• 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!



Immersion Part 3: Bringing Readers into Your World

The Spell of Rosette

Kim's book

Some authors say that readers will immerse in anything as long as it’s plausible, but I think Orson Welles already proved that wrong. Fantasy readers are not testing a story against Newtonian physics. They don’t expect it to adhere to Natural Law, but they do want it to adhere to its own laws. Ursula Le Guin reinforces this saying inner coherence, not plausibility, holds the reader enthralled. ‘Fantasy deliberately violates plausibility in the sense of congruence with the world outside the story. Only in lesser matters is realistic detail used . . . to prevent the reader from getting an overload of the improbable.’

In fantasy, we can bend time, shape-shift, talk with animals and cast spells, but only within the rules of the system we’ve created. Consistency in this sense applies to making certain a character’s eyes and hair colour do not change or that a machine that breaks the time barrier doesn’t run on corn flakes, unless previously explained. This is demonstrated in Bram Stoker’s Dracula where, contrary to folklore, we find Prince Vlad is tolerant of daylight. Stoker explains this seamlessly within the text and the readers’ immersion is not suspended, even though everyone ‘knows’ vampires must be in their coffins by day.

Twisted Citadel

Sara Douglass's latest book

Aside from inner coherence, authors like Le Guin and Sara Douglass suggest it is the intimate details of a scene and the tone, register and vernacular that supports reader immersion. Jennifer Fallon puts it like this: ‘The language and references must reflect the character, the character’s knowledge, surrounding world and the setting.’ Although she points out a blunder in The Hobbit, Tolkien took this idea to great lengths when he fashioned Middleearth. He created entire languages (Elvish and Dwarf) prior to writing LOTR. Tolkien reminds us that at no time could he recall the enjoyment of a book being dependent on the belief that such things would happen, or had happened, in ‘real’ life.

What is the formula then for creating immersive stories? Voice? Believable dialog? ‘Real’ characters? Elements of the fantastic grounded in a world consistent with itself? All of these are important as is getting the fine details right. You can’t expect your audience to stay immersed if your hero has been shot point blank but still fights on, unless (as in the Matrix) you have explained it. Nor can your heroine travelling backward and forward in time unless (as in Traci Harding’s Ancient Future Trilogy) the author has built the mechanism into the story’s universal law.

Black Madonna

Traci Harding's latest book

Break the rules, by all means, but weave the ability to do so into the narrative. Most importantly, engage in the story as you write. If you experience the participation mystique in the act of creation, your readers will in turn be affected in the same way. This is where the magic happens, where we immerse in a world co-created by author and reader. Comments most welcome.

Immersion Part 1
Immersion Part 2

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.