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 paperback can also be found in selected bookstores in Australia.

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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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 become 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!
Sunday, 24 April 2016

Another interview

I do enjoy being interviewed! Having been on the the other side of the process many times when I was eking out a living from freelance journalism, I know how hard it is to find enough interesting questions to ask.

At https://stanbrookshire.com/2016/04/22/qa-with-satima-flavell/ you will see that Allison Cosgrove has devised a nice interview technique that goes beyond 'What's it like to be published' and inanities such as 'What's your favourite food?' (The answer to that one is 'Cake', of course. Isn't cake everyone's favourite food?)

You can click through to other author inteviews, too, and you will find a wide variety of Q's and A's with many and varied interviewees.

Don't you just love Allison's logo? Almost makes me wish I was a horror writer!

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Dancing, dancing, dancing!

Isn’t it funny how sometimes we appear to have all the time in the world, and can sneak snacks and naps into our schedules, and other times we seem to be flat out from dawn to dusk for weeks on end. Then, just as we are about to crawl into a hole to die in peace and quiet, things ease off again. This last month has been one of those busy times for me. It culminated in a very enjoyable but terribly busy week that is now drawing to a close.
Keti Sharif

Last weekend was a highlight. Keti Sharif, one of the movers and shakers of the Australian belly dance scene, held a three-day workshop at Margaret River. I joined seven keen dancers, including several other mature ladies, in an intensive timetable that involved up to five or six hours dancing a day. That’s rather a lot of exercise for a dancer in her seventies, but I stayed on my feet and, of course, learnt a lot.

Keti Sharif has devised a training system called A-Z. She has created a graded series of twenty-six short routines, and by the time the student has mastered all of them she will have a pretty good idea of the basics of the dance style. I am nowhere near mastery, but Keti gave me a tick for the first five routines. I sort-of stumbled through the others.

At my age, memory is problem. Because of my earlier dance training, I don’t find it hard to pick up new steps, but remembering to do them in a set order is, shall we say, a bit of a challenge. However, I am not easily discouraged and I plan to go to another workshop with Keti mid-year. You can learn more about Keti and her work at http://www.ketisharif.com/

Of course, I got home to find three-hundred-odd emails waiting for attention. Having an interest in conservation and human rights (among other things!) I get a lot of emails from political and charitable concerns. As a rule I do like to read their news, but even being a bit ruthless, it took me a couple of days to catch up on the backlog because more were coming in all the time. By the end of the third day I felt as though I was drowning in a sea of pixels. Add a few appointments and a couple of very enjoyable social outings and you have an exhausting week to look back on.

Next weekend is Shakespeare's birthday, and today we have a rehearsal for an extract from A Midsummer Night's Dream that committee members of the Shakespeare Club of WA are preparing to present at the club's party. Then, maybe, this busy period will be over. I'll let you know in the next post!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Another Easter, another Swancon!

If you've been reading this blog for more than a year or two, you will already know that I get all excited and flustered at Easter.  It's not due to chocolate overdose, but enthusiasm for Western Australia's annual Science Fiction convention, Swancon.

This year was no exception. I missed last year's event, which means I was doubly excited about this one! I sat on panels, listened to panels, looked at lovely artwork, bought a book or two and sold about the same number, and caught up with fellow writers and fans, spending a lot of time chatting with friends old and new. Writing buddy Keira McKenzie enjoyed deserved praise for her artwork. I bought a lovely card that I know I won't want to send to anyone because I like it too much!

The committee had invited a wide range of guest panellists. Jane Epsenson, an American television writer and producer, was the 'overseas' guest-of-honour. She has had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and she shared a Hugo Award for her writing on the episode 'Conversations with Dead People'. In 2010 she wrote an episode of HBO's Game of Thrones, and joined the writing staff for the fourth season of the British television program Torchwood. I only heard a couple of her panels, but they were enough to get me interested in Espenson's work, even though I am a reader rather than a watcher. (Although I must confess to a Game of Thrones addiction - I have the books, books about the books, and DVDs as well...)

I fell into conversation with the national guest-of-honour, Lian Hearn (a.k.a. Gillian Rubenstein). I had read and enjoyed her earlier trilogy, Tales of the Otori, so I was delighted to find that there are now two more books: a prequel and sequel to the trilogy. Lian (pronounced like 'Ian' with an 'l' in front) loves all things Japanese. She has lived there and speaks the language fluently, so she has been able to draw convincingly on Japanese history and culture. I've started reading my lovely signed copy of  Emperor of the Eight Islands and if it continues as it starts I can promise that it's an exciting read with an excellent setting; interesting characters, and lots of action. You can find Gillian/Lian's website at http://www.gillianrubinstein.com/

I sat on seven panels and enjoyed them all:
    Do I need a Website? with Amanda Bridgeman, Alecia Hancock, Jon Hayward and Rebecca Laffar-Smith. (We found in the affirmative. Who can do without at least a blog these days?)
    Not Writing Yourself, with Claire Boston, Lian Hearn, Louise Helfgott and Pete Kempshall, turned into a fascinating discussion of how authors draw on their own characteristics and experience, often quite unconsciously.
    Let me read to you three minutes of something I wrote, with Evan Beasley, Louisa Loder and Dave Luckett was just what it said. We each read from our own work to a small but appreciative audience.
    Elegant Prose In Novels, with Claire Boston and Louise Helfgott.

   Defying Doomsday, a preview reading and discussion of the forthcoming anthology, with Sue Ackermann, Stephanie Gunn and Anna Hepworth, under the guidance of publisher Alisa Krasnostein.
    How Writing Changes for Adult, YA and Children's Writing, with PRK, Lian Hearn, Rebecca Laffar-Smith and Susanna Rogers.
    Editors: a New Hope with Sally Beasley and Michael O'Brien. A couple of other editors joined us, so we had a lively debate about the good, the bad and the ugly bits of editing.

Two disappointments marred the event for me. Firstly,  my second novel, The Cloak of Challiver, was to have been launched at Swancon, but, sadly, stock did not arrive in time. The current plan is a launch at  Conflux, the Melbourne SF convention, in September. Things may move earlier - I'll keep you posted! More positively, there was plenty of socialising, and I do hope that I'll see some of my new friends at future cons - or at least on our blogs and social media!

The second disappointment was that a lot of friends I'd normally see at Swancon had gone to a competing event in Brisbane, the national SF convention (Natcon for short). How the organisers could have made such a blunder is beyond me. I hope it future they will do as such eventualities have been dealt with in the past - give Easter to the Natcon and hold Swancon at another time.

Gripes aside, I'd like to thank the organising committee for another enjoyable convention in Perth! May there be many more.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Avian visitors

My friend Helen Venn recently created a blog post about watching birds play under the garden sprinkler. That’s one of the things I miss about living in an apartment – on the balcony of a fourth-floor flat there is no garden (unless you count a couple of dozen pot plants, mainly geraniums) and no sprinkler. I got very enthusiastic in my comments on Helen’s post, so I thought I’d better expand on the topic on my own blog rather than hogging Helen’s.

When I lived in a house (as opposed to a bed-sit flat) I used to love to watch birds playing in the sprinkler's fountain. Parrots seemed to be the main visitors, and they did a lot of excited squawking as they had their shower!

Where I live now I can watch flocks of birds at this time of year – often pink-breasted galahs, but sometimes the rare black cockatoo species – chattering excitedly as they feed in the trees across the road. The rest of the year is almost birdless, so it must be some kind of favourite seed they come to find when it’s in season. It seems to be part of a daily journey – they fly in from one direction and leave in another. I never see them going home at night: they must have a different route for that.

Wikipedia: Calyptorhynchus banksii

I can see why some people get really hooked on bird-watching! (Glenda Larke,  for instance, is a master of twitching and has watched our feathered friends in many parts of the world.) However, poor eyesight prevents me from spending more time on the balcony, looking out for avian visitors. I can see the black cockatoos, but not distinguish the colour under their tail feathers. There are several subspecies, but the ones in question include a species with red highlights and another with white. Both are rare and becoming rarer, but the white-tailed one, known as Carnaby’s cockatoo, is closer to extinction than its red-tailed cousin.

Perth Now: Barnaby's cockatoo

The above picture comes from the Perth Now website. The accompanying article points out that government inaction on the destruction of habitat is largely to blame for the 'cocky's' rapidly decreasing numbers. 

It’s probably just as well I have poor eyesight, because I should be working on book three of the trilogy rather than watching birdlife! Book two, The Cloak of Challiver, is scheduled for release within the next few weeks! Watch out for the Big Announcement!

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