1--What is the title of your latest release?
MAGICIAN AND FOOL - Book One, Arcana Oracle Series
2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?
Pamela, a seer and empath hired by a cult to design tarot cards, must summon the muses of her cards, High Priestess and Empress, to help her thwart Aleister's demons and stop the Carlists from trying to destroy all female rulers.
3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?
Magician and Fool is based on the real-life Pamela Colman Smith who lived in London, Jamaica, and New York in the later part of the 19th century, so I was lucky to have lush, exotic and fascinating environments already suggested.
4--Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?
I would have loved to attend one of Pamela’s Bohemian Soirees that she held in her flat in Chelsea in the early 1900s. Part-performance, part-social event, these soirees were attended by some of the most fascinating artists and authors of the day. I would have been there in a New York minute!
5--What are three words that describe your protagonist?
Talented, psychic and ambitious describes Pamela Colman Smith.
6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?
I learned in writing about the magic of Aleister Crowley, known as the “wickedest man in the world”, that his effect is to be taken seriously. I was warned about writing about him because of his involvement with “dark magic.” Crowley’s influence on cult-building and his motto “Do What Thou Wilt” challenged the idea of adherence to Victorian mores, but to me, it also instilled a pursuit of magical practice, regardless of the outcome of how it impacts others.
7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?
I edit after I am done, which means I edit and re-edit, and after my beta-readers and writing groups pitch in, edit again.
8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?
Chocolate in any form except white chocolate which is not chocolate to me.
9--Describe your writing space/office!
My desk faces the airshaft in our NYC apartment building. To my left is my curiosity shelf/altar which has a balancing scale holding crystals, three types of sprays (Sage Smudge, Saje Chillout and European Rose water) for when I need to recharge myself, my crystal ball (never in direct sunlight to avoid fires from reflection) seashells and other inspirational tchotchkes. To my left is a shelf with all my tarot decks, about thirty all told.
10--Who is an author you admire?
I love Susanna Clarke’s writing. I can’t believe it has been sixteen years since Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell came out but was delighted with the 2020 release of her Piranesi.
11--Is there a book that changed your life?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen got me hooked on beautiful writing. Her brilliant third-person omniscient narration lets us get inside Lizzie’s head but also see the bigger picture of the community and class trying to pigeon-hole Lizzie’s choices in life.
12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.
Brooke Warner at SparkPress wrote to let me know that they were interested in publishing my first book in my series and I was over the moon. SparkPress is a hybrid publisher that has published some of my favorite authors’ works: Nancy Bilyeau, Susanne Dunlap, and Laurie Buchanan.
13--What’s your favorite genre to read?
I love Historical Fiction! Whether it is with the flair of alternate history, magic realism, or biographical historical fiction, I love it all.
14--What’s your favorite movie?
The English Patient is one of my favorite movies. The music, the world-building, and the performances of Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas are fabulous.
15--What is your favorite season?
Halloween is my favorite season! My husband and I before COVID had blow-out costume parties where we would award prized for: most creative, scariest, sexiest and best couple.
16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?
A table with my favorite people at Café Luxembourg here in NYC.
17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?
I’ve just discovered Cunk on Earth and I laughed out loud at this fabulous mockumentary. Diane Morgan is a genius.
18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?
19--What do you do when you have free time?
I take a fairly strenuous class at my gym so that helps me take the loop in Central Park, which is only a few blocks away. The loop starts at 59th street and goes up to 110th, so whether I’m walking or biking, it is a great escape. The park is my recharging station, for walks, picnics, tours and ice skating.
20--What can readers expect from you next?
The second book in my series, HIGH PRIESTESS AND EMPRESS, Book Two, Arcana Oracle Series, will be published by SparkPress in May 2024, and I’m hard at work editing the third book in the series.
Arcana Oracle #1
Pamela Colman Smith, newly arrived from New York to her birthplace of London, is received as an oddball in Victorian society. Her second sight helps her in her new job: illustrating tarot cards for the Golden Dawn, a newly formed occult group. But when Pamela refuses to share her creations with Aleister Crowley, a controversial magician, he issues a threat: give up the cards’ power, or he’ll harm her muses.
In the midst of this battle, two of Pamela’s idols, the actors Henry Irving and William Terriss, take her under their wing. Henry, who tutors her as the leader of the Lyceum Theatre, becomes the muse for her Magician card. William Terriss, teaching her by examples of instinct and courage, becomes the muse for her Fool card. As Pamela begins to create the tarot deck, she is almost overwhelmed by the race to possess the magical power of her cards. In order to defeat Aleister, Henry and William will have to transform into living incarnations of the Magician and the Fool—and Pamela will have to learn how to conjure her own magic.
Paranormal | Women's Fiction Historical | Suspense Historical [SparkPress, On Sale: May 2, 2023, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781684631865 / ]
Susan Wands is a writer, tarot reader, and actor. A co-chair with the NYC Chapter of the Historical Novel Society, she helps produce monthly online book launches and author panels. In London, she has lectured at Watkins Books for their Recorded Authors series, and at Atlantis Books, also traveling to present at the Occulture Berlin Festival. Ms. Wands' writings have appeared in Art in Fiction, Kindred Spirits magazine, and The Irving Society journal, FIRST KNIGHT. Some of her podcast interviews include: Biddy Tarot, Imaginary Worlds, Bad Ass Bitches Tarot, and the Spirited Tarot YouTube channel. Her first book in a series, Magician and Fool, Book One, Arcana Oracle Series will be out in 2021, is based on Pamela Colman Smith, creator of the best-selling tarot, the Waite Smith deck. High Priestess and Empress, and Emperor and Hierophant, the next two books in the series, are in final edits.
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