misconceptions about modern Paganism. If you could correct one, what would it be?
Rhavensfyre: Wow! Where to start with this one? The most obvious one is those who think Pagans are devil worshipers or Satanists, so I will actually pass on that one and address something I have noticed in some of the groups. Paganism gets a bad rap sometimes because it is so disjointed, and I don’t mean this in a bad way. We have some groups that are very organized and have all the marks of organized religion, while we have others who simply socialize with others of similar paths or choose solitary practice. Because of this, I think Pagans all get lumped into a visual concept by those who do not realize there are thousands of Pagans out there who you work and socialize with and unless they chose to tell you, you would never know. It is a different sort of closet, but it is there, and I think that leaves us open to ridicule and discrimination.
I think that one of the biggest things that bothers me is the idea that all Pagans are pacifists … or “tree huggers” that do nothing and have no power. I have seen “trolls” on Facebook, attacking Pagans as useless, and it burns me up. These attacks are the worst form of “my way is better than yours” and has no place in Paganism. It is our diversity that makes us unique in a world full of monotheism. If I could correct one misconception, it would be this idea that following a path of honor, peace, and personal responsibility is somehow the path of the weak. There is a quiet strength in this, and while some of us do follow a path of complete pacifism … there are others who have no trouble with being Pagan and joining the military, or serving as police, etc. There is a big difference between trying to find the good in the universe and purposefully turning your back on the reality of the world we are living in.
EHS: How would you describe your personal spiritual path?
R: The best way to describe our personal spiritual path would be a form of shamanism. Both of us do have Native American blood, as well as Norse and Irish, and the desire to be in tune with nature is very strong in both of us. For us, it is less form and ritual and more a lifestyle. One of the most interesting things for me is the repetition throughout history of the same stories and myths. These stories have survived civilization after civilization, the names change, but the integral aspects of them remain the same. This makes them important. They remind us of the changing seasons and how tightly we are tied to them as part of nature. We tend to forget that we used to live and survive by the year’s wheel, and that we have seasons just as nature does. We tend to forget this in the modern world, where food and survival have become a matter of jobs and paychecks. If we do anything at all, it is to remember and honor our ancestor’s struggles and desire to learn.
EHS: Rhavensfyre is a collaborative name shared by wives, Roxy and KL. May I ask the significance of that name?
R: Rhavensfyre is an alter ego version of our last name … and yes, the Raven is very important to us. The Raven is and has been a teacher, a trickster, and ultimately, the guide between here and the afterworld. In Native American folklore, Raven steals fire so that humans would not die. Before carrying the live embers to the People, he was all white … the heat turned his feathers black as night. Since white often signifies purity, Raven sacrificed purity for the human race. I absolutely love this story, as it is the tarnished ones who often make the biggest sacrifices in order for others to remain untarnished. Ravens are also one of the few animals that will call to others to join them in a meal, they share the good fortune of finding a carcass in the woods and do not horde it for themselves. Odd thoughts, yes, but we could learn a few things from Raven. But lastly, and far less spiritual, is that fact that this was a nickname for many years due to an odd fascination with shiny things … one cannot walk past a store full of silver jewelry without wanting to pluck away at least one little thing to horde. I think most women have a little Raven inside them that wants to do that.
EHS: Elemental Passions contains two stories of love, lust, and magic. How and why did you decide to create the anthology? Did the title drive the content, or the other way around?
R: Elemental Passions was our answer to creating stories that focused more on Passionate Romance rather than pure Erotica … we also wanted to blend this with a Pagan leaning, to bring the epic stories of the past to life and offer something a “little more” than just base titillation. The title came about from the concept … in some way, shape, or form the elements will be a part of the story. In “The Potter’s Wheel,” we brought earth and sun and spirit into play … and asked the question, what would happen if a Goddess chose to forget who she was? What would be the consequences, and how far would her lover go to bring her back into the realm where she belonged?
EHS: Erzabet Bishop contributed to the anthology with her story “Pomegranate.” Did you invite her, or did you send out a general call for submissions?
R: We asked Erzabet to join us. We liked what we had heard, and having an author who had a similar Pagan leaning in their works was enticing. She is very enthusiastic and once we explained what we were looking for, her mind wrapped itself around an interesting and potentially epic storyline of the underworld, myth, and Goddesses that is intriguing to say the least.
EHS: Since this anthology is labeled as Volume One, can you offer any hint as to what will be in Volume Two? Will you be inviting other authors to participate?
R: The next volume is hopefully due to come out around July 4th … so we are hoping to do something that would tip our caps towards the military … and to warriors of the heart everywhere.
There will be other authors at some point in time. We haven’t put out open calls, but rather chose to invite individuals that will do honor to the Pagan flavor of the original concept.
EHS: How did you create the cover for Elemental Passions? What were your inspirations, and what media did you use?
R: The cover of Elemental Passions is acrylic on canvas. We often choose to paint our own covers as it is more personal than clip art and photos. The cover is a version of the Goddess that incorporates all the elements. The Raven is there, as well.
EHS: What kind of art training do you have, formal and informal?
R: I, Roxy, have no formal art training. It is simply years of practice and luck that this talent was given to me.
EHS: Ladysmith draws upon the lore and legends of the Fae. What draws you to the Fae, and which of your favorite bits were you able to include in the novel?
R: Fae are fascinating because they have so much myth surrounding them. Often considered an “elder race” that allowed themselves to be vanquished …. The myths surrounding them are man-made and having been told by men; they have only had one side told. We asked ourselves what they would say if you could talk to them … what would be their myths, their legends and history? In Ladysmith, we talk about the veil being closed … and the war between men and Fae …. There will be more of this in the sequel, as the reasons and how it came to be herald back to the first sentence. Stronger, magical, and with weapons far more advanced then men, yet, they are somehow vanquished by rough men with crude swords?
EHS: What advice can you offer to authors considering the self-publishing route?
R: Write it, then set it aside. Read it objectively, then re-write it. The only other thing I can say without a doubt is EDIT! A good story is a good story, but even a great story will sink if it is badly edited. If it doesn’t read well and flow, it will turn a reader off before they can become invested in the story.
EHS: What other projects are you working on?
R: Right now we are working on the next Elemental Passions as well as the third installment of the Chase and Rowan series. Chase and Rowan show up in a series of novellas that have been incredibly popular. Everyone seems to love cowgirls and horses and we love to write about them. Additionally, we are working on another romance novel. It is difficult, because our readers are really pushing us to bring Micah and Olivia back from our first novel, Switching Gears, and they want the sequel to Ladysmith … now!
EHS: Which book fairs, conventions, or other events will you be attending?
R: Right now we are planning on attending the GCLS convention in Portland, Oregon in July. We are a finalist for the award in Erotica for Switching Gears, and we can only hope that our debut novel will be a winner!
[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of Eternal Haunted Summer.]