An interview with Corvis Nocturnum, Author of Embracing Darkness: Understanding Dark Subcultures
Corvis Nocturnum is a writer made famous by books like Embracing Darkness: Understanding Dark Subcultures and Allure of the Vampire: Our Attraction to the Undead. His association with names like Don Henrie and Michelle Belanger quickly gained him a note within the vampire community, but, despite exposure and success, there is little known about Corvis Nocturnum.
Who is he? Who is the man behind the name? Where did he come from? For that matter, how did fate toss him in with Witches and Vampires?
The Graveyard Press goes to investigate.
Interviewer: Can you tell everyone a little bit about yourself?
Corvis Nocturnum: I am an author of many occult and subculture/pop cultural books for Schiffer Publishing and my own company, Dark Moon Press, started back in 2005. I paint Gothic erotica and fantasy art in my spare time. My background in the fields of Criminal Justice and Business Management has helped in business of course, but I am using the legal aspects to see how I might assist various communities such as alternative religions rights advocacy.
Interviewer: You’re a civil rights advocate for different communities, as you’ve stated. What inspired you to advocate for community rights? Would you consider it a passion of yours?
Corvis Nocturnum: I would guess it comes from being a bully victim as a child. It is a byproduct of having a mind of a rebel and author I guess, in a lot of ways I am inspired by Humanist Voltaire for his scathing pamphlets during the Age of Reason, and Anton LaVey’s book The Devil’s Notebook.
Interviewer: Would you say it inspires your writing?
Corvis Nocturnum: Several things inspire me. I have a curious mind and when I set out with an essay or book it is because it holds some personal connection to me and I want to understand it deeper as well as educate others.
Interviewer: You admitted to having been bullied. Were you considered different, or out of place?
Corvis Nocturnum: I was the quiet geek who sat in the corner reading a book or drawing, did not like gym and so I didn’t make many friends! Being shy pale and thin was not an asset as a child.
Interviewer: Overall, what was your childhood like?
Corvis Nocturnum: Many foster homes, traveling the country with an alcoholic father and being beat up as a kid in school. It maybe the root of me not liking the world as a whole and wanting to learn more about criminal justice field as a side career!
Interviewer: Did strange things happen to you? Did you see strange things? Is that how you developed an interest in vampirism and other subcultures?
Corvis Nocturnum: Not really, but I grew up curious and wanting to know anything about everything spooky. I read voraciously, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Shelly’s Frankenstein, Poe and J.R.R. Tolkien between ages of eight and twelve, along with assorted miscellaneous classics.
Interviewer: Where are you from?
Corvis Nocturnum: My city of birth and place of business is Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Interviewer: When you were a child, did you ever think you’d be involved with Satanism, vampirism and so forth? What did you imagine yourself doing?
Corvis Nocturnum: Sort of! I wanted to be Batman, you know, have a cool dark place to contemplate ways to punish the villains and have a beautiful house full of fancy carved wood staircases. I, in truth wanted to be an artist for comic companies which is part of how I got into doing fantasy art.
Interviewer: Do you have siblings? Is anyone in your family like you?
Corvis Nocturnum: I have two brothers who ended up working for large mainstream corporations. My grandparents were into law and especially my grandmother loved odd things – my grandfather was a Mason so I came by it honestly. My father and a few others in the family were artists and musicians.
Interviewer: Do they know what you do?
Corvis Nocturnum: My uncle and my brother do. The rest of the family is either deceased or moved so far out of contact with us they don’t count. The family that does know is pretty accepting of it and me as a person, not family angst rebellion here. They made more of a fuss when I said I wanted to move to New York to pursue working for Marvel Comics at twenty than at what I do now for a living!
Interviewer: How does your involvement with Real Vampires and similar subcultures affect your life?
Corvis Nocturnum: It effects me in the sense that I enjoy the company of those unique individuals who identify themselves as such. It enriches my life to a deeper and broader understanding that we are all different even if we choose to be classed in a similar manner.
Interviewer: Has your association with subcultures and beliefs changed your world views and attitude towards people?
Corvis Nocturnum: I feel I already was open when I became involved, so growing and learning as I went over the years as a part of the cultures it truly makes it difficult to be outside of the whole. It would be like saying being right handed effects my life positively or negatively, it is not a correlated event outside of life, it is a part of it.
Interviewer: Do you think a person can associate with these subcultures and beliefs, then leave unaffected? Why or Why not?
Corvis Nocturnum: You either are or are not a part of it no matter how you change or adjust. I don’t think it ever truly leaves you even if you wander off into a different path in life. A love of these things is an aspect, an extension of the inner deeper you.
Interviewer: What good things has it brought to you?
Corvis Nocturnum: It has brought me friends, wonderful memories and enlightenment of others.
Interviewer: What bad things has it brought?
Corvis Nocturnum: Narrow minded people who do not want to understand their children despite my best efforts. Fanatic ‘fans’ who insist I am withholding the secrets of being a fictional vampire and get hostile in chatting on Facebook…letters from people who have mental issues. It is an interesting life being a writer of the type books I do. Fame does have its drawbacks.
Interviewer: What do you hope for the communities and religions, as whole?
Corvis Nocturnum: For people to realize their path is for them alone and we cannot force our way onto others. That line of thinking has lead to the majority of all deaths over the centuries for no positive outcome for anyone.
Interviewer: Would you wish your path on another person? Why or Why not?
Corvis Nocturnum: Each person must find their own path. Mine is for the objectivist who grounds themselves into realism. Other people need outside beliefs beyond themselves, so all of us in truth need to seek what works for us as unique human beings. You cannot ‘make’ yourself a Satanist for example, you either are or you are not….besides, it would be a boring place if we were all alike, wouldn’t it?
Interviewer: You seem to have a broad interest (From La Vey to Voltaire). What are your interest, outside of alternative beliefs/practices and subcultures?
Corvis Nocturnum: I love movies, everything from Underworld to Hannibal Rising and Bad Boys. I have a vast library; I read everything from Ayn Rand and Nietzsche to Laurel K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake saga. I paint of course and love shooting. I was in the Army and gained a Sharpshooters medal for my trouble and to this day keep my skills up.
Interviewer: You’re a writer, but you rarely speak of other artistic talents. Obviously, from advertising, you’re a painter. Can you tell us about it? How did you get involved with it? What sparked your interest?
Corvis Nocturnum: I have always loved art and many people in my family were professional artists. I learned from books about sketching and watch Bob Ross then started doing oils after seeing the fantasy art of Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Larry Elmore of many Dragonlance saga (whom I meet at a few conventions later) and later when I came across Luis Royo (of Heavy Metal Magazine) and Joseph Vargo I was enthralled. I would say Royo and Joseph Vargo mixed is my personal style of art, heavy Gothic merged with erotica. For my birthday one year I traveled to Cleveland and Joseph was kind enough to share with me how he painted the stonework on his gargoyles! You can see that in a few of my newer works and art pieces I will be doing later this year. Joseph astounded me by writing the introduction to my art book that I hope to put out this fall.
Interviewer:Why did you get into writing? How did it happen?
Corvis Nocturnum: That is an interested aspect of my life I never saw coming actually. I was helping run an occult shop that sold Gothic art and goods and came up with the thought of explaining all the wonderful and diverse people to the general public, as there are and were so many stereotypes and misconceptions out there after things like Columbine shooting and that witches are evil, Satanists are all Devil worshipers. I knew it was false so I did my research, found history in books and interviewed people on their own perspectives. That led me to meet some incredible people out there. Michelle Belanger had just come out with her first book and was traveling with the band URN doing vocals. I spoke to her online and we set up a meeting. She was not only delighted to be interviewed but loved the concept of the book so much wrote the introduction. I simply began doing more books as offshoots of that first idea. With Michelle and others joining, that one book later became a publishing house of many more titles!
Interviewer: Since Dark Moon Press publishes esoteric material, I assume you have an interest in and experience with it. Where did that start? How did that start?
Corvis Nocturnum: I have been fascinated by the non-mainstream paths people take in life for some time. My grandfather and his father before him were Masons of a pretty high degree and my grandmother traveled with gypsies in Vaudeville days so she told me stories as a child. I was opened minded and went from dark paganism to Satanism when a friend in our group introduced me to Anton LaVey’s works back in the year 2003.
Interviewer: Why did you choose to work with Schiffer Publishing? Why not Llywellyn Press, like Michelle Belanger?
Corvis Nocturnum: I actually did pitch Promethean Flame to them, and it was of interest to the acquisitions staff. However it was a bit advanced and academic and not a ‘how to’ work so they passed on it. I discovered Schiffer when Reverend Tim Shaw of The Black Cat Lounge Radio spoke to me about a lot of paranormal writers and scholars doing books with Schiffer. My editor is very deeply interested in all things supernatural like ghosts and UFOs so she welcomed Cemetery Gates and I Lucifer. Their books are beautiful, the paper quality makes the color photos leap out at you and the layout is excellent. I am very happy with the company in bringing my vision to life. Schiffer actually asks for my input on cover design and Lucifer was almost totally my concept so I have no issues working with them.
Interviewer: Why did you choose “Corvis Nocturnum” for a name? What does it mean? Does it have special significance for you?
Corvis Nocturnum: My pen name came about for several reasons. I wanted a screen name back while I was researching my first book, Embracing the Darkness: Understanding Dark Subcultures, for AOL chat rooms. It was important to me to be able to relate to my audience that I was indeed a part of the culture (and still am) and as I continued to write essays and more books, the name stayed. As well I was part of an eclectic group of pagans, LHP and spiritualists, and the name fit my personality. Corvis, derived off of corvus (crow/raven species) is because the birds mannerisms and general characteristics were the same as mine, and being part Cherokee my mother and my significant other at the time both selected Koga as a name for me – which in English means Crow. I opted for Nocturnum as the Latin was Gothic sounding and I am a huge fan of the works by friend Joseph Vargo’s art. His work inspired that part.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about your beliefs? Are you a practicing Pagan and/or Witch?
Corvis Nocturnum: At this point, I am a Warlock in the Church of Satan, and have been a proud card carrying member of Magus Anton LaVey’s order. They represent everything I hold dear in regards to how to push ones self further every day. I rarely do rituals, and so when I do they are more powerful to me because of it.
Interviewer: How does Satanism affect your life?
Corvis Nocturnum: In Satanism it is more about how I affect it. I don’t judge the things I do or think as if they are Satanic in nature. It either is or is not an aspect of who you are deep down, I am therefore affecting Satanism by being true to my own wants, needs and desires.
Interviewer: How did you discover the OVC (Online Vampire Community)?
Corvis Nocturnum: I’ve always been fascinated by vampires in any form. I found out about them after watching Mad, Mad House on Sci-Fi channel when I started writing Embracing the Darkness: Understanding Dark Subcultures. I Googled the show and came across Michelle Belanger and then through her Don Henrie. We all became friends and it opened me up to such a fascinating world of creative and brilliant people!
Interviewer: Do you consider yourself a vampire?
Corvis Nocturnum: I relate to the archetype, and if I had to class myself as lifestyle for the Gothic trappings (black marble tiled flooring, candle sconces all over my bedroom) but as an exact ‘living vampire’, no.
Interviewer: What’s your take on vampires?
Corvis Nocturnum: Well, I went into some depth on that in Allure of the Vampire: Our Sexual Attraction to the Undead, but, to be brief, I will say that it depends on if you are speaking metaphorically of the community and the fictional vampire, or strictly literary one.
As for the community members, they are like anyone else. They are part of a family of their blood, and also of extended family – one that truly does accept them for who and what they think and feel they are, despite most of the world thinking they are mentally disturbed. If you look at it in a metaphysical context, things like vampirism has been around in one form or another for generations, and the various occult practices surrounding it has since been the Knights Templar and other secret societies that lead to the creation of The Golden Dawn.
Interviewer: As vampires mainstream, what do you see coming for them? Especially with Merticus’s research floating around?
Corvis Nocturnum: I’m not sure exactly. I know the extensive research may indeed prove invaluable as no one before him has attempted to seriously collect such information about people in the community before this. I think it may be the subject of further sincere testing by professionals who seek to explore the possibilities. After all, even the military experimented with astral projection and other mental clairvoyance in the past. Who knows what might be the next stage of things to come?
Interviewer: Do you think physical evidence will be discovered to support vampirism?
Corvis Nocturnum: It has been looked into by many scientists who found out about it, such as Michelle Belanger and Don Henrie partaking in examinations by doctors televised. It is such a hard thing to pin down on what ‘it’ is in general so therein lies much of the difficulty in the first place.
Interviewer: What do you think mainstreaming is doing to subcultures like Vampires, Otherkin and Therians?
Corvis Nocturnum: It is both helpful and harmful – the typical double edged sword. As fictional vampires coming at us from Hollywood, the subculture gets more media coverage so some individuals get harassment. While it also causes a growing awareness to those seeking advice from older, wiser members from the community which they would not have located as easy before.
Interviewer: Do you agree with mainstreaming?
Corvis Nocturnum: I of course enjoy keeping up with the fiction and film of vampires, provided it is well done, but I feel when things such as “Goth” become too trendy everyone jumps on the bandwagon and saturates it to the point it pollutes the true core of sincere community. That makes it to the point where people who have made it a part of who they are want to hide until it quietly slips away from the masses attention. Most of us simply are what we are and do not want the majority to be connected with them.
Interviewer: What advice do you give to newly mainstreaming vampires?
Corvis Nocturnum: Don’t be a part of something if it is not who and what you are. The elders are running out of patience and so it makes it harder for the truly sincere people from getting what they seek.
Interviewer: What are your professional goals?
Corvis Nocturnum: I want to make Dark Moon Press the polar opposite of Llewylln, sort of dark occult meets Feral House Book Company. Edgy yet educational books, classics reprinted, and for fans of horror. Personally, I am shopping around a future book concept to several television production companies, such as Sci-Fi but I may go with Discovery Channel instead. Unfortunately, due to my contract with Schiffer, I can’t publicly reveal the nature of the show for another year or so. Keep an eye on my Face book in the next year for clues though!
Interiewer: As an established writer and artist, do you have any words for aspiring writers and artist?
Corvis Nocturnum: Do what you love, not for the money. That comes later if the passion to create is there. True talent and hard work will get you exposure, especially if you network. Most of all, believe in yourself, master public speaking and listen to advice of those who you look up to.
Interiewer: What are your favorite tools or brands to paint with? What types of painting do you enjoy most?
Corvis Nocturnum: I use Windsor Newton mostly, and soft acrylic brushes. Stiff yet highly flexible hairs make the painting less chunky and blend for softer tones. I like using very fine brushes for detailing and fan brushes do clouds, hair and smoke very well.
I usually do oils only, but sometimes for faster working of heavy shadows will do washes of black acrylic paint as it dries fast then do layers of oil over it. Thinning the oils down with thinner or linseed oil is a handy trick to get exact levels of color and tone.
Interviewer: How do you see yourself?
Corvis Nocturnum: I see myself as a writer, artist and someone who loves the darker side of life. Primarily a scholar of a great deal of subjects, because everything I write is a curiosity that I wanted to explore.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Corvis Nocturnum for his interview. We hope to see more books by this author.