• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:


    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!

     

     

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Sara Douglass- In Memoriam

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since Sara died. It’s not that the reality of her death isn’t apparent; the ache of her absence is constant and painful. Rather, I think it’s because through her books, short stories and lingering cyber-presence she continues to touch, challenge and move us.

In some ways, it’s as if she’s still here.

Like many of her friends and fans, I’ve been reading her books again – it’s a way of bringing her closer, providing comfort in bleak and sad times. What re-reading her novels has also served, is to remind me of what an astonishing talent she possessed.

From her very first novel, Battleaxe (which changed the landscape of fantasy publishing in Australia) right through to her final books, The Devil’s Diadem and the posthumously published collection of short stories, The Hall of Lost Footsteps, the breadth and depth of her work, the way she used and transformed history, invented complex and rich societies; the liveliness and courage of her characters, their weaknesses and strengths, passions and foibles, are all there to enjoy whenever we want.

The problem with this, of course, is that the experience is bitter-sweet. On the one hand, you plunge into a novel (actually, you’re grabbed by the throat and dragged into the world between the pages whether you’re ready or not) and lose yourself in an astounding tale. On the other, once the final line is finished, there’s the cruel reminder that never again will there be the opportunity to dive into a new Sara Douglass invention.

Every day around the world, someone who has had the Douglass experience wakes to the knowledge that they won’t again – at least, not in the same, thrilling way that first encounters engender – and they too mourn what we’ve all lost.

For those who are Sara Douglass worlds’ virgins, understand how much you’re envied.

But how lucky are we that she’s left behind such a legacy for us to discover or revisit over and over and extract whatever pleasures, memories and wonder we can? That was Sara’s gift to all of us; one she willingly and lovingly gave.

Then, there’s also the powerful truths contained in her blogs, like the one reproduced below, “The Silence of the Dying.” Here, Sara discusses death, giving voice to those who cannot speak for themselves as well as bearing her heart and fears in such a raw and frank way. Reading it again isn’t easy, but it is a privilege; a difficult, demanding one, but a privilege nonetheless and I’m grateful to Harper Collins and Voyager for this.

Sara’s words, the lyrical, sensual, sorrowful and authoritative, however, are only one aspect of Sara’s life and thus death. For those who truly knew and loved her – those few whom she admitted into her extremely private world – her loss is both a yawning chasm and a constant whisper, a murmur in the heart and soul that reminds you of the joy her love bestowed and the anguish it’s no more. The song of her surcease should be sung – not as a dirge, but as a sweet refrain.

In commemorating Sara’s death, I think it’s more appropriate we remember her life. We should, on this day especially, celebrate her accomplishments. But let’s not forget the amazing, beautiful woman behind the words – her knowledge, compassion, honesty, empathy and her delight in a life cut brutally short.

We’re so fortunate Sara’s spirit lives on her words. Every time we read or recall these, it’s comforting to know that, like her characters, she is also brought to life again and again and again….

Karen Brooks
September 2012

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Originally from blog “Notes from Nonsuch”

The Silence of the Dying

By Sara Douglass

Many years ago I did an hour long interview on Adelaide radio (with Jeremy Cordeaux, I think, but my memory may be wrong). The interview was supposed to promote one of my recent publications, but for some reason we quickly strayed onto the subject of death and dying, and there we stayed for the entire hour. I proposed that as a society we have lost all ability to die well. Unlike pre-industrial western society, modern western society is ill at ease with death, we are not taught how to die, and very few people are comfortable around death or the dying. There is a great silence about the subject, and a great silence imposed on the dying. During the programme a Catholic priest called in to agree with the premise (the first and last time a Catholic priest and I have ever agreed on anything) that modern society cannot deal with death. We just have no idea. We are terrified of it. We ignore it and we ignore the dying.

Today I’d like to take that conversation a little further, discuss modern discomfort with death, and discuss the silence that modern western society imposes on the dying. Recently I’ve had it hammered home on a couple of occasions how much the dying are supposed to keep silent, that ‘dying well’ in today’s society means keeping your mouth firmly closed and, preferably, behind closed doors.

Never shall a complaint pass your lips. How many times have we all heard that praise sung of the dying and recently departed, “They never complained”?

Death in pre-industrial society was a raucous and social event. There was much hair-tearing, shrieking and breast beating, and that was just among the onlookers. Who can forget the peripatetic late-medieval Margery Kempe who shrieked and wailed so exuberantly she was in demand at all the death beds she happened across? Suffering, if not quite celebrated, was at least something to which everyone could relate, and with which everyone was at ease. People were comfortable with death and with the dying. Death was not shunted away out of sight. Grief was not subdued. Emotions were not repressed. If someone was in pain or feeling a bit grim or was frightened, they were allowed to express those feelings. Unless they died suddenly, most people died amid familiar company and in their own homes amid familiar surroundings. Children were trained in the art and craft of dying well from an early age (by being present at community death beds). Death and dying was familiar, and its journey’s milestones well marked and recognizable. People prepared from an early age to die, they were always prepared, for none knew when death would strike.

Not any more. Now we ignore death. We shunt it away. Children are protected from it (and adults wish they could be protected from it). The dying are often not allowed to express what they are really feeling, but are expected (by many pressures) to be positive, bright and cheerful as ‘this will make them feel better’ (actually, it doesn’t make the dying feel better at all, it just makes them feel worse, but it does make their dying more bearable for those who have to be with them).

When it comes to death and dying, we impose a dreadful silence on the dying lest they discomfort the living too greatly.

I have done no study as to when the change took place, but it must have been about or just before the Industrial Revolution — perhaps with the mass movement into the cities and the subsequent destruction of traditional communities and community ties, perhaps with the rise of the modern medical profession who demanded to control every aspect of illness, perhaps with the loosening grip of religion on people’s lives during the Enlightenment.

Certainly by the nineteenth century silence and restraint had overtaken the dying. The Victorian ideal was of the dying suffering sweetly and stoically and silently (we’ve all read the novels, we’ve all seen the paintings). Those who didn’t die sweetly and stoically and silently but who bayed their distress to the moon generally ended badly by dropping their candle on their flammable nightgown, and then expiring nastily in the subsequent conflagration which took out the east tower of whatever gothic mansion they inhabited. The lingering commotion and the smouldering ruins always disturbed everyone’s breakfast the next morning. There was much tsk tsk tsk-ing over the marmalade.

By the mid-nineteenth century, if not earlier, the lesson was clearly implanted in our society’s collective subconscious.

Death should be silent. Confined. Stoic.

Sweet, stoic and silent was the way to go. (Again I remind you that a sweet, stoic and silent death is still praised innumerable times in today’s society; by the time we have reached early adulthood we have all heard it many, many times over.) The one exception is the terminally ill child. Terminally ill children are uncritizable saints. The terminally ill adult is simply tedious (particularly if they try to express their fears).

All this silence and stoicism scares the hell out of me.

In that radio interview many years ago I spoke as a historian. Today I speak as one among the dying. Two years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Six months ago it came back. It is going to kill me at some stage. Now everyone wants a date, an expected life span, an answer to the ‘how long have you got?’ question. I don’t know. I’m sorry to be inconvenient. I am not in danger of imminent demise, but I will not live very long. So now I discuss this entire ‘how we treat the dying’with uncomfortable personal experience.

Now, with death lurking somewhere in the house, I have begun to notice death all about me. I resent every celebrity who ‘has lost their long battle with cancer’. Oh God, what a cliché. Can no one think of anything better? It isn’t anything so noble as a ‘battle’ gallantly lost, I am afraid. It is just a brutal, frustrating, grinding, painful, demoralizing, terrifying deterioration that is generally accomplished amid great isolation.

Let me discuss chronic illness for a moment. As a society we don’t tolerate it very well. Our collective attention span for someone who is ill lasts about two weeks. After that they’re on their own. From my own experience and talking to others with bad cancer or chronic illness, I’ve noticed a terrible trend. After a while, and only a relatively short while, people grow bored with you not getting any better and just drift off. Phone calls stop. Visits stop. Emails stop. People drop you off their Facebook news feed. Eyes glaze when you say you are still not feeling well. Who needs perpetual bad news?

This is an all too often common experience. I described once it to a psychologist, thinking myself very witty, as having all the lights in the house turned off one by one until you were in one dark room all alone; she said everyone described it like that. People withdraw, emotionally and physically. You suddenly find a great and cold space about you where once there was support. For me there has been a single person who has made the effort to keep in daily contact with me, to see how I am, how I am feeling, and listen uncomplainingly to my whining. She has been my lifeline. She also suffers from terrible cancer and its aftermath, and has endured the same distancing of her friends.

The end result is, of course, that the sick simply stop telling people how bad they feel. They repress all their physical and emotional pain, because they’ve got the message loud and clear.

People also don’t know how to help the sick and dying. I remember a year or so ago, on a popular Australian forum, there was a huge thread generated on how to help a member who was undergoing massive and life-changing surgery that would incapacitate her for months. People asked what they could do. I suggested that if one among them, or many taking it in turns, could promise this woman two hours of their time every week or fortnight for the next few months then that would help tremendously. In this two hours they could clean, run errands, hang out the washing, whatever. And they had to do all this while not once complaining about how busy their own lives were, or how bad their back was, or how many problems they had to cope with in life. Just two hours a fortnight, with no emotional-guilt strings attached. Whatever she wanted or needed. Freely given.

Bliss for the incapacitated or chronically ill.

But that was too difficult. Instead the poor woman was buried under a mountain of soft toys, dressing gowns, bath salts and bombs, daintily embroidered hankies, a forest’s worth of Hallmark cards, chocolates and flowers and exhortations that everyone was ‘thinking of her’.

None of which helped her in any way, of course, but all of which assuaged the guilt of the gift-givers who mostly promptly forgot her and her daily horrific struggle through life.

Modern attention spans for the chronically ill are horribly short, probably because chronic or terminal illness in today’s society is horribly tedious. Tedious, because we are all so uncomfortable with it.

Instead, too often, it is up to the sick and the dying to comfort the well and the un-dying.

Just take a moment to think about this, take a moment to see if you have ever experienced it yourself. The dying — sweet, stoic, silent — comforting those who are to be left behind. I know I experienced it when first I was diagnosed with cancer. I found myself in the completely unreal situation of having, over and over, to comfort people when I told them I had cancer. In the end I just stopped telling people, because almost invariably I was placed into the bizarre situation of comforting the well by saying everything would be all right (which, of course, it won’t, but that’s what people needed to hear to make them comfortable about me again).

The dying have been indoctrinated from a very young age into this sweet, stoic and silent state. They earn praise for always being ‘positive’ and ‘bright’ and ‘never complaining’. Perhaps they are bright and positive and uncomplaining, but I am certain they lay in their beds with their fear and anger and grief and pain and frustration completely repressed while modern expectation forces them, the dying, to comfort the living.

I am sick of this tawdry game. I am sick to death of comforting people when all I want is to be comforted. I am sick of being abandoned by people for months on end only to be told eventually that ‘I knew they were thinking of me, right?’ I am sick of being exhorted to be silent and sweet and stoic. I know I face a long and lonely death and no, I don’t think I should just accept that.

I don’t think I should keep silent about it.

I have witnessed many people die. As a child I watched my mother die a terrible death from the same cancer that is going to kill me. As a registered nurse for seventeen years I have seen scores of people die. I have watched the dying keep cheerful and reassuring while their family were there (forced by modern expectation of how people should die), only to break down and scream their terror when the family have gone. The one thing they all said, desperately, was “Don’t let me die alone.” But mostly they did die alone, doors closed on them by staff who were too frantically busy to sit with them, and relatives who have gone home and not thought to sit with their parent or sibling. People do die alone, and often not even with the slight comfort of a stranger nurse holding their hand. If you put your relative into a hospital or a hospice or a nursing home, then their chances of dying alone and uncomforted increase tremendously. I want to die at home, but I am realistic enough to know that my chances of that are almost nil as impersonal ‘carers’ force me into a system that will remove me from any comfort I might have gained by dying in familiar, loved and comforting surroundings.

My mother, who died of the same cancer which will kill me, kept mostly stoic through three years of tremendous suffering. But I do remember one time, close to her death, when my father and I went to visit her in hospital. She was close to breaking point that evening. She wept, she complained, she expressed her fears in vivid, terrifying words. I recall how uncomfortable I was, and how relieved I was when she dried her tears and once more became cheerful and comforting herself. I was twelve at the time, and maybe I should feel no guilt about it, but I do now, for I know all too well how she felt, and how much she needed comforting far more than me.

She died in her cold impersonal hospital room in the early hours of the morning, likely not even with the comfort of a stranger nurse with her, certainly with none of her family there.

The great irony is that now I face the same death, from the same cancer.

That is the death that awaits many of us, me likely a little sooner than you, but in the great scheme of things that’s neither here nor there. Not everyone dies alone, but many do.

Not everyone suffers alone, but most do it to some extent.

It is the way we have set up the modern art of death.

I am tired of the discomfort that surrounds the chronically and terminally ill. I am tired of the abandonment. I am tired of having to lie to people about how I am feeling just so I keep them around. I am tired of having to feel a failure when I need to confess to the doctor or nurse that the pain is too great and I need something stronger.

I am tired of being made to feel guilty when I want to express my fear and anguish and grief.

I am tired of keeping silent.

******************

Thank you for reading this far, and being my companion this far. I promise to be more stoic in future. But just for one day I needed to break that silence.

May 22nd, 2010

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Many, MANY thanks must also go to our Voyager friend Lindsay who helped find this post by Sara in the Internet archives.

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Sara Douglass remembered by Karen Brooks

Sara Douglass R.I.PThe outpouring of grief that has followed the death of Sara Douglass (Sara Mary Warneke), who died on Tuesday morning has surprised no-one – except, had she lived to see the effect of her passing, Sara herself.

How do I know? Having been Sara’s close friend and confidant for twenty years – and having followed in her career-footsteps (from academic to author; as she did for many others, she both inspired and encouraged me) and being in the process of recovering from cancer myself – I’ve spent the last nine months caring for Sara, along with my husband, Stephen. We shifted to Tasmania at the beginning of the year and have been privileged to share the best and worst of times with the woman who called me her soul-sister.

Though Sara was an intensely private person, when Stephanie Smith, Sara’s editor and good friend at Harper Collins, asked me if I could write an obituary, revealing something of Sara’s last weeks, I agreed. Sara had a deep affection for her readers and fans and loved connecting with them through cyberspace – through the early years of her message board and its various discussions, to her blog and websites (her homepage and the Nonsuch garden) and FaceBook. So, without disrespecting her privacy and with a heavy heart, let me briefly invite you into Sara’s, Stephen’s and my world – a world that with her death, for us at least, has been cast adrift and irrevocably shattered.

Her final weeks were not easy; even the seemingly simple act of showering tired her for an entire day. Nonetheless, Sara maintained her wonderful sense of humour and acerbic wit, and her curiousity and concern for others. She managed to edit and see the publication of what is now her final novel, the magnificent The Devil’s Diadem and even saw (though didn’t read) the advance readers’ copies of her collection of short stories, The Hall of Lost Footsteps, which is being published in November by Ticonderoga Publications.

Accompanying her to every medical appointment, ensuring she had meals, clean clothes and well-fed cats, Stephen and I spent as much time as we could with Sara and did what we could for Sara. And typically of her, she was incredibly undemanding and often apologised (for what, we still don’t know!). I don’t know how many times she thanked us. We didn’t feel (and still don’t) that we deserved her thanks … we loved her and still do love her and it was a joy to see and be with her, as others who know her can attest.

While she sometimes appeared aloof, it was often because she didn’t hear what was said – Sara was quite deaf and relied on hearing aids – but distant she was not. On the contrary, she was one of the most loving and affectionate people I know who would embrace you in the warmest of hugs and squeeze you tight. I will miss those hugs more than I can say.

Visited by a few dear girlfriends (she was selective about who she let into her life) who travelled to Tasmania to see her, she very much enjoyed their company, but was also glad to be by herself again. She was a very solitary person who lived in her imagination as much as she did in the real world. I think she would be overwhelmed by what people are expressing on various forums now; she would be laughing in her unrestrained and contagious way and shaking her head in bewilderment.

Her final days were, by her choice, in a palliative care ward in Hobart. Despite what she wrote in her forthright and amazing blog, ‘The Silence of the Dying’, Sara chose not to die at home. After two weeks in hospital and then just over two in palliative care, she made the decision, despite everything being set in place (care teams organised, doctor ready, and I was to move in with her), not to return. I think it was emotionally too hard for her – the distancing from her old life had begun. The palliative care ward was comfortable, the ambience was warm, the staff caring, frank and compassionate: just like Sara. There was a garden on the balcony outside her window.

At first she felt guilty that she experienced relief at her decision not to go back home, but we quickly assuaged that and told her it was both normal and perfectly all right to feel such things.

After that, she seemed to find inner peace.

Then, she died.

She died as she lived – on her own terms, in her own time. Her death was quick.

She looked peaceful, serene even, her alabaster skin glowing, her hair softly framing her face. It’s an image that will live in my mind forever.

In accordance with Sara’s wishes, there’s no funeral or formal celebration of her life. She wanted ‘no fuss’. That is so Sara! As I promised, I’m following these wishes – it’s the least I can do.

Sara will be cremated on the 29 September at 10 a.m. There will be three people present. I will read from both BattleAxe (the part where StarDrifter sings the Star Song) and from page 511 of The Devil’s Diadem to the end. I will also read selections from the various tributes that family, friends and fans have left. I will make sure you’re all there with Stephen and me as we say another goodbye.

Then, as the sun sets on Friday the 30th of September, I will spread her ashes over her beloved garden with her cats and a bottle of bubbly as witnesses. I ask that, wherever you are in the world – real and virtual – you raise a glass or pause, and for just a moment, help us send Sara on the first steps in the eternal dance of stars.

I know she’s poised to soar and once she departs, she’ll twinkle brightly forever – in our hearts, minds and every time someone picks up her books and reads her astounding and beautiful words.

Vale Sara.

Karen Brooks was Sara’s friend & carer for the past 9 months.

The Infinity Gate is out!

Click here to read an extract from The Infinity Gate

Sara Douglass: The next chapter

Some readers have picked up the message on my Nonsuch Blog about the ‘one more fantasy book and that’s it’ entry. I thought I’d explain a bit more about it here.

Karen Brooks, another Australian fantasy author and yet another who has been battling her own cancer (she wrote about it in the Courier Mail, so I feel I can mention it here!) sent me a lovely anecdote about a woman who had been fighting cancer. Some time after this woman had finished treatment, her friends noticed that for several weeks she was no longer answering her telephone. Growing concerned, they were just about to send in the police to break down her door when the following message popped up on her voicemail. “My friends. As you know, I have been going through a personal crisis recently. As a result I have been making some profound changes in my life. If I have not returned your call in the past two weeks, then, my friend, I am sorry, but you are part of that change. Goodbye.” Click.

I got a good belly laugh out of that one, but it has deep meaning for anyone who has battled a life-threatening cancer. Most everyone makes some profound changes in their lives. I am not ‘out of the woods’, nor will I ever be, this is a killer cancer and I just don’t know when it will strike again, as it assuredly will.

So there have been some big changes in my life. One of these is fantasy writing. There is every chance I will move on. In the meantime, there is one more book to come in the DarkGlass Mountain trilogy (this was finished before I became so ill, but the cancer treatment interfered with its editing process). That book, The Infinity Gate, should be out in May next year.

After that, there will be one more fantasy book, The Devil’s Diadem. I signed HarperCollin’s offer memo for this last week (really Stephanie, it is in the post!). There’s always been a fantasy book I really, really wanted to write … and for various reasons I never got around to it. The Devil’s Diadem is it. So this book will be one for me, no holds barred, full on fun, everything I always wanted to put into a fantasy novel but never did as I was too busy second guessing myself as to what everyone else wanted. I am loving writing it. Should be out in 2011.

So that’s the news. As to where I am off after this, well, that’s for me to know and everyone else to wonder. 🙂 (Read: I am not actually all that sure, but I am having fun exploring various possibilities.) If you want to keep track of me then keep up on the Nonsuch Blog, which I am also really loving, and where I discuss most everything: http://nonsuchkitchengardens.com/wordpress/

You can read more about The Devil’s Diadem at Sara’s website. Sara Douglass is the award-winning and bestselling author of seventeen fantasy novels published by Voyager, including the Aurealis-winning Battleaxe. Her next book, The Infinity Gate, will be out in May next year.

Sara Douglass: Escape from the Starship Enterprise

I’ve escaped my evil abductors and made it back home! I went into hospital on Wednesday morning and awoke to find myself trapped on Starship Enterprise – honestly, the nurses station of the High Dependency unit reminded me of the bridge of Starship Enterprise – it was so cool! I had a serious case of ex-ICU-nurse envy! They controlled everything from great sweep of a bridge from where they surveyed their domain of about 6 captives.

We were all tied to our beds by a variety of strange communication devices that were wired into our bodies (seriously, I still have the holes to prove it, I am covered in plastic patches from where they took out wires) and we were all surrounded by Machines That Go Beep! Occasionally … actually, fairly often … the Machines That Go Beep! would become Machines That Go BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! and then that got Captain Kirk and his cronies moving, let me tell you. It kept all of us captives awake and in torture, too.

I had an epidural pre-op and the main problem was that epidural which firstly caused a crisis during the op when it caused my BP to drop out of control and the next few days were spent trying to get the BP back above 60/20 (we were aiming for 100 over anything at all, we’d take anything, but that 100 was pretty damn hard to achieve) and by the fact that about 6 hours post-op the epidural began to fail. By 10 hours post-op I had all my sensation back, I was in agony, and they couldn’t give me anything apart from Panadol (oh, Plu-eeeeze!) as my BP was so bad. So I spent a serious night in agony and don’t want to go back there any time soon.

Captain Kirk also had devised a super form of water torture called “let’s drag the ice block down Sara’s body again and see if any of the numbness has returned” and so every hour out would come the ice block and torture would commence. Dick Cheney would be seriously envious of this kind of torture.

I honestly kept trying to phone home to people but Kirk’s communication devices sensed every time I tried to use my mobile – I tried to ring friends five or six times but every time one of his lieutenants would inform Capt Kirk that the Alien in Bed 104 was trying to communicate with her fellow aliens and they’d cut off all signals. They could do all kinds of cool things from their bridge!

High dependency was staffed by some of the kindest people – and the hunkiest – most of the staff were male and they were GODS. Honestly. Gods. And they offered to take off their clothes to help raise my BP! Wasn’t that just the sweetest offer? 🙂 (Having got me in a lustful frame of mind they then refused to come through on their offer, which I decided was yet another form of torturing the poor, captive aliens.)

So gradually I got better and the staff found out my secret place for stashing my hated nasal probes (in the lifting mechanism of the bed, which seriously stuffed it up). They eventually put me on a morphine infusion which I controlled which wasn’t as cool as it sounds, but it was better than the stuffing panadol! LOL

Every day they got me out of bed which was so painful that I would literally burst into tears when they said it was time to get out. Better than the ice cube torture was the get out of bed torture. (Truly, the getting out of bed torture always left me sobbing, morphine or no morphine.)

On Saturday things started to get better and out came all the tubes and devices and off I went back to the surgical ward which was a strange and silent place compared to the Starship Enterprise. And yesterday I came home!

Surgeon said there was less cancer than she’d anticipated (you should have seen me in Recovery trying to feel about for a colostomy bag! LOL) and that she has got 99% of it out, and there is just a teensy tiny bit left in a couple of places on my bowel but that chemo should clean it up. She gave me the double thumbs up on the operation and ‘stuff’.

Oh yeah, and the epidural – it took the anaesthetist three frigging goes to get it in and by the end they had to have 3 people holding me down as it was so agonizing (the pain wasn’t in my back but everywhere else as the guy kept hitting nerves). After my horror experience I would not recommend them for anyone else – the side effects are appalling. I managed to have a chat to the alien in the bed next to me on Starship Enterprise and her anaesthetist had to have 3 goes to get hers in, too, but at least hers was working.

Once the Alien in the bed next to me and I were transferred back to a ‘normal’ ward we got quite friendly – she also has ovarian cancer (she was diagnosed 8 years ago) and has had two tussles with it since).

Three Cheers for the Starship Enterprise! 🙂

Hip hip hooray! I’m sure you’re all as pleased as we are to hear about how Sara is doing — and that her sense of humour is still very much in place! For more info on Sara and her books, or what she’s up to at the moment, click here to visit her official website. And don’t forget to join her rake squad!

The Infinity Gate: Darkglass Mountain Book Three

The Serpent BrideThe next book from Sara Douglass will be called The Infinity Gate, and not River Angels (which was the tentative title back in 08 when Sara blogged for us about her return to Tencendor). I’ve noticed many searchers for River Angels ending up at the Voyager blog so thought it might be nice to clear that up!

As many of you would be aware, Sara was diagnosed with cancer late last year and is currently undergoing treatment. If you’d like to do something for her, then you might consider joining the Rake Squad

On her website, Sara says, ‘I have a visualisation thing I do regularly. I visualise I live in a beautiful walled orchard. It has only six trees, but that’s enough for one person. There is emerald green grass and white daisies growing between the trees and stretching to the sandstone walls, and the sun shines down on the orchard with a soft, lovely light. But a gribbly black monster has taken up residence in one of the trees, and he’s casting down all kinds of black fungus-laden leaves about the place.Twisted Citadel

Each day I go in there and I rake all those black leaves up and then take them out to the incinerator through the cast iron gate in the wall and burn them to white ash. I can do that much, at least. I can’t do much about the gribbly black monster just yet, except poke him with my rake and curse him in words I can’t print here and tell him he’s not going to get my orchard, thank you very much, and wait for my tree surgeon (Penny the surgeon) to come on in and cut him out, but in the meantime raking up the fungus-laden leaves is important. I was explaining this to a distant friend and she said, “I’ll come in and rake, too!” and suddenly I have lots of people in there raking and manning the incinerator and the table of tea and cream puffs and whiskey (someone insisted on the whiskey) set up for the rakers by the raging incinerator.

So if you’d like to join the Rake Squad you have no idea how much I’d appreciate it. Those black leaves sometimes accumulate a little too quickly, and some days I am too sick and too down-hearted to go in and rake myself. I am unashamedly asking for a bit of help with the raking. You can send me an email just to let me know you’ll be in there raking occasionally – the Rake Squad could always use a few more rakers!’


Meet Sara Douglass this Thursday!

Twisted Citadel

Sara Douglass will be in Sydney signing copies of her books this Thursday 7 August!

At 4pm, she’ll be at Galaxy Bookshop, 143 York St, and then at 6pm she’ll be signing at Dymocks on George St. It’s been quite a while since Sara did a signing, so make sure you don’t miss this chance to ask her about her latest series. The first two books in the series, The Serpent Bride and The Twisted Citadel, are both out now – and give you the chance to revisit the world we first loved in Battleaxe.