Today my guest is Johnny Worthen. I reviewed his book Beatrysel back in October. Here is the link. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-2HO
Johnny Worthen is a lifetime student of the occult. Raised in a secluded suburb of Salt Lake City, he gravitated to the more obscure paths of spiritual knowledge. He is a Freemason, twice Past Master of his Lodge, youngest ever at the time. From the University of Utah Johnny received degrees in English and Classics with a Master’s Degree in American Studies. He married his juniorprom date and together they have two sons. After many varied and interesting careers, Johnny writes full time now. He is the author of a popular blog, The Blog Mansion. Besides BEATRYSEL, Johnny has four other novels under contract for publication in 2014 and beyond.
Johnny has kindly come back to the blog to tell us more about himself and his work.
1) Where is your home town?
I am originally from Utah, Salt Lake City. I moved away for a decade to Oregon where the politics were better but the weather worse. Rain won out and I returned to the Utah desert and now live in a Salt Lake City suburb just up the hill from where I went to high school.
2) How long have you been writing?
All my life, but full-time for about two years. Seriously for eight.
3) Have you always written horror?
Oh no. I write all kinds of things. I call myself a multi-genre author. BEATRYSEL was just the first to come to press and I always thought of it as an “occult thriller.” I have a Young Adult Paranormal trilogy, ELEANOR UNSEEN, coming next July and a comedic mystery series starting next year called THE FINGER TRAP with slacker detective Tony Flaner at the helm. I also have a Thriller looking for a home, sequels and yes, another horror. My motto is I write what I want to read. When I can’t find a title that’s saying what I want to hear, I say it. Thus I’m all over the place. I’m writing another YA now and gearing up for a western after that.
4) Where does your interest in the occult come from?
Being from Utah the conversation was always about religion. I grew attracted to religions that were more active than passive. Prayer seemed cool, but what if you added music and smells, dance steps, foreign language, intermediaries and a wider variety of symbolism. I grew up in the shadow of a rare Utah Catholic enclave so that might have been part of it. I studied alternate philosophies and religions and then stumbled across the works of the Qabalists which lead to the Golden Dawn, Mathers, Crowley and Regardie. I joined a Masonic Lodge as soon as I could and kept reading. The “magickal world view” is complex and shifting and not well understood. In its modern form it’s an amalgam of so many cultures and philosophies that it’s like a city-wide buffet. In its best sense, there’s room for everyone and everything. In its worst form its backward and superstitious. Nevertheless, there’s a certain thrill in approaching “randomness” in the world as if it’s a personal challenge to understand. A good magician will see bad things as tests and good things as greater tests and forever try to better himself by the belief that everything he does, says, feels and thinks is intricately connected to the universe at large.
5) Can you explain the spelling of Magick which you use in the book?
Aleister Crowley coined the spelling of Magick with a K in his seminal book, Magick in Theory and Practice. Crowley, or the Great Beast, as he was sometimes called, was one of the foremost scholars and disciples of occult philosophy rising out of the nineteenth century supernatural fads. In an era of charlatans and seance tricks, he wanted to differentiate the philosophy of occult working from parlour tricks and shows. Thus he made the word Magick. I like it.
6) Can you tell the readers a little about who or what Beatrysel is?
Beatrysel is an being created by Julian Cormac. Angel or Demon or Spirit – it is the same thing. Such terms are subjective depending upon how cooperative and agreeable they are. Using the forms of Theurgy, the ancient Magickal art of summoning ‘demons’ Julian decided to make his own being. He did this with ancient magicks employing his powerful will and the ancient forms he is an expert in. In modern magickal parlance, Beatrysel might be termed an ‘egregore’ or thought-form, but that term didn’t suit me, and those creatures tend to be too weak, so I made her a full fledged demon/angel. Beatrysel is Julian’s ideal of love, everything he believes it to be. He gives it life in the aether and then uses theurgy to bring it into the real world. Love, however, no matter how beautiful and idyllic is not so simple. The universal laws of balance must be maintained; there is no light without darkness, no love without hate, and demons covet flesh.
7) The plot is very complex, did it evolve as you wrote or did you have the main idea all sorted before you began writing?
It started out as an exploration and therapy. I set up the situation, figured some of the backstory and then the story just took off. Not to sound trite, but it was magickal. There were many times that I felt I was taking dictation. It started where I thought it would, climaxed where I intended, but the rest had a life to itself. The last chapter in particular was a surprise to me as I hope it will be for the readers.
8) Tempt the readers by hinting at the different dark arts cultures you included in the book.
I see modern occultism as a potpourri of traditions. In BEATRYSEL, I lean heavy on High Magick, the formalized ritualistic current I’m most familiar with, but I also include some Hoodoo, Wicca and Druidism among others.
9) Was there any specific research that was new to you that you underwent in order to complete the book?
My herb lore isn’t very good. Amanda’s magick was challenging. I knew it in theory, but her correspondences required some work on my part. Amethysts and lavender, red silk and medicine bags. I wanted to get it right so I studied up.
10) What are you working on at the moment?
I have a sort of follow-up to BEATRYSEL I’m editing now, called WHAT IMMORTAL HAND. It’s occult but in a different vein – darker if you can believe it. I’ll be shopping it around later this year. The next thing I’m sure to have in print is my ELEANOR trilogy and then Tony Flaner in 2015. I’ve a thriller called THE BRAND DEMAND I’m sending to agents now I’m hoping to sell by Christmas. It’s a modern re-imagining of Edward Abbey’s MONKEY WRENCH GANG that I’m hoping will spark a series. Now, just this month I started a new book but I don’t know where it’s going yet so I’m not sure how to categorize it. It’s a dystopian young adult so far, but it’s early still.
LINKS Johnny on the Web (come by and say ‘hey’)
Unsatisfied with the ancient grimoires, the Magus made his own. Unsatisfied with the ancient demons, the Magus made Beatrysel. She was a creature of love, but there is no love without hate, no light without darkness, no loyalty without betrayal. And demons covet flesh. Johnny Worthen’s novel BEATRYSEL is a modern Faust tale set in the American Northwest where the cold winter rain melts the barriers between what is real and what is more real. Beatrysel is a terrifying journey through modern metaphysics, High Magic and ancient religions where secret dreams turn to nightmares when Will becomes Form. Power-hungry magicians, serial killers and scorned lovers must contend with the power of the most beautiful and dangerous Magick in creation– for Beatrysel is a creature of love.