Interview with Faith "Sage" Connor-Smith of Pagan Pages at www.paganpages.org/


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"Hidden Passages, Tales to Honor the Crones" By Vila Spiderhawk



* * * * * A MUST READ FOR THE SUMMER * * * * *


Before we get to the interview, I wanted to say a little something about this book and its' author. Being a journalist I can say that I have read my fair share of novels throughout my career and 54 years of living thus far. There is every now and then that one novel, or that one collection of short stories, that will sneak up behind you without a nod and knock you right out of your shoes and you sit back and say, "WOW!, what a read." This is one of those books.
While I sat cozy in my chair with a good piping hot cup of tea I had sat down ready to review this book giving myself about 45 minutes to read through it and then decide on my interview process, when I realizes a couple of hours later that I had not moved even enough to sip the tea which was then icy cold. I had not only read the entire book thoroughly in this book, but had even gone back and re-read several of stories again and again. I easily found myself being part of the character's lives. I related with several of them and with those I didn't know I had such emotions for them that I felt like I was shutting the door on them if I didn't finish their stories. If you're looking for a great summer read then is definitely on my top ten list.

Now for our interview with VilaSpiderhawk:


*(SageKatt)* (SK)
Merry meet Vila, it is a joy meeting you and thank you for taking the time to sit with me today. Before we get started I want to say "Thank You" for writing this book. It is not very often that I find myself so enthralled by a story that I want to reread it over it again. To find several short stories that not only caught my emotions but also put me so rawly right there in the stories with the players as if their lives where mine has been quite a long time in the coming and this book has done just that. I have lived and loved 54 years of my life and could relate so easily with the women and children in a couple of these stories. I walked the labyrinth with Donnata, and Mima Po lived up my street as well. I still have her gift with me and will carry it with me forever as I go. "Hidden Passages, Tales to Honor the Crone," is a collection of stories all about Goddess women of all ages, who have all traveled on the same journey sometime during their lifetime The modern day women can easily identify with these sister from the different cultures while taking the journeys with them.

*SageKatt (SK)* *Vila, I am curious, where did you find the impulses to write the varied stories in your book?*

*Vila (V) *I have been writing all my life for my own amusement but never for publication. Oh, I published a poem here and there in English or in French. But I was never really serious about publishing.
Then I took a course with Shekhinah Mountainwater in which she asked that I write a few stories on various topics. After she read the first one she said I really should try for publication. Well, people have been telling me that for decades, and I always shooed off the idea. But she was so insistent that I decided to try. I collected the stories that I'd written for her and added others, and a year later I had a manuscript.

*(SK)* *Without giving away the book I am thinking of the 3 stories that entailed Cara, Donnata and Heraulta. Winding these 3 stories together like a braid was genius. The plots in each story take many twist and turns, would you consider this a part of your writing style?

*(V)* The plots and twists come from the characters themselves. I go into channeling mode and write down what they tell me in rough form and then go back to make the stories readable. Some of my characters are so chatty that I can't even write in full sentences if I want to get down everything they're telling me. So I just do the best I can. If I lose some of what they have told me I simply go back (in a trance state) and call on them. Most often they're very cooperative, understanding that I don't move as quickly as they do. And they patiently go over what I've missed or forgotten. After all, they want their stories told.
Then the real work begins: turning each story into a work of art. After all, these women have trusted me with their truths. They deserve the best work I can do.

*(SK)* *Who would you say is your biggest influence in your writing and why?*

*(V)* Generally, I have always felt a strong desire to write. I never had anything to say, but I always somehow said it well. Then I found Goddess, actually, many Goddesses. And suddenly characters were opening up to me like a rose garden in June. Goddess gave me my voice before I was born. But I needed 58 years to find out what she wanted me to sing.
For this book, however, the biggest influence was the people who told me their stories. These are wonderful people, flawed to be sure, but good people at heart. And they've blessed me with their trust.

(SK) What was your initial inspiration for this book?*

*(V)* The initial inspiration was Shekhinah's assignment to write. The first story I wrote was Mima Po's. She really was my neighbor. She died when I was very young, but I loved her enormously. I wanted very much for Shekhinah to meet her, and later I wanted others to meet her as well. She truly was a lovely person, and I treasure her memory.

*(SK) Besides writing the book I know you also write for other publications would you like to tell us about them?*

*(V)* Yes I write for periodicals on occasion if the theme sings to me and I feel I have something to say. I've been published in Sage Woman and in Beltane Papers. I think Pan Gaia is printing an article of mine too but I'm not yet sure of that.
Sage Woman was the first Pagan magazine I read, and I was so thrilled to find something out there for us, something that didn't tell us how to lose weight or how to get or keep a man! It was a magazine that celebrated Goddess-loving women just as we are, warts and all. I loved that! And so I bought it whenever I saw it on the shelves. I didn't dream that one day I'd be featured in it.
A few years later I found other magazines, but Sage Woman was the first and so has always had a special place in my heart. Therefore, when I decided to write for magazines, it was Sage Woman that I turned to first. But I don't write for magazines all that often. The theme of the issue has to really sing to me if I'm to write something true and worth reading.

*(SK) Something that I noticed about "HiddenPassages" was that this book is written with 8 stories about 8 women. In most or a lot of cultures the number 8 is thought to be sacred noting immortality. When you wrote the book was this a factor, maybe a motivator for the number of stories and women or just a coincidence?*

*(V)* Yes the number eight has always been important to me exactly because it's the number of immortality and, lying on its side, the symbol for infinity. You see, each of my characters lives on in this book and will continue to live as long as people read their stories. So the number eight is important to my characters as well.
The truths in this book are eternal as well. Women will always struggle over how to raise their children (Heraulta) or how to survive without their mothers (Donnata) or how to fly out on their own when it's time for them to leave the nest (Cara). Girls will always find truths that are contradictory to everything their parents taught them (Mima Po). Girls will always have their first periods (Passages). Women will always turn to other women for support when they feel invisible (Lavinia). And sadly, women will always have to live somehow through the deaths of their children (Nanu's Story and Gita's Journey). These experiences are virtually universal. They transcend race, religion, time, and culture.
I have written other stories, of course, and I may put them together in another book one day. But eight is what I wanted for this particular volume. And I wanted these particular eight. All the characters get on very well with one another. They enjoy each other's company. It's a lovely little coven, this group of eight stories, and I feel really peaceful with it. One day I may write a collection of nine or seven or five stories. And that will be the perfect number for that book. But for this one the number was eight.

*(SK) I have to admit that while reading the book I easily finished each story thinking that was my favorite one and then I started the next and could feel myself becoming that character and identifying with her and then realizing that I had a couple of the characters that were my favorite. Do you have a favorite story out of the eight that stands out among them all and if so which one and why?*

*(V) *Oh that's like asking a mother who her favorite child is. I respect and adore each one of these characters and love each one of their stories. Each is different, of course. Each has her own baggage, her own present, and her own aspirations for the future. But I couldn't begin to single out an individual character or story as a favorite. Each one taught me much and each, in her way, has been a special blessing to me.

*(SK) Are you currently working on any new projects? If yes would you like to tell us about them?*

*(V)* Yes I'm working on the Forest Song trilogy. Actually, it's the story of a character I channeled while I was writing Hidden Passages. I wrote her tale in short story form, but she was far from satisfied. She wanted an entire novel. In fact, it turns out that she wants several novels. I have finished the first, Forest Song: Finding Home, and it's with the publisher now. I hope to learn soon if they will publish it.
Forest Song: Finding Home takes place between 1929 and 1934 and is about Judy Baumann's girlhood struggle to escape from her parents' house in Germany to the enchanted woods between Germany and Poland. Once she makes it to the forest, she meets a witch; the witch's consort; and a cast of people, fairies, and animals who guide her through the mysteries of Polish witchcraft and help her grow into her power.
The second (and possibly third) novel(s) will be about her child-bearing years. And the last will be about her years as a Crone. But Judy's one of the chattier characters in my life, so I just don't know how many books she'll fill. As of now I plan to call each book Forest Song with a different subtitle. The one I'm writing now is Forest Song: Little Mother.

*(SK)* I sincerely hope they do decide to publish the book as you have peak my interest already. Please let PaganPages know how everything progress with the Novel.

*(SK) What has surprised you the most about being a published author.*

*(V)* The readers' reactions amaze me. They're wonderful! People read my book or one of my articles and write me at my web site (*www.vilaspiderhawk.com*)to tell me how deeply my work has touched their lives. They often tell me their own life stories, which is so very kind of them! I just love my readers, both the men and the women.

*(SK)* *Vila, being a witch now for about 5-6 years and a retired teacher, I know there is a lot more about your family. You currently reside in the woods of Pennsylvania, would you tell our Readers a little more about that and your family.*

*(V)* Oh sure. Ever since my husband and I became a couple we have been talking about building a log home in the woods. Our favorite leisure activity was designing the house. He happens to be very good at drawing up plans. We always knew we'd do this one day, though we didn't know where or when. Well, a dozen years ago we found this lovely piece of land. It's 34 acres of woods, and we simply fell in love with it. So we bought it. However, we hadn't yet settled on a design for the house that really sang to both of us. So it was a couple of years before we actually built here. We moved in here in 1999. And we are still awed every time we look out a window. It is just amazingly gorgeous here.
We never had any children. In fact, I have never even been pregnant. And I am fine with that. I never really wanted children. I know saying that is a form of heresy in our culture, but there it is. I just never really wanted kids. However, we've rescued many cats over the years. In fact, all our cats have horror stories. And we feel that we're making a difference by giving them a loving home.
It's a superb life. Every day I wake up grateful, and every night, even on the toughest of days(and some really are tough) I am grateful for my husband, for my kitties, for this wonderful forest from which I draw so much strength, and for my dear friends who help me through difficult times in more ways than even they can know. I really couldn't ask for more.

*(SK) Thank you very much Vila, for sitting with me today and talking to our Readers about your life and your book, "Hidden Passages, Tales to Honor the Crones". It has been a joy working with you and this project and I look forward to getting with you again soon when your new novel, "Forest Song: Finding Home", is published.*

* "Hidden Passages, Tales to Honor the Crones", can be purchased at all online booksellers' sites and from the publisher,
http://spilledcandy.com/Vila_Spiderhawk.htm
Hidden Passages, Tales to Honor the Crones
296 Pages Paperback
ISBN-10: 189271857X
5 Stars


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