• 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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Bob Kuhn Reading Voyager Authors at WorldCon 2011

There are a handful of Aussie and NZ authors smiling today with the confirmation that Bob Kuhn, aka Tolkien’s Dragon, will be reading excerpts from their novels at WorlCon 2011. This year’s World Science Fiction Convention, Renovation, will be held in Reno, Nevada August 17th to 22nd. Not everyone who would like to be there can dash off to the other side of the world so Bob’s generous offer to do a collective reading of Australian and New Zealand speculative fiction is fabulous news.

Bob_Kuhn

Bob Kuhn

Bob Kuhn is a well known fantasy and science fiction voiceover artist — an Aussie resident in Boston and gifted with a deep, resonant, instantly impressive voice. His Professional credits include titles by: Mike Resnick, Carl Sagan, YA author William Sleator, and recently Jeff Carver, as well as audio books of history and historical fiction, true crime and mystery. Bob has also provided fantasy MMORP NPC game voices and hosted Boskone’s Fantasy and Science Fiction Pictionary. He may be the only actor who has played two different Tolkien Dragons! Visit his website bkvoice.com and listen to the samples. They’re magical.

 Authors participating in Bob Kuhn’s WorldCon 2011 reading are Harper Voyager’s Fiona McIntosh, Mary Victoria, Kim Falconer, Nicole Murphy and Helen Lowe (Harper Voyager USA) and Australian speculative fiction authors Alan Baxter and Angela Slatter. Bob has been given two slots at Renovation, one on Saturday morning at 10 am, and the other on Sunday afternoon. I hope they will record him!

 Congratulations to all the authors whose work will be read at this auspicious event!

BobKhun_Reading_Voyager

Harper Voyager Authors being read by Bob Kuhn - WorldCon 2011

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Videos for Chronicles of the Tree book 3: Oracle’s Fire

Have a look at the amazing trailer for Mary Victoria’s upcoming book Oracle’s Fire! It showcases the fantastic cover art for Tymon’s Flight by her husband Frank:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_vPvoJDH0w&feature=autoplay&list=ULwUf8SbOgafM&index=1&playnext=7

Also, here’s a video of Helen Lowe reading from Book 2 in the series Samiha’s Song at the recent ConText convention in Auckland:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8agXQNpc5Y

Keep em’ coming Mary! Oracle’s Fire is the third book in a the Chronicles of the Tree trilogy and is due out in October.

The David Gemmell Awards – Vote now!

There are Voyager authors listed in every division of the David Gemmell Awards, so please get your vote on and show them some support!

The Ravenheart Award

Frank Victoria for the cover art of Tymon’s Flight by Mary Victoria

Olof Erla Einarsdottir – for the cover of Power & Majesty by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Vote

 

The Legend Award

The Desert Spear by Peter V Brett

Vote

The Morningstar Award

Mary Victoria for Tymon’s Flight

Blake Charlton for Spellwright

Vote

 

Voyager and Swancon – a happy combination

Voyager authors, family and friends gathered at Chez Pierre for wine, food and great company

This time last week, I was in Perth, preparing for the start of Swancon 36, the 50th National Science Fiction Convention. At that point, it was just a blur of potential, a string of days that could either be great or not.

Now, it’s over and I’m happy to report that the word ‘great’ doesn’t even begin to describe Swancon. It was a particularly great con for Voyager – A.A. Bell’s Diamond Eyes took out the Norma K Hemming award and Tansy Rayner RobertsPower and Majesty won the Ditmar Award for Best Novel.

On Saturday afternoon, Tansy, Glenda Larke and I sat with HarperCollins WA rep Theresa Anns on a panel entitled ‘Meet the Voyager authors’. After giggling over Theresa’s question of how Voyager queen Stephanie Smith hogtied us to get our novels (if you’ve ever met Stephanie you’ll know how ridiculous an image that is – although I’m still having issues with the rope burns…) we discussed the journey to becoming part of the Voyager clan and how we’ve been enjoying it.

Someone (I think it might have been Theresa) asked if being a Voyager author meant being part of a community. At first, we answered no – the three of us had known each other before Voyager took our books and our friendships extended beyond.

Jonathan Strahan obviously enjoying himself

But as we kept talking, we realised that in fact, there was a community of authors out there. There are folks that we’ve only met the once or twice but feel we know through the internet, such as Mary Victoria or Kim Falconer. Then there’s the people we get to meet just through being with Voyager, such as Duncan Lay and Bevan McGuiness. Then there’s the authors that aren’t published with Voyager Australia any more but are still part of the clan at these events – Simon Brown, Sean Williams, Trudi Canavan.

All this became clear later on Saturday when we Voyager mob (with a few ring-ins) went out for dinner. It’s something that happens often at conventions – a chance for us all to sit and chat and you know what – there is definitely a family feel to these things. We catch up, we laugh, we joke, we have fun.

Tansy Rayner Roberts, bookseller Robin Pen and myself ordered the snails - how could you not? Tansy loved them.

My snails, before they were devoured. Delicious, my friends. The venison was good too.

And that’s just the authors – I know that there’s a network of readers out there as well. I wasn’t part of the famous Purple Zone – the forums that used to run on the Voyager website – but I know a lot of those folks are still in touch and at Worldcon, there was a Purple Zone dinner. And this blog is now the heart of the Voyager community in Australia and it’s great to be able to share news and ideas and find out what is going on in each other’s lives.

Later this year is another convention that will prove to be a highlight for Voyager. At Conflux (Sep 28-Oct 1, Canberra) Voyager web-mistress and HarperCollins digital editor Natalie Costa Bir is going to be a guest. I’m looking forward to another opportunity to connect with the Voyager family (authors, editors and readers) and continue to celebrate the fabulous work that Voyager is publishing.

Nicole Murphy lives in Canberra with her husband Tim. She is the author of the Dreams of Asarlai trilogy, which starts with Secret Ones and is wonderfully active at Conflux and other conventions.

Roger Kupelian talks about keeping it real in Hollywood, illustrating Tymon’s Flight

Roger Kupelian's amazing illustration of Tymon's Flight (click to see in full glory on Mary's website)

Mary: Roger, you’ve worked for huge names, on huge film productions – ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Flags of Our Fathers’, ‘Cloverfield’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and many more – but also on very personal art house projects, like your latest collaboration with Serj Tankian,‘Glaring Through Oblivion,’ a book of illustrated poetry due out this month. Which persona do you prefer – the highly sought-after vfx worker, or the independent artist? Do you think there’s any tension between the two, or do you manage to deftly dance on that Hollywood tightrope?

Roger: You feed the beast so you can ride the beast. In other words the two worlds compliment each other due to the tension that exists between them. One is art for commerce in all its variants and the other being the personal expression of something deeply meaningful. The lucrative lure and associate notoriety of “big name projects” is all well and good in the beginning but one realizes how much creative control you give up to basically plug up gaps in a megalithic endeavor. With the poetry book I was free once again to explore the medium. It’s really the same path, a slider-scale. One’s the side road and one is the expressway. But I hold no Illusions that both share the same ingredients.

Mary: I admire the way you manage that balancing act. When we first discussed the possibility of illustrating a scene from ‘Tymon’s Flight’, I confess part of me was thinking, “Why is he bothering with me, a debut novelist? This guy has worked for Jackson, Burton, Eastwood, helping to bring multi-million dollar projects to life…” But as soon as I began talking to you about the scene you were thinking of illustrating, those anxieties disappeared. I knew you didn’t care a bit if the project was large or small – so long as the world was vivid, the story engaging and you felt excited about the art you were creating. You told me afterwards: “When I was doing the painting, and I always do this with successful work, I get into the emotion of it.”

Moving on from that thought, I’d love to know – when you’re planning to paint a scene, how do you get yourself into that emotional space? What steps do you follow to conjure up, for example, the urgency and desperation of a battle, that palpable sense of danger? Continue reading

Roger Kupelian illustrates ‘Tymon’s Flight’

One of the peculiar side-effects of having lived in several, very different parts of the globe is the likelihood of running into people who have also lived in those places, wherever one happens to be. I have gone to school with someone in Cyprus, only to find her again years later as a student in England – crossed paths on several occasions with people who once lived in the same town as I did, sometimes in the same suburb, though we are both now on the other side of the world. That tendency for me was further exacerbated by working in special effects, a career pursued by a relatively small number of people who often freelance in different countries.

By the time I came to work at Weta Digital, I was regularly meeting people I’d lived down the road from or gone to school with, whether in Toronto, London, Washington D.C. or Paris. (I began to have nightmares of them all turning to me at once and saying, “you can’t possibly have lived near every single one of us. You didn’t go to those places. We don’t believe you.”)
Up till then, one country had been conspicuously absent from the list. I had not yet found any special effects workers from Sierra Leone, where my family lived from 1984 to 1986. But at Weta, I finally met a talented digital matte painter who had grown up in Freetown. Roger Kupelian’s background is Armenian and he was born in Lebanon, but his whole childhood was pure Sierra Leone. In him, I felt I’d found a long lost brother – after all, how many other people did I know whose parents had left their ancestral homes to wander to the same countries mine had, and who greeted me with the Freetown “how di body” and “kusheh” when I came to work in the morning? Here was a kindred soul.

Roger and I have kept in touch since we both left Weta Digital. He has moved back to California with his family, where he set up an effects and filmmaking facility, Fugitive Studios. I have watched his career develop with great interest over the years: a versatile artist, he is equally at home in VFX, design, graphic novels and film production. He has made videos for Serj Tankian and produced proof of concept reels for his own historical epic, ‘East of Byzantium.’ A graphic novel for ‘East of Byzantium’ is also in the works, and Roger’s collaboration with Serj Tankian on a book of poetry and illustration, ‘Glaring Through Oblivion’, is due out in March.

One of the great perks of being a fantasy writer is to see one’s creations brought to life by artists, whether on book covers or in other formats. There’s something very special about a creative person taking the time to conjure up marvelous images of your own, invented worlds – a sort of ultimate vote of confidence from one kind of artist to another. Imagine my joy when Roger indicated he would be interested in illustrating a scene from ‘ Tymon’s Flight’. (I’ll give you a hint: my reaction involved a fangirl squeal of excitement.)

Last week, when I received the finished piece, I sat for a few moments just looking at it, imagining the scene of the battle for the Freehold as he had depicted it – the smell of smoke and burning tree gum, the desperate Freeholders, the vast, menacing majesty of the Argosian airships. I did not post the image on the blog at once because of the Christchurch earthquake. But now, I feel I can give it its due. Without further ado, I would like to share Roger Kupelian’s vision of the epic battle that closes ‘Tymon’s Flight’ with you. I hope you enjoy discovering the Chronicles of the Tree through his eyes, as much as I did…

Click for a larger view
Roger Kupelian’s amazing illustration of Tymon’s Flight (click to enlarge)

Also have a look at the original artwork of Tymon’s Flight done by Mary Victoria’s partner, Frank Victoria.

Mary and Frank live in Wellington on the North Island of New Zealand. Mary is currently working on the third book in the Chronicles of the Tree, Oracle’s Fire. The other two books in the series, Tymon’s Flight and Samiha’s Song are available from all good bookshops across Australia and NZ, and as e-books from Amazon, Apple and Kobo.

 

Defining Strong Women by Kim Falconer

Kim Falconer training with the katana on the beach

This post was originally a contribution to a series of conversations about strong female characters on Mary Victoria’s blog. This is such a hot topic – how do we write strong women. The most interesting thing is, we have to ask the question at all.

 Back in the day, strong women, (where strong equals powerful/autonomous) were evil. Insert social subtext: It’s bad for women to be powerful, or worse perhaps, only bad women can be powerful). Snow White’s step mother was very strong but not many girls wanted to be like her. Macbeth’s three ‘hags’ had it all going on, brewing their ‘Charm of powerful trouble,’ but they were feared at best, despised at worst. Certainly they were not venerated. This social subtext might read – a woman’s intuition is a source of power but she has to get down, dirty and ugly to use it.

 Then there is the Femme Fatale. She is hot hot hot, and bad to the core. Dangerous. Spellbinding. The new subtext? Powerful women are evil and also sexy. Makes sense; we all know sexy women are ‘bad’. I’m not sure if this is a step up from Macbeth but it’s not too hard to see who is doing the defining. Hint. It’s not women.

Finally we have the wo-man, which are male characters with breasts. Nicole Murphy mentions this in her post. The wo-man is written exactly as a man with all his interests, attributes, entanglements and characteristics except he/she has sex with male characters. Interesting. Starbuck, in BSG, the gods love her, is a good example. Wo-man to the soul. Is she a strong female character? Not really. The subtext here is, to be strong you have to be a man.

 It seems our society lacks the language and conceptual insights, given the patriarchal inheritance, to write strong autonomous women without props. Usually female roles fall into four categories—powerful rulers who need a man to tame them/make them complete, helpless rulers that need to be rescued and fall in love with a man, wo-man who don’t need anything and women who are simply invisible. George Lucas stepped outside of these limitations (the scene where Princess Leia rolls her eyes, takes the gun off of fumbling Harrison Ford, AKA male rescuer, and shoots her way out) but viewers weren’t ready for it. By the third film he has her in a gold filigree bikini chained to a giant phallus. Hmmmmm.

 Marshall McLuhan said ‘Art is what you can get away with.’ I think what he means is ‘Art is what you can get away with in the current social paradigm.’ Like Mr. Lucas, you can write a strong woman authentically but if the social climate isn’t ready, she won’t fly. So how do we write strong women minus the subtext and props? As long as we have to ask, we don’t. But as writers, we can keep pushing the social limits, ‘getting away with’ more and more until the question is void and we have true equality, in art and in life. Viva la evolution of our female characters!

Kim Falconer is an author writing evolving, strong and wonderful female AND male characters. If you haven’t already joined her legion of fans, pick up a copy of The Spell of Rosette to get into the world of the Quantum Enchantment.

Visit Kim Falconer’s website for more information on her writing and other pursuits.

Read the whole set of Writing Strong Women posts over at Mary Victoria’s blog.