Friday, April 18, 2014

Spelling Bad With Marva Dasef

I’d like to shove little Harry Potter to the back of the classroom to make way for a serious student of witchcraft, Katrina, the heroine of Marva Dasef’s imaginative and fun series,  The Witches of Galdorheim.

Thanks, Marva, for coming on and putting up with my hoo-hah.

*Fill the uninitiated in. Tell us about the Galdorheim series.

The series follows the adventures of Katrina Galdorheim, a teen witch who lives with her family on an island in the Barents Sea north of Norway. The Witches’ Home (Galdorheim) was established during the 15th C. when the witch-burning fad was in full swing in Europe. Since the island is entirely populated by witches, they can maintain a pleasant environment via a magic dome surrounding the village where the witches reside. 

Katrina was born into a powerful witch family. Unfortunately for Kat, her mother (Ardyth) fell for a simple Siberian fisherman who was stranded on the island when his umiak was crushed by an amorous walrus. Kat was the result of their union, but her father was frozen into an ice cave shortly after her birth. Her younger brother, Rune, was conceived by his and Kat’s mom on an ill-fated vacation to Transylvania.

Skip ahead a few years and the story begins as Kat becomes increasingly frustrated that all her spell casting goes terribly wrong. She’s a very bad speller. She decides she’s just not witch material and decides to run away from the island to find her father’s Siberian family. This involves a rather lengthy trip across frozen seas, through the Norwegian mountains, then eastward into Siberia. Her half vampire brother, Rune, decides to help her on the journey since he’s a super spellcaster. This is how the first book begins.

The next two books (Midnight Oil and Scotch Broom) in the series continue with Kat and Rune getting into and out of trouble with various magical creatures, many of which you mention below.

*Okay, at first, I gave an award-winning eye-roll (several gravitations) when I read that your books involved witches, vampires, trolls, werewolves, ogres, the whole nine yards. Toss everything in a fantasy blender and stir. But once I read the first book, Bad Spelling, I became bewitched beneath your spell. You made all the seemingly disparate elements gel. Talk about world-building. Finally, I get to my question. Did you start with a witch, your heroine, and work from there? Were the other fantastical characters preplanned or did the tale lead you on the way?

I started with a title—Bad Spelling. It was one of those wake up in the middle of the night with a couple of words and it grew into Kat’s story. As I wrote, I outlined some of the events, coming up with the situations Kat would encounter. With lots of research into magic and Norse legend, I found the various characters, both good and evil. Many times I’d find something in research I never knew before, but just had to use. A lot came from my love of Fractured Fairytales. Give me a legend, myth, or fairy tale, and I’ll be happy to abuse it.

*How did you settle on such a cold and foreign climate and terrain to set your series in? Knowledge or wishful thinking?

I’m 1/4th Norwegian on my mother’s side of the family. People tend to read about their roots, so I was fairly familiar with Norse myth and legend. The usual Norse-based fantasies are all about Vikings and tend toward epic fantasy. I wanted something fun, humorous, a little dangerous, and without a Viking in sight. Hm. Maybe a Viking or two wouldn’t be a bad idea.

*No, I think you did right by keeping those vikings at bay, Marva. Bad bunch, the kind Mom warned about hanging out with. I was very impressed with the small imaginative touches, from the cheese in the refrigerator mooing to the clocks announcing the time. Um, tell me, Marva, does your milk chat at you?

Alas, my food talks only if it disagrees with me. I can usually shut it up with a couple of Tums.

*To be honest, I was a little disappointed when the tale of Galdorheim became a quest. Not that I didn’t enjoy the quest. I did. But I liked the characters who were left behind. Am I the only one who really liked uptight Aunt Thordis?  For whatever reason, she was my favorite character. I need therapy, maybe.

While it was something of a journey, Kat isn’t a Chosen One. I think Quests are more likely to be a journey to find a magical talisman or even “off to see the Wizard.” Kat’s just trying to find someplace to live where she won’t be constantly humiliated by her so-called handicap. The next two books have larger roles for Thordis, Ardyth, and Mordita (who’s my favorite). While Kat continues to search for stuff, at no time is she a Chosen One on a Quest.

*Rune, Kat’s brother. Nice character, always hungry, definitely supportive of his sister. Why half-vampire?

Other than it just being a fun twist, Rune has to be something of an outcast himself, but he has to be a strong spell caster and an annoying little brother. What’s more annoying than a brother who wants to drink your blood? This is brought out when he doesn’t join the warlock Wolf Pack because he figures he has enough trouble controlling his vampire. A prequel story, Spellslinger, is all about a younger Rune dealing with his own problems with his vampire nature and his magic.

*Kat’s mother really got around. Not casting judgment, mind you. But, sheesh, what a hoochie, sleeping with mundanes, vampires, warlocks. What’s next…werewolves? Um, no wonder Kat’s got issues.

Ardyth is a free spirit. She would be right at home at Burning Man or any Renaissance Faire. In the 60’s she would have been Mick Jagger’s favorite groupie. She’s also a responsible mom, though. In her case, if you mess with her kids you might end up as a toad.

*Having not read the rest of the series (yet), I have to ask…Kat’s father, Borisi. He was left “half-dead (it’s complicated)” tunneling his way into a glacier. Yet, we didn’t find out why. This intriguing puzzle fairly opened the book, kept me compelled. The answer wasn’t forthcoming. Can I assume it will be resolved in the next books?

Yes, the question is answered, but Kat doesn’t get to know. The adults prefer not to tell her. “Maybe when you grow up...” Aren’t adults annoying? It’s not really too difficult to understand, though. Borisi was mundane, living with a bunch of spellcasters. He was attempting to establish his own home outside the village. With a harsh environment and few resources, he was building an igloo of sorts. While Samis are igloo-builders, the idea of an icehouse as a home is fairly common. They even have that ice hotel in Iceland. How crazy is that?

*Argh. Parents. 

Absolutely loved the “trollercoaster” and the Cavalry of lemmings. Not things you read about often. Things I love to discover. Things I haven’t read about before. Things dreams/nightmares are made of. So, where’d they come from (and pass the peyote)? 

Um, yeah. I don’t like to read trite, therefore I attempt to not take the obvious route to any solution. I think all writers try to pull something a bit different from their brains to make their stories stand out.  I wish you hadn’t mentioned the lemmings, though. That’s kind of a spoiler.

*Oops. Belated spoiler alert, folks! I’ve found that every writer drops something of their self into their tales. Who are you? What parts are you?

I was pretty much like Thordis when I was managing technical documentation departments at software firms. I even made one guy cry. But I’d really love to be Mordita. Cranky, wise, and willing to break the rules. My kind of gal.

*Moving forward, what can we expect from Kat and company? Burgeoning romance between Andy, the ex-troll, and Kat? Rune getting his vampire on? The little witchy witch, Merry, getting her comeuppance? Many more quests? Mysteries? More of Kat’s mother’s dalliances?

A reviewer who goes by handle The Fountain Pen Diva loves the series, total fangirl. A big plus for her is that sappy teen angst romance doesn’t get in the way of adventure. I can’t say too much or I’d be handing out spoilers. Let’s just say all of the characters you mention play a role in at least one of the next two books, and we’ll meet a few more interesting magical folk.  As for quests? I still don’t have any Chosen Ones. I think rather than a ‛quest’ my characters fall into circumstances that put them into hot water from which they have to find their own way out.

*Beyond the Galdorheim series, anything else on Marva’s keyboard we can anticipate?

I have several other books already out in the world. For the near future, I’ll be working on getting my books into the up-and-coming audio book media. When you can listen to a book on your smart phone, a lot of commuters, joggers, and gym rats will have something to do other than endure another Miley Cyrus or Justin Beiber song.

No more Cyrus and Beiber! Bring on Dasef!

Highly recommended, check out Marva’s series. More fun than going to the dentist and immensely less painful.

I’d love to hear from people. Please visit my website, blog, and social media sites. Here are the deets.

Twitter Handle: @Gurina

I’ve recently re-issued many of my ebooks, including the Witches of Galdorheim series.  Everything I have is available on Amazon and its many country-specific sites throughout the world. 

Thanks for a fun interview, Stuart. Maybe Tex and Kat can sit down and have a conversation some day. I think they have a lot in common.


  1. Thanks for inviting me to your blog. I have a terrific deal for everybody. I just released all three books plus the prequel short story in a single ebook volume. I'll be running a Countdown deal on Amazon US and UK starting May 24th. Great time to jump on a bargain price for the whole set.

  2. Thanks, Renee. I figured you'd show up to comment.

  3. Love your conversation-interview style here, Stuart. And especially fun when you can nail Marva down on the way she figured out this intriguing series of fantasy characters. Talk about a fantasy blender!! Marva, best wishes on your step into audio books!

  4. I think I would rather like talking milk products. That way they could tell me when they've expired. Mooing would also be interesting. Imagine the party jokes that would open the door for!