Long and Short Reviews welcomes Marva Dasef, whose latest book, Scotch Broom, the third book in a series called The Witches of Gladorheim, is now out. The first book, Bad Spelling, and second book Midnight Oil. are also available. The hope is that each book is standalone enough to read separately, however there is a progression in time.
“The blurb for the first book might give the reader an idea of how the characters get to the events in the second book,” she told me. “I recommend readers who think Midnight Oil sounds interesting to pick up the first book. Contact me. I’m fairly willing to gift the first book if someone purchases the second. My publisher also offers a short story, “Spellslinger,’ that’s a prequel to the series.”
Bad Spelling – Book 1 of The Witches of Galdorheim Series
A klutzy witch, a shaman’s curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home.
Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.
The young witch, accompanied by her half-vampire brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way.
Marva would like to continue with the adventures of Kat and Rune as they grow up, expand their abilities as witches, find love, make horrible mistakes, fix their mistakes, and, ultimately, take over leadership of the witches’ island.
“I think I could write books about other characters within the world of Galdorheim. Some of my fans have said they want a book about Kat and Rune’s mother, Ardyth. From hints in the existing books, going back in time to Ardyth and her sister, Thordis, as teen witches learning the trade as Kat and Rune are in the three books of the series. By the way, the third book will be published this spring,” she said.
Once Marva had the original idea for the Witches series, she did a lot of research.
“Since much of the action takes place in the Arctic, I spent a lot of time finding out about life above the circle. This led to information I didn’t know existed. The types of sea life, birds, and land animals in the area. It’s not just polar bears, although I do have one in the first book. I also discovered the hunter/gatherer tribe, the Samis, which were perfect to be my main character’s paternal side of the family (her mother is a witch),” she explained. “The ‘what’ of my research leads to the question of how I go about doing it. Lots and lots and lots of internet searching. I also followed many links to other information which gave me a new idea to include. I had decided to use runes for magic, but I learned that they were a language called Elder Futhark (no, really), not just simple symbols. When I learned that, I managed to find some real runic words I could use in the text. Kat’s biggest problem at the beginning of the series is her inability to remember and pronounce the Old Runic words. It wasn’t that she didn’t study hard enough or that she was not too bright, but that she was surrounded by a curse that made her a bad speller (which also produced the title of the first book).”
Marva told me, “Unlike other authors, I did not spring from the womb with pen and pad gripped in my tiny fingers. I was always a good writer who loved essay questions while others in the classroom groaned. I did my teenage share of stories and poetry (really, really horrible poetry). At college, I made up my own curriculum combining English composition and computer science courses to create a brand new major: technical communication. I worked as a tech writer for the next thirty-five years. In 2005, I retired with the notion of writing a bit of fiction. I’ve been a professional writer for more than forty years, I just switched from non-fiction to fiction.”
Marva has a great set-up in the family room for her writing—right next to the kitchen for quick snacking. Her oak computer desk faces out a large window.
“Not much of a view, but I can watch the squirrels at play. When I write, I find any music distracting so there are no iPods hanging out on my desk. I’ve become used to the sound of the dishwasher, hubby running power equipment, and my cat vocally worrying about those danged squirrels. I have a second computer on a desk an easy step away if I need it. I use it (XP system) for building book trailers since it can run the Microsoft Movie Maker. I don’t like the MS Live Movie Maker that comes with Windows 7. It’s more for photo slide shows of your vacation pictures.”
The hardest part of writing for Marva is describing settings.
“I figure that the movie running in my head should be quite clear to anybody reading my book,” she said. “My critters set me straight on that and demand that I add just a teensy bit of detail. My tech writing background taught me brevity and omitting extraneous and unnecessary details, like this sentence.”
“When writing descriptions of your hero or heroine, what feature do you start with?” I asked.
“This is an interesting question in that I think the answer should always be that you don’t describe your characters. Every bit of physical information should come from actions or what others say about the character. I grind my teeth a bit when I’m reading and come to a big fat tell paragraph describing any character. Even with famous writers, I’ve seen these long unnecessary descriptions of even minor characters. One time I threw a book (paperback) across the room screaming that I did NOT need to know that the guy was wearing a grey turtleneck. It was an unnecessary detail that got in the way of the plot. I spent several pages trying to find the importance of the grey turtleneck and threw the book when it became evident it was meaningless. Envision your characters and even write a description of them in notes, but resist the temptation to say something like:
Maisie Goodlady had long blonde hair, tied neatly into a bun at the base of her neck. Her blue eyes flashed when she became animated in her book club discussions. Slightly shorter than average, she always wore six-inch stilettos, but varied her outfits between her night working clothes which included fishnet stockings, a mini skirt, and plunging neckline showing off her braless cleavage…
“Sorry, got a little carried away there, but the complete description of a character when introduced is a big dead weight dragging down the plot.”
Marva outlines with brief summaries for each segment.
“Chapters may combine or cross over a given segment. This will run about three pages. Then I start to write going by the summary. At some point, the whole thing goes out the window and it’s pantser all the way to the end,” she told me. “As I mentioned earlier, I do a lot of research. Often I find something that will give me a whole new direction or, at least, something to include in the story.”
“How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?” I wondered.
“That’s a toughie, since every writer likes to believe their writing is unique. For one thing, I have a fondness for puns and cultural references. For example, one chapter in Midnight Oil is titled ‘Fight to the Finnish.’ No, I didn’t spell finish wrong; the fight is in Finland. I use the real world with the assumption that my magical characters are part of it and know they have to keep their magic hidden. For all we know, we have a perfectly brilliant witch living next door, or that killer whales can talk if they meet the right person to talk with.”
“Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book,” I said. “Where would you most likely want to go?”
“Where else but up north above the Arctic Circle. I would love to actually go to the places I have in my books that I had to research like a mad woman to make them realistic (and magical, of course). Besides, my grandmother was born in Norway, and I would love to visit the country she left as a sixteen-year-old girl to bravely come to America along with millions of other immigrants have done.”
About the Author:
Marva Dasef lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a fat white cat. Retired from thirty-five years in the software industry, she has now turned her energies to writing fiction and finds it a much more satisfying occupation. Marva has published more than forty stories in a number of on-line and print magazines, with several included in Best of anthologies. She has several previously published books. Her latest pride and joy is the Witches of Galdorheim Series from her super duper publisher, MuseItUp.
Find the author online at
Twitter Handle: @Gurina
MIDNIGHT OIL Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Kat is a nervous wreck waiting for her boyfriend’s first visit to her Arctic island home. He doesn’t show up, so she’s sure he’s given her the brushoff.
When she learns he’s disappeared, she sets out on a mission to find him. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.
Mustering every bit of her Wiccan magic, Kat rises to the challenge. She invokes her magical skills, learns to fly an ultralight, meets a legendary sea serpent, rescues her boyfriend, and helps a friendly air spirit win the battle against her spiteful sibling. On top of it all, she’s able to recover the Midnight Oil and help the hapless mutants in the nick of time.
Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island, Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble. Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.
While dodging the goddess’ minions and trying to find her way out of the Otherworld, Kat soon learns she shouldn’t underestimate the old has-been for one second; the crone still has a few tricks that can drain a witch’s magic in a flash. To make matters worse, Kat’s brother secretly followed her into the Otherworld. Now he’s in danger too. Kat has to go one on one with the goddess to save herself and her brother.
Download a PDF Sampler of all three books in the series and the bonus short story, Spellslinger from http://temp.marvadasefcom.officelive.com/Spellslinger.aspx .