A Malkuth of Me,  Audrey Brice,  books,  the writing life,  Witchcraft,  writing life

Why I write traditional witches and darker path occultist characters.

I love supernatural, paranormal, and witchy fiction. I love it because I can better identify with the characters, and it makes me, as a reader, feel seen. That said, I got tired of reading the existing urban fantasy, paranormal fiction, and supernatural fiction with the standard “only white witches are good” narrative. All the characters spent a lot of time preaching how good witches and white witches were okay as if trying to justify writing a witchy main character to the Christian mainstream.

Well, the writer in me said, “Fuck that!”

I am unapologetically a witch who will invoke the denizens of hell as needed. I’m not against treating others exactly how they treat me. At the same time, I am a kind, hard-working, decent human being who believes in bodily autonomy, self-responsibility, and adhering to the big rules like not physically murdering people, raping people, or destroying and stealing the personal property of others. I say physically because I would never physically harm anyone unless it was a me or them situation where I feared for my life. But in the sense of physically harming random people — I’m very much a pacifist. Magically, however, I will destroy anyone who harms me or my loved ones directly. Many of the people I call friend are very much like this, too. We practice Dark Magick, worship or work with what are deemed “Dark” gods, and we’ll curse assholes.

In fiction, however, especially big publisher fiction – there were no characters like me and my friends. If there were characters like me – they were always painted as the evil ones, or, in the very least, the assholes. As an aspiring novelist, it occurred to me that I had the power to change that, so in 2008, I penned the first OTS novel. When it was finished, an agent friend of mine (also a practitioner of the dark arts) offered to forward the MS to one of the editors at a big five publisher (there were five prior to 2020, now it’s the big four) for consideration. Five months later, I was offered a contract — CONTINGENT on some VERY specific changes to the MS. First on that list was that I make my main character a good witch and to adjust my supporting characters (one being the happiest Satanist on planet earth) to also be good witches. The rest of the changes were to make the storyline more cookie cutter and saleable to a wider reading audience.

I’ve often wondered if turning down that contract was the biggest mistake of my professional career. It probably was. At the same time – I had written the book for those of us who loved witchy fiction, but who weren’t your stereotypical “good witches” who practiced Wicca. I wasn’t going to apologize for being a witch or writing dark witch characters who weren’t evil. I wanted to read about people like me having supernatural adventures and solving murders and mysteries with a dash of dark magick. Dark magicians who were actually the good guys – and the bad guys – and everything in between. So, I wrote a book like that because few, if any, existed at the time. When I got the offer for publication with all the caveats – my heart sank and I knew that if I accepted it and made the changes, I’d never forgive myself for not writing the characters who spoke to me, and who I could relate to.

It was 2010 when I decided to self-publish the first book – Outer Darkness. To-date, my OTS series is one of my most popular urban fantasy/mystery series’. Though my other witchy series’ aren’t far behind. Thirteen Covens resonates with those who are into urban fantasy/horror, Wicked Ways resonates with paranormal cozy mystery fans who want a quick-fun read (and this series helps me decompress after writing the darker stuff), and my Goetic Witch Mysteries have (so far) been a hit with people who like cozy mystery, cozy horror, paranormal women’s fiction, and urban fantasy.

Here’s the kicker — not all of my readers are occultists either. These are all commercially viable series’ where the only people who seem to really dislike me turning the trope of good witches/bad witches on its head – are a handful of really cranky Christians.

While I may never have another chance at becoming a USA Today or NYT Bestseller, and I may never have another big four publisher offer me a contract for anything – I am glad I stayed true to myself and the initial reason I began writing darker path characters. Because out there, somewhere, is a reader who loves witchy fiction but who can’t relate to the characters in a cookie cutter good-witch narrative. Somewhere out there is a reader who wants to see themselves, through characters they can actually relate to, in the books that they read. No matter how small that group of people is – I am thrilled and honored that I can fill that niche and give them their own characters to love.

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at swordarkeereon@gmail.com

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