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We are more than half way through November and I have not written a blog post. Life goes on as usual: Mondays and Tuesdays I teach dance. W...

About Me

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia. You might enjoy my books - The Dagger of Dresnia, the first book of the Talismans Trilogy, is available at all good online book shops. Book two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. Book three, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation. I trained in piano and singing at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. I also trained in dance (Scully-Borovansky, WAAPA) and drama (NIDA). Since 1987 I have been writing reviews of performances in all genres for a variety of publications, including Music Maker, ArtsWest, Dance Australia, The Australian and others. Now semi-retired, I still write occasionally for the ArtsHub website, and I still teach dance at Trinity School for Seniors, an outreach program of the Uniting Church in Perth.

My books

The first novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as an e-book from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $AU25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. Book two of the trilogy, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. 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. Book one, The Dagger of Dresnia, is up on the usual bookselling web sites as an e-book, and I have a few hard copies to sell to those who prefer Real Paper. Book Two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available soon. The easiest way to contact me is via Facebook.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

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

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Friday, 20 February 2009

Excuses, excuses

Another one of those posts in which I apologise for not posting! I had forgotten that it's almost time for a new issue of The Specusphere - my, how two months can fly by when you're having fun!

Not that there's been a lot of fun in this part of the world. Like everyone else, we in the Land of Oz are suffering a financial crisis - and worse, we are plagued by Fire and Flood. It takes only Famine to rear its ugly head I shall be listening for four sets of horsebeats, drumming ever closer.

But, heaven be thanked, my neck of the woods has been spared this time. Fire is an ever-present threat in this country, and I still remember with dread the terrible fires of Ash Wednesday 1983. At that time, my family lived in on a smallholding close to the township of Glencoe, not far from Mount Gambier, where I now live. Heat wave conditions had prevailed for days on end, and as so often happens, fires came to southern Australia. Over a million acres burnt out that season.

We knew fires were in the area on 16 February, when fierce winds drove heat and smoke to blanket the Glencoe area, and I, worried about my young orchard and beehives, was out in the garden hosing everything in sight when my husband came out to tell me that there had been a call on the radio for us to evacuate to the Glencoe Football Club's playing field, or "oval" as it is called here in Australia.

We debated on whether or not we would obey the call or take our chances at fighting the fire, should it come. I had a gut feeling that it would not, but decided to go inside and start packing the car, just in case. After all, the fire was still five miles away. Surely there was no rush? But as we headed back to the house, the wind eased somewhat. There was still a pall of smoke and a blanket of heat, but the noise of a fire wind, even at five miles distance, has to be heard to be believed, and it no longer assaulted our ears.

The slight easement was only temporary. The wind was simply changing direction. Within minutes, it was as savage as ever, having changed from northerly to south-easterly. The air cleared considerably, and we knew we were safe. But the change came so rapidly that there was no time to evacuate townships in the new path of the blaze. The tiny timbermill hamlets of Kalangadoo, Tarpeena and Nangwarry were almost completely obliterated, and fourteen people in the area lost their lives that day. All we lost were - yes, our infant orchard and the bees, killed by wind and radiant heat at five miles distance, despite my hosing.

This year's fires have been worse. Far, far worse. Ash Wednesday 1983 killed less than a hundred people altogether: this year we've lost over two hundred. And the fire season isn't over yet.

The reason fires are so bad here is that southern Oz gets virtually no rain in summer so everythng is tinder-dry and in addition, our native trees are full of oil, such as the eucalyptus and tea tree oils that you can buy for the relief of colds and other complaints.

Nature knows what she is doing. Seeds of native trees need fire in order to germinate, and fires caused by lightning are part of the process. We are the ones who are in the wrong place!

Back to work on The Specusphere now. I have lots of reviews to edit and couple still to write, and then there's the uploading, which is usually a sit-up-late-at-night job. The new issue goes live on 1 March, but I hope to be back before then, with something more cheerful to talk about than bushfires.
Monday, 9 February 2009

Lady of contrasts: an interview with Carol Ryles

Another interview today: this time with Carol Ryles; writer, nurse, mother, scholar, trekker, crit buddy extraordinaire and one of the most modest people I know. Carol, like my last guest, Sarah Parker, is a member of the Katharine Susannah Prichard Speculative Fiction Group. She is studying for a PhD in creative writing at the University of Western Australia, and we can expect to see a novel or three at the end of all her hard work. Meantime, you will find her short stories in a variety of publications both in Oz and elsewhere.

Q1. Carol, you're a person who has successfully undertaken many different projects, both personally and professionally, during your adult life. You have been writing for some ten or fifteen years now. At what point did you decide to start taking your writing seriously rather than regarding it as "just a hobby"?

A1. I began to take writing seriously when I decided to switch from journal writing to fiction writing in 1997. However, back then, my children were aged three, five and eight, I'd just moved from Brisbane to Perth, and my writing time was very limited. Then in 2000, when my youngest started school, I decided I wanted to study, so the next 8 years were spent studying part time for an English BA with honours. At the time, it was frustrating because at most I could only manage to finish four stories a year even though I messed around writing a lot more. But now I've finished my BA, I can say it was all worth it. I think much more deeply about what I'm writing these days and, now I have a scholarship to keep me going through my PhD in creative writing, I have no excuse not to devote a full five days a week to writing.

Q2. You're obviously an adventurous person, being keen on sports such as cave diving and trekking. Do you find this kind of edgy contact with nature inspires or informs your writing in any way?

A2. During my recent trip on the Routeburn Track in NZ, I took a writing journal with me. In the end, I wrote very little, because all I wanted to do was walk, enjoy and gaze (or perhaps meditate) for hours at the scenery. I'd love to set a story in wilderness like I saw on the Routeburn. Even though Peter Jackson has already done that, I did manage to see at least one place that didn't remind me of LOTR :) When I look back on my scuba diving journals (1980s), I find lots of descriptions of what I saw, but what really makes me relive it all are the pages and pages dedicated to the times I found myself in potential trouble, such as being surrounded by reef sharks, or nearly running out of air on the seabed in a strong current, or nearly getting dynamited in the South China Sea. It's then that I'm reminded how it feels to be running on adrenaline when only moments before I'd been at peace with the world, and how, in wild places, there's a very fine line separating safety from danger. That boundary is a place I've been exploring a lot in my fiction of late. So I guess, it's not so much the places themselves that have inspired the stuff I'm writing now, but the ways in which those places made me feel.

Q3. It's possible to track your writing career since 1998, when you were highly commended in the first Katharine Susannah Prichard Speculative Fiction competition. Since then, you've gone from strength to strength, more shortlistings and highly commendeds and then winning the KSP competition in 2004. You were given an honourable mention in the Aurealis Award and shortlisted for the Australian Shadow Awards in 2006, and in 2007 you completed an honours degree in English. Then in 2008 you not only started working towards a PhD but you were also accepted for the Clarion West "bootcamp" in Seattle, USA. Of all these endeavours, which has held the most meaning and sense of achievement for you?

A3. All of them surprised the hell out of me, especially the KSP award in 1998 because that was my first serious attempt at writing SF. I can't say which endeavour has held the most meaning, because they all mean different things. But right now Clarion West holds a special place because it was something I'd wanted to do since I first heard about it 10 years ago. It was also the first time I'd left my family to fend for themselves, though they're mostly grown up now, but it was great to see they coped. Also, I was terrified I wouldn't be able to deliver a story every week only to have each one pulled to pieces. In the end I amazed myself by doing just that. The one thing I loved about writing under Clarion conditions is that, not only do your writing strengths shine, but so do your weaknesses. As a result, you spend an entire six weeks figuring out the hows, whys and wherefores. Now I'm home again, I look back on the whole experience as a huge privilege that taught me more than I could have ever learned tapping away at a keyboard on my own. It gave me confidence to keep going and try new things. Plus Seattle is a lovely city, with a generous and vibrant SF community. I came home full of new ideas, new ambitions, my batteries recharged and ready to start my PhD.

Q4. You've had many short stories published both here and overseas. Are you particularly proud of, or do you feel especially attached to, any one of them?

A4. For the amount of time that's elapsed since I started writing fiction, I haven't really published a huge number of stories: a couple in Eidolon, a couple with CSFG, one with Ticonderoga Online, another with Fables & Reflections and three or four in ezines such as AntiSF. I've written a whole stack more, but I haven't bothered sending them out anywhere because I don't like them enough for that. That's probably a defeatist attitude, but I could always see my early stories were flawed and couldn't figure out how to fix them. Again, Clarion has done a lot to help me in that area. Of all my stories, I think my favourite is "The Bridal Bier" (Eidolon 1 Anthology), which I wrote during a uni study break when I hadn't written any fiction for months and it felt wonderful letting the muse take over. It was actually a fictional rewriting of an essay I was working on and I loved the way my unconscious self reinterpreted what my conscious self was trying to make sense of. I'm also proud of my Clarion stories, which I plan to bring up to scratch before sending out this year. I wrote them during the equivalent of a major panic and, though they've yet to prove themselves, they've taught me a lot about myself as well as about my writing.

Q5. What are your goals for the next decade, and what most motivates you to achieve them?

A5. My writing goals for the next decade are to write every day, finish my novel, turn it into a trilogy, keep writing and submitting short stories and not give up. My trekking goals include a lot of kilometres in wild places with mountains, forests, mud and rain. And definitely no sharks.

No sharks, and no dynamite either, Carol. We want to read that trilogy:-)

You can find a link To Carol's LJ in my blogroll.

Ignore this one

I'm just testing my RSS feed to Facebook:-)
Saturday, 7 February 2009

Free e-book from Finlay

Charles who-no-longer-uses-his-middle-name Finlay and is now known as ccfinlay, has a new fantasy series coming out this year. In association with his publisher, Del Rey, he is offering the first book free! I've downloaded it and the first two chapters are great: so great that I will buy the book, The Patriot Witch, in hard copy if I can find it (Del Rey books are not all that easy to find here in Oz). But you don't have to buy the book – you can read the whole thing on screen. Follow the link above to learn more about CC Finlay and get your own .pdf copy.

"Charlie", BTW, is an indefatigable rock and mainstay of the Online Writers Workshop, where I've served a couple of tours of duty and learnt a great deal from peer reviews. OWW has been a proving ground for some fantastic writers, including our own Karen Miller, and is well worth checking out if you aspire to write speculative fiction.

It's always lovely to read about writers who actually make it into print. But today the magnificent Glenda Larke gives a reality check in the form of statistics from Locus magazine. Four hundred and thirty-six fantasy novels were published in 2008. When you look at sites such as OWW (link above) or Authonomy, which have thousands of members, all of whom aspire to be published, you realise that you must either write for the love of it or not at all.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Universal Woman

Many women today are Superwomen. They do so many things I become giddy just watching them and have to go and lie down in case it's catching. One such is Sarah Parker: writer, fan, mother and feminist (among other things) active on the Perth Speculative Fiction scene. She and her husband John organise the annual October convention and Sarah joins with a crew of likeminded women to present Femcon each winter. In fact, wherever there's a SpecFic event in Perth, you're likely to find Sarah busy behind the scenes somewhere!

Sarah has recently admitted to a secret predeliction for writing, and a jolly fine writer she's turned out to be, too. So my first question was: Sarah, you've been involved in fandom for a long time now, and only recently did you come out of the closet as a writer. Which came first and how long have you been a writer/a fan?

A1. I used to write novels in high school. My first novel was a collaborative effort with a friend. She supplied the idea/plot, and I wrote it. I've still got it in a cupboard. I used to write a lot before that too, since I had a typewriter before we decided to write the book. It was an SF book, and was all about when the nukes fell and we all lived in domes. Well, the first book was about getting into the domes and having them built first... :-) I stopped writing creatively during uni. (And finding some of my old essays and stuff, I am not at all surprised that I stopped.)

I became a fan around about a year or two after my writing stopped. The two didn't seem linked to me, but now that I'm paying attention to my writing and putting in some work, I realise that fandom has been a tremendous resource for me, with access to wonderfully supportive, creative people. I think I stopped writing for about twelve years, maybe fourteen all up.

Q2. Which do you best like to read and/or write - Hard SF, Fantasy or Horror?

A2. I like fantasy and some science fiction. I think the dividing line for me is space opera vs SF. I find that SF is very concept driven; a lot of the stories are "hey, look at this awesome idea!" whereas I prefer space opera and fantasy like the works of Lois McMaster Bujold, which are character driven. I have written six novels at this point, of which five are fantasy with hints of SF and one is paranormal erotica. I think I am exploring the way women are handled within the standard fantasy tropes. We get to be whores or virgins, cardboard cut outs and prizes, and I think each fantasy novel I write explores that a little bit further.

Q3. Can you name a writer or two you'd like to emulate in some way, and tell us why?

Q4. Lois McMaster Bujold. Terry Pratchett. Neil Gaiman. Gaiman and Pratchett are master story tellers. Pratchett can make me cry for a hunk of rock; and Gaiman writes stories which sing to the soul. McMaster writes characters and mixes between the two; her Paladin of Souls is an awesome awesome book which I think explores themes of power, responsibility, and femininity. I loved a lot of her Vor series, and most of the Curse of Chalion series too. Every book Pratchett writes is a monument to his ability to play with words and themes. I love the Tiffiny Aching series (once again about femininity, power, and responsibility) and his character development is pretty awesome too. I am considering, once the Last Short Story Project is over (ie, next year) immersing myself only in McMaster Bujold, Gaiman and Pratchett books for a whole year and see what I learn out of that.

Q4. You're a person of many talents and many interests: as well as being a fan, a writer and a mum you're also a feminist, a prolific blogger and a fantastic cook. How do you balance all those interests and commitments?

A4. I type really fast, LOL. No no, I don't watch TV at all. I spend far too much time reading blogs (and now short stories.) Being a feminist is like breathing; I don't get how people can not want to understand how the pieces of our society fit together with a view to fixing the broken bits. I love blogging, and have recently updated my userinfo with most of my blogs. I use blogs like journals, notes, ideas, scraps, and also to show parts of myself. You're all an audience, my dears! I have only recently started to admit to my real name on my LJ blog, largely because part of my plan to become a writer means I need to be accountable for what I say, and to make use of the clicks I already get. (Also, you don't have to read my books, just buy them for me, OK??) I've found that people want to know stuff: we've lost a lot of skills in the past few generations and the more details we can give for people, the more people are willing to venture out of their comfort zones. I love doing stuff. I love showing other people how to do stuff. A lot of this stuff has been on the back burner while the kids are small, but I am starting to come out a bit more. This is an exciting time for me! :-)

Q5. Have you got a favourite recipe to share with us?

A5. Hmmm... actually, my favourite recipe is online...It's called Turkish Style Kebabs, otherwise known as Yoghurtlu Kofte kebabi

Sarah Parker, AKA Callisto Shampoo, blogs regularly over at Live Journal.
Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Fresh Fields, Reading and Recipes

Jo Wake, whose blog you will find here, is a keen reader, garden enthusiast, bowls player and cook. Jo and I met on a mailing list for readers and writers founded by our mutual friend Annalou. Jo lives in Canada, Annalou and I in Australia. We've never met, but in the blogosphere that really doesn't matter: we meet as old friends on Facebook and the various blogs we haunt! Jo and I share in interest in speculative fiction and we often recommend books to each other.

I could have asked Jo ten questions instead of five, but five's the deal so I stuck to that. You can find an extended version of this interview on Jo's blog, complete with pics of the finished recipes.


Q1. What made you and Matt decide to move from the UK to Canada? Was it a good move for you?

A1. We found that the UK was getting somewhat stifling. There was no room to stretch out one's arms and for people like us, not a lot of room for advancement. It was a bigger wrench for Matt because he has two children. My parents were living in the Meditarranean region by then anyway and I have no siblings. In fact my father died shortly before we emigrated, having said previously that he thought it the best move we could make.

Yes, it was a great move. We have lived in North America, mainly Canada, since 1975 and have, we think, had a much better life than had we stayed in the UK. We had two homes, one in Canada and one in North Carolina and have enjoyed our time in both places. Our Canadian home had a pool in the back yard, I don't think that would have been possible, or, come to that, particularly enjoyable, in England - the weather isn't really good enough. We certainly spent a lot of time in our pool; we lived outside all summer and had all kinds of pool parties. We also had a travel trailer/caravan which we trailed around Ontario and the States and had a wonderful time visiting both people and places.

Q2. What other countries have you visited or lived in? Are there any more that you really long to see?

A2. As I have just mentioned, we lived in North Carolina in the States for about 12 years. We loved it there: the weather was excellent, apart from the odd hurricane, and the living was easy. We had a delightful property of about 1/2 an acre with a double wide mobile home which was a great place to live. We were 15 minutes from the sea shore and could easily feast on shrimp in particular and lots of other seafood fresh out of the water. Whilst in NC we went on a Caribbean cruise with some friends and spent a lot of time travelling in the States. Other than that, before we moved here, I had visited Norway, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia (as it was then) Malta and Spain - I particularly loved Greece, France and Spain. I speak pretty good French, moderate Spanish and a smattering of Greek which helped. Maybe I should say 'spoke', I'm pretty rusty in those languages nowadays although there was some opportunity to use French when I was working here in Canada. My parents lived in Malta once they retired so we joined them there for vacations, although I had already spent two weeks there before they retired. My parents, and therefore I, lived on a boat from shortly after the Second World War, which accounted for my visits to so many countries. When my father retired, he sailed his current home to Malta. Later, things got politically uncomfortable for the Brits in Malta so he moved to Spain, calling in at Southern France on the way where we also joined them. Later they bought a house in Spain and sold the boat. I have also visited the Bahamas for a few days and spent two weeks in The Dominican Republic and another two weeks in Southern Portugal which we loved. In fact I have thoroughly enjoyed most of the countries I have visited.

I would love to visit Asia. Ever since I read Shogun by James Clavell, I have wanted to visit Japan. I would also like to go to Hong Kong, plus see some of the interior of China, which looks so beautiful. I would also love to visit Oz, as much to see some of my cyber friends as to see the country. In fact I once had an ambition to visit one town in every country of the world. It will not, unhappily, come to fruition, but if I could, I would still love to travel a lot more.

Q3. Jo, I know you're an avid reader. Can you pick two contrasting books that you've enjoyed recently and tell us a bit about them and why you liked them?

A3. It's not that long since I read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which was a fascinating book and quite outside my normal choice. These days I tend to stick to what you, Satima, call Speculative Fiction which I gather includes both hard sci fi and fantasy. Water for Elephants was a very poignant story about an old man living in a nursing home and reliving memories of his time living and working in a circus and his delight and friendship with the circus's only elephant. The elephant was somewhat mistreated by the official 'handler' who eventually gets his comeuppance. The reminiscences are interrupted occasionally by returns to the nursing home in the current day, with the old man worrying about whether he will get to see a visiting circus.He ends up stealing away from the home to visit the circus all on his own as his family forget about him. Because he does so, his life changes.

One of the biggest contrasts was The Empress (of Mijak) by Karen Miller. The protagonist was/is an absolute horror. From the beginning of her story one has a little sympathy for her: life was extremely hard, but she comes to believe that her God has chosen her and any atrocity she commits in the name of this God is OK and is on behalf of her country of Mijak. By the end of the book she has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands. There is no assimilation of conquered peoples - they are either killed or enslaved: mostly killed. An excellent book despite the horror of the woman. Book two is better and I await Book three with eagerness.

Q4. Bowling is another of your hobbies, isn't it? What made you take it up? Have you been doing it for very long? If not, did you play another sport, and if so what was it?

A4. We took up 5-pin bowling shortly after we emigrated (1975). We were introduced to it by friends who bowled and once we started we joined two leagues and bowled regularly for the winter seasons until we moved down to the Carolinas. There it is 10-pin bowling, and it wasn't really our thing, apart from which we couldn't get into a league; the nearest alley was 20 miles away and we would have had to join the bowling association whether we had managed to get a game or not. When we came back to Canada, we immediately re-joined the bowling alley we had been members of before, even though we now live in a different town. Unfortunately they have since closed down, although I read an article which said 5-pin bowling is alive and well. It is only played in Canada and was invented by a Canadian exactly 100 years ago this year (celebrations are in order) as a more difficult sport than 10-pin. We both thoroughly enjoy it and now bowl in a local alley.

Other than that I used to be a pretty keen golfer, Matt still is, but then I kind of lost my game and finding myself in tears of frustration on the course, decided this was no longer a sport and quit. A great pity in a way as I was laid off work for a whole summer one year and was out on the golf course at 7 a.m. every day. In England I avoided sports altogether for most of my life. Then, because I had almost drowned a couple of times, I took up scuba diving, which is where I met Matt. (We were both married at the time, but that's another story.) Funnily enough, neither of us has scuba dived since we came to Canada although Matt did lots of snorkelling in the Caribbean. (I did a little)

I have just remembered Cross Country Skiing! We took that up shortly after we moved to Canada as well. We loved it and found that there was never enough snow and the winter was never long enough. Matt, in particular, working shifts for a few years, used to come home after a night shift and immediately head out skiing which enabled him to see all kinds of wildlife just about to start their day, or their night, depending on the critter. Not something we can still enjoy unfortunately as Matt has had two hip and one knee replacement and I have had one hip done.

Q5. It's apparent that you love food and are an amazing cook. Have you a favourite recipe to share with us?

A5. My favourite recipes vary from year to year, I guess. One of my latest faves is Bobotie and Yellow Rice, which I recently posted in my blog. My father was always interested in food. When he married my mother she literally couldn't boil an egg; she used to say later that it is, in fact, a difficult thing to do. There was a story about how he picked her up from work one evening and they were going on somewhere else so he took her back to his flat/apartment whilst he changed. He was feeling peckish so asked her to make a bacon sandwich while he changed. He came back to find her in floods of tears because she had no idea how to make one. To me, later in life, knowing my mother for the great cook she was, this was a hilarious story. She could, and did, cook anything. She could out-gourmet most restaurants and knew the French names of everything even if her pronounciation left something to be desired. She was a much better cook than I will ever be. Her main recipe source originally was Mrs. Beeton who is a classic British cookbook author from way back. My mother's copy, which I now have, was dated 1935.

One of my favourite recipes from years back, one I have posted on my blog quite some time ago, is for what I call Tomato Toasts.

Tomato Toast

Toast as many slices of bread as you want.
Rub each slice with a clove of garlic while it is still warm
Spread the toast with a little olive oil, about 1 tsp.
Cover the toast with well seasoned slices of ripe tomato.

Eat and enjoy.

Variation: Sometimes we add Havarti Cheese over the tomatoes and broil/grill until melting.

I just remembered it's Groundhog Day today. I would think there is every possibility of all the groundhogs seeing their shadows - there is certainly a lot of very reflective snow about. If they don't see their shadows it means winter will soon end; otherwise they will retreat to their burrows for another 6 weeks. Our local one is called Wiarton Willie and I know most Canadians will hope and pray he doesn't see his shadow when he pokes his head out of his hole. Everyone has had enough of shovelling snow. This last week we have had piles of the stuff; not seen so much in years. What a pity we don't ski any more!

Thanks, Jo, for sharing the tomato toast recipe as well as snippets about your life. (Jo always has super recipes and foodie pictures on her blog - at least one every day, and some of them look so delicious I wish I was interested in cooking!)
Monday, 2 February 2009

Marvel Man

This interviewing on blogs thing is getting to me! I could go on interviewing my friends, both the face-to-face variety and the electronic kind, every day of the week, because they are such an interesting bunch of people.

Writer on comics and blogger extrordinaire Danny Best has kindly volunteered to be today's victim interviewee.

Q1. You're an Adelaide boy born and bred. Have you ever lived elsewhere?

A1. Definitely. Lived in Melbourne for a while, and have travelled around the country extensively. So much so in fact that my second home is on the Sunshine Coast and the third home is Melbourne. I love travel, this country has almost too much to offer a person, but each time I see those lights from the hills I know I'm home. A great place, is Adelaide.

Q2. Being allergic to bee stings, have you had any narrow escapes?

A2. Narrow? I guess if you call physically dying a narrow escape then sure. When I was 14 I was stung by a bee resulting in a mad dash to the hospital. Unfortunately for me my ma took me to the Lyell McEwan on a Saturday night! While she was arguing with the admission nurses I quietly slid off my chair unable to breath anymore. By the time they finally got me into the emergency rooms my heart had stopped and I was, for all intents and purposes, dead. Loads of adrenalin and other drugs later the prognosis was worse - I got better.

Q3. It's obvious that you're a fan of the comicbook. Who are your favourite characters, writers and artists?

A3. Too many to mention. No real favourite character, although I do have a soft spot for the Phantom and, naturally (being a boy), I do like the iconic figures of Captain America and the like. Personally you could eliminate shit like Wolverine and I'd be happy - very few people have actually written that character right.

Writers? Alan Moore and Alan Grant spring to mind, obviously. With the later stuff, ie: stuff out now, none of them interest me at all. Too many 'events'.

Artists - Norm Breyfogle, Alan Weiss, Armando Gil, Dave Simons - those guys all move me, along with a hundred others.

Q4. Do you enjoy reading other forms of fiction, too?

A4. Here's my confession - I'm not a huge fan of fiction. Never have been. I love non-fiction. History. Bio. Events. I watch TV and scream at it when I see errors.

I have read a lot of fiction but after a while I realised that what I was reading just wasn't as interesting to me as the stories behind the stories. I love 1984, for example, but I wanted to know what was going on behind the scenes, what prompted Orwell to write it. It's why I write not about comic books, but what goes into them. Who wants to read what I, or anyone else for that matter, thinks of a topic? But if I can give you the backstory to a series or an event, then I'm sure that's more entertaining than the event or story itself. I thirst for knowledge and my flaw is that I think everyone else does. As I've found out in recent times, some people prefer to remain ignorant.

Q5. Tell us one of your personal or professional ambitions for the next decade.

A5. To be alive. I'm just happy to keep working behind the scenes and allowing others to get all the credit. If more of my stuff makes it out there, either with my by-line or with someone else's, then that'll be fine for me.

Many thanks, Danny, for sharing a taste of your special interest with us. May your house be forever filled with groaning bookshelves and coffee tables overflowing with comics!!
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