• 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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Lynne Green: Starstruck at the Aurealis Awards

Fantastic Queensland should be very proud. The running of the Aurealis Awards showed how an awards ceremony can be both sophisticated and fun. The awards were everything you expect from such occasions: beautiful women in fabulous frocks (too many gorgeous women to name names), dashingly handsome men (Sean Williams suits up nicely), and civilised drinks at a posh venue.

Then again, it had all the unique twists you would expect from a community event of SF writers. Some of the attendees were wearing eye-catching items of clothing; a black kilt – and I have to give an honourable mention the pair of very nice legs so revealed; enviable purple, velvet cloaks that glowed like gems, pink shoelaces for breast cancer awareness; and Simon Higgins was sporting a rather swish coat. There were Star Trek jokes flying all over the place, and that pun is very much intended. Whenever someone was announced as a winner, the audience was just as thrilled as the award recipient, which is a most delightful experience.
However, you can probably get all this information from other sources. So I will share my personal impressions of the function.

My biggest thrill was meeting with people who had just been virtual acquaintances; hello Trudi, Angela and Kathleen! Trudi had her book launch before the ceremony, and was also one of the presenters on the night. Because I know that Trudi is a mad knitter, I was expecting someone more mumsy and not such a glorious glamour puss. I was able to recognise Angela because of her hair and glasses; she is attending Clarion at time of writing and looked wonderful for a woman under the stress of continuous creativity. Kathleen recognised me from my Facebook photo. I have been requested to put up a right-side-up photo on Facebook to make recognition easier in the future.

As well, I was able to meet up with Natalie, one of my fellow judges. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch up with the other two judges attending the ceremony. That was disappointing, as we had worked well as a team and I was hoping to chat with such perceptive, cooperative and charming people.

To be truthful, I was star struck on the night. At one point I was standing next to Jack Dann, and I couldn’t make my mouth open to say ‘hi’. I felt the same when I saw Sean Williams, even though I give him cheek on Facebook – I’ve been known to make fun of his love of baked goods – I felt too shy to go up and chat. I was stunned when I spoke with Trudi, even though Trudi is as nice and approachable a person as you could ever meet.

Everyone talks about a ‘Golden Age’ or era for Science Fiction or Fantasy or Horror. For me, Australia is going through a ‘Golden Age’, and I am so lucky to meet with SF Australian authors, who are among the best writers in the world. Proof was provided last night, with stellar names accepting or presenting awards. I was walking with the stars.

So, my highlights of the night: Alison and Simon as presenters, because they were relaxed and had fun; watching the winners struggle up and down the stairs, because they weren’t expecting to win and so sat up the back; the sudden intake of breath from the couple behind me as the husband was announced as a winner; mixing with ‘the SF community’, though they are more like a family.

So, if you get a chance to attend the awards in the future, do go. I relished the opportunity to see the hardworking writers and illustrators receive their well-deserved recognition. All the nominees were of the utter, soaring, pinnacle of Australian talent, and they all deserved to win. I still feel like I’m gleaming with stardust.

(And thank you to my husband, who is painfully shy and loathes crowds, for attending with me. (((Hugs))) sweetheart.)

Lynne Green writes under her own name, as the Voyager Science Queen, and under the pen name of Lynne Lumsden Green for everything else. Though she already has a B. Sc. in zoology, she is currently studying Creative Writing at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her long term goal is to become a respected writer and academic in the fields of Fantasy, Popular Science Fact, and Science Fiction. Her favourite authors are Diana Wynne Jones, Isaac Asimov, Neil Gaiman, and all of the Voyager authors, with Terry Pratchett as her personal hero. Recently, Lynne has had some quiet success with her short stories, and hopes this will lead to her ultimate domination the world.

So, who won an Aurealis on 24 Jan?

Learn more about the Aurealis Awards

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The Aust Spec Fic Blog Carnival for January 2009!

In a homage to rhyming, bad poetry and a certain sing-a-long blog
The Spec Fic Blog Carnival has been forced into verse and may leave you agog
With horror, but believe me, it hurt me more than anyone to rhyme.
Anyway, here’s the list of new things in publishing – have a good time!

*quality of starting verse may prepare you for what is to come.

Let’s start with Satima on the Specusphere, latest edition now out!
Followed by the Overlord on OneDollarOrbit – it’s a $1 Shout!
Then comes Simon Haynes interviewing Jim Hines on the Stepsister Scheme
And Simon also achieved his Hal Spacejock e-book dream.

Jennifer Fallon asked: Is epic fantasy on the wane?
Glenda Larke and Neil Gaiman wondered if a judge was insane …. (I think so)
Josh Palmatier was interviewed by Simon Haynes on The Vacant Throne
And Josh was admired by Glenda Larke and many others (they aren’t alone).

The AHWA looked back at 2008 and chose the best dark stories
While ROR (Writers on the Rise) reflected on their shared glories
And look out for Christmas Down Under – submit your story to Festive Fear
Plus Juliet Marillier discusses editing, and sheds blood, sweat and more than one tear.

Import and be damned, said the AWM of parallel importation
On the same topic, Michael Gerard Bauer talked of what is lost in translation.
Brendan Podger thinks fantasy books are getting too big for their boots
And HarperCollins picked up a new division, meaning ABC Books uproots …

Shane Jiraiya Cummings offered fiction for free on his website
Keri Arthur talked about her next release, Deadly Desire … that’s right …
And the search for 10 culture critics on literary cultures now starts,
While the David Gemmell Legend Award captures hearts.

The Aus Writers’ Guild National Screenwriters Conference takes place in Feb
Ticonderoga Online went up in a new format on the web.

That was exhausting, so, in related news, let’s get to a topic that can be really exhausting, because it’s hard work: writing.

Glenda Larke talked about how she writes her books – from the first draft to the last,
Justine Larbalestier gave away a ton of know-how (you won’t get through this fast):
characterisation, getting published, getting unstuck, generating ideas, choosing POVs, NOT writing on what you know!
The Sirens put out their first newsletter of the year
And the AHWA roll out a flash short story comp – get your writing into gear!

Simon Haynes tries to distil his writing into two pages.
Cat Sparks finds the gloom on the web sent her writing through several stages.
Tansy Rayner Roberts responded to Lilith Saintcrow on angry chicks in leather,
And also enjoyed Russell T Davies talking about our generation typing at each other.

Jennifer Fallon helped lazy writers unite,
And Kim Falconer talked of the hero’s fight

Just for fun … and let’s call this freeform because if I see another rhyme … I might become the Hulk.

Why you don’t want a LOLcat as your editor
The wonderful Jason Fischer puts out a new (and free!) story.
Would you answer this ad? Cat Sparks contemplates time travel
AussieCon 4 offers t-shirts – bring on Melbourne September 2010!

And finally …
Karen Miller discusses the new, young Dr Who
That’s Sir Terry to you: Sir Terry Pratchett is awarded a well-deserved knighthood!
We hear more from the Clarion South brigade – this time on their tutors.
Cory Doctorow tells us to watch out for surveillance on New Year’s Day (yikes)
Phil Berrie talks about the pros and cons of Authonomy
And Australian Speculative Fiction Blog Carnival Host is not made poet laureate.

Late breaking news: The Great Gender Debate 09

Alisa Krasnostein on the 25% female authorship
Tansy Rayner Roberts on why it matters
An editor’s genuine opinion – Russell B Farr of Ticonderoga
Girlie Jones looking deeper at gender
Ben Peek writes a letter
Some useful answers to questions about gender inequality

Articles on the subject:
Girls vs Boys as readers by Sherwood Smith
Girlish, moody fiction? No thanks
A Bout of Aboutness: Urban Fantasy and Sword-and-Planet

Go to the home of the Aust Spec Fic Blog Carnival – also known as A Boy Goes On a Journey, a fantastic resource for all Aust Spec Fic writers, run by Nyssa Pascoe.

Clarion South: Working with the big bad bold … tutors

This post continues our series by the graduates and future students of the Clarion South Writers Workshop. There will be more from them later this year and the next Clarion South workshop is on right now!

The question: What was it like working with Jack Dann and the other tutors, all of whom are well known and successful writers?

Lee Battersby: I think if you have the opportunity to spend a week in close proximity to guys like Jack and Gardner, and you’re serious about following a writing career, it’s something to which you need to give serious consideration. These guys have seen it all and done it all, and I know that the Clarion South students I tutored came away from their time with Gardner with a massive fillip to their confidence and know how.

Angela Slatter (there right now!): At this stage, I don’t know! I’m doing Clarion in 2009, so it’s all ahead of me. I’ve worked with Jack on the Dreaming Again anthology – that was easy!

Steve Turner (hanging out with Angela at the current CS!): I am really looking forward to it – I had the first Dreaming Down Under book edited by Jack and I have always loved it, and have always enjoyed his short stories. I was already a fan of Sean Williams and have a half dozen of his books so was very excited about that. I am also a Marianne de Pierres fan and am proud of the fact that she is also from Brisbane. It’s also amazing to look at the credits of Margo Lanagan and Kelly Link and I have since read their award winning short story collections and it only makes me feel so privileged to work with World Fantasy, Ditmar, Aurealis and Nebula award winners of this calibre.
Amanda le Bas de Plumetot: I’ve actually worked with Jack in a workshop run by the Victorian Writers’ Centre a couple of years ago. I really enjoyed it. He doesn’t pull his punches and I like that in a workshopping situation.

Jess Irwin: It’s really great to get advice and insight from such prominent writers and editors – I mean, unless I kidnap her I’ll never have another week with Kelly Link devoted to the craft and industry of writing. (Don’t kidnap people, folks!) It’s okay to get nervous, but remember: if it bleeds we can kill it… um… I mean, they’re all human beings, they love speculative fiction, and they’re here to help you. They’re your peers and colleagues. You don’t need to be nervous. But playing a few rounds of Mafia is a pretty good cure, too

Helen Venn: Stimulating and a little intimidating until it sank in that they were there to help.

Christopher Green: Jack Dann, as well as the tutors of Clarion South ’07 (Rob Hood, Lee Battersby, Kelly Link (with guest appearance by Gavin J. Grant), Gardner Dozois, Margo Lanagan, and Simon Brown) are all incredible to work with. One of the main things that struck me about them was their passion. They are tireless, seeming to have limitless energy when it comes to sharing their knowledge, offering advice, etc. I was honoured.

Paul Haines: Each tutor brought something new to the table, in the way they approached stories, or how they responded to the group. Jack Dann arrived in week 5, a tough time for most of us as everything was starting to fray and exhaustion had crept in. He was invigorating for the entire class, with his approach, his ideas, and most of all his energy. David Hartwell was also interesting, in particular for letting us in on his vast experience as an editor in the business, more so than his critiquing of the work.

Deborah Kalin: I didn’t work with Jack Dann or Gardner Dozois – my tutors were Sean Williams, Michael Swanwick, Ellen Datlow, Margo Lanagan, Ian Irvine, and Scott Westerfeld. Every single one of them was inspiring, encouraging, daunting, and incisve — in short, unforgettable!

Brenn McDibble: I studied and read a few works of each tutor before I went to Clarion so it was an interesting exercise to match their advice and creative processes to their work. Maybe I figured that if I knew what made those six people tick I might figure out my own tick. It was a shock to me if one of them actually asked me to explain myself and my response was probably another exercise in creativity.

Jason Fischer: Amazing. There’s nothing quite like this course. To be given the chance to work with professionals you’ve admired for some time, with the view to becoming a professional writer yourself. Others have spoken of the “paying it forward” aspect of the SF community, and it’s alive and well in courses like Clarion South.

Check out the earlier posts about Clarion South

For a full list of the Clarion South tutors, click here

Find out more about Clarion South (intake is closed for the next Australian session, which is taking place now, in Brisbane, from Jan 4 to Feb 14)

Everything I need to know, I learned at Clarion South by Laura E. Goodin

by Laura E. Goodin, Clarion South 2007

There’s always someone who agrees with you.

There’s always someone who disagrees with you.

There’s always someone who writes better than you do.

You can always write better than you do now.

Learning hurts, but not as much as not learning.

Late nights are another dimension.

A Bollywood movie makes food taste better.

You can say a lot in two minutes.

A small room can contain universes.

Sometimes you need to shed some blood for the cause.

When you’re exhausted and discouraged, sing to strangers. Loudly.

What’s Clarion South?

Read more from Clarion South graduates, and future students

And with that fab advice, it’s off into 2009 for all of us. I am sure the last line of Laura’s advice will be employed widely throughout Australia tonight, although not necessarily due to those reasons!

Have a great New Year’s Eve, whether you stay in, go out, party, watch tv, admire the fireworks, have dinner, read a great book or wake up the next morning wondering if you’ve been transported and dehydrated by aliens and whether those are your* clothes strewn all over the floor.

*And if they aren’t, whose are they?

Clarion South: Quality over quantity – Part Two

This week’s question was: How many short stories would you recommend being published prior to applying for Clarion?

Christopher Green: I don’t think it matters how many stories you’ve published prior to Clarion. I think your ability, drive, and passion for what the art (as pretentious as it sounds) matter far more than how many stories you’ve sold at the time of your application.

Paul Haines: I don’t think you need any published. You need to have written short stories, and the more the better, unless you’re naturally brilliant, and you of course need to submit work to get into the course. It helps if you understand short stories, what they do, how they work, how to write them.

Brenn McDibble: A few successes would help. I think the main thing is to have had a reasonable amount of feedback from peers etc prior to Clarion and to have your writing reach a high quality and a point where you have no idea how to improve it. The principle behind Clarion, as I understood it, was to take the good writers and give them that last final push over the finish line to where all the publishable writers are battling it out for those few prizes.

Margo Lanagan: Nah, you don’t have to have had any published – I hadn’t. Oh, okay, a novel here and there. But it’s more about how Clarion aligns with what you want for yourself, than how it aligns with what you’ve achieved so far. You just need to have banged your head against a brick wall or two, writing-wise. You need to have seen an illusion or two crumble, probably. If you come in cocky, you have to crumble in public. You don’t want that.

Deborah Kalin: I had a grand total of no published stories. Others I know go to Clarion with a slew of publishing credits under their belts. Like so much of writing, it’s very individual, and basically a case of whatever path you take gets you where you’re going. Clarion is not for those just starting out and, by the same token, you can be at a place in your writing where Clarion can’t teach you anything you don’t already know.

Jason Fischer: It doesn’t matter. If you’ve got talent and the desire to improve yourself, apply. From what I understand it goes against the quality of the sample writing you include in your submission. You gotta be in it to win it.

Tune in for more next week from the Clarion South crew.

Check out the earlier posts about Clarion South

Find out more about Clarion South (intake is closed for the next Australian session, which will take place in Brisbane from Jan 4 to Feb 14)

Clarion South Writers Workshop: Quantity versus quality – Part One

There’s much more to come from our Clarion South bloggers. This week’s question was: How many short stories would you recommend being published prior to applying for Clarion? First part today, second part tomorrow.

Ben Julien: Actually, this is a question best answered by the individual. The more publications you have obviously the more practice behind you, and practice is the key. Publications are by no means a requirement in any case, just good writing.
I haven’t written short stories per se, at all – I do have three young adult novels under my belt though which for me roughly equates to three years of practice, and most of my remaining hair. My novels switch from one character to the next and are essentially interwoven short stories in any case.
My advice to any writer, myself included, is to write real characters. Not over-the-top heroes or evil masterminds, but real personalities pushed into strange circumstances. Characters we can all relate to. Throw in your own voice (whatever words come from you easily and naturally) and a desire to connect to the reader and to entertain, and I think you’ll find a readership anywhere.

Lee Battersby: It makes absolutely no difference. Clarion is about refining and sharpening the skills you already have, as well as providing you with the strategies and disciplines necessary to consider a career as a professional writer. Only two questions matter: Could I be better? and Will I benefit from this experience? Clarion South 2007 had one student with several novels under her belt and at least one who had never sold a story before, and I’d wager anything you like that they each drank the experience as dry as they possibly could. All that matters is that you want to work hard, improve your craft, and apply the lessons.

Jess Irwin: It’s not about the number of publications – we had people with several publications and people with none at all. You’re all equal in the crit room. The quality of the writing, and a desire and willingness to take it to the next level, is more important. Publications can be an indicator of good writing, though obviously some publications are more prestigious than others.

Angela Slatter: I have about 20 stories published so far, and about 10 reviews and a few articles. I don’t know if that’s ideal – it’s just what I have!

Steve Turner: I have not had one published – I was accepted on the strength of a plot synopsis and first chapter of my out-of-control epic fantasy novel, so please don’t let a lack of short story credibility dissuade any would-be Clarionites, just submit some damn good writing (keep in mind that the Clarion workshops are about short stories though, so don’t apply if you don’t like to write them). I have been experimenting with short stories for most of this year, combining both science fiction and fantasy in one, and one of my aims is to produce some of my best writing in short story format from my Clarion South experience.

Helen Venn: I think it’s more a question of having learned your craft to a reasonable level than having stories published.

Amanda le Bas De Plumetot: Crikey, I don’t know. I’ve never counted how many I’ve had published. Does it really matter? Maybe there are some in the group who haven’t been published at all, but have that edge that makes them worthwhile. Maybe they’ve got some real gold on their hard drives, but never had the confidence to submit them anywhere.

Check out the earlier posts about Clarion South
Find out more about Clarion South (intake is closed for the next Australian session, which will take place in Brisbane from Jan 4 to Feb 14)

Clarion South: Getting Creative AKA the physics of unicorn horns … Part 2

We asked: Were there any exercises to stimulate the creativity while at the Clarion South workshop? As with yesterday’s posts, there’s some hilarious stuff here. Fridge inspections, yes, I can understand that, practical physics of unicorns, NO!

Lee Battersby: I would have loved to have done some formal exercises, but with the massive workload the students faced, there really wasn’t time. That said, we did play around in informal settings (I have a particularly vivid memory of discussing the practical physics of unicorn horns with a couple of the lads, complete with on-all-fours demonstrations around the floor….).

Steve Turner: I’m yet to find out at Clarion South – personally, I actually got into short stories just this year as a break from writing the heavier sections of my novel. The short stories were used to stimulate the creative juices but I don’t have any exercises except that I come up an interesting story, think it through to its logical conclusion, then tell myself that will be predictable garbage, and go back over the more important bits to see how I can reverse, twist or shock by changing the predictable to something even I didn’t expect.

Jess Irwin: I brought things along, but didn’t end up using them. Just being among 16 like-minded individuals was enough. Talking out your plot problems with fellow Clarionites at 2am is a great cure for writers’ block :). There was also the late-night fridge inspection. Whatever kicks the plot forward.

Christopher Green: Drink a lot of ice tea, nap from 2pm to 6pm, stay up until 3 am, get up and shower prior to 9 (And breakfast. Must have breakfast, preferably French Toast and pineapple juice. To be honest, though, the most creatively stimulating part of Clarion was the ability to wander to another floor, open the door (knocking is for people who write romance novels) and demand a story intervention.

Paul Haines: Mr Dann suggested collaborations, and Claire McKenna and I jumped on it, successfully too. The resulting dark sf story appeared in Agog! Smashing Stories. Both Jack Dann and Lucy Sussex praised the story, so we were chuffed.

Helen Venn: Not that I recall but that could just be exhaustion.

Poor Helen! Perhaps it was the Christopher Greens and Jess Irwins of the group walking around at 3am and barging through the door that meant less sleep all around! Clearly, coffee as well as ice tea should be a prerequisite. The overly-awake Clarionites will be back with MORE – including their thoughts on what you need to do before you get to Clarion, why they decided to go to Clarion and who their fave authors are …In the mean time, click on any of the authors’ names to go to their blogs or websites.