• 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!

     

     

Feathers, Fur & Fangs by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Click to read the first chapters!

In the great Vampire vs. Werewolf debate, I’ve always been on the side of the vamps. Nothing personal, I’m just not a dog person. Also, the vampires dress better.

But the first fantasy books I fell in love with all revolved around shapechanging, one way or another. There was David Eddings and his wizards who gracefully turned into wolves or hawks. Then there was Jennifer Roberson with her ragged outcast Cheysuli rebels – most of whom also, it has to be said, turned into wolves or hawks.

What is it with wolves and hawks? Are they the most glamorous predators, or something?

I moved on in my reading, but somehow I kept coming back to the delicious idea of being able to turn into something else. Werewolf stories still mostly left me cold (though I have to say Gail Carriger’s Soulless well and truly sold me on werewolves being sexy beasts) and I overdosed on vampires, but I still enjoyed elements of their stories – the concept of change, and the symbolic power of transformation.

One day, several years ago and in a different house, I walked into the study and saw a little brown mouse caught in the act, halfway up the leg of the printer table. And I started thinking.

When I began constructing the Creature Court, an elaborate social structure based around the idea that those few with the power to save the city of Aufleur are also doomed to be turned into monsters by that same power, I peopled it with a variety of creatures. The glamorous wolves and leopards and lions would be here, of course, but I also wanted cats and mice and pigeons, animals more at home in a city than a forest. (I’ll let you in on a little secret, I hate forests in fantasy! Anything involving bracken gives me hives) I even threw in an urban fox or five!

It seems like a crazy idea, right? I mean, a mouse. How can anyone wield power as a mouse? And here is where you can sometimes get inspiration from the most awful places – I got mine from The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, a movie which most right-thinking people loathe and despise. The character of Mina turns at one point into a horde of bats. Which is a dreadful, dreadful thing to do to that character – so much for the subtle vampirism hints from the original comics. But a lightbulb went off for me. Not one mouse, my character would turn into a horde of mice!

In fact, this went for all of my Creature Court characters. Instead of having that fantasy tradition of their body mass changing, mine would transform into as many animals as their body mass could account for. A person might turn into five foxes, or 1-2 wolves, or 6-7 cats. But… how many mice?

This was a point of controversy with my editors, who were pretty sure ‘hundreds’ sounded more realistic than ‘thousands.’ Which of course it does. But my honey had done a whole lot of calculations, and he was pretty sure it was actually in the lower thousands rather than upper hundreds. He even made a paper model to show me how small the mass of a little brown mouse really is…

Just think of it. Thousands of mice, controlled by a single mind, spreading out across the city, listening at doorways, gathering information, moving as one creature. The wolves don’t stand a chance!

Tansy Rayner Roberts is the author of Power & Majesty, Creature Court Book One, which is set to be launched tomorrow night at The Hobart Bookshop.ย  Visit the Creature Court website to hear Tansy read aloud from Power & Majesty, or read the first few chapters at the Voyager Online website.

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5 Responses

  1. I’ve been a bit mixed myself. I mean yeah, the vampires get the good clothes and the whole oooh scary power can control people stuff is very cool. But then, I’ve also gotten the idea of the animalism of the werewolves and there are aspects of that I find sexier than vampires (a friend of my brother calls UF necrophilia – sleeping with dead guys :))

    What you’ve done with the Creature Court is way cool. I love the whole conceit of becoming many animals, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that is used in the other two books.

  2. I love shapeshifters too; I’ve liked them since I was a kid obsessed with trying to change my identity (I didn’t like the one I had). That’s probably why I prefer werewolves, though I also just don’t like vampires, simply because I’m bored with them.

    Wait, what’s wrong with forests? They’re just another setting, aren’t they? ??

  3. Really I prefer looking to mythology beyond the standard vampires and werewolves – though there’s a reason both have become classics! I do enjoy seeing the different ways that writers use the standard tropes and reinvent them. Getting the balance of romance vs. realistic ickiness is so difficult, and because readers *think* they know everything they need to know about vampires and werewolves, it would be hard to keep them on their toes.

    I think vampires are sexier at a distance – like celebrities ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s the mystery that keeps them interesting, as soon as you get close you just want to give them a sensible jumper and maybe a sandwich.

    As for forests – I’m just not an outdoors person! It’s why I love to read about cities more than forests. I think the worst example I can think was about three quarters of the way through The Hobbit when I just moaned – “Dwarves dwarves, bracken, bracken, dwarves.”

    As you can imagine, I’m a peach to take camping. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Ah. I take it you didn’t like LoTR, then? Because that had a helluva lot of forest in it.

      I’m not big on non-human races. In fact, I completely refuse to use humanoid non-humans in anything I write. Elves and dwarves make me froth at the mouth.

      Honestly, I think human beings alone are more than interesting enough to sustain a story. For me, anyway – other people can do whatever they like! Now they’ve got my permission I’m sure they feel a lot better about it too. ๐Ÿ˜›

      • LOL Tansy I’ve got just one, big Tree for a world. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Is it Ok with you if cities fit in it?

        I love the first few chaps of ‘Power and Majesty’ posted here and am frothing at the mouth to read more, if it’s any consolation.

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