'High Priestess and Empress' - The Determination to Continue Creating Your Art

"High Priestess and Empress" by Susan Wands.

In Susan Wands' second book in her Arcana Oracle series, readers will witness the character Pamela’s determination to continue creating her art, despite the threats and sabotage from the wickedest man in the world, and the lack of support from the magician’s group, the Golden Dawn.

What was your inspiration behind your most recent book?

In "High Priestess and Empress," the second book in my Arcana Oracle Series, I was inspired to feature the two women who were in the life of the protagonist of my series, Pamela Colman Smith. In the series, Pamela creates a tarot deck, just as she did in real life, when she was unaware that her creation would become the best-selling tarot deck of all time, selling over 100 million copies in over 20 countries. In my book, she is just beginning to sort out what magic and power belongs to the tarot and why a group of magicians with the "Golden Dawn" are intent on thwarting her creation. My book’s plot is “taken from history” but I’ve taken a lot of liberties with the historical angle in trying to fan out the involvement of women in the 1900s magical groups.

What does Reading Rainbow mean to you?

I’ve heard of the LGBTQ+ organization, Read With Pride, that provides books written by LGBTQ+ authors to readers in the Appalachia area. Reading Rainbow to me infers that LGBTQ+ material is inclusive and celebrates gender and sexual diversity.

Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books?

I am so glad that a better representation of people, especially in historical fiction, is being more accepted in literature. Throughout history there has been an array of people who have identities that are not accepted as the “norm,” but by showcasing people from all orientations, we will have a better understanding and acceptance of one another. Ignorance is the prime factor that leads to hate and fear. If we learn about one another, and experience the compassion and grace of one other’s journey, the excuse of being afraid of the “unknown” would lessen.

Tell us a little more about the book and why you decided to write it.

In this second book of the series, Pamela is suffering from no longer being close with Edy Craig, Ellen Terry’s daughter. In the first book of the series, "Magician and Fool," Pamela and Edy meet and for a time seemed to be the best of friends, if not soul mates. In real life, there has been a lot of speculation that Pamela and Edy were more than friends. Edy went on to have a notorious ménage à trois with two women, Christopher St. John and Clare Tony Atwood, which, remarkably, the British press left alone. But it’s important to me to include people in the book who have alliances with same-sex lovers. These relationships may not have been accepted if mainstream society knew, but they were there all along, and it’s disrespectful to paint everyone with the same brush. But the overall drive to write this book series is to take readers on a journey of these fabulous women artists of the Edwardian period, and whether they were aspiring actresses, writers, magicians or performers, they had to navigate the resistance from the men of the period.

What can fans expect from your book?

In "High Priestess and Empress," readers will witness Pamela’s determination to continue creating her art, despite the threats and sabotage from Aleister Crowley, the wickedest man in the world, and the lack of support from the magician’s group, the Golden Dawn. Pamela learns from her muse, Golden Dawn leader Florence (the High Priestess muse) that there are laws of magic to master and how she can persevere in learning them. From Ellen Terry, the famed Lyceum theatre actress, (the Empress muse) Pamela receives unconditional maternal love and support. How Pamela learns these lessons from her muses, and what she does with that knowledge, is both a good and bad experience.

What's up next for you in the bookish world?

I’ll be in Santa Monica for a book event on Aug. 17 at the Mystic Journey Bookstore. Later in October, I’ll be in England for the U.K. tarot conference, sharing my books and talking about Pamela and the Golden Dawn. On Oct. 18, I’ll be giving a lecture at London’s Atlantis Bookshop, on Pamela Colman Smith and her two muses. I’m also in final edits with the third book of the series, Emperor and Hierophant, where the characters of Bram Stoker and Ahmed Pascal Kamal, Egypt’s first Egyptologist, factor in Pamela’s journey. Thanks for asking!


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