• 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!



Arrrrr to be sure, tis that time again

May’s Captain’s Log is out!

Let us know what you’d like to see in the Captain’s Log and we shall wave our magic wand.

Adventures in Japan – Rhonda Roberts

The castle at Nagoya, where Rhonda lived

The castle at Nagoya, where Rhonda lived

Japan is a floating theme park full of cherry blossoms, samurai castles, ancient temples and the best and worst in us all. I love it. And it’s been a key inspiration for Gladiatrix. Kannon Dupree was raised by Yuki, her half-Japanese foster mother, she is trained in Japanese martial arts and like the Japanese she places a premium on loyalty and honour.

I first lived in the Land of the Rising Sun back in the 1980s. I intended visiting for six months and left two years later… And I certainly got my fill… I probably averaged four hours sleep a night through those years.

I lived in the foothills of Mount Fuji, learnt martial arts and tea ceremony, climbed through Ninja strongholds, woke up screaming in the middle of a midnight earthquake, sweltered through summer and froze in the snow in winter and celebrated a new festival with my neighbours every month. Just the leaves changing colour meant an instant shindig and a new set of kimono.

You’ve got to love the Japanese will to party.

Every person I met and every place I visited turned up riches I still draw on. From the island of the Goddess at Miyajima to Hiroshima Ground Zero, from flower-arranging to sword festivals, from drunken businessman climbing telephone polls in cherry blossom time to bald-headed monks watching baseball under the counter while they served in a magnificent Buddhist temple, I was constantly astonished and intrigued. And I’m writing about them still.

The temple at Kyoto

The temple at Kyoto - a perfect place to travel back in time

Rhonda Roberts is the author Gladiatrix, the first book in the Time Stalker series. She lives in south of Sydney, Australia. She’s currently at work on Hoodwink, the follow up to Gladiatrix. Rhonda was an academic for eleven years. During this time she worked in Australia, the United States and in Japan, where she lived for three years. Visit her website at www.rhondarobertsauthor.com

Download a PDF extract from Gladiatrix

Rhonda Roberts on time travel

Time travel became a passion for me when I was a kid growing up in Western Australia. In my school holidays we used to visit these old towns left over from the Gold Rush, full of huge ornate marble pubs and grand post offices.

Talk about ghost towns… You could almost hear the rowdy miners laden down with gold dust and nuggets bellying up to the bar for a beer on a Saturday night. But when I saw them the towns were deserted and choked with dust and weeds.

A decade or so later I spent nine months living with a family in a quaint little Bavarian village in the shadow of a ruined castle. They told me about the great battle that had been fought there two hundred years before that was so brutal a river of blood had flowed. The village observed the seasons, holding beer fests in summer and dances in winter; there were deer and other game in the local forests… It felt like I’d gone back to an older, agrarian time.

I love travel and every different culture I’ve visited has presented me with glimpses of a past world and past way of life. It was this passion with different histories and different cultures that led me to become an academic specializing in cross-cultural analysis of knowledge systems. And time travel just had to be a key part of the Time Stalker series too.

Rhonda Roberts lives in the Illawarra just south of Sydney. She’s currently at work on Hoodwink, the follow up to Gladiatrix. Rhonda has a PhD in Science, Technology and Society and was an academic for eleven years. During this time she worked in Australia, the United States and in Japan, where she lived for three years. Visit her website at www.rhondarobertsauthor.com

Download a PDF extract from Gladiatrix

Fallon Friday: The Reason they call it a “slush” pile

Once upon a time, during dinner with some very clever industry insiders, we got to talking about how hard it is to find “publishable” new material, and the quality of work coming off the slush pile. And yes, there was alcohol involved.

Now I’ve seen a few slush piles, and they are scary places indeed. My agent has closed hers off, she’s so over it, and an editor was telling me she was appalled by how many people can bang off a 100,000 word MS and send it in, often without even reading it through before they print it out! As a writer who re-writes endlessly, I find this almost incomprehensible, but apparently there’s a whole sub-species of humans out there who believe that if you own a computer and you can write that many words, then you ought to be published, even if you don’t know how to use the spell checker.

The moral of this story, of course, is that is you’re not having any luck getting published, then maybe it isn’t because all editors are ignorant corporate bastards who don’t know a good story from a donut. It might be because you haven’t submitted something they consider “publishable”.

Spare a thought then, for the editors at Clarkesworld  Magazine. They’ve gone so far as to post a list in their Submission Guidlines of stories they’re not going to publish, no matter what, (they call it “a hard sell” but they really mean “we’ll publish this when Hell freezes over”) and it’s as funny as it is scary…

“Though no particular setting, theme, or plot is anathema to us, the following are likely hard sells:

  • stories in which a milquetoast civilian government is depicted as the sole obstacle to either catching some depraved criminal or to an uncomplicated military victory
  • stories in which the words “thou” or “thine” appear
  • talking cats
  • talking swords
  • stories where the climax is dependent on the spilling of intestines
  • stories where FTL travel is as easy as is it on television shows or movies
  • time travel too
  • stories that depend on some vestigial belief in Judeo-Christian mythology in order to be frightening (i.e., Cain and Abel are vampires, the End Times are a’ comin’, Communion wine turns to Christ’s literal blood and it’s HIV positive, Satan’s gonna getcha, etc.)
  • stories about rapist-murderer-cannibals
  • stories about young kids playing in some field and discovering ANYTHING. (a body, an alien craft, Excalibur, ANYTHING).
  • stories about the stuff we all read in Scientific American three months ago
  • stories where the Republicans, or Democrats, or Libertarians, or the Spartacist League, etc. take over the world and either save or ruin it
  • your AD&D game
  • “funny” stories that depend on, or even include, puns
  • sexy vampires, wanton werewolves, or lusty pirates
  • stories where the protagonist is either widely despised or widely admired simply because he or she is just so smart and/or strange
  • stories that take place within an artsy-fartsy bohemia as written by an author who has clearly never experienced one
  • your trunk stories ”

If you think that list is terrifying, check out the even longer list over at Strange Horizons, the online speculative fiction magazine. They have a whole page dedicated to Stories we’ve seen too often.

You really have to wonder what sort of tales have come off the slush pile at these magazines to prompt lists like that. Clearly, they have a sense of humour at Clarkesworld, but then, in my experience, for an editor, it’s an essential job requirement and the only thing keeping them sane*:)

*Assuming they are sane to start with, of course, which is debatable, given they’re working as, well, editors…LOL

Delve further into Jennifer Fallon’s mind at her blog. Jennifer Fallon is the author of thirteen fantasy novels published by Voyager, including most recently The Chaos Crystal, published in December 2008. She’s currently at work on her next series.

Rhonda Roberts: Creating Ancient Rome

gladiatrixI started writing Gladiatrix one summer when I had two weeks of vacation left and nothing much to do. I’d been looking around the bookshops for a good read and couldn’t find anything that suited so I decided to start writing the book I wanted – a feisty heroine who solves a mystery in an exotic far away place.

I wanted to send her to ancient Rome so then time travel became a part of the plot. That’s when the research started …

I try to visit the places I write about but I’m afraid Rome is the one spot I’ve never been. I visited northern Italy while I was living in Europe, but not Rome. So the ancient city of Gladiatrix is all my research and imagination. I have a bookcase full of maps of Augustan Rome, archaeological texts on the place and a head full of old movies.

I chose ancient Rome because years ago I tutored in a course called ‘Man, Women and Deity’. The subject examined the different forms of deity worship over the ages and there was a fascinating section on the Isis cult and its spread outside Egypt. I was so intrigued by the fact that an ancient Egyptian religion almost took over the Roman Empire that when I decided to write on time travel Rome was the place I wanted to send my heroine.

I like writing about history because in my academic life I specialized in cross-cultural analysis of knowledge systems, that is what passed for science and technology in other times and places. So I did a lot of research for Gladiatrix and then tried to make sure the story hung together and that the reader liked the characters enough to suspend disbelief and come on the adventure with them.

Rhonda Roberts lives in the Illawarra just south of Sydney. She’s currently at work on Hoodwink, the follow up to Gladiatrix. Rhonda has a PhD in Science, Technology and Society and was an academic for eleven years. During this time she worked in Australia, the United States and in Japan, where she lived for three years. Visit her website at www.rhondarobertsauthor.com

See the maps used in Gladiatrix

Vale JG Ballard

Michael Moorcock on JG Ballard

JG Ballard was one of my closest friends for 50 years. Together with Barry Bayley, who died last year, we “plotted” the revolution in science fiction which led to the so-called New Wave and he was a regular contributor to New Worlds, which spearheaded that movement. He was exceptionally brave and cheerful to the end. He was a loyal and generous friend and a great influence on the generation of writers who followed him. (from The Guardian newspaper)