Today, I would like to introduct as my guest blogger, author Theresa Crater. Theresa who brings ancient temples, lost civilizations and secret societies back to life in her visionary fiction. In The Star Family, her most recent novel (discussed below) a Gothic mansion holds a secret spiritual group and a 400-year-old ritual that must be completed to save the day. The shadow government search for ancient Atlantean weapons in the fabled Hall of Records in Under the Stone Paw and fight to control ancient crystals sunk beneath the sea in Beneath the Hallowed Hill. Her short stories explore ancient myth brought into the present day. The most recent include “The Judgment of Osiris” and “Bringing the Waters.” Theresa has also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver.The Star Family S

Welcome, Theresa and thanks so much for stopping by my blog and answering a few questions.

1. Do you remember how old you were when you wrote your first story? If so, do you remember what it was about?

I was in high school in a creative writing class. Our teacher would give us prompts. I remember one in particular—a picture of a castle up high on a rock. I don’t remember the story, though.

2. When did you really become serious about your writing?

I’d say when I moved to Seattle. I was teaching mediation and shared a house with a woman who was in graduate school. She taught a creative writing class and I sat in for a while. Then we all started a journal writing group. That really flipped my switch and I was off.

3. What was your first published story?

Still Shots” in a magazine of feminist erotica called On Our Backs, which is a pun for the feminist publication Off Our Backs, which “everyone” was reading back in the day.

4. I grew up in North Carolina and reading your most recent novel, The Star Family, brought back a lot of memories, such as, learning just a little about the Moravians in required North Carolina history in the 7th grade, an 8th grade field trip to Old Salem and bringing home those wonderful cookies and a loaf of that wonderful bread, and years later, another visit to Old Salem that included more baked goods and that coffee. Thanks to you and The Star Family I have learned a lot more about the Moravians and their history.

In the novel, how much is real and how much is legend? How much comes from your own personal history? You grew up in Winston-Salem, and have Moravian roots?

 Much of the actual history of the Moravians in the novel is real and a lot of it comes from new research. The new information is what inspired The Star Family. I was browsing and found a book called William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision. (Blake is a visionary poet and artists from the eighteenth to early nineteenth century.) In the introduction, it says Blake’s mother was a Moravian and that their teachings about sacred sexuality influenced Blake’s art and poetry. Well, that stopped me dead in my tracks, because I was raised a Moravian, my family has been Moravian for several generations, and I’d never heard of such a thing. I had to know.

I discovered that the teachings of Count Zinzendorf were quite mystical. He was raised a Pietist, a sect of Christians that emphasized a heart connection to God. He taught that the Holy Spirit was female, so the Moravians worshipped Father, Mother and Son, not Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. But it was his teachings about the equality of women and the sacredness of sexuality that really caught my eye. The Count taught that there was no shame in the human body. To him, Jesus had redeemed humans and he also lived as a human.

 Zinzendorf said that sexuality between a married couple could be a sacrament if practiced properly. Apparently, he had instructions. In the villages, people lived communally, separated into choirs by gender and marital status. The women ran their own affairs, had choir leaders with power in the community, and many women gave communion and did other spiritual teaching.

 In these communal villages, married couples didn’t actually live together most of the time. They met for their sacrament according to a schedule in a special place called the Blue Cabinet. Turns out the actual instructions for married couples were more practical than mystical, since the Moravians were generally from peasant stock while Zinzendorf was an aristocrat. But I like to imagine something different.

Word got out that the Moravians were weird, and some criticized us for improper behavior. After Zinzendorf’s death, the Moravians pushed these teachings under the rug and they stayed there until quite recently. The height of these teachings was during the 1740s, called the Sifting Times. In my novel I imagined Zinzendorf’s teachings and these mystical practices continued in secret.

 The Moravian Church grew out of the Hussite rebellion against the Hapsburgs and the martyrdom of Jan Hus. Hus preached in Prague in the early 1400s. After we were defeated in the Thirty Years War, we were scattered in Moravia and Poland. In the early eighteenth century, Count Zinzendorf allowed these refugees to build a new village in Saxony called Herrnhut. From there, Moravian villages spread out into Europe and the church sent out missionaries. Villages in two states were formed in the US (after the failure of our Georgia colony)—Bethlehem (1741) and Nazareth (1740), Pennsylvania, and three villages in North Carolina, Bethabara (1753), Bethania (1759), and Salem (1766). These villages were all settled during the Sifting Times.

If you want more, I’ve written a series of blogs about what’s real and what’s legend at http://theresacrater.com.

5. Your work has been described as visionary.  Is the novel a warning? A way to a better utopian future?

I guess both. It seems the country is in gridlock right now, and we have serious issues to consider, especially the environment. If we make the planet inhospitable to human life, well then, what else is there to say? That’s why I focused on the oil and gas industry and creating an alternative with massive solar panel fields feeding into hydrogen cell technology for storage.

As for music and ritual saving the world, I’m a meditation teacher, and the man who taught me to teach TM used to emphasize that governments were a reflection of human consciousness. If we wanted to raise the level of our governments, we should raise human awareness through meditation. In the novel, I focused on music used in a ritual setting. The Rosicrucians and the physicists say the whole of creation is simply vibration. Music is vibration. The ritual focuses that vibration with an intention. Many spiritual groups talk about the creative power of thought, and even physicists discovered that the quantum world responds to our thoughts and perceptions. So in The Star Family, I saved the world through music and magic. Why not?

6. Why did you decide to publish your novel through CreateSpace?

 I talked to my publisher (small press Crystal Star Publishing) and they said that these days, it’s best to use all options. They also have a version on Ingram for bookstores in particular. It’s also up on all the main eBook sites. You can even order a signed copy from me.

7. How would you categorize your fiction? Do you write to and/or for a particular audience?  Is there an overall theme or themes? Why a particular genre?

My work is Visionary Fiction, which is a real category. It’s not something people are generally familiar with, so I call it paranormal mystery or contemporary fantasy, depending on the occasion. I write about sacred sites, ancient temples, secret spiritual groups and teachings—all that kind of thing. Why? It’s just what I’m interested in.

8. What are you working on currently?  Can you whet our appetite with any details?

Another novel in the Power Places series. These can be read out of order quite easily. In The Sphinx Chamber, a house collapses on the edge of the Giza Plateau. With the Egyptian Antiquities Department in chaos, Michael Levy investigates the scene. The residents dug a shaft that connects to a maze of underground tunnels. Michael finds small gold statues and lapis jewelry littering the path, then a sealed chamber that could be directly beneath the Sphinx. As Michael tries to find his way through the maze beneath the Sphinx, his new wife, Anne Le Clair begins to hear whisperings in the night. A voice murmurs, “The time has come. Find my heart.” Anne’s doctor thinks her ill or perhaps suffering a breakdown brought on from the stress of facing her last month of pregnancy with her husband called away to Egypt. But the voice continues, more and more urgent. Anne follows clues left by her great grandfather who as an ambassador to Egypt, but will she find the secret in time?

9. Do you have a particular writing regime, such as writing a certain time of the day or in a particular location? How would you describe your writing process?

 I generally write in the mornings, especially when I’m just starting out on a project. But once it gets going, I’ll write several times a day. I’ve noticed I write in two-hour spurts. I usually write in my home office with a view of the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

10. How does your real life as a teacher intersect with your writing life?

 I read and write a lot. I teach creative writing. All this keeps me wrapped up in the writing world.

11. Any advice for aspiring writers?

Keep writing. Some say you need to write a million words before you get really good. Get critiqued by other writers (not your friends or family) especially people who are farther along than you, but don’t take a bunch of guff from egotistic people who like to be mean. (At first it might be hard to tell the difference between a good honest critique that stings and just plain unkindness.) Learn everything you can about craft and story structure. Join writers’ groups. Try publishing in all its aspects—short stories in magazines, NYC big five, small presses, and indie publishing. But don’t put your stuff out before it’s ready. It’s generally not ready when you first think it is.

Theresa, thanks so much for being a guest on my blog.  Readers, check out The Star Family.  For more information about this author of visionary fiction, please check out these links:

Visit her at http://theresacrater.com.

Twitter:  @theresacrater

Facebook:  Author page   https://www.facebook.com/tlcwrites

Good Reads:  http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2709251-theresa-crater

Linked In:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=36835613&trk=hb_tab_pro_top

 

 

 

One Response to “Other Voices: Theresa Crater, Author of The Star Family”

  1. Theresa Crater says:

    Thanks for letting me visit, Warren. Now you’ll never feel quite the same when you eat Moravian cookies.

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