• 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: Dark Night of the Soul Part 1

Cortesa Lemur and her raven Pi, Aaron Briggs l

Cortesa Lemur and her raven Pi, Aaron Briggs

With Road to the Soul’s release, I’ve taken time to reread some of the emails and letters I’ve received since Path of the Stray came out last year. Mostly they are notes of support and thrill in the new series and well wishes (and ‘write faster!’) but a few stand out because of their deeper enquiry. One in particular interested me, so I thought I would share it here.

The question was on the intensity and drama in Path of the Stray, particularly the vivid imagery and violence. Was it necessary to go there?

I think it helps to remember that stories, meaningful ones, reflect archetypal motifs in the human condition like birth, death, service, accomplishment, relationship, challenge, choice, arrival and departure. Speculative fiction is notorious for ‘going there’ and exploring extreme experiences. My novels build on these themes and also contemporary confrontations like geo-engineering, extinction, gender biases, sentience and speciesism. Sometimes the violence and imagery (and sex) is heavy-duty, perhaps even more so in book 2, Road to the Soul.

I find balancing intense and subtle imagery an essential part of storytelling if for no other reason than experiencing contrast. Too much action and we become numb; too little and we fall asleep. But if the reader immerses in the tale, what happens to the character is happening to them too. They are in the thick of it, frightened, thrilled, devastated and hopeful right alongside the heroes and villains. What an amazing thing! It opens doors to expanded ways of thinking and being. For example, on Gaela, the genders are equal. On a contrasting Earth, they are not. When readers are on Gaela, they experience that reality and like they say, if you can go there in the mind, you can go there in the body. In other words, speculative fiction can open the mind to new horizons because the brain can’t tell the difference between something imagined and something ‘real’. That kind of immersion can help move us along towards the next cultural paradigm shift.

Road to the Soul

Path of the Stray and Road to the Soul

But can it be argued the other way? Is immersion in intense and violent imagery reinforcing it in our lives? In Road to the Soul I explore ‘good’ and ‘evil’ from the inside out, influenced by James Hillman’s view that there is no ‘pathology’. Nothing needs fixing. Everything is an expression of energy, just as it is. Can this be true? On the surface I think Kay needs help and his parents are complete psychopaths. Don’t they need fixing? They do terrible things. The rogue Lupins and Serko, ASSIST and the second JARROD, they all seem horribly unconscious and not coming from a place of love. Is this ‘mad’ or ‘evil’ or simply another expression of being? The big question Road to the Soul asks is where in the darkness is love? That’s what I’m looking for, and I had to turn out a lot of lights to find it.

What do you think about levels of violence and explicit imagery in storytelling? Are you into the power struggle and knife edge intensity or keen for a buffer from it all? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comments welcome!

Creating New Souls by Kim Falconer

Quillian the Were-fey over Timbali Temple, Southern Continent by Aaron Briggs

Quillian the Were-fey over Timbali Temple, Southern Continent by Aaron Briggs

The inspiration for Road to the Soul came like a match strike, lit by my publisher Stephanie Smith in the spring of 2008. I wasn’t looking for ideas at the time or even thinking about new characters. Far from it!

Stephanie and I were going over the ‘proof reader queries’ for The Spell of Rosette, a gruelling process of discussing the copyedit questions. My first novel was nearly ready to print, save for these scribbles and marks still waiting in the margins. We got to page 131, a moment in the story where Rosette stops to collect herself. She sits under a jade statue of a Were-fey, a winged serpent-like creature leaping out of an ‘angry’ sea.

Quillian protecting Tryn from a rogue Lupin, Northern Continent by Aaron Briggs

Quillian protecting Tryn from a rogue Lupin, Northern Continent by Aaron Briggs

Steph asked, ‘Kim, why is the sea angry?’

I said, ‘Because it surrounds the Southern Continent which is  . . .  in trouble.’

‘Really?’ Steph was interested. ‘What kind of trouble?’

‘Big,’ I said to HarperCollins Voyager’s Associate Publisher. ‘Big, big trouble.’

‘I see . . . Will it appear in future books?’ she wanted to know.

Pause . . .

‘Yes.’ I said. ‘It will.’

And that was it. The story of the lost Southern Continent and a magical Were-fey named Quillian had begun.

Archaeopterx the ‘first bird’—a dino with feathers.

Archaeopterx the ‘first bird’—a dino with feathers.

In the end, the Were-fey statue at Treeon Temple wasn’t depicted in a roiling sea, but the story had gotten a foothold and there was no stopping it. The deeper answer to the question—‘Why is the sea angry?’—has turned into the Road to the Soul and one jade Were-fey has come to life in full Technicolor.

Were-fey are amazing creatures and like most of my ideas, they began with a grain of truth. I wanted to portray a sentient, non-human being with a sharp mind, agile body and Shakespearian wit. This Were-fey had to be adept in four elements–land, sea, air, and time. He had to be special, the last of his kind.

The beautiful Bird of Paradise by Tim Laman

The beautiful Bird of Paradise by Tim Laman

My first reference for creating him was Archaeopterx, the Greek name for ‘ancient wing.’ This first ‘bird’ was a sharp toothed, claw-winged, feathered dinosaur that lived in the late Jurassic period, 150 million years ago. I mixed in the Bird of Paradise for a brilliant plumage and the Loon for underwater grace and fishy appetite. Thus was born Quillian, a perpetually hungry, telepathic, highly vocal risk taker, bonded to the young apprentice Tryn and the pivot on which Road to the Soul turns.

I had a very clear picture of Quillian in my mind but it wasn’t until my cover artist, Aaron Briggs, interpreted the depictions that I trusted readers would see him vividly as well. I hope they continue to engage with this character as book two in Quantum Encryption unfolds its epic journey.

Loons and cormorants dive down to 45 metres!

Loons and cormorants dive down to 45 metres!

Speculative fiction is full of ‘made-up’ creatures and environments from Tanith Lee’s Silver, Glenda Larke’s myriapedes, Karen Miller’s Vampire Butterflies and Mary Victoria’s World Tree. What are some of your favourite beings? What makes them so believable? I would love to hear more about it.

Fiona McIntosh in Sydney

Fiona fans rejoice! Fiona will be in Sydney signing copies of King’s Wrath, the final book in the Valisar trilogy.

You can meet her at Galaxy Bookshop Wednesday March 2 at 12pm.

Also if you want all the latest news about Fiona’s books you can now get it straight from the source. That’s right, Fiona has now joined the Twitterverse. Say hello to her here @FMcIntosh

Win the Kim Falconer book of your choice!

To celebrate the release of Road to the Soul Kim Falconer is giving away a Quantum Enchantment or Quantum Encryption book of your choice! All you have to do is click on the map below and plot your location (a user name is fine) by selecting ADD. That will automatically put you into the hat for the March 1, 2011 draw! The winner will be announced here and on Kim’s News page.

Kim's reader map
Click here to enter your location

Keep an eye out next month for the ‘bring a friend’ giveaway—introduce a friend to the worlds of Earth and Gaela and you’re both in it to win a book each!

Road to the Soul is now out!

Full Moon Stars from Kim Falconer



Una & The Lion by Briton Rivière, Irish artist born in London on 14 August 1840 (a Leo) Una, is a character from The Faerie Queene, the incomplete English epic poem by Edmund Spenser


New York February 18, 03:36
London February 18, 08:36
Sydney February 18, 19:36
LA February 18, 00:36 

RAM: The full moon puts focus on your house of dreams and inner revelations, awakening secret desires of the heart. Look in, and then, look in some more. Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself. Rumi

AUROCHS: A goal for the future is calling out to you. In it is the longing to connect, relate and receive. What are you waiting for? Take the next step! There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of spirit on the body. Rumi

TWINS: In this full moon is an opportunity to expand beyond the boundaries of your known experience. Tell it how you want it to be. That’s all you have to do! Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world. Rumi

COBRA: Explore past old barriers and you will discover a dimension you never dreamed of before.! Hiking boots! There is something in us that has nothing to do with night and day/ Diamonds which come from no earthly mine. Rumi

LION: The Leo full moon awakens you inner jaguar, the sleek feline who stalks the boundaries of your heart. The hunt is always for love. Do you know when it looks you in the eyes? Let us fall in love again and scatter gold dust all over the world. Rumi

CERES: There is not enough time for resistance as it would take more than all eternity to push against your own heart. There are better things to do! You knock at the door of Reality. You shake your thought-wings, loosen your shoulders and open. Rumi

BALENCIA: The joy is in the little things, at the heart of all your tasks. There is nothing you can do that is not filled with love. There is no place you can go, even in your dreams, that is not divine. Every object, every being, is a jar full of delight. Rumi

SCORPION: Creative fire is in your heart and this full moon draws it out. Dance! Celebrate! Begin with an artistic blessing to the Muse. This divine love, beckons us to a world beyond only lovers can see with their eyes of fiery passion. Rumi

ARCHER: There is no waiting for the ‘right’ moment. There is no beckoning to the ‘right’ lover. There is no perfect place from which to begin. It is all right here, right now, in this one eternal moment. Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love. Rumi

 SEA-GOAT: If the path feels bumpy, overlong or something to be endured, you’ve hijacked someone else’s dream. Let go of the ‘should’ and ‘must’ and begin anew with your pure sweet desires. Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. Rumi

 WATER-BEARER: This full moon offers a chance to appreciate what is at the core of your soul. Give yourself a moment to find your true values and honour them. Oh, my friend, all that you see of me is just a shell, and the rest belongs to love. Rumi

 FISHES: In a whirl of compassion and giving, you make someone’s life a better place to be. Will this exhaust you? All this outpouring of gifts? Nothing can diminish the heart. Love rests on no foundation. It is an endless ocean, with no beginning or end. Rumi!

Lovely Kim Falconer is the author of the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption trilogies, set in the worlds of Gaela and Earth and exploring all manner of ideas, people and places. The latest in the series is Road to the Soul, which will be published on 1 March but is already creeping onto bookshop shelves next week. Visit Kim’s website and find out more about Kim and her books!

Mary Victoria on: Introducing a new character

Samiha's Song

Before picking up the second installment in a fantasy series, I often find myself wondering whether I’ll be reunited with the protagonists I loved in the first book, or whether the author will introduce me to a different cast of characters altogether. There is no one right way to write a trilogy, after all, and options range from J.R.R. Tolkien’s direct continuation of the same tale through several volumes to authors who shift their main protagonists between each book, or set their subsequent stories years after the first.

Samiha’s Song takes an approach closer to the Tolkien end of the spectrum, continuing Tymon and Samiha’s story almost where it left off in the first book, though the action begins two weeks after the events concluding Tymon’s Flight. As such, it is not a stand-alone novel, but part of an ongoing tale begun in book one and ending in book three. That said, there are several new and important characters introduced in this second book, characters who have an enormous impact on the overall arc of the story and who make Samiha’s Song very much their own.

The World Tree rises up ...

The first is Jedda, Tymon’s fellow student, who like him is leaving the Freehold and traveling to distant city to begin her Grafter training. Both Tymon and Jedda are about to meet their new teacher, the Oracle of Nur – but more about her in moment.

Jedda is quite different to Tymon in both her personality type and general outlook on life. On the surface, she is a survivor, a pragmatist, shunning idealism in her quest for power and knowledge. That is how she wishes others to see her. But like all of us, Jedda’s character contains internal contradictions. Underneath the hardened shell there is a young girl with a great capacity for empathy and loyalty – qualities she is at pains to hide, because she fears they will make her seem weak.

I enjoyed writing Jedda tremendously. I liked her contradictions and her rebellious streak. She is a complex character in a complex world, and a good foil for Tymon, who tends to make rather stiff moral judgments about people and situations first, and ask questions later. Jedda always asks the questions first.

Just as Tymon’s Flight was in essence a coming of age tale, Samiha’s Song is about what happens afterwards, in adulthood. It is about learning to be true to yourself, to know yourself thoroughly. The three main characters – Tymon, Samiha, and Jedda – are all on a voyage of self-discovery, finding out who they truly are and what they are capable of. That process can be enlightening or shocking as the case may be.

The Oracle of Nur is the catalyst setting Tymon and Jedda’s development in motion. She is a challenging personality herself, hard to define in terms of simplistic moral judgments, and the two young students do not know to begin with whether she is good or evil, friend or foe. She sees the future continually, a capacity that makes her quite difficult to understand and get along with in a traditional sense. She does not simply meet a person in the everyday way; she meets that person’s past, present and possible future all at the same time. Her first task as Tymon and Jedda’s teacher is to bring her students face-to-face with themselves: in that mirror they will begin to see how far they have to go.

There are several other major characters making inaugural appearances in Samiha’s Song, but to describe them here would be a spoiler… Suffice to say that wherever Tymon goes on his journey, there will be new faces and fresh surprises, and that nothing is what it seems to be, at first glance…

Mary Victoria lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She’s working on the final book in the Chronicles of the Tree trilogy, Oracle’s Fire.  Her most recent book is Samiha’s Song. Visit Mary at her website and read some of the posts by other fantasy authors on the theme of Writing Strong Women.strong>

Muse Go Boom: K J Taylor on Ideas

One of K J Taylor's ideas come to life ...

Where do you get your ideas?

We all hate being asked that question, partly because there’s almost never a good answer, but also because it’s probably the wrong question in the first place.
[When people ask me, I always say I bid for my ideas on eBay].

I think a better question is: what does it feel like to have an idea?

That’s a question I can give a real answer to, particularly because I’ve just had an idea. I don’t mean just an idea, by the way – we get those all the time. This one is an Idea, and those come along once in a blue moon. Not just a small idea, such as my sudden realisation that it would be good to get a cider from the fridge before sitting down to write this. This is a big Idea – the kind that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go. Ideas like that feel like revelations, and they can change everything. And they have.

So what does it feel like to have an idea?

One analogy is that having an idea is like having fireworks going off in your brain. It’s been used before, but it happens to be an almost perfect piece of imagery, and the closer you look at it, the more apt it feels.

This is not just because a big idea gives you a “whizz bang!” feeling, with that rush of wonderful excitement. The image of a firework going off is also a perfect metaphor for how the idea is born, and grows.

So we begin with a spark. The spark could be anything. An overheard remark, seeing something at just the right moment, a train of thought that goes somewhere unexpected. Whatever it is, if it hits a mind in the right state, a firework is lit. As it goes off the idea expands in your mind. Then, as it spreads, it creates other, smaller explosions in the air all around it.

So a truly big Idea is an idea that spawns more ideas until your whole mind is lit up with possibilities. All of a sudden, as the ideas burst through your skull in a barrage, you can’t sit still. Your hands start to itch for the keyboard. You want to be alone to start writing right away. But no! No, you want to rush off and tell everyone about it! You don’t know what you want to do, but you do know that you’re all over the place. And, in that one moment, everything feels so right.

Some people have only one Idea in their whole lives. Some have a few. Others never have one. It all depends on how your mind is wired, and how much stimulation it gets.

Of course, this is just how it feels for me. I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone, but I have a strong suspicion that it’s a common experience. In any case, I can definitely say that I live for moments like these. As with the perfect diamond, their rarity only makes them more precious.

Is it the same way for you? How many Ideas have you had in your life?

Oh… and what Idea have I had? It’s a secret, for now. If all goes well, you’ll see it for yourself one day. Or at least I’ll tell you all about it. The best Ideas are there to be shared. When the time is right, of course.

K J Taylor is the author of the Fallen Moon trilogy:  The Dark Griffin, The Griffin’s Flight, The Griffin’s War. She lives in Canberra and is now working on the Risen Sun trilogy, a follow up to the Fallen Moon.