• 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!



Peter V. Brett: Where I get my ideas from

The Painted ManLike all writers, I steal my ideas. I steal them from books and comics I read, movies I see, what I read in the news, apocryphal stories overheard at parties, television shows, jobs I’ve worked, incidents I witness on the street or subway, what have you. Like a big sponge, I soak up all these tidbits of life and story, filtered through my own understanding, and then, when I’m saturated, I squeeze them out into something new that is both none and all of those things. (Sometimes I just make shit up, too, but that’s a rarity, and even then, I probably just forgot what I was stealing from.)

Any fiction writer that tells you otherwise is lying to you. No one sits in an empty white room all their life and churns out stories. Even the ones that tell you they never watch TV or read books get it from somewhere.

For the most part, though, writers tend to be pretty honest about our rampant kleptomania, even though no one ever seems to believe us. Every aspiring writer wants to know where established writers get their ideas, like there’s some secret well we’re guarding that they could tap if they only knew where to drill. There isn’t. Believe me, I’ve looked.

But “ideas” are kind of a deception in themselves, making people (especially Hollywood executives) think that it’s a story’s concept that makes a success. Great stories don’t come from concept and they never have. They come from compelling characters. Harry Potter didn’t work because it was a story about a wizard boarding school for kids. It worked because that school was filled with rich characters that made you care about what happened to them. The concept can certainly help, but great icing will only get you so far if the cake underneath is stale and hard, and that cake is characters. No one wants to read about a world where everyone speaks with the same voice. A good writer can step into the shoes of hundreds of disparate people, and make them seem as real as the ones you meet on the street.

So “where do I get my characters?” is the real question, though admittedly, the answer is much the same. I steal them.

When I meet people, I always try to figure out what makes them tick. What their motivations are, what goals they’ve set, and what they are willing to do to reach them. Why do they love what they love, or hate what they hate? What is their everyday life like, and how is that different from mine? What can I learn from them?

It’s not a mercenary thing; I still have genuine feelings for or against all those people like any normal person does, but I remain as driven try to grok people I don’t like and tend to avoid as people I love so much I can’t imagine living without. It’s just how my brain works.

The things I manage to learn in the brief glimpses I get into people’s psyches become whispers in my head, fragments of personality I can give voice to in my writing. Sometimes a whisper is enough to cover some incidental character, and other times I combine dozens or hundreds of those fragments into fully realized characters. Characters that don’t always do what I want them to… but that’s a whole other post.

So, in closing, if there’s anything in this blog entry that spoke to you… steal it!

Peter V Brett is the author of The Painted Man, out now in all good bookshops. Peter will be attending this year’s World Fantasy Convention, October 30 – November 2, 2008, in Calgary, Canada.

The Painted Man has been nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and you can discuss by the book should win at the forum here!