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Read, Write, Dance

Read, Write, Dance . Those three words could almost be my epitaph. Certainly (bearing and rearing children aside) they are the three activi...

About Me

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

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

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, 30 June 2014

Book Review: Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier


Wildwood Dancing (Wildwood, #1) 


My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This review first appeared on the now-defunct website, The Specusphere, in 2007. Seven years on and it is still one of my top favourite books!


Since the release of her first book, the award-winning Daughter of the Forest in 2000, Juliet Marillier has established herself among the best historical fantasists of today. She has a world-wide fan base of readers aged from as young as eleven: Daughter of the Forest was especially loved by younger readers.

It is not surprising, therefore, that with Wildwood Dancing Marillier has crafted a work eminently suited for the Young Adult reader. Indeed it is marketed as such, being published under the Pan label rather than Tor, Pan Macmillan's adult speculative fiction brand, which has sponsored all seven of Marillier's earlier works. Nevertheless, Wildwood Dancing is more than acceptable as a book for adult fantasy lovers, too. Set in Romania, it gives us a new twist on vampires or 'Night People' as Marillier calls them, together with affectionate bows in the direction of several well-loved fairy tales.

Marillier's knowledge of folklore is second to none and her research for this book, as always, is meticulous. Her Transylvanian world is built up, layer upon layer, by references to its history, social customs, food and drink. Some might not see such attention to authentic detail as important, but others might argue that in a work targeting young adults it can be an added bonus if the reader is being educated as well as entertained.

And entertained she will be. I say 'she' because this is essentially a feminine book. Its protagonist is Jena, second of five daughters of a wealthy merchant who has done well enough with his importing business to buy his family a real castle to live in. There Jena and her sisters discover a portal leading to the Otherworld.

Wildwood Dancing is, at heart, a romance. Yet it goes deeper than the happily-ever-after fairy tale, for it touches on questions of sibling rivalry, friendship, trust, betrayal and loyalty. Marillier's approach to these issues is solidly grounded in the plot of what is, essentially, a ripping good read.

Only in one scene does this cohesiveness falter slightly: Jena deserts her best-loved friend, who has, admittedly, undergone an astonishing transformation. Up until this point, Jena has come across as an upright, loyal girl and despite the terrifying situation, it is hard to accept her sudden abandonment of one who, only minutes earlier, she had being calling her 'truest friend in all the world'. However, any failure in the reader's suspension of disbelief is quickly forgotten, as remorse and love enable Jena to discover within herself the necessary bravery and truthfulness to put things to rights, with the best of all possible outcomes.

Wildwood Dancing's cover art is by Kinuko Y. Craft, whose work has graced jackets of books by Brian Aldiss, Isaac Asimov, Guy Gavriel Kay, Stephen King, Ursula LeGuin, Patricia McKillip and Andre Norton. It is utterly stunning. Any young lady between the ages of nine and ninety-five would love this book for the cover alone. What's more, it's obvious that Craft has actually read the manuscript, as it really does reflect the book's contents. (This and other examples of Craft's work can be viewed at www.kycraft.com)

More on the work of this justifiably popular author can be found at www.julietmarillier.com 

View all my Goodreads reviews
Sunday, 15 June 2014

Interview swap: Sue Bursztynski


Sue Bursztynski, who has produced what in my opinion is one of the best YA novels in years with Wolfborn, has kindly agreed to swap blog interviews. We asked each other four questions:  

What are you working on?
How does your work differ from others in your genre?
Why do you write what you write?
How does your writing process work?  

What are you working on?
Right now, a short story, straight historical fiction, about Dr 'James Barry', a woman who lived as a man for most of her life in order to be able to have a career as a doctor, something not usually possible for women in the nineteenth century. I first heard of her when I was researching for my book Potions To Pulsars: Women doing science. She was passionate about her work, kept her hospitals clean, performed the first caesarean operation in which both mother and child survived and fought duels at the drop of a hat. A truly cranky lady of history! If I don't sell it first go, I may have to add fantastical elements to sell it to a spec-fic market. Fingers crossed!

How does your work differ from others in your genre?
I've had some good reviews for my first novel and some awful ones, but none so far has said, 'This is just like all the others.' Not one. I did get some that said,'Well, that was different!'

I suspect I annoyed those who thought they were getting an urban fantasy in which the heroine would have two suitors, a smouldering Byronic vampire/Faerie Prince/Selkie Prince and a gorgeous werewolf, and readers could say they were 'Team Fred' and 'Team Joe' ... and it turned out to be a mediaeval fantasy seen from the boy's viewpoint, in which he and the girl had to put off their romance till the danger to those they cared about was over.

Actually, some liked that. ;-)

Why do you write what you write?
Mostly, I write speculative fiction, with the occasional piece of historical fiction. I write it because I love telling stories and because what I have to say needs more scope than mainstream fiction affords. I write for children and teens because children's and YA fiction is one of the last refuges of story, as opposed to ‘beautiful writing’ that isn't actually about anything in particular, and because you can't bullshit kids.

How does your writing process work?
It depends on what it is. If I'm writing to a deadline, I write late at night. I have to be up at six to get to my day job, so I don't sleep much at those times. I sometimes go to a local cafe, to get away from the distractions at home. I start with the germ of an idea and research the background, sometimes first, sometimes as I write the first draft. For my stories set in the 1960s I went to the State Library to read the newspapers of the time, not just the subject I was looking for - the Beatles in Melbourne, the day of the first moon landing - but letters to the editor, advertising, the TV guide, articles about what else was happening that week or that year. For my mediaeval stories, I have read whole books about the role of women, the church, life in the cities, life on the manor, knightly training. I also looked up stuff about real wolves as opposed to the 'were' variety for my novel. I read books of folklore about faeries (I was pleased to see in Melissa Marr's bibliography that she'd used many of the same sources for Wicked Lovely). Anything that helps in my world building! I play mediaeval music to get me in the mood (though I often stop writing to get up and dance!)



Carry on dancing, Sue Bursztynski!
If you'd like to read Sue's interview with me, go to 
http://suebursztynski.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/writing-process-blog-hop-3-satima.html

Friday, 13 June 2014

A scene from The Dagger of Dresnia, in which Tammi shows her metal - and gets a fright!

Not quite right - Tammi would almost certainly have plaited her hair!
Tammi cleaned off her knife and held it up to the light. Sunlight glittered on along its edge.
     ‘For an eating knife, it must be very sharp,’ commented Zavardi.
     ‘It is very sharp,’ replied Tammi. ‘My mother gave it to me when I left home, and she had leather pockets sewn into all my boots and shoes so I could always carry it.’
     ‘Ladies carry no weapons in my country,’ said Edeanna. Her voice sounded disapproving. ‘We carry our eating knives only, hanging from our belts.’
     Tammi stowed the knife safely back in her boot and smiled nicely at Edeanna. ‘My father is a great believer in women being able to defend themselves. I trained at arms with my brothers, and I can still beat the younger ones.’
     ‘Is that so, Tammi?’ Beverak was looking at her as if she’d suddenly sprouted another pair of limbs.
     ‘It is so, my lord.’ Tammi grinned at her husband.
     Beverak scrambled to his feet and made for the horses. ‘Wait a minute,’ he called back over his shoulder. ‘I’m going to put you to the test.’
     He was soon back, bearing a small bow and a quiver of arrows. ‘Borrowed it from one of the older pages,’ he explained. ‘It should be just right for your size and weight. Do you reckon you can hit that sapling on the other side of the stream?’
     Tammi stood up and took the proffered weapon. ‘Of course I can. In fact, my lord, I’ll lay you a wager. My little knife against the silver pin on your cloak that I can hit not that sapling, but the bigger one atop the far bank.’
     ‘But that one must be thirty yards away,’ said Melrad. ‘Surely a girl can’t shoot that far.’
     His voice carried an undertone of ‘a girl can’t shoot at all,’ and Tammi was determined to prove him wrong. ‘I can shoot much farther than that, and hit the target. This is only a little bow, brother, or I would show you.’ She found an arm brace tucked into the quiver and deftly strapped it onto her left arm single-handed. She chose an arrow, examined it, discarded it as being unbalanced, and selected another. She nocked it, took her stance, raised the bow...
     The arrow flew in a glorious arc like a bird flying to its roost, but with a satisfying thwunk that no bird would have made. Tammi lowered the bow and held out her hand to Beverak.
     Shaking his head in disbelief, Beverak reached for his cloak and removed the pin.
     ‘Well shot, sister,’ said Volran. ‘If we ever have cause to go to war, we’ll add you to our archers!’
     Tammi smiled her thanks and stuck the pin into the fabric of her gown. Beverak kissed her on the cheek and whispered,  ‘I’ll put you to a different test tonight,’ and Tammi had to stifle a giggle.
     Melrad picked up the bow Tammi had discarded and examined it closely. ‘How on earth did you manage that with this paltry toy?’
     Volran and Beverak peered over his shoulder as he tried to replicate Tammi’s feat, and soon they were in competition and Beverak had gone to find more arrows while his brothers stood arguing about trajectories and angles.
     Edeanna looked quite put out by Tammi’s success, but she simply changed the subject. ‘I wonder if the stream is very cold?’
     ‘Let’s find out!’ Zavardi took off her shoes and hose and dabbled her toes in the water. ‘Ooh, yes, it’s cold!’ she shrieked.
     Edeanna dipped her hand and frowned. ‘No, not cold! In my country, the streams are frozen already! But swim I would not.’
     Tamirayne laughed. Like Zavardi, she had removed her footwear. ‘You are both cowards. Look at me!’ And she was in the water and away, hitching her skirts ever higher as she waded upstream, carrying her boots and hose in the other hand.
     ‘Defeated by Aristand I will not be!’ Edeanna exclaimed. Tammi turned to see that she had also got rid of her shoes and hose and had taken to the water.
     Zavardi must have felt she had to uphold the honour of Kyrisia, for she was following Tammi and Edeanna in the time it took to blink. Only a few yards upstream, however, she stopped to admire a berry-laden shrub and called to Edeanna, who waded back to join her.
     Tammi went on alone. The water was certainly cold, but she wasn’t going to let Edeanna see that it troubled her. Once she was out of sight of the party, she scrambled back onto the bank and sat down, rubbing her feet to warm them before replacing her hose and boots. She stood up, shaking her skirts. Despite her care, the hems were sodden. Perhaps it hadn’t been such a good idea to go paddling after all.
     As she was wringing the hems, a swishing noise overhead caught her attention. A shadow made her think it was a huge bird, but no bird of that size would be flying within the forest. As she turned on the spot, a hand shading her eyes in an effort to see the strange creature, the swishing sound came again, and this time she caught a glimpse of its source.
     A huge bat ... but was it? No bat was ever that big. And its legs — they looked human! Tammi stifled a scream, cramming both fists to her mouth.
     The creature vanished over the trees, and Tammi took a deep breath. She must have been mistaken about the legs. She must ask Beverak about the bats here. Maybe they were bigger than the ones at home.
     But the creature returned, and its next pass, lower than the last, cured her of any idea that this was any kind of bat. It had a human — or almost human — face. Its whiteless eyes glistened unrelieved green. Matching slime dripped from vicious incisors. It was close enough for her to catch a whiff of its stench, reminiscent of pond slime laced with manure.
     Tammi screamed. And ran.
Picture courtesy of http://www.123rf.com/
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