About Me

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I am a writer, editor and reviewer 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 Amazon.com and from the publisher, Satalyte Publications - click on the cover to visit their online shop. 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.

Prefer hard copy?

There are still a few paperback copies of Mythic Resonance available, too. Contact me (there's a contact form on my website) if you'd like a copy - $20 including postage within Australia.

Your books and theses!

As both writer and editor, I specialise in historical and high or epic fantasy. If you have a fantasy manuscript in preparation, don't waste money on editing too early. Instead, let me help with a mini-assessment of your work, based on careful reading of your synopsis and first 20 pages. Then, when you've worked on the manuscript in line with our discussions, I will be happy to do a full edit before you send it off into the big wide world. I am also an experienced academic editor, and am available to edit theses, journal submissions and other academic papers. For more about my editing work, CLICK HERE

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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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Saturday, 23 June 2007

Progress on the WIP

Since being at my friend Ashlea's house I've had lots of time to write. I have the computer to myself a lot of the time and Ash has unlimited broadband - whee-ee! Kaya, the house's Elder Daughter, is just back from India and catching up with all her friends, so there are young people in and out at all hours. It's nice. It reminds me of my student days, or the time I was running a dance group in Enzed and always had dancers sleeping over in the studio and sometimes on the floor of my flat as well.

I caught up with most of my Perth friends within a fortnight of touchdown, so the social pressure is off. (Mind you, I hope to see them all at least once more before I head back to South Oz on 11 July!) I'm back into writing mode, therefore, and it feels good.

With the help of my Face-to-Face group, I actually drafted a plot outline for The Trilogy before I went to England early this year. Having struggled with the monster for nearly four years it's about time I got all those characters and their shenanigans into some kind of order. Now I've actually started writing, I find the storyline changing a bit under my fingers, but not so much that I lose sight of the plot. I thought that planning might make the actual writing tedious (what's the point in a story if you already know the ending?) but actually I'm finding it just as exciting as "flimmering" my way through. Now the excitement is in things like little details of setting and nuances of character rather than "what happens next".

The first thirteen chapters are in first draft and already it reads far better than anything else I've written. (That's not just MHO, BTW - my critters all say the same, which is encouraging.) Part of the improvement lies in a better grasp of the way readers like POV presented these days. Having grown up with Enid Blyton, Arthur Ransom and Rudyard Kipling and later graduating to writers of the sixties and seventies, I was used to the omniscient author style, in which it's fine to foreshadow events or to comment on the character's predicament. ("Little did he know that this would be their last meeting...") Intellectually, I could see that these techniques were out of favour, but I still didn't manage to get myself right out of the story and let the characters get on with it. I think I'm managing to do that much better now.

Not that the "tight third" POV is anything new. Jane Austen used it somewhat. In fact, Austen never strays very far from her character's thoughts and feelings, even if she doesn't always express them quite as intimately as a modern genre writer would. My friend and teacher Michèle Drouart assures me that Flaubert was actually the first writer to use this style. Being academically trained (she has a double major in French and English lit!) Michèle calls it "FID", which stands for Free Indirect Discourse. If you live in Perth and aspire to write, BTW, you could do worse than to enrol in Michèle’s writing classes. They are not only instructive, but great fun as well. And if you haven’t already read her autobiographical novel “Into the Wadi”, please get hold of a copy. It’s a great read.

Ok, Ok, I hear you. (Or is that my conscience speaking?) Blogging is displacement activity. I shall get back to the monster now.
Monday, 11 June 2007

England in Retrospect

Dear bloggie, did you think I'd forgotten you? Once again I've had only limited internet access so blogging has taken second place to checking e-mails and looking after mailing lists. However, I've now settled into a very comfortable house-sit in Mount Claremont, Perth, where I expect to stay for another week or two. I've caught up with most of my friends and have had some wonderfully warm welcomes. Good old Carol put on a BBQ for KSP members to get together and once we'd finished scoffing all the delicious tucker Carol and her mum had prepared for us we talked writing until we were hoarse. I've also had one meeting with my lovely Face-to-Face crit group, with super feedback on the opening chapters of my WIP - a whole fresh start on The Trilogy. Note upper case. The Trilogy has taken over so much head space that it really should be called The Encyclopedia Satimica.

Who in their right minds decides to start their writing career with a trilogy? Well, I did write one novel beforehand but that was very much a praccie run and no one likes it except me:-) I've had a few goes at short stories but they don't seem to be my thing. Casts of thousands and complicated plots are what I like best. (Read George RR Martin if you don't know the kind of thing I mean.) However, it was probably a bit greedy to try and write a trilogy in that style right off, and for three or four years I've been bogged down in a superfluity of characters and situations that don't go anywhere. What's more, all my characters seem to have loads of friends and siblings who want to be in the story too, so it's been very much a learning process for all of us:-)

I'm back in the writing fray now, however, and I'm sure my recent travels will continue to simmer in the stockpot of my mind and eventually become entries in the aforementioned Enclyopedia Satimica. All that history: the wonderful old buildings; the graves of ancestors; Canterbury Tales; the house where Jane Austen spent the last weeks of her life; the Sedgley Beacon, the amazing C18 house A la Ronde in Devon; sites of ancient battles; Roman and Saxon artefacts - all that and more, especially the glorious English countryside, will be fuel for the creative flames. (Although in my case perhaps 'the creative flimmer' would be a better description.) But much as I love the land of my birth, I would not want to live there.

Why? Well, basically, the place is overpopulated. The most obvious consequence of this (apart from the overcrowded roads) is the style of housing. So many rows of red brick terraces with no focal point eventually made me want to scream out for some open space with individually designed houses set on their own plots of land, like the ones we have traditionally preferred in Australia. English houses tend to be dark and stuffy inside, too, with poky little rooms. Add the almost sunless climate and you have a recipe for severe depression. Mind you, when they do have a genuinely fine day in England it is idyllic, but you can expect to see, at best, half a dozen such in any given year. And there are some truly beautiful houses, but the cost would be way out reach of the average person. We think housing is expensive in Oz, but it's twice as dear in England, whether you are renting or buying.

Which brings me to my other major gripe: the cost of living in the UK. It is positively scary, especially if you're on a pension. There was so much more I wanted to see and couldn't because even a short bus ride set me back the equivalent of $AUS10! For the price of a round trip coach ride from Exeter to York I could travel halfway from Perth to Bali. Not that I'd want to do that, of course, since I'd be in the briney, but the fact is you can travel three times the distance in Oz for the same price. And the trains are even dearer.

It is very expensive to eat out, too - here in Perth I am used to meeting friends for coffee once or twice a week and it doesn't break even my pension-based budget, but in England, with a badly made capuccino costing the equivalent of $AUS5, that just wouldn't be a goer. And if you like to dine out, forget it. Clare took me to a carvery one day and it cost £11 each - and that was on special. Eleven pounds, dear reader, is about $AUS27, for which we could have as much meat as we liked (fine of you're not a vegetarian!) and a serve of baked spud and overcooked cabbage. No salad. No dessert. No coffee. Eleven quid. I truly don't know how pensioners keep their heads above water in England, let alone have any quality of life.

The banking system is way behind that of Oz, too. ATMs in England generally only cater for credit cards, so you can't take money from your savings account and nor can you make a deposit. And there are charming ideosyncracies in the transport system as well - you can book the same train fare, for instance, in six different parts of the country and pay six different - and widely varying - prices.

The funniest thing though, transport-wise, happened when I tried to find a timetable of buses between Winchester and Salisbury at a bus company's office in Winchester. "You'll have to go to Salisbury for that, love," said the woman at the desk.

"But how can I get to Salisbury to get a timetable if I don't know when the buses go?" I asked.

The woman shook her head impatiently, "Different bus company, love. They don't have an office in Winchester." It obviously hadn't occurred to the bus companies concerned that they could stock each other's timetables. No wonder tourism in England is such a hit and miss affair.

Oh, and if you're into hostelling, be warned - the YHA's prices can actually be anything up to twice the advertised rate.

So I'm glad to be back in Oz, and I'm glad I went to England too, even though my credit card is maxed out, my cheque account's in overdraft and my savings account contains $50. I am deeply grateful to my sister Clare and all the other kind people who not only made the trip possible but opened their homes and hearts to me as well. I wish you all lived in Australia:-)
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