• 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!



It’s all about chocolate! Fiona McIntosh blogs on changing plot twists

Bridge of Souls

I’ve been asked to talk about why I changed a plot twist in The Quickening. I’ve been very fortunate with my stories that, although my editors have worked hard to help me turn the books into the best they can be, we haven’t actually had to do a lot of re-writing. For the most part we’re simply polishing every inch of it, scrutinising character motivations, ensuring there are no ‘plot holes’ and so on. I am quite often asked to add some editorial but in terms of savaging or re-writing scenes entirely, I’ve been luckily left without wounds to lick.

However, there were two occasions that do stand out. Both occurred in The Quickening. The first was a near 30,000 word cut. Now I know that horrifies some readers because they feel cheated out of those words, and aspiring writers pale when I mention it, but it was a sane move by my editor and for good reason. Let me explain.

For those of you who have read Blood and Memory, you may recall the scene when Ylena escapes the Rittylworth monastery, which is under attack from the King’s men? Originally, this scene belonged to a different female character. Originally she was going to play a much bigger role in the story and take it in a new direction. I had a huge and harrowing chapter or two that involved her to kick off this involvement. As much as we all liked this new part of the story, I agreed with my editor that it was dragging the reader away from Wyl Thirsk for too long….or rather away from the main thrust of the story. And in using these chapters I was asking the reader to get deeply involved in another three characters that complicated the tale. I didn’t find it hard to see how to make it work without her and we simply hacked off that 30,000 words and re-worked it so that Ylena took up the thread. It wasn’t hard to do and it wasn’t hard to let go of that passage or all that work. Editing is where the book is made … where all the shine is added. As a writer it’s important to be flexible and open to these sorts of editorial situations and to be eager to find solutions and not try and cling to those hard won words. Fortunately I am not precious about my work and just shrug and move on.

And then the other occasion – one I felt a little more strongly about and took a day to really think it through – was the ending of Bridge of Souls. This was the culmination of an epic story that had required readers to not only constantly grieve but the main characters were punished over and over. Poor Wyl Thirsk. He had a very tough run. And because, as I’ve explained previously, I don’t plan anything, by the time I neared the final chapters I realised with a sense of chill, that the characters were not going to allow a happy ending for Wyl and Valentyna. After all the struggle, there wasn’t going to be a chance for them. And as I was writing I can clearly remember getting all teary as the worst possible scenario began to unfold. I couldn’t stop her. Valentyna decides to put her beloved King Cailech out of his misery rather than wait for an executioner to do the killing. She has no idea of how Myrren’s Gift works but of course the reader does, and so does Wyl Thirsk, trapped within Cailech. Wyl loves Valentyna more than his own life and we share his deep despair as we watch through his eyes, her actions. It’s a very sad part of the story. And although the series ends with a scene that is filled with hope for the three realms, there is no doubt that readers would have been left feeling drained and somewhat hollow because of the dark finish. I really liked it. But my editor was extremely concerned that readers deserved an ending that delivered a sense of closure to Wyl Thirsk’s struggles. My choice of ending left him more traumatised than ever, trapped in a body he knew he would despise every day of his future life because it was the final change for him. There would be no escape from this guise. The curse that was Myrren’s Gift had come full circle – its demands had been fulfilled. But Wyl was essentially left in a state of despair and the body count was awfully high. My editor asked me to seriously consider giving the reader a chance to celebrate rather than close the final book on such grief.

I wasn’t happy especially as I couldn’t see my way around the final outcome, but after sleeping on it I decided to take her advice and reconsider the final chapters. Fortunately once I’d reached this decision I was surprised that ideas began to flow on how I could change the ending to reflect a less traumatic outcome.

But so far those are the only two occasions in 10 adult fantasy novels that I’ve had to seriously consider re-writing the plot. Deep down I still favour bittersweet over sweet endings as you’ll see from Trinity and even Percheron and probably Valisar will ultimately go the same way, and in some homespun psychology, I’ve decided that I now firmly believe this trait has a lot do with my favouring bittersweet chocolate over milk or – ugh – white!

Fiona McIntosh’s latest book, Royal Exile (Valisar Book One), will be out in September.

Click here to visit Fiona’s website.

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