by Damaris West
About The Author:
Damaris West (née Damaris Naylor) has been writing almost for as long as she can remember, cutting her teeth on atmospheric poems and ferocious little stories about her own fictitious exploits.
Although her family home was in the heart of Cambridge, UK, hers was none-the-less a rural style of upbringing in which natural history was of immense importance. Of her immediate family, Damaris was the only non-scientist.
Damaris' first novel, 'Wild Goose' (available as part of a compendium with her third novel), drew inspiration for its setting and details from her autobiography, and reflects her own struggle to break away from the family mould. Her second novel, written in time wrested from the demands of running a tuition agency with her husband Clive, is one of fantasy and called Skolthan after the magical and Eden-like island that it describes. Her third novel, 'Queen Anne's Lace', depicts the complex interrelationships of a family (not altogether dissimilar to her own) when their values and desires are brought into sharp relief following a change in circumstances.
Apart from novels, Damaris has written poetry, short stories and articles, some of them commercial. One short story for children has been published separately and is called The Talking Tree.
She currently lives in Umbria, Italy, in a rebuilt farmhouse with her husband and three dogs, all Italian rescue puppies. She divides her time between writing and tending her garden which is in constant need of protection from the ebullient native plants and insects. She writes a daily blog about her adventures – http://italyhouse.wordpress.com
Some of these anecdotes have been turned into a short book about living in Umbria called ‘A Postcard From Umbria’. It contains many of her own photographs.
You can see all the books which she has been involved with at www.anysubject.com
Damaris’ hobbies include playing the violin, gardening, photography and reading.
Publisher: Any Subject Books
About The Book:
Hilda, loner and wise woman, possesses secret knowledge which allows her to access a paradise world called Skolthan. Her warlock ex-husband Joshua, unable to extract the knowledge from her during their marriage, has allied himself with a midwife called Alice who is in reality a powerful black witch. Together they devise a plan to enter Skolthan by storm, in spite of Hilda, and use it as a springboard for reaching and perverting the rest of the universe.
When a homeless girl called Camilla turns up on her doorstep, Hilda takes her in, unaware that this is part of her enemies' plan for spying on her. Camilla has been raped and is pregnant with a child whose sacrifice is intended to provide magic power for breaking into Skolthan.
Camilla is forcibly conducted by her manipulators to a bleak winter shore for an induced birth. Hilda meantime has rallied her few somewhat eccentric friends for a rescue mission. Together they prevent the invasion of Skolthan and subject Alice to a grisly death.
There is to be no conventional happy ending, however: Camilla's ordeal has been too much for her. But happiness has many different guises.
A naked, flame-like body shining pale in the centre of a ring of shadowy figures. One might have expected it to look vulnerable, to have the air of a sacrificial victim, but it gave quite the opposite impression. In part due to her stature, in part to a natural charisma, Alice seemed to be in total control of those sinister figures. With a great dramatic gesture, throwing back her head, she now pointed to another person in the circle who immediately began to undress, the garments being retrieved by the figure to the right in the same way as before. This time the naked body that emerged was that of a younger woman, with full breasts and a dark triangle of pubic hair. I looked closely at her face but didn’t recognise her.
Before the second figure had scarcely discarded her last item of clothing, Alice had made a gesture towards a third who responded also by undressing. Then while this one was still slipping off the last garments, she pointed towards a fourth. It was an amazing spectacle. All fourteen of the figures eventually took off their clothes, but the instructions to do so came at gradually decreasing intervals so that the whole performance gathered speed like a catherine wheel.
I glanced sideways at Dick once or twice during this display; his eyes were nearly popping out of his head. All the naked figures were female. Some were young, though most were mature and some even elderly - one or two considerably older than Alice. All of them, however, even the most wrinkled and saggy, shared a certain self-confidence which I guessed was the result of just such activities as this. I looked as hard as I could, but I didn’t recognise anyone else.
Once all the women were naked, Alice bent down and picked up what looked like a pot or crock from beside her. She took it to each member of the circle in turn, holding it for them while they dug a finger in the contents and put the finger straight up between their legs. Each woman rubbed her hands together and wiped the substance all over her body, now and again dipping back between her legs for more. A dim, dim memory came to me of having read of this sort of thing: witches introducing hallucinogenic ointment vaginally to enhance the effect.
After that, Alice took a place among the others in the circle and they all began silently dancing, accompanied only by the hiss and sigh of waves sliding up the shore beyond them. Without music, and without being able to see each other (their eyes were closed, I noticed,) they somehow managed to achieve a fundamental unity in their dance. They writhed with their arms stretched up and their heads bent back. Their bodies swayed like flower stalks in the wind. The dancing began slow and stately but grew faster and faster, wilder and wilder, until the entire group was thrashing back and forth like weed in a turbulent stream. Eventually, as if their power came all from the one source, they began to slow. They came to a standstill, one after the other, in different poses, stayed thus for a while, then opened their eyes as if coming round from a trance. I found myself envying them. Why had I never done something like that on a wild, moonlit shore?