Monday, July 22, 2013
About the Sorcerers and Magi Series --Listen to the Podcast
I started writing the Sorcerers and Magi series in 2003, which was the time that the Harry Potter series was gaining a lot of momentum. I knew very many 30- to 60- year-olds who were very enthusiastic about the series. Honestly, I never read the books, but I really enjoyed watching the movies. They—especially the earlier ones in the series—coddled me in the sweetest nostalgia of childhood and holiday movie extravaganzas—of treats from grandma and Christmas tinsel and that sort of thing.
One day in the late summer of 2003, I found myself watching a DVD of the second movie in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, every night for a week. I was particularly fascinated with the villainous Lucius Malfoy character, played by Jason Isaacs. I kept hoping that, as the series winded down to its denouement, that character would emerge as an antihero. That was not the case, but it inspired the development of my own antihero Leo de Lux. He starts out as a caustic and villainous but complex character and becomes an ambiguous hero and maintains that role throughout the series.
So, after watching the second movie over and over again one week and wanting more stories but not managing to read the books, I started to make up episodes in my head so I could be entertained in between movies. I realized that I had built up a completely unique story. I dithered about whether I should write it down, because I was reluctant to invest the time in a writing project only to then beat my head against a brick wall trying to get someone of influence—an agent or publisher—to give me the time of day. I couldn’t help myself, though, and got it into my head that I should simply pursue the project for my own entertainment and insight.
Listen to me discuss the series and the writing life in podcast #36 The Savior at the End of Time at EatSleepWrite.
The story I was entertaining was not a children’s story. It was a magical fantasy fiction story for adults. My aim, however, was to maintain a tone similar to that found within classic children’s fantasy fiction. My target audience was adults who like classic children’s literature—the work of C. S. Lewis, for example. I did not initially intend to write a series, but as I completed the first draft of the first book La Maga A Story about Sorcerers and Magi, another story popped into my head, which I originally gave the provocative title.The Sex Lives of Sorcerers but renamed The Fallen Fairy. I ended up linking them in the progression of an underlying apocalyptic theme introduced in the first book that culminates in the third book, titled The Savior at the End of Time. I intend to write at least 2 more books in the series. One will be a prequel and one will begin where book 3 ends.
The term “Inner Plane” comes from a writer within the Western Mystery Tradition named Gareth Knight, who is an apologist for a type of Hermetic magic originating in the medieval era, called Magical Christianity, which is a type of gnostic—or self-revelatory (as opposed to dogmatic)—Christianity . The Inner Plane is basically the world within the mind. It is a place of archetypal forms, dreams, and ideas in general. This place is more commonly called the astral plane, referring the realm of thought and feeling. In a sense, it is in incubation place where thought becomes paradigm and Reality. Reference to the Inner Plane is also a tip of the hat to a form of philosophical Hinduism called Advaita Vedanta, which I have followed for very many years. A strong influence from this philosophy and Buddhism permeates the series.
I’m using fiction as a creative and playful way to express my long-time interests in spirituality, magic, and mysticism. The work is a product of my research, practice, and hands on experience. My writing is a way to feed information back to myself—reaffirm and integrate it and also to entertain myself.
The main character of the first book, Sofia LaMaga, is something of an alter ego—or maybe someone who I would like to be. At the beginning of La Maga A Story about Sorcerers and Magi, we learn that Sofia has been living in political exile in a parallel plane coinciding with Tibet. Having received amnesty, she returns to her hometown where she becomes a high school teacher and wreaks havoc by forming a friendship with the juvenile delinquent teenaged son of the place’s governor, Leo de Lux. Because Sofia has been living in the environs of India and Tibet, she comes back steeped in the spirituality of those cultures.
When I was writing LaMaga, although I had all long-time background in eastern spirituality, I was also interested in folk magic and had been reminiscing about one of my great grandmothers who was said to be a stregona—that’s Italian for “sorceress.” Another word for that is “maga.” I began to explore Italian folk magic, and so that is why there is a lot referencing to Italian folk culture and evil eye lore in La Maga. My interest in folk magic led to interest in aspects of Western Occultism, including the work of Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley—big names in relation to the so-called Occult revival that took place at the turn of the 20th century.
By the time I got to writing the second book, The Fallen Fairy, I had become interested in philosophical alchemy and medieval magic, and so we have underlying themes about alchemy and spiritual transformation as well as reincarnation, fairy lore, and sex magic in that book. When I got around to writing the third book, The Savior at the End of Time, I had become an enthusiast of a current in postmodern occultism called Chaos Magick and a related counterculture scene called Discordianism.
No, Really, listen to me discuss the series and the writing life in podcast #36 The Savior at the End of Time at EatSleepWrite.
That story, which recently became available as a Kindle ebook and will be available for download through smashwords.com—and also as a print edition—in the late fall, is about a character named Aurelio Zosimo who is being set up to be the poster boy of a utopian political movement, introduced in book 1 of the series. What inspired me to launch that story was the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, which is my all-time favorite theater piece. It was around Easter time in 2006 and I was coming out of the winter blues. I was on a roll watching film and live theater versions of Jesus Christ Superstar and got the idea to adapt the template of the gospel story to the third novel of the Sorcerers and Magi series. The premise is similar to that of The Who’s rock opera, Tommy or Jerzy Kasinsky’s novel Being There, in which a person who is a little “off” is haplessly fashioned into a leader or cult hero.
We are told that Aurelio Zosimo has a plaque on his office door that says “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” This is a famous slogan among Chaos magicians that was picked up from the cult classic novel The Illuminatus! Triology, which is a wild-ride parody about conspiracy theories, secret societies, and the immanentization of the eschaton—that is, the hastening the end of the world—the apocalypse. There is an apocalyptic thread running through my series that culminates in this third book, and we find characters discussing the immanentization of the eschaton and Zosimo’s potential role in it in the third book.