• 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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Game of Thrones Season 2 begins on the 11th April on Showcase!

Can’t wait for Game of Thrones Season 2 to start? Here are a few more tasty morsels to get you through:

and IGN announces the casting of Stannis & Melisandre *and Davos*: http://au.tv.ign.com/articles/118/1182548p1.html

Game of Thrones Season 2 will be airing from the 11th April on Showcase!

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The Reign of Beasts has Begun

    Reign of Beasts, the third book of the Creature Court trilogy, is about to land!  I’m crazy excited about this.  There’s something incredibly satisfying about lining those three books up next to each other.  Possibly I carry them around the house, arranging and re-arranging them in fake casual poses…

Other authors do that, right?

If Power and Majesty was the book that set up the city, the characters and the magic, and The Shattered City was the book that tore it all down and hurled the bits at the feet of my poor characters… well, Reign of Beasts is the book that puts it all back together, but it’s not an easy path for any of them.  Another city is going to pay the ultimate price… because yes, I don’t just go around destroying individuals in this series, I tear down whole cities.  That’s just how I roll.

As well as visiting some new geography, indulging in a little steampunk, and allowing certain characters to get hot and heavy with each other (in between battles) Reign of Beasts also slips into the past, revealing all manner of secrets through the eyes of one of the more mysterious members of the Creature Court: the one with many names, and far too many guises.

Back when I was regularly teaching creative writing, an exercise I would suggest early on was to make your ‘list of awesome,’ a stack of bullet points about your favourite themes, topics, hobbies, obsessions, historical periods, nouns… basically everything you think is awesome.  And then, of course, to write something that crams as many of those things in as possible.

I think that experienced writers often do this as a matter of course, without bothering with the list – we build up all our favourite obsessions, and spread them across our writing, trusting (as much as we CAN) that we can spend our themes freely and there will be new ones along to fill up the well… and if not, well, it’s not like it hurt Dick Francis or John Grisham to always be writing about the same thing, right?

I never made that list of awesome when writing the Creature Court books – they grew far more organically than that – but if I had, then the list would look something like this:

frocks
secret society of sexy shapechangers
Rome, Rome, Rome
gothic city with many rooftops
secret underworld
women who craft
roaring twenties
sentinels with paired weapons
blood magic
more frocks
Victorian music hall, pantomime & commedia dell’arte
steam trains
bisexual heroes and villains and… other
a sky that’s trying to eat you
flappers with swords

All ideas, themes or images that I love, or have been wanting to write about for years.  I’m particularly happy that, having seeded the importance of theatre in the lives of some of my charactes, I spend a lot more time in and around a certain theatre in the city of Aufleur, as well as getting outside the boundaries and visiting a new city, and introducing my readers to Ashiol’s home and mother, before we spiral into the final, devastating battle.

Also, words cannot express how delighted I am that the final cover of this trilogy features a flapper with a sword. It sums up the books themselves very clearly in my mind.

Reign of Beasts is in stores this week and if you’re in Tasmania she’s launching at The Hobart Bookshop on Thursday 2nd Feb!

Tansy’s Writing Blog – http://tansyrr.com
Crunchy SF Feminist Podcast – http://www.galacticsuburbia.com
Pendlerook Designs, Tasmanian Hand-painted Dolls – www.pendlerook.com

Watch Traci Harding’s trailer for her new book The Light-Field!

Check out the trailer on Traci’s website http://traciharding.com.  Even more impressive is that she made it herself! Talk about multi-talented! Read all about The Light-Field here. In stores in February.

Behind the Mask(elyne)

So you’re into sci fi? But what about sci fact? Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction…

Each month our very own Voyager Science Queen* will bring you interesting, quirky and downright bizarre tasty morsels from the world of science. And its all completely, totally, 100% true!

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This is a story about a family that is too interesting NOT to share: the Maskelyne clan. It is claimed this is a branch of the family descended from Dr Nevil Maskelyne, the fifth English Astronomer Royal. I can’t find any proof, except that the grandfather, John Nevil Maskelyne, father, Nevil, and son, Jasper, were all brilliant and clever men and brains obviously ran in the family … and they all spelt Neville as ‘Nevil’, which would suggest it was a family name.

The first of this clan was John Nevil Maskelyne. He was the kind of gentleman whose brain was set on ‘high’ and didn’t have an off switch. I’ve picked him as our first mad scientist for the year, because he also contributed a metaphor to the English language, and wrote a very famous book. John was born in 1839, and started his working life as a watchmaker (what is it about watches that so fascinates inventors?) but he was also fascinated by stage magicians and spiritualists.

His break into show business came about in a most peculiar way. He was watching a pair of shysters, the Davenport Brothers, use a ‘spirit cabinet’ and he clicked onto how they engineered their sham. He publically announced he would duplicate the cabinet using no magical devices.So John Maskelyne and his friend, Mr George Cooke, successfully built their own version of the cabinet, exposing the Davenport brothers as the frauds they were.

From that point on, he became an inventor of stage illusions, put together an act of his own with Cooke as his partner, and they became a famous stage act. However, he also had solo successes; he also went on to write several successful books, including the bestselling Sharps and Flats: A Complete Revelation of the Secrets of Cheating at Games of Chance and Skill. He inventedthe public toilet door lock, which opened with the insertion of a coin, and so gave rise to the euphemism of ‘spending a penny’ when explaining your trip to the toilet. He also continued to investigate and expose frauds claiming supernatural powers. He was an active member of The Magic Circle and the first editor of their society magazine, The Magic Circular.

I don’t know how he found the time, but he managed to marry and raise a family. One of his sons was also a famous stage magician, inventor and writer, Nevil Maskelyne, born 1863. He was a bit of a scamp and the very first ‘hacker’. When Marconi was giving a public demonstration of his wireless telegraph, using Morse code, Nevil – who was also interested in the wireless – used his skills to disrupt the demonstration. Before the actual message was due to arrive the telegraph began to issue the word ‘rats’ over and over, and then proceeded with a rude limerick at Marconi’s expense, “There was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily.” This was followed by more rude suggestions and some quotes from Shakespeare. As you might have guessed, Marconi was unimpressed with these doings, but Nevil Maskelyne felt that Marconi had taken an unfair advantage in taking out patents. However, his hacking did little other than embarrass Marconi, who went on to dominate the field.

 His son, Jasper Maskelyne, was born in 1902. He was a stage magician, like his father and grandfather. However, the inventor mad-skills turned up in his genes too strongly to ignore. During WWII, he was supposedly using his skills as a master of illusion to create camouflage and techniques for subterfuge for the Allied Forces. After convincing officials of his skills, he was placed in the Royal Engineers Camouflage Corps and sent to Egypt.Jasper and his ‘Magic Gang’ were supposed to be able to do everything from making jeeps look like tanks up to and including hiding entire cities and the Suez Canal from the German Bombers.

Now, to me that sounds like something from an alternative history fiction book, but Jasper wasn’t the only person to plan and construct these diversions. Hollywood special effect men were also part of this sort of subterfuge for the war effort. However, some historians deny that such escapades ever took place. I prefer to think they did, and that magic was used to save lives.

Poor Jasper couldn’t get his career as a stage magician up and running after the war. The Maskelyne line of magicians died with him in Kenya in 1973, as I can’t find any evidence that he ever married or had children. But all three of the Maskelyne magicians made history, one way or the other.

Now, you have to admit, that was a family with style!

This Science Post is dedicated to Phillip Berrie, who provided me with an article on Nevil and Marconi and introduced me to this amazing family. Why don’t they teach this stuff in school?

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*The Voyager Science Queen is also known as Lynne Lumsden Green- find out who she is in About Our Contributors!

The David Gemmell RAVENHEART Award Poll is open!

The David Gemmell RAVENHEART Award Poll is open!  Head here  and be sure to vote for one of the beautiful HarperCollins Australia covers by Gregory Bridges, Aaron Briggs & Frank Victoria:

From top left, World's End by Gregory Bridges, Journey by Night by Aaron Briggs, Road to the Soul by Aaron Briggs, Samiha's Song by Frank Victoria & Oracle's Fire by Frank Victoria

The David Gemmell MORNINGSTAR Award Poll is open!

The David Gemmell MORNINGSTAR Award Poll is open!  Head here  and be sure to vote for Prince of Thorns ( http://tiny.cc/n60r0 ) as best debut!

FREE Traci Harding e-books

To celebrate the release of Traci Harding’s 15th book The Light-Field we’re individually publishing the 6 short stories from Ghostwriting as FREE special edition e-books, one book a week from the 9th January until the 1st of March 2012! Free only until the 1st March. Head to Traci’s site  for more info.