ALL HAIL TRANS WITCHES: AN INTERVIEW WITH LIVING SEA-WITCH, MOSS ANGEL
Moss Angel organized the best book launch ever with a sacred ritual. A coven of gay-as-fuck trans witches gathered outside in the crisp Oregon night to form a circle around a freshly-minted copy of Sea-Witch (Volume One: May She Lay Us Waste) lain at their feet.
As the ceremony proceeded, the author lit the requisite spark and after setting Sea-Witch ablaze, they pissed on it and the group chanting commenced. Protection for their bond, utter dissolution for their enemies. The organic stench of conjoined elements permeated the landscape. Sea-Witch was thus blessed with powerful queer Magick as it finally succumbed to the flames, the piss, the darkness, and became ash.
Visceral, harrowing, and magnificent, Sea-Witch stage-dives into a poetic dreamscape of trans-queer divinity and awakening that has resonated deeply with readers since its release in January. The cycle continues with Sea-Witch (Volume Two: Girl Dirt Angel Fog), slated for release in September 2017.
Larissa Glasser: Can you describe Sea-Witch for the uninitiated? What is the concept and what does it mean for you?
Moss Angel: Sea-Witch is a surreal fantasy book set in a dreamlike world that has conceptual, but not concrete parallels to this one. It is about a monster named Sara who lives her life in a world controlled by The 78 Men Who Cause Pain (the 1%, the people in power, whatever you want to call them). There are a pantheon of witch-gods and one of them, Sea-Witch has opened up her body as a shelter for monsters who take refuge from the 78 Men.
Sea-Witch encapsulates my experiences and the ways I have come to understand the world around me. I do this through an interlinked series of surreal dream narratives that take place in a shared world.
Some people call these books “poetry” and some people call these books “fiction” and I see them as borrowing from poetry and fiction and comics but not existing in any of those categories. Genre has been a frustration for me. The words “gender” and “genre” have a common origin and I have very similar reactions to both, in that me and my work have been forced to sort of cope with not fitting the gender/genre categories that are presented for us to try to fit in, and I think I have developed a certain amount of resentment in both cases. So I’d like to officially dub Sea-Witch as a project “agenre”, because it is being created by an agender artist (me) who stubbornly refuses to create their work in any way but the way that fits the ideas they want to put into it.
LG: You’ve created an entire cosmology in Sea-Witch. When did you first conceive of this cycle?
MA: With a prompt—I described Sea-Witch as “an actual witch, but also the place I live”. That inspired me to expand that concept, of someone living inside of the body of a being who was intentionally vague/contradictory in nature. I wanted there to be other witch gods besides Sea-Witch. I loved sci-fi and fantasy as a kid, mostly in the form of video games, and I enjoyed work that blended the world-building of sci-fi with more incongruous pieces that juxtaposed the fantasy style in unexpected ways.
Dreams are a huge part of my writing, and have been for a long time. I am interested in writing in the style of dreams. Dream-logic and dream-landscapes and dream-narrative are very compelling to me, I feel like they are a good way to short-cut the way we understand the information we are given. It makes us take a step back and sit with and interpret what we are being given for ourselves rather than throwing it against all our preconceived ideas straight-off. When done well, it resists allegory and simplification.
LG: Can you tell us about your creative process?
MA: It involves absorbing different words and concepts through conversations and media I consume along with thoughts I’ve been having about my own life and the lives of those I’m close to. I’m lucky to live in a wonderful loving queer witch coven full of inspiring trans artists who give me a lot of ideas. The world of Sea-Witch so closely fits my internal landscape that it’s pretty easy for me to find ways to fit any idea I have into it in some way. I generally write a piece in one breath. I rarely rewrite or edit beyond fixing grammar, awkward wording, flow and rhythm. When I get three of these pieces I then create a visual representation, usually using some sort of selfie or picture I am compelled by in that moment, and I edit it in Photoshop, make it my own, sometimes by referencing a phrase used in one of those pieces. Then I put that up on Patreon.
When I’ve finished a book (which I determine thorough how “complete” an arc feels and/or by page count) I pull these photos along with quotes I’ve been gathering and the whole text into an InDesign document and I start doing art for the whole thing, including more photos and scribbling and drawing in the document itself. Occasionally I’ll do some visual art in Photoshop on the spot there and pull that in too. I love books. Books are my art. I’m not really a writer, I’m an artist who makes books.
LG: Do you relate queer spirituality with your writing? If so, how?
MA: Yes. I can’t untangle my queerness from my politics or my magickal practice. They’re all mixed up together and they all point to one another.
Larissa Glasser is a librarian and SF writer from Boston. Her fiction has appeared in The Healing Monsters, Volume One (Despumation Press) and in The Procyon Science Fiction Anthology, 2016 (Tayen Lane Publishing). Her nonfiction has appeared in Harvard Review, The Boston Phoenix, and Maelstrom. Her Twitter is @larissaeglasser and she blogs at https://larissaglasser.com
Sea-Witch originates from Moss’s Patreon. They are a prolific independent artist with a passion for the infinite, and every subscription enables them to practice their craft and thrive. Log in to Patreon, enjoin the circle, and may the word-sorcery bless and destroy us all. They are @8deadsuns on Twitter, and you can learn more at their page Moss Angel the Undying.