• 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!



Q&A with Jack Dann

Jack Dann, editor of Dreaming Again, an anthology of Australian fantasy and speculative fiction, which is out this month, agreed to jump on board the Voyager and answer some questions from Purple Zone fans. He’s still got a couple more to answer a bit later in July, but here are his answers to the first lot! If you have more questions to ask – post them on the Voyager Message Board or as a comment to this entry.

Q: Do you think Australian Speculative Fiction offers a more hopeful or, conversely, a darker world view than contemporary SF literature from other countries? (from Willandra)

A: Interesting question. My sense is that Australian speculative fiction covers the entire spectrum of dark…and bright world views; and I think the same is true of most English language-based SF literature. Even though we have a small population in comparison with, say, the US, we have a wide diversity of genre writers. The stories in Dreaming Again show that diversity, I think. To mangle an old boxing phrase, we punch far beyond our (population) weight!

Q: Would you consider magic realism as falling under a spec-fic umbrella? And if not/if so what importance do genres hold for writers, as opposed to readers and booksellers? (from Azquim)

A: That’s a big question! I think that as many speculative fiction writers write stories and novels that could be called magical realism, this style of fiction falls under our genre umbrella. But there are many writers from Borges to Marquez to T. Corgehessen Boyle who have written or are writing work that could be arbitrarily placed under our umbrella, but whose fictional concerns are quite different than ours.

I should mention here that categories are a marketing tool to help purchasers find what they want…or think they want. From the writer’s perspective they are extremely porous. For example, I write in and out of genre, yet even my most mainstream work has elements of magical realism—see my novels The Silent and Bad Medicine.

There is certainly pressure on writers to reproduce their past successes, so it can be commercially dangerous for a writer to move from one genre or category to another; but as artists, I think writers have to ‘follow their bliss’, to steal a phrase from Joseph Campbell, and write what feels to be important and necessary. (And I make no comment about how important or necessary art might ever be!)

Q: Do you have to be a published author to appear in this collection? [probably should have expected this one!] (from Lord Ramoth)

A: No, you blindsided me. *Grin* To answer your question, “No, you don’t have to be a published author, but the story will sure as hell have to have the juice!”

Take a look at Christopher Green’s story “Lakeside”. That’s the first story he ever submitted for publication. As Christopher wrote in his afterword to the story: “Lakeside” was written during the week Kelly Link tutored at Clarion South, 2007. Somewhere along the way, amidst Brisbane’s heat, humidity, and nights full to bursting with three whole hours of sleep, I found a lake in my mind, and fished something out.”

Clarion South is a speculative fiction writers’ workshop, often referred to as a boot camp for writers. You can check it out on the net.

Q: What are you working on next?

A: Well, that answer would take up a lot of space and probably bore the readers silly, so here’s the super-duper-abridged version. I’ve just started Shadows in the Stone, a big fantasy novel, part of a larger work called Dark Companions. Once I’m writing, the characters take me kicking and screaming to places I never expected to go. They even decided the first line: “Lucian peered through the spy hole in the floor at the angels that appeared and disappeared in the roiling mist of the large crystal gazing-globe below.”

A number of anthologies are in various states of progress. Jonathan Strahan and I are working on a Legends-style anthology for HarperCollins, which will showcase short novels by Australia’s most important and best loved fantasy writers. These short novels will take place in the popular magical worlds these bestselling Australian authors have created or, conversely, in brand new worlds that these authors are just starting to create.” (Hype alert, hype alert!) I’m also working on an original anthology with Gardner Dozois called Dragons, and…no, that’s enough.

My autobiography called Insinuations will be published as a stand-alone book, and will also be part of Contemporary Authors Autobiography series. I’ve finished a short novel about the holocaust called The Economy of Light, which should be out very soon from England, and I’ve just put together a collection of stories that deal with the dark themes of the holocaust entitled Camps. (Who says I’m not a happy-go-luck sort of a writer?)

I will be writing an introduction to a limited edition volume of my early novel Junction. Philip K. Dick said, “I may very well be basing some of my future work on Junction. I don’t usually react to the writing of other SF authors with such pleased satisfaction as I did to Junction. It’s daring; it’s original; it’s fun.” (Oops, another hype alert!)

I’m about half-way through the sequel to High Steel, a novel I wrote in collaboration with Jack C. Haldeman. Sadly, my dear friend passed away, and I’m completing the sequel—Ghost Dance—with his widow, author Barbara Delaplace. I’m doing a number of speaking gigs, which I must post on my website, and…and…it’s definitely time to catch my breath and move on to your next question…