About Me

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

My books

The first two novels of my trilogy, The Talismans, are not available as e-books at present, but I expect to get them back online shortly. However, I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. 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. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Cloak of Challiver

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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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Hormones and Reading

Last weekend, I attended a very interesting day at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, in Greenmount, which is on the outskirts of Perth, Western Australia. There were two workshops, both run by Perth author Nikki Logan.

The first one lasted three hours, and was about how reading impacts the human brain, and how to enrich your writing by helping readers to get the absorption experience they crave. Nikki provided us with interesting info on the bio-chemistry of arousal. We're not talking sexual arousal here, you understand, but arousal of all kinds - the visceral arousal of a good thriller, the emotional arousal of romance, the intellectual arousal of a mystery, the sensual arousal of erotic fiction and the creative arousal of speculative fiction, Of course, you can have more than one kind of arousal in a novel, and intellectual arousal can go with non-fiction, too, so it's a good thing for all writers to know about.

When I posted my doings to Facebook, one of my friends was a bit uneasy, and she asked in a comment. 'Do you think it's ethically right to chemically addict people to your (plural) writing?'

The fact is that when we sit down to get absorbed in something, certain hormonal activity will occur. So knowing how to get people absorbed is helping them to have that experience. You know what it's like when you really get into a book - sit down to read at 10.00 AM and next thing you know it's 2.00 PM and you're starving so you have to go and get something to eat, but you resent leaving the book! It's all because of Dopamine and his mates, and that's what I wrote in reponse .

My friend responded with "'helping them have that experience" sounds like manipulation to me! There have already been great and gripping books where writers didn't consciously do this.'

Indeed there have, but they were written by frighteningly talented writers who knew instinctively how to get those hormones flowing. As a craftsman writer, I have to learn how to do it. The experience for the reader is the same, whether the writer does it consciously or unconsciously - and it's the experience that readers want! It's no different from film techniques, where they deliberately set out to scare you, make you laugh or have you on the edge of your seat with excitement. It's the hormones that do it in all cases and it's the very reason that readers read and viewers view! 

I understood where my friend was coming from, though. There was a time when I refused to go to the  movies because I resented 'having my emotions manipulated'. Yet I still read books and listened to music! I told a friend why I didn't go to movies and she burst out laughing. 'Don't be silly,' she said. 'That's exactly why I go to movies!'

The penny dropped. I realised that it is the job of the creative artist in whatever field to manipulate the emotions - to make us laugh or cry, to make us know what it is like to be chased in the dark by a nameless horror, to rejoice at the birth of a child, to grieve at a death, to make us remember the joy of lying on the beach and getting sunburnt with our first lovers ...

In short, all the arts are about the human experience. At the end of a good film, ballet, opera, play, piano recital, rock concert, book or art exhibition, we should feel something. And, if it's an especially good work, we might have learnt a new way of looking at our own experiences of life and what makes us tick, both individually and collectively. Yes, we are paying to 'have our emotions manipulated'. And that, my friends, is a very good thing, and I want to learn how to do it well. If you want to learn, too, hie thee to yon Amazon and buy Nikki Logan's book, The Chemistry of Reading.

Nikki's afternoon workshop was about Marketing and Branding. I learnt a great deal from this too, and that's great, because as I have triumphantly announced, I have recently sold my first novel to Satalyte Publishing. I came away from Nikki's second workshop with lots of ideas on brands, promises and position statements, among other things. Watch this space as I try some of them out!

Emotions picture by Toddatkins (http://batonrougecounseling.net/managing-emotions/) [CC0], via Wikimedia
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