• 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!

     

     

Tanith Lee: on The Silver Metal Lover

SilverIn 1980 I went to the USA for the first time, to attend one of the big conventions. I was just 33, and in the middle of writing a large novel concerning a parallel Romeo and Juliet in a parallel Renaissance Italy. Somehow the combination of America – which I loved on sight – and the Shakespearian dream of young lovers, subsequently resolved into the idea of another novel, which arrived first as a title.

Back in England then, I was sitting in the BBC TV Centre in London, talking with some of the people from Blake’s 7, an SF series I had already written an episode for. We were discussing that old question, so ably brought into the light by such brilliant writers as Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov – the true relation between Man and Machine. Were they ultimately destined to be enemies – or friends. Something in the conversation stayed with me. If enemies, then was it really a war to the death? And if not enemies – then just how far would tolerance stretch. Romeo and Juliet must then also have intervened. What about a man of metal, a man who was a machine, and therefore … perfect … What about a lover made of silver?

The title wrote itself across my inner eye. Pretty soon I started to write the book. (The original Romeo and Juliet had to wait a while to be resumed and finished. That book is called Sung in Shadow. But I actually wrote The Silver Metal Lover in much less than a month. In fact I think it was nearer two weeks. I sometimes did, and still do, write the occasional book extremely fast. )

I had no notion, which is usual with me, what direction the novel would take itself. But it did know; there it went. One event I do recall – completing the very harrowing section near the end around 1 a.m. – and then noticing a strong scent of burning. I had left the oven grill on after a late piece of toast made around 11.30. The grill pan was duly ruined. But the novel was fine.

One curiosity too. My own much-loved, beautiful, talented and clever mother died in 1980. For some reason, perhaps mere contrariness, I seemed to react to that by creating, in TSML, Demeta, the Mom from Hell. I wonder why? Maybe just my way of saying no one could match my mother?

Silver’ has always been popular, by which I feel very honoured and touched. It moved me. If it can move others, that is a very great extra reward for me. I’d never considered a sequel. But then, 23 years later, interest flared among fans and publishers. The book had been optioned for a movie in 1997. (Sadly they didn’t follow through, though the wonderful director, Randall Kleiser, still maintains a firm commitment to ‘Silver’, and recently there is a possibility things may happen.) However, back then, it occurred to me TSML might after all produce an inevitable second act. The main problem – not for me but for a devotee of the book – was that the second act wouldn’t primarily be about Silver, or Jane – except, as it were, off stage.

Metallic Love isn’t The Silver Metal Lover. It isn’t meant to be. Though it may be a Truth that most writers tend to write the same story, or group of stories, over and over in different forms, I certainly didn’t want to, or could have, written a carbon copy of Jane and Silver’s love story. Instead, Loren and Verlis took centre stage. Of course I understand this may have disappointed readers, but I didn’t do it to be perverse. It simply was, for me, the next thing that needed to be said, looked at, explored. Despite being a love story, TSML is still very much about that question I mentioned earlier: the antagonism/attraction/comparison of Man and Machine. And ML is about this, too. While both address that other issue – Do machines have souls? The exact same thing so much of mankind has asked itself through the centuries. But ML is a love story as well. And anyone who reads all the way through, sees where the third book – if ever there is a third one, (it does have a title: The Tin Man) will be going. Which is straight back to Silver, and so too straight back to Silver-and-Jane.

Tanith Lee, UK 2009

Tanith Lee is the author of a huge number of books, and you can find a full bibliography here. She lives in the UK and besides her many novels she has also published 9 collections of novellas and short stories. She has twice won the World Fanatsy Award for short fiction and was awarded the August Derleth Award in 1980 for her novel Death’s Master.  And if it is not already obvious, the Captain of this blog is possibly Tanith’s biggest fan in the world (although I suspect most of her fans feel that passionate about her work). Voyager author Kim Falconer is another fan… click to see her review.

And please do post a reply and tell us: What was the first Tanith Lee book you read, and how did you find your way to it?

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26 Responses

  1. I love hearing how TSML came to be. The title wrote itself across my inner eye. And it took less than a month to write? That’s extraordinary.

    TSML was my first Tanith Lee book, a gift from my friend (and our Captain). What a wonderful surprise! I was less than a chapter in wondering how I lived this much of my life without reading one of Lee’s (over 60 now?) novels.

    Biting the Sun is next!

    The good thing about starting this late is I can read one new Tanith Lee book a year for the rest of my life! 🙂

    • I heard rumor, and then found some inklings that TSML might make it to film. I think I would about hyperventilate the moment I saw the trailer. Though TSML wasn’t my -first- I read of Tanith Lee, it’s one of my favorites.

      First one I ever read, was in middle school digging through a library where the young adult section and kids section were too narrow to find much else other than L’Engle’s “Many Waters”. Good book, but I wanted something else and hopped up to the adult scifi-fantasy section and pulled off the shelf ‘The Birthgrave’.

      Devouring it in a short span, I came back for Red as Blood. The cover art was what caught my eye, but between those beautiful covers was something my heart and core had been seeking for years.

      Researching, I’ll still have many years to go before I can finish my new library of all her works. Verlis as compared to Silver was about as unlike one another as Jane to Loren. The triumphant end of Metallic Love held one of those twists that I so love about Miss Lee’s books.

      I’d be happy to read any others forthcoming. Eager, even.

      • I must recommend ‘A Heroine of the World’ if you get the chance and can find it – I read it recently and found it incredibly dense (in a positive way) but addictive. And I agree with what you say about Loren and Jane, and Verlis and Silver. But I loved Jane and Silver so much – it almost hurt to read about Verlis and Loren …
        Many Waters is one of my favourite L’Engle books – although the older I get the more I lean towards the Austen books.

  2. I loved reading this too! I wish and don’t wish that the film would go ahead, for all the reasons most people would have, I suppose. It would be a glorious thing to see that world written in colour across a screen but a difficult thing to see a Silver made flesh – not the vision in our heads. That being said, my first copy of TSML was a 1980s version with a lean denim-clad version of Silver, very different to the beautiful artwork of Kinoko Craft above, and it made no difference to how much I fell in love with Jane and Silver.

    I was lucky enough to be recommended TSML by lovely and lyrical Australian author Cecilia Dart-Thornton. I went to a book signing at Borders when her book, The Battle of Evernight, had just come out, and she wrote down Tanith Lee’s name, and Jasper Fforde’s – and suggested I read TSML – it’s one of her favourites – among others. I haven’t looked back since (and Jasper Fforde is fantastic too). At the time, I don’t think it was available in Australia new, so I dug around at various secondhand book shops and finally found it at one on George St … along with some other Lee titles.

    So it was most gladdening for me to realise, when I came to work at HarperCollins/Voyager, that we had published The Silver Metal Lover in Australia a bit later. And then to be able to speak to Tanith Lee about writing this post. Well, you can probably imagine how lovely that was!

  3. My first Tanith Lee novel was Dark Dance. I found it in a used bookstore I would spend hours in at around age 15/16. I fell in love with her use of colour and the house by the sea. It was over for any other author after that, I was hooked on Tanith Lee. I found it hard to read anything else and have spent the past 15 years collecting her work. I didn’t discover Silver and Jane until last year but it was one of the best novels I’ve read and in the top 3 of my favourite Tanith Lee novels.

    • Wow – I must get my hands on that book if I can – and what a beautiful title. What are the others in your top three Tanith Lee novels? I just read A Heroine of the World and was completely enchanted and absorbed all weekend, even at work, I kept thinking about it … just beautiful, beautiful writing.

      • Oh, Heroine of the World is one I want to read soon. Good to hear it is lovely. My top three TL books are:
        Personal Darkness (sequel to Dark Dance)
        Silver Metal Lover
        When the Lights Go Out
        Although, The Claidi Journals holds a tie slot next to TSML. So, I could say my top five would include Claidi and Dark Dance in no real particular order.

      • I think I have read When the Lights Go Out back in 2003 – it was creepy and I remember feeling quite sad because the main character had a vile relationship with her mother! This seems to be a bit of a theme in her books at times – like in TSML.
        I love the Claidi Journals too – especially the first – the landscapes and buildings that TL portrays are incredibly detailed, dreamlike and beautiful – and Black Unicorn as well – especially for the description of Jaive’s citadel …
        I will definitely look out for Personal Darkness and Dark Dance now – thanks!

    • Dark Dance (as a Finnish translation published 1993) was my first, too. I was maybe 14 or 15 and interested about horror, mainly vampires. (Yes, sounds like a typical teen angst phase but for my excuse I have to say that I’ve liked horror and fantasy from childhood and still do. :-))
      I don’t remember how I found the book, probably by randomly browsing the shelves of the local library. I loved the story and it is still my favourite from Lee. I fell in love with the old Scarabae house with its coloured windows and wonder if that somehow caused my later interest towards glass arts..

  4. that would be so badass if they made this a movie. no more crappy remakes, hollywood. this is good material! make this a movie! PLEASE.

  5. ,,,wow, glad I stumbled upon this one as Tanith is easily one of my favorite authors! I was in Vancouver, BC a few years back when I found myself sort of heading in a direction I didn’t know I was heading in(!) I wound up in an amazing book shop that happened to have a huge assortment of her books, some of which I already owned, but seeings how it was Vancouver…I ended up buying just about all they had!

    • very glad you stumbled upon this page too 🙂 and would love to know which books you found – it’s like seeing the gleam of a diamond in a coal face I think sometimes!

  6. TSML is one of my favourite all time books ever – I’ve re-read it so many times. My first Tanith Lee book was Elephantasm – I found it in my high school library when I was about 15. Many years later i’m still reading Tanith, and can’t understand why her books are not more readily available in mainstream bookshops – thank god for Amazon!

  7. Ooh Elephantasm – I haven’t even heard of that TL book – it’s like wandering through a forest hoping to stumble upon the holy grail- we’ve all come to her via such different means! Have you read Metallic Love, Kristie?

  8. The first Tanith Lee book I read (back when I was 12 years old and it was doubtless too mature for me) was the Birthgrave. I remember thinking what an awesome book it was and loving every single page.

    Tanith Lee is just a superb author. I remember several years back writing a fan letter to P.C. Hodgell and somehow (oops) putting my foot in my mouth and mentioning in the letter that I though Tanith Lee was the best author alive today. Hodgell didn’t respond… 😀

    I had a 50-ish book collection of hers that was all destroyed by Hurricane Katrina a few years back. My wife wrote her and she sent us several autographed books, including a first edition Birthgrave. She also wrote a couple of very nicely worded (you could tell she was an author reading them) letters.

    All in all, I can’t say enough nice things about her.

    On topic, I have a comic book version of the Silver Metal Lover that luckily survived Katrina because it was on display in my office at work.

    I hope she soon breaks the tantalizing silence on her official web page since August 2008. A new Blood Opera book would be wonderful.

    Best wishes to her and her family.

    • A comic version? Oh please tell me more – who published it? I’d love to get my hands on it and I wonder if she approved the cover etc?

    • Oddly enough, the Birthgrave was the first of hers I’d read too, and also when I was 12. Got tired of the young adult section and that one stood out of all the adult fantasy/fiction.

  9. I would love for there to be a “Tin Man” book in the Silver universe.

  10. […] love this book but was left rather unmoved by it’s sequel. Here‘s Tanith Lee describing how TSML first came to pass. Tagged with: books, […]

  11. OhTanith!
    You are like the world’s best kept secret, partly because people are possessive over your work and don’t readily share it -except with those who have the sense/senses to appreciate you.
    I might be wrong ,I might be mistaken ,I might be just talking about my own tendency!!
    I do find that I don’t recommend to just anyone but to certain people who I sense will really get a buzz from the work/s.
    As for the first Tanith I found -it was’ Forests of the Night’ a great short story collection and wonderful introduction to the ever increasing delights of Tanith -how does she do it?
    So wicked ,so labyrinthine of mind,so downright hilarious at times and unfathomably sensual at others.
    Long May She Reign!!!!
    A thousand salaams Tanith, for the much more than a thousand delights that you have laid out before us like exotic literary magic carpets-the rides continue to be scintillating!!!

  12. […] Lee Interview PGB Tanith Lee on Voyager Online Thoughts on TSML by Kim Falconer Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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