[This issue, we sit down with Galina Krasskova. The author of multiple texts on runes, ancestor devotion, and the Northern Tradition, Krasskova here discusses her upcoming books, and her experiences with mainstream publisher Red Wheel/Weiser and self-publishing venues.]
Eternal Haunted Summer: In December 2019, you will be releasing A Modern Guide to Heathenry: Lore, Celebrations, and Mysteries of the Northern Tradition. What was the impetus for this book, and what can readers expect to find?
Galina Krasskova: This is actually a rewrite of my book, Exploring the Northern Tradition, which I initially wrote for New Page Books/ Career Press. They were recently acquired by Red Wheel/Weiser and that gave me the opportunity to substantially revise this work.
As to the revisions that I made, I wanted to make sure that I emphasized honoring the ancestors more thoroughly as I felt I gave that rather short shrift in the original, and I also added a significant amount of theological exegesis (I actually went something like 100K words over my word limit, but the publishers were great at working with me and only asked me to cut, I think, 20K or so lol). We have these amazing and complex traditions, but I don’t think enough time is given to exploring the underlying cosmological theory and theology and how those things recur again and again throughout our sacred stories, allowing us through ritual, through contemplation, and many other ways, to participate over and over again in signifying and supporting the divine order.
EHS: You recently released Living Runes: Theory and Practice of Norse Divination. Who is the target audience for this book, and does one have to possess prior knowledge of the runes to understand the book?
GK: I wrote this specifically for Heathens and other Norse polytheists who might want to start learning about or working with the runes. It does not, obviously, discuss the runes from an academic view point, but from the point of a rune worker and devotee of Odin. Personally, I think these are a sacred mystery of our Northern traditions and unless one is working within those traditions (or unless one has an ongoing venerative relationship with these Gods (especially Odin)), should be left alone. I very much wrote it for the devotee of the Norse Gods who feels pulled to runework. No prior knowledge is expected or required.
EHS: Both books are through Red Wheel/Weiser, but you have also self-published a number of titles. Do you prefer one over the other — traditional versus self-publishing — or do they each have advantages and disadvantages?
GK: Red Wheel/Weiser has been lovely to work with and I’m really happy to have titles coming out through them, but I have to say, there are distinct advantages to self-publishing (with the caveat that one must, absolutely must, have a good editor). The latter gives me complete control over my work, which is important in that I can focus more fully on writing for polytheists in general and Heathenry in particular. I can do that with the books I publish through other companies, too, but there is one more level (at least) of interlocutor and sometimes the changes an editor might request are simply not ones I’m willing to make (that has not happened with Red Wheel/Weiser. As I said, they’ve been great to work with and very supportive). The benefit of working with a publisher is greater exposure and they have a marketing budget. lol. One reaches a larger audience.
It’s also useful when writing introductory books like my Rune book, to have it pass through the hands of an editor more or less unfamiliar with the mysteries of the tradition. Anything that isn’t absolutely clear will stand out to them and then they come back to me for clarification and it makes the final work that much stronger. It can be a very fruitful relationship. I should add that this lack of any external oversight is a real problem with self-publishing and, as I said, one really needs at least one, preferably two, copy and style editors.
EHS: What other projects are you working on?
GK: Right now, I’m finishing up my second Masters Thesis. I have a Masters in Religious Studies and I’m just now completing one in Medieval Studies. I’m writing about eunuchs and self-castration in the early Christian world. I’ve titled my thesis “Less is More: Eunuchs, Self-Castration, Spiritual Eunuchism, and Mystical Castration from Tertullian to Cassian.” Yes, I indulged myself with a bit of (not inaccurate) snark there. That’s eating up the bulk of my time and I start PhD coursework in theology in the Fall. Somewhere in between all that I have to sit for a qualifying exam in Latin ….
EHS: Will you be attending any book fairs, conventions, or other events in the foreseeable future?
GK: No, I won’t. I really don’t have the energy for such things these days, especially as I have severe chronic pain issues. I might look into doing local book signings, but to be honest, it’s unlikely. I do have a couple of podcast interviews coming out though in the future, which I’ll be announcing on my blog as they go live.