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ARTS & CULTURE books
Let Her Go
by Dawn Barker, Hachette, $29.99
Dawn Barker’s background in psychiatry is
prominent in her writing. In Let Her Go, her second
novel, the notion of secrecy is visited through
a family stained by a murky past. Mysterious and
engrossing, the narrative questions the cost of
motherhood and the ethical concerns it can raise.
As Dawn delves into the darker side of the family
psyche, Let Her Go will leave you questioning your
own morals long after the final page has turned.
New offerings from WA writers and publishers.
The Dagger of Dresnia:
The Talismans Book One
by Satima Flavell, Satalyte Publishing, $27.99
The Dagger of Dresnia is not just a tale of good
versus evil, but of discrimination, love and
growth. Bound by excellent prose, this first book
in a trilogy tells the story of Queen Ellyria, who
strikes a dark deal to save her dying sons. With
the imagined world coming to life through well
thought-out characterisation that breaks supposed
medieval gender roles, even those unfamiliar with
the fantasy genre will find this worth reading.
How I Became the Mr Big
of People Smuggling
by Martin Chambers, Fremantle Press, $27.99
Conceptualised after a chance encounter with
Indonesian people smugglers, Martin Chambers’
novel is a fictional depiction of life in the illegal
multi-billion dollar industry. Set on a remote
station in the Northern Territory, it highlights the
unforgiving reality of people smuggling, while
uncovering harsh truths about life away from
society. Gripping and entertaining, the novel is
cover-to-cover entertainment for thriller fans.
The Dagger of Dresnia is
WA author Satima Flavell’s first
novel. Here she talks about
strong female characters, the
lessons of history, and working
in a fantasy world.
The Dagger of Dresnia is the first in
a trilogy. Was your writing solely focused on the first instalment?
I had a plan for the entire trilogy, and in fact I started to write what is
now the second book (The Cloak of Challiver, due for release later
this year) before writing the first. Sometimes the hardest thing about
getting started is knowing where to begin the story! However, they say
you have to write a million words before you’re any good, and I think
I paid my dues in spades while finding the best place to start!
The fantasy genre entails creating whole new worlds – is there
much you created that didn’t make it on to the page?
Oh, lots! Small snippets appear in the book but there’s no way to fit in
all the world-building. I have a map and a calendar in my head, and the
makings of a magical language. There’s just enough in the novel to set
the scene, I hope, and to give the story an authentic feel. I love twelfth
century Europe – the time and place in which the story is based. It has
been transported to an imaginary world, though, and the characters are
not based on people in our own history books.
To some, fantasy seems somewhat of a masculine genre. Was there
any particular reason that made you lean towards it?
I’ve always loved fairy tales and folklore, right back to my early childhood.
One of my early influences was Mary Stewart, author of The Crystal Cave.
She took the very masculine Arthurian legends and, while staying true
to the tradition, brought a woman’s perspective to her reworking of it.
My guess is that over the last decade or two, fantasy has become more
popular with women than men. Many of the most widely read writers in
the genre are women, including a couple of West Australians who have
a strong global following, Glenda Larke and Juliet Marillier.
The Dagger of Dresnia portrays a number of strong female
characters that break the gender roles of a medieval setting...
Although high fantasy usually has a medieval setting, it’s read by
a modern audience. The genre uses a historical setting to comment on
the mores of the present one. We must remember, too, that over the
last fifty years, women have made great strides in their search for sexual
equality. Medieval times were not easy for
strong women – but plenty of them fought
for a place in history and succeeded. Saint
Hilda of Whitby and Eleanor of Aquitaine
are two that spring to mind. I like to think
that my main character, Ellyria, would have
been another if she were real!
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