• 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!

     

     

A Short History of Animals in Literature

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. –Mahatma Gandhi

Cave HorseThe first stories ever told were about animals and the places they went when they died. The experience of the numinous is often described through the power of animals and the stories we tell about them.

One of the attractions of speculative fiction is its ability to address speciesism—the assignment of worth and rights based on species alone. Through the animal characters in Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption series, I am free to investigate human verses non-human thought and examine consciousness from a different (less subjective) perspective. I’m not the only one!

From Achilles’ horse to Black Beauty, from Aesop’s Mr. Fox to Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, animals provide guidance, social commentary, moral authority and sympathy in fiction, often giving voice to the silenced and oppressed. In the late 17th – 18th centuries, moral allegories turned to social satire and animal no longer represented the gods but portrayed human foibles and political corruption.

By the 19th century spreading industrialization exploited both humans and animals and concern for animal welfare became a major social issue. Tales of animal abuse arose, in which animals were seen as the victims of human greed, ignorance, and industrialization.

In the twentieth century many writers turned to old animal stories and genres to produce new works dealing with themes of paranoia, alienation, and futility. And then we see, full circle, animals again as messengers of the divine.

Some Native American traditions teach that each soul can find its personal pathway through the medicine of animals. Medicine is anything that supports our connection to the life, mind, body, spirit, personal power, awareness and consciousness. We can learn to call on the medicine of an animal when in need of specific talents and attributes. Focusing our thoughts on an animal (as ancients did when in a state of reverence and awe) brings us into alignment with what that animal represents.

Black BeautyBut what about the animals themselves? We talk much about the power of animals to guide and heal us, to entertain us in stories and keep us company, guard or protect, but what are we doing for them? Millions of creatures without a voice can use our support. It begins with one small step that we all can take. Notes from my Animals as Healers here.

In the Quantum Enchantment series, Drayco the temple cat and Quillian the Were-fey is up there with my favourite animal characters alongside Hazel in Watership Down, Buck in The Call of the Wild, Anne McCaffrey’s  Ruth and of course Anna Sewell’s Beauty.

What are your favourite animals in literature? I’d love to hear about them!

Kim Falconer’s latest book, Journey by Night is out September 1! It is the third in the Quantum Encryption Series. As well as her author website, she runs an astrology and law of attraction forum, trains with a sword and is completing a Masters degree. Her novel writing is done early every morning. Currently she’s working on a whole new series.Quantum Enchantment Series

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15 Responses

  1. When I was a kid I read nothing but animal stories, and those were the first things I wrote, too. Writing a non-human point of view is so much fun, amirite?

    • Absolutely. These are the kinds of stories I particularly love to write (obviously) because of the freedom they offer, the new experiences – quadrupeds, fang and claw, heightened senses, intuition–and also because it is so lovely to immerse in the heart of nature. You would have felt that, writing your griffins? I mean, what a raw and beautiful combination of nature and intelligence there!

      • You’ve read my griffin stuff, then? The lady has excellent taste! 😛

        Yeah, writing the griffins was like that. I did my damndest not to make them too humanlike, which can be hard to avoid when you make a creature intelligent. Actually, I had a go at writing a book with a griffin protagonist – it was fun to write, but the protagonist just wasn’t sympathetic enough, so I quickly shifted the focus to the human supporting characters.

        Do you find that? Animal characters can be refreshing, but making them the main POV without also making them human is very hard. It defeated me, anyway.

      • Your griffin books are awesome!

        It it tricky writing the ‘creature’ as main character and still keeping the ‘creature’ qualities, though Jack London had no problems doing so!

        I love the challenge though I can’t say I’ve given them really big roles to date. The temple cats feature strongly, esp in the first series, yet it is more the relationship between the witches and their familiars that take front stage. At one point Rosette changes places (bodies) with her panther-like familiar and that was very interesting to write!

        But I agree with you, a raw and beautiful combination of nature, instinct and intelligence. Writing the Were-fey was extraordinary. Quill is a smart cookie but he does see the world from a very different angle.

      • Aw shucks. 🙂

        The trouble is that we sympathise most easily with other human beings, so giving any character sympathetic qualities automatically makes them more humanlike. It reminds me of a friend whining about Avatar (which he hadn’t even seen, by the way), saying how dumb it was that the aliens are basically just humans with tails. I told him that they did it that way because, if they looked like pond slime or giant octopi or whatever, it’d be too hard for the audience to relate to them and see them as a people. Not that the filmmakers couldn’t have given it a shot anyway, but I’m willing to bet that was the reason.

      • PS: Your stuff is pretty gosh-damn impressive too, by the way. 🙂

      • Thank you 🙂

        There is a thing in science fiction called the ‘singularity point’. It is the point we extend the ‘now’ so far forward the future is something we can no longer relate to or understand. They say, if you make your SF too accurate, if it goes beyond the singularity point, it will be very hard to sell. Nobody wants to read it because it’s like a foreign language.

        I think that’s what happens with the pond algae aliens and and such. If their motives and intentions and ways of relating are too different, how can we identify with them? I think James Cameron played with this in The Abyss. The ‘water alien’ was terrifying and unknowable until it started this kind of curious dance where it took familiar shapes. Did you see it? It would have come out when you were about 2! 🙂

      • Very good points Kim & KJ! I wonder if the same principal of the singularity point could be applied to fantasy; where a race of creatures or concept becomes too distant from human experience as to be unrelatable? PS Love the Abyss! Great movie 😀

      • Well put!
        I’ve heard of The Abyss, but haven’t seen it. I should, though – I love movies.

      • I wonder if the same principal of the singularity point could be applied to fantasy; where a race of creatures or concept becomes too distant from human experience as to be unrelatable?

        Absolutely. I think that’s the point. If things are too different we just scratch our heads and pick up another book! The reader has to fall into the story and that only happens if there is something there to catch them, something they can relate to with their whole heart.

        🙂

  2. From my childhood, of course the Narnia series and Charlotte’s Web. From my kids’ growing up–Misty of Chincoteague and Stella Luna!

    • I loved Charlotte! What a great story that is! I also love the ‘pet peeve’ in Taneth Lee’s Unicorn series 🙂 What a character!

    • Don’t forget William Horwood’s Duncton Chronicles! So amazingly good, and it’s Voyager, too! That’s the seal of quality, right guys? And, believe it or not, despite all the characters being animals, it’s not a kid’s series. It’s violent and sexual, and complex. I love it!

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