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.
Connect with Johnny Worthen
Buy the Book: Amazon
When it comes to love there’s a fine line between passion and obsession, ardor and madness, ecstasy and terror. In Beatrysel Johnny Worthen takes all the shades and flavors of love from filial to sexual and whips them into a frenzied frappe of occult horror, thriller, and philosophical treatise on the nature of man, God, angels, and demons.
Did I mention it’s a love story?
One of the major themes of this novel is that the lover protects the beloved. Beatrysel is a demon created to be the personification of love and brought to this plane by Julian Cormac, a professor who has devoted himself to understanding the magick that underpins our universe. Demons, of course, have their own agendas and all the maturity of greedy children in a candy store. It’s up to Julian to banish his beloved, his child and lover, and end B’s reign of terror.
Of course, the story itself is nothing as straight forward as what I’ve described. Johnny keeps the reader guessing and on the edge of his seat as the story twists and turns. Bad things come to those who want to keep Julian on a cocktail of anti-psychotics and there’s more than one puppet master. To say more would spoil the story.
The writing is quick-paced and snappy, with imagery that not only sings, but at times does the hokey-pokey off the page. Told in omniscient present tense with several major flashbacks, I have to admit it took me a couple of chapters to get into the rhythm of the story, but once you get in the head of the characters, you’re hooked.
I loved the scene where Julian’s sister discovers her husband and a skanky musician in the middle of a tryst. What happens next is outrageous, completely cathartic, and applause-worthy—something every woman secretly wishes she’d give in and do if ever in that situation.
I’m not even going to mention the creepy coffee beans. Let’s just say it’s going to be a long time before I can walk past that section of the grocery store again.
A raw, ragged, and convoluted read, it’s not for the timid. You’ll find yourself turning lights on and checking the locks at night.
Beatrysel by Johnny Worthen is published by Omnium Gatherum and is available as a trade paperback and eBook from Amazon.