Northeast Times

It’s a bewitching literary debut

A Far North­east au­thor’s first nov­el is rooted in something she knows plenty about … Wicca, and the prac­tice of witch­craft.

Lori Schiele

Lori J. Schiele, a 40-year-old from Somer­ton, likes to say that she’s nev­er far from pa­per and pen.

“I wrote a short story when I was eight years old, and I haven’t stopped,” she said. “It’s cath­artic. It’s a way to ex­press my­self.”

Her fath­er, A.C. Nuessle, a former news­pa­per ed­it­or, had a field day kindly cor­rect­ing gram­mar and spelling mis­takes in Her­cules, the Won­der Cult.

“That was tough on an eight-year-old, but how else do you learn?” she asked.

Over the years, Schiele learned enough to be able to write a book and have it pub­lished. The book, Wic­can Shad­ows, de­b­uted in May.

“I’m very happy with it,” she said. “It’s a good, fast read. It’s my first time be­ing pub­lished, and it’s got­ten won­der­ful re­views.”

The most won­der­ful re­view, in her opin­ion, came from her fath­er, who told her, “I nev­er real­ized you had be­come such a good writer.”

“That meant more to me than hav­ing the book pub­lished,” she said.

Schiele — who lives on Banes Street with her boy­friend Doug, sev­en spe­cial-needs cats and a foster kit­ten — is a cer­ti­fied veter­in­ary tech­ni­cian by train­ing. She also is a cer­ti­fied Wic­can, or one who prac­tices witch­craft.

While Delaware U.S. Sen­ate can­did­ate Christine O’Don­nell fam­ously said in a cam­paign com­mer­cial that “I am not a witch,” Schiele states simply, “I am a witch.” She’s been a sol­it­ary Wic­can for a dec­ade, and her spir­it an­im­al is the wolf.

The loc­al witch’s al­tar sits next to the tele­vi­sion in her liv­ing room, but nobody should be con­cerned. The motto with­in the Wic­can Rede, or code, is “Harm None,” and the creed ap­plies to self, oth­ers, an­im­als and the Earth. She doesn’t ap­ply hexes or con­coct love po­tions, and would per­form a heal­ing spell only if asked.

ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO

The book is part one of a tri­logy be­ing writ­ten un­der con­tract with ImaJinn Books, a small Ari­zona pub­lish­ing com­pany that spe­cial­izes in paranor­mal/mys­tery/ro­mance nov­els such as Wic­can Shad­ows.

Schiele feels a lot more ful­filled than had she spent her own money to self-pub­lish the book. “I wanted someone to feel that my writ­ing was worthy of print­ing,” she said.

The book cen­ters on Alex Grisham, a prac­ti­cing witch who is fa­mil­i­ar with the paranor­mal. She and her Sis­ters of the Laurel Tree Cov­en work to dis­cov­er the mys­tery of the dis­ap­pear­ance of the High Priest­ess Celia be­fore the end of the world.

Alex is torn between her live-in part­ner, Glenn, and Dan, a sexy and se­cret­ive an­im­al-con­trol of­ficer. One of the men is out to kill her, and if she chooses the wrong one, she’ll un­leash pure evil upon the world.

“I’ve nev­er been lim­ited in ima­gin­a­tion,” Schiele said, adding that vocab­u­lary and cre­ativ­ity are two of her oth­er strong suits as a writer.

Schiele likes everything about the book, start­ing with the front cov­er, which in­cludes a candle, the moon, and a man and a black wolf, both with pen­et­rat­ing green eyes. The au­thor cred­its artist Trish Laz­arus for the design.

Ed­it­or Linda Kich­line also was great to work with, Schiele said.

The book in­cludes an au­thor’s note at the end, ex­plain­ing that the Wic­can prac­tices found in the nov­el have been re­searched for au­then­ti­city. The note points out that the book is fic­tion, and that some lit­er­ary li­cense has been taken, and it fur­ther cau­tions against try­ing any of the spells or rituals at home.

The book ap­peals to any­one from mid-teens to adult, ac­cord­ing to the au­thor, who has a tat­too on the back of her neck of the Tri­quetra, a Wic­can sym­bol.

“It’s for a gen­er­al audi­ence,” she said. “I did a lot of re­search to make sure all the rituals were ap­proved by prac­ti­cing Wic­cans while not los­ing the reg­u­lar audi­ence. Paranor­mal ro­mance books are very, very pop­u­lar. You don’t have to be a Wic­can to read it.”

THE WRIT­ING LIFE TAKES TIME

Schiele spent more than two years writ­ing the book and an­oth­er year get­ting it pub­lished. Her hobby is turn­ing in­to a pro­fes­sion.

“I write be­cause I can’t not write,” she said.

Schiele has writ­ten for more than three dec­ades — she had some short stor­ies and magazine art­icles pub­lished — but she has read even longer, learn­ing at age 3. She para­phrases famed au­thors Dean Koontz and Steph­en King in say­ing, “In or­der to write, you need to read.”

Schiele is an un­con­ven­tion­al writer.

“Everything is writ­ten in note­books longhand, then typed in­to the com­puter,” she said. “That’s the way my pro­cess has al­ways been. The pic­nic table in my back yard is my writ­ing desk.”

One reas­on the book took so long to com­plete was that the winter weath­er pre­ven­ted her from writ­ing out­doors.

“If I had enough room in the house, I’d move the pic­nic table in here,” she said.

The nov­el can be pur­chased on­line, and Schiele is busy spread­ing the word.

“It’s all self-pro­mo­tion,” she said.

“ImaJinn prints the book, gives you twenty-eight cop­ies and says, ‘Have fun.’ It’s up to the writer to get the word out.”

One coup came in the June 26 edi­tion of the Phil­adelphia In­quirer, which lis­ted Wic­can Shad­ows as one of the top 10 “Best Beach Reads of 2011.”

Schiele mar­kets the book us­ing fam­ily and friends, word of mouth, ad­vert­ise­ments in store­fronts and med­ic­al of­fices, Face­book and on­line groups that cater to Wic­cans and writers.

“Any kind of pub­li­city is good pub­li­city,” she said.

The second book in the series will be Wic­can Moon­light. It is in the edit­ing stage, but it’s also so long that it might be split in­to two books. The pub­lic­a­tion date is some­time next year.

Schiele is already think­ing past her three-book com­mit­ment.

“I already have four and five work­ing in my head,” she said. ••

The 282-page book “Wic­can Shad­ows” costs $16. It is avail­able for pur­chase at www.imajin­nbooks.com, www.amazon.com and www.barnes­and­noble.com

For an elec­tron­ic format, look for it at www.fic­tion­wise.com, where the first chapter is avail­able for free.

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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