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Recent Interview in NT’s leading magazine, “Off the Leash”, September 2021

Dina Davis Q&A I was recently interviewed by Rita Horanyi from the NT Writers’ Centre. Here’s what we had to say: Rita: Darwin-based author Dina Davis has published stories, articles and poems in journals and anthologies, and her debut novel, Capriccio, was shortlisted for last year’s NT Chief Minister’s Fiction Award. Her latest book, A Dangerous Daughter, draws from her own experiences to tackle the complex subject of eating disorders. NT Writers’ Centre caught up with Dina to chat about her new work. Congratulations on your new book! Tell us quickly, what’s A Dangerous Daughter all about? Dina: Basically, it’s a story of survival against all odds. Thirteen year old Ivy is suffering from an undiagnosed illness. After several unsuccessful treatments she is exiled from her family in NSW and sent to live with relatives in WA. The book details her daily struggle with an entity she calls ‘The Voice’ which won’t let her eat. Ultimately Ivy is diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, which was almost unknown in the 1950s, when the story takes place. What inspired the novel? Dina: I was inspired by two synchronistic events: the first was being invited to take part in an international study on anorexia, which proved that it is an illness with a largely genetic component. This knowledge freed me a lot from the self-blame that had plagued my life. The second was the discovery of a letter from over 50 years ago, written by the psychoanalyst who had treated me. I wanted […]

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Exciting Events Coming Up!

I am thrilled to have these opportunities to share my thoughts, and to promote “A Dangerous Daughter” throughout the Northern Territory. Thanks to the NT Writers’ Centre for publicising both these events. In spite of the cancellation of the NT Writers’ Festival due to Covid restrictions, I am so grateful that the Red Kangaroo Bookshop in MPARNTWE/ ALICE SPRINGS will still be hosting the launch of Dina’s new book, “A Dangerous Daughter” on Saturday 18th September at 12 noon. Tanya Heaslip, fellow author and President of the NTWriters’ Centre, will be launching Dina’s book. It is such a privilege for any author to be able to communicate live with readers in these days of lockdowns. We in the Territory have escaped the worst of the scourge of Covid – so far. It is my fervent hope that I can reach out soon to my reader and followers in the southern States, if not live, then at least online. Read about my September gigs here: Book Launches & Other Events – Alice Springs A Dangerous Daughter: book launch in Alice Springs/Mparntwe Join author Dina Davis for the Alice Springs launch of her new novel, A Dangerous Daughter (originally scheduled to take place at this year’s NT Writers Festival). To be launched by memoirist and President of the NTWC Board, Tanya Heaslip. You can also hear Dina talking about her book with Lyrella Couzens on ABC Radio here. When: Sat 18 Sep, 12pmAt: Red Kangaroo Books, Todd St Mall, Alice […]

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Victorian MP Reveals her Battle with Anorexia

I was moved and proud to hear this speech from a woman in public life “coming out” about her life-long and ongoing eating disorder, and the shame and blame which accompanies it. I salute her courage. Her speech resonates with the themes of my novel A Dangerous Daughter TO WATCH THE FULL VIDEO GO TO https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-02/celia-hammond-eating-disorder-stigma/100429028?utm_source=abc_news_web&utm_medium=content_shared&utm_campaign=abc_news_web&fbclid=IwAR3BfP9my8XAlMjJG5WXyUWutVfNqi0731yX8n1J8V9sFM02j7kY9UpmHHg   Liberal MP Celia Hammond tells Parliament about her own struggle to live with anorexia for more than a decade.  In an effort to fight the stigma she says is still attached to it.Ms Hammond said anorexia was a “miserable and isolating” disease, but with treatment, she has been able to manage her illness. She told Parliament that shame and stigma were holding people back from seeking a diagnosis and getting treated.  HERE IS HER SPEECH IN FULL:  This government has invested significant amounts of money into the treatment of and research into eating disorders, and I commend the Prime Minister, the Health Minister and the Assistant Minister for Mental Health on the efforts they are taking to challenge this cluster of diseases.But I don’t want to talk about the treatment or the research efforts tonight.I want to talk about the reality of the disease and the stigma which is, sadly, still attached to it.I can talk about the reality of eating disorders because I am someone who suffered anorexia for more than a decade of my life, complete with several recoveries and several relapses.If truth […]

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A Dangerous Daughter: the poem

This poem tells the story of my novel, ‘A Dangerous Daughter’ without the details, plot twists, and characters in the novel. I promise no Spoilers! Let me know what you think of my poem. A Dangerous Daughter She wakes with a jolt, Already late. Morning tea break. Her limbs all ache. She swings legs to the edge, Mere bones like twigs Skin stretched over, Dry as sedge. She moves from the bed, Slow and painful. Everything hurts, Her heart and her head. Smells hot buttered toast, Craves just a taste. The tiniest crumb Will seal her fate. Pulls on a skirt Her gaunt frame bent. To hide her shame, A top like a tent. She could be ninety, But is only fifteen. Her shrivelled body Mustn’t be seen. You’ve blighted our lives Daughter once dear. The devil’s got you We’re the victims here. They send her away Out of their sight So they can forget Their shame and fright. Exiled from her kin, Across the land, Girl hides her sin As best she can Aunt’s teagown strains. Over ample breasts. “Just look at the state of you, It’s wicked,” she says. “Going out like that? In the ground I will sink. You’ll frighten the neighbours. What will they think?” Girl shakes her head Runs a comb through her hair. A quick flick, no more And she’s out the door. She has a disease It has no name. It brings her […]

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An interview with the author of “A Dangerous Daughter”

https://youtu.be/WVze-9n5MpA https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-jyh2r-106ccb8 In this Utube video and podcast with Darren Saul of #PlayingWithPerspective, I talk about what inspired me to write A Dangerous Daughter, how much is drawn from my life, and insights into psychoanalysis and anorexia nervosa. Please note some of the content and images may be distressing for some viewers. Here is a link to the paperback and e-book: https://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Daughter-Dina-Davis/dp/0645175811

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A Word from my Publisher

I am fortunate to be the first author invited to publish by Cilento’s Author First Initiative. Last year I was thrilled to receive a call from Co-Founder Evan Shapiro, inviting me to submit the manuscript of A Dangerous Daughter to be under this wonderful initiative. This quality small press invites only one author each year to submit a manuscript, and if it meets […]

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Here she comes!

In a matter of days my second novel, A Dangerous Daughter, will be released into the world. I await its birth with some trepidation, hoping that the characters portrayed therein will enlighten and amuse, rather than cause offence or anxiety. You see, this book is based on a true story; that of my own early life. It tells a story of loneliness and pain as well as enlightenment and joy. Although some characters are inspired by those I knew in my youth, I have gone to some lengths to conflate, disguise and invent new characters. SO that my heroine’s sister is a conflation of my own two sisters but nothing like either of them. Most importantly I want readers to know that the main character, Ivy Morgenstern (that’s an imagined portrait of her above) is definitely not me. For a start I was a weedy, dark-haired child, nothing like the freckly auburn-haired teenager gazing at you with eyes both challenging and curious. So to my readers, including extended family and lifelong friends, i say to you: do not take offence. Above all, do not judge the characters too harshly, remembering they are not real people, but the products of my imagination. My book will be launched into the world on June 24, at The Bookshop, the only independent bookshop in Darwin. If you can come along at 5pm that night I would love to see you, and to sign one […]

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Why I Wrote A Dangerous Daughter

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”  Sigmund Freud. My story began more than 50 years ago. At the age of 13, I began refusing food, and my weight dropped dramatically. This was seen as wayward, even wicked, behaviour. Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), a primitive and brutal practice in the 1950s, failed to cure my mysterious condition. Partly to protect my parents and sisters from witnessing my decline, and partly as a last ditch effort to ‘cure’ me, I was exiled from my family in New South Wales, and spent several painful years with relatives in Perth, Western Australia. By the age of 15, starvation had wreaked extensive damage to my body and mind. I was given two months to live. I was inspired to write the novel A Dangerous Daughter by the need to understand my past. Rather than exorcising my demons, the creative process pulled me back into those dark years. Reliving the trauma slowed the writing process, but the thought of helping other young people and their parents kept me going.  In the 1950s in Western Australia, the term “anorexia nervosa” was not generally known, although the illness had been identified as early as1873 by Sir William Gull. So, it was inevitable that the victim was often blamed for her incomprehensible symptoms. Miraculously, through the work of my psychoanalyst, and my own fierce will to survive, I went on to write this book, and hopefully to help others who are […]

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Another great review – thanks to all my readers this year!

www.goodreads.com/review/show/3604556589 I was touched by this review from an unknown reader. It reminds me that readers are still enjoying Capriccio, the fictionalised biography of Assia Gutmann Wevill, the notorious mistress of Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and rival of famous poetess Sylvia Plath. Thank you so much to all of you who’ve taken the time to read my book, and especially to those who’ve given it such positive reviews since its publication in 2018 by Cilento Publishers.  This year Capriccio:A Novel was shortlisted for the fiction prize in the 2020 NT Chief Minister’s Book Awards, reinforcing the rewarding feedback from you, my readers. Now in its second edition with additional material, including an epilogue and bibliography, Capriccio:A Novel can be purchased from Amazon, Booktopia or Goodreads in hardback, paperback, or digital format. Order now at:  amazon.com/author/dinadavis

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NT Writers’ Festival 2020

We in the Territory are exceptionally lucky to be holding an outdoor,LIVE, Writers’ Festival, in spite of Covid 19.We have been declared  Covid free for the second time, after 28 days with no cases. There will of course be social distancing in place in our beautiful Botanical Gardens where the Festival will take place.   I can’t quite believe I’ll […]

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Writing in the Time of Covid

Escaping to the NT from virus-ridden NSW in March, I was confined to home in mandatory quarantine for fourteen days. What bliss! The tropical weather, the smiling faces, the feeling of being safe. Being home alone held no fear for me, being a confirmed introvert. The isolation and lack of pressure suited my solitary nature. At last my time was […]

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Freeing the Writer Within

I have long tried to silence the critic in my head, telling me my writing is never good enough, I can never succeed, and what makes me think I can be a writer. It’s called ‘the impostor syndrome’ when your inner critic tells you your writing is worthless. For years I was governed by my inner critic, with the result that none of my writing ever saw the light of day, and remains locked away in dusty archive boxes on an unreachable top shelf. It was writers like Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) who began to free me from this destructive and inhibiting thought process. Freeing the Writer Within In her classic book, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg contends that writers need to practise their craft in the same way that musicians, athletes or Zen meditators need to perfect their practice. She gives writers the following four rules: Keep the hand moving. It’s better to be writing anything that comes to mind, than to sit there chewing your pen or staring at the blank screen. The main thing is to keep the hand moving. Even if you write about how you can’t write, some words will appear before too long. Don’t think. Write so quickly that your internal editor can’t keep up with you. Most of us have a critic sitting on our shoulder, telling us what we’re writing is ridiculous, illogical, or maybe too revealing […]

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This Writing Life

Lately I’ve been reworking my novel, A Dangerous Daughter – hence you haven’t heard from me for quite a while. It’s a never-ending, always changing process of trial and error, good days and bad. Starting a new draft requires courage, determination and a belief that you can do this thing, killing your darlings as you go, silencing your inner critic […]

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Creativity and Mental Illness: Sigmund Freud and Sylvia Plath

I have long been interested in the connection between mental illness and creativity. My latest novel, A Dangerous Daughter, describes how psychoanalysis was used to cure a mental illness and to unlock the main character’s creativity. Some of our greatest artists, writers and musicians suffered some form of mental illness while producing brilliant and lasting works of art. Many of the 20th century’s great writers, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Schumann,Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda Fitzgerald, and William Styron, suffered from mental illness.  In this article by Jahnavi Ravishankar “Sylvia Plath– A Caged Darkness of the Mind”, the writer extrapolates how Freud, the Father of Psychoanalysis, might have analysed the poet and author Sylvia Plath, who suffered what would now be called a bipolar condition, and made several suicide attempts before succeeding in 1963. In this abridged version, Ravishankar analyses Plath’s famous poem, ‘Daddy” in Freudian terms (see poem attached): .“Sylvia Plath, a renowned American poet, was clinically depressed for most of her life and eventually became a victim of suicide at the age of Bnb thirty. The “Ariel” poems, including ‘I am Vertical and ‘Daddy’, were written shortly before she died. and posthumously garnered acclaim. These poems painted a vivid image of her inner psyche. Sigmund Freud’s position that the artist is a successful neurotic has been contested but, at the same time, has served as a key focal point for several psychoanalytic theories in literature. In his essay, ‘Creative Writers and Daydreaming’, he states, “The […]

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New Insights on Eating Disorders

Have We Moved On? This article gives the lie to anorexic nervosa being a life choice adopted by aspiring models, ballet dancers, or vain women on a diet. It is anything but this.In the article following we see proof that anorexia is an illness, just like cancer or heart disease, and as such is beyond the sufferer’a control. To me and many others this news is liberating, and life-changing. Read my novel “A Dangerous Daughter”  at https://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Daughter-Dina-Davis/dp/0645175811 to learn how this disease was treated in the fifties and sixties. Do you think we’ve moved on from there?                                Entire Site                             Monitor                 MEMBERSTOPICSPUBLICATIONS & DATABASESSCIENCEEDUCATION & CAREERNEWS & ADVOCACYHome// Monitor on Psychology// 2016// 04// New insights on eating disorders Help us improve your experience by  providing feedback  on this page. FEATURE New insights on eating disorders Scientists are uncovering the faulty neurobiology behind anorexia and bulimia, debunking the myth that such eating disorders are solely driven by culture and environment. By Kirsten Weir April 2016, Vol 47, No. 4 Print version: page 36 10 min read 5 Public misunderstanding of mental health disorders is nothing new. But for eating disorders in particular, misinformation abounds. “You still read more about anorexia in the celebrity section of publications than in health sections,” says Nancy Zucker, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. […]

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Why I Wrote A Dangerous Daughter

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”  Sigmund Freud. My story began more than 50 years ago. At the age of 13, I began refusing food, and my weight dropped dramatically. This was seen as wayward, even wicked, behaviour. Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), a primitive and brutal practice in the 1950s, failed to cure my mysterious condition. Partly to protect my parents and sisters from witnessing my decline, and partly as a last ditch effort to ‘cure’ me, I was exiled from my family in New South Wales, and spent several painful years with relatives in Perth, Western Australia. By the age of 15, starvation had wreaked extensive damage to my body and mind. I was given two months to live. I was inspired to write the novel A Dangerous Daughter by the need to understand my past. Rather than exorcising my demons, the creative process pulled me back into those dark years. Reliving the trauma slowed the writing process, but the thought of helping other young people and their parents kept me going.  In the 1950s in Western Australia, the term “anorexia nervosa” was not generally known, although the illness had been identified as early as1873 by Sir William Gull. So, it was inevitable that the victim was often blamed for her incomprehensible symptoms. Miraculously, through the work of my psychoanalyst, and my own fierce will to survive, I went on to write this book, and hopefully to help others who are […]

Read More →