• 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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Supanova recap with Kylie Chan

 

 Supanova is such a big part of my family’s life that I stop and have a moment of confusion when I actually have to explain it to people who’ve never heard of it. The whole week before the show, the newspaper had teaser articles about what visitors could expect there. My daughter’s main hobby is making costumes for Supanova, and she spends months agonizing about what she’s going to wear.

And for those who don’t know….

Supanova is a pop-culture expo held for one weekend each year. It travels from city to city, and next year is expanding to six Australian cities.

If you’ve seen news articles about ComiCon inAmerica, it’s our own version of that but not quite. There are three main reasons people come along:

– Stars of science fiction and fantasy movies are special guests, and you can collect autographed photos, have your picture taken with them, and hear them talk about their experiences. My daughter was hugely excited about going along and having her photo taken with Evanna Lynch – Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter movies.

Billy Boyd (Pippin from Lord of the Rings) came down to the stand when I wasn’t there, and had his photo taken with Ian Irvine. Ian rolled out a map he’d done for one of his fantasy novels, and it was nearly 2m by 1m – huge and detailed. The man’s a genius at worldbuilding.
 

Ian Irvine and Billy Boyd -two delightful gentlemen together!

– You can dress up. Anything you like, but most people choose a sci-fi/fantasy/anime/manga character – I counted ten Doctors on my first day and gave up counting the second. You can strut around looking awesome in lycra with green skin and red eyes, nobody will look twice, and there’s a competition for the best costume. The technical term for this is ‘cosplay’ (from the Japanese) and it’s one of the most fun parts for me. If you do an awesome costume people will stop you and ask for their photo with you.

Of course, if you’re a group that’s decided to cosplay every single Doctor, four companions AND K9, you’ll never be able to move because you’re constantly having your photo taken. Four, Five and Nine were somewhere around, probably stuck in a time vortex. I stood between ‘my’ Doctors, Two and Three. Damn, I’m old.

My daughter dressed up as a character from a manga called ‘Blue Exorcist’ which was a Japanese school uniform and a long purple wig with pigtails below her waist. The wig drove her completely nuts – it was unbelievably heavy! – but she enjoyed herself tremendously.

– The trading floor is a bad place. Very bad place. I protest loudly every time my daughter nears the Madman stand – last time I was there I bought a complete collection of both Astroboys – the black and white sixties version from my childhood, and the colour eighties version – in boxed sets. There’s traders of vintage comics, awesome t-shirts and bags (I got my Hellsing signing bag at Supanova), tryouts of new games, and collectible figures (my daughter got a matched set of 20cm Ezio and Leonardo figures).

They’re from the Assassin’s Creed game; Leonardo da Vinci on the right totally adores Ezio on the left. I suspect that my daughter’s planning to do something stop-motion with these fully-articulated figurines. After completing the game she went on a huge Leonardo da Vinci research phase.

Dymock’s have a stand on the trading floor, and that’s where I come in. You can come up to the stand and buy books from us Awesome Authors and have them signed on the spot, and embarrass us horribly by having your photo taken with us.

Left to Right: Rowena Cory Daniells, in front Keri Arthur, Tracy O’Hara, me (short), Marianne de Pierres (tall), Ineke, and Lynne in awesome hippy steampunk.

There’s a bunch of new fantasy and sci-fi to try out, and the staff on the stand are knowledgeable and all-around terrific people.

They can help you with every need.

I love Supanova because people can come up to me and actually have a chat about my plans for my new books, rather than having to line up at a signing and not have a chance to speak to me. There’s not often a line of people for signings, so if you’re in the mood to have a chat, I’m there all day.

We interviewed ourselves (Rowena did a fantastic job) for a youtube video for AskBrisbane; you can check out the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zssGViYHieU.

For the admission fee, it’s a grand day out and as a computer/sci-fi nerd long before I was any sort of author (and a Doctor Who fan since I first saw it in the late seventies) – well, I feel right at home. The other authors sometimes asked me what a particular costume referenced – and most of the time I got it right (sorry Totoro!). I’m very much looking forward to the inaugural Gold Coast one next April, and hoping that I can make a few other cities next year.

Special thanks to Ineke Prochazka, the staff of Dymock’s, Daniel Zachariou, Dion, Roland, Missy, and Quinny from Supanova.

The Supanova site is at http://www.supanova.com.au.

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Why you shouldn’t step in puddles in Hong Kong, or the importance of research in writing.

    I was recently with a group of my 23-year-old son’s friends, chatting about our recent trip to the UK as a fact-finding mission for my next series of novels.

‘Do you really need to do that?’ one of them asked.

Before I could say anything, my son who’d lived in Hong Kong for nearly half his life gave an excellent example of why I did need to make this trip.

‘I saw a TV show that had an episode in Hong Kong,’ he said.

‘What was wrong with it?’ I said. ‘Rickshaws and big lanterns? Coolies in conical hats?’

‘Nothing quite that bad, but they had people going to someone’s house – and it was huge. With wooden walls, and traditional Chinese windows. Nobody in Hong Kong lives in a house like that. I just laughed.’

He’s right, and it ruined the authenticity of the show for him. That’s why I had to make the trip the UK. I would never try to write about a place unless I’d visited it myself, and I would never write about living in a place until I’d lived there.

If you’ve never lived in Hong Kong, you wouldn’t be aware of day-to-day annoying issues like the chronic shortage of coins (yes, money coins) that generates a thriving market for elderly women to camp out on bank doorsteps. Or the fact that anything left in a public place for more than two minutes is public property and liable to be taken. Or that you never step in puddles on the pavement, because they indicate a dripping air conditioner overhead. Or that the red-topped mini busses that have ‘Daimaru’ as the destination actually stop at a nearby street because twenty years ago the stop was moved from the front of Daimaru – which hasn’t existed for ten years anyway.

I’m setting part of my next series inNorth Wales, specifically on Holy Island, part of Anglesey. I spent a great deal of time on Google Earth making virtual visits and checking the history, but when it came to the crunch and I was going to write about it, I had to go.

I learnt a great deal about the place that would have been impossible otherwise. Details like the local Chinese restaurant offering ‘rice or chips’ as an accompaniment to their chop suey. The fact that the shiny new Tesco’s a little out of town has killed the main street. The three-thousand-year-old standing stones, Penrhos Feilw, are in someone’s back yard, and the wind whistles across that field and it’s bitter.

The colours – the yellow of the heather that was everywhere on the island – the weather, which was windy and sometimes very cold, and the friendly laconic nature of the people, made it an experience that imprinted itself on me, and will make my descriptions of the island that much more accurate. A virtual visit to the Iron Age Hut Circles didn’t let me see the spectacular view or feel the biting cold wind that made my ears hurt – in late spring!

Now that I’ve made the visit, I’m completely prepared for the next volume in my series. And I need to make a trip to Japan, because I want to set something there!

Read more about Kylie’s inspirations and challenges in moving between countries and roles in yesterday’s SMH article:

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/living-in-two-worlds-20110827-1jf9r.html

Hugos, swords, readings and dreamers

Sunday morning we bumped into Peter V Brett looking slightly pale outside the dealers room on Level 2. He was preparing for his reading from The Great Bazaar and by all accounts did very well. We gave away some Voyager party bags with the v15 hardbacks inside to some lucky tweeters and passers-by, celebrating both our anniversary and hitting 1000 followers on Twitter! Duncan Lay wandered over on his way to his kaffeeklatsch and said he was enjoying himself and also preparing for a reading later that day. Haven’t heard yet how it was but I’m sure it was fantastic!
Then your correspondent went to a ton of panels: the artist’s paradox with GoH Shaun Tan, Cat Sparks and Nick Stathopoulos was especially interesting. Robert Silverberg’s panel with Peter Ball, Alan Baxter and Keith Stevenson also provided food for thought on the novella form – hard to sell? Hard to write? Growing in popularity? Increasing the number of small press publishers?
After a brief break for lunch it was time to see our own Stephanie Smith, Voyager Publisher, on the Dreaming Again panel led by Jack Dann, with Janeen Webb, Jason Nahrung, Angela Slatter, Richard Harland and Jenny Blackford. Jack was in fine form and asked if everyone else had turned up for a roast Jack panel! 🙂
Then it was a discussion on crowns and monarchies with interesting insights from a whole panel of Voyager authors! Duncan Lay, Jennifer Fallon, Glenda Larke, Fiona Mcintosh with guest appearance by Joel Shepherd, duked it out – and one good point they made is that by settling on a monarchy as your governing system, you can concentrate on telling the actual story.
After this it was off to rm 519 to listen to Mary Victoria read from Tymon’s Flight and -bonus- from Samiha’s Song. Mary read beautifully and had us all under her spell.
We had a lovely Voyager dinner with our authors and then a few of us headed to the Hugos, where Garth Nix was doing a fab job of MCing. We’re all thrilled that Peter Watts won a Hugo for his story in New Space Opera 2 and Peter’s speech thanking Jonathan Strahan, editor of the anthology, was nice. We also enjoyed George R R trying to run off with a Hugo he was presenting and Robert Silverberg’s quips about editors and wombats!
Finally, it was off for one final evening in the Hilton Bar accompanied by Peter V Brett to join Jennifer Fallon and Glenda Larke, Stephanie and HarperCollins account manager and fantasy fan extraordinaire Theresa Anns. Then bed!
Today we’re off to Mary V’s panel at 10 on Writing Strange Lands, and then dropping into Nicole Murphy’s reading, where she tells us she will not be reading from page 310!

Sneak Peek: Kylie Chan

For those of you at AussieCon4, Kylie Chan will be doing a signing at 6pm at Dymocks Collins Street. If you can’t make it to see her there … here’s something that ought to tide you over: a sneak peek at Heaven to Wudang, Book Three of the Journey to Wudang.

Leo and I sat on the mats across from each other in the Fragrant Lotus training room. His dark face was rigid with concentration as he held the chi on his outstretched hands.
I held one hand on his forearm, watching as the energy flowed through him. ‘Float it to the other hand.’
He lost it and it snapped back, hitting him in the middle of the chest. He bounced backwards but didn’t fall, then he sagged, leaning on the floor. ‘This is so damn hard.’
‘That was a pathetically small amount of chi for anybody to generate, especially an Immortal,’ I said. ‘You ate meat, didn’t you?’
He didn’t reply but his face said it all.
‘Alcohol too?’ I said.
‘Not alcohol,’ he said.

Read on.

Kylie Chan’s tour dates this July/August

Emma teeters on the edge of becoming fully demon ...

Kylie Chan is on tour in Brisbane … and if you’re quick you can catch her from tomorrow!

Emma teeters on the edge of becoming fully demon, and must make a journey to the Kunlun Mountains in the West, home of the reclusive ancient goddess Nu Wa, in an attempt to regain her humanity.Travelling with Emma is Xuan Wu’s daughter, Simone, who is struggling with her growing powers and trying to defend herself from the demons who want to destroy her.
And Michael is trying to come to terms with the shock of finding out he might be half demon … and a danger to them all.

Date: Fri 30/7
Time: 12-2
Store: A&R Post Office Square, Adelaide St City

Date: Fri 30/7
Time: 5-9
Store: Rosemarie’s Romance Bookshop, Blocksidge and Ferguson Arcade, Adelaide St City

Date: Saturday 31/7
Time: 12-2
Store: A&R Indooroopilly

Date:  Saturday 31/7
Time: 3-5
Store: A&R Carindale

Date: Sunday 1/8
Time: 11-2
Store: A&R Chermside

Date: Saturday 7/8
Time: 10-12
Store:  Toowoomba A&R

Date: 14/8
Time: 11-1
Store: A&R Sunnybank

Kylie Chan A&R Chatswood signing

Collectables … (not the skull of an ancient dragon)

Our beloved Voyager turns 15 in 2010, and we have a fabulous array of promotions up our sleeves to celebrate this milestone. One element we’re currently investigating is the production of limited special editions of selected titles. Now, these won’t be your average, run of the mill, standard hardbacks. These will be highly designed, lavish, beautiful collector’s items with added content such as maps, research notes and author’s comments – well, that’s what our idea of the perfect collectors’ edition is, but have we got it right?

What would make these special editions, well, special? What Voyager titles would you like to see given the “collectables” treatment? What features would you like these editions to have? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and all feedback will be greatly received. There are copies of Kylie Chan’s Earth to Hell to give away to the first five comments … THE FIVE COPIES HAVE BEEN WON but please keep your comments coming (there are replies on the Voyager Message Board too).

(cross-posted to the Voyager Message Board so the first five comments are included there too … )