• 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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Soul Influence by Kim Falconer

Oscar Wilde once said that to influence a person was to give them a piece of your own soul. He wasn’t too keen on the idea, though he was inspired by many intellectuals of his time. One in particular was the mysterious Madame Blavatsky—the Russian aristocrat who ushered in the New Age with her theosophical spiritualism. From her sprung writers such as Rudolf Steiner, Gurdjieff, Krishnamurti, W. B. Yeats, Dion Fortune, Katherine Mansfield and Aldous Huxley. All of these authors had an effect on me, Oscar Wilde none the least. His stories, ranging from the horror classic, The Picture of Dorian Gray, to the seemingly trivial fantasy, The Importance of Being Earnest, made a lasting impression.

Author Kim Falconer

Author Kim Falconer

I agree with Peter V. Brett when he says writers are like psychic sponges. We mop up the brilliance of each other’s minds, reserving the insights for a rainy day, or perhaps our next novel. Wilde thought it was something to guard against but C. G. Jung (another hero of mine) said, we don’t create in a vacuum but through our relationship to others, and let’s face it, reading someone’s words is an intimacy, a relationship, a window into their soul.

I carry a lot of those souls around with me: Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, C S Lewis, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin—she’s a favourite, the woman who brought feminist theory to SF /F. Ann Rice—who always describes light and colour in such sensual ways, and Anne McCaffrey, who successfully merged SF and Fantasy, not an easy task.

I’ve read all of David Eddings too. He, like Wilde, tries to avoid influence. ‘I have a sub-conscious burglar lurking in my mind, he says. If I read a good fantasy it’s likely to show up in my next book.Stephen King is the opposite. He says that reading in your genre is necessary for understanding the market, to know editorial likes and dislikes. I love Brett’s take on this—‘Like all writers, I steal my ideas. . .

The Spell of Rosette

The Spell of Rosette - out now!

Whether we call it theft, awareness or influence, there wouldn’t be a fantasy author alive who hasn’t been touched by JRR Tolkien and I doubt any of us mind sharing a piece of his soul. I was inspired by LOTR to the point where I spent my teens and early twenties writing reams of epic poetry. These works were so extensive they made Homer’s Odyssey look like Haiku. Tolkien’s academic paper, On Fairy Stories, opened my mind to notions of immersion as well, but more on that topic in another blog! I’d like to hear your most influential authors. What bits of soul do you carry around with you? Comments welcome!

Kim Falconer’s first novel The Spell of Rosette is available at all good bookshops throughout Australia! Kim lives in Byron Bay with two gorgeous black cats. As well as her author website, Quantum Enchantment‚ she runs an astrology forum and alternative science sitetrains with a sword and is completing a Masters Degree. Her novel writing is done early every morning. Currently she’s working on additional volumes in the Quantum Enchantment Series.

Read other posts by Kim Falconer

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The fairytale: Angela Slatter interviewed

There’s a great interview with Angela Slatter here, talking about the Aurealis Awards and Dreaming Again. Angela’s story ‘The Jacaranda Wife’ appears in Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann and published by Voyager in July 08. Her story ‘Dresses Three’ has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Fantasy Short Story Award. In the article, Angela talks about growing into her writing, and the origin of some of her stories.

The Aurealis Awards take place on January 24, visit the Aurealis website for information on tickets.

Fallon Friday: Lazy Writer’s Work Avoidance Word Counter

Lazy Writer’s Work Avoidance Word Counter

Everyone will tell you that you need to be disciplined to write.

I am not disciplined, I am lazy, so I have developed a tool to tell me how exactly how lazy I can afford to be and still get my work done on time.

 

My Short Story

Today

17-Dec-08

Deadline

31-Jan-09

Final Count

3,000

Current Count

281

Words Left

2,719

Days left

44

Percentage complete

9%

Daily word count required

62

 

Here is my Christmas present to you. Instructions on how to build the Lazy Writer’s Work Avoidance Word Counter in Excel

 

Today

=TODAY()

This formula will automatically update the current date

Deadline

Enter deadline here

Final Count

Enter anticipated final word count here

Current Count

Update this daily as you add to the word count

Words Left

= [Final count]–[Current Count]

This will calculate the remaining words

Days left

= [Deadline]–[Today]

This will tell you how many days you have to do them

Percentage complete

= [Current Count]/[Final Count]

Set the cell formatting to % to show this figure as a percentage of the final word count

Daily word count required

= [Words Left]/ [Days Left]

This will tell you how many words per day you need to write to finish on time

       

 

Obviously, the formulas use cell references (ie “=B15/16”) not the cell titles (unless you’re very clever and have named the cells), but I’m sure you guys can figure it out.

Have fun. I’m off to write my 62 words and then I’m done for the day. Woo hoo!

 

Jennifer Fallon gets her manuscripts in on time! She has three trilogies and one quartet published with Harper Voyager and plenty more writing in the works. Her most recent book is The Chaos Crystal, published in December 08.

Meet Jennifer Fallon in person in Alice Springs

Jennifer Fallon will be doing a book signing at Book City in Yeperenye tonight from 6pm to 8pm.

Things you could ask her (based on last night’s online chat): Will there be a sequel to the Tide Lords quartet? What are you working on next? Who is your favourite character? Why didn’t xxxxx die? How do you kill an immortal? Why did you – oh no, I’d better stop before I spoil The Chaos Crystal for someone!

Evoking the Gods Part II: The astrology of Character Development by Kim Falconer

Author Kim Falconer

Author Kim Falconer

My main goal in developing characters is to make them authentic, consistent within their personalities and real enough to grow as the story unfolds. Terry Goodkind adds that his characters are created to express abstractions like freedom or intelligence. Both points overlap—authentic, grow, express ideas. But when characters come to life they have a mind of their own and are not always open to direction! This can be a good thing, as Traci Harding points out: My characters are constantly surprising me with their responses – making me laugh, cry, gasp! This is where the magic happens but how to get there? What makes a character real?

There are many answers but one of mine is Astrology! (Crash course here in Astrology 101) It is a great tool for making characters ring true. How? I give everyone a birth chart, a natal horoscope that I refer to like a map of their psyche. It gets me inside their heads. The chart tells me what makes them tick—their limiting beliefs, past patterns, core values and authentic goals. It answers questions about how they dress, likes and dislikes, how they act. Even more important, it can help me see where they will grow through the choices they make and the challenges they attract.

Take the rising sign or Ascendant—the sign that was on the eastern horizon at the moment of birth. It is a symbol of how we initiate things—journeys, fights, ideas—anything new. For a fun demonstration, consider how each rising sign would initiate sex.

Aries—Pounce. Usually little or no warning.
Taurus—Surprisingly sensual, though ardent. They selectively fail to hear the word ‘no.’
Gemini—Much talk before action. They seduce with words—sometimes quite eloquently.
Cancer—They retreat, you follow. Not opposed to emotional manipulation.
Leo—Beware of public places, unless you like such things!
Virgo—They seduce with atmosphere, candles, music, tantric manuals.
Libra—Wine, dine, listen and stir until there is nothing left between you but the erotic.
Scorpio—They seduce with their eyes. It takes 30 seconds or less and you’re a goner.
Sagittarius—They promise the world, and usually deliver.
Capricorn—They buy you things. Excellent taste.
Aquarius—They use the element of surprise—often surprisingly well.
Pisces—Enchantment. Their very being is an aphrodisiac.

With this small sampling it’s easy to see how astrology offers a model for character development and orientation. When the call to adventure comes, Aries is straight off the mark, sword in hand, where Gemini simply gets excited, asks questions and looks at maps. Astrology helps me write characters that ring true and that’s the sweet spot, the place where I close my eyes, watch the scenes and record them as fast as I can. If you want to know your rising sign, shoot me an email. Any questions or comments most welcome.

Kim Falconer

Read Evoking the Gods Part I: The Myth of Character Development

Kim Falconer’s first novel The Spell of Rosette is available throughout Australia from today onwards! Kim lives in Byron Bay with two gorgeous black cats. As well as her author website, Quantum Enchantment‚ she runs an astrology forum and alternative science sitetrains with a sword and is completing a Masters Degree. Her novel writing is done early every morning. Currently she’s working on additional volumes in the Quantum Enchantment Series.

Voyager Book Club: Chat with Jennifer Fallon tonight

Yes, the most secret of secret societies, so secret that we can’t even – oh, sorry, I’ve already announced it in the subject line. Yes, that constant of constants, every month or ten, is happening again.

The Voyager Book Club will reconvene tonight, in the usual place *wink* – that being the chat room hosted over at the Australian Spec Fic Site for Writers, A Boy Goes On a Journey.

Here be the link to the room: A Boy Goes on a Journey Flash Chat Room

Here be the time:  NB. Due to a slight mixing up of the times – we’re meeting at (half an hour later): 6:30pm AUSTRALIAN CENTRAL STANDARD TIME (Alice time) 8pm AUSTRALIAN EASTERN Daylight Saving Time (Sydney time) 7pm Queensland Time

Check your local time differency thingy please! If you’re early we can all still chat 🙂

Here be the fab author speaking: Jennifer Fallon

Here be the subject: The Chaos Crystal and the Tide Lords quartet in general, as well as general chat

Here be the reason you should go: You get to chat to Jennifer Fallon, you get to hang out with like-minded spec fic fans, we have already had excellent sessions with Karen Miller and Russell Kirkpatrick.

Here be the end of this post.

Evoking the Gods Part I: The myth of Character Development

Creating characters for Quantum Enchantment was like praying to the gods—they had to be evoked. When they came to life, they promptly took over the story, expanding their roles, dominated the scenes and behaved in ways contrary to anything I had planned. I found myself often saying, ‘Oh really? You’re doing that?’ (Like Traci Harding, I talk to my characters too!)

Kreshkali was the worst. She entered the world much like the goddess Athene, the daughter of Zeus. You know the tale? Zeus swallowed Meta whole and after a few days developed a severe headache. Prometheus [some say Hephaestus] cleaved his head with an ax and out sprang his daughter Athene, full grown, sword in hand, screaming a war cry. I didn’t have the headache but when I opened a new door, there stood Kreshkali. Before I could step aside she was on the page, and well, when you read the story, you’ll know what I mean. She’s my answer to Margaret Atwood’s question, ‘Is it somehow ‘unfeminist’ to depict a woman behaving badly?’ Ha!

The Spell of Rosette

Kim's new book

Rosette’s appearance was more graceful. She was the first to arrive and she has matured with the story as any child might. Her familiar Drayco was a surprise though. He emerged like a nature god from depths of the Dumarkian Woods. He is also the product of living with felines—two black cats who sit like bookends on either side of my screen and watch me work. Drayco’s mannerisms are definitely gleaned from them. I remember Robin Hobb saying her son’s body language gave her a model for Fitz and I know what she means–writing is life drawing sometimes.

The most challenging of my characters was An’ Lawrence. I found myself like Mary Shelley, sewing together bits and pieces of his persona and physique until the form was there awaiting animation. When he leapt onto the page I stood back and smiled. There’s a man I’d love to meet, moods and all. His familiar, Scylla, awoke when he did and would not be dissuaded. I think they met in a previous life.

Jarrod’s creation I best not speak of. It would give too much away. He is the abstraction, the ‘what if,’ that took the story beyond the confines of strict fantasy. And Nellion Paree? Her character appeared much like Aphrodite who was born when Saturn lopped off his father’s genitals and tossed them into the sea. Like the goddess of love, Nell is alluring though she has the ‘iron fist inside the velvet glove quality’ Libras are known for. Yes, she’s a Libra. As an astrologer, I give my characters horoscopes. If I’m ever uncertain of how they might behave, I check their chart. Moon in Pisces? Disappear. Sun in Aries? Advance. Mercury in Libra? Discuss it with everyone for quite some time before deciding what to do. Astrology is a wonderful way to get inside a character’s head. More on that in the next post. Comments and questions always welcome!

This series on Evoking the Gods will be continued later this week – next post on Wednesday, when Kim Falconer’s first novel The Spell of Rosette will be hitting bookshelves across Australia!

Visit Quantum Enchantment, Kim’s brand new website.