Q&A with Satima Flavell

q & a

Another guest from down under… please give a cold dead welcome to the lovely Satima Flavell!

*****

Satima mug shotWhat were you like at school?

Like most kids with more of an interest in the arts than in sport, I felt like the odd one out. I had lots of imaginary friends but few real ones.

Were you good at English?

Yes. Usually in the top three in my class.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Since I am now of retirement age plus a few years, my ambition is to stay alive long enough to get a few more books published!

Which writers inspire you? In the order I read their works: Enid Blyton, Mary Stewart, Elizabeth Goudge, William Shakespeare, Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, Bernard Cornwell, Juliet Marillier, Glenda Larke, Karen Miller, Robin Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, George RR Martin, Joe Abercrombie. Easy to guess I’m a historical fantasy writer, isn’t it?

So, what have you written?

My first publication was a poem in The Guardian (then ‘The Manchester Guardian’) when I was seven. I can still remember it:

Go to sleep, my little one, go into dreamland

Elves and gnomes and fairies too

Will all be there to welcome you

So go to sleep my little one, go into dreamland.

In late primary and early high school I used to get pocket money writing for a kids magazine called Chucklers Weekly. I won prizes for writing during my high school years, and in adulthood, although I held a variety of jobs, (I’m the only person I know who’s been both a ballet teacher and a pig farmer) I never stopped writing, even if it was only in a diary. Then when I was in my forties a friend recommended me to Adrian Kenyon, editor of Music Maker magazine, and I made a part-time career of writing reviews of dance, music and drama performances. From there I was ‘head-hunted’ by The Australian, and then I was picked up by Dance Australia to write reviews and features. But I got to the age of 53 before the fiction muse started nudging my shoulder.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

It happened like this: after a marriage breakdown, I decided to travel, so I went to the USA and thence to the UK, where I got a rather tedious and strenuous job as executive housekeeper in a hotel. I was exhausted by the end of the day, but my mind was still alert. One evening, as I was about to flop down in front of the TV to watch East Enders and Coronation St, a sentence popped into my head. It went ‘To be left a widow at the age of twenty-one may sound like a tragedy, but to be honest, I felt relieved by Reyel’s death’. I grabbed pen and paper, turned off the TV, and started writing about a young woman who led an adventurous life travelling around her world. It took me seven years to finish that book, and by that time I was back in Perth, Australia and able to get to classes and workshops at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, where I had the privilege of being coached by a plethora of brilliant writers, some of whose names are in the list of my ‘influences’ above. I also attended conventions and joined critiquing groups, and eventually I had a book worth publishing – The Dagger of Dresnia.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Queen Ellyria, the elvish widow of an ordinary mortal king, is confused and vulnerable after the death of her husband, King Fairstad. Ellyria and Fairstad had three sons, identical triplets, and Fairstad decreed that their kingdom, which encompassed three islands, should be divided among the trio at his death. Ellyria, in her anxious and confused state, is tricked into a deadly bargain by a Dark Spirit – and thereby starts a trilogy! Being elvish, Ellyria has magical ability, but my mortal women readers will relate to her problems with her children and with running a household as well as trying to second-guess her enemy’s schemes.

What are you working on at the minute? Books two and three. Book two, The Cloak of Challiver, should be out early in 2016 and book three will follow in 2017, all being well.

What draws you to this genre?perf6.000x9.000.indd

My favourite stories have always been historical and/or fantastical. You have only to see my list of influences to see what I mean. At least 50% of my reading is historical fantasy, and the other 50% tends to be non-fiction, including a lot of history.

How much research do you do?

As much as needed to stay true to my historical period. The trilogy is set on an imaginary world, but the island kingdoms resemble the British Isles in the late C12, Earthside time.

When did you decide to become a writer?

When I was seven. I wanted to be ‘Children’s Authoress’ like Enid Blyton. Of course, I also wanted to be a ballet dancer!

How do you relax?

As a former professional dancer and ballet teacher, I never want to stop dancing. I attend fitness and dance classes whenever I can, usually two or three times a week. I still teach one class a week, to dancers of about my own age. We have fun! I also love going to SF conventions and other writers conferences, where I love taking part in panel discussions. And because writing is such a solitary occupation, I make sure I find time for catching up with friends over a nice cup of coffee! And a cake. Don’t forget the cake!

*****

Thanks so much Satima for joining us this week! Please be sure to follow Satima and check out her work!

Website: satimaflavell.com.au

Blog: satimaflavell.blogspot.com.au

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/satimaflavell

Twitter: @satimaflavell

Lnkedin: Satima Flavell

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Satima-Flavell/e/B00JN4GIDC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8138282.Satima_Flavell

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