• 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!



How it All Began … by Mary Victoria

The World Tree rises up ...

This morning the author copies of Tymon’s Flight arrived in the post: a moment of quiet triumph for me, like coming ashore after a long sea voyage. I immediately sat down re-read the prologue and first chapter, of course, because the critic in me still wishes to pick holes in my work (they say books aren’t finished: they escape. Very true in my case.) I had the inevitable twinge of nostalgia when I remembered writing those lines for the first time: years ago now.

The story begins in 2002, between contracts on two rather well known films, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

At the time I was an animator working at Weta Digital. I took a break at the end of 2002 for three months or so between contracts before beginning work on the third Jackson film. I had a yen to do something different in the interim. Stories and ideas for stories had been percolating in my mind for several years and I had written short fiction, treatments for series, scripts and concepts since my student days. I’d shopped some of my treatments around and shown them to long-suffering producers at the various companies I worked at… but no dice. And fair enough, the ideas were as green as I was. Not bad. Just not mind-blowingly good. Not yet.

I remember sitting down at my laptop during that holiday in 2002 with an idea for a story set in a giant tree. I knew it was a decent concept, and I was excited about it. I remember thinking, why waste time getting someone interested making a film or series out of this, when I could just write it myself?

Amazing hubris! I’d never done any creative writing courses, studied literature or worked in the field of publishing. I hadn’t even worked on the high school paper. But I thought I could do it. I guess having that delusional buzz, the “I can” moment, marks the beginning of any project. Face reality too squarely and you’re bound to wilt. Because the reality was that I had absolutely no idea how to write a novel.

Undaunted by facts, I began. I wrote about a boy raised by seminary Fathers in a world where God was literally underfoot and science was a heresy. It was a very different story to the one I have now, almost a children’s book in retrospect, both in tone and content. I might have written about three chapters or so. Then I went back to work on ROTK and it all came to a grinding halt for another nine months.

The writing began in earnest again in 2004. I had a specific goal in mind: I wanted to write a fantasy novel and learn a new craft while doing so. I didn’t think I’d get the book published and treated it as a training project. Luckily I had an ace in the hole. I knew a published writer who was also a creative writing teacher. And that person was my mother, Bahiyyih Nakhjavani.

Some writers are born great. Some achieve greatness. Some have greatness cooking scrambled eggs for them. I am in the latter category.

A mentor is a precious thing. My mother taught me, patiently and methodically, just how much I didn’t know about writing a novel. Over the next two years I came to grips with what it is to flesh out character development, to find a distinctive voice and get inside the head of my protagonist. The ABC of story-writing. I struggled with the fine art of plot (still do) and to my surprise and delight, a book began to take shape.

Did I say “mentor?” I meant “mentors.” I’ve been incredibly lucky in this respect to have no less than two remarkable women take an interest in my case. The second was my agent, Helenka Fuglewicz, whom I contacted in 2005 in a fit of overconfidence with half a book to my credit. Sure, she said. It’s a nice idea. Show me the finished product.

I sweated out a complete novel by mid-2006 and sent it off, congratulating myself on a job well done. About a minute later I knew it was trash. I had missed something vital out. There was an emotional void, a piece of the story I’d omitted to tell. Unsurprisingly, the reader the agent passed the manuscript on to came back with the same sorts of comments. The story wasn’t quite “there.” There was something “missing.”

That year my daughter was born, and anyone who has done the newborn thing knows that novel-writing is not exactly a priority in the first few months of an infant’s life. But by 2007 I was writing again. And mad. Stomping mad. I threw out ninety percent of what I had already written and started again. This time, I swore, the Tree would come to life.

That second book is the one that went on to become Tymon’s Flight. It convinced my agent to take me on and found a home with Voyager Books in 2009. In a few weeks’ time, it’s going to see the light of day. I’m happy and proud. I promise you it’s nothing like giving birth, no matter what the pundits say. Seven years’ labour, for heaven’s sake? You want to kill me?

Tymon’s Flight will be in all good bookshops in Australia and New Zealand on 1 August. It will also be available worldwide as an e-book from Borders.com.au, the Amazon Kindle Store, and from Whitcoulls in New Zealand. Mary Victoria lives in Wellington, New Zealand, and is working on Samiha’s Song, the second book in the Chronicles of the Tree. Tymon’s Flight will be officially launched at the Weta Cave on 14 August, see the News and Events page for the full details.