About Me

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

My books

My first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia (Book 1 of The Talismans) is published by Satalyte - it's available from their website as well as from Amazon.com and other online outlets. Book 2, The Cloak of Challiver, is in preparation. I also have a short story, La Belle Dame, in print - see Mythic Resonance below.

The Dagger of Dresnia

Buy The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia, Book 1 of The Talismans Trilogy, is available in paperback and e-book from the publisher, Satalyte Publications - click on the cover to visit their online shop. You can also purchase it from Amazon.com and other online retailers. The sequel, The Cloak of Challiver, is due for publication late in 2016.

Mythic Resonance

Buy 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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Monday, 3 October 2016

Canberra Con!

I am writing this post in a small dormitory in Canberra, Australia's capital city. Spring can be cold in Canberra, because it's inland and close to the aptly-named Snowy Mountains. I have found a nice cheap place to stay when I'm here - the YHA in Akuna Street, a really good, centrally placed hostelry for people who don't want to cough up several hundred dollars for a night's lodging!

I've had a turnover of room mates these last five nights, and tonight is a bit lonely as I am suddenly the only occupant of this four-bed dorm. I have a son and his family in Canberra, including newcomer Esther, my first great grandchild, but they live a bit too far from the centre of the city for me to stay with them. However, we had a couple of nice get-togethers during my visit. It was actually Esther's arrival that closed the deal, as I'd been um-ing and ah-ing about going to the convention. Overall, however, I'm glad I did.

Sean Williams
Alan Baxter
It was a pleasant, low-key event, with Guests of Honour Alan Baxter (fantasy writer and martial arts expert!) and David Farland (AKA Dave Wolverton when he writes hard SF) from America. South Australian author Sean Williams, one of Australia's best-loved SF writers, was there too, but wearing another persona - that of Master of Ceremonies!

I was lucky enough to be on a panel with Dave Farland toward the end of the four-day program. He's one of those people who can draw on vast experience on many topics, so is an excellent speaker. You can discover more on Dave and his work at http://davidfarland.com/

I sat on five panels, the first of which was called How realistic do you like your fantasy? To me, the essence of the topic is this: Fantasy implies the inclusion of elements that do not, as far as we can assess, exist on this planet. Furthermore, I do not like stories that include pornography or a lot of violence; however, those who have read The Dagger of Dresnia will know that I will include sex scenes if they are necessary to the plot or to bring out certain character traits.
Dave Farland

A second fantasy panel discussed Rhythm and form in fairy tales. Historian Gillian Polack had a lot to contribute on this one and my fellow panelists and I listened in awe to her erudite approach to the topic!

On the second day, another fantasy panel concerned itself with religion and how writers are likely to adapt elements of religions they are familiar with to create new ones for their stories. I think religions in my stories have a basis in High Anglican liturgy with a dash of Wicca for seasoning, and that is probably not unusual, given the typical fantasy author's prolific interests.

On Sunday, Jane Virgo, Val Toh and I discussed Chinese and European  systems of astrology on our one panel for the day. Some of you will know that I made my living as an astrologer for several years, but it was, of course, the European system. I have read a bit on the Chinese system; enough to know that it comes from a base that differs from the one we are used to. However, they can both be valuable tools for personal growth and counselling, and we agreed that, as writers, we would sometimes draw on our knowledge of astrology to help us with character development.
Kelli Takenaka

Finally, we ground to a halt on Monday with 'Writing for pleasure, not publication'. Dave Farland, Kelli Takenaka and I discussed this with the small audience and gradually the topic shifted around to 'Fan fiction', which is surely the best response to the idea that rewards can take many forms. Money is fine, but sometimes just having fun or learning something new about the craft of writing through our own work can be rewarding.

All in all, a nice little con, thanks to the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild. And while I've been writing, a new room mate has arrived!

Back to Perth tomorrow - a six-to-eight hour journey if the connections work as they should!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Another brilliant friend!

Almost every week I am reminded of the depth and spread of talent that exists in our community. I'll review a show, or read a book, or hear a play or a poetry reading that sets my pulse beating and my head whirling. This time it's an amazing book of verse and poetic prose that contains a lovely poem by my writing buddy Joanne Mills. The Light Within: A Collection of Peace and Prose contains many fine pieces, and none finer than Jo's lovely poem 'Heart of Light'.

Joanne Mills is a multiple award winner, with many poems and several novels to her credit. Her Siaris fantasy series (under the pen-name Joanna Fay) is one of the most imaginative I've come across. It must be something in the air here, I reckon. How else can a relatively small city such as Perth produce such a wealth of talent?
Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Book review: Den of Wolves

Den of Wolves (Blackthorn & Grim, #3)Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was chuffed to receive an ARC of this novel, as it was penned by one of my favourite authors. Den of Wolves, the third book in the Blackthorn and Grim series, brings the adventures of this unlikely pair to a close. It does not, however, altogether preclude the publication of further novels featuring Blackthorn, healer and wise woman, and her only friend in the world, the quiet but reliable Grim.

In book one, Dreamer's Pool, we saw the pair escape from jail, where they had been incarcerated by the evil lord, Mathuin, and they have been on the road ever since, on a journey laced by adventures. The three novels demonstrate, as good fantasy should, the growth of the pair both individually and as a couple, on both outer and inner levels.

In keeping with this theme of growth, Juliet Marillier has demonstrated her own increasing development as a storysmith. Den of Wolves is a mature work in more ways than one: it's aimed at real live grown ups; the language and style are adult and the story extraordinarily well-crafted. Best of all, its depth and skillful use of language will engage 'literary' readers as well as SF fans.

To balance the increasing maturity of the lead characters there is Cara, a girl in her mid-teens who also needs to flee from an unbearable situation. Interestingly, Marillier gives Blackthorn and Grim the first person point-of-view, whereas the Cara chapters are in a close third, which gives readers a slightly different slant on the various situations (most of them difficult!) that the trio must endure. Another important character is the quiet, almost surly, wild man, Bardan. He sometimes carries the point-of-view (first person), and is the fourth important character, providing significant contrast to the others.

If you like well-developed characters, increasing tension and lots of adventures and misadventures, you're sure to love this book. I liked it so much I found myself wishing there were more in the series. I hope other readers are equally smitten so that Juliet Marillier might be persuaded to write more about these convincingly real characters.

There is a huge supporting cast (I gave up counting at about 55!) but there is a good character list and pronunciation guide to the sometimes strange-looking ancient Irish names.

Spoiler alert!

Unusually for this author, there is a 'real' love scene at the close of the story, to demonstrate the pair's new maturity and concern for each other. However, the entire novel is tastefully presented and not in the least bit obscene or awkward.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Another lovely interview!

Elizabeth Fitzgerald has interviewed me for the 2016 Snapshot of Speculative Fiction. 

You can find Elizabeth's work at 


The Snapshot seems to have settled into a rhythm of occurring every two years, and is well-worth following as a quick guide to the current state of Speculative Fiction in Australia.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Dancing again!

Last weekend I attended another of Keti Sharif's excellent workshops on middle-eastern dance technique. Keti has to be one of the finest teachers of this genre in the world. Her work is thoughtful and carefully graded, so that each step of the way builds on previous ones. Her A-Z system is one of the best constructed syllabuses I have seen in any form of dance education.

This workshop built on A-Z by using short sections of that system to suggest various choreographic moods, based on the four classical elements of fire, air, earth and water. Using appropriate 'mood music' made it easier to fall into the desired mind-space to express the gentle rhythms of wind and water and the strength of fire and earth. All these things, of course, are related to human moods. How often do we hear 'fire in the belly' or 'raining tears'?

I was delighted and relieved that Keti certified me (yes, OK, people are always telling me I should be 'certified'!) for both systems. I plan to try to interest my theatrical dance ladies in learning a middle-eastern routine this coming term. While dance is an excellent form of exercise at any age, classical ballet, with its complicated and difficult jumps and turns, is not the best choice for older people; at least not in the same format as one might teach children or teenagers. What I do with my class is to give them a simple but strengthening ballet barre and centre, and instead of the 'allegro' section of class which traditionally contains the most demanding material, I shift to energetic but not-too-demanding steps drawn not only from ballet but also from traditional dances of the world. One thing all nations have in common is dance. I have never heard of a society that has no dance culture, and I doubt such a society exists anywhere.

Keti Sherif (right) teaches world-wide, and is currently in (I think!) North America. Find out more on her website.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Books and authors meme

 Yes, it's another meme, courtesy of my friend Carole McDonnell. Copy and paste if you'd like to give it a go, and let us know in the comments below when it's done. Name all the influences you can think of within fifteen minutes. The fun of these memes, to me, lies in comparing my preferences with those of other readers and writers! Anyhow, here goes:

Rupert Bear, a children's comic strip character created by the English artist MARY TOURTEL. I was about three or four years old at the time, and my eldest sister was going out with a young man who, due to his European parentage, was fluent in both French and German. He translated Rupert into both languages for me, so I was able to read the story three times, with the English helping me to translate the other two. What a pity we lose our capacity to absorb languages as we grow up! But I do think it helped - I soaked up French in High School far more easily than most students did, and when I enrolled in German classes as an adult I was astonished to realise that I already knew how to conjugate the verbs, and could read out loud quite fluently, even though I had little idea what I was reading about!

The Famous Five series by ENID BLYTON kept me busy for several years after I started school. At seven I had a reading age of eleven, and at nine, a reading age of fourteen. They kept promoting me to higher grades in primary school because of my reading, completely ignoring the fact that I didn't know my times tables properly. I never did master mathematics. And I was nearly a year younger than my classmates when I started high school, which made it hard for me to make friends.

In about grade five, ARTHUR RANSOME's Swallows and Amazons series became my obsession. They are still a good read, I reckon! MARY STEWART's The Crystal Cave was my next influence, at the age of fourteen. I already knew the Arthurian stories slightly, but this was the book that really hooked me in.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, who should, to my mind, be posthumously knighted if not canonised, has influenced every writer in English since the C17, whether or not they realise it. What that writer didn't know about human nature, even as a young man, is not worth knowing, and his poetic and dramatic expression of probably every facet of the human condition has no peer.

DANIEL DEFOE, author of Treasure Island and Moll Flanders, is another who has influenced nearly every English-speaker who ever put pen to paper. His style is a bit dated, of course, but he certainly knew how to spin a yarn.

CHARLES DICKENS, whether we actually like his work or not, has also been a huge influence on the whole writing scene for the last century and more. Like many of you, I got Oliver Twist and Bleak House thrust upon me in high school or university. Others whose influence is inescapable for the same reason include CHARLOTTE and ANNE BRONTE and JAMES JOYCE, inter alios.

And then I turned eighteen, and I married a man who loved Sci-Fi. He introduced me to the work of DE CAMP and PRATT, and from there I went on to read URSULA LEGUIN, ISAAC ASIMOV, ROGER ZELAZNY, PIERS ANTHONY and the other giants of SF in that era. I kept up in reading in the genre (TIM POWERS was a longtime favourite, as was ANNE MCCAFFREY) for some thirty years before putting pen to paper myself.

And what about current writers? Main influences among my contemporaries have been JACQUELINE CAREY, NEIL GAIMAN, ROBIN HOBB, GUY GAVRIEL KAY, GLENDA LARKE, JULIET MARILLIER - and, of course, GEORGE RR MARTIN.

It took me far less than fifteen minutes to think of my influences, but over an hour to write this post. See how you go, and let me know!
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