• 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!



The Deadline Dames

Devon Monk, author of the upcoming Magic to the Bone is taking part in a website called The Deadline Dames, a group of 9 urban fiction/paranormal romance/young adult writers joining together and blogging about their writing lives. Devon made the first post there and is also going to blog a little for us in the next few weeks, plus she’s done a Q&A for the next Captain’s Log – discussing her writing, her inspiration and her … competitive knitting. Yes, there is such a thing, and it sounds fab! But you’ll have to wait for her post to see more!

In the mean time, checkout The Deadline Dames, who also include Keri Arthur and Lilith Saintcrow (both featured in the January Aust Spec Fic Blog Carnival).

Much Ado About Review Part I by Kim Falconer

Author Kim Falconer

Author Kim Falconer

The word review comes from the Latin revidere, meaning to see again. In the literary world, a review examines with the purpose of critique. It’s a judgment, usually including two parts—summation and evaluation. It’s also a relationship.

Margaret Atwood uses biblical imagery to describe this relationship between the writer and reviewer. She places the author in the role of divine creator, drawing a blank page from the maw of Chaos and turning it, one day at a time, into a detailed narrative. On the 7th day (or perhaps 700th) it is handed over to the critic who spends considerably less time analysing it.

The critic looks ‘after the fact’ to discern if the novel has value, meaning, authenticity and plausibility, situating it in the context they believe it was written and finally giving it a result. The crucial point that Atwood makes is the novelist is distanced from the process of critical analysis. They are concerned with the act of creation, asking what will happen next and what is the right word. The critic has a different question. They ask, what does this mean. When the reader gets a hold of it, it’s something else again. They are asking what does this mean to me. In this way, the critic, reader and novelist can be at odds, each seeing the work from a different angle.

Marylaine Block, a librarian for over 22 years, pictures a more romantic relationship between author and critic. She likens reviewers to matchmakers, saying their primary function is to bring readers together with their perfect mates, books that they can appreciate and enjoy. Jonathan Marshall, a Research Fellow at Western Australian’s Edith Cowan University, takes it a step further. He sees the review as an invitation to discussion, a gift offered to those who might want it, rather than a bludgeon to instruct the insensitive masses.

Whether searching for meaning, matchmaking or creating an open forum, literary critics seldom miss the opportunity to exercise their authority. Not many reviews are free of criticisms and some can be brutal. Bruce Mazlish, a professor of history at MIT, highlights the reviewers’ power over the author. Reviews can affect careers, reputations, positions, salaries and self-esteem. He points out that a publisher’s ‘reader review’ can impact the decision to offer a contract. That’s significant power. Yet with all this weight given to the reviewer, very little training is required to become one. Mazlish sums it up neat. ‘Reviewing is regarded as a democratic practice: anybody can do it.

What do you think? How important are reviews to you? Do you write them? Read them? Do they sway your opinion of an author or affect your reading choices? Share your experiences here! Part II will follow tomorrow: 10 Tips for writing reviews.

Kim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette (Quantum Enchantment Book 1), which was published this month by HarperVoyager. Kim lives in Byron Bay and runs the website Falcon’s Astrology as well as a website dedicated to the Quantum Enchantment series.