• 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!



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Author Mary Victoria on her influences

In which the author lists influences on her writing, rather than writing under the influence, whatever you may think of the result!

It all started a terrifyingly long time ago, when kids wore cords, computer games were massive burping things in the arcade and bikes were engines of bravado and destruction on which fearless young acrobats rode without bothering about such things as helmets. Helmets? For people riding bikes? Why? Because I’m doing a wheelie while standing on the pedals? Pfft, that’s not dangerous. You should see me doing a wheelie while standing on the pedals and executing a 108 degree turn holding the handlebars with only my knees.

In those golden years, young tearaways might opt to spend their quieter hours watching Little House On The Prairie, mesmerized by the gap between Melissa Gilbert’s teeth, or else read a book. We had no television: therefore I read, Melissa-less. I read, and read. I read fantastical history and historical fantasy, fairy tales and science fiction. And the books I read during those years trickled down deep, collecting sediment in my soul. These are the books I am now made of. They form the bedrock structure of me. I sometimes forget they are there, and unconsciously reproduce them in my own work. Surprise! There’s nothing new under the sun. And certainly, the best of these books are worthy of imitating, almost blindly. Shall I list the saints? Here they are, icons of my childhood:

Mary Stewart, whose Arthurian saga told from the point of view of Merlin was set in a historically accurate 5th century Britain, rather than a medieval pastiche. The books are called The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and the Last Enchantment. There are others in the series, but those were the ones I read. They are still among the best retellings of that story I have come across.

Rosemary Sutcliff gave us another set of wonderful Arthurian tales. She also wrote Song for a Dark Queen, now apparently out of print, about Queen Boudicca. (Or Boadicea, as I would have called her.) Enter the tragic red-haired heroine!

Mary Renault, who wrote The King must Die, was probably the greatest influence on my current work. She was also one that I had entirely forgotten about until a couple of years ago – when I realized I was writing yet another version of the Theseus legend. Her retelling of that story as a ‘bildungsroman,’ a coming-of-age tale, anchored in historical fact and immensely believable, simply engraved itself in me as a template… I remember having the sense, when I discovered ancient Greece through her eyes, that “this was how it was.” Mary Renault did not lie. 

Ursula K. Le Guin may be my chief saint, and certainly at the age of nine I had set her up in a wall alcove, with a candle. This was a woman who produced imaginary worlds so vivid I immediately recognized those island landscapes of Earthsea, populated by goats and wizards. I was home. (Perhaps it helped that I grew up on the island of Cyprus, which contains a surfeit of goats, though sadly no wizards.) She conjured up alien customs and fantastical beliefs with conviction, as if she had just returned from an anthropological survey with a sack-full of notes. And she did not judge the people she described. They were just there, the good and the bad, the wise and the ugly, and it was her job to introduce them, and tell their stories.

They all had that in common, these storytelling saints and demiurges. They did not pronounce judgment on their creations. I was left with the responsibility of making up my own mind – that, perhaps, was their greatest gift to me…

Mary Victoria’s first book Tymon’s Flight isn’t out until next year but it will be well worth waiting for – it’s set in a tree! You can read more about it at Mary’s LiveJournal.


5 Responses

  1. And she did not judge the people she described. They were just there, the good and the bad, the wise and the ugly, and it was her job to introduce them, and tell their stories . . .

    Mary, I love that. It’s part of what makes Ursula Le Guin a magical storyteller. I’m printing that out to go in my alcove…the one with the candles and the Left Hand of Darkness.

    Thank you. I look forward to Tymon’s Flight!

    🙂 Kim

  2. Thank you kindly, Kim! Left Hand of Darkness is one of my favourite novels of all time – sci-fi or other. Well worth a Booker or two, imho 😉

    Hey, speaking of cool things… I finally twigged on to who you were (that took me a while, d’oh!) and checked out your amazing website. Love, love, love it. I’ve been trying to develop a divination/astrology tool for my own world and loved the circular design – I’ve been looking at old fashioned astrolabes, etc for inspiration… 🙂

  3. […] You can read more about the influences on Mary Victoria’s fiction at the Voyager blog (http://voyagerblog.com.au/2009/10/07/author-mary-victoria-on-her-influences). […]

  4. I cannot believe that no one has yet commented on the curious parallels between the plot line and dilemmas explored in your ‘Chronicles of the Tree’ and the extraordinary events unfolding before our eyes throughout the Middle East today. The whirlwind we are witnessing of political change and religious questioning, of rebellious youth and courageous women, of exploited peoples and unaccountable leadership seems to have been anticipated by you with uncanny prescience. Here’s an example of fantasy fiction being not merely speculative but prophetic. Had you any idea that some of the issues you explore in ‘Tymon’s Flight’ and ‘Samiha’s Song’ would literally come true and that by exploring the questions of freewill and pre-destination you would be making prophecies come true!?!?

    • Thank you for the kind words.

      I have drawn inspiration from many sources for ‘Chronicles of the Tree’. One doesn’t need to be a prophet to see where events are headed… Only to look back with a critical eye on history. Yes, Iran and other countries in the Middle East are current examples of a trend that has been with us since the end of the eighteenth century, and certainly all through the 19th and 20th… the ‘struggle for freedom’ in all its forms.
      I wish stories didn’t turn out to be prophetic when they spoke of oppression, revolt and the persecution of innocent people, but that seems to be where we are, at the moment.
      I don’t mean to sound pessimistic! I do believe things will change, gradually.

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