Author and Editor Rebecca Buchanan on ancient magic and pagan literature

Our guest, Rebecca Buchanan, has been a feature in the pagan fiction community for a while, we are pleased to have read her latest release, a fine collection of ranging from fantasy to scifi to mythological retellings entitled A Witch Among Wolves.She is the editor of Eternal Haunted Summer. Her short stories, poems, and essays have been published in a number of different venues. When she is not editing EHS, she is also the Editor-in-Chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the publishing arm of Neos Alexandria. She also blogs fairly regularly at BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature at PaganSquare and Gods Among the Stars: Paganism in Genre Fiction at Luna Station Quarterly. She recently took time out of her busy editing schedule for a little interview about the book.

Hi Rebecca, thanks for being here. I really enjoyed your anthology and I’m happy to have you here. Can you briefly describe the anthology?

Rebecca Buchanan: Thanks for inviting me! A Witch Among Wolves, and Other Pagan Tales is a collection of five of my short stories. Each is a different genre — science fiction, contemporary horror, a political tale, an eco-fable, and an urban fantasy — but all feature Pagan/polytheist themes. For instance, “Alexander’s Heart,” set in a far future ruled by the descendants of Antony and Cleopatra, follows the Captain of a solar barque and his crew as they try to safely deliver the Pythia of Delphi to a colony far from Earth. The title story, “A Witch Among Wolves,” stars a traditional Lithuanian ragana as she negotiates with a pack of shape-shifting wolves for access to their hidden valley.

My next anthology, A Serpent in the Throat, and Other Pagan Tales, also features a variety of genres, but each story contains strong Pagan/polytheist themes.

How long have you been a practicing pagan?

Rebecca: Oh, gosh …. Over twenty years. I started having serious problems with the Church in college, but continued to go through the motions. As soon as I set out on my own, though, I fully embraced Paganism: the altar, the festivals, the hymns to the Gods and Goddesses, the works.

Is there a particular mythology you’re found of?

Rebecca: Greek. Hands down, that is my favorite. I’ve always been most strongly drawn to those stories, so, when I finally embraced Paganism, I came out as Hellenic.I have a bit of a soft spot for Egyptian and Norse mythology, too, but Greek is definitely at the top.

Can you recall the first myth you read?

Rebecca: Not the first book, no, but I can recall several books which deeply affected me as a child. Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster; The Enchanted World series from Time-Life; The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki; The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles by Padraic Colum and Willy Pogany; Pagan Grace and Pagan Meditations by Ginette Paris; Pegasus by Marianna Mayer and KY Craft; The Trojan War by Olivia Coolidge; to name just a few.

cover art by Paula Arwen Owen

That seems a nice list, particularly for those who’d like to investigate the Greco-Roman pantheons themselves. What inspired you to write the stories in Witch Among Wolves?

Rebecca: Frustration.
(Blogmistress note: Tell me about it!)

Rebecca: There are plenty of stories out there by modern authors which feature Paganish characters and Paganish themes — but they tend to be riddled with misinformation and caricatures. (Seriously, if I have to read one more fantasy which features an evil God of Death trying to destroy the world, I’m going to have an aneurysm.) So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and start writing (authentically) Pagan stories, from a Pagan point of view, with a Pagan audience in mind.

I so agree. It’s nice to see more pagans stepping up and creating their own niche for pagan-friendly writers and readers. In this anthology, is there one story you can point to as your favorite of the bunch?

Rebecca: I have a soft spot for the title story, simply because “A Witch Among Wolves” was one of my first professional sales. Plus, it quite unexpectedly turned out to be the lead-in story for a much larger universe. (Yes, I am working on a novel featuring some of the same characters.)

It’s been two years since our last chat. What, these days, would you like people to know about Paganism?

Rebecca: Unfortunately, two years on, I still get the same “are you serious? you don’t really believe that?” reaction from people. Yes, I am serious, and yes, I really do believe in and interact with these Gods. I’m not delusional or lying to myself or to you.

Hopefully, some day that will change. And as always, what’s next for you?

Rebecca: My next anthology, A Serpent in the Throat, and Other Pagan Tales, should be out momentarily from Asphodel Press; like, in the next few days. Once again, gorgeous cover art by Paula Arwen Owen, and the folks at Asphodel have been amazing. I’m also editing a couple of anthologies for Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Ares/Mars right now, and Aphrodite will open this this summer). And, of course, I am working on that novel. I’m buried in revisions, which I hope to have done by the end of March. *fingers crossed* I’m hoping to sneak it past a mainstream publisher, who won’t realize that it is a legitimately Pagan work, and get it out there for a wider audience. If not, self-publishing is definitely an option. 🙂

Ooh, good luck with that! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you and meanwhile, look forward to reading A Serpent in the Throat, and Other Pagan Tales. Thanks again for being here and good luck with all you do!

For more on Rebecca’s work see. and