• 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!

     

     

The Naming of Aufleur

Names are hugely important to me as a writer. I can’t move forward until I know what my main characters are called. I remember being severely held up on writing Power and Majesty in the first place because I didn’t know what Velody’s name was – I narrowed it down to ‘v’ finally but no ‘v’ names fit. Verity was close but not right, Victoria was possible but… no. Eventually I just started writing girls names randomly and replacing the first letter with ‘v’ until I found the right one. She could have ended up a Velanie, Velissa or Vercedes… luckily I hit on the right one eventually!

One of my aims with Aufleur was to create a city that really felt like a place that could exist. I wanted it to be a cosmopolitan hub, the sort of city that people leave their small towns and even their small countries to visit. It’s a centre of trade, which means there is lots of references to people and materials that come from outside – enough so that my publishers requested a world map even thought the characters rarely step outside the city!

Just as the city was in my head a mash up of favourite historical cities (ancient and modern Rome, Victorian London, turn of the century Paris, hints of Cabaret Berlin and 1920’s New York) so too was the language I referred to. I pinched bits of Latin, French, Italian, English and Spanish (plus a hefty dose of Madey-Uppy) for my character and also my place names. Also, being as it was my city and I could do what I wanted, I threw in a whole pile of in jokes and references to things I loved. Because worldbuilding for me is just as much about wordplay as visual references, I also played with the vocabulary of characters, creating my own words and removing a few from the language I had to work with. There’s a sense where fantasy worlds are “translated” to readers in the process of writing, and one of my favourite things about language translation is that there are some words that don’t have equivalents and get kept along the way.

Here then are a handful of the stories/ideas behind the naming of places in the world of Aufleur and the Creature Court:

AUFLEUR: I wish I had a cute story for this one, but it’s one of those cases where I pushed sounds/words together and they sounded right to me. ‘Fleur’ obviously is French for ‘flower.’ The other cities of the region, Tierce and Bazeppe, were likewise words that just arrived in my head.

DIAMAGNE: Another one that came out of nowhere. Reading it aloud for the podcast, I was thrown that I had no idea how to say this – in my head it’s always been ‘dia-magny’ but that sounded so wrong. “Charlemagne,” I chided myself, and pronounced it far more sensibly after that.

THE SHAMBLES: taken from the medieval city of York and rather rudely shoved underground. You can still walk through the real Shambles in York – and if you have, that is exactly what Poet’s territory looks like.

RIVER VERTICORDIA: one of the last things I named, when my mother was drafting the maps and demanded I call it something other than ‘the river.’ Verticordia is one of the many aspects of the goddess Venus in ancient Rome, and she was celebrated on April 1 in a ritual where a group of women hijacked the men’s baths in order to wash a statue of Fortuna Virilis.

GIACOSA: this city district is named after an Italian scholar whose book on Roman coinage and the portraits of Imperial women utterly changed the direction of my PhD thesis.

GARDENS OF TRAJUS ALYSAUNDRE: another real piece of landscape stolen and replanted in my city, in this case the park of the Baths of Trajan in Rome, which were built over the ruins of Nero’s Golden House.

VIA SILVIANA: named after Silvia, the mother of Romulus and Remus

VIA CICELINE: ‘Cicely’ is a name I’ve always liked – I could pretend I named this after the character in the Importance of being Earnest but it’s far more likely it was in my head because of Cicely, Alaska (Northern Exposure)

VIA DELGARDIE: the name of Lord Peter’s uncle in the Dorothy Sayers novels – though the reason the name has always stuck in my head is because it reminds me of Roger Delgado, the first actor to play the Master in Doctor Who!

AVE D’ARGENTIN: named after the Area Sacra Argentine, an archeological site full of cats. Yes, many places in Roma are full of cats, but you have no idea what the words ‘full of cats’ MEANS if you have never been to the Area Sacra.

CIRCUS VERDIGRIS: I love this word which refers to a green pigment. Otherwise based on the Circus Maximus in Rome.

LAKE OF FOLLIES: ‘follies’ is both a theatrical term, and one used in architecture/gardening when referring to something built purely to be decorative – usually lavish, decorative and useless rolled into one. The lake is based on the artificial lake that the Emperor Nero built in Rome, as part of the Domus Aurea, a palace so spectacularly lavish that it was an embarrassment to the more financially modest emperors who succeeded him. The Emperor Vespasian had the lake filled in and the Colosseum built upon the site; in my own Aufleur, the lake remains as a symbol of the follies of previous rulers of the city.

Since the release of my beautiful book trailer, I’ve been asked if the carnival tradition Venice was an influence on the worldbuilding of my book – it actually wasn’t something at the front of my brain, though who knows what the backbrain is up to at any given time? I never really thought before about how the Ancient Roman festivals continued to have an influence on Italian history, as my historical expertise trails away around 300 CE, but as soon as I saw the lovely Venetian masks that Rowena chose for my trailer, I knew it felt right. Which goes to show, by that point, Aufleur had taken on a life of its own that didn’t necessarily have to involve me…

Tansy Rayner Roberts first novel, Power and Majesty, is now out from all good bookshops!

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