Dana Rail is my pen name. I’ve published both fiction and non-fiction under my real name, but opted for a pseudonym when my creative interests underwent a profound sea-change, a few years back, and I undertook my “Great Work,” as the Alchemists would have it: a series of epic speculative / metaphysical / SFF novels set in the near-future of the Pacific Northwest.
Our many Alternate Realities
In a certain sense, just as every novel, even the most “realistic,” represents an “alternate universe,” we all live (inside our heads) in alternate universes. Some of those “mental universes” align more closely with those of our neighbors, and the times we live in, than others.
And some do not. There’s a special cognitive dissonance, it seems to me, that comes with trying to make sense of today’s commodified and transactional (and increasingly chaotic) world from inside a certain type of imagination—the type of imagination that knows, sea-deep, that a Sacred Magic is woven into the web of the cosmos and feeds the roots of the Tree of Life. At the heart of that Magic is…well let’s call it the Holy Grail.
In which case, the (to me) pervasive if unspoken prevailing meta-assumptions about our world, at least in the West—that the universe is a random collection of material Stuff, out of which human consciousness, if it exists in “reality” at all (whatever the hell that is) has arisen from the primordial soup without purpose or meaning—is nearly impossible to square with the universe inside my own head.
All I know is, it is out of this “Other” inner world, this Alternate Reality of Deep Magic, my own stories, and sense of Story, have emerged. And that can be challenging to discuss with those who, consciously or not, are operating out of a wholly different mindset. Be that as it may, over the years, the burden of trying to explain this apparently “mad hobby” of mine, to all but a few, has proved so taxing a chore that I finally decided to shut up about it altogether and “fly under the radar.”
Hence the Pen Name
Dana Rail is the name I call myself when I put on my Wizard’s Hat and my Cloak of Invisibility, and sit down at the butcher block desk in my writer’s studio, a converted shed I call “the Birdhouse.”
There’s something about the purposeful obscurity of the creative process that gives this reclusive writer, at least, the mental space and freedom to concoct stories in one of our many possible futures without that hectoring “real world” voice kvetching in my head—the one that sounds so much like a bemused or scolding relative.
The cool thing is, I know I’m not the sole occupant, at least in broad terms, of that Alternate Reality of Deep Magic. It is, in fact, inhabited by a whole host of fascinating, thoughtful, and creative people, some of whom I hope I may have the privilege of connecting with via my stories, and this blog.
Readers of this blog are invited and encouraged to comment at the bottom of each post. We’d love to hear from you, and we’ll try to comment back!
Until recently, Twitter was my main social outlet. But given the Bird’s new management (and deterioration in vibe), I’ve set up shop over on Mastodon, as have an increasing number of current and former Tweeps. It’s a great place to meet and chat with like-minded folk, especially those interested in SFF, and I’m excited about it’s non-corporate, open-source atmosphere. If you’re on there, give me a toot.
My other social links can be found on my Linktree page.
If you’d like to pop me an email, scroll down to the contact form.
Like my fine-feathered sometime-collaborators, Haydn Crowe and Sydney Wren, I am repped (and unfailingly encouraged) by the amazing Maura Phelan and her brilliant editor, Meredith Hays, of Green Light Literary.
Favorite Writing Quote:
(If you look closely in the Birdhouse photo at the top of the page, you can see this quote printed in italic script on a canvas above the potted snake plant. It was a gift from a family member.)