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We are more than half way through November and I have not written a blog post. Life goes on as usual: Mondays and Tuesdays I teach dance. W...

About Me

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher 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. Book two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. 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, and I still teach dance at Trinity School for Seniors, an outreach program of the Uniting Church in Perth.

My books

The first novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as an e-book from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $AU25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. Book two of the trilogy, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. Book one, The Dagger of Dresnia, is up on the usual bookselling web sites as an e-book, and I have a few hard copies to sell to those who prefer Real Paper. Book Two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available soon. The easiest way to contact me is via Facebook.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

Mythic Resonance

Buy 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

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Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

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Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

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Places I've Lived - Sydney
Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

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Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

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Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
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Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

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Places I've Lived: Perth by Day
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Places I've lived: High View, WV

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Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

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Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

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Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

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Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Hormones and Reading

Last weekend, I attended a very interesting day at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, in Greenmount, which is on the outskirts of Perth, Western Australia. There were two workshops, both run by Perth author Nikki Logan.

The first one lasted three hours, and was about how reading impacts the human brain, and how to enrich your writing by helping readers to get the absorption experience they crave. Nikki provided us with interesting info on the bio-chemistry of arousal. We're not talking sexual arousal here, you understand, but arousal of all kinds - the visceral arousal of a good thriller, the emotional arousal of romance, the intellectual arousal of a mystery, the sensual arousal of erotic fiction and the creative arousal of speculative fiction, Of course, you can have more than one kind of arousal in a novel, and intellectual arousal can go with non-fiction, too, so it's a good thing for all writers to know about.

When I posted my doings to Facebook, one of my friends was a bit uneasy, and she asked in a comment. 'Do you think it's ethically right to chemically addict people to your (plural) writing?'

The fact is that when we sit down to get absorbed in something, certain hormonal activity will occur. So knowing how to get people absorbed is helping them to have that experience. You know what it's like when you really get into a book - sit down to read at 10.00 AM and next thing you know it's 2.00 PM and you're starving so you have to go and get something to eat, but you resent leaving the book! It's all because of Dopamine and his mates, and that's what I wrote in reponse .

My friend responded with "'helping them have that experience" sounds like manipulation to me! There have already been great and gripping books where writers didn't consciously do this.'

Indeed there have, but they were written by frighteningly talented writers who knew instinctively how to get those hormones flowing. As a craftsman writer, I have to learn how to do it. The experience for the reader is the same, whether the writer does it consciously or unconsciously - and it's the experience that readers want! It's no different from film techniques, where they deliberately set out to scare you, make you laugh or have you on the edge of your seat with excitement. It's the hormones that do it in all cases and it's the very reason that readers read and viewers view! 

I understood where my friend was coming from, though. There was a time when I refused to go to the  movies because I resented 'having my emotions manipulated'. Yet I still read books and listened to music! I told a friend why I didn't go to movies and she burst out laughing. 'Don't be silly,' she said. 'That's exactly why I go to movies!'

The penny dropped. I realised that it is the job of the creative artist in whatever field to manipulate the emotions - to make us laugh or cry, to make us know what it is like to be chased in the dark by a nameless horror, to rejoice at the birth of a child, to grieve at a death, to make us remember the joy of lying on the beach and getting sunburnt with our first lovers ...

In short, all the arts are about the human experience. At the end of a good film, ballet, opera, play, piano recital, rock concert, book or art exhibition, we should feel something. And, if it's an especially good work, we might have learnt a new way of looking at our own experiences of life and what makes us tick, both individually and collectively. Yes, we are paying to 'have our emotions manipulated'. And that, my friends, is a very good thing, and I want to learn how to do it well. If you want to learn, too, hie thee to yon Amazon and buy Nikki Logan's book, The Chemistry of Reading.

Nikki's afternoon workshop was about Marketing and Branding. I learnt a great deal from this too, and that's great, because as I have triumphantly announced, I have recently sold my first novel to Satalyte Publishing. I came away from Nikki's second workshop with lots of ideas on brands, promises and position statements, among other things. Watch this space as I try some of them out!

Emotions picture by Toddatkins (http://batonrougecounseling.net/managing-emotions/) [CC0], via Wikimedia

4 comments:

Jo said...

How very interesting Satima. In fact I would imagine if our hormones are not stimulated in some way, we would come away from the movie dissatisfied or put down the book disappointed or whatever. If I were a writer I would certainly grab that information.

Good luck with your book. Keep us updated.

Satima Flavell said...

Tht's what Nikki said, too, Jo - it's a fact a prospective purchaser will not want to buy a book if s/he reads the first couple of pages and is not immediately engaged by it, which, I suppose, explains why we are constantly told to start our stories 'in media res' - in the middle of things, where there's some action. The old style of novel-writing, where you could start with lengthy descriptions and introducing characters, has gone in this age of instant gratification!

Denise Covey said...

Hi Satima. I'm following a link from Jo's blog. I'm a Queenslander. My latest novel is in three parts - the third part is Western Australia in the 1920s. I feel it was good timing to find your blog and see what you offer.

I"m adding you to my blogroll...

Denise

Satima Flavell said...

Nice site, Denise! Lots of interactive stuff, which is always good. I shall link to it in my blog roll, too.

You might like to consider adding my publisher http://satalyte.com.au/submissions/ to your 'Publishers open to submissions' list. They are a new company and open to all genres.

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