• 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!



Here, have some books!

It’s Thursday, which means it’s nearly Friday and we’re in a good mood!

Nominate which book you’d like from the list below and tell us about the most exciting book purchase you’ve ever made – and why it was exciting.

The most interesting answer for each book will result in the commenter getting said book mailed out to them. This competition is only open to Australian residents. Closes midday Friday 6 May.

A Blight of Mages by Karen Miller

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire (signed hardback)

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik

At the Gates of Darkness by Raymond Feist


File under awesome: Aurealis Awards Auction!


Some of the biggest names in Australian speculative fiction have cleared out their cupboards and the contents are being sold on Ebay! 

Our friends over at the Aurealis Awards are holding the auction and we think it is one of the coolest collections you’re likely to find on the interweb so start your bidding.

Where else can you buy an original print from Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld or a bundle of autographed fantasy, science fiction or horror novels from a huge list of Aussie authors including; Sara Douglass, Ian Irvine, Sean Williams and Shane Dix, Traci Harding, Karen Miller, Stephen Irwin, Nathan Burrage, Richard Harland, Marianne De Pierres, Angela Slatter, Kate Forsyth, Isabel Merlin, Sophie Masson, Jack Dann, Kaaron Warren, Shane Jiraiya Cummings and Kirstyn McDermott? The autographed books are being auctioned off in five book bundles.

For a complete description of the contents of each bundle, or to bid on one of these great items, click on the links below and make sure you place your bid between 16 and 25 November, 2010. ­

Signed short story collections

New and signed fantasy novels

New and signed fantasy novels for all ages

New and signed science fiction novels

New and signed dark fantasy, horror, and historical novels

Print from Scott Westerfeld’s novel, “Leviathan”, signed by the artist

 The auction is being held by SpecFaction NSW Inc., hosts of the 2010 Aurealis Awards. Funds raised will go towards holding the awards night and helping create a range of NSW based events and activities for readers and writers of speculative fiction. SpecFaction NSW is a not for profit group.

For more information on the 2010 Aurealis Awards go to www.aurealisawards.com

The stormtroopers have arrived: Saturday at Worldcon

So, yesterday dawned a bit too bright and early for anyone celebrating Voyager’s 15th birthday and the Ditmars, but as a famous person once said: the con must go on. And so it did. We went to lots of panels, including one on cover art: a dying form? If the images shown by GoH Shaun Tan are any indication, then no, it is not! Was lovely to see Nick Stathopoulos’s cover for Dreaming Down-Under there – and we plan to go to the Dreaming Again again panel at 2pm today.
Around lunchtime we spied a very big queue indeed – no surprises, George was doing a signing. In the end they had to organize a second signing later in the day to give fans a chance to get to the front and the grrm the chance not to get RSI.
We saw Peter V Brett and Cory Doctorow discussing online presence and fan interaction – a great insight into how the author deals with such relationships. We also caught a bevy of Voyager authors talking about the trilogy in fantasy-why is it so common now? A whose choice is it? Fiona Mcintosh ably chaired the panel between Glenda Larke, Trudi Canavan and Russell Kirkpatrick and also forced ‘dettol lollies’ on the unsuspecting audience! It was a great chat and a bit of a prelude to the upcoming Crowns and Swords panel where I suspect Glenda and Fiona will return to the subject of castles ;).
Also spent a bit of time in the Dealers Room talking to Galaxy Bookshop’s Mark Timmony and then bumped into Karen Miller, a lovely surprise!
In the evening, after a foray into Melbourne’s laneways for dinner (successful) we dropped into the Hilton Bar and spied Cory Doctorow, Kim Stanley Robinson and Jason Nahrung, among others. And we also had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan Strahan, one of the best editors around, and co-editor with Jack Dann of Legends of Australian Fantasy.
And then, finally, it was time for zzzzzzzz.

Pulp Fiction signing in Brisbane next week

Pulp Fiction Booksellers are holding a signing just before the Aurealis Awards, with lots of your favourite authors in attendance – including Voyager and Angry Robot authors, so if you’re in Brisbane, do not miss out!

When: Saturday 23rd January

10.30-11.30 Trudi Canavan and Kaaron Warren
11.30-12.30 Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, Sean Williams
12.30-1.30 Karen Miller and Glenda Larke
2.30-3.30 Pamela Freeman and K J Taylor

Pulp Fiction Booksellers
Shops 28-29 Anzac Square Building Arcade
265-269 Edward Street
(entrance halfway between Ann and Adelaide Streets)

Why? Because if you’re in Brisbane and DON’T go to this signing then we shall remove your ‘fantasy fan’ badge and lock it away FOREVER, ok?

Aurealis Awards finalists!

Congratulations to all the finalists for the Aurealis Awards 2009! And special congrats to our wonderful Voyager authors – especially in the ‘best fantasy novel’ where Voyager seems to have hit home! The winners will be announced on Jan 23 at the Awards ceremony in Brisbane. Continue reading

The Trouble with Twilight – by Duncan Lay

I’ve been appearing at book stores across Newcastle, the Central Coast and Sydney to sell and promote The Wounded Guardian over the last few months – and one topic that keeps coming up, as I chat about books in general and fantasy in particular, is Twilight.
Time and again mothers and grandmothers have asked me if The Wounded Guardian has strong female characters in it, because they are concerned about the portrayal of women in Twilight. The final straw, so to speak, came when I spoke to a high school principal, who said she loved the way Twilight has her girls reading but was worried about some of the messages within. She purchased a copy of my book to see if there were other options to get girls reading.
Although I have not read Twilight, it was obvious to me that there was a story here. That much community concern, across so many different areas, was too big to ignore.
Wearing my other hat, that of The Sunday Telegraph, I spoke to a variety of people and came up with an article that was published on Sunday November 15.
With thanks to The Sunday Telegraph, here is that article, with some added quotes that were edited out of the finished article for space reasons:

It is both a love story celebrated by millions and a textbook abusive relationship, a light-hearted fantasy aimed at teens and tweens that has disturbing messages about sex. Welcome to Twilight.

The best-selling book series and now blockbuster movies have captured imaginations across the world and inspired devotion in its fans.
Twilight also has many lining up to attack it, with accusations of everything from bad writing to betraying the vampire genre to Mormon brainwashing.
But leaving aside the mud-slinging, the literary world and schools are warning parents not to simply go along with the marketing hype and peer pressure, but to first understand exactly what it is their children are reading.

While they sing Twilight‘s praises for encouraging people to read and inspiring debate about reading, the concern is the way the book portrays women – its key readership – and their relationship with men.

While older readers should be able to distinguish fantasy from reality, and put the story in context, along the lines of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, the concern is what effect it will have on younger readers, particularly those who are using Twilight as their entry point to reading. Twilight centres on Bella, a human girl, and her relationship with Edward, a vampire and Jacob, a werewolf. This love triangle is resolved when Bella has a child with Edward that begins to rip its way out of her, breaking her ribs and pelvis, forcing Edward to tear open her stomach with his vampire teeth to deliver it in an emergency caesarean – and so Jacob falls in love with this child.

While this is a disturbing end to the tale in many ways, critics say the problems begin much, much earlier.

Literary agent Sophie Hamley, of Cameron’s Management, likes vampire stories but says fans should get into Buffy, not Twilight.

‘Basically the books, especially the fourth, detail a textbook abusive relationship,’ she said. ‘The message seems to be that you can’t live without a man, particularly an idealised one.

‘In many respects Edward is constructed as a classic romantic hero – brooding and handsome, and even Mr Darcy was withholding. But the constant threat of violence, while possibly exhilarating for readers, is unnerving. If I were convinced that Twi-hards were reading other books to balance it out, fine, but for a lot of people this will be their first plunge into reading a series so there will be no context. ‘

Abigail Nathan runs Bothersome Words, a book editing agency used by publishers such as HarperCollins. She enjoyed the books but does have concerns.
‘Adults are frequently disturbed by the nature of Bella and Edward’s relationship, describing Edward as a stalker and Bella as a victim,’ she said. ‘Although Bella and Edward do not sleep together until they are married, it’s hardly a delicate affair, with Bella waking up covered in bruises.“It’s an interesting selection of messages, with Bella constantly pushing Edward to sleep with her, and ultimately ending up bruised and battered.’

‘One message that is clear is once Bella has Edward she forgets about her other friends and is all too willing to leave her family to have her “forever” with Edward. The message to women that they don’t need anyone else if they have their man, or their true love – that they can be happy that way, is a little disturbing.’

Fantasy author Glenda Larke is also concerned by the way Bella never finds strength within herself and must instead be always saved by Edward. ‘It harks back to a different age. Women my age had to fight to escape that kind of thinking. To present a heroine who never stands on her own two feet is to present a ghastly role model for today’s youth.

‘But no matter the criticism, it is clear the books have struck a massive chord with young readers. Fantasy author Kim Falconer said this cannot be ignored.
‘How do we get past the fact that they want it? They’re eating it alive – what is it fulfilling in them?’

She finds it concerning and wonders whether it is a symptom of a wider problem: Can women tell the difference between abuse and love?

Nevertheless, simply banning teens from reading it would make the problem worse and, anyway, Falconer is a ferocious supporter of free speech. ‘We can criticise it but without cutting off the lines of communication. You must talk about it, be there for dialogue.’

She applauds the way the series has women and girls reading but laments: ‘What a missed opportunity to inspire women.’

Mount St Benedict College is an independent girls’ high school at Pennant Hills. Principal Maria Pearson said it is very important for girls to develop the ‘skills, resourcefulness and resilience’ to find ways themselves to get out of difficulty situations, rather than ‘expect to be rescued’. ‘We have it in the library and it does engage our girls,’ Ms Pearson said.

‘But it is important to deconstruct some of the themes. They need to have a conversation with concerned adults in their lives (about the issues it raises).’

So read Twilight – but it needs be accompanied by discussion of the issues raised, as well as a selection of books with strong female characters. Virtually any of the Voyager list, including the likes of Karen Miller, Glenda Larke, Kylie Chan and Kim Falconer would be suitable.

The Trouble with Twilight post originally appeared on Duncan’s blog on Tuesday 17 November, and the original article in The Daily Telegraph on Sunday 15 November.