Burnt Snow, my first novel, was released in 2010 by Pan MacMillan Australia. White Rain, the sequel, is due soon. As part of a trilogy about witches, earth magic, curses, love and revenge, this blog archives my research into the world of the witches - as well as my own magical saga as a new author.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rosemary, that's for remembrance. No, for a book tour. A BOOK TOUR?!

Well, hello. Remember me? I feel like I've been away so long I've returned like an unexpected exgirlfriend at an engagement party.

This is me re-enacting The Prisoner at Portmeirion, Wales
Where've I been since last we spoke? I've been to some truly magical places in the UK...

- Stonehenge
- Glastonbury
- York
- Peterborough (ok, so Peterborough isn't PARTICULARLY magical, but it *does* have a good costume shop)
- London (duh, I live there)
- Portmeirion
- Betys-y-Coed
- Carnarvon

... and a few magical places in Japan...

- Yokohama
- Tokyo
- Kamakura
- Enoshima

... and now I'm in, um, magical Sans Souci, Sydney, Australia. Magical because I am staying with my parents while I'm back in Australia for six weeks and we haven't killed each other yet. It could be the mitigating presence of the Boy Next Door who, in addition to travelling with me to the furthest most geographical point from everything he knows, made himself into the Boy Indoors about the same time I disappeared offline. The two facts are not related, although this new and Very Grownup state of affairs means that I'll be referring to him as The Nice Bearded Man more or less consistently from this point.

For those of you who've been following this blog, you'd maybe guess that I've been away from my postings because not only have I been running around stone circles in the UK and Shinto shrines in Japan, but my book, Burnt Snow, is finally coming out. Like, this week. So it's been manic. Tomorrow, I'm in Melbourne for the Melbourne Writers' Festival, and then on the 31st I'm in Brisbane for the Brisbane Writers' Festival. Simultaneously, on September 1, I do my book show on Nabokov's Lolita for ABC 666 (still funny) in Canberra. On September 8 in Sydney, I launch my book at Shearer's Books in Leichhardt. Then I think I collapse. I get back up again, because then I'm in Newcastle for the Crack Theatre Festival as well as the National Young Writers Festival. Links to these last two when they work properly. Oh, and then I'm back in Canberra...

(By the way, check out the amazing Steph Bowe's blog here. I'm doing a panel with her on blogging - yes, okay, Dad, yes, heard it - at the Brisbane Writers Festival. She's written a beautiful book called Girl Saves Boy that would be a wonderful achievement even if she wasn't ONLY 17. Am I intimidated? Like, totally.)
It's all too crazy. I mean, it's MASSIVELY exciting but, sheesh, I'm tired. The book is, fortunately, finding some love in the jungle, and we got its first review 2 days ago. Australian Bookseller+Publisher VERY KINDLY wrote:
 FOUR STARS: This intriguing and well-crafted story slowly peels away the layers of normality to reveal a strange yet familiar darkness beneath... Addictive reading... Set aside a few hours and devour this book in one go. But be warned, the ending will leave you wanting more.

The publishers have also thrown their weight into the publicity behemoth, by providing information about the book via this handy page, while an extremely nice blogger called Rachel has a copy of Burnt Snow and is promoting it here. And for those of you who JUST CAN'T WAIT to read it you can either settle for the extract, OR you can pre-order/buy it RIGHT NOW from these fabulous bookstores (in alphabetical order because they are all awesome):
How's that? PLEASE don't freak out if they say the book isn't there yet - the book is being shipped AS WE SPEAK and and and I think all of these guys ship international. Whoo!

As of my exploration into the witch's world... it's actually been more important than ever that I rely on the mysteries of herbalism and meditation, what with the ongoing stress of travel, jetlag and a book tour.

Happy Sleeps

To get to sleep, I've learned the benefits of an easy sleeping balm. In addition to a glass of water (to stop dehydration) and a 15-minute walk (gentle muscle exertion), four (4) drops of lavender oil and four (4) drops of rosemary oil on a pillow knocks me flat. 

Lavender was known to the Greeks as "nard", and named in after the Syrian city of Naarda. It was an extremely precious herb to the ancients, due to the relaxing perfume it releases when crushed or burned, and its value as a holy herb meant not only that it was required to anoint the altars in the great Temple of the Old Testament, but both Mark and John reveal that a jar of it was cracked open and rubbed on Jesus' head (talk about bigness of brand association). The Romans named it "lavender" after the verb "lavare", meaning "to wash" and added it to baths. Today, you'll find a lavender bath as a traditional inclusion in a Korean bathhouse. Essential oil of lavender has anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties - and Wikipedia informs me that in WW1 it was used in hospitals to disinfect floors and walls. Often credited with relieving headaches, it's recommended that you avoid it during pregnancy and lactation.

Rosemary I've written about briefly before, when I made a corndoll out of this herb to celebrate Lammas. From the Latin "ros marinus", it means "dew of the sea" - and is associated with smokin' hot love goddess Aphrodite, as it was apparently thrown over her naked body to cover her when she sprang full-formed out of the ocean. Rosemary is, unsurprisingly, used in lots of love charms - stuff a poppet with rosemary to make it representative of who you wish to attract, or plant several pots of it with potential lovers' names written on the pots - whichever grows highest is supposed to be your fated lover. It is also popular in wedding bouquets. It is long associated with the notion of remembrance, and credited with improving the memory. It is often placed on graves, is pinned to collars on Remembrance Day and students used to stick it in their hair as preparation for exams. Modern science credits rosemary with improving memory when pumped into cubicles in experiments - although it slows recall.

The benefit of sleeping in haze of lavender is well known, but the benefit of rosemary is that it (reputedly) stimulates good and memorable dreams. Like of finishing a book tour without a nervous breakdown...

Zzzzzzz..... Good night!


Hi, I'm Rachel! said...

Hey Van :) Thanks for mentioning my blog! I was reading your post and literally said out loud "hey that's me!!!" You've made my day :)

My copy of Burnt Snow arrived this morning and I am super excited to get started.

You sound like you are going to be very busy for the next couple of weeks but I hope you enjoy it!

Wishing you every success for the launch of your new book.

Rach xxx

Van Badham said...

Hey, Rachel!

Eek! This first-book-business is so nervewracking - THANK YOU for the promo, and welcome to my blog. I am such an irregular blogger: am always impressed by the true blogcore: *full* kudos from this end! Am actually having my first guest blogger coming up, with some fun content on Vodou Witch Queens. Watch this space!

Am so busy I feel like screaming but only the laptop would hear. EEK! Have the BIG paranormal fiction debate on Tuesday at the Melbourne Writers' Festival and am so nervous. Oh, we are PUMPING the lavender into the pillows at night, let me tell you.

Please let me know if there's anything else about Burnt Snow you need for your site. xxx Van

Hi, I'm Rachel! said...

Hi Van,

I have just finished Burnt Snow and loved it. I have published my review on my blog if you'd like to take a look go here:


Van Badham said...

Oh, Rachel - the best review any writer can receive from a reader is "I LOVED IT". This is the stuff that keeps us going. :)

It's also *most motivating* when one has a second book to write! Stay turned!

xxx Van