• 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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Merry Christmas everyone

From all of us at Voyager Books, we wish you a very merry and happy Christmas with:

At least 12 books under the tree

11 hours of uninterrupted reading time

10 armed mercenaries to back you up

9 choices of weapon

8 excellent inns to sleep at

7 gods  to interfere with your destiny

6 different quests to choose from

5 epic fantasy books (in one series)

4 paranormal fantasy titles

3 sci-fi brick-sized tomes

2 love interests to make your life difficult

And a happy ending (possibly set in a tree!)

 

See you on the other side of 2010!

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The Brave Tale of Maddie Carver

A very special Christmas present from Stacia Kane

Stacia Kane has written a short story in the world of the Downside Ghosts trilogy, about the beginning of Haunted Week, and it’s all yours for your Christmas reading. Click on the link above. It’s just a little over 2000 words, so it might be nice to snuggle down to before you sleep, or to read while trying to digest the Christmas turkey.

Hard Heroes: Part II

 

Linda Hamilton plays hardcore hero Sarah Connor in Terminator II

 How do you manage to make your characters harder without being too hard? Part I

Along with goals and history, flaws are an essential ingredient in writing strong, engaging characters. As Stacia Kane, author of the Downside Ghost Series, says, I don’t like characters who are just naturally strong and brave and smart and wonderful. To me it’s the flaws–and what they do with them–that make a person strong, and that makes them human. And the stronger and braver and tougher they are to the outside world, the more their flaws and weaknesses matter.

 ‘The flaw’ can move the story forward and make characters believable. For example, Tryn Bistoria in my Quantum Encryption Series is a capable, smart, talented apprentice but ruthless in the lengths she’s go to keep her familiar a secret.  It’s the flaw that draws the reader in and keeps the pages turning—the chink in the armour counts.

Sometimes the flaw is meshed with the character’s strength. Duncan Lay points this out when referring to Martil in the Dragon Sword Histories: (His) strength is also his greatest weakness in that he is a warrior without peer, a warleader even but he hates and despises what he is forced to do to win battles, both individually and as a war captain. Often the ‘flaw’ is the thing the character will try to hide. It’s internalised and that can lead to even deeper issues.

But strength isn’t always physical, as Mary Victoria, author of the Chronicles of the Tree series, reminds us. Samiha is strong precisely because she’s weak. Her flaws and her humanity give her insight. Her lack of physical strength gives her moral power. . . Playing with the way the character handles power can be very revealing and it gives us a chance as writers to explore some of the deeper elements of human psychology.

Jennifer Fallon reminds us not to forget the external factors as well. She says, when characters are required to make hard decisions, slam every other door open to them, so their path, no matter how hard or awful, is the only logical one to follow, then your readers will accept it and forgive that character anything you want/need them to. I have a character in The Second Sons series, who murders his father and arranges for the murder of his mother, and everyone reads this series and says “poor baby”, because I left him with no other honourable alternative, so the act, far from making him unsympathetic, made him a hero.

Environment, history, goals, flaws, Satima Flavell, author and editor, sums it up. To be memorable, a character needs to be complex. We need to see flaws as well as virtues, and we need to see, over the course of the book or series, just what has caused those flaws and how the character deals with them. A certain degree of self-awareness and self-acceptance is usually found in truly memorable characters, no matter how troubled or apparently conscienceless they might be.

Sometimes that self-awareness can rise spontaneously, without the author planning it. Traci Harding’s Tory from The Ancient Future Series demonstrates this:  I think the attraction with Tory is that she the observer in all of us . . . She is not compelled by religion to do the right thing, but has an appreciation for different cultures and draws from the beliefs of all, and her own common sense, in her search for the answers to the greater mysterious in life . . . I’m not too sure if I took Tory on a great adventure or she took me, but I feel I have my Tory’s boots when I’m writing her character. She taught me so much and is still teaching me as she morphs herself into other characters and other tales.

Have a comment on the topic? We’d all love to hear from you. 

Special thanks to Traci Harding, Stacia Kane, Jennifer Fallon, Mary Victoria, Duncan Lay, K J Taylor, Tracey O’Hara, Satima Flavell and Nicole Murphy for your input and contributions to this discussion.

How Shauna Connell came to open the story of Power Unbound

Dream of Asarlai: Book Two

‘There’s something wrong with the beginning,’ said the Queen of Voyager aka publisher Stephanie Smith to me of Power Unbound. ‘It’s missing the lovely emotion and connectedness of Secret Ones.’

My heart sank. I’d already done one round of edits on Power Unbound, which was proving to be a difficult book – surely everything was fine now.

We discussed it and the word that came up several times was harsh. It’s true – the first action in Power Unbound is a pretty horrible one. However, it was an important action for the rest of the story and couldn’t just be dumped.

I had read just prior to this of Scott Westerfeld writing a story from two entirely different points of view. I believe Scott did this because he couldn’t find the original version, but when he did it ended up guiding him to a very interesting story.

The opening scene had been written from Asarlai’s point of view, as happened in Secret Ones, but there were two other participants in the scene. Perhaps, I thought, one of their voices would be the right way to tell the story?

So I sat down and wrote the entire scene twice more – first from Brian’s side, then from Shauna’s. Of the two, Shauna had the softer view. She worships Asarlai – would do anything for her.

It turned out to be a brilliant idea, because in the writing of it I realised that I could tweak a couple of things later in the book. So as a result, Shauna plays a vital role in Asarlai’s quest to keep her identity secret from the guardians as long as possible.

However, I learnt a lot about Asarlai and Brian in writing the other two versions of the scene and I don’t regret it. It was interesting to see how easily Asarlai could separate herself from the terrible acts she’s planning – I hadn’t realised she was quite so cold. And Brian turned out to be much less confident than I first thought, and stupider :).

I’ve put the other two versions of the opening scene up on the website, so after you’ve read Shauna’s story in the book, take a look at the other two ways it could have been shown.

But that, in a nutshell, is how Shauna came to be the only other person apart from Asarlai or the hero and heroine of each book to have their own point of view scene in the Dream of Asarlai trilogy.

Power Unbound is now on sale in bookstores and as an e-book via A&R, Borders, Kobo, Amazon and Apple. Looking for a late Christmas present? Look no further :). Nicole Murphy is now working on the third book in the series, Rogue Gadda, due to be published in July 2011.

Perseverance Pays Off – A.A. Bell on the making of Diamond Eyes

After 10 years in development, my first fantasy crime thriller, Diamond Eyes, finally takes flight! YAY!

Initial inspiration struck me early in 1999, due to a slight vision condition which can’t be corrected fully by surgery or lenses. However, an earlier decade working in the spooky halls of a century-old mental-health sanctuary in Queensland, also provided plenty of  “juiciness” for the surreal settings.

 Although I can’t focus back through time to witness dark deeds, like my heroine, Mira Chambers, I did manage to see through a scam by a disreputable businessmen who tried to rip me off on my birthday. The title came later that year, enroute to an eye specialist when my young son asked how eyes really worked, and I used my diamond ring as an example of a crystallised lens.

 So what took so long to develop it? Diamond Eyes was 10 years in the making, due mainly to the extensive research and unusual stylistic elements involved, including a 3-year MA(Research) scholarship in advanced editing strategies (e.g. text world theory, ironic ascension and covert/overt narratology), using Diamond Eyes as the development project. Along the way, I also won Highly Commended in the 2008 FAW Jim Hamilton Awards for a shorter draft as an unpublished manuscript. However, I also spent much of my time honing my story craft skills across multiple genres by publishing over 120 spin-offs and other stories under various pen-names (many also award winners) in the genres of crime, romance, fantasy, science fiction, psychological thrillers, military action/adventures, comedy and even poetry and metaphoric songwriting – strong elements from all of which were fundamental to production of this series; Diamond Eyes (2010), Hindsight (2011) and Leopard Dreaming (2012).

Continue reading

Full Moon Eclipse

‘Pillow Book’ by Duy Huynh

Full Moon Eclipse

New York December 21, 03:15
London December 21, 08:15
Sydney December 21, 19:15
LA  December 21, 00:15

RAM: A bright idea has been percolating in the deep dark of your unconscious and this eclipse is going to set that vision free! It will surprise you at first but trust the feeling. This new puppy was born to fly!

AUROCHS: Time to put energy into your latent talents. If your life isn’t supporting your future, it’s time for a change. Think what it is you would do if no one else had a say. Initiate along those lines after January 4th!

TWINS: This moon is in your sign brining fresh perspective on all four corners–you, home, career, relationship. It’s pretty basic: let go of what isn’t working and prepare to usher in the life you’ve always wanted to live.

COBRA: Peace, meditation, relaxation. Do whatever it takes to eliminate stress and surround yourself in a perfect-for-you sanctuary. There is no rush or pressure. There is only you and the choices you make from a place of calm.

LION: There is a goal in your list of want-to-do’s that is inherited, not authentic. Time to pull that weed so you can move on! Pleasing others won’t make you happy, and oddly, it won’t make them happy either. Cut loose !

CERES: Time to let go of the burdensome career/life path that’s holding you back. It could be a profession or simply an idea or way of seeing yourself. Kiss it goodbye. There is so much more waiting for you up the road.

BALENCIA: Looking in the foreground is fine for detailed work but this full moon is all about the distant horizons. Where do you see yourself in five years? Are you taking steps in that direction? Enlarge the future image!

SCORPION: Joint finance require ultra lucid focus. Thing are about to get very creative (in a brilliant way) so sort everyone you think you ‘owe’. Agents, partners, lovers, children–work out who has a piece of you and why. Get clear.

ARCHER: Sit out any relationship entanglements especially over home or family topics. Find something you can do with loved ones that doesn’t spark old beefs. It’s a time to let go, so start with grudges and angst. Onward and upward!

SEA-GOAT: This is a magic moon set to revitalize your health and well being. Let go of old habits around diet, exercise and ways of thinking re your body. Caring for others, animal, vegetable or mineral, paves the way for maximum vitality!

WATER-BEARER: Creative projects and/or anything dear to your heart – lovers, children, recreation, romance – is about to be renewed. Start imagining how you want it all to unfold. It’s not about forcing things to happen. Let go.

FISHES: Home and family life are up for a big shift. Make a list of everything you love about where you live and who you live with, then let go of anything you are tolerating. Time to honour soul growth and the ground of your being.

The Gaela Stars are brought to you by Kim Falconer, author of the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption trilogies, set in the worlds of Gaela and Earth. The first book in the Quantam Encryption, Path of the Stray, is out now. Kim lives in Byron Bay in Australia and also runs the website Falcon Astrology.

Inside A Game of Thrones (extended version)

With George R R Martin on voiceover!