• 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!



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.

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