• 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!

     

     

  • Advertisements

What happens when Steven Spelberg and Peter Jackson get together.

A Tintin movie!  Now we have some half decent trailers out ( the movie opens in Australia & NZ in December ) my previously skeptical approach has turned into quiet excitment. I was always a big fan of the comics & the animated series from the 90s and not sure Herge’s styalised characters would translate well into 3D, especially hyper-real computer generated 3D! I could be proven wrong and find the big-screen turns the characters into residents of the uncanny valley, but from the trailers I think they’ve found a happy medium between the real and the caricatured. We have the Art of TinTin out now and its packed with beautiful artwork- I’ve always been a sucker for movie art books!

There’s an article I read recently about the TinTin movie which espoused the idea that comic book stories and even fantasy/sci-fi genre stories would be better suited to this style of hyper-real animation. I must admit I baulked at that. While animation is certainly fun, I feel that the current techniques of computer assisted wizardry that allow live action fantasy & sci-fi are amazing and I think we’ll always be slightly more moved/excited/scared by something that involves real people. What do you think? Would you be happy if your favourite fantasy or sci-fi book was turned into an animated film rather than live action?

Advertisements

Writing Villains that Rock

Once upon a time, villains were bad to the core. They did bad things for evil gain and that was all there was to it—soulless, unaccountable, wicked.

 This is no longer the case.

A contemporary villain, like the shape-shifting Daos (pictured left) from Quantum Encryption, is fully fleshed out and has all the ingredients that makes a good hero—they are on a journey, they have strong motivations, much is at stake, much is risked, the choices are hard, they believe in their cause and they are believable to the reader. In this way, the villain is just like the hero/heroine only they have contrary goals/moral/cultural conditioning. The writer these differences and uses them to challenge, test and block our hero. This only rings true if the villain is authentically formed and fully actualized. These villains come in many forms.

The Shadow Villain. Like Gollum in LOTR, this character represents the ‘dark side’ of the hero/heroine. He is a nemesis but a personal one. The readers ‘gets’ where he’s coming from—boating accident leads to finding a ring that haunt him for the rest of his life. This kind of villain can be a key player in the story, elucidating the history, world building and nature of an ‘evil’ object (the power of the one ring). In the end, this shadow villain may guide the hero through the darkness and like Gollum, succeed in the quest, even unintentionally, where the hero could not. The chance for redemption is always present. We are saddened by their demise.


The Betrayal Villain
. Like Cyper in the Matrix or Darth Vader in Star Wars, this type of villain was once on our hero/heroine’s side. As betrayer he creates the opportunity to do bad things AND tell the ‘other side’ of the story. The reader gets to hate this one particularly because it feels like they had a choice and made the wrong one—to go against our hero. The chance for redemption is present up until the end. If they make the ‘wrong’ choice, we cheer their demise. Standing ovation.

Super villain. Like Sauron in LOTR, the Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars, or the Machine Mind in the Matrix, the super villain is all powerful. There is an impersonal quality to them, like a force of nature. We do not ‘know’ them unless they have a representative with a growth arc or history (Darth Vader, Agent Smith). Only through these individuals is the super villain accessible in a personal way. As a force of nature, the super villain is the obstacle for the hero/heroine and one that is usually woven into the world building.

The Anti-Hero. Like Battlestar Galactica’s Number Six and Patrick Süskind’s Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from Perfume, these are serious ‘villains’ but the story is told from their POV. Sometimes they do ‘bad’ things (terrible things) but only to ‘bad’ ( like Dexter). In this case we love that justice is served. They may also be bad, or mad, and do terrible things for no good reason at all, but we are riveted to their story because it’s so interesting. The anti-hero is a way to tell the villains side of the tale while suspending judgment. The concept of the anti-hero is discussed more on Writing Excuses, a great resource. Also see my notes from a recent hero/villain workshop.

Who is a favourite villain on your bookshelf right now? In film? I’d love to hear about them. Comments welcome.

Kim is the author of the Quantum  Enchantment and the Quantum Encryption series. Her new book ‘Journey by Night‘ is out September 1, 2011. Read more about her books at KimFalconer.com

Nerd Rage!

A friend of mine is a big Superman fan and was outraged when pictures surfaced of the new Superman costume in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Man of Steel. The costume doesn’t have the iconic red underwear on the outside!  He’s been surprisingly civil in his outbursts so far, but I just know that underneath it all simmers a boiling pot of black rage. I, for example, I find it INCONCEIVABLE that any self respecting person would not have read The Hobbit, seen Star Wars or played with LEGO as a child. And yet such people exist, in defiance of my entirely reasonable expectations.

I’ve  witnessed similar traits at a convention I went to recently where a model of Saruman’s tower from Lord of the Rings was labelled “Isengard”.  A young teenager then came up and began berating the maker of the model because the tower is called Orthanc, Isengard is the name of the compound it sits in. HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY NOT KNOW THAT?!?

The bane of any any fan’s life is when someone else refuses to understand the object of their fandom. When they stare back at you blindly, blinking like an uncomprehending farm animal.  Previously restricted to loungerooms, cinema foyers, bookstores and conventions, NerdRage can now be witnessed in almost any online setting.

This type of NerdRage stems from, in part at least, the incredible dissemination of knowledge and culture that the Internet has enabled. It also comes from the fact that the Internet has enabled us to more easily find people interested in the same things, no matter how niche. As a result people are increasingly surrounded by like minded people interested in the same things, be it knitting anime characters, writing erotic Harry Potter fan fiction, swooning over fictional characters, or discussing Voyager books.

Go on.Take the bait.

    People, and I include myself here, therefore are becoming less tolerant of ignorance. Some become just intolerant in general, but I like to think most nerd/geeks are a pretty accepting lot. That said, the very definition of “nerd” or “geek” has broadened to encompass all kinds of specialist knowledge and many now self apply what was in school a derogatory slur. Hell, chunky glasses, once the signifier of visually impaired nerds the world over, are now being worn as lens-less fashion statements by hipster hotties.

Another type of NerdRage comes from when the creative folks decide to change an aspect of our fan-object. Like removing Superman’s underpants ( away with you, filthy minded fanfic writers! ), killing off our favourite character in Book 4, or not including the Scouring of the Shire in the Lord of the Rings movies. In the new hyper-engaged world of teh Interwebz nerd/geek fans have developed  a greater voice that the creators of our beloved books, characters, TV shows, movies or toys, are increasingly actually listening to.

   Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is a good thing! But it can help foster a sense of entitlement that we don’t always deserve. After all, we didn’t spend months of our lives writing stories and characters, or weeks of 15hr days shooting a TV show. But what is art without someone to witness it? I sometimes wonder that the super-connected world of the 21st century will not allow the idealistic tenant of “art for art’s sake”  to exist, because if something new isn’t popular it will be shouted down.

So I guess that’s the conundrum; we both need NerdRage to keep individual voices loud and proud, but that same rage can keep us from embracing anything new or different. End rant.

A Dance With Dragons hits Number One!

a_dance_with_dragons
A Dance with Dragons

The Number One Bestselling Fiction title!

In news that, I’m sure, will come as no surprise to all discerning Voyager readers, the long-awaited 5th book in George RR Martin’s epic Song of Ice & Fire has hit the number one spot in the fiction bestsellers this week! I personally witnessed at least 3 people reading A Game of Thrones on my train carriage alone this morning, so here’s hoping to a whole raft of new GRRM & Voyager fans. I’m sure some TV show may have had a little bit of an impact as well.
  So this got me thinking a bit- do you think that reading fantasy has gone mainstream? Speaking personally, it was always a niche for me growing up, a comfortable niche, but a niche nonetheless. With the mainstream popularity of Harry Potter, Paranormal Romance, Twilight, the LOTR and Hobbit movies..has this changed? How do you feel about this? Do the younger Voyagers out there feel there’s more mainstream acceptance for Fantasy, or genre fiction in general, amongst your friends?

Bad Boys!

Writing Dark Heroes to Die For

Ian Somerhalder

Ian Somerhalder playing Damon Salvatore in the CW series based on L.J. Smith series, The Vampire Diaries

Writing dark heroes takes a special touch, one that I’ve explored over the years in my research on the evolution of the vampire in film and literature, true life experiences, and in my latest Quantum Encryption Series.

 The workshop will kick off the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival!  August 1 at 9:30 am. Who’s coming? I would love to hear your thoughts, expectations and questions! All notes (and images) will be online straight after the workshop. Check my updates for the link.  I am dividing the workshop into two sections:

Part 1) Understanding dark heroes and making them real: Definitions and examples. Heroes, anti-heroes, villains and the erotic. Nature vs. nurture: motivation, goals, beliefs, fears, love and wish fulfilment. What makes a dark hero tick, and what it is about them we fall for?

 What is the dark hero’s journey and their fatal flaw. We will explore the psychology, astrology and behaviour of the archetypal dark hero in relationship to the ‘true hero’ and ‘villain’, what they do to drive the story, setting and participation with the reader. There will be plenty of visual aids, I promise.
Part 2) Creating a dark hero from scratch. We will be doing exercises to bring dark heroes to life through character building, dialog, relationship to other characters, POV, risk, danger, growth arcs and transformation — bringing dark heroes to light or letting them down hard, when it works and when it doesn’t. Be ready to write on the spot. You’ll walk away with pages of notes, character study and a full outline for your next dark hero short story or novel. Light, fun and insightful!

Join me, Kim Falconer, at the BBWF this August.

 Kim Falconer lives in Byron Bay and writes science fantasy novels about real people in extraordinary situation. Journey by Night is the next book in her 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.

Only 5 sleeps to go until Dance with Dragons!

a_dance_with_dragons

 

Are you ready for the 12th July? The book we’ve all been waiting *cough* six years*cough* for is finally upon us! Who will live? Who will die? Who will tango with a dragon?

As some of you might know certain spoilers have escaped into the interweb, but PLEASE don’t spoil it for your fellow Voyagers! Let’s keep the blog a spoiler-free zone. At least until the 12th, then you can go nuts! 🙂

In the meantime check out this epic ad we’ll be running for the 17th July airing of HBO’s Game of Thrones on Showcase! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9b0otfML5EU