• 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!



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.

6 Responses

  1. Well, as you’d expect I like griffins. I have a soft spot for werewolves, too, but only because animal transformations fascinate me. I try not to overload my stories with supernatural elements and made up creatures – I’m not sure why. I think I’m paranoid about moving too far away from reality.

    Did you decide to write this after you saw my post? In any case, it’s almost a relief to have a good “where I got the idea” story, ain’t it?

    My last one came to me in a dream. Actually, several dreams. How cliched.

    (PS: Isn’t Stephanie great? Best publisher ever, hands down. Sorry Anne from Ace. I like you too, but I don’t know you as well because you’re in New York…)

    • Stephanie is awesome. My favourite is when she says things like, ‘Can we have MORE about this character? Or, ‘Can we have this scene LONGER?’ It’s almost always more, not less!

      Your post inspired me, Katie. I loved reading about how a great idea feels. We always ‘think’ things through but your ‘feeling’ approach was brilliant. As this idea for Road to the Soul came so specifically and literally from that conversation with Steph about the Were-fey, I wanted to share the moment. We rarely take time to credit our editors and publishers and they ARE instrumental in the creation of every book.

      Can you tell us the dreams? I know it seems cliched, but no. It’s a wonderful synchronicity. I’d love to hear more.

      (Also shows how damned absorbed we get!)

      Love your griffins. There will be more in the next series, yes?

      • Well of course there will be more griffins! It’s not Cymria without ’em. Some of them will have neat powers, too, like the one who can change his coat at will. Nobody even knows what his original colour was; he generally wears spots because he likes them.

        The dream? Well, I had it sometime last year. In it, I mysteriously turned into a huge reptile – kind of a snake with legs and big long claws. I looked like a monster, but I didn’t hurt anyone; I just ran around enjoying being huge and powerful, and I hunted animals, not humans. But when I found some rats, I remembered that I love rats so instead of eating them I tenderly picked them up and perched them on my shoulders.

        More recently I had a dream where I changed into a bear, and nobody recognised me any more or could understand me.

        The first dream in particular made me wonder what it would be like to be a monster. Everyone’s terrified of you on sight, and might even want to kill you, and it doesn’t matter whether you actually mean them harm or not. It’s a good emotional center for a story.

      • Fabulous dreams, Katie! Much fodder for storytelling. One thing I love about your books is that we get to see the world from Griffin perspective and you DO make them sentient but non-human, or trans-human. They aren’t just ‘humans in animal bodies.’ They are ‘other.’

        Great idea for a power–to change coat colour in a world where colour = identity. Brilliant. Looking forward to the new series!

  2. That picture of Quillian is gorgeous, Kim. Myself, I’ve always had a soft spot for Ann McCaffrey’s dragons. I like other dragons too and I’m definitely going to write a story about them one day. Unicorns are great too.

    • Quillian has been one of the most challenging and rewarding characters to write! He is gorgeous 🙂

      The dragons of Pern are spectacular creatures and I’ve definitely been influenced by Anne McCaffrey, as a reader and as a writer. Ruth is a favourite. We get to see so much of him. And Lessa’s Ramoth, Mnenenth . . . I love those books!

      Let us know when you write those stories! 🙂

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