August 30th, 2019
I asked Austin where he would like to chat:
“I suggest we meet at a cafe somewhere in the Pacific Northwest; Seattle or maybe Vancouver. I choose this locale because the region’s not only notorious for its gourmet brews, but also its perennially bleak weather. Thick fogs and drenching rains would keep only the most resolute connoisseurs of fragrant Javanese blends and bold arabicas from braving the pitiless elements. I prefer solitude to a crowd, but thinning out the patrons to a handful of Epicureans resolute only in quaffing their beverages of choice seems like a tolerable option. Plus, the moody weather might give the scene a greater sense of urgency or import. In my mind, we could be discussing a plot to assassinate some prelate or form a cabal to usher in a new age where the arcane rites of old could upend our current technocracies. We would order pastries with our coffee, because what good is plotting on an empty stomach? Something chocolate to bring out the the flavor of the coffee. During your interview, my mind wanders to thoughts of lost civilizations and the best ways to create magical languages. As I sip my coffee I wonder if you’ve ever seen a ghost. Summoned a demon. After answering your questions I thank you and politely shake your hand, then linger in the cafe a few minutes longer, wondering if the shop owner has a djinni stuffed in an amulet or ring somewhere in the back room, a magical servant giving the coffee just that extra bit of delicious that only comes from something supernatural.”
Laura Mae: How long have you been writing for?
Austin Case: I wrote some as a child and adolescent but didn’t really get serious until I was an adult. After I got my M.A. studying esotericism, I got kind of burned out on academic work and got back into fiction. With my background studying weird and witchy stuff in grad school, I thought I could add a unique perspective to fantasy and speculative fiction so I started writing what would eventually become WILD, DARK TIMES.
L: What are you currently working on?
A: Right now I’m working on a modern(ish) adaptation of The Epic of Gilgamesh. I know trying to adapt the oldest epic narrative is presumptuous as hell, but…why not? It’s a very different take: deals with Hollywood corruption, political intrigue, cults, and other fun stuff. It’s killing me, but I think it’s gonna be pretty great once I finish it.
L: Are there any books or authors who inspire your work?
A: Oh, quite a few! Some of my favorites include Neil Gaiman, Catherynne M. Valente, Lev Grossman, and V. E. Schwab.
L: What has been the most challenging for you so far?
A: It’s hard to say what’ been most challenging. I think all aspects have their own unique challenges. Writing, editing, finding a publisher, and marketing all have their own devilish little quirks that can frustrate any writer to no end.
L: What is your favorite writing trope? Least favorite?
A: You’ve gotta love a secret demigod (or Fay or wizard what-have-you). As for least favorite; any tropes that are stereotypical or exhibit some sort of prejudice are especially atrocious as well as being hack. The wise/magic old black man or woman is a particularly good example of that kind of pernicious and played-out cliche’.
L: Besides writing, what is it you like to do?
A: I like to make experimental music! I play guitar, bass, drums, sing, and mess around with synths, pedals, oscillators and other fun toys.
L: What would you say is your favorite book or series of all time? Why?
A: I’d have to say AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman. That was the first novel I read after finishing my first masters degree and it reminded me of how amazing the world of fantasy can be. Also, it’s just an amazing book. He fleshed out deities so perfectly that it made these ancient and often dusty characters come to life in a way I’d never experienced before.
L: In a brief statement, have you self-published or traditionally published? What was your experience?
A: I’ve found a traditional publisher for my novel. It took about five years and incessant querying, rejections, and waiting. I recommend going for a traditional publisher, but know that it takes resolve. If you give up easily, then that path is not for you.
L: What element of writing do you enjoy the most?
A: I really love writing dialogue. I think it’s my strongest ability, which kind of surprised me when I wrote my novel. My background’s not in communication or journalism or anything like that so having a natural ear for how people talk naturally kind of came as a shock.
L: What are you currently reading?
A: Right now I’m working on SUTTREE by Cormac McCarthy. His prose is gorgeous, but I’m not sure if it’s the kind of story that will ultimately hold my interest. I’ve always been more of a spec fic kinda guy. I’m really excited to get my copy of GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
L: What genre do you read?
A: Oops, I guess I already kind of answered this one in the last question. To get more specific, I love fantasy. To get even MORE specific, my favorites are urban fantasy, high fantasy, gas-lamp fantasy, weird fiction, horror, experimental, and counter-cultural fiction (Burroughs, Kerouac, Thompson, etc.)
L: What does a typical day of writing look like for you? Any rituals or ‘must-haves’?
A: Not any rituals for me. I tend to just jump in or scour the internet for research. My primary form of employment is academic librarian, and this gives me a decent amount of time to work on writing and research.
L: Any songs or type of music you need to listen to when you write?
A: Nope. I never really listen to music when I write. I’d get too invested in analyzing what I hear or become too engrossed in the experience: I’m a synesthete so if I hear music I often have complex internal visual stimuli that accompanies the experience and that would distract me from putting ink to paper. Or bytes to screen, I guess.
L: Who is your favorite literary character and why?
A: I’m not sure if I have a favorite, but I’ve always been drawn to Captain Nemo. An eccentric loner and misanthrope who explores hallucinogenic undersea vistas is a character that just sits right with me.
L: Where would you say you get most of your inspiration?
A: I think most comes from my background studying the occult and mysticism. The academic experience I’ve gained provides certain vantages and details about potential fodder for fantasy fiction that other writers might not have the same depth of knowledge about. Having a scholarly background of investigating outre spiritual subjects helps add more depth and flavor to my writing.
L: For aspiring writers out there, what would be the best advice you want them to know?
A: Stay persistent! If you keep writing, keep reading, keep learning, keep submitting, and just keep working, I suspect that you will find your niche and have your efforts rewarded.
Austin Case received a Master’s Degree from the University of Amsterdam in Western Esotericism and Mysticism. His academic knowledge of the occult and other peripheral phenomena has given him a unique take on fantasy and speculative fiction.
Wild, Dark Times – It’s the summer of 2012 and Elizabeth Megalos is a disillusioned art-school grad getting by as a bank teller in St. Louis. One evening, she’s attacked by a possessed coworker and saved by a mysterious, wise-cracking sorcerer named Eddy. He drags Elizabeth and Hugh—a skeptical scholar of the occult—to Europe, where he introduces them to his three magical celebrity friends. Once there, Eddy explains the group’s mission: preventing a Demiurge—a creature out of Gnostic Christian mythology—from fulfilling the visions of doom in the Book of Revelation. The Demiurge has been drawing power from the misguided beliefs in the Mayan apocalypse and is set to start the destruction on Dec. 21st, 2012. Through ritual magic and a series of psychedelic experiences, the group learns that Elizabeth is the key to taking down the Demiurge, though she can’t imagine how she will be the one to stop Armageddon.