• 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!

     

     

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Barry Nugget: Monster Hunter

Here’s the first of a new comic strip series that Mark Curnow, one of our sales team at HC/Voyager has created for Voyager Online: Barry Nugget, Monster Hunter. The strip appears in the hard copy Voyager Newsletter that goes out to booksellers and will also make some guest appearances in our online Captain’s Log e-newsletter. Mark’s Temeraire artwork appeared in the first issue of The Captain’s Log.

(click to enlarge)

Monster Hunter

If you’d like to see more of Mark’s work, post a comment!

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Fallon Friday: Making War Not Peace

Conflict, as any writer worth their salt will tell you — regardless if you’re writing a romance or an action thriller— is the key to an engaging story.

Wars are conflicts on a grand scale but they must happen for a reason. If there is no logical reason for your war, then your whole world starts to look shaky.

So… let’s look some of the reasons people go to war. Megalomaniacal wizards wanting to dominate the world are convenient archetypes in an ageless ‘good versus evil’ story. Jealous or jilted princesses and ambitious sibling princes vying for a slice of the kingdom also work. But in reality, two more commonplace and far more powerful motivators are:

Resources. (Oil…Iraq…?) Combatants are usually more willing to fight (to acquire or protect) resources necessary to their survival than because some king/prince/wizard is greedy/evil/jilted. Resources can be land, energy (eg oil), trade access (eg harbours), fresh water (eg civil war over the Murray/Darling anyone?), food, building materials, technology, etc. Ideology. Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate and Physicist once said “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people do evil things, that takes religion.” Think about this. For the same reason people will spend lifetimes building monumental structures to gods, they will also go to war to protect their beliefs or increase the number of believers.
There is a fabulous line in the musical Pippin, where Charlemagne tells his son he is “devoted to bringing Christianity to the whole world, even if he has to kill every non-believer to do it.”

So, here are some points to remember when designing conflicts:

Wars, battles, and fights are not the same as one another.
If your entire country believes in a religious ideology promoting pacifism, your people are not going to fight to protect anything. (Think about that for a moment)
Weapons (defensive and offensive) do not evolve in isolation; rather, in evolutionary response to the enemy’s technological capabilities. High tech will not always defeat low tech.
Ensure your hand-to-hand combat scenes make anatomical sense. This is especially true of sword-fights.
Research your weaponry and tactics! If you design new weapons, make certain they make sense.

 

Jennifer Fallon’s latest book is called The Palace of Impossible Dreams. Visit her website for more information at www.jenniferfallon.com

Fallon Friday: Implausable Trinity Syndrome

It’s scary how many writers submit works that involve worlds (countries/alien hives/etc) consisting of millions of citizens ruled by a king, his trusty scribe and a competent general (who often wears black, and comes in two versions – with or without a conscience – depending on whether or not you need him to betray the king at a later date).

I have dubbed this the Implausible Trinity Syndrome.

To test if your world suffers from Implausible Trinity Syndrome, see if you can answer these questions about your world…

How is it governed?

  • Chiefdom (ruled by, well, a chief)
  • Kingdom (most of the countries on Amyrantha)
  • Republic (usually has elected Head of State)
  • Dictator (Julius Caesar’s title was Dictator for Life, but there’s plenty of others)
  • Democracy (Start in ancient Greece and work your way forward if you want an example)
  • Religious (Second Sons, The Vatican)
  • Communism (eg, South Pacific island villagers, Israeli kibbutz, USSR)
  • Military (eg Captain Sheridan on Babylon 5 was the military governor. Deep
  • Space Nine is another example of military rule.)
  • Genetic Hegemony (eg Sonny Whitelaw’s Stargate SG-1: The Chosen)

Who actually does the work?

  • Who makes the laws?
  • Who enforces them?
  • How do your laws differ to those of another country/planet?
  • What happens at the borders?
  • How is the bureaucracy structured?
  • Who controls transport?
  • Who controls industry? Guilds?
  • Who provides public works (eg, do Trolls control bridges)?
  • Public health (epidemics)?
  • Private medical care (doctors, dentists)?
  • What’s the education system? Who are entitled?
  • Who controls land use?
  • Who owns land?

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea. So take a look at your world.
Check if it you’re suffering from the Implausible Trinity Syndrome and fix it.

Jennifer Fallon is the author of 12 published fantasy novel, with number 13 set to come out this Christmas. Visit her website for more information at www.jenniferfallon.com

A&R launches ‘ATM’ for books

An interesting article in the SMH on print on demand (aka POD). Australian book chain Angus & Robertson has ‘installed the Espresso Book Machine (EBM), capable of printing, trimming and binding a paperback book on demand within minutes.’

http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/print-on-demand-with-atm-for-books/2008/09/18/1221331003780.html 

What will the future of books bring? I wonder if in some day, we’ll all work from tablets that show us everything we need – including spam-like leaflets and restaurant menus? Totally unrelated to POD of course, but still interesting.

A quick reminder about some events coming up soon

It’s time for Dreaming Again

Pulp Fiction and the Queensland Writers Centre are celebrating the release of Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann, in Brisbane on Tuesday 23rd September, 6.00pm for a 6.30pm start at QWC, Level 2, 109 Edward Street, Brisbane. To quote them: ‘There will be readings, there will be signings, but most importantly there will be nibbles and drinks — and books!’

It’s free – but bookings are essential so there’s enough of the aforementioned nibbles and drinks! To RSVP, phone Pulp Fiction Bookstore on 3236 2750 or email pulpfictionbooks@bigpond.com

And if you haven’t got a copy of Dreaming Again yet, wait til you go to the celebration, as all profits from sales of the book on the night will go to the Clarion South Writers’ Workshop. A number of writers in Dreaming Again are Clarion South alumni – ‘survivors of a six-week writers’ boot camp!’.

Dreaming Again contains 35 stories by authors such as Isobelle Carmody, Terry Dowling, Margo Lanagan and Garth Nix — along with Brisbane’s own Peter M. Ball, Rowena Cory Daniels, Trent Jamieson, Chris Lynch, Jason Nahrung, Angela Slatter and Kim Wilkins – and the organisers expect that a number of these fab authors will be there on the night.

Don’t forget that Jack Dann is a special guest at  Conflux 5: Dreaming, which runs from October 3 to 6! See www.conflux.org.au for the full details. If you haven’t signed up to go yet, please do! The Voyager team will be attending, and it’s sure to be fantastic – and a good reason to go to Canberra …

Traci Harding will soon be taking part in the annual celebration of all things Traci: Trazfest 2008, from Friday October 3 – Monday October 6 2008. Trazfest is the chance to meet Traci and other fans in a relaxed three-day event which includes the Trazling Awards Night (during which a Talent Quest & Costume Party takes place). This year it’s at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast. You must pre-book, so visit Trazling.net or Traci’s website for more information or email trazfest@trazling.net.

Entitled to a good title – Fiona McIntosh on naming her books and series

I’ve been asked to talk about titles of books and titles of series. Are they important?

The very simple answer is yes. They are crucial, but that also goes for naming of characters and naming of worlds.

Sometimes titles come easily; my fantasy series have been easy to name. The individual book titles have been harder and I’ve probably struggled most with the current series, Valisar, in terms of what each volume’s name should be.

There are of course practicalities to consider. Firstly, the umbrella name of the series has to be easy to remember. Ask a bookseller how many times they’ve been confronted by a question along the lines of:

“I’m looking for a fantasy novel that I think has a forest or some sort of landscape on the cover. I don’t know the author and I’m not sure of the title but it might have a woman’s name in it. I think it begins with a letter near the end of the alphabet.” And from that alone a bookseller does his or her best to swing into action and help their customer.

Odalisque

Odalisque

So, as creator, it pays to use names that are snappy, rhythmic, easy to recall and as punchy as possible. Continue reading

A special guest joins the Voyager Cabin Crew for lunch

Today, at work, at our monthly Cabin Crew meeting, we had a fabulous surprise guest!

 

Here are some clues as to who it was:

  1. She’s an author.
  2. She’s written, let’s see, three series so far for Voyager.
  3. One of those series is written under a mysterious psuedonym …
  4. She was also the author whose work was chosen for the first Voyager Book Club.
  5. She’s at work on book two of her latest series … the Rogue Agent trilogy.

 

 

Yes, it was Karen Miller, also known as K E Mills, author of the Kingmaker/Kingbreaker duology, the Godspeaker trilogy, and of course the Rogue Agent series.

She chatted to us for about an hour and then signed copies of The Accidental Sorcerer. You may think that, being hardened publishing folk and all, this is everyday stuff, but it isn’t! We don’t get to meet authors face-to-face that often, although we correspond with them a lot, so seeing Karen in person was just dandy and we acted appropriately as eager fan girls and fan boys.

 

Karen talked about all sorts of things – from her favourite authors (who include my own favourite, George R R Martin) and books, to the rather whirlwind session she had at Denvention/WorldCon due to a surprise deadline, and she spoke in depth about The Accidental Sorcerer, which we had all read earlier in the year and had lots of questions about. Our most important question was answered: there will be more Monk, lots more Monk, in the next two books! She’s working on book two of the Rogue Agent, Witches Incorporated, as I type this entry! I did, in fact, write down her top five authors, but left my notepad at work – so I can’t transcribe it, but keep a look out here and I’ll add it. And since Karen plans to hand over Witches Incorporated very soon – she may have time to embellish the list for you, dear reader! I didn’t get to ask her my question (due to other eager fangirl/boys elbowing me figuratively – okay they didn’t, I was too busy eating sandwiches), which was: How come you know how to present a stable for royalty? (a fact she presented in the 2008 Voyager Diary) But I plan to demand an answer sometime soon!

Afterwards, we all milled (ha! No pun intended) around saying things like, ‘She’s so nice!’ – because she really is. If you haven’t yet read a Karen Miller book, or a K E Mills story, now is the time to start. And look out for a review of the first book in Karen’s most recent fantasy series in the next Captain’s Log.

 

This is your local hardened publishing liaison signing out.

Taelian (Captain’s Assistant)