• 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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Don’t be afraid of your readers … by Duncan Lay

Book two of The Dragon Sword Histories

I had just finished another enjoyable store appearance at Dymocks Parramatta on December 6, and was talking to the co-owner, when he said something fascinating, to the effect of that I seemed to have the hang of talking to people about books, whereas too many authors are afraid of readers.
Now this store has regular author appearances, so he was obviously speaking from experience, but nevertheless I found it intriguing.

I mean, surely authors love readers?

I have been averaging three store appearances a month for a while now, where I’m just out the front of a book store, chatting to people walking past, starting a conversation and then selling a few books. With The Risen Queen out in about a week’s time, I have increased that and will be going crazy in the last few days before Christmas!

Over two hours I’m averaging about 20 sales, although speaking to more than 50 people in that time. It’s great to talk to these people, to hear what they like to read – and an honour when they decide to buy The Wounded Guardian.

Even if people don’t like fantasy, or don’t like the idea of The Wounded Guardian, they have wished me all the best, congratulated me on getting published and generally been lovely to speak to.

But, on reflection, it is confronting.

I have got past the hesitation, the trepidation at hailing random passersby and talking to them about my book.

But I can see how some people would be reluctant to put themselves out there like that.

You are going to get knockbacks. You are going to get sneers and snorts of derision – particularly if you ask tattooed teenage boys if they like reading.
Still, if there is one thing I have learned from these appearances, from Newcastle to the Central Coast to Sydney, people LOVE reading and, even more, love talking to authors, even fantasy authors they have never heard of before.

Get past the initial barrier and you will be rewarded in spades.

Putting your book out there, putting yourself out there, is massively confronting.

But it is also massively energising.

There’s no reason to be afraid of readers … but every reason to embrace them.

To all those I have spoken to at various book stores, thank you.

What do you think? How many author signings have you been to? Or are you an author who dreads store appearances? Post your comments below!

Duncan Lay is out and about doing signings for the release of his second book, The Risen Queen. You can catch him next on Sunday 13 December: Border Macarthur Square 11.30am-1.30pm, then at Dymocks Liverpool 2.15pm-4pm


6 Responses

  1. I’ve done quite a few public appearances, but then I do talks at schools. I’m not the most timid person around (duh, says everyone who’s met me), so I’m more than happy to get all up in people’s faces about books when the occasion calls for it. As for the aforementioned tattooed teenagers… well, give or take about four years and I’m one those myself, so I actually find it particularly easy to talk to that demographic.

    I did however get scared sh*tless by the internet and the knowledge that there are a whole lot of people on it who can and will shred you and your books for fun. But then I came to the simple realisation that I don’t have to give two hoots about what some dope with a LiveJournal thinks. Problem solved.

  2. I’ve been to four signings before. Unfortunately it’s not often I’m able to get to signings in Canberra when they do happen. I’ve met Trudi Canavan and she was lovely, it wasn’t too busy and it was easy to have a bit of a chat.

    The other three signings have all been for Matthew Reilly (in three different states!) and there’s sooo many people it’s a bit crazy but it appears he genuinely likes chatting with his readers so makes the time for a bit of small talk. He even recognised me from the other signings (!!).

    I’m going to be on the Central Coast as of Saturday, so hopefully I can make it into Sydney for one of Kylie Chan’s signings and I’ll keep an eye out for more Duncan Lay signings!

    I love meeting authors, even if it’s just to get tongue tied and babble inanely. 🙂

  3. Heh I think it’s important for authors to remember about their fans – they’re more scared of/intimidated by you, than you are of them! For the most part, anyway. The interwebs have made a lot of authors seem more approachable and perhaps that makes more people likely to go on the sort of rant to which I suspect Katie may be alluding.

    However, I think the vast majority of people fall into the “tongue-tied” category. Speaking as one of them, I LOVE it when authors are clearly happy to be at their own signing and want to talk. I was deeply scarred at my first-ever author signing when the author in question clearly had no time for inane, tongue-tied fans and withered me in two words when I babbled. Too used to his own fame, I guess. And perhaps, fair enough, would probably rather have actually been writing!

    • Yes, that is pretty much what I was alluding to. Ranters, nitpickers, whiners, haters – all breed on the internet, and encourage each other as well. Seriously, just do a search for “Twilight hate site” or something similiar. You will not believe how many hits you’ll get.

      Frankly, it’s pathetic. First I was scared of becoming another target, but then I decided that a better approach would be just to leave the online world pretty much altogether. It’s just not a healthy environment, not for anyone. And especially not for an author.

  4. Thanks for posting this, Duncan!

    I must admit the signing thing is somewhat daunting to me, though it’s the logistics that scare me most – do you organize many of your appearances yourself, or rely on Voyager contacts? Do you actually go out and collar people on the street? Do you find book promotion eats up all your time? What would a bookstore manager think of a four-year-old hanging on to the author’s skirts?

    Ah, the questions that keep a greenie up at night. 😉

  5. Great post and comments. Duncan, I’m also interested in Mary’s questions. All of them! Please let us glean more insights from your practical experiences 🙂

    I enjoy the online world and all it offers to writers and readers. It’s a place, a metaphorical space, where people of like minds can meet and share and learn. We don’t always have the expert, teacher, philosopher, writer, artist, designer or friend right there in our neighbourhood. Through the WWW we can form online communities (like this one!) that otherwise wouldn’t exist. I love it!

    I think the WWW offers a lot of promotional opportunities for authors (I plan to give a workshop on this at the Byron Bay Writers Festival next year)but Katie, I understand your views completely. The WWW puts us in the public eye–a ‘bull’s eye’ for critics! The internet gives everyone (with computer and phone line) a voice and some will sing our praise and some quite the opposite. I’m all for Free Speech though. Like Max Lucado said, If you want to lead the orchestra, you have to turn you back on the crowd.

    Traci Harding and I chatted about this a while back. She said, don’t go looking for the shredding reviews and quick dismissals of your work. There will be some. There is for any author. (Even Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Atwood . . .) Just focus on the appreciation and keep writing!

    As you said, Katie, I don’t have to give two hoots about what some dope with a LiveJournal thinks. Exactly. There is always a choice! 🙂

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