• 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!

     

     

Fallon Friday — A word about world building and DNA

Fallon Friday back for 2009, with useful advice on how to write, and how not to write, from bestselling author Jennifer Fallon.

The following is a series of questions all people with a God-complex (er… I mean fantasy writers) need to ask themselves before they start creating their worlds.

If you’re halfway through your epic already and you can’t answer most or all of these questions, then I have five important little words for you: back to the drawing board.

The Big questions

  • Is your world Earth-like?
  • If it isn’t Earth-like, how do humans fit in?
  • Are the animals, plants and insects the same as Earth?
  • If they’re not, are they all different, or only some of them?
  • Have they evolved on this world or do they come from somewhere else?
  • If you have creatures not of this world, where do they fit on the food chain?
  • How many sentient races do you have (human, dwarves, elves, etc)?
  • How do the various species interact with one another?
  • Who is the dominant species?

Warning… we are human and we live on a world with a complex eco-system of which we are a part. Look around you. All our animals have 4 legs, all our birds have 2, all our spiders have 8, all our insects have 6. There is a natural symmetry to our world, so before you go patting yourself on the back for your awesome creativity and your six legged horses, or your two legged talking cows, you’d better be damn sure all the other creatures in that classification are built along the same lines.
It’s fine to have a different type of fish, because, it’s well, a fish. We have fish. They fit nicely in the food chain. But a mammalian beast with three eyes, when every other mammal on your world has two (or four – whatever), doesn’t make sense and you’ll pull most readers who’ve managed to make it past the first two years of high school, right out of the story because —unless you’re writing about the Island of Dr Moreau – such a thing is just plain silly.

Bear something else in mind… we are only a few DNA strands away from being cats, ourselves. If you’ve got six legged horses, and six-legged dogs, more than likely, you’re gonna have to start thinking about six-legged humans.

And if you do decide to go the two-legged cow route, be careful the reader doesn’t get so swallowed up in your fabulous detailed descriptions of your yellow-spotted gurglebeast, that they lose sight of the real story.

Bottom line — don’t go messing with the eco-system unless you’re very sure your seven-legged, three-eyed, fire-breathing, giant dust mites, are going to fit naturally into the world.

Jennifer Fallon is the author of thirteen fantasy books, comprising three trilogies (the Demon Child trilogy, the Hythrun Chronicles and the Second Sons trilogy) and one quartet (The Tide Lords series). You can read more from her at her website and blog, or check the Voyager blog on that wonderful day after Thursdays when her Fallon Friday posts go up.

Read the 2008 series of Fallon Friday posts.


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4 Responses

  1. I saw a 6 legged spider once. It had four legs on one side and two other the other. It seemed to manage quite well!

  2. Odd legged spiders do manage, but they didn’t start that way. Those limbs were lopped off at some stage by, most likely, another spider.

    I like question #6–where do they fit on the food chain? What animals eat, and who eats them, is a good reference for their attributes-teeth, jaws, legs, mobility, behavior. Carnivores tend to have different social structures and ways of relating than herbivores, for example.

    Great post! 🙂

  3. As synchronicity would have it, I started rereading Margaret Atwood’s Blind Assassin last night –a book with a story within a story– and sure enough there was a chapter straight up that had blue sheep, three eyed cows and a violet ocean. BUT, Atwood is doing this to keep readers from immersing! She wants us to pay attention to the conversation between the storyteller and the listener. That couple, so far, is the focus, not the strange story he tells her.

    In this case Atwood uses Jennifer’s insights into world-building, but in reverse.

    Subtle and brilliant! 🙂

  4. The Voyager Online Community: I came for the stimulating conversation; I stayed for the Fallon Fridays. Interesting as always, and I’m glad they’re back for the new year.

    (Two-legged cows? Udderly ridiculous. Well, _someone_ had to say it…)

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