Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman who speaks to the dead and dates gods out of slavic myths. She’s here to tell us about her unique gifts, about saving the world, and about tea.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. It’s pretty hard for zines on this side of the Veil to get interviews. You weren’t born in Ljubljana. Where are you from originally and do you go home often?
It was the accent that gave it away wasn’t it? I’ve never been able to banish that little bit of Southern twang. I grew up in Chattanooga in Tennessee in the American South. Chattanooga isn’t a bad place to be from but it wasn’t somewhere I wanted to stay. I took the first opportunity to leave that was presented and eventually I wound up in Slovenia, in Ljubljana. I can’t really imagine being anywhere else now. Chattanooga isn’t really home anymore, so I don’t visit very often if I can help it. Some ghosts are best left to rest.
Any cherished memories from home?
(Laughs softly) Does leaving count? Aside from that, there’s a lot to be said for growing up next to a river. I’ve always felt a connection to water wherever I go. I think that’s what made me stay in Ljubljana, but I didn’t know until much later that you could step into the same river twice. And that they would both share the same snarky river god.
What do you do now?
Well, when I’m not slinging tea and making fancy sandwiches at the punk rock teahouse I own with my two closest friends, I talk to and for the local dead folk. Well, that and try to keep a couple steps ahead of my ex and his grand plans. Never underestimate the trickery of your average ancient dark deity and, trust me, don’t ever date one and definitely don’t have a kid with them.
You said you talk to and for dead people? You did say dead people right?
It isn’t a very common “gift,” being a Voice of the Dead. The people who like to keep track of those of us who live behind the Veil thought my mother and my aunt were the last ones as all the other lines of Voices had died out. Then—surprise—it didn’t skip me after all. There’s nothing quite like finding out you’re a freaking “dead whisperer” way past your brooding Chosen One sell-by date. It isn’t like a parlor trick or anything though, it’s a job. Or more accurately, a duty.
That must be terrifying, to just have corpses show up who want to chat with you?
It’s not like that. They don’t look like corpses, well … not always. Most of the time they just look like regular not-dead people but they don’t always follow the rules of physics and they tend to suck the warmth out of a room like a wide-open window in January. I’m not saying it didn’t freak me out when my dad showed up in my living room, dripping river water all over the floor, or when Helena showed up after she’d been … never mind … I don’t really want to talk about that.
You said being a Voice of the Dead is like a job. Everyone has their favorite thing about their job and the thing they hate. What are yours?
My favorite thing? Whew. I guess knowing there’s something else out there after we die. I mean I always kinda thought it was lights out, it’s over. Turns out there are a lot of things out there I didn’t know about, and that’s the worst thing too. My friend Gregor said that knowing there are gods and demons and ghosts and stuff made it really hard for him to be a good atheist. Knowing all those things isn’t a comfort, not really.
So between running your teahouse and talking to ghosts, have you found any time for romance?
Are you kidding? Who in their right mind would want to have anything to do with a weird magnet? It isn’t just ghosts that come calling and it isn’t like I’m some supernatural ninja warrior. I have a hard enough time keeping myself and my son alive. Nope. Not pulling anyone else into this mess. I mean it’s not like I was actually good at relationships before anyway, so no one’s missing out.
Hm. Sounds like you might be protesting a little too much. Anyway, gods and ghosts and demons, I’m guessing it’s pretty easy to figure out who the bad guys are?
You’d think so wouldn’t you? But no. Well, that’s not entirely true, demons are much worse than anything I ever imagined living under the bed, but gods? I’m still figuring that one out. I mean I guess I always thought the guys with black hats were the bad guys. Now I’m not so sure. I mean my ex is a jerk but is he evil? Depends on when you ask me.
If you could find an off switch for this gift, all this knowledge of our hidden world, would you go back to your old life?
In a heartbeat, but that’s never really an option is it? I’d love to just go back to booking local punk bands for the open mics and steeping Darjeeling, but I can’t. I’ve got a kid who’s 24 going on 400 and a world to save apparently. But when this is over, I’d love nothing better than a long, hot bath with some Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave blasting through the speakers.
Thank you again for talking with us, We always like to end the interview with the same question. Can you tell us a secret about yourself, something our readers might not already know about you?
Spilling the tea is kind of problematic—in both my lines of work—but I guess I can share this: I might look and act like the tough-as-nails, old punk chick but there is a soft center in there somewhere. I just try to keep it bricked up, for my safety and everyone else’s.
Victoria Raschke writes books that start with questions like “what if you didn’t find out you were the chosen one until you were in your forties?” When she isn’t holed up in her favorite coffee house to write, she can be found at the nearest farmers’ market checking out the weird vegetables or at her home where she lives with a changing number of cats and her family who supports both her writing and her culinary experimentation — for the most part. Her first book, Who by Water, was published in 2017.
You can find Jo on the pages of the Voices of the Dead series, starting with Who by Water, and the just-released book four: Strange as Angels.
Join us next week to meet a gladiatora, fighting in the Coliseum. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.
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