[Today, we sit down with Juli D. Revezzo. Author of short stories, novellas, and novels, Revezzo is an eclectic Celtic Pagan who favors both the dark and creepy and the sweet and romantic in her tales. Here, she discusses how her spiritual path influences her writing, the writing process itself, and her latest fantasy and mystery publications.]
BookMusings: If you could correct any common misconception about modern Paganism/polytheism, what would it be?
Juli D. Revezzo: I'd think I'd say that we all have the same belief. We don't, of course.
BM: How do you describe your personal spiritual path? Do you follow a particular tradition, or are you more eclectic in your practices?
JDR: It's a little Celtic in nature, but mostly it's centered around my writing ... I guess you could call it bardic though more in an open to the muses kind of way than any strict Celtic bardic tradition. Although I wouldn't call myself a recon, I am a lore lover.
BM: How much do your spiritual beliefs and practices inform your writing? Do you find yourself including the Deities or heroes you honor, or basing your characters’ experiences and practices off your own?
Some. In the case of my Celtic Stewards Chronicles
series, I'd say the lore I've studied formed the basis of the overall stories. Particularly as pertains to Ruth and Stacy's battles in the CSC
books, they are directly based on the myth of the Second Battle of Mag Turied
(a battle fought between the Tuatha Dé Danann and their enemy Balor).
BM: Your Celtic Stewards Chronicles focuses on a family responsible for the protection of sacred land, specifically Ruth (in the sixteenth century) and Stacy (in the twenty-first century). How thoroughly did you plot out the characters’ genealogy, and do you plan to tell the stories of any of Stacy’s other ancestors?
JDR: Their genealogy goes back more than 70,000 years. As Aaron (the hero of the first book, Passion's Sacred Dance) says there have been many battles, and many the heroines don't even know about; while they do try to keep records, some are just simply lost.
BM: While Ruth lives in sixteenth century Catholic Ireland, she and her family secretly honor the ancient Gods and Goddesses. Ruth is worried that she will be accused of witchcraft, despite the family’s friendship with the local priest. Is there evidence of the worship of the Old Gods in sixteenth century Ireland? Were there witchcraft trials there, too, like there were on the Continent?
JDR: Evidence of pagan worship? Well, there is the ever present belief in the fair folk, and the remaining stone monuments. But don't you suspect there was some worship of the gods going on, despite what the church hoped? :)
Were there witchcraft trials in Ireland? Oh, yes. According to Irish Witchcraft and Demonology by St. John D. Seymour, there were at least examinations of accusations of witchcraft, from the 13th century up through the 19th. In chapter three he lists a statute from 1586 says: "1. That if any person or persons after the end of three months next, and immediately after the end of the last session of this present parliament, shall use, practise, or exercise any witchcraft, enchauntment, charme, or sorcery, whereby any person shall happen to be killed or destroied, that then as well any such offender or offenders in invocations and conjurations, as is aforesaid, their aydors or councelors . . . being of the said offences lawfully convicted and attainted, shall suffer paines of death as a felon or felons." I just fudged the history a little and moved the possibility of it up 73 years to give my heroine Ruth something else to worry about. :) Not that she needs much more, what with the war and the harshad warriors and monsters wandering around, and Balor out to get her. That's the great thing about fantasy writing: You can sorta kinda get away with playing with timelines. :)
BM: What sort of research went into the Celtic Stewards Chronicles? Lots of trips to the library? Hours surfing the web? Piles of books on your desk?
JDR: This book took me roughly two and a half years to write -- just to get the first draft correct enough to send to my beta readers. I made many trips to the library and spent hours surfing [the internet]. I read through lots of "life in the middle ages" type books, lots of web pages. I have a whole word document full of links I referred to. All fun! :) Also picked the brains of some friends who study the era and some who'd been to Ireland. I even learned how to knit! :)
BM: Murder Upon a Midnight Clear centers around psychic witch and police detective, Helene Collias. Please tell me you plan to return to Holly and tell more stories about Helene. Pretty please?
JDR: Funny you should I ask, as I do have a story rolling around in my brain that, if nothing else, might take place just outside Holly. Helene and I just haven't found the right crime for her to wrap her head around, yet.
BM: Bicycle Requiem is described as a “zombie novelette.” It is also super creepy. Where the heck did you get the idea for this story?
JDR: From time to time, unfortunately, you hear stories about these kinds of hit and run accidents on the news. One day I was emailing back and forth with a fellow horror writer and somehow the little girl just popped into my head. I figure there must've been one of those news stories running on tv in the background. She didn't appear quite as creepily as she does to poor Teddy, but there she was.
BM: Many of your stories straddle the line between fantasy and horror. What do you find so appealing about those genres, separately and together?
JDR: I've always been in love with fantasy, mystical, magical stories, which are always so much more intriguing to me. I love the layers of meaning you can work into a fantasy story that you can't quite get elsewhere. The darker stories ... that was my brother's fault. He always loved horror stories, and I guess some of that bled into the mix, particularly where the heroine of my Antique Magic series is concerned.
BM: Where can curious readers find your books?
JDR: They can visit my site at: http://julidrevezzo.com/ and find all of my books, as well as my blog. As for retail sites, my books and stories are at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, and Createspace. Some are in the Amazon-exclusive Kindle Unlimited program, but not all.
BM: You have self-published a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, in both digital and print format. What advice can you offer other writers who are considering the self-publishing route?
JDR: Proofread. Get your books as clean as you possibly can. Nevermind worrying about what other readers will say, I say think of it this way: You want to put out something you'll be able to look back on and be proud of, not something you wish you'd never released. If it takes an extra copy or an extra few weeks to re-read over it, what's the harm?
Also, get a good cover. Have a look at the covers in your genre and make notes of what works for you and trust your cover artist. If she says, "Hey that girl shouldn't be in polar fleece" when your book is set in Medieval France, she's probably right. :)
Also, read, study. You can write all you want, too. All of it is a part of the learning process, but I think I'd hold back on publishing until you're confident you've got all the bugs out of whatever manuscript it is that you're thinking of publishing. Think of it not only as a little (emphasis on little) money in your pocket, but your legacy. On the other hand, the editing has to stop one day; don't waste so much time editing that one book that you never write another, and never send anything out.
BM: What other projects are you working on?
JDR: 2015 was a pretty productive year for me, in terms of getting first drafts down. Right now, I am working on getting the follow up to Druid Warrior's Heart out to beta readers. I just released my first steampunk Victorian romance so I'm busy trying to get my marketing ducks in a row for that, and meanwhile, I've got the follow up to my short Gothic supernatural story House of Cards about ready to release here. Possibly for a Beltaine release or somewhere thereabouts, if the gods are kind. Also, I'm getting to work on some edits for the next installment in my Antique Magic series.
Those are all my "varying stages of editing" projects, I'm just trying to organize the release dates, really. And (yes, I am not done with the list!) I'm also working on plotting what I hope will be the fourth installment in the Celtic Stewards Chronicles. It looks like 2016 is going to be all about releases, but who knows? I never can tell what else my muse will throw at me. :) She's like a raven with shiny stuff, sometimes.
Druid Warrior's Heart (Celtic Stewards Chronicles, Book two) -- available at Amazon.Passion's Sacred Dance (Celtic Stewards Chronicles, Book one) (PNR) -- available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Createspace.
Murder Upon a Midnight Clear -- available at Amazon.