• 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!



Kim Falconer on The Upside of Darkness

A vision of darkness in 'Hero' by Stephan Martiniere, a Hugo Award finalist

Hero by Stephan Martiniere, a Hugo Award finalist

I’ve faced the same demon for the last six years. Her name is ‘Future Earth.’ She dwells in a post apocalyptic dystopia, one I’ve created for the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption series. It’s not an easy place to be. Writing it, at times, makes me feel sick. But there is a powerful upside to darkness. It can expand the mind.

My worlds clash. Future Earth is a technological hegemony where geo-engineering has failed, most known species of flora and fauna are extinct, women are denigrated and the only currency is drinking water. Adjacent to this is Gaela, a pre-industrial, agrarian based, magical hegemony where genders are equal and all life revered. It’s through these contrasting worlds I explore issues of gender, race, aggression, social constructs and environment. Also sentience, and love.

The fundamental difference between Earth and Gaela boils down to two perspectives, it and thou.  On future Earth all but man is an it. Object. Expendable. On Gaela, everything—people, animal, rock, tree, river, storm—is a thou. As Joseph Campbell said, our whole psychology changes when we see the world as a thou. I wanted to live that experience, and take my readers there too. Again, the contrast becomes a leverage point. It helps demonstrate the difference between a world of it consciousness and thou. By recognising this, it expands the mind.

This is such a fascinating discovery. It turns out the brain can’t tell the difference between a dream, a memory, a fantasy or ‘reality’. If we are emotionally engaged with the story—seeing it unfold through the eyes of the main characters, frightened when they are in danger and uplifted when they fall in love—it’s the same, to the brain, as those events really happening to us.

This is the magic of speculative fiction. It doesn’t just talk about what was, or what is, it takes us to a place where the question what if becomes true. By going there in the mind, new neural pathways form, connecting the experience of things like gender equality and reverence for all life. From the darkness of future Earth and its contrasts to other worlds, readers may gain a deeper understanding of themselves and where life as thou can lead. From that point a different future becomes possible because we have, for a moment in time, lived it.

How about you? What dark stories have shown you the light? I’d love to hear about them. Comments welcome.

Meet Kim Falconer at AussieCon 2-6 September. Read Kim’s latest book, Path of the Stray.

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