Your friendly neighborhood Detroit Paganism Examiner was recently able to snag some electronic interview time with the one and only Shauna Aura Knight. Busily preparing to present at Panthea Con 2015 last week, she gave me words of wisdom as she was in the middle of a 12 hour travel sojourn this February 17th.
A very well known figure in the realms of Pagan Leadership training and Ritual designs, she is coming to Detroit for the happening that is ConVocation 2015 this week starting February 19th. And those attending this year’s convention will be able to actually experience her classes in person.
So, tell us, who are you and what you do write?
My name is Shauna Aura Knight, and I write fiction and nonfiction. I write paranormal romance and fantasy. For nonfiction, I write articles and books on topics of Pagan leadership, ritual facilitation, and personal growth, and I also write on topics of activism, sex how-to, graphic design, marketing strategy, and public speaking.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but it took me a while to actually publish anything. I’ve been writing fiction since I was in third grade, and I started writing my first novel when I was twelve. It wasn’t any good, of course, but I learned and grew. I was first published in 2006 when I wrote a column on “Dreamwork” for a magazine, and after that I began publishing articles in various Pagan magazines and writing more on my blog. In 2013 I published my first fiction book.
What inspired you to make this dream real?
It never occurred to me not to write. I was very serious about writing when I started writing that science fiction novel when I was twelve; it took me two years to finish it. For me, I always think in terms of “when” not “if” when bringing my dreams into reality.
Are you self published, or are you through a publishing house?
A little of column A, a little of column B. I have several fiction and nonfiction books published through Jupiter Gardens Press and Pagan Writers Press, and I have some nonfiction that is self published, and I’m about to self publish some of my fiction. I’m also working with Immanion Press on an anthology of Pagan leadership that will come out later this year, and I’m exploring other publishers to work with as well.
What are the names of your books?
For nonfiction: “The Leader Within”, “Ritual Facilitation”, “Dreamwork for the Initiate’s Path”, and “Spiritual Scents”.
Fiction: “Werewolves in the Kitchen”, “Werewolves with Chocolate”, “A Winter Knight’s Vigil”, “The White Dress”, “The Autumn Leaves”, and coming soon “A Fading Amaranth” and “The Truth Upon Her Lips”.
What is your most beloved character or most beloved topic?
I’ll go with my favorite topics, since I can’t really pick one character. I really could write about leadership and ritual facilitation forever. All it takes is a conversation with someone on Facebook about a challenge they face with leading a group, or a group discussion during one of my workshops on difficulties of leading rituals, and my brain is running with ideas for another article or book. I suppose at the core I’m a problem solver, and I see a lot of Pagans in pain, struggling with how to grow healthy community. I want to help them find ways.
What will people experience about your particular voice?
For my nonfiction, I’d say what people tell me is that I write about complex topics in a very understandable way. My voice tends to be very approachable, very readable, even when I get nerdy talking about group dynamics or educational theory and trance technique. For fiction it’s going to be different; my Werewolves stories are sexy paranormals with lots of witty banter, but some of my fantasy stories have a more epic/mythic/heroic voice to them.
Where is your primary readership base?
My audience is primarily Pagan, though my fiction fan base has been growing as I release more books. Currently most of my fiction features Pagan characters. Most of my readers have connected me through my blog or through me teaching workshops at Pagan events around the country.
Are your works available all over the nation? Are they available as audio books?
All of my books are available as eBooks, and only some are currently available in print, though within the next year or two I hope to have everything offered as a print edition. I haven’t yet taken the dive into audio books but that will happen too.
Tell us a little about your writing process. What goes into it for you?
For nonfiction, I either get inspired by someone asking me a question about leadership, or I see a call for submissions for a magazine or anthology. Sometimes writing is easy, and I tap out a 3,000 word article on the topic with no problems. Other times, particularly when I’m writing on activism-related topics such as lack of environmentalism, sexual abuse, transgender discrimination, or racism in the Pagan community, those articles can be a lot harder to write, and worse to edit. I’m sure to offend someone, so as I’m writing them I’m aware that someone will get bent out of shape.
With fiction, it’s both easier and harder. When I really get on a roll writing fiction and I’m in the zone it’s just a total joy. When I’m trying to get in the writing groove but I don’t know what happens “next” in the story, or I’m unclear as to a character’s motivation, it’s very frustrating. There are some tricks I use to try and get into the groove including listening to music or watching shows that inspire me, but usually I’m praying for the bolt of lightning to let me know what happens next in the story. Sometimes the answers come to me in dreams, which is great.
What are the most rewarding, and the challenging, parts about expressing yourself this way?
The most rewarding part of my nonfiction work is that I get to help people. I talk to Pagan group leaders and group members all the time who are dealing with community building challenges, and sometimes I’m able to help them. Those are really great days.
The challenge, of course, is that I sometimes write about very difficult topics and not everyone is going to agree with me. If I post about sex and ethics and abuse, or racism, or trans and queer community members, there are always going to be trolls. There’s the axiom, “Don’t read the comments,” and it’s so very true. Dealing with the trolls is depressing and disheartening.
The best part about writing fiction is that people enjoy the stories and they want more! The challenging part is getting the word out about my books. As a new author in a sea of new authors, it’s hard to make a splash.
Where can we find your books?
My books are available at all the major online retailers and you can read blurbs for my books on my web site, www.ShaunaAuraKnight.com. If you own a Pagan store, I do sell wholesale, and if your group is interested in purchasing five or more copies I offer a “study group” discount. Some groups have had all their members buy my ritual book, and the leadership book is going to be on the curriculum of at least one large Pagan group. Just contact me if you want to find out more about buying books directly from me, ShaunaAura@gmail.com and you can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, all that good stuff.
Tell us about you. How would you describe yourself?
I’m a geeky introvert who (somehow) managed to learn the art of public speaking. Most people who meet me when I’m teaching a workshop would never believe me when I tell them I’m really shy. I’m always working on something. Writing, painting, graphic design, planning an event. My cats are pretty good at helping me with such creative projects, too. I enjoy reading epic fantasy, paranormal romance, and I will watch just about any movie or TV show with a sci-fi or fantasy element to it.
Fun fact: I ended up doing leadership training at a Pagan retreat center after I experienced a total leadership disaster within a Star Wars fan club I was part of. We used to design replica scenery from Star Wars to decorate hospitality suites at sci-fi/fantasy conventions. I loved the epic projects but I didn’t like the team infighting that happened. I just wanted to learn how to be a better leader, I never planned on traveling around and teaching leadership.
What have we not covered that you would really like to get across to folks reading this?
I’m a big fan of personal transformation, that we each can be the hero of our own journey. This applies both to my nonfiction and to my fiction. Leadership requires us to break our hearts and become more than we were. Learning to lead rituals requires us to step out of our comfort zones. Learning magic requires facing our own shadows.
And in my fiction books, it’s the same. In order to step into their power, my characters have to face who they are, they have to transform. They have to become the hero. It’s something that inspires me about people. I see and hear about a lot of crappy behavior from people, but I’m an eternal optimist. I believe that we all can be better, that we can build a better, more compassionate world together.
Bonus Question: What historical figure would you love to sit down with and share a meal, and why?
There are so many people I could choose for this. I think I’m going to put on my nerd hat here; I’d love to sit down with the person or people who devised some of the ancient megaliths. Stonehenge, Newgrange, the Great Pyramid. I’d love to know what their intention was. Archaeology can tell us a lot, and I’m fascinated by the astronomical alignments of these huge stone monuments. But I’d like to know what their designers intended.
For those interested in the workshops she will be presenting at ConVocation 2015, they are
- Designing Intensive Rituals – learn “about choosing a ritual theme (seasonal sabbat, myth, fairytale, or other), working with ritual techniques to draw people into the theme, and we’ll explore ritual structures that work to engage people into the deep magic.”
- Finding Your Personal Magic – co facilitated w/ Taylor Ellwood – “explore the magic that is uniquely yours. What are your dreams, goals, and gifts?”
- Ritual Arts: Facilitating Trance Journeys and Meditations – “Explore tools for leading effective trances through presentation, discussion, and hands-on, focusing on techniques of dual voice, open language, rhythm/music/movement, ritual structure, and space setup.”
These classes are available to the public either through registration for the whole convention, or by simply purchasing a day pass. A favorite here in the Michigan Pagan community, she is highly looked forward to when she makes her sojourn to the land of the fresh water seas. She may become a one of yours as well.