• 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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A Tour and a Mission

Duncan Lay is on a mission to Save Our Bookstores as part of a tour to promote his new book Bridge of Swords, the first in the Empire of Bones trilogy. Duncan has been visiting bookshops to meet readers, sign copies and help boost bookstore profits. He is aiming to speak to as many people as possible about how important bookstores are.

Duncan Lay’s Tour blog

So, one week of the “official tour” is completed and now I kick off the interstate side of things, heading down to Adelaide to hit a whole bunch of new stores.

I say “official” as I went out to stores while I was working, notably my local Dymocks at Erina and Tuggerah, Unleash Books Kotara (formerly an A+R store), Galaxy and Kinokuniya in Sydney city and North Sydney Dymocks.

But the first big week of stores is over and it was generally very good. There were highlights at every store and that’s the way you have to look at it.

Every time you appear at a bookstore, stand out the front and try to talk to passersby, you are going to get knockbacks and sneers. That’s the price you must pay for speaking to people and, after all, acting like a kind of spruiker. It’s a price I’m always happy to pay but that doesn’t make it easier. For instance, Unleash Books Miranda was a case in point. Just 50m down the shopping centre was a pair of spruikers trying to flog people Oral B products. Naturally the glare from their white teeth was eye-piercing, while their patter was just as persistent. I quickly discovered people walking up from that direction were already in a bad frame of mind to respond to my line about reading. That swiftly proved a drawback, as half my traffic flow was coming past me having been assaulted with toothbrushes and tangled up in dental floss.

I also discovered that, for all its high socio-economic benchmarks, there was nobody wanting to try out the special deal on the original trilogy that Unleash was offering. It was interesting, because their I sold 40 books at their sister store at Kotara, in Newcastle, on a similar deal. Perhaps, if one believes Ten’s TV show The Shire, they need it all for surgical enhancements. More likely they are seen as well off because they don’t rashly hurl their money away by buying multiple books from authors, no matter how winning their talk is!

In the face of multiple knockbacks, not to mention negotiating the devilish car park at Miranda Fair, it would be easy to become dispirited. But instead I focused on the positives, of which there were many. For starters Bridge Of Swords was sitting at Number Five on the Unleash Top 10, one spot ahead of George RR Martin’s latest bestseller. And the people I did chat to in Miranda were wonderful – from Bel Every, who came in specially and has even created a Facebook page for me, to Ursula who couldn’t make it in that day but bought and left a copy of Bridge Of Swords for me to personalise, to all the others who bought books or just spoke to me.

Bookstore appearances are very much a “glass half-full” experience. It’s easy to get down but vital to focus on the good things.

Having said that, I struggled to find any negatives at Penrith Dymocks. Honestly, I could happily go back there every week. If you are an author on tour, put Penrith on your list. Forget about your inner-city trendy areas. Not only did I sell a record number of books that day (necessitating a frantic dash for resupply by the store owners) but the people were wonderful and genuinely interested to meet an author. I truly find the outer areas, such as Penrith, Campbelltown (when it had a bookshop), Rouse Hill and Tuggerah are always the most successful. Forget Leichhardt and Bondi – head west or north and reap the benefits!

Book Bazaar Umina was my Saturday shop, a small bookstore in a sleepy main street. But store owner Mandi is fantastic and has been a great supporter of mine from the start. Tellingly, almost half the books I sold were to readers who were coming in specially. That percentage is higher than anywhere else!

Then it was on to Dymocks Carlingford, a lovely shop run by a great bloke called Kosta but stuck in an unfortunate corner of a busy shopping centre. I was delighted to see Bridge Of Swords sitting at Number Six on his store’s Top 10 Bestsellers … beating all fantasy books and a huge swathe of general release fiction as well. We started slowly but moved closer to the escalators and finished strongly. I had some marvellous conversations with people here, several of them quickly “friending” me on Facebook or following me on Twitter afterwards, as well as a couple of budding authors. I hope to see them in print some day!

So the first week ended with more than 100 books hand-sold!

Now for the interstate portion, which will see things kick up a gear. I hit four stores in that first week and I was at SIX over the first weekend in Adelaide alone!

Read more about Adelaide on Duncan’s own blog!

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Highlights from the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2012

Yes, we are both Gemini; no we didn’t ring ahead to colour coordinate! Isobelle Carmody (left) and Kim Falconer (right) at the Byron Bay Writers Festival 2012

Last year, HarperVoyager had a strong presence at the Bryon Bay Writers’ Festival. I shared the stage with Fiona McIntosh and Traci Harding, and we had the time of our lives. We enthralled audiences with talk of magic spells, quantum physics, time travel, totems and how best to portray the sounds of screams from the dungeon. With our then Voyager publisher in the audience, Stephanie Smith, we were all on fire. The memory was so buoyant, I wasn’t sure how this year’s festival would measure up.

Being the only Voyager author, I wasn’t sure who I would connect with this time around, but that all changed in a flash. There was another speculative fiction author present and when I met her I was immediately reminded of the binding tie that makes fantasy authors kindred spirits no matter what ‘house’ they hale from. Sharing the stage on topics of fantasy, creativity, dreams and the spirit of the written word was the well known and loved fantasy queen, Isobelle Carmody. I had the pleasure of being ‘in conversation’ with her to a packed house of YA fans, a most enjoyable session. I can attest without doubt, the love of speculative fiction is alive and well! What a fabulous experience.

Other highlights included Wild Things, a tribute to Maurice Sendak. His books have expanded the way we think about children’s literature and what is possible to write, treating children as ‘people’ with strong emotions, drives and desires. On similar topics were panels addressing education, literacy and the future of books. A personal favourite of mine, ‘The Perfect Pitch’ was a lively panel where publishers, including HarperCollins publishing director Shona Martyn, listen to six hopeful writers try to sell their work. Very exciting!

At the extreme end of the reality scale was the ‘Righting the World’ discussion with Australian environmentalist Ian Lowe, author Niromi De Soyza, who ran away from her family home in Sri Lanka at 17 to join the Tamil Tigers and fight for her country’s freedom; Indonesian author Andrea Hirata; and American author Katherine Boo, who is known for her works on the disadvantaged and poverty stricken. They shared horror stories but every one of them ended in hope, a most moving and uplifting panel.

I was pleased to see again this year how every session at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival began by acknowledging an empty chair. This is part of the PEN program and represents a writer who is in prison for writing what someone in power, somewhere in the world, believed is ‘off Limits’. Acknowledgement of the Pen empty chair reminds us all the freedom of expression we otherwise take for granted. Sobering.

On the nuts and bolt of writing side of things, I gave a workshop on writing, selling and promoting genre fiction. You can see the PowerPoint presentation with live links here. All in all, though I missed my Voyager sisters, it was a wonderful Byron Bay Writer’s Festival 2012.

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

Meet Jennifer Fallon in person in Alice Springs

Jennifer Fallon will be doing a book signing at Book City in Yeperenye tonight from 6pm to 8pm.

Things you could ask her (based on last night’s online chat): Will there be a sequel to the Tide Lords quartet? What are you working on next? Who is your favourite character? Why didn’t xxxxx die? How do you kill an immortal? Why did you – oh no, I’d better stop before I spoil The Chaos Crystal for someone!

Kim Harrison blogging on tour

The very fabulous Kim Harrison, author of ‘The Good the Bad and the Undead’ among others, is touring and blogging.

Keep an eye on her at the EOS blog:

Kim on Tour