About Me

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Perth, Western Australia, Australia

My books

The first two books of my trilogy, The Talismans, (The Dagger of Dresnia, and book two, The Cloak of Challiver) are available in e-book format from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. Book three of the trilogy, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation.I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below - as well as well as a few poems in various places. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. However, The Dagger of Dresnia and The Cloak of Challiver are available as ebooks on the usual book-selling websites, and book three, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation. The easiest way to contact me is via Facebook.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Cloak of Challiver, Book two of The Talismans

The Cloak of Challiver, Book two of The Talismans
Available as an e-book on Amazon and other online booksellers.

Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've Lived - Sydney

Places I've Lived - Sydney
Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
Blue Lake

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day
From Kings Park

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
From Kings Park

Inner Peace Blog

Inner Peace Blog
Awarded by Joanna Fay. Click on the image to visit her lovely website!

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award
Awarded by Kim Falconer. Click on the pic to check out her Quantum Astrology blog!

Fabulous Blog Award

Fabulous Blog Award
Awarded by Kathryn Warner. Click on the pic to check out her Edward II blog!

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Sunday, 21 July 2019

Writing, Writing, Writing


Writing books - what fun! At least, that's what I thought at the age of five, when I was just starting to realise that books had to be written by somebody. Enid Blyton, Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Ransom were my favourite authors until I was about eleven, and when anyone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say 'I want to be a children's authoress, like Enid Blyton'. I also had a yen to be a ballet dancer, but seeing as my parents wouldn't let me join a class, I read books about ballet instead. The Ballet Annual was my favourite, but anything with pictures of dancers would grab my fancy at the library.

By the time I was eleven, I was getting enough pocket money to pay for one ballet class a week, and when I was fourteen my teacher gave me free lessons in return for helping with the young children's classes on Saturday mornings.  I struggled through my exams,  rarely getting honours, while at school I was winning awards and high grades for writing. I also wrote stories and poems for the Chucklers Weekly - a magazine for kids and teens. They paid me a pound ($2) a time!

Dance-wise, by this time, the 'Balanchine body' was the one ballet companies sought - light build, a long neck, and legs half the total height. Prior to this time, most dance companies and musical shows had room for a few shorter girls to appear in character roles: they even had their own routines in musicals as the 'pony ballet'. Alas, Mr Balanchine's preference prevailed in all dance auditions by the time I reached my late teens, so professional ballet dancing as a career was a door closed to me.

However, I continued to excel academically, to the point I was able to matriculate a year early. I continued to dance, and eventually found work in cabaret (dancing the can-can three or four times a night keeps you fit, believe me!) while dancing occasional seasons with the Australian Dance Theatre a small contemporary dance company. With them, I danced before the Queen and Prince Phillip, dressed as a brolga! (See my post from December 2018 for more on this.)

In my forties I studied at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts to 'update my expertise'. Hah hah! - when one is in one's forties, one's expertise does not enjoy being updated, and it was only with a struggle that I attained an Associate Diploma of Performing Arts. I also undertook Religious Studies (this was mainly in that glorious time when tertiary education was free in Australia!) and eventually I graduated Bachelor of Arts.

The BA with a Religious Studies major and a Dance minor has proved to be quite the least useful degree when seeking employment, but I was fortunate enough, due to a tip from one of the staff at WAAPA, to get a regular gig writing reviews of dance shows for Music Maker, and to my surprise I was head hunted by the Sydney Morning Herald to write for them, too. Since then I have continued to write reviews here and there, except for a three year break when I was traveling overseas in the late nineties.  When I got back from my travels, I went back into this line of work, writing for the Artshub website, balanced by teaching ballet to senior folk like myself until late last year, when I finally hung up my ballet flats, and have only written a few reviews in the interim.

Writing fiction, however, is a whole different kettle of fish. It was during my travels that I first thought of writing fiction since I was a little child. I had a tiring job as housekeeper at a hotel in Devon, UK, and every evening after work I would collapse in front of the TV to watch the soapies. But one night, before I turned on the TV, a sentence popped in to my head: 'To be left a widow at the age of twenty-one may sound like a tragedy, but, to be honest, I felt liberated by Reyel’s death.' I knew at once it was the start of a story. not one that I'd read, but a new one - my very own book! The next day I bought an exercise book, and every night after work  I would write for an hour or two. Of course, the result was not a very good book. First novels seldom are any good, but as the Bard of Avon said 'Tis a poor thing, but mine own'. 

So here I am trying hard to make sense of my third novel to complete The Talismans trilogy. The first two books have not sold particularly well - but for the creator, traveling hopefully is better than to arrive.



Saturday, 15 June 2019

Review: Tosca by Freeze Frame Opera




Review of Freeze Frame Opera's production of La Tosca (Puccini)


‘Freeze Frame Opera’ is a puzzling name for a new opera company, and I have been unable to find a rhyme or reason for the choice of name. Set that aside, though, because this is as professional a troupe as any other ensemble I’ve seen in the genre. Their Facebook page tells us they are ‘committed to creating engaging, intimate opera experiences that appeals to both traditional and modern audiences’ and if the performance I saw is any guide, they have indeed succeeded with  this fine production of Puccini’s Tosca. OK, there is no orchestra. Nor is there a chorus, although in one scene, the singers, still in character, created a chorus by playing a recording.


The singers, James Clayton as Scarpia, Jun Zhang as Cavaradossi, Kristin Bowtell as Angelotti, Pia Harris as Spoletta, Jake Bigwood as Sciarrone, Robert Hofmann as the sacristan and jailer and Harriet (Hattie) Marshall as Tosca all did a sterling job.They were fortunate in having engaged the services of Tomaso Pollio as musical director – he spent the entire performance (three hours!) at the piano -an excellent baby grand, played beautifully.


 Harriet Marshall as La Tosca (Photo courtesy of Freeze Frame Opera)


The season was, I understand, the brainchild of soprano ‘Hattie’ Marshall who, apart from singing the lead role, is credited as ‘producer’. This suggests she was in charge of finding finance as well as singing, and if so, she has done a great job on both fronts. Some thirty benefactors are listed, not counting the input from the state government’s Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. Anything that keep entertainers working between seasons (the singers are all members of the WA Opera) has got to be a boost for the industry. I saw only one performance, but it had a packed house, and if the other performances were as well attended, it’s a sign that opera has a keen audience and therefore a viable future.

The musical high point of any production of Tosca is the diva’s rendition of Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore. Marshall delivered this beloved aria with feeling and, of course, beautiful technique. All the performers are consummate actors as well as excellent singers. Gone are the days, heaven be thanked, when divas were all chubby ladies who could sing but not act!

This season, the company is using the Centenary Pavilion at Perth Showgrounds. It is not, perhaps, the best venue for an intimate opera performance – the acting area was huge, and largely wasted. A possible improvement might be to close off some of the rather factory-like archways. 

Such an intimate performance with limited audience seating didn’t quite work for me at that venue – not only because of the above  minor complaints – but largely because it was a very cold night and the heating was inadequate. Given the unsuitability of the venue, the performers did a sterling job. Quite honestly, I’d rather see a show in a church hall, if a theatre booking would overstretch the budget.

This was my very first ‘Tosca’. I was familiar with most of the music (thanks largely to the ABC, but also to my singing teacher of long ago who coached me in my teenage rendering of Visi d’arte!) It was great to see the story come to life. Many thanks to the cast and crew for all their hard work!

Apologies for the dual pic,if it shows up as such on your screen. I cannot get rid of the extra one! Ah, the wonders of technology. :-(

 




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