About Me

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Perth, Western Australia, Australia
I am 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 as is Book two, The Cloak of Challiver. 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.

My books

The first two books of my trilogy, The Talismans, (The Dagger of Dresnia, and book two, The Cloak of Challiver) are available in e-book format from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. Book three of the trilogy, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation.I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below - as well as well as a few poems in various places. The best way to contact me is via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/satimaflavell

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. However, The Dagger of Dresnia and The Cloak of Challiver are available as ebooks on the usual book-selling websites, and book three, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation. The easiest way to contact me is via Facebook.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Cloak of Challiver, Book two of The Talismans

The Cloak of Challiver, Book two of The Talismans
Available as an e-book on Amazon and other online booksellers.

Mythic Resonance

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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Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award
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Fabulous Blog Award

Fabulous Blog Award
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Sunday, 24 August 2008

Another animal post

This house-sit, as I mentioned before, involves chooks. There are five of them; all young and just coming into full lay. They are very tame and will even let me stroke them, which I've never before known chooks to do. Their "mum", (aka Ellen) tells me it's because they have been bred not just for their excellent laying (they turn out lovely brown eggs in profusion) but also for their docility.

They are Isa Browns; not a true breed but a cross between a Rhode Island Red and Rhode Island White and originating from France, where they were deliberately developed in the 1970s by the Institut de Sélection Animale, hence the ISA. I tried to photograph the five of them this week but in the end I had to take a video to get them all in. Even now they are not all in view at once so you'll have to believe me when I say there are five. Not that it matters; I suspect that if you've seen one Isa brown you've seen 'em all!

In other animal news, I just received a photo of my latest "grandchild". My son Kurt and his partner Erinn bought a cute little five-week-old puppy three months ago. They called
him Fenris. Now, Fenris was the hellhound in Norse mythology, and at five weeks the pup didn't look anything like a hell hound, did he? However, he is now four months old and just look at him! He is looking more and more like a real one as the weeks go by. Kurt thinks he'll be waist high by Christmas, and I wouldn't be surprised if his prediction comes true. How can one teensy weensy pup grow so much in such a short time? Well, he is of Irish Wolfhound stock, which just might account for it!:-)

Update 16 July 2011: Over the last month, this post has, for some reason I don't understand, become the most popular post on the blog! If you are reading this, will you please take time to leave a comment and tell me why you landed on this page? It's a mystery to me!
Sunday, 17 August 2008

Birthday Meme

Here’s a meme that’s going around: I pinched it from Mikandra.

To play this one, look up your birthday in Wikipedia. Pick 4 events, 3 births, 2 deaths and 1 holiday.

My birthday is 4 March, and I’ve only met a handful of other people whose birthdays fall on that day. There was a little club on ICQ, years ago. The founder said we were special “because we March Forth!” Looking at Wikipedia, I found plenty of others who march forth, so I picked events and people I felt I could relate to for various reasons, which I’ve given below to make the meme a bit more meaningful. At least, I hope it does:-).

1461 - Wars of the Roses in England: Lancastrian King Henry VI is deposed by his Yorkist cousin, who then becomes King Edward IV
Both these guys were 2nd cousins 16 times removed of mine, and Edward was stepfather to Thomas Grey, my 13th great-grandfather. His mother, Elizabeth (née Woodville, right) went to Edward to complain that she’d had no pension when her first husband, Thomas’s father John, had died in battle while fighting for Edward. Edward liked the look of Elizabeth and secretly married her. When his advisors found out there was hell to pay! And there was sadness in store for Elizabeth, for her two sons by Edward were the poor little “Princes in the Tower”, who were done to death. Let’s not go into whodunit, as it always starts arguments.

The Wars of the Roses provide an object lesson in human stupidity. Ancestors of mine—and no doubt yours, if you have any Brit in you—died on both sides of this idiotic conflict. What’s more, they did it all again in the seventeenth century when our ancestors fought over which version of the favoured Imaginary Friend of the day was the better. Sheesh!

1877 - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake premieres at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
This beautiful fantasy story of love, betrayal and death did not find public favour at its premiere and was quickly dropped from the repertoire. It was only in 1895, when it was revived with new choreography by Marius Petipa, that it gained the popularity it enjoys to this day. Petipa is responsible for that curse of all aspiring ballerinas, the thirty-two fouettés, which he incorporated into the third act pas de deux. His ballerina, the Italian Pierina Legnani, apparently found it a simple matter to stand on one toe and whirl around on the spot thirty-two times, to the despair of every ballet student since. I could never manage more than a dozen, even on a good day.

1917 - Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia's renunciation of the throne is made public, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia publicly issues his abdication manifesto
We all know the tragic story of a man unable to see the writing on the wall; a man temperamentally unfit to lead yet forced to try, whose refusal to do away with autocracy led to the violent deaths of his wife and children as well as himself.

1945 - In the United Kingdom, Princess Elizabeth, later to become Queen Elizabeth II, joins the British Army as a driver
What the princess joined was actually the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), which my eldest sister Erica joined a year or two earlier. In fact, she joined up soon after my birth, since she couldn’t face the thought of still another younger sister in the house! Erica saw service in Germany, near Hamburg.

1188 - Blanche of Castile, wife of Louis VIII of France (d. 1252)
Louis and Blanche were 22x great-grandparents of mine and I am proud to share Blanche’s birthday. She was the strong one: Louis was a gentle person who died young, leaving Blanche to bring up their large family alone, as well as to quell a rebellion by a bunch of stroppy barons and to fend off an offensive by the English. She ruled as regent both before and after the accession of her son Louis IX (later canonised) and was respected by friend and foe alike for her diplomacy and her grasp of military strategy.

1898 - Georges Dumézil, French philologist (d. 1940)
I drew heavily on Dumézil’s work for a paper I wrote at university on Indo-European religion. I had to read the book in French because no translation was available – eek! It was one of the few papers that Martin Wiltshire, a really tough marker, ever honoured with an A grade. It’s nice to feel appreciated sometimes:-).

1916 - Hans Eysenck, German-born psychologist (d. 1997)
This highly regarded psychologist was not frightened to publish his research into astrology and stand up to say that the statistical evidence spoke for itself. (H.J. Eysenck & D.K.B. Nias, Astrology: Science or Superstition? Penguin Books (1982))

1193 - Saladin, Kurdish sultan (b. 1137)
In early primary school, this man (Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb) was held up to us as a model of chivalry, and indeed his good works are worthy of renown. Sadly, I can’t claim kinship with this one, but he should be an inspiration to us all. The following info was lifted almost wholesale from Wikipedia, partly paraphrased and edited:

Saladin’s relationship with Richard the Lionheart was one of chivalrous mutual respect as well as military rivalry. When Richard became ill with fever, Saladin offered the services of his personal physician. Saladin also sent him fresh fruit with snow, to chill the drink, as treatment. At Arsuf, when Richard lost his horse, Saladin sent him two replacements. In April 1191, a Frankish woman's three month old baby had been stolen from her camp and had been sold on the market. The Franks urged her to approach Saladin herself with her grievance. After Saladin used his own money to buy the child, "he gave it to the mother and she took it; with tears streaming down her face, and hugged it to her breast. The people were watching her and weeping and I (Ibn Shaddad) was standing amongst them. She suckled it for some time and then Saladin ordered a horse to be fetched for her and she went back to camp."

When he died on March 4, 1193 at Damascus, Saladin’s advisors found there was not enough money in his treasury to pay for his funeral. He had given most of it away in charity.

1238 - Joan of England, Queen Consort of Scotland, wife of Alexander II (b. 1210)
Few medieval women got the chance to show their metal as did Queen Blanche (above). Poor little Joan, (July 22, 1210 – March 4, 1238) daughter of King John, was much more typical. She was brought up in the court of Hugh “le Brun” de Lusignan, a much older man who had been the childhood sweetheart of her mother, Isabelle d’Angoulême. Maybe Joan was a consolation prize. However, when King John died, Isabelle decided to marry Hugh herself, so Joan was sent back to England, where a marriage to King Alexander II of Scotland was being negotiated for her. They were married on June 21, 1221, at York Minster: Alexander was 23 and Joan was 11. They had no children. On 4 March 1238, Joan died in the arms of her brother, King Henry III, at Havering-atte-Bower, a favoured hunting spot of the Plantagenets. She was buried at Tarant Crawford Abbey in Dorset.

What a sad, short, little life! I hope Joan had some good times, somewhere along the way.

Feast Day
Humbert III of Savoy
Humbert was a 24xgreat-granduncle of mine: his sister Mathilda married Affonso I of Portugal and became my 24x great-grandmother a dozen times over – and an ancestor of half the rest of the world as well:-). Humbert, however, was not nearly so prolific. He was a man who would almost certainly have preferred to be a monk, and indeed he was in and out of monasteries for most of his life – between marriages!

His first wife, Faidiva, died young and his second marriage, to Gertrude of Flanders, ended in divorce, at which point Humbert became a Carthusian monk. However, the people of Savoy begged him to marry yet again, which he reluctantly did. This third wife, Clemenza of Zähringen, gave him two daughters, and when she died Humbert attempted to return to the monastic life. However, he was prevailed upon to marry for a fourth time, and this wife, Beatrice of Viennois, produced a son, Tommaso, who would ultimately succeed him.

After all that the poor guy deserved his canonisation!

This collection of useless knowledge took me several hours to research but at least I’ve got some snippets for my family history out of it. And who knows? Maybe grist for the story mill as well.
Sunday, 10 August 2008

How much is too much?

Over on e-buddy Jo's blog we had a bit of discussion last week about fantasy books we've enjoyed recently and the kinds of magic the authors had invented.

I must be odd. I don't read fantasy for the magic, but for the characters. My premise is "What if there were a world just like ours but with different races of people, some of whom could do magic and some of whom couldn't?" My primary interest is not in the magic per se, but in its effects on human relationships, so I don't often show magic going on, but assume it as a "given" for my invented world. The reader often sees the results of magic, but not its performance.

Some readers, however, read fantasy primarily for the magic. I found this out when I was a member of Online Writers Workshop, an online critiquing group for speculative fiction writers. It was apparent from the comments of several OWW critters that I don't show nearly enough magic for some people's taste. As a result of those critiques, I've started to include a lot more of the actual workings in my books. But how much is too much? While I'm a firm believer in giving the public what it wants, I feel the gratuitous depiction of any one thing impinges on whatever modicum of artistic integrity a work might possess.

Gee, does that last line sound pretentious, or what? Nevertheless, I put it to you that it's possible to use magic gratuitously, just as it's possible to overdo sex or violence. Do many people really like to read about magic even when it has little bearing on the plot and does nothing to show character development?

Some fantasies I've read go way overboard with magic. That's way overboard for my preferences, of course: as with all things, everyone has the right to draw their own line in the sand with regard to what constitutes "too much". One person's erotica is another person's pornography. One person's vivid description of violence is another person's horror. Where do you draw the line, magically speaking? Post a comment and let me know.

I'm about to start a new house-sitting gig, this time for my friend Ellen, who is off to Russia to take part in an international choral festival. Choirs from all over the world are getting together to sing Verdi's Requiem in St Petersburg and Moscow. What a wonderful experience that will be for the performers! As always, when my friends go away, I wish I could go, too! BTW, Juliet has blogged her marvellous Baltic experience at Writer Unboxed. It was obviously a trip full of contrasts, from the joy of a Latvian Folk Festival to the darkly emotional experience of WWII concentration camps. Russia and the Baltic are not common destinations for Aussie tourists, so I love to get reports of such expeditions.

No dogs and cats at Ellen's place: just five chooks. (Chickens or hens to those of you who don't live in the Land of Oz!) I haven't looked after poultry for well over twenty years, so wish me luck!
Monday, 4 August 2008

A spot of name-dropping

I am constantly amazed at how clever my friends are. I'm not talking about the ones whose cleverness is already well-known, such as the published authors whose blogs I follow and whose books I read assiduously, but the guys who turn up in my life and jog alongside me for months or years before I find out how gifted they are.

One such is Joel Fagin. He has just shyly admitted that he and an English artist, Robert Bracey, have spent months putting together a Japanese-inspired comic. It's called "Tengu"; it updates on Mondays and you can find it here:

Website: http://tengu.comicgenesis.com/
First comic: http://tengu.comicgenesis.com/d/20080310.html
RSS Feed: http://tengu.comicgenesis.com/rss.xml

Do check it out. It's brilliantly well done.

Joel is a fellow member of the KSP Speculative Fiction group. Other group members draw, paint, sculpt, weave and write verse as well as turning out amazing spec-fic stories. One, Carol Ryles, is just now on her way back from spending six weeks at Clarion West, a spec-fic writers boot camp in Seattle. Another, Sonia Timms-Helbig, has just arrived in LA to take part in the Writers of the Future workshops. Both these activities are highly competitive: you have to be bloody good even to get a look in.

Yup, I am very proud of my clever friends:-) Just as I am proud of my clever children - but I'm not allowed to mention them.
Sunday, 3 August 2008

Two Mini-cons

I’ve spent a happy weekend hanging out at the Conflux Mini-con. This is a great idea: a precursor to the live convention and a wonderful second-best for people who, like me, can’t get to Canberra. I lurked around and occasionally commented on discussions led by some articulate and entertaining people including Jack Dann, Simon Haynes, Bruce Gillespie, Glenda Larke, Sharyn Lilley, Karen Miller, Marianne de Pierres, Gillian Polack, Cat Sparks and Sean Williams. Writers and fans from all over the world joined in. One new e-buddy, Pema Lloyd, from Tucson, Arizona, stayed up all night so she didn’t have to miss any panels! Now that’s dedication for you. If you’d like to read the words of wisdom that were bandied about, go to the Conflux forum and check out the entries. And bookmark the page for next year! On another part of the site you can even download recorded talks from last year’s Conflux.

Congratulations are due to the team, comprising Phill Berrie, Stephen Herring, Nicole Murphy and Gillian Polack. I'm looking forward to next year already.

In between the great discussions at Conflux, I've been planning a mini-con of my own. Well, not just mine, you understand, but mine and a few other people's brainchild - (Ta Da!) - The KSPSF Mini-con!

We held the first one of these two years ago and it was successful beyond our wildest dreams. We thought maybe twenty or thirty people would show up, but in fact half Perth fandom appeared to be there. Trouble was, it rained, and activities planned for out-of-doors had to be held indoors. This time we've planned it for later in the year so hopefully the overcrowding won't happen.

Confirmed panellists include Adrian Bedford, Janet Blagg, Lee Battersby, Lyn Battersby, Hal Colebatch, Stephen Dedman, Russell Farr, Simon Haynes, Elaine Kemp, Alisa Krasnostein, Martin Livings, Dave Luckett, Bevan McGuiness, Juliet Marillier, Ian Nichols, John Parker, Grant Stone and Tehani Wessely.

Our Fearless Leader, Helen Venn, has set up a blog for the minicon here. I've linked to the site (see left)so you can check for updates about guests, food, books for sale, activities etc as they are added to the schedule. It should be a great day - and guess what? Just one gold coin will get you in! A cheap lunch will be available as well as ongoing refreshments. If you live in Perth or not too far away, write it in your diary now - Sunday 21 September, 10.00am-5.00pm. Barring a naked orgy in the woods, what better way to spend the Equinox?
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