15 Dec 2021
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Ravendiablo: Agent of Kali?
Years ago, I taught a filmmaking class at an inner city summer camp. On the first day of class, I asked my students what they wanted to be when they grew up. Over half the class gave the same answer. They wanted to be thugs. At first I was shocked by the answer. The more I thought about it, I found myself becoming depressed. When I was a kid, my biggest heroes were King Arthur and his knights. Chivalry was cool to me, and it still is. When I got older, I studied Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey. Heroes are important because they represent an ideal that normal people should strive to reach. You can tell a lot about a given society by looking at its heroes. So when half a class of young people told me they aspired to be thugs, I felt the need to do something. I wanted to provide an alternative ideal. So I created Ravendiablo. She’s no thug. She’s James Bond, Bruce Lee and Godzilla.
Ravendiablo: Agent of Kali is an urban fantasy, but more specifically, it’s “wuxia”. Can you tell us a bit more about the wuxia genre?
Wuxia (pronounced “WOOsha”) is an ancient Asian literary genre that has influenced theater, film, television, comic books and video games. Wuxia tales focus on the exploits of wandering warriors/outlaws who fight injustice. They’re masters of martial arts and the blade is typically their favorite weapon for righting wrongs. They tend to be individualists rather than members of a team. Wuxia tales are set in a shadowy underworld ruled by the corrupt and the criminal, the kind of environment where heroes are needed most. Tales of wandering heroes can be found in cultures all over the world. But wuxia is unique for one simple reason; wuxia heroes are both male and female. The women of wuxia are every bit as heroic as their male counterparts and frequently more fierce. Heroism has nothing to do with gender. So wuxia has long been ahead of its time. We need more wuxia. Ravendiablo: Agent of Kali is my contribution.
The subtitle of Ravendiablo is “Agent of Kali”. Could you tell us a little more about this subtitle and the inspiration behind it?
Kali is a Goddess figure in the Hindu tradition. But you don’t have to be Hindu to understand what she represents. In the western world, primarily thanks to Hollywood, Kali has been misrepresented and maligned. She’s always presented as being an evil, bloodthirsty, demonic figure. And yet, in many parts of the world, she’s rightly understood to be a mother figure. In fact, she’s often referred to as Mother Kali. Anyone who takes the time to look deeper into Kali will find that she’s quite unlike the Hollywood representation. Yes, she’s definitely a destroyer alright. But she only destroys evil. She’s the protector of women and children. If anything, Kali is an avenging angel, and certainly not a demon. My personal nickname for Kali is the Queen of Righteous Rage. Ravendiablo works on her behalf, as a result, she’s an agent of Kali. Like Kali, Ravendiablo is a destroyer. But no one dies who’s not supposed to.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
Making Comics by Scott McCloud, The Heroine’s Journey by Gail Carriger, and The Memoirs of Billy Shears.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
I’ve got a quirky belief that the muses of mythology are real. At least in my life they are. I’ve got nine of them, all female, and they hover around me all the time. But these spiritual beings only manifest themselves to me when I sit down and do the work. If I’m lazy, they ignore me. But when I do the work, they always come to me and assist me. Always.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
I actually have a degree in philosophy, but unfortunately, nothing I learned in school expanded my mind or touched my soul. The most important thing I learned in college wasn’t learned in a classroom, but outside the classroom. I once saw a piece of paper attached to a tree outside the student union. Written on the paper were the words, To Be is To Do. Even after many years, those are the most profound words I’ve ever heard. That’s my philosophy and I try to live it everyday.
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
Remember the words of David Bowie… we can all be heroes.
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