SATIMA’S TOP WRITING TIP: Don’t rush the process. It’s a great temptation for writers these days to write a book in three to six months and immediately self-publish it on Amazon. Take your time, go to classes, join groups, and only put the book out when people more experienced than you are think it’s ready to publish. And don’t expect to make a living out of writing. Very few people do. Most writers either have day jobs or well-paid, understanding partners who are willing to carry the financial burden on their own.
Satima Flavell (also known as Carol Flavell Neist) is a writer, editor and reviewer. Her first poem appeared on the children’s page of what was then The Manchester Guardian when she was seven, and she continued to earn pocket money through writing until teenage interests took over. After training and working in the performing arts, she began reviewing dance performances in the 1980s, and this rapidly expanded to writing reviews and feature articles for The Australian, The West Australian, Music Maker, Dance Australia and many other journals. However, her favourite reading matter has long been fantasy, and her first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia, was recently published by Victoria’s Satalyte Publishing. Her website is at http://www.satimaflavell.com and you can find her under the same nom de plume on Blogger and Facebook.
Why do you write? Because there are stories in my head that want to get out!
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Teaching dance. Despite my advancing years, I still attend dance and fitness classes and teach theatrical dance. Dance makes a nice contrast to writing.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Publishers. It’s a crazy world, publishing. You have to get your story onto the desk of an editor at a publishing house that just happens, on that particular day, to be looking for the kind of story you’ve written. The chances are probably about the same as winning a major Lotto prize. No wonder self-publishing has become so popular.
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The flexible hours and the sheer fun of getting stories down on paper.
—the worst? Being stuck on characters and/or plot. This is where supportive writerly friends are so useful because sometimes they might make suggestions that can trigger new ideas.
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Probably not very much, because what I did worked for me. I started out by joining several writing groups, both face-to-face and on line. I really recommend the Online Writers Workshop (http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com). I learnt a great deal from exchanging crits with other writers there. I really believe a writer learns more from critiquing than being critiqued. I also went to workshops at the various writers centres in my city (Perth, Western Australia) and joined classes offered by numerous editors and authors. Every one of them taught me something new. It took me 10 years to get published and this is not unusual, so I’d encourage new writers to accept that there is no quick and easy path to publication. Some people are luckier than I was, but 10 years is not at all unusual for a writer’s apprenticeship.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? The fact that out of every thousand books that are submitted to the big publishing companies, only a couple are likely to be bought. With that knowledge I think I would probably have not bothered sending my MSS to the big houses: I would have gone to small press or self-publishing straight away. The big houses often take weeks or months to respond and sometimes they don’t respond at all.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? Make sure you make time for your inner life. Regular exercise (I practise dance and yoga), meditation and reading are more important to writers than lots of socialising. But don’t neglect family and social life, either. Balance in all things is a healthy goal.
The newly widowed Queen Ellyria just wants her sick triplet sons to live, each ruling over a third of the kingdom as their dying father decreed. When she finds herself trapped in a deadly bargain with a dark spirit, she recruits a band of young mages to help – but a terrible curse takes over.
The Dark Spirit befriends her enemies and seduces her friends, and Ellyria soon finds that famine, betrayal, pestilence and bereavement are all in its arsenal. Can Ellyria unite the elvish and mortal sides of her family, and in so doing, save the kingdom?
Where to find The Dagger of Dresnia, book one of The Talismans