Satima Flavell is a stablemate of mine on Satalyte Publishing, her book the Dagger of Dresnia has recently been released to a wonderful reception. She recently had the great idea of us all letting our friends get to know each other and we "sat down" for a chat. Her book is available now through the Satalyte website (www.satalyte.com.au) or from your local book store.
1. Considering genealogy is a hobby of yours, how have your discoveries played a part of your trilogy? Any links in there to your family?
Not directly, but my interest in Medieval genealogy was part of the reason the story was set in a time and place that somewhat resembles the British Isles in the late twelfth century. That’s a period that has appealed to me ever since I was in grade one at school. Being in England, we started with the Romans, then the Saxons, then the Vikings and finally the Normans. When I got my genealogy that far back I was very excited, because they kept pretty good records in those days. That meant I was actually able to learn something about what my ancestors got up to! (Mostly it was suing each other and squabbling. There will be a bit of that in the second book, the Cloak of Challiver.)
2. Being a networking master, how important has that been to your success? You're in Perth, I'm in Japan, Satalyte is in Melbourne. Your fans are all over!
Heh heh – ‘Networking Master’! Love it! No, I’m just interested in probably far too many things – reading, writing, criticism, dancing, music, theatre (especially Shakespeare), astrology, genealogy and history generally – so it’s easy for me to develop a wide acquaintance. I do think networking is important if you’re going to sell books or anything else, but not the kind of networking that’s developed purely to build a market. If someone friends me and immediately tries to sell me something, I unfriend them at once. Networking, at heart, means being a good friend to everyone, not just people you see as possibly useful in some way. I love my friends and I love my characters, so of course I want to introduce them to each other!
3. How important was historical accuracy to you considering the amount of research you did?
Pretty important. I always keep in mind something Tim Powers said at a convention when I was first starting out: ‘Get your facts right, because there is sure to be someone on a desert island somewhere who just happens to be an expert and you can be sure that person will take pleasure in pointing out your errors!’
4. Although your reviews have been amazing, full of stars, how would you deal with negative criticism, especially when they have completely missed the mark on your story?
Well, if someone has missed the point, that’s their problem, not mine. And if someone just doesn’t like my book, that’s their problem, too, and it’s also their right to make their dislike public, if they wish! But if someone takes the time to write a thoughtful critique that might help me to do better next time, that’s all to the good.
5. For us martial artists, how many weapons are included in your story? Does each nation fight differently? Where did the inspiration/technique come from for them?
I did a bit of research on weaponry of the era, and stuck to the slash and stab style using swords and daggers that was prevalent at the time. Beverak and his knights would have been a bit astonished if they suddenly came up against a bunch of fighters with scimitars, for instance! I learnt a lot from re-enactment web sites and of course I did quite a bit of ‘secondary research’ – i.e. reading other writers such as Bernard Cornwell who are a lot more knowledgeable than I am.
6. Have you ever swung a dagger like your characters, or shot a bow? How was the feeling?
My knowledge of martial arts is limited to a few tai chi classes, a couple of attempts with a bow (I couldn’t even draw the darned thing!) and a bit of fencing with foils when I was studying at NIDA as a girl. Alan Baxter let me have a play with a sword at a con once. It was heavy! But there have been women fighters throughout history, just like Brianne in Game of Thrones. There’s a story about a lady in my family tree – her name was Agnes, if remember rightly – who donned her father’s armour and rode out to meet a local man who thought he had a right to her father’s property, seeing as Agnes was the only child and there was no son to inherit. She beat him fair and square, in front of his squires, then removed her breast plate to show she was a woman. I’ll bet that fellow went home with his tail between his legs! My character Tammi owes a bit to Agnes.