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dancing with dragons

Ila Selwyn, dancing with dragons, Westridge Publishing, 2018
RRP $20 plus postage – contact westridgeprint@gmail.com

From a review by Paula Green

‘dancing with dragons is an exuberant explosion of words on the page, beautifully crafted and a joy to read. It is like catching the radio static of the world. ‘
read more..

dwd-front cover only


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Entertaining and informative speaker for your next event.

PET_8271At 77yrs, Thea wrote her first novel. Now in her 80’s she is available to tell you about the trials and tribulations of getting it published. She also has other topics she can talk to your group about. She can share informative and entertaining personal accounts from her life as a displaced person in Europe after the war and the move to New Zealand, Croatian history or anecdotes from the fashion industry in Auckland 1965-83

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Meet the author at New Lynn RSA

meet the authorpesurate Pesurate  were on the menu for the – Meet the Author –  morning tea today.

These  orange flavoured dumplings that feature in Thea’s book , Out of the Shade, are a Croatian favourite and were received well by the the group that gathered at the New Lynn RSA to hear Thea speak.

Thea shared some of her experiences of being a refugee, fleeing Europe with her family after the 2nd World War and her first impressions of New Zealand.

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High Tea in West Auckland

Croatian Womens morning tea 3Croatian Women’s League & Croatian Cultural Society Vintage High Tea

Good food and good company!

Thea addressed a group at the Croatian club rooms in West Auckland recently. Some of the group had supported the Croatian struggle towards independence in the 1990’s by collecting signatures for the petition presented to Parliament.


‘Standing in front of the churches, supermarkets, malls…these women gathered signatures from thousands of New Zealanders as well as our people, ensuring New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to recognise Croatia as an independent State.”

Thea drew an analogy between these women and the fortitude of the main character, ‘Manda’  in her latest novel, ‘Out of the Shade’, who is also a strong Croatian woman.

A nice way to while away the afternoon.   She then donated a percentage of the book sales to the group towards their fundraising efforts.

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‘Out of the Shade’ crosses the Tasman


Following a successful book launch in New Zealand, Thea brought her novel Out of the Shade across the Tasman and featured at two events in Melbourne last weekend.  She was invited to speak at two of the many Croatian clubs in the area.  The protagonist in  Thea’s novel is a strong Croatian woman named Manda, and Thea explained how she drew on her own experiences and knowledge of strong Croatian women in creating the character.

Thea now writes for pleasure but in the 1980’s Thea was writing articles and letters to the editors of prominent newspapers in an effort to educate New Zealanders on the situation in Croatia (formerly republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) ).   Croatia declared independence on June 25, 1991, and Thea was instrumental in organising the petition that led to  New Zealand  being one of the first countries in the world  to recognise Croatian  independence.

The local media in Melbourne was also interested in Thea’s own story.  Pejo Maric interviewed her for his  local Croatian Radio Programme , 94.7 The Pulse, which airs every Thursday evening.

Yanya Yarman has a programme on Croatian Television a,  CRO TV CH31 every Sunday in Australia.  Yanya is an artist and a writer herself, so was very interested in the character of Manda and her struggle towards emancipation, when she interviewed Thea last week.

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Book signing – Green Bay Bookshop


Thea at the book signing at the Green Bay Bookshop on Saturday.  It was election day and despite the torrential rain, visitors still came out to the Bookshop this weekend.

Thank you to David for the full window display for ‘Out of the SHADE’. The paperback is available for sale from his book shop at 58 Godley Rd in Green Bay.

Charlie the community cat is always around the action in Green Bay and was unperturbed by the comings and goings at the book shop this weekend. He stayed cosy and curled up on the chair in front of the counter, letting out a little whine in his sleep from time to time.  He was certainly a great example of how to spend a wet windy day.  Warm, cosy and curled up with a good book!


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Out of the Shade – Reviewed

COVER1A_cTo purchase Out of the Shade click here …


Reviewed by Ila Selwyn 1/08/14

Out of the SHADE

by Thea Gilich

The cover of a woman gazing through a window at a sunrise across the sea is enticing.
Her body is in shade and it is clear she wants to come out of the shadows and become herself.

I found the novel compelling to read and highly recommend it. Within the first few paragraphs I was already seeing things through Manda’s eyes as she began to sketch. I was hooked on her story when she came home to find her husband had burned all her sketches. That was the moment when I realised this wasn’t just a novel for older women, as I originally felt. Manda’s story will speak to any woman of any age who is boxed in by circumstances, either of her own making or made by someone else.

Manda’s story is uplifting. In spite of a husband who treats her as someone to cook and clean for him, not as an equal partner; in spite of being expected to look after their  grandchildren for her own fulfilment; in spite of her Dally background and Catholic faith, which frowns on affairs and divorces, though will offer repentance; in spite of the church still refusing a divorced person the right to remarry; Manda has the courage to go on a journey to find herself.

The only aspect I found slightly jarring is the narrow view of a woman being a man’s property, giving him the right to sex.

            ‘What Manda thought of as her shame, Ivy would consider, as Manda once had, a husband’s sacred right.’
page 158.

But as the marital rape exemption wasn’t abolished in New Zealand until 1985, many who grew up before that time, would still consider a husband had the right, particularly if the church reinforced that view.