• 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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Tracey O’Hara: Why I Write Urban Fantasy

Image of Dean and Sam from Supernatural

We read UF because it's fab but watch UF because ... see above!

With the rise of T.V. series like True Blood (based on the Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series of books) The Vampire Diaries (based on the LJ Smith series) and Supernatural, more and more people are becoming aware of the Urban Fantasy genre. UF is not action adventure, fantasy, romance, horror, or a blood thirsty thriller. UF can often be a story with all of those elements. Well at least the ones I like can. While some say the Twilight Saga started the whole supernatural phenomenon – UF and paranormal romance were well and truly alive and kicking ass way before sparkly vampires came on the scene. Anne Rice, Laurel K Hamilton & LJ Smith are just a few of the authors who have been writing it for quite a while.

I grew up loving action/adventure stories. From the very first time my third grade teacher started reading Enid Blyton’s, The Magic Faraway Tree, I was hooked. And if my action adventure had monsters and supernatural creatures too, then the more the better. I can remember hating Scooby Doo cartoons because the Scooby Gang always uncovered the all too human bad guy behind the clever ruse who would then utter the inevitable line “I would have gotten away with it too if not for those darn meddling kids”. I always felt cheated. I really wanted the ghosts and monsters to be real and that one day, Scoobs and the gang would come up against something that simply wasn’t just some old meanie dressed up in a costume.Then I discovered fantasy, horror and eventually UF. Now, I’m not going to go into the origins of Urban Fantasy or get into the debate of what is and what isn’t considered UF. There are too many differing opinions on both topics. Back in 2005 I started writing a vampire book. I had no idea where it fit, I didn’t even know about genres back then. I’d watched horror movies, read Stephen King (over and over again) and I just had this story in my head that I had to get out. I started writing it as more of a romance, but it kept trying to get darker and I had to keep reining it in.

Then I picked Dead until Dark, the first book in Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series. And I thought WOW – this is terrific. Scary, funny, serious and light all at the same time. This I liked. This I could connect with. Then I read Keri Arthur’s Ripple Creek werewolf books and was just hooked. While the latter is more paranormal romance, especially when compared with her Riley Jenson series, I found I really liked the relationship elements too. So I gave Mary Janice Davidson a go. While I started out liking the books, I came to realise I craved the dark and gritty more than light and humorous. I know, I’m a sick puppy.

So I started working on my story in earnest. Before then I didn’t really have much direction of where it was going or if what I was putting in there was going to work. But I realised I could have romantic elements and also have horror – in the same book.  I could have seriously dark component and light moments too. While I am now working on my third book, I’m still finding my way through the genre, still trying to work it all out. But one thing I do know for sure – I love playing in alternate worlds.

Tracey O’Hara grew up reading Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist, and J. R. R. Tolkien. As you can see above, her tastes also embrace other types of fantasy now. Tracey lives in Canberra but you can catch her and fellow Canberra UF author Nicole Murphy at the Australian Romance Readers Convention THIS SATURDAY!  It’s at the Swiss Grand Resort  and Spa at Bondi Beach and Tracey and Nicole will be doing the mass signing from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. Don’t be late, because they’re roadtripping back to Canberra that same day!

Image of Death's Sweet Embrace, an urban fantasy book by Tracey O'Hara

Romeo meets Juliet, supernatural style


A sneak peak of Death’s Sweet Embrace.

The excited babble of female voices floated down the hall toward Gideon. He turned and faced the wall, then pulled a mop from the cleaning cart and began running it over the already shiny floor, pretending to clean.

What are they doing here? 

The academy didn’t open for classes until this evening. The institution was still officially closed for the holidays.

As two girls neared, he tugged the brim of his cap down over his forehead, keeping his head low as he continued to mop. They walked by without even a glance in his direction, too lost in their own self-important chatter. Maintenance men were invisible, especially janitors, which suited him just fine.

The girls soon disappeared around the corner, talking and giggling, totally oblivious to his presence.

WELL DONE, MY CHILD.” Ealund’s translucent form floated across the floor, his ethereal beauty reflecting on the shiny black floor tiles.

With a quick glance to make sure the girls were gone, Gideon dumped the mop in the cart and pushed it toward his original direction. The incorporeal apparition glowed, his pellucid form surrounded by a silver-blue aura—and Gideon’s heart ached just looking upon such ethereal beauty. Ealund only showed himself to Gideon.

He was the image of angelic magnificence with waist-length gold hair floating around his head, pale flowing robes, and terrifyingly exquisite azure eyes—all that was missing were wings. And yet, Ealund’s presence of absolute and pure evil almost brought Gideon to his knees.

Apart from the girls, the hallways were deserted. He kept his head down and peered at the security camera in a corner just above a classroom door. They’d been set up everywhere around campus after the first murder several weeks ago, but he had the schematics and knew how to get around most of them.


Death’s Sweet Embrace is published on 1 April, and if you see Tracey this Saturday at the ARRC you could get your hands on an early copy.


35 Responses

  1. “Tracey O’Hara grew up reading Steven King…”

    Arrrghh! It is ‘Stephen King’ not ‘Steven King’!! When you read things like this you have to wonder if the author really did read ‘Stephen King’ or they’re just saying that because they think it is the cool thing to say? Anyone who ‘grew up’ reading King would know how to spell his first name.

    • Surprisingly, sometimes it’s a typo from the person who put it up (me) as I typed in Tracey’s biog. It’s fixed now, so please don’t judge the author because of it – although I’d hope you wouldn’t based on one typo anyway.

    • It was spelt correctly in the actual article – and just a typo in the bio. And I assure you I did read Stephan King – I have most of the older books in hardback and I still can’t walk near a street drain withough looking for the clown.

      • I believe you, Tracey, although the genuine typo in your comment above made me laugh.

        Thanks also to Natalie for fixing this up, though a typo is hitting the wrong key (like Tracey did above). Writing ‘Stephen’ as ‘Steven’ is a misspelling, not a typo 😉

        **If you can’t bet on me being pedantic, what can you bet on?**

      • Mental typo? I do know how to spell, I promise!

      • At least you didn’t go and make a really stoopid spelling mistake after all that… Do’h!!!

  2. This is one of my favourite things about urban fantasy – there really aren’t any rules as to what you do in it. If you want a happily ever after – do it. Murder mystery – oh yeah. Political thriller – boy those vamps can get narky 🙂

    Freedom to move and experiment and have fun – what’s not to love?

  3. Hey Tracey,
    great post! You’ve listed all the things that makes UF so great, why I read it and write it and love it!
    But who can resist hot vampires like the Salvator brothers on Vampire Diaries, or sexy hunters like the Winchesters? No wonder we’re addicted!

  4. Great post! I really enjoyed Magic Faraway Tree when I was little – still have all my Enid Blyton books..

    Loved Laurell K Hamilton and LJ Smith. I still think L J Smith’s ‘Forbidden Game’ is better than ‘Vampire Diaries’ though.

    Typo’s are typo’s- we all do them 😀

    • I agree – I love Julian in The Forbidden Game and the concept of the paper house … so creepy!


    • I actually haven’t read either Laruell K Hamilton or LJ Smith yet. But that is because my TBR pile has turned into a bookcase and every month more great books come out.

      But still love the Magic Faraway Tree and the Wishing Chair – they were just the best. I was always so envious of those kids living next to that forest.

      • I haven’t read Laurell K Hamilton either – have always wondered if I should try the Anita Blake books.


      • Tracey and Nat, Laurell K Hamilton is quite tame until you get to book 6ish. Then be prepared for soft porn hahaha. Still one thing that is good about them is that the storyline isn’t just about sex.

        Also Nat, Julian in the ‘Forbidden Game’ is one of my all time fav bad guys. He just oozes charm and menace.

      • I feel like going straight to Book 6 hehehe.
        Julian is so good! And did you have the books with those really amazing covers – just eyes for the first one in blue?

      • Yep had the orginal covers.. till they dissapeared 😦 I was a sad panda. Searched for years but they were out of print. Then United re printed them in an omnibus. I nearly had a melt down hahaha

  5. Hi Tracey!
    Loved your blog post – and I too HATED Scooby Doo for that exact same reason. Probably in much the same reason I hated the Road Runner – because the coyote just never won…
    And I have to say I LOVE the opening of DSE – so horrifyingly real and gruesome, amazing =)

  6. Thank Mel. And yes – that darn roadrunner was always so mean about it. Talk about a sore winner.

    I remember once I took my 6 year old to see Independence Day and then we went a week later to see it with my Father. On leaving the cinema the second time my son piped up “I wanted the aliens to win that time”. I thought – yep – that’s my boy.

    Tee hee.

  7. Love this post, Tracey! I too loved Enid Blyton – The Faraway Tree was one of my absolute favourites.

    I have been devouring UF at crazy rates lately. Cannot get enough of it – in book form or on-screen. I made short work of the Charlaine Harris series and somehow managed to make my way through everything Richelle Mead has written without even trying. (Amazon instant shopping will get you every time!) I can tell I will now plough straight through this list you and the commenters put together!

    Strangely, although I love my UF nice ‘n’ dark ‘n’ gritty, I always found Stephen King truly horrifying right up until the part where the horror was revealed to be supernatural or otherworldly. At that point it usually ceased to be scary for me. (Note I say ‘usually’ – he is,after all, VERY good at what he does!)
    Somehow there was nothing more frightening than the idea that a human or reality could be behind all the things he’d come up with. Maybe it was the notion that these things really could happen… Much as I love all the vamps and werewolves and supernatural beings, I’ve never believed any of them are hiding under my bed. (*insert requisite handsome vampire joke here*)

    • I so agree. My favourite Stephan King book is The Stand – especially the the first half. The virus was so real – it could easily happen that a supervirus was manufactured and then spread like wildfire wiping out most of the population. And I so know what you mean. When the scary ass clown (I have a fear of clowns anyway) turned into a gian alien spider – I kind of lost interest I actaul never remember – I remember the part where the kids go into the tunnel/cave to track it – and then boom – that’s it.

      • I was reading the Stephen King book ‘On Writing’ and he said that ‘The Stand’ very nearly didn’t get finished. He had a hard time writing it.

      • Tarran – that is very interesting – I haven’t finished that book yet (On Writing that is) But loved the glimpsed into his upbringing. And damn good craft book too.

      • On Writing! I recommend this to any and all emerging writers. (Hi Tarran!) It’s such a supportive book on the craft, and yes, a glimpse into his life. Very personable. The story of his first published ‘hit’ Carrie, is startling and heart warming!

        Love your post, Tracey! Love UF!


      • Aah yes… I have never managed to read ‘The Stand’, far too believable. Scared the hell out of me! And ‘It’ was exactly the book I was thinking of… I was scared witless right up until… meh, not actually a freak dressed up as a clown. I still think clowns are spooky, though. (And it’s no secret how I feel about spiders, either – alien or otherwise.)

      • Hi Kim *waves*

        Yes it is a great book – Very funny as well!!!

        For such a intense writer – I still avoid drains and clowns, he suprised me.

        Abigail – I hate spiders as well *shudder*

  8. Hey Tracey, like you I read alot of Stephen King – and have always loved the paranormal aspect in stories. And now that you mention, I loved Scooby Doo but would have loved if the ghosts *were* real. I love the diversity of the whole speculative fiction genre. Vampires, werewolves, hunters…oh my! The Winchester boys are a favourite of mine too.
    E x

    • Stephan King rulz – and Winchesters rock – Scooby gang sux LOL. I usedto actually goran when Scooby Doo came on and go outside to play – so guess it was good on that front.

  9. Great post, Tracey. Reading “Dead Until Dead” was a turning point in my writing journey too. But I ended up taking the lighter Mary Janice Davidson path. Best wishes for book three.

  10. Give me a dark, gritty UF or paranormal any day, Tracey! Stack the odds against the H/H, the bigger the better, the greater reader satisfaction by the end. Book, TV series or movie.

    THE STAND is the only SK book I have on my shelf – fantastic read. I bought it after I’d seen the TV adaptation and loved it even more once I’d read it.

    Is there anyone else you like reading in the UF/paranormal romance arena?

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