Johnny Worthen’s debut novel Beatrysel was recently published by Omnium Gatherum and is available as a trade paperback and eBook from Amazon. (Read my review here.) Beatrysel is a multi-genre melange of occult horror/thriller/love story/philosophical treatise on the nature of man, God, angels, and demons. I caught up with Johnny the other day and asked which came first–did Beatrysel spur his research into the occult or did his research spark the story?
I have this motto to explain why I do what I do: “I write what I want to read.” This at once conceals the fact that as a multi-genre author, I’m all over the freakin’ place – horror here, YA there, comedy coming up behind you fast – LOOK OUT! But this motto applies especially to my debut occult thriller Beatrysel.
One of the reasons I wrote Beatrysel the way I did was because I couldn’t find any fiction titles that looked at or used magic in a non-fantasy way. Magick, with a K, and the occult, are not fantasy. They are real schools of thought, living religion and are still practiced today.
And thus I wrote Beatrysel.
Like my character Julian Cormac, I was moved by the stupid Disney movie, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It stuck in my head and I wondered as a kid at a Saturday afternoon matinée, if it could be true. This was way before Harry Potter. It was before the internet. Before running water. No, wait. Scratch that last one.
Anyway, it piqued my interest and I did some digging. I stumbled upon a lot of turn of the 19th century stuff, before and right after. Occultism was big back then. Seances and such, but also a new vigor to actually investigate the possibility of the supernatural. That work was what interested me most. One thing led to another and a research hobby was born that led me into dusty book stores for most of my teens and into my forties.
A while ago I was cursed to watch a cluster of my friends all go through divorces at the same time. My sister too and some of her friends fell to the same pandemic. It was awful. I hunkered down, circled the wagons around my own marriage, and watched.
I learned many things from those times. I did not come through them unscathed – the blast radius was too large. But I learned enough and survived better than they. What I was particularly moved by was the depth of raw emotion such traumatic breakups could have on people who had previously been everything to each other. The power was so intense, so alive, so basic that it was easy to imagine it as a living thing, or as my studies suggested, as a spirit. Or a demon.
To explore this, I turned to my books. Occult philosophy – Modern Magick – gave me a real structure with which to bring love into the world as an entity to itself in fiction. By doing it this way I had a familiar mythology and belief system to draw from, one which would be recognized and appreciated by those readers familiar with it. If the reader wasn’t familiar, I knew them to be consistent at least and, hopefully, interesting.
Watching my friends ravaged by love, the loss of it, the betrayal of it, I came to believe this might be true. It gave me an idea. The idea become will, the will became form.
And thus I wrote Beatrysel.
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Buy the Book: Amazon