interview by Vianne Venter

Issue 20 (Apr 2012)

Where is home?
Currently, Alabama, but escape is imminent!

Do you write full-time?

What inspired this story?
Several elements coalesced into the idea. I’d used the phooka in another story with was left slightly open-ended with the phooka captured and left to starve to death. Then came the US invasion of Iraq, the horrors associated with that war both in Iraq for the Iraqis and invading forces and in the U.S. for the multitude of emotionally, psychologically, and physically wounded soldiers returning.

Amazingly, I had never heard of a phooka before reading this story. Could you tell us something about them, and why you chose this particular creature?
I first heard of phookas when I was a child, watching the Jimmy Stewart movie, Harvey, about a giant playful and invisible phooka. When I read about the phooka of lore, though, I learned it is a darker creature. Though it has a borderline malevolent personality, I wondered what would happen if pushed to the edge.

I read on your site that the phooka featured in ‘Demons’ originally appeared in a story called, ‘Occasional Demon’. Is ‘Demons’ a direct sequel, or simply another story in the same universe?
It’s a direct sequel, set in the same house with the same phooka, but a new tenant.

Do you plan to write more stories featuring this phooka?
Perhaps. I haven’t decided. I prefer to write stories that stand alone. I’ve written only a couple of sequels to previous stories.

Your ‘day job’ sounds extremely interesting, you’re a musician and flute-maker. Could you tell us a little about that?
I’m a self-taught guitarist and have been playing for about 41 years or so. I became interested in Native American flutes in the mid-’80s, but, on a writer’s earnings, couldn’t afford to purchase one. So I researched the instrument and experimented until I learned how to craft it. During that research, I also investigated its history and mythology, which led to The Native American Flute: Myth, History, Craft, a book I wrote a few years ago that’s still available. I do the occasional gig here and there when folks want music that isn’t so commonly available in this area.

Are you working on anything right now?
I’ve just completed a novel that a friend and I began in the mid-’90s, based on his idea and outline. After completing the first draft in the late 1990s, we had to put it aside due to several tragedies in his life. When we finally returned to it, however, he was suffering from terminal cancer and part of the original manuscript had been lost. We were able to complete a new rough draft two days before he died four years ago. Since then, I’ve been revising the book and completed it a couple of months ago. I’ve now begun the submission process. Basically, it’s a science fantasy, set about 80 years into the future, incorporating Native American and world mythologies and quantum physics. The two primary protagonists are Native American.

Where can we read more of your work?
Please start with my website at, which contains a bibliography of work as well as information on past, current, and forthcoming work. And while there, please sign up for the bimonthly newsletter that covers not only my work, but that of others as well. I have a couple of free offerings there as well, including music and books, either as downloads or by request through email.

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Vianne Venter

Vianne Venter is a freelance writer and sub-editor for various South African publications. She served as story editor and sub for Something Wicked since its inception in 2005. She is also an artist and mother. She can communicate with inanimate objects, but only if they’re feeling chatty. In her spare time… oh, who are we kidding? What spare time?

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