Archive for the Last Writes with… Category

The Occult Detective’s Last Writes with… Dr. Richard Kaczynski

Posted in Last Writes with... on August 7, 2020 by Occult Detective



Richard Kaczynski

I first became aware of Richard Kaczynski from his foreword found in People of the Earth by Ellen Evert Hopman and Lawrence Bond back in the mid-nineties. His seminal work, Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley, published first by New Falcon Press, then later revised and published by North Atlantic Books, is the defining, quintessential biography of the most notorious occultist to ever peel back the layers between this reality and the great sea of possibilities beyond it.

As a metaphysical scholar and author, he is unparalleled, but Dr. Kaczynski is also a talented musician, an excellent writer of occult fiction, and a pop culture enthusiast whose insights are always on point. He is, without question, one of my favorite people on this spinning rock and if you’re not following him on twitter, then you are certainly missing out. I am honored to now share with you his Last Writes.



Wow, this is tough! My first thought is this amazing dish called “palak chaat” at the Washington, DC, restaurant Rasika. It’s crispy flash-fried spinach topped with a tamarind/yogurt sauce. There are no words to express how great this dish is. It is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. My runner-up would be the vegetarian tasting menu at Restaurant Gordan Ramsay on Hospital Road in London. That was one of the most memorable meals of my life…though I’m concerned that a return visit wouldn’t wow me as much now that the bar has been set. If neither of those is possible, I’d take a nice malai kofta, which is my go-to dish at Indian restaurants because everybody makes it so differently. After five or six months of quarantine, being at *any* restaurant would be a luxury.


This is hard. I’ve never been one to re-read a book, as there are so many books I haven’t read yet. I wouldn’t want it to be one of my own books: last thing I want is for my final moments to be distracted with wanting to edit and revise myself! Crowley’s “Book of the Law” contains what to my mind is one of the most beautiful passages that can be taken about the end: “For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.” But I can quote that from memory. Maybe I’d go back to my childhood love of comics, and reread something from that genre. Watchmen, Promethea, or maybe Elektra: Assassin.


There are so many movies I love, it’s hard to pick just one. On the one hand, there are obvious choices suggesting that there’s more to this life than we think (2001, The Matrix). Logan’s Run or Soylent Green would be very ironic, but there are other films I’d rather watch at the very end of my life. Cloud Atlas has a great message that our actions endure far beyond our lifetimes, and I’d *almost* pick it for that optimistic note. But part of me would want to return to the simple pleasures of my youth and experience “Star Wars” one last time.


Finally, an easy one! My friends in the Philadelphia-based progressive rock band Echolyn have a song, “Never the Same,” on their 1995 record “As the World.” It’s a meditation on death, and how to move on when we lose someone we love. The chorus–“After the song is over, the dance goes on, so dance away. When all has been said and done, remember what’s been given, not taken away. There’s never any endings, but I’ll never be the same”–to says it all to me.


I’m not convinced that there is life after death, or–if there is–whether we meet people as they were in this life. But for the sake of argument, the first person I’d like to see in the afterlife is my sister Diahann. We shared so many interests–music, comics, playing piano–and she was always my biggest fan. I have a note from her, probably from my teens, where she wrote out the lyrics to The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” to encourage me as a young writer. She was fun and wise beyond her years, and I learned to much from her. She died suddenly in her sleep 25 years ago, and I still miss her. With every hardship or heartbreak, I think “I wish I could talk to her.” And with every success as an author, I think “I wish Diahann was here to see this, she’d be so excited

The Occult Detective’s Last Writes with… Anthony Boyd (@Runeslinger)

Posted in Last Writes with... on July 31, 2020 by Occult Detective




Anthony Boyd, perhaps better known by his online nom de guerre, Runeslinger, is a prolific blogger and youtuber whose insights into tabletop roleplaying games, particularly those which exist “outside of the flickering circle of light which is mainstream gaming”, are both erudite and purposeful. As a champion of the form, he’s an inimitable ambassador.

In recent years, he has helped to spearhead #RPGaDay, a month long celebration of roleplaying games that was the brainchild of David Chapman. Throughout August, tabletop fans are encouraged to make daily posts, typically from a pregenerated list of questions or word prompts, the shine a positive light on the hobby.

As #RPGaDay begins tomorrow, bringing Anthony in today seems apropos. So let’s lend our ear to the esteemed Mr. Boyd, and see where his Last Writes might take us.


If I were to face a known date for death, much as I seem to be doing too often these days for others’, I am not sure that I would seek out any farewell experiences at all. If I did, I would definitely not indulge in a last moment with a favorite.


For my last meal, I would want to go light. I think something I cannot get here in Korea, and probably would not choose to eat were I in my home country. With that in mind, let’s say I might go for ravioli.


If I knew death were coming and could read while I waited, a book that would sit right in such circumstances would be James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen. I have read it twice, liking it the first time and disliking it the second. Third time seals the deal.


For a last film, perhaps an activity to go out on, I would be torn between To Have and Have Not and Big Trouble in Little China. In the end, I suspect I would go with what Mr. Burton believes is his adventure to reclaim his stolen truck as there is a message there that helps give a person perspective.


The last song I would want to listen to? That perhaps would be the hardest choice. One I might choose from a long and beloved list might be On the Wire by Sisters of Mercy – and then wait for life’s sound and fury to fade away~

The Occult Detective’s Last Writes with… Charming Disaster

Posted in Last Writes with... on July 24, 2020 by Occult Detective




Who better to initiate the resurrection of Last Writes than my favorite minstrels of the macabre, the morbidly delicious Charming Disaster.

I discovered Ellia Bisker and Jeff Morris quite by accident, stumbling upon their song Ragnarok on youtube a few years back. Since then, I have become obsessed with their amazing performance art, murder ballads, and songs of the occult, mythology, and the paranormal.

I was a backer on their 2019 kickstarter, Spells + Rituals, and highlighted their music at the Converse Historical Society’s annual Haunted History event last year.

Based in Brooklyn, Ellia and Jeff’s music is haunting, wickedly charming, and devilishly playful. They harmonize beautifully together, and I just simply adore everything they do, so, without further adieu, I present Charming Disaster’s Last Writes.



Just a cocktail to take the edge off, thanks. Preferably bottomless brunch menu Bloody Marys.


The final book in whatever series we’re reading. Hopefully Patrick Rothfuss will have finished the Kingkiller Chronicles by then, but if not, we’ll wait.


We want the traditional “whole life flashing before your eyes,” but in slow motion, so it takes a really long time.


One of the ones we haven’t written yet. Whatever we’re working on at the time (but not until we finish it).


We assume we’ll go down together in a blaze of glory, so each other, obviously.

Announcing the Return of Last Writes

Posted in Last Writes with... on July 17, 2020 by Occult Detective


From the ashes — Last Writes

Posted in Last Writes with... on July 14, 2020 by Occult Detective

On All Hallow’s Eve, 2016, I launched a feature on this blog called Last Writes. The idea was simple enough: invite interesting people to imagine themselves facing their final rest. The caveat being that before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which travelling with them into the great unknown.


The idea was not to find out what someone’s favorite meal or book or what have you is, but what they last wanted to experience. The two are seldom the same.

Last Writes ran for 9 episodes in 2016, 15 in 2017, and 3 in 2018. 27 in all. The series was well received. I was able to question authors, occultists, gamers, reviewers, publishers, and psychonauts in my quest to reveal a side to these fascinating people that we rarely get a glimpse of.

As we find ourselves immersed in a global pandemic, civil unrest, and political upheaval, I thought it high time we revisited these all important questions. In the coming weeks, I will be relaunching of Last Writes, but first, let’s have another look at those who came before.

10.31.2016  Bob Freeman

11.07.2016  William Meikle

11.14.2016  Alethea Kontis

11.21.2016  Joshua Reynolds

11.28.2016  Greg Mitchell

12.05.2016  Mary SanGiovanni

12.12.2016  Michael M. Hughes

12.19.2016  Kelli Owen

12.26.2016  Maurice Broaddus

01.02.2017  Brian Keene

01.09.2017  Gamerstable

01.16.2017  Tim Prasil

01.23.2017  John Linwood Grant

01.30.2017  Shanna Germain

02.06.2017  Cullen Bunn

02.13.2017  Charles R. Rutledge

02.20.2017  Tracy DeVore

02.27.2017  Stephen Shrewsbury

03.06.2017  Jim McLeod

03.20.2017  Michael West

03.27.2017  Amanda DeWees

04.03.2017  Sèphera Girón

04.10.2017  Julian Vayne

08.23.2017  Stephen Zimmer

01.31.2018  Fiona Horn

03.05.2018  Madame Pamita

03.19.2018  BethSheba Ashe


The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites with BethSheba Ashe

Posted in Last Writes with..., Magick on March 19, 2018 by Occult Detective


sasheI was lucky enough to have cultivated an online friendship with Steven Ashe, a prolific author of the occult and a consummate musician. I found Steven’s scholarship brilliant and he was, point of fact, a talented and charming fellow whom I feel blessed to have had the pleasure to know, even if we were separated by an ocean and some change.

Sadly, he crossed over far too young, but thankfully he left behind a wealth of books on all manner of esoterica. He is greatly missed.

bsasheThrough Steven, I was introduced to his wife’s scholarship.

BethSheba Ashe is every bit her late husband’s equal. I have found her musings on facebook and twitter to be erudite and insightful, and I have marveled over some of her research in dissertations. She has a great instinct for spiritual and magical matters with an ability to connect dots and unknot some rather intricate meanderings in the occult sphere.

I reached out to BethSheba some time ago, inviting her to take part in my little Last Writes experiment. Blissfully, she has joined us now…

Not familiar with Last Writes? The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.

What would be your last meal? I don’t really care, but I’d like to share it with friends and perhaps share a joint with them too.

 What would be the last book you’d like to read and last movie you’d like to watch? …something inspiring, but again – its not something that I really care about. Same with the last movie, although I’m looking forward to seeing Sherlock Holmes meet Doctor Who.

What is the last song you’d like to hear? … bird song.

Who is the first person you’d like to meet on the other side? …the same person I always meet when I’m on the other side. It would be very weird if they weren’t there. I enjoy the continuity of seeing them when I die.

The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites with Madame Pamita

Posted in Last Writes with..., Magick with tags , , on March 5, 2018 by Occult Detective

madamepamitaI bought my first Tarot Deck, Pixie’s Rider-Waite, 38 years ago this summer. I still consider myself a student of the art and science of the cards and I’m always on the lookout for a new and fresh take on interpreting them.

That’s why I found Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True such a delight.

The author writes passionately and you get a true sense of her enthusiasm  and warmth. She has a style that’s all her own, with a clear, confident voice.

She takes the reader on a terrific journey, with the cards as milestones, or better still, doorways into strange new lands of possibilities. The author’s positive spin is refreshing and I’m thrilled to add her knowledge and inspiration into my arsenal.

Madame Pamita has a real gift and plenty of otherworldly charm. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, whether you’re a grizzled old veteran like me or new to the realm of card reading.


pamitaI was lucky enough to get Madam Pamita to sit down with us and take part in our little requiem-esque departure, taking a glimpse into her pre-inhumation, if you will.

The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.

What would be your last meal? Take me to a Michelin 3 star restaurant in France, please! I’d like really fabulous wine with my meal, and yes, we would like a bread basket and yes, I will be having a dessert. Make that two desserts!

What would be the last book you’d like to read? I want to read something funny so I can go out laughing. Perhaps “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!” by Gideon Defoe – nothing like a story of hapless, arrogant and naive pirates battling the evil Queen Victoria to set me in the mood to take off on my own adventure into the unknown.

What is the last movie you’d like to watch? “This is Spinal Tap” – it has everything a movie should have – hapless, arrogant and naive musicians battling the evil music industry plus amps that go to 11.

What is the last song you’d like to hear? This is the hardest question of all because music is my thing! I’d like to see a live band for my last song because live music is the total experience for me. Oooh.. choices now… Is time travel allowed? If so, let me see the Kinks in 1968, David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust or the New York Dolls in 1973. Or, if time travel isn’t allowed, let me play music with one of my own bands just one last time. Music is everything!

Who is the first person you’d like to meet on the other side? It’s corny and not very exciting or clever, but I would love to see my mom again. I’d love to get a big warm hug from her. She was the best hugger ever!


Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot is available wherever books are sold. Mine came by way of Red Wheel/Weiser. That’s a fine place to start. If you’re new to the path, or have been on the journey as long as I have, you’ll find tremendous value in this work. I truly believe it should grace the shelves of any and all tarot enthusiasts.

The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites with Fiona Horne

Posted in Last Writes with..., Magick on January 31, 2018 by Occult Detective

naked witchIn her most recent memoir, The Naked Witch (Rockpool Publishing), Fiona Horne paints a rather dark picture of her formative years, the horrible abuse she suffered as a child and the ensuing chaos of a rock and roll life that led to a descent into dependency in an all-too common narrative.

That she came out of all that with such a positive and empowering outlook is commendable, uplifting, and the strength of her life’s narrative.

Fiona Horne is a survivor and has reinvented herself more than once without relinquishing her core values.

In The Naked Witch, the author bares her soul, producing an unflinching chronicle of her life through hardships, triumphs, heartaches, and a quest to make a place for herself in this world. It’s an amazing journey and her strength of character shines throughout this intimate portrait.

If The Naked Witch stumbles it is in that it fails to be either a Rock & Roll memoir or a portrait of her life as a witch. It tries to do both, but comes up short.

That being said, I found it fascinating, and though I’ve always admired Ms. Horne as an author and musician, I came away with a newfound respect for her.


I had a chance to reach out to her and pitch a Last Writes interview and so, without further ado, let’s see how the celebrated Fiona Horne would spend her last day before shuffling off this mortal coil.


The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.

What would be your last meal?

A bucket of organic arugula with aged organic balsamic vinegar, organic olive oil and Himalayan pink rock salt … and sliced, perfectly ripe, organic avocados tossed through it.

What would be the last book you’d like to read?

My second autobiography documenting the second half of my life … starting with the two catastrophic hurricanes I survived just as my first autobiography was published.  I would finish the final edit of it just as lay my head down to rest for the last time.  Hopefully the last words I write/read would share some useful insight about what it’s like to die gratefully and peacefully.

What is the last movie you’d like to watch?

The entire series of Blue Planet

What is the last song you’d like to hear?

‘Soon’ by My Bloody Valentine – ever since first hearing it back in the early 90’s I’ve considered this my favorite song.  There’s an otherworldly … or maybe more accurately, ‘between the worlds’ quality to it that, to me, sounds transcendent.  When I listen and dance to it, I feel transported.  It would be the perfect song to die to.

Who is the first person you’d like to meet on the other side?

I’d like to meet someone other than a human… maybe an alien, an angel…. or any other fascinating, celestial being.

Thank you, Fiona, for taking time away from your book tour to visit with us.

Her latest book, The Naked Witch, is available for purchase online and in brick & mortar retail outlets worldwide. I recommend you give it a look…

The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites with…Stephen Zimmer

Posted in Last Writes with... with tags , , on August 23, 2017 by Occult Detective

Welcome to a Special Edition of The Occult Detective’s Last Writes.

StephenZImmer_AuthorPhotoToday’s guest-of-honor is none other than Stephen Zimmer, an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), and the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.



Before we get down to the business at hand, I thought I might share with you my thoughts on Stephen’s Rayden Valkyrie series.


Heart of a Lion is a fast-paced sword & sorcery tale starring Rayden Valkyrie, a strong-willed warrior with a sense of justice and fair play. The author really shines when he delves into her character, highlighting her strict code of honor.

Written in a very visual style, but leaving plenty of room to breathe, Heart of a Lion reminded me of a cross between Lin Carter’s prose and Sam Raimi’s sensibilities.

It certainly had a throw-back feel, like the novelization of a Saturday Matinee cliffhanger serial with Ray Harryhausen effects.

The second book in the series, Thunder Horizon, was a stronger outing. Rayden is still ThunderHorizonCover_1200X800the same ass-kicking warrior woman you fell in love with in Heart of a Lion. You can really tell the author is inside her head. He gets her.

The big difference here are the supporting characters. While handled with skill in the debut novel, in Thunder Horizon, this cast really comes alive.

There are some real spine-tingling moments throughout, and the author deftly navigates between these larger-than-life fantasy tropes and rich, textured human elements.

He makes you feel for every character and that’s an incredible accomplishment.

With another book in the Dark Sun Dawn Saga still to come and a tv pilot in post-production, we have thankfully not seen the last of Rayden Valkyrie.

Speaking of “last”… it’s my pleasure now to draw your attention to Stephen’s responses to our morbid curiosities — It’s time for…


The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.


Last meal you’d eat: Would have to be a pizza, true New York-style, with at least a pepperoni topping.  Most likely double pepperoni and banana peppers, mushrooms, and olives.  But New York-style pizza is a life-long favorite of mine.  Thankfully here in Lexington we have a pizza place (Brooklyn Pizza) that does it very, very well.  I’d go with that as my choice!

Last book you’d read: Lord of the Rings trilogy compendium.  These books have had a life-long impact on me from the first time my mother read them to me at age 7.  I always see new things in the story every time I read it, and at this point I’ve read these books many times over.  They would be an appropriate final read before making the big transition.

Last movie you’d watch: I’m going to sound very single-minded, but I have to say the Lord of the Rings trilogy again.  I was so impressed with how well Peter Jackson captured the look and feel of the books.   There are major differences between the books and the movie, but the core spirit remains intact onscreen and that is what is most important to me!

Last song you’d listen to: This is a very difficult choice as I am a huge music fan.  But I’d want to end things on a positive note, so I’d have to go with a Kiss song, as I’ve been a Kiss fan since the days I was exposed to Lord of the Rings novels!  While “Rock and Roll All Nite” is not my favorite Kiss song, it does sum up the magic of Kiss and as a last song would be fitting indeed!  It’s a pure expression of living life with zest and would be a great way to cross over!

First person you’d like to meet on the other side: I cannot choose one of my folks over the other, so this is co-awarded to my father and mother.  No question they are first on my list as far as who I want to see in better realms beyond.  I miss them every single day.



I’d like to thank Stephen for allowing Occult Detective to be one of his whistlestops on his whirlwind Rayden Valkyrie Blog Tour Celebration.


To follow along on the tour, click HERE for everywhere Stephen’s been and where he’s headed next. You can also follow Stephen via his social media presence:

Twitter:  @SGZimmer
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7

If you dig heroic fantasy and strong female protagonists, then I urge you to order Heart Like a Lion and Thunder Horizon. They will more than scratch that itch, believe me.

My occult detective collection, First Born: Tales of the Liber Monstrorum, and both novels in the Cairnwood Manor series — Shadows Over Somerset and Keepers of the Dead — are available via Amazon and other online retail outlets in both ebook and trade paperback.

The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites Season Finale featuring Julian Vayne

Posted in Last Writes with... on April 10, 2017 by Occult Detective


Welcome to the twenty-third installment and season finale of LAST WRITES.

The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.

Julian_VayneOur final guest of the season is Julian Vayne, an occultist and the author of a number of books, essays, journals and articles in both the academic and esoteric press. He is a freelance consultant, often working in museum and heritage settings, and lives in Devon. His name is most closely associated with the approach to occultism known as chaos magick. Julian is also an initiated Wiccan, member of the Kaula Nath lineage and Master Mason.


Well the last meal, like everything else in this list, would be influenced by the nature of my death (assuming I know it’s about to happen – of course I could die at the end of this interview!). Had I suffered from the heat a sorbet of cucumber and crunchy salad would be great. Were I to expire from the cold I guess I’d want a hearty bean and beef stew or similar before my final moment of awareness. In general if I had to select something as an all purpose pre-mortem meal it would probably be a great British curry.


A last read before my last rites? We’ll perhaps something inspirational like the Tao Te Ching or an text or two such as the Heart Sutra or Poetic Edda. Something nice and long would of course allow me to cheat death for a while such as À la recherche du temps perdu. I might choose one of my own books which are, in many places, quite autobiographical which might give me a chance to focus a few last reflections on my life before it’s lights out. I suspect if death turns up at the end of this interview and I have to make a selection toot sweet I’d go for a browse through my favourite (and handily potentially endless) book, the tarot. (Probably the Coleman-Smith aka Rider-Waite or Crowley-Harris ‘Thoth’ decks.)


The last movie I suppose could be the wonderful cinematography of something like Baraka or even 2001 if I was feeling in the mood for a retro death. I might go for something like the gruesome but also deeply spiritual Holy Mountain by Alexandro Jodorowsky or my favourite cult-pagan-cult movie The Wickerman. I might choose a deeply human story such as the wonderful Inuit produced movie Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (which is also handily several hours long) or go for a few laughs on my way out with some classic comedy – Carry on Screaming anyone?


Last song, oh Gods, the humanity! Too many! Assuming we mean a song with lyrics (to exclude favourite tunes without words such as much of the classical or weirdy electronic music I love). I probably have to select a track by my late musical idol David Bowie, something like Heroes or even perhaps Rebel Rebel But maybe I’d go back to another old time musical hero and take my final bow to the strains of When the Music’s Over or The End by The Doors.


The person I’d most like to find waiting for me in the hearafter, another really tough question! We’ll there are loads of folks from history I’d like to hang out with such as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus (who I’d also love to quiz about what went down at the Eleusinian Mysteries), through to folks like psychologist and acid priest Timothy Leary or voudou initiate and cutting edge film-maker Maya Deren. It would be nice to see my Dad who passed away a few years back and of course any close members of my family who had gone into the world of ancestors before me. In this moment (I’m working in a museum with a great collection of pre-ice-age homind remains) I think I’d like to meet a European shaman from before the iron-age.

For more information on Julian, visit The Blog of Baphomet, or follow him on facebook.

Julian’s next book, Getting Higher: The Manual of Psychedelic Ceremony, published by Psychedelic Press, will be available the 26th of April. I’ll have the pleasure of reviewing the book for all of you. Watch the Occult Detective  for details…

As for Last Writes, tune in next week as I recap our debut season and look ahead toward possible seasons to come.

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