EP 197 - WF Claire McMillan: Voices Through Time In Collaboration

Risa sits down in sheer delight with Claire McMillan, the author of Alchemy of a Blackbird (based on the true story of the 20th-century painters and tarot devotees Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington).

Risa Dickens
Jul 6, 2023
44 min read
Word WitchcraftArt Witchcraft

In today's episode, Risa sits down in sheer delight with Claire McMillan, the author of Alchemy of a Blackbird (based on the true story of the 20th-century painters and tarot devotees Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington), Gilded Age, and The Necklace, to talk about Tarot, Post-Its, writing, the creative process, friendship and more.

Listen now:

Claire McMillan is the author of Alchemy of a Blackbird, Gilded Age, and The Necklace. She was the 2017–2018 Cuyahoga County Writer-in-Residence and currently serves as a member of the board of trustees of The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, Massachusetts. She practiced law until 2003 and then received her MFA in creative writing from Bennington College. She grew up in Pasadena, California, and now lives on her husband’s family farm outside of Cleveland, Ohio, with their two children.

Find Claire on her website and on instagram!

Pre-order Alchemy Of A Blackbird now!!

"She had to choose herself."

Claire McMillan

Read the transcript:

EP 197 - Claire McMillan
Risa: [00:00:00] Welcome listeners, welcome witches, uh, welcome painters and bosom buddies, artists and word witches, my late blooming lilacs and the blue jay that is picking the butterflies out of the lilacs and eating them on my lawn, breaking my heart, and delighting me at the same time. Welcome to all of our conflicted and messy feelings, and also to that feeling that I hope you know.
Risa: Of the moment when you recognize a friend who walks into a room and you have the sheer delight of a friendship. And welcome, especially to author Claire McMillan. Welcome home to The Missing Witches podcast. It's so exciting to see your face after just being so in love with your book in these spring days.
Claire: Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for having me. I'm just thrilled to [00:01:00] be here. As I was saying, I'm a fan of the podcast to begin with, so um, it's a real treat to talk to you.
Risa: It's wild. It's wild that anyone ever listens. Do you know cause
Claire: Or reads your books, yeah. Yeah.
Risa: Yeah, totally. Um, it was such a pleasure to get your email and to go tumbling down the rabbit holes of some of the creative worlds that you've been in. Um, I, like I spent this morning for a while just reading about Edith Wharton because I read your bio that you're a trustee on the home that she designed,
Claire: yes, correct.
Risa: you know, a detour.
Risa: But I just got so excited about the different creative worlds of women that you have been involved in, in writing your novels.
Claire: Yeah, I mean, uh, Edith was kind of my, she is my favorite writer. And, um, yeah, I spent some time at the Mount in residency. They have a, a writer's and residence program and, um, yeah, you know, she wrote [00:02:00] Ghost Stories and, uh, the thing with her house is that, uh, there ghost dogs. So when I was riding in the house, When it would start to become evening, I'd be crossing my fingers like, am I going to hear the ghost dogs today?
Claire: I hope so. But, um, I never did. But Edith is another kind of guiding spirit for me in the same way Romania Sparrow is. And you know, I tend to find these women with these voices through history, through time, you know, who really speak to me. And then I go down a rabbit hole and become, you know, really obsessed with them.
Claire: And so Edith was for sure, uh, one for me. And, and then, you know, Romanias too.
Risa: Can you talk to me about how you discovered Remedials? Farro?
Claire: Yeah. So I saw, uh, the first painting I ever saw of hers was called The Call. And I'm gonna be so cheesy, but I have a, I have a repro of it right here, so [00:03:00] show it to you. Alright, so I saw this and. I just wigged out and had to reverse Google Image, search it, because I had to know kind of everything of it.
Claire: Ha The original hangs in Washington DC in the National Museum for Women in the Arts, but I just saw like a poster on a wall. And, um, so, you know, I Google Image searched her and started reading about her and found out that she was really, um, inspired by the Tarot, by Witchcraft, by Cultism, by Esoterism. Um, and I, I had no idea that it would be a book.
Claire: I just, again, same, similar to Edith Wharton. You know, I never intended to write a, a book inspired by her books. I never intended to write a book about or remedios, but I, I just started reading about her life and she had, um, she had a [00:04:00] very, uh, Tumultuous life. And also to find out that she was inspired by, you know, really for me, the tarot.
Claire: I had started studying tarot. I mean, studying is such a formalized word for what I was doing, but looking into the tarot, reading about it, taking classes on it, maybe 10 years before that. And again, with no idea that it would ever show up in my work or, or anything like that. I just thought, um, I was just using it for, for self-discovery and self-exploration.
Claire: And, um, so when I saw the call and I started reading about Remedios and then, um, I realized kind of this other interest in the tarot, they, it all just kind of lined up and, uh, I thought, well, maybe this is a book. And, um, and that's how, that's how, you know, the book came to be.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Um, I wanna talk more about how much I love the book. I just, um, [00:05:00] Well, first of all, like what a dreamy summer read. It's coming out soon. So like, officially, like I got a arc, which made me feel delicious. Um, and I got to wrap myself around it. And I, I mean, I had read and written a little bit about Lenora and like fell in love with Remedios and wanted to know so much more.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): And I was fascinated by the same part. I mean, the whole story is fascinating, but that moment in Mexico City where they really find each other and the magic and the complexities of creative friendship, right? Like, and you go into not just the women's friendship, but Andre Breton and Benjamin and you know, how they sort of sustained each other and, and then the loving relationships and how they can be full of love, but still such a weight, um, or, or the way that like someone's truth telling in a really close relationship can be.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): [00:06:00] Painful or like can be like more revealing, more, more hard than we're ready for. Can you talk a bit about, do you have creative relationships in your life? Those moments where you, like you recognized it, a kinship, or just tell me more about that, that moment in Mexico and what it meant to you.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. I mean, I think the thing I really loved about her life too, that you're, that you're mentioning is this create, is this friendship she had with Leonora, this incredible, um, Collaboration between two artists. And you know, you're mentioning we have all these stories of collaboration with between male artists like Briton and Pere, or even I'm thinking visual, visual artists like Picasso and Brock.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): But you don't really have, um, many tales of artistic collaboration between women and the, the more I looked into their friendship and kind of read about it as I was doing research, the more I realized like it really was [00:07:00] kind of a mutual uplifting of each other. There was not a lot of. Competition. They never, I had to put some little, um, maybe jagged points in their friendship cuz I needed conflict cuz I'm, I'm telling a story.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): But they really didn't have a big falling out. You know, they really, it was just really kind of a story of mutual uplifting throughout their lives. And I thought that's really so unique and it's something I've felt in my own life. Um, yes, both creatively with friends who are writers, but also just generally, you know, those friendships, those women be female friendships you have that you're like, I think I might be dead if, if I didn't have this.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I'm thinking like early motherhood, you know, those types of friendships or friendships you're bl blessed to have throughout your entire life with women. And so I really wanted to tell a story about that, you know, and it was a great, [00:08:00] um, Vehicle for that. And the most interesting time in my life, in their life to me was Mexico City.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And I actually in writing the book, started it in Mexico City. But because she had lived through this tumultuous time during World War ii, you know, she was in Paris when it fell, she fled to Marsai. She was living in this villa with all these artists. So what what was happening is I'm telling the Mexico story, but I have these huge flashbacks that are just like deadening the plot to a standstill.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): So I realized I had to, I actually had to shift and tell it chronologically. So, um, so yeah, I think like the first 80 pages or something were, were still in Europe, but then we got to Mexico, which is where I kind of always wanted to. To go and to be. And you know, as far as I could research, they both had a lot of men in their lives always.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): You know, they had multiple husbands, they had lovers, they had [00:09:00] men in their lives always. Um, but they were still very much kind of independent women making their art. And so that was another piece that I was interested in exploring is kind of how are you living in a patriarchy or maybe living in a system?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Cuz the surrealist view of women was quite, um, reductionist living in a system, but like that. But you still love men, you know? And so I wanted to include that aspect as well. So, yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Can you talk more about, um, the kinds of love between men and women that you talk about in the story?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. I mean, part one thing I was constantly trying to get into the book, and it's not in the book. Because the book is a novel and it's fiction. It's not a biography, but sh Romania had a first husband that she married and then she had an affair with Benjamin, and then [00:10:00] she, Benjamin got married and she had another affair.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): She's having affairs and, and the men in her life, she remained lifelong friends with them always. There was never some dramatic falling out. There was never some whatever. In fact, um, her lover, Jean Nicole, who she meets after she and Benjamin break up, decides she can't really, he's such an all-encompassing kind of love that she really, she is, she really is.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Almost has to choose. And she said this between herself and him in a way. And it's really fascinating to me that. They go away into the Venezuelan jungle and when she comes out she really chooses herself. Like that is, you know, kind of historical fact. And what was fascinating is then she remained friends with him her whole life and her next lover slash husband Walter Duran when, when [00:11:00] Jean Nicole had horrible health issues and was in the hospital, had all these bills, they paid all his hospital bills.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): You know, it's just, I know, it's just amazing. So she had this huge capacity, I thinks just love people really hold onto them. And I think in part that was because, you know, she was living this bohemian kind of, uh, artistic life. She was interested in things maybe outside the realm of the conventional, including, you know, the occult or the esoteric.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And then I also think because she was essentially. Um, you know, a refugee who relocated from Europe to Mexico, they kind of created their own chosen family there, and they didn't really, you didn't really cut people out of that, um, lightly. So,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Hmm. Yeah. It seems also like there's something about the ability to, like tell a [00:12:00] complicated truth, at least in the way that you describe her and, and Leonora in the story that like. They can keep those relationships with men because they're honest about what's, what they love about them and also where they need to go next.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Like who they are. Like they somehow found a freedom to be really, you know, to be, to choose themselves and in being honest about choosing themselves, you know, it's, some people can't respect that, but a lot of good people probably could.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. I mean, especially I. You know, I kind of told the story with Jean Nicole, but before that, with Benjamin, you know, Benjamin Pare was almost 15 years older than she was and, um, very famous for being a poet and being a surrealist and everything. So at, at some point, yeah, you're exactly right. She did have to kind of like choose herself in a way to get out from just under the dynamics of that.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And I [00:13:00] think it was quite mutual. And again, you know, they remained friends and he went back to France and she remained in Mexico, but the only time she ever went back to Paris was right before, uh, Benjamin was dying to say, to say goodbye to him and to be there. Yeah. Yeah. She had just like a huge capacity to hold people in her life, I think.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And um, yeah, that's super appealing.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Can you talk about the, the tension or the alchemy involved in navigating research and memoir and then transforming it into a story?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I mean, research is like the most fun part, right? Like you could research forever and ever and ever. You know this I'm sure, because so much research goes into your podcasts and yearbooks. Like you could, I I have a friend who writes, um, nonfiction, and I asked her, I said, so when do you know it's time to stop researching?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Like, [00:14:00] when do you know it's time to write? And she's like, when the money runs out, that's when I start writing. And I was like, right. Um, but another, another, um, friend of mine who's a, who writes as well historical fiction, said, you know, she kind of researches until she has an idea of story, uh, and until she can write a scene and then she'll go in and write the scene.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And you're kind of always researching as you're writing because the, you know, a novel like this, the thing, the reason people are reading really is. I think for that emotional truth of the character for, for the emotional journey they're going on. And so, you know, that that's less, uh, reliant on, on research.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): You know, that's an emotional thing inside yourself. Um, but yeah, research adds like the pretty set dressing and, you know, makes things believable. And, and there's also the structure of kind of her, the timeline of her life, which, you know, [00:15:00] was factual. And I definitely, like I said, I jettison things like the first husband's just gone, or, you know, a lot of the levers too.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I just, I tried to write them and then the book became about men and, you know, and her relationship to men and, and that's, that's fine. That's a great book. I just, it wasn't the book I wanted to write. I wanted to write really a book about, about her and centered on her art and then also about her friend friendship.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): That's so, so interesting. We, we, you know, we've tried really hard in our work to find the, like female researcher or find the women's story or find the like queer story and, but it's constant work because you. It creeps in and it, and it the, you know, and it's not, it's not that those stories about men aren't worth telling.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): It's just there's plenty of people doing it. Let them do it. You know? But we've had moments with our editor in the book where they're [00:16:00] like, we spend a lot of time in this section on like some, you know, big important men. Do we need this here? Like, what happens if we remove this whole section? Maybe we don't need Joseph Campbell at all.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Who else is there? You know? And yeah, I think we've really benefited from people taking up that challenge with us and being like, can we do more? Can we go further with it? You know?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I mean, poor unknown Joseph Campbell. Right.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): If only someone would,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): right. I mean, but yeah, that is, it actually, it's surprising, I think what you're saying too, is this surprising how much actual conscious focus it takes to do, to do that? Yeah, definitely.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Yeah, exactly. Do you have, um, I don't know, um, a tarot practice, a divinatory practice, uh, meditation practice that is part of your writing practice, part of negotiating between like what [00:17:00] happened and what you're creating?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I mean, to answer that as I wish, um, not in, I don't really use tarot in connection with my writing. I think a couple times I. Uh, during the drafting in this book, I was like, well, I'm gonna try, like, I'm gonna be like, whatever. Maybe like do next or, you know, I can't remember what the exact kind of question I showed up to my deck with was, but it, I found it not helpful at all.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I mean, I do, I have a, you know, I have a personal tarot practice, um, that's super, not ritualized or rigid or anything like that. Um, and
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): you sit, sit down with it when you have a question or you sort of take out your cards in a like sort of playful way or what's that like?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Totally. I am, I mean, there are times, you know, I really find it useful as a grounder for me, you [00:18:00] know, and it's also super useful for me just when I'm spinning out in loops, like we all spend. Kinda like jam a stick in there. Um, the tarot will often jam a stick in there to just be like, you can look at it from this perspective.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): You can. So, um, in that way it's super useful, but, you know, so sometimes I'll show up to my deck every day, a couple times a day, but, and then sometimes it'll be like, go away or, you know, uh, I've already, you know, go away. Like it'll start to get confusing and
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Oh, I know that feeling where it's like you are asking this too, it, you've asked
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Right. Like, you've asked this question in enough, like, go do something else now.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Like, um, and then sometimes I won't touch my deck for a week or two, you know? Um, and again, like, uh, the way I read or my spreads are not super rigid. I mean, I do like a Celtic [00:19:00] cross, like if I'm feeling all formal or. Maybe it's the solstice or, you know, someone's birthday or New Year's Eve or something.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Like, it's fun to do a full calta cross, but a lot of times I'm doing like a little three card, six card spread, kind of making it up, you know, as I go along. Um, so, so yeah, I mean, tarot practice has been, and you know, I had no idea that it would be so resonant for me, um, personally, but I don't, I don't really use it when I'm writing.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Um, although I know people do and I'm always a little, uh, intrigued and jealous of that cuz I was like, oh, you could like get, you know, a writing prompt or something out of the deck. But, but yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): But no, you went, you went to it for writing prompts and it was like, go back to work.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah, it was, I was just like, this is, I think not for my, not for my practice.[00:20:00]
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): That's funny. I get that. Do you ever feel like you, you know, people talk about channeled work and you are dealing with this historical figures. Do you feel like there's moments in like your flow state of writing where you're like, Oh, I had not thought that she would think in that way, but there she is thinking in that way or something.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah, sure. I mean, for sure. I do not think I was channeling Remedio Sparrow when I wrote this book, just to be clear. Um, but then, you know, I haven't looked into channeling, but in a way I imagine it's similar to tarot in that you're like, what actually are you doing when you're channeling? You know, for me, my, the reason I enjoy writing so much I is that flow state, you know, where three hours have passed and you're like, wait, was that 15 minutes?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): You know, it's, you, you are, you're gone, you're somewhere else. For sure. So if that's channeling. [00:21:00] You know, then, then I guess that's a form of channeling. But um, for sure always when I'm writing, you know, things come to you and you're like, I have no, I have no idea where that came from. Um, which is, which is a great feeling.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Yeah, the strangest feeling sometimes, you know, like, I guess this is pure imagination and what is that,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Mm-hmm. Yeah. Where's it coming from?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Mm-hmm. Yeah. When we spoke with, um, Marion Peck, she said, um, something to the effect of, uh, most artists won't admit it, but all art is channeling or something
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): right. Like, and I get that. I can see that. Yeah, for sure.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): I mean, it's word play a little bit like, it's not, um, it's not maybe the technical definition of channeling or what Maddie's Conde meant when she said she was channeling Totah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Like, I think that was a pretty concrete experience for
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Mm. Mm-hmm. Well, and that's similar a bit to what you guys [00:22:00] do, calling out the witch. Right. And people who maybe don't call it, call that witchcraft, like, yeah. Mm-hmm.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Yeah. That's interesting. I mean, that's a, it's a complicated thing. I don't wanna put that name on anybody, um, and cause them harm or put anybody in danger. But I do wanna make a, a case for my own inspiration and in the work that I do and say this inspires me in my, what I call witchcraft. You know, these are ancestors I was looking for.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah, sure. I mean, uh, you always have to be careful, I think, like if someone's like, is this person a witch or are you a wi And I, this is a bit in the book, it's like, I. Who, who's asking that question and what are, what are they ac, what are they actually asking, you know, when they ask that question. Um, because it can be like, you asking that question is so widely different from Ron DeSantis asking that question.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): [00:23:00] Right. You know, so, yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): right. Exactly. Yeah. We have to protect each other a bit too. Right.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Mm-hmm.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Um, I see a wall of post-its
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I love a post-it.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Me too. Is this a mapping of this story? Is it a next story? Is it just a, a lot of to-dos?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): no, thank God it's not to do, this is like we hide the to-dos because they've got a That would be, that would so harsh to harsh my vibe. Um, this is like, there's a straight up timeline of her life just to keep it straight and then, um, There are a ton of quotes from everyone, from like, from Remedios to like Emerson to like my brother, you know, just, and that's kind of something, you know, that's in the book of it too, is I really feel, you know, sometimes [00:24:00] people say stuff to you that hits you so hard, that literally like transforms you in a, in a moment.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And so there are a lot of those kind of transformational quotes up there for me. Um, I actually, yeah, I was just listening. I was just at the thing with, um, Sylvia, uh, Marino Garcia, and she, I love her books. And she was talking about, how she writes is she has a wall of post-its, but it's all images that won't leave her alone.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And she doesn't know why. And so she just covers the wall with Post-Its of these images. And as she starts writing the, she start, they start coming down as they're going into the book, which I was like, oh, that's super cool. I wonder if I could do that. But yeah, there's just like a very straightforward timeline of her life just to keep everything straight and then a bunch of, um, a bunch of clothes.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): How did you start to give [00:25:00] yourself permission to write, you know, to
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): like, to live a life of a novelist, to tell stories, to slip all the way in? How did, how, how did that happen for you?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. I mean, I think, um, when I first started, I. Writing my first book, gilded Age, which is like a retelling of Edith, one of Edith Wharton's very famous novels, house of Murth, which is like an outrageous thing to do, right? To take a master story and like rip it off. So I can't, like, the file was called just like big thing because I was so like, freaked out about kind of what I was doing.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And so I think in general, I just, like, everything kind of just closed my eyes and, and, and left. I mean, if I thought really hard about, you know, presuming to write Romania's story, I'm sure it would have stymied me. Um, but, uh, [00:26:00] but yeah, I mean, um, I think it's just kind of, yeah, closing, closing eyes and, and leaping and, you know, putting, as you know, there are terror definitions in the.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): In the book. That was super terrifying to write. Yeah, super terrifying. Just because, you know, um, you're like, what's mine? What's not mine? Where's this, where's this come from? This doesn't line up with like traditional tarot thought, um, who's gonna come for me? You know, this sort of thing. Um, so, so, yeah. And again, you just kind of have to take a deep breath and, and do
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): How did you learn how to do that?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I how to, how do I learn how to do that? I don't know. I mean, this is such a frustrating answer for a writer. It's kind of just like you do it cuz cuz you have to, you know, there's so many writers who, who say, and I mean it's obnoxious, but I think it's true. Like, if there's [00:27:00] anything else you could do, like you should go do that,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Right.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): you know?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Um, because, because it it, you are gonna be facing that stuff for sure.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): And how does it work for you balancing, or maybe how did it work when you were writing your first novel balancing? Uh, let's put it, let's let the magical and the mundane, you know, like your, your mundane life of a young writer or a young poet. I see Emily's here. Wonderful poet. Um, how do you balance that, those, those energies, those dynamics when you're starting, if you have to kind of cram writing into stolen hours and I don't know.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Do you know
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): yeah, totally. I know exactly what you mean. I mean, so I, uh, my background was, I was a lawyer, I was a litigator for years and years and years. I was miserable. I hated it. Um, [00:28:00] and. When you're a lawyer, you're doing like a very specific type of very rigid writing, like it's almost technical writing. And so, um, my whole practice and you, I have an M f A and creative writing.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): So I was working with, I was still practicing a lot and I was getting this M f a, I was working with my professor and all my professors were just trying to loosen me up
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Right.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): you know, I, I had spent all this time writing legal briefs and so one of my, um, professors actually said, you know, you just need to get sleepy, stupid when you're writing.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And she's like, I wanna encourage you to write first thing in the morning in bed. She's like, wake up, pee write. And so I tried that and, um, it, it was pretty useful. It was in, and Edith Warden wrote in bed, As well. She would write longhand and then she'd drop the pages on the floor, and then her [00:29:00] personal secretary would come in and gather them up and go type them in other room for her, which is like,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Okay. Privilege, but also, yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): a Edith, I feel like.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): All right. Um, so no, I was like, you know, my laptop hunched in the bed, right. Trying to write. And that really helped me. And so for me, I think, um, it's just prioritizing writing, writing for me first thing in the morning. I mean, my ki my kids are older now, but when they were school aged, it was kind of get the kids off and then go write to, um, my desk, uh, and make it the number one thing.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And I can usually do like a three. A good day is like three, four hours. And then there's always a legal pad kind of next to me, and it has like the long ass list of everything that's coming into my head while I'm writing like, What you have to make this appointment and you have to like, whatever, and it just so it can, it can all be dumped there.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And then I feel like [00:30:00] after those three, four hours, you, it's, for me, it's like you're coming up to the surface again. You know, you've been submerged in this world and, um, you have to come up to the surface and like deal with your life basically. Um, and you have like a list, a guiding list. Yeah. I mean that's all that, yeah, that's for sure.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): I think that's such wonderful advice. Um, I mean, so many pieces of that ring true for me, but especially that when I am writing or, or in like a creative mode, meditation is really hard for the way my brain works. But I can, um, do it if it's in between, like research and writing, then sometimes I'll slip into meditation and, and going back and forth between those two things.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): And I have to have an outlet for all of the tasks, all the shit I remember.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): or else it's all just gonna loop. Like you have to be able to [00:31:00] dump it. So you'd be like in two hours, like, we will deal with this, whatever this is. But yeah, and,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): you that's not gonna get lost. It's like,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): right, right.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): me of Leon. Nora taking that bad feeling with the energy and like moving it and dropping it aside.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. Yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): over here.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Oh, I mean, I thought that was perhaps maybe a very British way of dealing with things, you know, like very compartmentalized or stereotypical British kind of. But yes, I like to meditate after I've worked, after I've written, you know, like. I am aware after, yeah, because before, um, then I'm off kind of l like it's everything is just to get to the desk with the, the minimum amount of distraction.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Delay or distraction. And then what's that meditation like after? Is it like kind of coming back into grounding or,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Mm-hmm. And I mean, I, I don't know, I'm like [00:32:00] real medi meditators will be like, that's not meditation or whatever. But yeah. I mean, but again, my yellow pad is Yeah. Is with me because stuff will come to me, meditation, you know, that I want to maybe, uh, think about or include tomorrow or, or, or I'm just looping the grocery list or whatever it is.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): So again, so I can dump it onto paper and then, and then, you know, let go of it.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): What's the, um, what's your feeling been like or what's your experience been like in encountering the audience for your books?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Um, well it's interesting. So the first two books are so different from this book and the first two books are set in Cleveland. And again, they have to deal, deal with, know, femin, kind of the [00:33:00] conundrum of femininity. They do a deal a lot with class. Um, and it's interesting when I'm outside of Cleveland, cuz they're set in Cleveland, people say, well Cleveland isn't this glamorous, is it?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Like, you gotta come to Cleveland man. And then, um, in Cleveland everyone will be like, wait, who's who? You know in your life? Encountering, I mean, this book isn't, this book's not out yet until July. But like, just encountering kind of people around the tarot. I've had, um, you know, I've had a famous tarot reader reach out to me who got the book in arc and, uh, we zoomed and I was just talking with her and we did a reading and, you know, so already I think people who love, uh, there are definitely people who love Romanias, who, um, I hope are, you know, connected to the book.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And then people who, I think I have a tarot practice that's not a tarot [00:34:00] practice. That's, I mean, not about like the handsome, dark haired man will come into your life in a month, which by the way, that's legit. Like, that's a great way to use the tarot too, but just who are using it in a more, um, for, for more self exploration.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): You know, I really hope. Those people find the book as well.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): It's funny that you said that writing the interpretations of the cards was hard and scary. All I thought was like, I need more, like, I want, I want the Claire McMillan guide to the chair.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Oh yeah, man, I'm up for it. Like that'd be amazing. Yeah. I mean, I do like, I think you get from my definitions, I do like kind of a psychologically informed kind of view of the cards. I mean, yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): yeah. We, I read, um, a [00:35:00] quote from your book in an episode of The Missing, which is Rx, the, the, the short prescription episodes. Um, because I love the way you describe early on in the book, in the voice of the woman who gives, um, remedials the deck, the. The sort of like, um, one I love the really practical, um, witch, you know, like I do, I I love that voice of the prac, the none of this nonsense witch, um, who's like, yeah, you, you were told that you weren't allowed to touch someone else's deck cuz you were a kid.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Right. Cause the nanny was trying to Yeah, nanny's trying to like keep control of you. Yeah, exactly.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): And like you were told you can't buy your own deck cuz those are old mythologies keeping us away from our power. Like you, there's no knowledge outside here, aside from your own symbols and then the world of symbols and, and you sort of dancing with your intuition between that. [00:36:00] Um, that's very much how I think about the tarot when I interact with it.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): And a very liberating way to interact with it. Right? Like your, your fingers sort of twitch when you see it. Especially pixie deck. I find. I wanna touch it, I wanna play with it.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): yeah, the number I've, you know, I don't read professionally, that's not my calling, but I read for friends sometimes and the number of people who, who have never had a reading who see the cards and they're like, these are the coolest, most beautiful things I've ever seen. Um, yeah, every time it's super compelling.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): But yeah, a lot of that kind of, Very practical witch view came from my time with Rachel Pollock. Um, you know, I, she, she wrote, you know, 78 Degrees of Wisdom. I read that book and I love that book so much. And then I went and studied with her, uh, for a week in Rhinebeck, New York at the Omega Institute. And she was very, that way she would [00:37:00] kind of, um, she would talk about Lady Esmerelda.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Like, she'd be like, well, lady Esmerelda won't let you touch her cards. Or Lady Esmerelda says this. So like, and that was kind of her caricature of, um, some of those old mythologies around the tarot. Yeah. So she definitely had a very open, you know, view of using the cards for sure.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Mm. Can you talk more about what she was like? It's so great that you got to spend that time with her.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. She was super, uh, inclusive.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): You know, I went. I'm, um, no, I'm a writer, so I go and she, she wrote novels as well too. So anyway, I go and there's probably like 60, 75 people there for a week to study the tarot. And like, I'm going to say like a good two thirds of them are professional readers, you know? So that was fascinating as a writer, [00:38:00] just to be in a room of that many people who this is pretty much their livelihood, you know?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Um, and they would start the, uh, they'd start a session every morning with a half hour of questions. So as a writer, I was super fascinated with all the professional terror questions, which were like, from like the most esoteric thing I'd never thought of to like dealing with billing. Like it was every, you know, it was like everything.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): It was so fascinating. And as a group, they were just the most. Still welcoming people. And, um, I kind of, I tell this story as a icebreaker. It, uh, Mary Greer was there as well. So it was Mary Greer and Rachel Pollock teaching and as an icebreaker, they, um, would have you hold your deck and you face in a circle and then there's a circle of people behind you, uh, facing out and they like rotated [00:39:00] you like, um, musical chairs.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And then they say, stop. And you're to turn and off your deck to the person and give them a one card reading. So of course they say, stop. I turn around and I'm paired with Rachel Pollock to give her a reading. Right? Yeah. I'm like, what? No. And so, um, So she chooses a card. I can't remember what card she chose, and I completely froze.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I panicked, and she was so kind. She's like, sometimes in a reading when I'm a bit blocked, what I do is just describe the actions that are happening on the card, you know? So I know. So I just start like describing the card and that's how we got through it. And then as the week progressed, you know, um, I sat, you know, at her table for lunch a couple times.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Like she knew I was a writer. We kind of talked about writing and, um, yeah, it was fascinating. You know, Mary Greer was doing a [00:40:00] lot on the history of the tarot. Um, and then together they were just showing different ways of doing spreads. They did a whole afternoon on the court cards, which was super helpful.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Um, they did a whole afternoon bringing in numerology. Um, Yeah, it was just a really, I hate to say it, but it was just a really magical time, um, to be with her and, and learn from her. So, so, yeah, it was great.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Sometimes magical is just the right
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): It's just some right word. I know, I know.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Sorry, sorry, cynics. The
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Sorry about it. Yeah, sorry about it.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): So
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): um, are there any events that you're excited about that you're doing are around the promotion of the book? What is book promo like for you? Or is it exciting? Are [00:41:00] you, are you over it? Are you onto the next thing?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Oh, like, I think I, I did start writing another book, but then, you know, launching a book into the world, it, you know, it takes a bit of energy and a bit of time, so I'm kind of in that mode, but, I mean aside, not to be cheesy, but aside from talking to you, I'm super excited because, uh, the Art Institute in Chicago is actually having, um, an exhibition of Varah's work.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And so it opens on, um, the 29th of July and I'll be there for the opening. Uh, they have like, I think it's over 20 pieces of her art that'll be there, which is amazing cuz I think there's only, I'll get it wrong, but I think it's around 180. There's only about 180 oil paintings. And then all in all, I think there's about three or 400 pieces of art because she died relatively young, you know, at [00:42:00] 54.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. So, but I, um, I went, my son actually goes to University of Chicago, so I'm in and outta Chicago a bit. So I actually, the curators were kind enough to meet with me and they showed me the PowerPoint of everything that was coming. And one of the coolest things that's coming, which I couldn't believe is, um, some of her artifacts and ephemera is coming.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): So some of her crystals, some of her clothes, um, that she sewed herself, like all, all these are coming for the exhibit as well as the paintings. So I'm just really, uh, that is something I'm thrilled. Like just to be in a room with that much of her energy, um, is something I'm really, really looking forward to.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Oh my gosh. Yeah, I was pouring over that link today cuz you had sent it to me back when we started talking. Trying to figure out how I could move my life around to be in Chicago this
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Well, it's [00:43:00] up until November, so you've got some time. Yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Oh man, that's gonna be so special. I mean, the, her paintings, you know, people talk about the quality of the light and them, and the, the incredible detail.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): I mean, she paints like a, a master, she paints like a renaissance master. They're, they're so luminous. They're so, I don't wanna say perfect, but the detail is so incredible. And then, and then the content, you know, where it's like looking at stories inside the weirder parts of my own mind or
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): something. So it's so different to look at them on a screen than to be in a room with 'em.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): So I'm so excited for you that you get to go be surrounded by that.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. Thank you. I mean, I'm excited to go to go see it. Um, yeah, and I think they have, I think the Chicago Art Art Institute has. Maybe two or three carringtons that are on permanent display. Two. [00:44:00] And those, those two, I mean, their work, both of their work, when you see it in person, it, I mean it does literally glow like it's alive.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And even seeing, you know, seeing the reproductions, they're super cool because the stories they're telling are always super cool. But when you see the actual painting, they, they are so alive and they do glow. It's, it's amazing. And seeing, it's always cool for me to see the difference in their work, you know, because they're very much inspired and thinking about the same things, but the way they approach their work, you know, Carrington is much more free, I think.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And, um, VARs, you know, so precise and controlled the daughter of. You know, an engineer and she, and she's super into science, you know, geology and quantum physics and all these things too, as was Carrington, but yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Did you have to negotiate even [00:45:00] in your own mind or, or practically with, uh, an estate? I know you heard our conversation with the, the family, the, the, like the Carrington family in estate. Um, was that a complexity for you at all, or?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): No, because I didn't use, I don't think I quote, I don't think I directly quote them. So I didn't need permissions for that. I had to get per, I used one of Paris's poems, um, in the text, so I had to get permission for that. And I used a, a friend's poem for the epigraph, so, um, who gave me permission for that, which was great.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): But yeah. Um, yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): the, getting the permission for the parade poem, did you have to, uh, tell them how you were gonna describe him
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): You know, they, no, they were super generous about it. I kind of just said, you know, I, I, I think I very generally outlined that. Like he recites it in a party scene. Um, and, and yeah, [00:46:00] they were super generous. They were like, great.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Lovely. That's good to know.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Um, em, I know you're here. I, you might be at work, you might not be able to unmute, but if you did, um, wanna ask a question or say anything, you're totally invited to Claire, if there was any things that you wanted to talk about or things I haven't touched on yet or
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): no, I just wanna know like, who's coming up next in the mid, who is the next missing witch? Like, I can't wait to hear. Um, and I've just enjoyed the podcast as I mentioned so much. Especially the ones about Pixie Coleman Smith and Rita Harris, and so Ne Hurston, like they're all Oh, the one on Marjorie Cameron.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Holy. Fascinating. So,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): fascinating. Yeah, so I think we're sort of like you, like we're in, we have a new book coming out in September, so we're in, um,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Oh, I'm excited.[00:47:00]
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): we're gearing into that. And so, um, actually the Marjorie Cameron and Lady Frida Harris are in that book.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Oh, great.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): in a different kind of context. We, we write about the tools of magic.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Um,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Mm-hmm.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): but you know, it's from an anti-capitalist perspective, so it's not like shit you have to buy, but shit that you already is already part of your power
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Mm-hmm.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): and how people, people have used it. And so those, some of those stories are in. We have a short list for the next sandwiches season, but I don't wanna say anybody who's on it
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): No, no, I'm not,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): so much.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I'm not trying to put you on the spot. No, not at all. But that's so fascinating and I think, yeah, lady Fried Harris is so fascinating. Um, as well as I think I mentioned like this kind of famous, uh, uh, reader reached out to me and she is, she reads with a thought. And I was so fascinated by that [00:48:00] because, you know, Crowley has a lot of mythos around him and because of that, it's hard for me to kind of get through that to what he's talking about.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): You know, I kind of dismiss dismissive a little bit and the thought is beautiful. Um, so. But, you know, I didn't have any connection really with it. And she re so I was asking her, I was saying, you know how it's such like a masculine thing to me. And, um, but no, she, her take was pretty cool, so,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Oh, that's so cool. Yeah, I'd love to know. Like I've, I've tried to read with it and found it impossible for me,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. Same.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): I really relate to what Lady Frida said that it wasn't for her, it wasn't meant to be a tool of divination, but of like meditation on the orders of the universe and of like, and so there's, it's, there's mathematical truths in there about the nature of time [00:49:00] and each card should be a doorway into understanding.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): I'm paraphrasing now, but, but I, I can see, I can engage with the deck in that way. Um, But I find it really hard to, well, also because I find it very hard to read Alistair Crowley, like, understand any of what the fuck he's talking about.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I feel the same way. Um, yeah, so it, that's, it's really interesting. And that's part two with, with Marjorie Cameron and Jack Parsons. Right. Cuz he was like obsessed with Crowley and, um, and Rockets, you know, it's like, so d it's so dude, so it's so dude, so I, I'm just, so I kind of wrote it off as like, this is like a dude thing, but, um, but yeah, so I'll
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): what did those women do with it, you know? It's so interesting. Yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): that's the same with Arthur Waite, right. And Pixie Coleman Smith. Like, it's so [00:50:00] interesting to me that they hired, hired women to create the decks, not. Not men, you know, not male painters. It's, it's, it is, there's something there that's for sure. Fascinating.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Totally. Yeah. Endlessly, endlessly. Fascinating. Is that, I mean, I don't, I don't wanna put you on the spot either, but are, are your next stories going in a similar direction of unpacking women's history?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah, I mean, I think I'm always, you know, writers, like, even when they try and get away from something, it's still coming through in their work, you know? So like the place of women and what women have, have navigated and continue to navigate is, you know, I don't think I'm ever gonna be done with that. And, um, but I was super sad to like, leave the world of the tarot and the esoteric and everything.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): So, you know, I have a feeling that'll find its way into my work as, as well.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Um, [00:51:00] in your re I don't wanna keep you too long. I could talk to you about this
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Dude, I can go out.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Um, can you tell me stuff about Katy Hona? I know she doesn't really appear in the
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): book, but I'm sure you found her in your research and I find her so cool too.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): yeah, for sure. And that's another one that where I kind of made the editorial decision. She's there nominally, but I didn't really go into the friendship, but she was definitely, you know, part of that trio. And, um, yeah, I find her photographs endlessly fascinating and cool. And, um, yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Yeah. I wanna know so much more about her. She's someone that I've thought about doing for the, the show or,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Oh, please do, do.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): as hot. I mean, because. I mean, the tricky thing with figuring out who to cover for the show is it's kind of like what we were talking about with how you really have to work to look for the [00:52:00] women's stories, the men's stories encroach.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): It's very similar with white women. It's like you really have to, you really have to work to, to find the stories beyond the white women's stories. And it's like, there are, there are many, many fascinating white women and we have more, you know, uh, archival evidence of their work and their magic. But, uh, it also gets boring.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Cause then it's not what we're trying, it's not what we're trying to do. It's just have like a White Lady podcast
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Right, right, right,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): that always ends up being in the balance. For me. I'll have a list of like 10 white women and be like, I gotta get to work cuz that's not what I'm trying to do here.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): right. No, I know. I
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Caddy's high on my list for sure.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): I think it's so interesting the way they all came from the. They're, they're different experiences of trauma in the war and their, their spirit of resistance. You know, she was very much part of that, uh, anti-fascist [00:53:00] movement that I think we, we still, we still need her, her energy, her storytelling, and our anti-fascist work.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): So,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah, for sure.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): somebody I think about,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I, and I don't know anything about Alice Rehan, Rehan, but she also was there and kind of friends with them as well. And yeah. Um, the anti-fascist work, like that was, no, that was not theoretical for them, you know, like that was no joke. Um, because they lived through the times. They lived through, um, you know, Remedi. She was in Barcelona and you know, Franco is tear gassing the streets and it, the day she finally decided to leave for Paris and in part meet Benjamin was also the day Lorca was assassinated. You know, so she for sure, I think had a visceral, real experience [00:54:00] of, of what fasc fascism is, you know?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Yeah. Do you ever feel like part of the, the storytelling that you wanna do, or I don't know, is like, related to your own ancestor stories? Like, is that something that you draw on? Do you think about your, your, your mother or your grandmother or grandparents' lives? Does that play into it?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I'm not sure. I have to think about that. Like, yeah, that's when I'm not really, I'm not really sure about, I have to ponder.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): I think a lot about my grandparents when I'm working. It's funny. Um, so I always wonder like, are you know, when you said that, that these narratives recur for you? Even if you try to shake them, there's things that you're gonna be interested in always, and they're gonna appear in different shapes.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah, for
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): why, why, why why are we haunted by those particular things, you know?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. I mean, yeah, [00:55:00] they're just, things like that hit you so deeply, you know, when you read, I mean, I'll, when I, when you read Edith, right, if you read all her stuff, there are things that you're like, oh, you're still, that still come up. That you're, you're like, I'm saying to Edith, you're still wrestling with this, you know, you're still coming, coming around on this, so,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Weird. That sense that they, they are still wrestling, you know?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. Yeah. Everyone.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): here. They're still wrestling in, in me, engaging with them. They're still wrestling somehow.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And that's why, like, that's why you get engaged across time. You know, I've read somewhere some quote that said like, it's absolutely ridiculous to think that like everyone who could teach you or be your friend is alive at the same time as you on the planet and geographically contiguous with you.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Like, [00:56:00] it's gotta be through time, you know? And that, that, again, that's part of like listening to your podcast. You're like, yeah, like these threads through time
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Mm-hmm. Yeah. It, this is sort of silly, it true. There's a moment in your book where you describe, um, Leona and Remedios kind of meeting and recognizing each other, like, ah, yes. Um, my friend is here.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Like you're here. Yeah,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Did
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): you
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I've, yeah, go ahead. Oh, I was just gonna say, because I felt that in my life when you're just like, when you meet someone for the first time and you're kind of like, oh, you're here now. Like, let's go.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Yes,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): yes. I know that feeling deeply. There's, um, I always think about in Tina Faye's autobiography, she describes the first time. That Amy Poer was in the writing room at S n L and, uh, like, will Arnett or [00:57:00] somebody made a joke and then, um, Amy Poer made like a pretty raunchy joke. And then as a joke, will Anette or whoever it was, was like, oh, she's gross.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): I don't like it. And Amy Poer deadpan and was like, I'm not fucking here to entertain you. And Tina, Faye was like, in my heart, I jumped up and down screaming. My, my friend is here. My friend is here
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Right. Totally. It's the best feeling ever. And that's when, like that, yeah, it's the best feeling ever. And it's also like when I believe, I mean, I'll just like, when you believe in the powers of the universe, right? Where, or whatever you wanna call it, where you're like, th there, there's no way this is happening.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Randomly, you know, there's no way Amy Poer is being put in that room with Tina Fe, like randomly, you know?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): right. Or even just the. The feeling of being so alive in that moment. Like it's sometimes I have to be like [00:58:00] physically knocked into feeling like awake and electric in the present moment. And like that is one of the things that does it
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): like,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah, it
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): oh shit, you are real.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Right.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): This is real. This is happening.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Let's go. As you say,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Better than espresso shots for
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): right?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. Yeah. I wake you right up, so like I'm in the world right now.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Yeah. Oh, dear listeners, I hope when you're listening to this, you are grinning as much as we are. And I hope that you are feeling, um, that moment of us bumping into your spiritual bodies yelling, hi, I'm alive. You're alive. We're here. My friend is here. My friend is here. We love you so much. Thank you for being here.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Um, Claire, can you tell the people how they can find you and support you and buy your glorious book and wrap themselves around it this summer?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Well, that's so nice. Yeah, I have a [00:59:00] website, claire mcmillan.com. Uh, I hang out on Instagram sometimes. Um, Claire McMillan and the books available wherever you like to buy your books, so, um, and if you are not in a place where you buy books, uh, personally requesting them at your library is fabulous for authors as well.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): So, um, yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Yeah. It makes such a difference
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Mm-hmm.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): if you feel like you wanna, um, support, uh, your, your new witchy best friend, author Claire, or,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): or yeah. Authors in general. Pre-order magic is magic. And requesting at a library, requesting at your indie bookstore, um, it makes the biggest impact for us. So
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): All those things. Yeah. Well, this is such a true delight in my day. I loved chatting with you. It was wonderful.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): We have to hang out more.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): [01:00:00] I'm, I'm coming Montreal, man.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): do it. I'll, me too. Uh, I'll, me too. At the Remedials. Varo. I just have to find a way to get
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Okay. If you Okay. If you go, if you go, I will go. I will meet you because I'm looking for any excuse to go back. I'm gonna go back multiple times, I'm sure.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Oh my gosh. Chicago, here we come.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Mm-hmm. Be great.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Mm. All right. Thank you. Oh, do you, I, this is long now, but I, I love asking this question, and if you have an answer, um, I know I would appreciate it. As a writer, do you, do you have any kind of practice or ritual or, Hmm, magic words or,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): um, something that helps you do your work these days or, or just be alive in these sometimes terrifying days.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah, I mean, I think, uh, usually I'll, [01:01:00] I have like a set of favorite novels that are always in my orbit, so, uh, usually I get started like, okay, I'll just tell you guys, when I was at the Mount in residence, Um, the other, there were two other writers in residence, and what we would do some days is we would go to one of the bookshelves that had all Edith's books on it, and we'd close our eyes, but we'd choose a book, and then we'd open it to a random page to see like, what did Edith have to say to us that day?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): And so sometimes I'll do that with a favorite, favorite novel. You know, I'll just open to a page and be like, what do you have to say to me today? Or also, you know, it, it just kind of gets my brain moving. Um, and that's usually, that's usually how I start, uh, writing. Although I know I have friends who like candles or, you know, [01:02:00] um, Ja, I don't know if you've ever read James Pressman's book, the War of Art, which is.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): It's a super dude book, but I enjoy that book a lot. I mean, it's called The War of Art, like the entire thing's a war metaphor. So it's like very male, whatever,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): I'm making my, um, quotation marks. But he in, he has an entire invocation to the muse that he recites every time he sits down writing. So, you know, I do think that can be super helpful.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): The one thing I, I do, I like to write in a silent house, like as I mentioned, my kids are, well, one's gone in college and one's in high school, so they're, so I like a silent house, but still, even if I'm in a silent house, I close the door, um, to the rear of my ride in and that closing the door is kind of like, I don't know, being you're in your container then.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Um, and I think that's maybe the one real [01:03:00] ritual piece I have. Um, in terms of writing, for sure.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Thanks for that.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): I will, I will turn to my novels after this for guidance and think
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. Turn to your novel. I think I have, um, for sure. I always have Virginia Wolf's, a room of one's own. Like Virginia always has something to tell you to keep it going, so. Yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): So The Lighthouse is my favorite book.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Oh, that's such an amazing book. Yeah.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Yeah. I'll tell time, all time, all time companion.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Um,
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): yeah, maybe open it and see if it has something to tell you.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): yeah. Although I don't know how I would put it down if I.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Right, right there. Is that, there? Is that?
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): too, though. Oh, thank you so much, Claire. Thanks for
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Thank you.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): it's so, so thrilling and wild to meet you and get to read your book and to know that we have somehow been in company [01:04:00] together all this time.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): Such a gift.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Yeah. It's just absolute pleasure. Thank you guys so much.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate1 (1): so cool. I'm blessed if I can be, I guess.
GMT20230621-135406_Recording_separate2 (1): Blessed fucking be

Pre-order New Moon Magic: 13 anti-capitalist tools of resistance and re-enchantment now!!

Interested in contributing to the Missing Witches Zine? Check out our submissions info and get in touch!

Subscribe to our Newsletter and stay up to date!

Inbox magic, no spam. A free, weekly(ish) prescription of spells and other good shit to light you up and get you through. Unsubscribe any time.

Oops! There was an error sending the email, please try again.

Awesome! Now check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription.