• 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!



Dates for your diary

Well, as July draws to a close, don’t forget these key dates next week for your diary:

Tomorrow (1 August) Way of Purity, the final book in Bevan McGuiness’s Triumvirate trilogy, will be launched at Dymock’s in Fremantle, in the mall at 4:30pm. Make sure you go along!

Then on Sunday 3 August, Kim Westwood’s debut book, The Daughters of Moab, will be launched in Canberra: at 4pm for a 4:30pm start, at Milk and Honey, Ground Floor, Center Cinema Building, Bunda St, Canberra. Contact Miriana, Josh or Jamie, on 02 6247 7722. She’ll also have a Sydney launch at Gleebooks the following Saturday.

From Saturday 3 August to Sunday 4 August, Conflux 5 will be holding a virtual mini-con! The Virtual Mini-con, “Prepare to Dream”, will be held in the forum area of the website and will be free for anyone with an internet connection. Voyager authors attending include Jack Dann, Sean Williams and Karen Miller – plus a whole host of other amazing people. And there will only be about six hours of sleep in between sessions!

Karen Miller will then be heading off to be a guest at WorldCon in Denver (Denvention 3) – which runs from August 6–10 – and participating in numerous panels – make sure you see her if you’re on the other side of the world.

And, of course, to round out a truly amazing week, on Thursday 7 August, Sara Douglass will be signing copies of her books in Sydney! At 4pm, she’ll be at Galaxy Bookshop, 143 York St, and at 6pm she’ll be signing at Dymocks, George St..

Draw your own creature of the night/We’re getting confluxed!

Draw your own creature of the night

Click here and draw your own creature of the night

Tim Miller, resident artist at Evil HQ, would like all creatures great and small (living or … ) to get in touch with their inner Rafael, Donatello or … er … Michelangelo … sorry, now I have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme song in my head. Anyway, here’s a little peek at a sample of the artwork that will be gracing the new Voyager Newsletter, also known as the Captain’s Log. This particular piece will be in the paper newsletter going out to booksellers across the world Australia, but make sure you sign up for the electronic version to a). Save the environment; b). Get your updates monthly; c). Easily click through to more information on our website; and d). Be in the running to win copies of Black Magazine, the hottest mag of the moment in the Dark Fantasy Arena.


In other news, Team Voyager are very happy to announce that we will be represented at Conflux 5: Dreaming. Conflux, as previously announced, is taking place from October 3-6 in Canberra – and it’s NOT to be missed! Jack Dann will be there, as will many other very talented people working within sf/f, not to mention the fans, and now … Voyagers. And don’t forget mini-Conflux this very weekend – taking place online and open to the world.

Stephanie Smith, our Voyager Publisher, will be attending, as will Jess and Sarah from the Marketing team and moi. And there will be a superb road trip on the way to Canberra – and we haven’t yet decided which of Canberra’s very specifically Canberran attractions we ought to partake in. This particular pilot of the Voyager has never actually managed to grace the nation’s capital with her presence (no I wasn’t here in Year Six for the compulsory school trip to see parliament) so if you have any ideas – please reply to this post! (and only with things that are legal in NSW please* … although we’re far too tempted by the promise of fireworks …) And yes, there will be blogging galore, for we will be in a position to heavily pester our wonderful authors.

*For non-Australians, there are three things that are legal in Canberra, but not in Sydney. I am not going to tell you what, go away and do some research or ask an Australian and you’ll have some interesting trivia for pub quizzes.

Fantasy finds your phone

Browse inside on Your iPhone

Browse inside on Your iPhone

The HarperCollins Lab has been working on something very special indeed – putting aside the plans to clone George R R Martin (so we can actually find out whether Winter Is Coming or Going).

HCP has developed a web application that gives readers the chance to browse HarperCollins and Harper Voyager book extracts on the iPhone and iPod touch. You can then purchase the titles online via the Dymocks website.

Launch titles include Voyager books Odalisque by Fiona McIntosh and The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass

At this point in time, HarperCollins is the only Australian publisher (yes, we do plan to take over the world if possible) to currently offer such a feature. The application is available immediately to iPhone and iPod touch users via Safari browser at http://mobile.harpercollins.com.au or via Apple’s web apps site at http://www.apple.com/webapps

And if you don’t have an iPhone, like this humble blog writer, then you can still use Browse Inside with your PC, accessing titles by Kylie Chan, Fiona McIntosh and many more.

Click here to go to Browse Inside

Click here to go to Browse Inside

In a totally unrelated moment – I went to Browse Inside and came across a title called The Earth Dragon Awakes and got vair excited imagining some sort of Temeraire meets er … the Earth, only to find out that it was actually a book about an earthquake. But this demonstrates why Browse Inside is a good thing – you really can try before you buy. And if you’re interested in the Earth Dragon then by all means, click here.

Imagination that deftly defies northern gravity

The above title appeared in the July 26 Australian newspaper to head a review of Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann. The anthology has been getting excellent reviews all over blogs and papers. The Sydney Morning Herald ran an excellent review last week too. If you read and loved Dreaming Down-Under, prepare to be even more impressed when you read Dreaming Again. If you count Isobelle Carmody, Garth Nix, Sara Douglass or Cecilia Dart-Thornton among your favourites – you must pick it up; their stories are in there. If you follow Australian spec fic – then you probably already own a copy! And if you need an introduction to excellent sf, fantasy and horror, then here’s your prize.

Dreaming Again demonstrates that there is a distinctive Australian voice in speculative fiction, heard in the irreverence and humour of the stories and in the use of Australian landscapes. Indeed, reading this anthology makes it obvious just how much of the best overseas work is derivative of US and British culture and locations. It is a pleasure to see something as out-worldly as science fiction and fantasy writing grounded in our culture and landscapes.’ — George Williams, The Australian

Click here to go to the Australian review

Jack will be appearing at Conflux 5 in October, taking place at the Marquis in Canberra. He’ll be speaking on ‘A writer’s guide to dreaming’ (the theme of Conflux is ‘dreaming’). Book to go to Conflux soon and you’ll save $40 off the door price. And it really is worth going – there’ll be all sorts of entertainment going on – a New York 1920s banquet, designed and created by food historian Gillian Pollack, workshops of all kinds – including swordfighting, and of course, the general mad fun that goes along with all good cons!

Fallon Friday: Jennifer on Calory-free Cookbooks

Talking about my favourite books a couple of weeks ago, got me to thinking about what was on my bookshelf. In addition to a fairly impressive fiction collection, I also have a shelf of cookbooks (why?) and diet books, for those times when I decide that I really should lose weight and surely there’s a better way than this tired old “eat less, exercise more” formula that everybody goes on and on about…

Finding The Retox Diet** on my shelves (alongside Dr Atkins and Dr Phil’s take on weight loss — not to mention the Sweet Temptations cookbook I found beside them), was a joy, but then I found a folded bit of paper between the books, given to me by a masseuse some time ago, of the diet she recommends. I’m not sure of the original source (neither was she) but not only is it full of great food, it also had the best set of lifestyle rules attached to the eating plan… Rules I have very successfully incorporated into my daily life.

Let me share them with you:

  • If you eat something and no one else sees you eat it, it has no calories.
  • When eating with someone else, the calories don’t count if you eat less than they do.
  • Calories in food used for medicinal purposes never count: i.e. hot chocolate, brandy, cheesecake, etc.
  • Movie related foods do not count. They are part of the whole entertainment experience and therefore popcorn, soft drinks and candy purchased and consumed at a cinema are not technically foods, at all.
  • Cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breakage causes calorie leakage.
  • Things licked off knives or spoons in the process of preparing food have no calories.
  • Foods with the same colours have the same calories. For example, white chocolate and mushrooms, spinach and mint ice-cream, etc.
  • Since brown is a universal colour, chocolate may be substituted for any other food colour.
  • Foods consumed while depressed are not fattening. The process of crying consumes the equivalent amount of calories consumed. If you are concerned about maintaining the balance, either eat less, or cry harder.
  • Diet soft drinks cancel out any calories in the fast food you consume at the same meal.
    Between these rules and the Retox Diet, I’m all set, and what’s more, I don’t even have to worry about the popcorn I ate at the movies last night 🙂

  • ** 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?

    Black is -still- the hottest thing around …

    But this time we’re talking about BLACK MAGAZINE — not the classic dress colour that never goes out fashion. No doubt most fantasy buffs will have noticed the debut of this fantastic new mag – it has Heath Ledger as the Joker on the cover of the debut issue — which came out this month.

    BLACK is Australia’s dark culture and entertainment magazine.

    And here’s what they say about the mag on their website:

    Whether it is books, movies, music, television, games, comics, alternative lifestyles, fashion, paranormal, occult, or true crime, if it’s dark, it will be in BLACK.

    BLACK includes:

    Interviews with celebrities, authors, musicians, and artists.

    Columns on everything from Aussie horror to bizarre medical cases.

    News, political, lifestyle, and pop culture articles.

    Book, movie, and game reviews.

    Dark short stories.

    and much more!

    Watch this space to find out more about BLACK — we’ll be giving you the chance to win some copies of the magazine in our August newsletter — so make sure you sign up for the newsletter by going to http://www.harpercollins.com.au/Members/Newsletters/index.aspx

    Fiona McIntosh: The mathematics of speedy writing

    I’ve been asked about how I write my books so fast.  That’s a tricky question to respond to because I really don’t know any other way or any other speed to write at.  I’ve realised that I do seem to roar through a manuscript fairly briskly but it’s also fair to say that I’m not one of these writers who pays much attention to anything but getting the bones of the story laid out on my first pass.  I never read what I wrote the day before and I simply never think to edit as I go along.  Everyone has their own style that comes naturally so I’ve stopped questioning myself about the fact that I don’t make notes, I don’t keep any sort of running document or exercise book to scribble information into.  I know I’ve forgotten more than I’ve remembered and that when I reassure myself I will recall something the next day, I usually don’t.  But, I’m not a planner when it comes to my writing.  Thinking the story out makes me feel imprisoned and I am more comfortable just leaping in and writing in an organic style, allowing the plot to shape itself as the characters make their often curious decisions.  I think it’s quite easy to sit back, with the luxury of forethought as much as reflection, and pass judgement on how characters behave.  But I am a firm believer that human beings are often erratic, frequently irrational and many of us are driven by emotions rather than maths.  A lot of us don’t work out to the nth degree what the repercussions of a decision might be – well, not until we’re our parents’ ages anyway.  And right now for me that’s early 80s!  Many of my key characters are young and so I like to give them leeway to make questionable decisions and they’re almost always in stressful situations and so they react instinctively rather than having too much time to work out the best course of action.  That makes the story rip along quite fast but it does lead the characters into some dangerous circumstances that could have been avoided if they’d thought it through more.  Younger characters are often selfish, slightly self centred and spontaneous.  To me this feels real.  And so in not trying to analyse the plot or the characters too much and just letting go and seeing where the story takes itself, I can get straight down to writing a lot faster than the writer who prefers to have a more structured, planned approach to the manuscript. 

    And here’s how I set out:

    I work out when I want this book finished.  Let’s say I have 18 weeks.  To me that’s 90 working days because I don’t count weekends.  And then I decide how big I want my manuscript to be – roughly.  I usually settle at around 150,000 words, give or take 10,000.    And then I divide that 150,000 words by 90 working days and I get my all- important equation, which I round up to 1700.  So that means I must write 1700 words per day, five days a week, between now and the deadline for me to produce a nice fat 150K word manuscript.  And then I double my daily word count to 3500, which I find achievable daily, and that means I can produce a manuscript in nine weeks, knowing I’ve got several more working weeks up my sleeve if I need to do some editing of another novel, or go on tour, or run a workshop or whatever.  As neat as I get my calculations, life gets in the way and by doubling my word production, I give myself a ‘life buffer’ for when things go pear-shaped because of family commitments or whatever decides to obstruct the flow of my beautiful equation.  I live by my daily word count (DWC). It becomes my master and I its slave.  It is how I keep discipline to my writing and sometimes I reach the DWC in two hours and other times it may take five.  But I always reach it and as soon as I do, I stop writing for the day….often mid sentence!  And that’s how I appear to write fast when really I’m just writing smart for someone who doesn’t plan, has children to take care of, a life to enjoy beyond the keyboard, travel to be done, and more than one book a year to write.

    Fiona McIntosh’s next book will be coming out in September. Royal Exile is the first book in the new Valisar series. Watch this space as she’ll be blogging regularly in the lead up to September.