• 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!

     

     

  • Advertisements

Winterfest 2009 by Tim Miller

Over the weekend, 18-19 July, the annual Winterfest was held in Marsfield Park, North Ryde. It was a weekend full of history where there was Dark Ages fighting and the experience of medieval life. There was full flight falconry, a tournament joust, archery range, markets and of course a tourney field. There were many historical combat and re-enactment groups there to demonstrate their abilities with a blade. Stoccata, the group I fight with, where there to put on our own demonstration duels of sword and buckler, rapier, longsword and Italian single sword vs. George Silver’s single sword. It was a lot of fun and great to hear the crowd really get behind the fighters.

Yarrrr ARGH

Two people you wouldnt mess with

Neigh

Unless you were this guy ...

POW! BANG! SHAZAAM!

tourney-ing - not your average afternoon!

Thanks to Kristin Sadlier for the photos.

Tim Miller works in the Editorial & Publishing department at HarperCollins Australia. In his spare time he swordfights, writes, reads fantasy and peruses sword and dagger catalogues (so don’t mess with him). Read Tim’s post on swordfighting.span>

Advertisements

How to Make a Cymrian Griffin Part III (The Taylor is a tailor)

For those who’d prefer something a little more cuddly, I have a few handy hints for that as well. As a Taylor I love a little needlework every now and then, and here are some instructions on how to make one of these little guys!

At Voyager HQ, the griffins rule the roost

At Voyager HQ, the griffins rule the roost

First up you’ll need some furry material – you can substitute with something like sweater material instead if you want. You won’t need much; about half a metre does the trick for me. If you want to get fancy you can buy two different colours and make the griffin in two halves, but for this I’ll stick with the more basic version.

You’ll also need a pair of toy eyes (you can get them at places like Hobbysew or Lincraft if you’re lucky), thread, needles, scissors, tailor’s pins and a bag of stuffing. At a pinch you can do what I did when my supply ran out, and slit open a handy cushion.

Then you’ll need this pattern right here, which I drew up (click to enlarge). Print it off, cut out the shapes, and pin them on the fabric. Make sure that the fur is going in the right direction, and that you’ve folded it first. For the tail, just cut a strip to the length and width you want, fold it in half, sew along one edge and then turn it inside out. Don’t sew over the ends.

Belly

Belly


Side

Side


Wing

Wing

Oh yeah – don’t cut furry fabric in a room with a carpet, or while you’re wearing tracksuit pants. Trust me on this.

Once you’ve got it all cut out, clear away the scraps and loose fur. I advise fetching a shovel for this bit.

Before you do anything else, put the eyes in. Mark the right spot on the two head-pieces, and poke a hole for each eye. Stick the shaft through the hole and press the metal backing on – and make sure you’ve got it in the right way, because they’re almost impossible to remove once they’re on!

The pieces match up pretty obviously, so pin them all together – fur inward, of course – and get to sewing! Stick the tail in between the halves of the body with one end poking out, and sew it into the seam.

Make sure you leave a hole in some non-obvious place so you can turn it in the right way once the stitching is done. I suggest the belly. Leave a hole at the end of the tail as well.

Leave the wings aside for now.

Once it’s all sewn and in the right way, put the stuffing in. Getting it into all the thin bits like the legs can be tricky – try using a pen to push it down. Don’t be too rough; this sort of material has a habit of suddenly developing holes (those can be sewn up if they decide to make an appearance). If you want you can put some sort of stiffening in the front legs – I used oversized lollipop sticks, but paddle pop sticks or skewers should do the trick as well. Just make sure you cut the pointy bits off.

Once your griffin is all stuffed, sew up the hole you used. Now it’s time for the wings. If you haven’t sewn the two sides of each one together yet, do so. When it comes to attaching them to the griffin, you can cut slits in the shoulders or just stitch-tack them on; either one works fine.

You’re almost done! For the last step, seek out some feathers. I picked mine up on walks, but if you’re terrified of bird flu you can buy some in any decent craft shop.

Bundle your feathers up and poke them through the hole in the end of your griffin’s tail. Then get your needle and thread and put a bunch of stitches through it – to make sure the feathers won’t come out put the needle right through the… uh… pointy transparent non-fluffy bit, I have no idea what it’s called. Altenatively, if you don’t like the part where the needle slips and stabs you in the cuticle, you can glue them in.

Congratulations! You should now have your very own griffin mascot, plus a house full of fluff and stray thread! Treat your new pal well and feed it on the remains of your enemies; it’s the best way to save money and stop those bastards from getting in the way of your plans for world domination. Muahahahah.

This has been a K.J.Taylor blog. Thanks for reading!

K.J. Taylor lives in Canberra, Australia, where she is continuing work on The Fallen Moon trilogy. The Dark Griffin is her first novel published with Voyager.

Read Jonathan Dean’s review of The Dark Griffin.

Film rights for The Painted Man picked up!

The Painted Man

The Painted Man

This just in from Voyager UK:

Voyager are delighted to announce that filmmaker Paul W. S. Anderson and longtime producing partner Jeremy Bolt, the duo behind the Resident Evil film franchise, have picked up film rights to Peter V. Brett’s debut fantasy novel THE PAINTED MAN, via their personal production companies Tannhauser Gate, Inc. and Bolt Pictures Inc.

Said Anderson and Bolt, “For us, this is a stunningly fresh novel which will make an epic movie. The genius of the novel is in having the epic scope and the pleasures of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings while being entirely fresh in every facet of the writing itself. You are always looking for something new, this has it, and like Lord of the Rings, it’s a perfect four quadrant movie.”

The Hollywood Reporter was chosen to break the news to the trade – click here for the article.

The next book in the series, THE DESERT SPEAR, will be out in April 2010

How To Make a Cymrian Griffin Part II by K J Taylor

Read How To Make a Cymrian Griffin Part I

Fast forward to the beginning of the books. Griffins now live in human cities, where they have buildings there specifically for them. Unpartnered griffins are given all the food they need, along with places to nest, and human attendants raise their chicks (in close quarters, female griffins are liable to become nervy and often kill each others’ offspring). By choosing a human partner, a griffin makes that human a “griffiner” – a respected and powerful individual. Griffiners rule the country without any contest.

The griffin, meanwhile, gets everything they could want in return. Greater status among their fellows is the most important to them (and the more important their human becomes, the more their own status grows). But having a human also means having an attendent beside you at all times, to clean your talons, care for you when you get sick, provide you with a roomy nesting chamber, bring you the best meat, translate for you – and negotiate the tedious but necessary twists and turns of human society.

The human, of course, will happily put up with all this since their griffin partner will carry them in the air (but not on the ground: you have your own legs!), kill their enemies, and most importantly elevate them into the highest class in Cymria. Nobody is more impotant than a griffiner, though of course there are different levels of government to climb, all the way up to becoming an Eyrie Master or Mistress. Every one of the city-states of Cymria is ruled by an Eyrie Master or Mistress, and every griffin longs to see their own human reach that height. It’s not easy, though, and plenty of people are more than ready to kill to get it.

And sometimes a griffin chooses someone far too dangerous to be allowed to live.
But that’s a story for another time.

As for the griffins themselves, when it came to their personalities I modelled them partly on big cats. By which I mean that they’re inherently ferocious, unpredictable, fearsomely proud and absolutely impossible to to “tame”. Griffins are much too intelligent for it anyway, but there are different kinds of intelligence. For example, I have a high level of language intelligence, a low level of maths intelligence, and pretty average social intelligence. So while I wanted my griffins to be smart, I only gave them the kinds of intelligence that they would actually need and would be expected to have. They have very high intelligence when it comes to things like fighting, hunting and flying, and surviving, but their social intelligence is almost nil.

They don’t feel guilt, or sadness, or regret (they can’t be bargained with! They can’t be reasoned with! – sorry). They don’t really feel love, at least not in the human sense. They’re almost impossible to embarrass. They know exactly what they want, and they don’t give a damn about whatever they have to do to get it. I wanted them to be intelligent, but I still wanted the reader to remember that they are, at bottom, still animals. Animals you really don’t want to screw with, but still animals.

KJ Taylor lives in Canberra, Australia, where she is continuing work on The Fallen Moon trilogy. The Dark Griffin is her first novel published with Voyager.

Read Jonathan Dean’s review of The Dark Griffin.

How To Make a Cymrian Griffin Part I by K J Taylor

Enter a world where griffins rule ...

Enter a world where griffins rule ...

Since griffins come in so many shapes and sizes (and spellings), when I set out to write about them I had an impressive range of choices. I went with “griffin” as a spelling because I’ve always been deeply suspicious of the letter “y”.

Design-wise, I chose the one where the front paws are bird talons and the hind paws are, well, paws. Feathers on the front, fur at the back, wings in the expected place. At first I left the lion’s tail as it was, but then I realised that would leave the griffin with nothing to stabilise it in the air, so I gave it a feathery tail rudder in place of the traditional furry tuft.

I put all this existing material together, drawing on mythology, books and video games (a griffin appeared in American McGee’s Alice). And then I sat and had a good think about it.

What would a griffin really be like, if it existed? How would it fit into an ecosystem? If it’s going to be an intelligent creature, what sort of personality would it have? Most importantly, plot-wise, why would it want anything to do with humans?

I’ve always been mistrustful of dragon-riders, because it never made sense to me that something so big and powerful would even take notice of a puny human. Wouldn’t an animal, a predatory animal, a big predatory animal – wouldn’t an animal like that be first of all solitary, and second of all, too damned dangerous to associate with?

I’ve seen various solutions. Careful breeding, keeping them doped up, and everyone’s favourite solution to fantasy world problems, magic.

I didn’t want to do anything like that. I wanted to have a reason, a good, solid, non-magical reason for griffins to choose humans as their partners. Most importantly, I wanted it to be something that wouldn’t demean the griffin. I’ve always hated it when the main character has some sort of magical creature as a sidekick or co-star or whatever, and takes that as a free pass to treat that creature like dirt. It happens all the time, even in stories where the text keeps insisting that the two are “equals”. Most of the time, they aren’t. One way or another the human ends up on top and the creature is the servant – a willing servant, which only makes it worse.

I didn’t want that. I wanted to do something different.

In the world I created, griffins choose humans because they want to, but also because, in a way, they have to. Because, despite being huge and powerful – and magical – in some key ways they’re weaker than humans.

I wove it all in with the way the natural world works when humans enter the equation. Griffins, I decided, had a problem. Namely, they lived solitary lives in the wild, only meeting each other for mating or territorial fights. They were and always will be completely unable to work together.

Then along came humans. They bred faster than griffins, they had hands to build, and more importantly they knew how to band together. And, little by little, they took everything away from the griffins. They cut down the trees, killed and ate all the prey, and any griffin that fought back would sooner or later end up full of arrows.

In short, humans drove the wild griffins to the brink of extinction and without leaders or society or any kind of social intelligence the griffins had no way of stopping it.

If you can’t beat them, join them. I didn’t want to have a specific date or magical event; instead the human/griffin thing was always intended as a gradual thing, a bit similar to the taming of dogs. Some people here and there managed to get their hands on griffin eggs or chicks and tried to raise them. Some young griffins chose to live close to human settlements and survive on the pickings there. And because they were so large and regal – and intelligent – humans had always had a certain reverence for them. They became a sacred animal.

Two could play at that game. Certain griffins realised that having a human ally was a good thing. In return for certain concessions, the human would give them food and eventually come to look on them as something other than a danger.

Eventually (all this took centuries, bear in mind), humans and griffins learned how to talk to each other. Griffins couldn’t master human languages, but humans could replicate their own sounds, and a hybrid language called griffish came into being.

That was when the human/griffin society really took off, and feel free to come and beat me for that pun.

Part II to come tomorrow, in which KJ Taylor talks further about the fascinating hierarchy of griffins in Cymria, and Part III on Thursday, in which KJ Taylor will show you how to make your very own griffin!

KJ Taylor lives in Canberra, Australia, where she is continuing work on The Fallen Moon trilogy. The Dark Griffin, book one of the Fallen Moon trilogy, is her first novel published with Voyager – she also wrote The Land of Bad Fantasy (Scholastic).

Read Jonathan Dean’s review of The Dark Griffin.

Tansy’s pretties: (AKA inspiration for Aufleur)

I love to hear about what other writers are using to inspire them visually (and aurally) in particular projects. Jennifer Crusie always creates a collage of inspirations for each book in progress which struck me as a great visual aid to keep you on point. I’ve never been organised enough to do that, and yet I always get the urge to make a quilt inspired by each book… heh, maybe someday.

I did enjoy Rowena’s post on the visual images she used to inspire King Rolen’s kin, though. My current project, the Creature Court trilogy I am writing for HarperCollins Voyager, is bursting with visual influences and inspirations, to the point where I am closer than I have ever been to making fabric art using some of the pictures.

The city of Rome is one of my biggest inspirations – it’s one of the few genuinely old cities I’ve ever spent any time in, and having spent a month tramping around it looking at temples and statues for my doctoral thesis, it lodged itself firmly enough in my mind that I was able to transform it into a fantasy city that has weight to it in my head – with a few fairly recognisable landmarks and far too many liberties, using a real place to centre it made me believe in the city of Aufleur far more than any imaginary location I have devised before.

Woodcut in grey and back - M C Escher

Woodcut in grey and back - M C Escher

(also setting my books in a single city means I get to indulge in horseless fantasy, my favourite type)

The fashions of the 1920’s are one of the most powerful influences – not only because of the look of many of the characters, but also because my heroine is a dressmaker and pretty much sees the world through clothes. The style of the city of Aufleur does not correspond exactly to any aspect of 1920’s Europe, America or Australia, but I have tried to use as many evocative elements as I can to create a world that at least indulges in some of the lesser-used historical iconography. I’ve been using bits and pieces from the 1930’s and 40’s, Victoriana and Ancient Rome as well, but it’s the 1920’s that seals the ‘look’ of the characters to me and I have great hope that the publishers will agree when it comes to cover art time.

'Where there's smoke, there's fire' by Russell Patterson

'Where there's smoke, there's fire' by Russell Patterson

(plus, AWESOME FROCKS)

Then there are the creatures – I’m not the world’s most enthusiastic animal lover (my daughter’s daycare recently took the kids to a pet shop on an excursion and I freaked out she might want a pet, luckily she’s robust and held out because um NO) but this whole story was sparked off by a little brown mouse I came upon unexpectedly in my writing room one day (halfway up the printer table leg, looking guilty as hell) and given that the story revolves around oh, shapechangers then it’s kind of important that I get to grips with the animalistic side of my characters. I have been collecting old fashioned illustrations of the various animals featured in the books (woodcuts of werewolves are my favourite) and once spent an entire day looking at pictures of, yes, mice. It counts as work, okay!

W. W. Denslow.  Mice pulling lion, 1899.  Pen-and-ink drawing.

W. W. Denslow. 'Mice pulling lion' (from illusration for The Wizard of Oz), 1899. Pen-and-ink drawing.

I don’t just use images to spark off inspiration and keep my head firmly in the city of Aufleur, though. I’ve been using music pretty heavily, collecting a writing soundtrack over the last several years which includes musicals (Moulin Rouge, Cabaret, Chicago), Berlin cabaret music, World War II songs (anything that makes me think of the Blitz is relevant!), and a lot of modern music which just conveys the right feel for characters or scenes.

My play list includes songs ranging from Cody Chestnutt’s “Look Good in Leather” and Pony Up’s “Dance For Me” to Grace Jones singing “Storm” and the amazing Ute Lemper singing anything she wants to. And um yes, it’s getting so every single character has their own individual playlist…

The best benefit for me of using music is I can put on the earbuds and instantly be in the right mindset for my characters. While I love to collect images suitable for Aufleur, it’s the music I reach for when I need an inspiration top-up. A year ago, I would have laughed at myself.

This post was originally published at the ROR (Ripping Ozzie Reads) blog. Reproduced by permission of author.

Tansy Rayner Roberts lives in Tasmania with her partner and daughter (with a new baby rather imminent). She has a PhD in Classics and runs a small family business from home, selling the Deepings Dolls. Power and Majesty, the first book of Tansy’s Creature Court fantasy trilogy featuring flappers, shapechangers and bloodthirsty court politics, will be released from HarperCollins Voyager in July 2010. Tansy blogs at http://cassiphone.livejournal.com and with a group of other wonderful Australian writers at http://ripping-ozzie-reads.blogspot.com. She can be found on Twitter and Facebook as tansyrr.

It’s about time! by Kim Falconer

tbc

Time to curl up on the sofa with a good book

Arrows of Time began with a dream. It was simple really—a woman laid out on a table, a man hunched over her. He turns to the wall and notes the clock. ‘Time of death,’ he says, ‘01:05 PM.’

And then I woke up. Cliché, I know. But it’s what happened.

In the light of day I realised who the woman was and why she had died and I could see potential for the man hunched over her. (His name is Dr Everett Kelly and he’s from a different … time.) As the story revealed itself, I got excited. It was thrilling to immerse in my characters again but even more than that, I was exploring notions of time in a new way. When I had a draft I rang my publisher Stephanie Smith. We talked for over an hour and at the end agreed the English language lacked the exact words necessary to describe what I wanted to portray.

The irony is that according to Einstein, time is an illusion. (Tell that to Rosette when she’s running out of it!) But if time is an illusion, it might explain why it’s so hard to pin down—and harder still to describe the process of time unfolding in anything but a ‘first—then—finally’ order. When we bend our perceptions of time, things get a little crazy. (Just ask Salvador Dali)

Close up of The Persistence of Memory by Dali

Close up of 'The Persistence of Memory' by Dali

I wrote Arrows of Time as a speculative fiction, a story about real people up against the wall, immersed in nano-technology and witchcraft, sentient and gender biases, fast horses, hot bards, stunning tattoos and environments on the brink of destruction. The narrative is set in three worlds experiencing multiple sequences of time. The philosophical implications are optional— you can take ‘em or leave ‘em. It’s the story that counts.

Still, I do like a good philosophical implication now and then. If you want to get on board, join me in this thought experiment:

1. Notice your primary belief about time.
What do you say to yourself? To others? What is your story? Does it go like this: ‘There is never enough time?’ or ‘Time’s running out?’ or ‘We’re under time constraints?’ or ‘I’d like to but I don’t have time?’ Your ‘story’ might be creating more issues than you think. Not convinced?

2. See what happens when you change your story.
For the next seven days, when you catch yourself telling your ‘old story’ about time, substitute this instead. ‘I have all the time in the world.’ Say it to yourself. Tell others. Write it down. And, be sure to leave any comments here, if you ‘find the time’ 🙂

Kim Falconer lives in Byron Bay with two gorgeous black cats. As well as the Quantum Enchantment website, she runs Falcon Astrology, trains 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. You can also follow her on Twitter.