Here is my interview with the wonderful C. S. MacCath, my co-writer in The Pagan Fiction Anthology:
You were a finalist in the Pagan Fiction Award contest. How did you come to write a pagan-based short story, and is much of you other work pagan as well?
I've been writing short stories with Pagan elements throughout my writing career. For me, Pagan fiction isn't so much a genre like speculative fiction, horror or mystery as it is an application of our particular world-view to storytelling. Having said that, all of the fiction I've written has been Pagan-themed, either explicitly, as in the case of "From Our Minds to Yours," or implicitly, as in the case of "The Longest Road in the Universe," which is forthcoming in Murky Depths next March.
I think it's healthy for the literary community to be exposed to Pagan themes in what it publishes and reads. They allow a safe place of entry into Paganism that can be accessed from the private relationship between the reader and the text. From there, tolerance might follow. So though I try not to be didactic about the inclusion of my faith in my work, it's usually always on my mind when I write, and I hope it reads well for Pagans and non-Pagans alike.
How long have you been writing, and where can people find your work other than the Anthology?
I've been writing since I could pick up a pen, but I've only been publishing my work with regularity in paying markets since 2004. My bibliography can be found at: www.csmaccath.com/view/csmbiblio and from there, folks can look for what they want to read in the appropriate places. A recently published story that might be of interest to Pagan readers is "Akhila, Divided," which can be found in Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness, edited by Mike Allen. It's a science fantasy war story set in the far future at a monastery where various denominations of Paganism are practiced in combination with other faiths.
Your short story, "From Our Minds to Yours," is a disturbing look at a possible near-future scenario. How did you get the idea, and do you really think it could happen?
My husband brought the idea home to me one afternoon while he was in college a few years ago. He had been taking a course called "Computers, Ethics and Society" and was reading a book entitled Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century, by Simson Garfinkel. I believe he asked me, "What do you think would happen if people could become physically addicted to products?" After the long philosophical conversation that followed, I read the book as well, and then I did some research into current applications of nanotechnology. "From Our Minds to Yours" was the natural outgrowth of those things.
I wrote the story with the feasibility of the plot in mind. Right now, nanotechnology is used in everything from water reclamation to clothing manufacture. Given the current interpretation of Moore's Law, that the size and/or speed and/or functionality of a piece of technology doubles every eighteen months, and given a modest effort on the part of corporate lobbyists to legalize the relationship between nanotechnology and advertising, yeah, I think it's an absolutely realistic scenario in the next 25-50 years.
What would readers be surprised to learn about you?
I was born and raised a Jehovah's Witness.
You were able to go to Pantheacon for the presentation of the awards. What was your favorite aspect of the convention? [For readers who don't know, Panthecon is a huge pagan gathering held every February is San Jose, CA]
I very much enjoyed the oracular seidh hosted by Diana Paxson on Saturday night. I've been practicing various forms of divination for twenty-three years but have never encountered that particular configuration of group journey work and team divination before. I told Ms. Paxson afterward that it was interesting to see the weave between Michael Harner-esque shamanic practice and Northern European lore. And the seidh-workers themselves were remarkable, both in their stamina and in their accuracy.
Aside from your own, what was your favorite story in the Anthology and why?
I loved April's "A Valkyrie Among Jews," which placed first in the contest. I thought she juxtaposed Judaism with Paganism effectively, addressed some serious questions about the relationships between Pagans and non-Pagans and spoke to the transition between life and death both mythically and mundanely. It was a kick-ass story that was relevant to modern people of all faiths, and I hope it finds its way into the hands of folks who might need that safe place of entry into Paganism I mentioned before.
What are you working on these days and where can people contact you if they have more questions?
I'm currently working on a novel entitled Twilight of the World Sea People. It's the first novel in a trilogy entitled World Sea Legacy, which is itself part of a three trilogy/nine-novel space opera entitled Petals of the Twenty Thousand Blossom. I've pretty much ceased production at present on any short stories for the sake of the novels, but I'm hoping to write a few by the end of next year for a collection I'm piecing together entitled Spirit Boat. We'll see how that goes, though. Folks can contact me by using the contact form at www.csmaccath.com/contact, which drops messages into my primary e-mail account.