• 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!



Barking Up A Chinese Gum Tree? by Maria Quinn

The Gene Thieves

The Gene Thieves

My good news for the week came in the form of an email telling me that The Gene Thieves is to be published in Taiwan, Hong Kong and territories, so will be printed in traditional Chinese characters. How cool is that!? It does prompt some funny questions though like, how do you say (or write) ‘Frankly, it seems to me like you’re barking up a gum tree’ in Chinese?

The question of translation is often a vexed one for authors, particularly where idiom, such as the example above used in my book, is concerned. Australian English is rich in colourful colloquial expressions and these can add marvellous texture to novels and the characters inhabiting them. The crossover between Aussie idiom and cockney slang usually makes for relatively easy understanding between us and the English, but Americans often look askance at expressions we use, innocent of their ‘other meanings’ in that diverse country.

When I used to write advertising copy, including Coca-cola themes, I was once enjoying a recording session in Nashville which included some of the best session musicians on earth. During a short break, the fantastic guitarist sat head down, looking glum. I opened the mike from the control room and told him he looked ‘like a shag on a rock’. It took me a minute to reconcile the hilarity with the American meaning of ‘shag’. So I wonder how something like the following translates to a non-Aussie speaker.

She had a good gander at the bloke driving the ute, as it pulled up behind the dunny. She was mad as a cut snake because it was her dunny. Just because this was the back of beyond didn’t mean any galah could drop his daks there, when he felt like it. She was jack of every banana bender heading for the iron- ore further west using the place as a pit stop just because word was out it was owned by a sheila, out here on her Pat Malone.

‘Hey, mate, put a knot in it. This is private property.’ ‘Wrong end love. Don’t go crook at me. I don’t need a blue, just a sh…’ He grinned a daggy, gap-toothed attempt at a smile. ‘I’m no bludger, I’ll leave ya a tip.’ He pulled the wooden door so hard, the little corrugated outhouse shook.

‘You do that.’ She turned back to the rickety veranda, a happy little vegemite…I’m sure the red backs will appreciate it.

I hasten to tell you all this is not an extract from The Gene Thieves, but where dyed-in-the-wool readers would get it, many a translator used to more traditional English might, in fact, be barking up a gum tree trying to transpose it into Swedish, Hindi, Arabic, Japanese or Russian. As a writer all one can hope for is that the meaning remains true, no matter what language expresses it. Actually I plan to send my first copy of the Mandarin text of The Gene Thieves to Kevin. He’ll be able to tell me if the Australian accent can still be heard. But I’m sorry PM, we’ll both have to wait a year or so to see it.

Maria Quinn is the author of The Gene Thieves, published by Harper Voyager earlier this year.  It’s a book that has sparked some interesting debate on the ethics of surrogacy … a future that is already here. You can find out more about Maria at her website and read some of her short stories there.

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Fallon Friday: 10 Things authors should never blog about

I was asked for some advice recently, about authors and blogging, which made me think (never a good thing), and from which I compiled the following list

Never say rude things about your publisher online, even if they are irritating, slow, inefficient, unprofessional and flat-out unbelievable in their dealings with you. Even if every word of your tale of woe is true, they don’t think they are any of those things and they will demonstrate their resentment of your poor opinion of them by dropping you like a hot brick.

Never diss editors. (See Rule 1). Editors may not have the power to kill your writing career yet, but they move on. They move up. They remember.

Never blog about your bowel movements (unless you’re writing a medical blog about IBS symptoms)

Never rant about how much you deserved an award (whether you won it or not). Humble is good. Even if — in your heart of hearts — you believe your work is the greatest literary masterpiece ever committed to paper, it is uncool to say so. Shock, delighted surprise and humility are the best reactions. Fake it, if you have to.

Never identify friends and family without their permission. You can be the biggest publicity-hungry media-whore on Earth if you want, but your friends and family are not you. They deserve their privacy. Blog about them by all means, but do not identify them by name, where they work, link to their Facebook page, advertise where they hang out, or post their cell phone number without their permission. It is the short road to losing friends and pissing off family.

Never blog endlessly about your flatulence problems. Too much information, dude. The same goes for most chronic non-life-threatening conditions. You will get sympathy at the outset for the poor quality of the pedicure that caused your problem, but after a while, blogging every other day about your ongoing battle with the yellow spotty fungus that is discolouring your toenails will turn people off.

Never provide specifics about how much you earn. There are some out there who think authors should talk about their income to get rid of the popular fallacy that all publishing deals are six-figure windfalls that will set you up for life. My approach is more pragmatic. There is a vast difference between an author’s gross income and their net income due to things like currency exchange, tax-deductible expenses (of which I am an awesomecollector), commissions, and a million other little things that go into calculating our earnings. So, do I brag that I grossed a million bucks last year, or explain how I finished up with a taxable income of $127? My solution – neither. We simply will not speak of it again.

Never blog about cleaning the kitty-litter tray. I mean… what’s to say?

Never attack reviewers who didn’t like your work. It’s OK to blog about the reviews, but it’s dangerous to start attacking reviewers. I will point out factual inconsistencies if they exist in reviews of my work, but I’ll do that for the good reviews as well as the bad. If the review is particularly silly, I might also question the credentials of the reviewer.

I believe a reviewer’s credentials are fair game, because when you set yourself up as a critic you are claiming some expertise in that area, so you should be prepared to stand by your opinions and back it up with something, like, you know… a basic command of the English language, for example. But the bottom line is, reviews are just reviews. They will be good and bad. Suck it up.

Never blog personal attacks on other authors. It’s OK not to like another author’s work; it’s not OK to diss the author. I am not a fan of Dan Brown’s books, but I’m sure he’s a very nice person and I am in awe of his storytelling ability, even if I’m not a fan of his writing style. I could (but I won’t) list a score of other writers whose work leaves me cold.

That doesn’t make the authors bad people, it just means I’m not a fan. As some readers have trouble understanding the difference between a person and their work, it’s best not to give them any fodder for their paranoia.

Jennifer Fallon lives in Alice Springs and has more than thirteen fantasy books to her name, she is currently at work on her next series. Her books have been published worldwide, and translated into Russian, German and French. Jennifer regularly updates her blog and her Twitter page.