River Magic: a Love Letter to my Pagan Community

My debut novel, River Magic, is available in e-book and paperback today! (Photo from Image Apothecary)

Blessed Samhain!

River Magic, my debut novel featuring modern Pagans and a friends-to-lovers romance, is officially available today! I can now say I’m a published novelist.

Wow. That’s something I’ve been striving toward since I was very young. It’s been a long journey of self-doubt, drafting, revising, wading into the publishing industry, reclaiming my dreams, then manifesting them through hard work and magic.

Of course, I’ve also had a ton of support from my family, friends, and, yes, my Pagan community.

River Magic started as a completely different story–a completely different genre–about six years ago. It didn’t feel right, so I paused and asked myself, “What is the story I need to tell?” It was around this time I began reading books by Alice Hoffman and discovered the genre of magical realism. I realized that I wanted, needed, to tell a story about contemporary Pagans. There had to be magic, ritual, and spirits as we generally perceive them, and there had to be romance. The main character, Lacey, finds her spiritual home in modern Druidry, and introduces it to one of her oldest friends.

(Did I mention it’s a friends-to-lovers story as well?)

As I wrote, I reflected a lot on the experience of becoming Pagan. I listened to others. I continue to do that and distill it in my fiction to reflect some of our reality, our challenges, and triumphs–especially as Pagans in Upstate NY.

As I neared publication and reread my story without the intent to edit, I realized…this book is like a love letter to the Pagan community I know.

Today is Samhain, but we are currently experiencing an upswing in the pandemic. I have not celebrated with my grove, in person, for nearly a year due to weather and health issues last winter, then Covid-19. I miss them to the point where it aches. Rereading River Magic reminded me of the many wonderful Pagans I’ve encountered over the years who guided and inspired me. No one character is based on a single person I know, but their influence came through in the supportive, inclusive, safe environments Lacey belongs to.

It’s not that the Pagan circles I’ve experienced are perfect. My own grove certainly has room to improve! I have (and will continue) to explore some of that in the series. Lacey, like me, is lucky to have the people and places she has. Not everyone finds this. I want to show what’s possible.

And I miss it so much. I miss the rising energy as we sing together. I miss the power of creating a communal offering then solemnly watching it burn as we stand around the bonfire. I miss the laughter and tears, the trust, the communal learning, and the potlucks. My gods, the potlucks… More than anything, I miss the ability to share space with others and feel comfortable and understood–deeply, understood–without awkward explanations. I miss just being with my extended, spiritual family.

If you bought a copy of River Magic: thank you so much. Truly. I’m touched by your support. I hope you enjoy it! If you are a Pagan reader, I hope it wraps you up in a cozy, familiar cloak. If you’re not, may you gain some insight into the Pagans in your life. (Just remember we’re a very diverse bunch and I couldn’t possibly represent all of us!)

You can order River Magic as an e-book or paperback from Shadow Spark Publishing. For those who don’t live in Upstate NY but want an autographed edition, you can buy one here, or (if you live in the US or Canada), enter a giveaway facilitated by author Dan Fitzgerald! The link is at the end of his interview with me. Enter soon! The giveaway closes at midnight tonight.

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

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