Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Seth Mullins, author of What Casts the Shadow? (The Edge of the Known), Trust in the Unseen (The Edge of the Known) (Volume 2) and Song of the Twice Born: Book 1 The Mirror of Sirrus. He draws upon personal experience with methods of inner exploration such as dream-work and shamanism to lay a visionary substratum to his fiction. The Edge of the Known series is also inspired by his years spent as a songwriter and performing musician. He has lived in Connecticut, New Mexico, Oregon and (currently) Vermont.
Hi Seth, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
- Tell me a little about yourself and your background? What were you like at school? Were you good at English? What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Ironically, I needed tutoring for writing and spelling in the first grade; but I think this was a matter of socialization more than anything else. It soon became obvious to me that my real aptitude was for language, particularly the written word. It didn’t feel as if I even had any homework in my A.P. Language Arts class senior year: It was all just writing prompts, to me. I studied creative writing further at two community colleges, in Santa Fe, NM. and Eugene, OR.
At the same time, writing was always my refuge. I was pretty reclusive during my school years. It took a long time for me to begin coming out of my shell. I had this idea that I could somehow keep myself safe by tiptoeing my way through existence, slipping under the radar. Writing became my way of reconnecting with the world around me.
- Which writers inspire you?
Jane Roberts, Jack Kerouac, Stephen R. Donaldson, Charles Bukowski, Arthur Rimbaud.
- What was your life like before becoming an author?
When I was young, the idea took root in me that the world was unsafe, and that the best way to stay safe was to be small. Just slip by unnoticed: That was my child’s approach to the uncertainty of existence. Don’t draw attention and you’ll be all right. So, unfortunately, this translated into low-paying jobs in adulthood with responsibilities that didn’t challenge me in any meaningful way or call upon my real gifts and abilities. It’s the belief that kept me from attaining much recognition and success as a writer, and took a long time to work through. At the same time, it left me well prepared for telling the story of a struggling young artist.
- Which comes first – the character’s story or the idea for the novel?
In this case, the two were inseparable. Generally, though, my understanding of the central character comes first. If I don’t really care about the protagonist then it doesn’t much matter what happens to him or her.
- When did you decide to become a writer?
When I discovered “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever” at age 11. I suddenly realized that these books, for all of their fantastical trappings, were not mere escapism. They reflected a deeper layer of life; of the inside of the world, so to speak. It completely redefined my concept of what a story was and how deep it could go. To communicate on that level, through stories that might touch others with the same sense of wonder…this was unquestionably the one sacred direction of my life from that point on. Then I read James Michener’s “How to Write a Novel” at fifteen, and that further cemented the dream, convincing me that there were actual steps one could take to realize it.
- Why do you write?
I am an incurable dreamer; I’ve made my peace with that, and it doesn’t concern me so much anymore if my beliefs come across as naive. Creativity is life. It not only holds the answers to all the questions within our minds but also presents answers to questions that we’ve never even thought to ask. It arises from a deeper part of our being that is aware of the bigger picture, the greater context, of our lives. The creative impulse shows the forest whilst we’re wandering among the trees. Writing illuminates the whole world for me.
- So, what have you written?
I started out writing epic fantasies: “Song of an Untamed Land” (2005) and “Song of the Twice Born” (2010). I have two ongoing blogs: Humanity’s Way Forward and The Edge of the Known, both of which mainly explore themes relating to my fiction. I do write poetry occasionally, posting on a blog called The Light That Can’t Be Extinguished, and also write about my own exploration of dreams, a longtime interest, on another one entitled Awake Inside a Dream. But visionary fiction is my greatest love.
- Where people can buy or see them?
What Casts the Shadow? (The Edge of the Known, Volume I) http://amzn.to/1rkhffS
Trust in the Unseen (The Edge of the Known, Volume II) http://amzn.to/UBw3bw
Humanity’s Way Forward: http://www.humanityswayforward.com
The Edge of the Known blog: http://frontiersofconsciousness.blogspot.com
(Links to my poetry and dream pages can be found there also!)
- Give me an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
At the onset of this tale, Brandon Chane is the archetypal self-destructive artistic genius: the hyper-sensitive; the wounded but gifted. He belongs to the pantheon of those who drink deeply from the well of life, feeling too much of it too often. Luckily, he finds possible salvation in the form of Saul Mason. Saul works as a counselor to people in crisis. He’s really more akin to a mystic thinker and an intuitive healer, though. He tries to show Brandon how his life is his own creation – that, because he has made for himself a life full of suffering he therefore also has the power to choose a new path.
Brandon, in turn, is able to absorb Saul’s teachings – which, like those of many spiritual teachers, can veer off into the realm of the esoteric – and reflect them back in his own way, in a kind of street vernacular that his audience relates to. So his own healing journey essentially becomes also a message of hope to others.
- What sparked the idea for your book?
A lifelong love of music and artistic expression, for one thing. I used to be addicted to the biographies (and the various myths that grew up around them) of artistic visionaries throughout history. So I spun the core of the novel around a young artist both brilliant and (seemingly) doomed. I wanted to explore the question of whether or not he could be ‘saved’. Could he somehow keep his vision intact and yet still enjoy a balanced and fulfilling earthly life? Could he sidestep the ‘live fast, die young’ credo and cliché of rock’n’roll?
- How do you market your book?
I’m still learning, and I often feel myself in the dark around the whole process. The approach I’ve found most effective thus far is to maintain my blogs and tie their content in as closely as possible with the themes that I explore in my novels. This helps to define the niche that readers can then associate with me.
- What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Well the challenge nowadays differs greatly from that of previous generations, thanks to the changes that technology has wrought. It’s much easier for a book to see print but, for that very reason, harder for a printed book to find readers. The average person is confronted with many more options, and less clearly defined reasons for choosing any of them. So the first task is a daunting one: Envisioning your particular, potential readership and then figuring out how to reach those people.
- How can readers discover more about you and your work?
- Website: http://www.humanityswayforward.com
- Blog: http://frontiersofconsciousness.blogspot.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WhatCaststheShadow
- Twitter: @SethMullins1
- Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/sethmullins
- What Casts the Shadow? (The Edge of the Known, Volume I) http://amzn.to/1rkhffS
- Trust in the Unseen (The Edge of the Known, Volume II) http://amzn.to/UBw3bw
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1189710.Seth_Mullins
It was a great privilege for me to get to interview Seth Mullins, who has inspired me in many different ways. Thank you Seth!!! Good Luck with everything!