• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:


    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!

     

     

Fallon Friday: Jennifer on books, books, and Klingon-English dictionaries …

I love books. Always have. If there is a down side to being a professional author, it’s that I don’t get time to read nearly as much as I used to. Nevertheless, I keep acquiring books in the optimistic belief that one day I will have the time to read them. I do the same with DVDs. I have hundreds of them, all waiting for me to watch them.

And what an odd collection it is. I have biographies of the first 12 Caesars, Hitler, Cromwell and Kenyatta, to name a few, as well as quite a few people nobody (including me) has ever heard of. I have the Fair Dinkum Australian Dictionary, alongside a two volume version of the English Dictionary bound in leather with a 22ct gold trim. I have a GermanEnglish and a KlingonEnglish Dictionary (doesn’t everybody?), too. I have the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon. I have both volumes of Everyday Latin (which are chock full of useful, everyday phrases like “Beam me up, Scotty” in Latin, in case you ever need to use them) and two volumes of the Politically Correct Bedtime Stories.

I have a 5 inch thick copy of Robert Aspey’s definitive work on guerrilla warfare, War in the Shadows, next to Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and Robinson Crusoe. Being a cat lover, I have Paul Galico’s hysterical, Silent Miaow, and the “must have” reference work for all responsible cat owners: Games You Can Play With Your Pussy. Asimov’s Complete Works of Shakespeare sits on a shelf beside the Complete Illustrated Book of Card Magic. I have Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, next to the Collected Poems of AB “Banjo” Patterson, and Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book.

I have an inordinate number of reference books regarding Africa, 19th century history of the South Pacific (why?), and ancient Rome, along with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in a rare hardback edition. I have the Millennium edition of Lord of the Rings, the illustrated edition of The Hobbit and the movie tie-in book from the Thunderbirds.

I have a disturbing number of books about Star Trek and Stargate and the novelisation of Joss Whedon’s, Serenity. I have Stephen Hawking’s, A Brief History of Time next to the Retox Diet, which offers marvellously sage advice about nutrition such as french-fries are made from potatoes (that’s good), cooked in vegetable oil (more vegies, even better), and then sprinkled with salt (which comes from the sea, ergo, it’s a seafood – even more better), so french-fries are really vegetables and seafood, therefore they must be good for you… right?

By far, my favourite books in the whole collection are the set of children’s encyclopaedias published in 1958 which categorically states that the British Astronomer Royal has decreed “humans cannot survive in space”, so one should encourage their sons to build crystal radio sets, rather than waste time on foolish enterprises like imagining space stations, satellites or space travel.

11 years later, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

Trying saying “whoops” with a stiff upper lip:)

Jennifer Fallon

Jennifer Fallon’s latest book The Palace of Impossible Dreams, the third book in the Tide Lords series, is available in all good book shops. The Chaos Crystal, the final book in the series will be out in December.

Visit Jennifer Fallon’s website.

Mr T (and I don’t mean Tolkien)

One last thing before I slither of to bed – because it’s related to Voyager in the sense of The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien being published by Voyager … if you go to Google and search for “Find Mr T” you’ll come across the Mr T quote generator … and stumble across this gem:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their hall of stone,
Nine for the Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
Twenty rings to make Mr. T look cool,
Upon them inscribed, “I pity the fool.”

NB. Do a search on ‘Find Chuck Norris” too – if you’re a fan (or not). And don’t pity the fool, Mr T will handle that.

T.

Being GRRM in the face of a deadline

I was just kicking around on the internet, wondering when George R R Martin’s next book will come out (we’re publishing it, so I suppose I could go and get an educated answer but am being one with the masses right now). Anyway, I stumbled upon his journal, okay, stumbled in the sense of knowing where it is, obviously, but noticed he had written a small paragraph on how he finished an Arya chapter and a Sansa chapter …

Woefully for us A Song of Ice and Fire fans, he is also working on OTHER anthologies instead of knuckling down to the hard yards and completing the other half of the book we all read two years ago, A Feast for Crows.

Go and read his journal and whinge at him, won’t you?

http://grrm.livejournal.com/

Incidentally, before I get your hopes up, I should point out in the words of the great GRRM: before you guys assume I’m writing a chapter a day, I said “finished,” not “wrote.” Large portions of these particular chapters were written years ago. A chapter a day? I wish.

I wish too! All I know is that it will be worth the wait, but lots of things can go wrong in the mean time eg. the end of the world.

Taelian

Is the sword mightier than the pen? Tim Miller writes …

I started Historical European Medieval Martial Arts – sword fighting – for two purposes. Firstly, as a writer, I wanted some accuracy when writing about sword fights, what is possible and more importantly what isn’t. All those flashy fights you see on television are well choreographed but twirling your sword around your head isn’t as useful as you would imagine against someone who knows how to handle their weapon. Within seconds twirly guy is lying dead at the feet of experienced guy. Not that we kill people in class but those beginners who try and be twirly guy are the ones leaving with the most welts and bruises.

Secondly, I started because I was a typical boy growing up, pretending to be Robin Hood or King Arthur running around the back yard with my brother, armed with sticks ‘dueling to the death’ where one of us would dramatically fall down dead with the stick clutched under the armpit. I suppose it was a natural transition from this that I finally decided that I wanted to learn how to sword fight and to do it well. Not to mention that I actually get to use steel swords …

A year and a half ago I joined Stoccata School of Defence where over multiple ten week terms I have begun learning how to use a variety of different weapons, taught by Peter Radvan and Paul Wagner. We spend an hour each week learning English Short Sword based on George Silver’s Paradoxes of Defence, which is core curriculum for the school. The second hour is spent learning another system, since starting I have learnt fundamentals of English Quarterstaff, English Long Sword and 1.33 Sword and Buckler. Other weapon systems that are taught are Highland Broadsword, Highland Claymore and Italian Rapier.

You do not immediately start fighting with steel. Initially sword-like objects are used, as equipment is not only expensive but deadly. After the two nightly lessons, those students with enough experience and who wish to, bout against each other and the instructors. Those fighting with steel weapons put on armour for protection and safety precautions are taken to avoid injury. Students not at that level will bout with wooden swords which will still leave a nice bruise of two.

It’s not like other martial arts where belts are achieved but there is a ranking system. Every couple of years, a handful of students attempt to gain certain levels by proving to the instructors that we have an understanding of the system and that we can safely defend ourselves through numerous bouts. This year (sometime in June) I will be going for the rank of Scholar with four other students. I believe one or two students are going for the rank of Free Scholar, the next higher rank. The school makes a day of it on the weekend, where the bouts are in public and anyone can come and watch. (See this space soon for actual photos from the event)

Tim works in the sales department at HarperCollins Australia (Voyager’s parent). He swordfights (obviously!), reads plenty of sff, writes and generally packs 28 hours into one day.

Fallon Friday: The joys of proofreading …

Ah… the joys of proofreading…

I have just finished the proofread for the UK edition of Warlord. When it turned up in the email a couple of weeks ago, my first thought was:

Oh no. now I have to read it again!!

You might think this an odd statement from the author, but after a while, you really do get to a point where you wonder if you can bear to read your own work another time. Medalon in particular, I have read it so many times I can almost recite it by heart.

· First there were the countless readings during the three years it took me to write it.
· Then there was the rewrites.
· Then the structural edit.
· Then the line edit.
· Then the three typeset proofreads.
· Then it got published and I had to read in book form just to make sure it was real.

And then we sold it to the US. And they had to translate it into “American English” for the hardcover edition. So we had another line edit.

Then another three proofreads.

And then the US publishers sold it to the UK. And they had to translate it back into “English English” for the UK edition. Again with the line edits.

And the multiple proofreads.

And then the US paperback was due out and they wanted another two proofreads (one before and one after the corrections were made)

And then I had to write the prequel series. so I had to read the whole damn series again before I started and at least twice during the writing of Wolfblade, Warrior and Warlord, to make sure I kept the stories straight.

And then HarperCollins says “let’s re-release the Demon Child Trilogy with new covers to match the Hythrun Chronicles!”

“Oh goodie,” says I, like an idiot. “Can I fix a couple of little things?

“No problem,” says my patient and ever-supportive editor. “How many changes did you want to make?”

“Er.438.”

Mind you, they were tiny, niggly little things that have irked me (and only me) since Medalon was first published. They are now fixed and nobody but me will even notice.

Which kinda makes me wonder why I bothered. 🙂


Jennifer Fallon

Dreaming Again – Jack Dann’s introduction continued

Last week we posted the start of Jack Dann’s introduction to Dreaming Again, a new anthology of Australian fantasy. Here’s a continuation of the introduction. We’ll be conducting a Q&A with Jack in coming weeks.

Dreaming AgainI won’t apologize for shooting for the stars, for turning my back on reasonably good stories and reasonably good writers, for wanting only the golden-tipped prose that makes old men think they are young, or makes the hair stand up on the neck, or carry the reader into that detailed day-dream we call sense-of-wonder. I won’t apologize for wanting only those stories that galvanize, that stimulate wonder and thought and laughter…that cause discomfort…that in their small, subtle, and mysterious ways transform all those who encounter them.

And, yes, I’m excited about the stories in this volume. And, yes, this probably sounds like hype. So what? This book isn’t about the editor. It’s about the stories. It’s about the numinous light shows and the Cimmerian darkness created by the talented authors who contributed to this book. It’s theirs…their talent, their ideas, their unique perspectives on life and death and the universe. They are the poets and tale-tellers and culture-changers. They are some of the best writers working in this wild, beguiling land with its great red heart and vast desert expanses. They are some of the best fantasists working in this country edged by blue seas, coral reefs, rainforests, and sophisticated urban culture. It just so happened that I was lucky enough to see these stories first and with great love and respect include them in this showcase collection, this ten year celebratory sequel to Dreaming Down-Under.

In his generous preface to Dreaming Down-Under, Harlan Ellison wrote: “Because the work, all this work, all this fresh, tough, and brilliant work, all these stories, they need no California fantasist to shill for them. They speak for themselves. They have voices. Now, go away; and listen to them.”

Harlan was absolutely right.

You don’t need my introduction or story notes; you just need the stories that are waiting like patient angels—or disguised demons—to embrace you. So I would not take offence if you gave up on this introduction right here and now and started reading the stories. In fact, in this unusual ego-less frame of mind that I seem to have slipped into…I would urge you to do so.

However, should you be in the mood for some shading and perspective and background, I’ll soldier on. After all, this bit of the book is free!

#

Ten years ago, Janeen and I had an agenda. Then as now, we wanted to shake up the established thinking about the “shape” of contemporary writing in Australia: to open up—and redefine—the literary canon to include the non-mimetic side of our literature. We wanted to showcase the very best contemporary stories that pushed the envelope of genre fiction and those stories that used genre tropes or might be considered magical realism. We referred to those stories as “wild-side fiction” to convey that evocative, almost dangerous sense of being right out there on the edge. And we wanted to get the word out to the rest of the world that there was something happening here in Australia.

Here’s a snapshot of how it looked back in 1998: The genre culture was vibrant. Writers and fans were meeting regularly at science fiction conventions, which were rather small and intimate. Mainstream publishers such as HarperCollins Voyager, Pan Macmillan, Random House, and Penguin were developing new lists of Australian fantasy and SF writers; and new, vigorous small press publishers such as Eidolon, Ticonderoga, Aphelion, and MirrorDance were pushing boundaries and publishing some wonderfully quirky and imaginative work. There was healthy competition between the two major Australian genre magazines Eidolon and Aurealis, each featuring cutting-edge fiction by Australian authors. Jonathan Strahan and Jeremy Byrne were editing the annual Year’s Best Australian SF, fantasy, and horror fiction; and although the Australian Ditmar Award (voted on by readers) had been long established, two new professional awards were created: the Aurealis Award and the Turner Award. A generation of hot new talented writers such as Sean Williams, Simon Brown, Lucy Sussex, Stephen Dedman, Aaron Sterns, Paul Brandon, K. J. Bishop, Kate Forsyth, Richard Harland, Ian Irvine, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Margo Lanagan, Scott Westerfield, Fiona McIntosh, Janeen Webb, and Kim Wilkins were making their bones and pushing the various envelopes; and established professionals such as Garth Nix, Terry Dowling, Damien Broderick, Isobelle Carmody, Sara Douglass, Sean McMullen, Greg Egan, and Rosaleen Love were writing at the top of their form. Harlan Ellison thought we were experiencing a Golden Age of Australian Science Fiction, and, indeed, it sure as hell felt like something was going on. In fact it felt like the heady days of the late 1960s when SF writers in England and the United States challenged genre conventions and started a period of experimentation called The New Wave.

What were we challenging ten years ago?

To be continued …

Dreaming Again will be available throughout Australia in July.

Fallon Friday: Naming the characters

Jennifer Fallon writes on how she found the names for her characters.

I am often asked where I find names for all may various characters. Usually, they’re just lying about the house, waiting for someone to pick them up. In some cases, though, they have a definite origin…

Amyrantha

Tide Lords

From the word “amaranthine” meaning unfading or everlasting.

Arkady

Tide Lords

First saw the name years ago in an article about the artist Brett Whiteley. It’s Russian, and the name of his daughter. Saved it up until I found a character it fitted

Belagren

Second Sons

Named after someone I really, really disliked. Actually, it only rhymes with their name, now. It was suggested I change it from the actual name because HC didn’t want to get sued:)

Cayal

Tide Lords

Named after a male model friend who, last I heard, was working for the Discovery Channel in London. I loved his name and told him I was planning to steal it. He didn’t mind:)

Dacendaran

Demon Child

My eldest daughter, when she was about 14, told me if she ever had a son, she was going to call him Dace. I liked the name so much I stole it off her and added another couple of syllables to make it meet the Harshini naming convention. The real live Dace was born 8 months before Medalon was first published.

Declan Hawkes

Tide Lords

His real name is Mr Perky. The name Declan came from a baby book and was picked by Stephanie Smith.

Harshini

Demon Child

Name of one of my closest friends. It’s Hindu for “always smiling”

Kentravyon

Tide Lords

Kid by the name of Kentravion went to pre-school with my grandson.

Maralyce

Tide Lords

Named after someone I signed a book for at a signing in Sale, Vic. Her mother emailed me and told me off after the book came out, because I spelt the name wrong because her daughter’s name was Maralice. Once again… nothing amazing… I just liked the name.

Marqel

Second Sons

Named after a paramedic I met once, although her name was spelt “Marcel” although it was pronounced the same. I just liked the name.

Medalon

Demon Child

I was sitting in my dining room trying to come up with a name for the country where R’shiel lived. I found myself staring at the trophy cabinet full of all the kids’ medals. Medal… Medal…on… Medalon.

Stellan

Tide Lords

Because they wouldn’t let me call him Peter.

Syrolee

Tide Lords

I think this one was a racehorse.

Wrayan

Hythrun Chronicles

There is someone named Wray in the credits of the Stargate SG1 DVDs. I stole the name and modified it because it looked better with two syllables.

My favorite story about names, though, comes from when I was writing Harshini, and found myself faced with having to name the other 7 warlords of Hythria. In keeping with the whole predator/weapon theme, I ask my son (who was about 15 at the time) and his friends to come up with some names for me. The result after several intense hours of discussion?

Lord Snapping-Turtle-Kitchen-Knife, and Lord Guinea-Pig-Baretta-32. Seriously

Not surprisingly, those names didn’t make it into the book 🙂

Jennifer Fallon