Interview with La Carmina

photo of La Carmina
Photo by La Carmina, http://lacarmina.com/

La Carmina is an award-winning alternative culture journalist, blogger and TV host. She runs the leading blog about Goth travel, fashion and culture (LaCarmina.com/blog), which was featured in The New York Times and Washington Post. La Carmina is the author of four books including The Little Book of Satanism: A Guide to Satanic History, Wisdom and Culture, published by Simon & Schuster. She received a journalism award from the Society of American Travel Writers, and has written about the Devil for CNN, The Daily Beast, Architectural Digest, Fodor’s, and more. La Carmina appears on travel TV shows worldwide including Bizarre Foods, No Reservations, Taboo, Oddities, and The Today Show. She is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School. Follow La Carmina’s Gothic adventures in over 70 countries on LaCarmina.com and social media @LaCarmina on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Shauna Kosoris: What inspired your new book, The Little Book of Satanism: A Guide to Satanic History, Wisdom and Culture?

La Carmina: For over a decade, I’ve been participating in and writing about Satanism – particularly its unique expression in Japan, where I spent a great deal of time. I discovered that there’s an inordinate amount of disinformation and conspiracy theories about Satanists, which have no bearing in real life. In fact, Satanists value scientific scepticism, nonconformity, self-expression, and rebellion against dogmatism. I hope The Little Book of Satanism helps to bring light to the meaningful values and practices of Satanists, as well as communicate the religion’s rich historical-cultural background.

While researching The Little Book of Satanism, what was the most interesting fact you discovered?

Time and time again, it is society’s marginalized that are labelled as Satan’s bedfellows, and suffer consequences ranging from ostracism to jail and executions. For instance, in the Middle Ages, women healers and misfits were deemed followers of Satan, and many were killed during the witch trials. In the late 17th century, Parisians working underground as abortionists and spell-makers were taken to trial for invoking the Devil. Today, many Satanists are taking back the “outsider” label and standing up for causes such as LGBTQ rights and abortion access.

What was the hardest part of writing The Little Book of Satanism?

As this had to be a “little book,” it was a challenge to condense information about the evolution of the Devil and Satanism over the centuries! I hope the book gives a solid overview and helps to answer questions readers might have about Satanism – such as what are the meaning of certain symbols, are there Satanic ritual practices, where did the concept of the Devil come from and how did it evolve in art and literature, what is the influence of individuals like Aleister Crowley, and more.

Does your writing process differ when writing a book vs a blog post or a feature article?  

Absolutely. My La Carmina Blog – https://www.lacarmina.com/blog/ – tends to focus on my first-hand adventures around the world, so the writing is more casual and there are dozens of photos per post. When I write articles for publications, the process depends on the type of piece and format. The Little Book of Satanism is my fourth book (https://www.lacarmina.com/blog/books/), and this time, it involved significant research from a variety of academic sources. I took thorough notes and created a book structure that I felt made sense, and then developed and polished each section.

The Little Book of Satanism has a foreword by Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple.  How was that arranged?  

We’ve known each other for a while now, and have collaborated on various Satanic projects. I hosted Lucien’s album release party for his band Satanic Planet, and wrote about The Satanic Temple for publications including Architectural Digest, The Daily Beast, and Fodor’s. He’s been supportive as hell throughout the whole book process, and said yes right away to writing the foreword for The Little Book of Satanism.

What do you hope that readers will get from The Little Book of Satanism?

I hope readers walk away with a more nuanced and accurate sense of what Satanism really is. The general public tends to think of Satanists as they are portrayed in horror movies: evil followers who invoke the Devil for nefarious means. This isn’t at all what modern Satanism is about, and it’s time to lay these damaging, pervasive stereotypes to rest.

So what are you working on now?

I just came back from a journalism work trip to Japan, and am heading off soon on an overseas travel project, so there is a lot to prepare. I’m always sharing stories and snaps from my Gothic travels on my social media @LaCarmina and site lacarmina.com, and invite you to check it out. And of course, The Little Book of Satanism comes out Oct 25, so I’ve been getting the word out.

Good luck with everything! I’d like to end with a few questions about reading.  What book or author inspired you to write?

As a teen, I enjoyed the journalism style of Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson, particularly when they wrote about their experiences with subcultures. When blogging platforms emerged in the mid-2000s, I felt that the medium was well-suited to sharing my forays into dark / alt culture and Satanism. I started my La Carmina Blog in 2007 and it took off, leading to dream projects including this new book.

Is there a book or author that you think everyone should read?

I think it’s hard to recommend a single book or author for everyone, as tastes and circumstances differ wildly. I do encourage people to check out Waking Up by Sam Harris as it has thought-provoking insight into the nature of mind, and conveys the benefits of secular, scientific-based meditation.

And what are you currently reading?

The Devil’s Death: Your Satanic Companion for Grief and Dying by Shiva Honey. Shiva wrote a compassionate guide to preparing for the challenges surrounding death, including practical info on navigating the process, and beautiful rituals that can help us to find understanding in the most difficult of times.

cover of the Little Book of Satanism
Photo by La Carmina, http://lacarmina.com/

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