Evidently, so I’m told, there are folks waiting on my official opinions about other authors in the *occult* arena. I do have an opinion and I’m going to share it. Hold onto your hats folks!
First – to be an occult author takes a lot of guts, conviction, and ambition because there are always vicious critics out there who think they know more than you, who think they have all the answers, and because of their huge egos think your books are the worst shit out there. These people will rip your work into shreds, insult you as a person, make big assumptions about your intelligence and integrity, and then spit you out and piss on you all over the Internet. I have yet to meet an occult author who hasn’t been a target for one of these self-aggrandizing douche-bags. Not to mention you are putting your very soul, possibly years of research and expirimentation, your deepest held beliefs and private practices out into the world for scrutiny and criticism. That’s NOT an easy thing to do.
Second – many of the more “darker” occult authors (who the mainstream occult publishers are too afraid to publish or whose work may not quite be up to professional standards writing-wise) have been forced to go the DIY publishing route with their work (i.e. Lulu). Since there’s not a lot of money in writing occult books, these authors often can’t afford to hire editors. As a result they end up self-editing. The sad fact is that ALL writers need editors; even good ones! But not all writers who haven’t been picked up by mainstream publishers can afford them either. So sadly there are a lot of books on the market with glaring errors. This leaves some readers growling at typos and other glaring editing mishaps. And, as anyone who isn’t a writer knows, writers who don’t write 100% perfect prose can’t write. Period.
Third – writing a book is not easy no matter what anyone says. Most of what is on the occult book market are actually chapbooks and pamphlets, not books. Why? Because everyone wants to write their own occult book, but once they get into it they realize how difficult writing actually is. I think anyone who hasn’t actually tried to write a book doesn’t know what it actually takes to write a book. So it’s easy to criticise a book’s faults when you don’t actually know what went into producing it.
Fourth – what’s good and what isn’t is VERY SUBJECTIVE to the individual reading the material. It either resonates with you or it doesn’t. In many instances an occult author will find his/her writing style a point of contention with critics. For example: some of my critics don’t like my writing style because I’m not a research, regurgitate type author. I don’t present the material from a cold, objective, third-party POV.
All of this said I have nothing bad to say about any of my fellow occult authors. Sure, I may not agree with all their beliefs or practices, and most certainly I do think some of them could use a good editor, but I respect the work they do because it takes a very creative, driven, hard-working, self-motivated person to do what they do (especially if they’re self-publishing). I admire those things in anyone, even people I may not like or with whom I disagree. Obviously these authors wouldn’t have the following they have if their work was 100% crap. Not to mention people wouldn’t be asking me what I think of them because no one would know who they are.
Sure, there are some authors whose writing style drives me batty and their books aren’t my cup of tea. Mark Allen Smith comes to mind despite the fact that his Queen of Hell was a wonderful testament to Hecate. All the same, his work inspires a lot of people, he writes books people want, and he sells a lot of books. I would STILL recommend his books to dedicants of Hecate and Lucifer and those who follow traditional Witchcraft. Because while his books may not be for me, someone else may find some great spiritual epiphany or solace in his work.
I’m not so arrogant to think my opinion is the only opinion or the only right opinion out there. ::shrug::
So instead of me criticising or cutting down authors who I disagree with or who might need some help editing their work, I’d much rather give you a list of the authors whose work I really enjoy.
Living Authors: I love Lon Milo Duquette. I find Rufus Opus’ work fresh and inspiring. I am a fan of David Rankine and Stephen Skinner. I like Joseph Peterson. I enjoy writings by Morgan Drake Eckstein (a lot of you don’t know who he is but you can look him up.) B. Morlan is a very down-to-earth author and I love his accessible, up-front approach to magick.
Okay, so it’s not a big list, but it is what it is. And yes, I do respect and admire Michael Ford, especially because he does all the work on his books himself. They’re not perfect, but a lot of conviction, dedication and hard work went into producing those books, and that alone makes me respect him even more as a fellow occult author (mostly because I’ve been there – I know what’s involved).