I know, I know, it’s been ages. My life is chaos at the moment and unfortunately the first thing that gets neglected is the blog.
First things first…Eastern Gods is out! Hurray!
If you are interested you can pick it up world wide on Kindle. For those who are chasing paperbacks…they will be out in a few months. It’s also DRM free so you can convert it for all your devices if Kindle is not your jam.
I am currently working on the copy edits of the second book which you will hopefully see in the next month or so. It was originally meant to be one book but due to its final size (clocking in at a massive 170k words) I decided the best thing to do was split it into two.
OKAY. SO. I’ve been on a bit of a social media/ blog hiatus because I am on a dead line to finish the draft of my latest book by the end of August. I’ve been on a break from uni since February to really be able to give myself the time and care to it. It’s going to be massive. The research has been insane and even in its unpolished first draft format I am ridiculously in love with it. Think Da Vinci Code with Magic and Murder. It’s got some serious series potential but I will have to see how it goes with the end product. They are the kind of characters that deserve a special kind of devotion and care from me so they will always be more demanding to write. I haven’t pitched to a traditional publishing house in a really long time but I’m kind of considering it with this one. If the draft is completed in the next few weeks (I have about 25k left) and it has enough time to go through my editor, I might even consider #PitchWars in August.
I promise I’ll tell you all about it when I am done, I probably won’t be able to shut up about it.
I’ve been reading Deborah Harkness All Souls and holy shit you guys, expect a long fan girl blog about it when I am done. If you haven’t read it, please do, it’s next level.
If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman – Do it. It’s deserving of the hype. Like a lot of women I know I sat there a little weepy the whole time.
Okay, play nice while I am away everyone. Love one another, be kind to yourself, the world is scary enough. Check out Eastern Gods if you are after some epic fantasy.
Apologies from being away from the blog for so many weeks. My life has been super crazy wrapping up projects and job hunting BUT exciting news!
Eastern Gods, book one of new YA Fantasy series Western Wars, is up on a Kindle Scout campaign for your view and vote! I’m crazy excited about this one. It would be really good for fans who enjoyed Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series or MTV’s Shannara Chronicles.
This series is the first lot of books I wrote as a teenager. I finished the whopping, originally titled, Eastern Gods and Western Wars when I was about nineteen. It landed at 180k words. I believed in the story, I wanted it out there, and so it has been through a massive reworking and editing for the passed year. Its now split into two books, Eastern Gods and The Golden Queen and I can’t wait for you to read them.
I love this series. It helped me survive a really dark period in my life and taught me so much about storytelling, craft and helped create a safe place in my mind where I could hang out. I was reading a lot of fantasy as a teen; loads of Lord of the Rings, Stephen Lawhead and Ian Irvine’s View from the Mirror Quartet (please check it out – its so freaking great) and it is these writers and stories that shaped my passion for writing epic fantasy.
This series is a big one, twisted up with family, war, love, faith and magic. It’s a hero quest and a coming of age and the secrets that you discover about your family as you grow older. It’s about sacrifice and blood and forgiveness at it’s most brutal.
Enter a world of forgotten magic, kings, gods and the woman who will dare to defy them.
Prince Haldirian’s safe world is shattered when he captures a spy from the silent and forgotten Eastlands. There is only one scholar of the East who could stop the fear of war spreading, Aláenor of Silandáe.
The first female heir in history, highly intelligent and carrying a warrior swagger Aláenor isn’t what Haldirian has learned to expect from royal princesses.
The eastern spy Hilkiah reveals that he was sent by Mordecai, Emperor of the East and powerful dark magician residing in the city of Rotech. The West has turned their back on magic for centuries and fearing that war is imminent, a spying party is sent back to the East to discover the truth.
Mordecai is burning for payback on the western king who destroyed his life. He needs Aláenor to fulfill his revenge, and he will have her…even if he has to kill the man she loves and destroy her soul to do it.
‘There exists no one way to write any one thing, and as long as your writing has a starting point and an ending point, I think whatever shenanigans go on in the middle serve you fine as a process as long as it gets you a finished book heavy with at least some small sense of satisfaction. If you’re not finishing your books, you need to re-examine your process. If you’re not at all satisfied with your work, then again: re-examine that process.
And that’s it.’
And it is..so why the hell writers struggle so much to own it? Why do we look to others to give it definition?
There’s a bit of heated conversation going on about whether having a degree gives you that tick of approval from society and peers, a magical That’ll do, little writer, that’ll do moment where you will suddenly be seen as the artist you are.
Yeah, sorry guys it’s not gonna happen.
A degree is great but when you graduate you still have to get a job and if you are lucky enough to get a job in say, publishing, (and these are few and far between, especially in Australia) you’re still going to be put on the same wage as someone working in retail. I recently saw a job for a publishing assistant where they wanted someone with a degree and minimum 2 years experience… for a wage I used to get in customer service. A degree might help you get a job but its not going to necessarily help give you writer validation.
My point is no one is ever going to give you the “I AM NOW A WRITER” moment and a degree, job in publishing, or a book out won’t always help either. I know this from experience. I’ve been writing full time for fifteen years and have written twelve books and it has only been in the past two months that I’ve been able to say ‘I am a writer’ when people ask what I do, not ‘I work as a contractor for the government…and I also write a bit.’ I had this moment not when any of my books came out, when I saw them on a shelf in a bookshop, not when people have been repeating it to me over and over again over the years. This moment came when I rang a recruiting company about a contract for content writing and the consultant I talked to said, “Your resume looks like an Administrator resume. You need to write it again and put all that experience you just told me about at the beginning.” And I had to sit down and really go through the process of spelling out all the experience I do have in black and white. At the end of it I was like, “Fuck me, I AM a writer.” I had been doing the job thing all wrong over the years believing I was an administrator and not a writer. I don’t think I am the only one out that does this to themselves.
I recently read a great book by indie powerhouse Joanna Penn called The Successful Author Mindset. In it she talks about having to use “I am a writer” as a kind of mantra until she believed it. She even starts the book straight up with self doubt and imposter syndrome because every author on earth feels it:
‘Embrace self doubt as part of the creative process. Be encouraged by the fact that virtually all other creatives, including your writing heroes, feel it too with every book they write.’
I personally don’t read a lot of self help for writers type books but I have huge respect for Joanna Penn and this book really helped me out to realign my brain in a time I needed it (Derek Murphy also gives really good advice for writers and his courses are fantastic and have helped me alot).
I still need to go back and read these chapters regularly because I’ve started writing a new book that scares the shit out of me. I’ve tackled some big ones before but this is next level for me. There is a lot of research involved and has the tingly potential to end up being the best thing I’ve ever written or a heaving pile of crap. Its terrifying and intimidating and its helping me grow and write in new ways. DO I think I have the talent to do it justice? Hell no. Am I going to do it anyway? Hell yes. Because that’s what makes us writers right? We give up our social lives and our rec time and we work unsatisfying jobs to pay bills while we hustle words and try and write the ones that scare us and helps us grow and maybe makes us money.
So what if were are anxious and insecure and feel like we are walking down the street naked every time we release words into the world that will judge us..we are writers its how we operate.
I am not going to be around too much in the next few weeks, I am going crazy full editor mode to get Eastern Gods, my new YA Fantasy book, all ready to pitch to Kindle Scout. The thought of releasing this one soon is pretty exciting as it was the first book I ever wrote that I was really proud of. It’s taken a lot of work to get it up to scratch and I’m stoked how it has come together. I’ll tell you guys more about it when I get closer to knowing dates and have a cover to share.
In other Amy book world news, Wylt is going well so check it out if you dig gothic romance, and Cry of the Firebird is on a price drop for those who want grittier, urban fantasy with lots of Gods and monsters.
Also, if you want something short, steampunky and based in an alternative Australia check out my new short story a Women in Men’s Waistcoats. It’s a lot of random fun.
I’m currently studying The Dead Sea Scrolls as a part of my university degree and one of the areas of the Second Temple Period we cover is to do with King Antiochus and the Maccabean revolt. It was such a buzz that this was found this week as I read all about it! – Amy
An image of the coin. (photo credit:TOWER OF DAVID MUSEUM)
Antiochus sparked the Maccabean revolt that led to the victory of the Maccabees and reclaiming of the Temple.
Nearly 30 years after the completion of excavations in the courtyard of Jerusalem’s Tower of David, outside the Old City’s walls, archeologists thought no stone was left unturned. However, during routine conservation work in the museum’s archeological garden, Orna Cohen, veteran archeologist and chief conservation officer at the Tower of David, spotted a metallic item among stones near a wall.
Upon closer inspection, Cohen determined the object was a bronze-leaf cent, once used in Jerusalem during the days of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a decidedly unwelcome guest in the history of the city.
Antiochus was a reviled king who made draconian decrees, sparking the Maccabean revolt that led to the victory of the Maccabees and the reclamation of the Temple.
The coin was found near the Hasmonean walls that cut through the center of the citadel’s courtyard, next to the tower base built during the day of Yonaton and Shimon, brothers of Judah the Maccabee.
During the original excavation of the Tower of David, ballista stones and iron arrowheads were found, evidence of the battles that took place in Jerusalem in the days when the city struggled for independence against the rulers of the Seleucids.
A portrait of Antiochus is engraved on one side of the coin, which was worth roughly 10 agorot back then. On the other side, a goddess is shown wrapped in a scarf.
While researchers are having difficulty dating the relic with precision, it is known that such coins were minted in Acre, a city on the northern shore of Israel that was once called Antiochia Ptolemais, after Ptolemy, and as such the coin is dated sometime between 172 and 168 BCE.
Eilat Lieber, director of the Tower of David, said the timing of the finding is auspicious.
“It is thrilling to hold in your hand a piece of history that brings the stories of Hanukka right up to present day,” he said.
Chuck Wendig put up a great blog post today on how to keep creating when the world is crazy and it’s getting to you. I highly recommend you have a read and keep the art love flowing:
‘Art is how you fight back. It’s how you take ALL THIS NOISE inside your heart and FORCE IT OUT. The tools of the creator are conduits for expression — and it’s totally okay to express your rage, your bewilderment, your grief, your overall teeth-gritting and pants-shitting distress. Funnel it all into the work. Don’t be afraid of that. Don’t be afraid to bleed on the page and yell at the screen and metaphorically punch the work into shape. This is your barbaric yawp. Your tools can be your weapons. Your art can be your battlefield. This can be how you resist.’
I kind of owe you all a update on the Land of Amy, a proper one, not just lots of stuff about exorcisms.
I’ve been super busy the last eight weeks getting together structural edits on the upcoming release called Wylt. It’s my about as close to a romance you guys will ever get from me and its book one of a new series. I’m not going to say too much about it just yet but I can tell that it involves the following:
The Fae (not the nice kind)
Also, I am completely in love with it. I know it’s kind of narcissistic to admit it but I am. I finished its sequel Blaise in July. For those who have read The Firebird Fairytales yes, THAT Blaise. I’ve always been a classic gothic genre junkie so I’m really excited that I’m finally going to release something…especially mashed up with a bit of Welsh myth. It’s in cover design at the moment so really can’t wait to see how it turns out.
In other news, I’m winding down one semester of uni (publishing – don’t get me started how disappointed I am in it) and winding up for another (The Dead Sea Scrolls – dying of excitement) so I am a bit hit and miss.
I am doing NaNoWriMo officially this year for the first time. I’m okay on a writing challenge but November is always an odd, busy month for me so I’m plugging away on the new WIP. It’s about an exorcist that lives in Melbourne and is like an unofficial prequel to a Mychal book (yeah that Mychal). This is why you are seeing all the random exorcist articles on the blog. I’m re-blogging so I can mostly find them again and keep track on various chunks of research. So far it’s a rather random book. I am moving between really liking it and being really worried about it. More so than I think any other book I’ve written. I’m about 35k words in. We’ll see how it turns out by the end of the month.
What else? I’ve been watching some amazing TV at the moment, but the ones that have been really rocking my story teller boat are:
AMC Preacher. (quality watching. Weird. Awesome. Violent and the best kind of wrong).
Fox’s The Exorcist (so effin good, pacing is on point every single episode).
HBO Westworld (oh man, this show needs its own Blog. Seriously so many questions. Anthony Hopkins at his finest.)
BBC America Dirk Gently (adapted from Douglas Adams books. Delightfully weird. Tight script writing.)
I’m worried about America. It’s like a dependable sibling has gone bat shit fucking cuckoo banana pants and humming in a faintly cult vibe of sheer madness. Patrick Rothfuss has a good blanket fort solution. I highly recommend that.
I’ll let you know when I have release dates on Wylt. You’ll get some teaser snippets and other treats, I am going to try and get a promotions only newsletter up and running soon too.
At the moment I am working on a new book about a Melbourne Exorcist and I’m being inundated by surprisingly current research on the matter. The following is an article written by Joseph P. Laycock , Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Texas State University has written for the fantastic news site The Conversation.
It goes into some of the history and the current issues surrounding this controversial topic. While it focusses primarily on Catholic and Christian tradition I’d love to know about exorcism rites in other cultures, so if any one has any recommended reading please comment or answer this thread on Twitter.
At Texas State University, I teach an honors course called “Demonology, Possession, and Exorcism.” It’s not a gut course. My students produce research papers on topics that range from the role of sleep paralysis in reports of demonic attacks to contemporary murder cases in which defendants have claimed supernatural forces compelled them to commit crimes.
In fact, talk of demons isn’t unusual in Texas. The first day of class, when we watched a clip of an alleged exorcism at an Austin Starbucks, many of my students said that they’d seen similar scenes in the towns where they’d grown up.
A few students even admitted their parents were nervous that they’d signed up for the class. Maybe these parents worried their kids would become possessed, or that studying possession in the classroom might make demons seem less plausible. (Perhaps it was a mix of both.)
Either way, these parents aren’t a superstitious minority: a poll conducted in 2012 found that 57% of Americans believe in demonic possession. Nonetheless, demons (invisible, malevolent spirits) and exorcism (the techniques used to cast these spirits out of people, objects or places) are often thought of as relics of the past, beliefs and practices that are incompatible with modernity. It’s an assumption based in a sociological theory that dates back to the 19th century called the secularization narrative. Scholars such as Max Weber predicted that over time, science would inevitably supersede belief in “mysterious forces.”
But while the influence of institutionalized churches has waned, few sociologists today would claim that science is eliminating belief in the supernatural. In fact, in the 40 years since the blockbuster film The Exorcist premiered, belief in the demonic remains as popular as ever, with many churches scrambling to adapt.
Exorcism’s golden age
So why has exorcism made a comeback? It may be that belief in the demonic is cyclical.
Historian of religion David Frankfurter notes that conspiracy theories involving evil entities like demons and witches tend to flare up when local religious communities are confronted with outside forces such as globalization and modernity.
Attributing misfortune and social change to hidden evil forces, Frankfurter suggests, is a natural human reaction; the demonic provides a context that can make sense of unfamiliar or complex problems.
While Europeans practiced exorcism during the Middle Ages, the “golden age” of demonic paranoia took place in the early modern period. In the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands were killed in witch hunts and there were spectacular cases of possession, including entire convents of nuns.
The Protestant Reformation was a key contributor to these events. The resulting wars of religion devastated Europe’s population, creating a sense of apocalyptic anxiety. At the same time, exorcism became a way for the Catholic Church, and even some Protestant denominations, to demonstrate that their clergy wielded supernatural power over demons – something that their rivals lacked. In some cases, possessed people would even testify that rival churches were aligned with Satan.
But by the 19th century, medical experts such as Jean-Martin Charcot and his student Sigmund Freud had popularized the idea that the symptoms of demonic possession were actually caused by hysteria and neurosis. Exorcists came to be seen as unsophisticated people who lacked the education to understand mental illness – a view that made exorcism a liability for churches instead of an asset. This was especially true for American Catholics, who had long been disparaged by the Protestant majority as superstitious immigrants.
The Exorcist effect
By the time William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist was published in 1971, the secularization narrative had gone mainstream. In 1966, Time magazine had run its famous cover asking “Is God Dead?” In 1970, Gallup found that 75% of Americans claimed religion was losing influence – the highest percentage in the history of the poll, which was first conducted in 1957.
Blatty’s protagonist, Damien Karras, is a Jesuit psychiatrist-priest who has lost his faith. At the end of novel, Karras lies dying from his battle with the demon Pazuzu. He cannot speak, but his eyes are “filled with elation” – presumably because he now has positive proof that demons and, by extension, God, actually exist. Through the character of Father Karras, Blatty captured a widespread feeling of longing for the supernatural in a disenchanted age.
While the Jesuit-run magazine America panned The Exorcist as “sordid and sensationalistic,” Blatty proved that Americans were not dismissive of the idea of exorcism. In 1971 and 1972, the novel spent 55 weeks on The New York Times bestseller lists. The film adaptation grossed over US$66 million in its first year. In 1990, as part of homily given in New York City’s St Patrick’s Cathedral, Cardinal John O’Connor even read from The Exorcist in order “to dramatize the reality of demonic power.”
A demonic renaissance
Today a significant segment of the population reports belief in demons.
According to a 2007 Baylor Religion Survey, 48% of Americans agreed or strongly agreed in the possibility of demonic possession. And in a Pew Research Survey conducted that same year, 68% of Americans said they believe in the presence of angels and demons.
While the surveys can’t reveal what exactly people mean when they say they “believe in demons,” it’s clear that these people don’t constitute a superstitious minority. Rather, they’re a normal part of today’s religious landscape.
People have historically used evil spirits to explain any number of misfortunes, whether its a physical illness or routine bad luck. But today, demons are frequently used to interpret contemporary political issues, such as abortion and gay rights. Since the 1970s, Protestant deliverance ministries have offered to “cure” gay teenagers by casting out demons. This practice now has corollaries in Islam – and even in Chinese holistic healing methods. When the state of Illinois legalized gay marriage in 2013, Bishop Thomas Paprocki held a public exorcism in protest. Politically, the bishop’s ritual served to frame changing social mores as a manifestation of demonic evil.
Similarly, Catholic exorcists in Mexico held a “magno exorcisto” in May 2015 aimed at purging the entire nation of demons. The mass exorcism was partly motivated by the drug wars that have devastated the country since 2006. But it was also in response to the legalization of abortion in Mexico City in 2007.
During one Mexican exorcism, a demon (speaking through a possessed person) confessed that Mexico had once been a haven for demons. According to the four demons identified in the exorcism, hundreds of years ago, Aztecs had offered them human sacrifices; now, with the legalization of abortion, the sacrifices had resumed.
Divided over demons
In the Baylor Religion Survey, 53% of Catholics said they either agree or strongly agree in the possibility of demonic possession. Twenty-six percent disagreed or strongly disagreed, and the rest were undecided. Progressive Catholics still regard exorcism as an embarrassment, and there are also increasingly vocal atheists and skeptics eager to cite the practice of exorcism as an example of the absurdity of religion. But in countries like Italy and the Philippines, there is active demand for more Catholic exorcists.
Church authorities are keenly aware that if they do not provide the spiritual services these people need, Pentecostal deliverance ministries will. In the past, the Church had much more ability to tailor its message to its audience. But in an age of Twitter and cellphone cameras, an exorcism performed in one country will be witnessed by the entire world.
Pope Francis seems especially skillful at navigating the question of demons. While he has inspired progressive Catholics with his stances on climate change and social justice, he has also emphasized the reality of the devil. In 2014, the Congregation of Clergy formally recognized the International Association of Exorcists. This is a group of conservative priests that has existed outside the Curia since 1990, and has lobbied for recognizing and normalizing the practice of exorcism. Founding IAE member Gabriele Amorth has even attributed the group’s sudden success to Pope Francis.
Perhaps the greatest example of Francis’s demonological savvy occurred on May 13 2013, when he placed his hands on a young man in a wheelchair after celebrating mass in St Peter’s Square. (This young man was, in fact, the same Mexican parishioner believed to be possessed by four demons.) Video shows the boy heaving and slumping forward under Francis’s unusually long embrace.
To those who feel the Catholic Church ought to take exorcism seriously, this was a clear example of Francis performing a public exorcism. But to those who regard exorcism as a relic of the Dark Ages, Church authorities can plausibly claim that this was only a blessing, perhaps lasting just a little longer, due to the pontiff’s sincere compassion for the young man.
For a church with over a billion followers, it’s a tough – but necessary – balancing act.