• 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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New free novella by Nicole Murphy!

Dream of Asarlai Book Three

Nicole Murphy has written a free novella continuing the story of her Dream of Asarlai trilogy, and she’s given us an extract  and a little intro to share with our fellow Voyagers:

It’s been twelve months since Rogue Gadda hit the shelves and the Dream of Asarlai trilogy came to an end.

It was a happily-after-ever ending. But it was never my intention for everything to go back to normal. That’s not how life works, when major events occur. Things change. We change. The fate of the world shifts and new possibilities and threats rise.

That meant that there was room for more. More about the guardians. More about the world of the gadda. More about the tension that arises from trying to keep your existence secret in a world where you’re the clear minority.

The first of those stories, answering the ‘what happens next’ question, is a novella ‘The Festival’. It was released on July 12, an auspicious date as it marks the Festival of the Star, the greatest day in the gadda calendar.

With the blessings of Voyager – I’ve self-published it and until the end of July, it’s available for free.

So if you’ve not been game to try the Dream of Asarlai trilogy – here’s a chance to do so without it costing you anything. I’m pretty confident that once you’ve read it, you’ll be running out to grab the other books and see how this story began.

***

Dream of Asarlai Book One

IT’S BEEN A YEAR SINCE ASARLAI WAS CAPTURED, BUT THINGS ARE FAR FROM SETTLED IN THE GADDA WORLD…

If you were the member of a secret magical race, how would you hide from humans?

The bardria and its guardians have decided to hide in the open by showcasing the gadda stronghold

 of Sclossin to the humans as a tourist destination, in the process proving the residents are normal.

The purists, however, believe the best solution is to remove the gadda from all contact with humans. The Festival of the Star, the biggest celebration of the year, is the perfect place to begin their campaign.

The guardians are sure they’re ready for anything the purists throw at them. But are they ready for the resurrection of an old enemy?

WARNING: The Festival contains spoilers for the Dream of Asarlia trilogy, and hot steamy sex.

***

July 11, 8pm.

It was time.

The meal had been superb. Many bottles of wine had been consumed. The atmosphere around the large table was convivial, with laughter and raised voices and the occasional thump on the wood to punctuate a story.

Councillor Robert Yarrow gestured to his butler, who left the room. The councillor stood and waited for the noise to die down and for all attention to come to him.

With every head that turned, Yarrow’s back got straighter, his shoulders more relaxed, his chin higher.

“My friends,” he said, smiling at the twenty faces that looked at him. “My most wonderful friends. Your sacrifice will be lauded for generations.”

Twenty faces took on varying hues of green and white as they recalled why they were here.

The door opened, the creak shocking in the silence. The butler came forward, bearing an ornate silver bowl on a matching tray. He placed it on the table before Yarrow and then stood at his master’s shoulder.

Yarrow lifted the lid and the rank odour assaulted his senses. He fought to maintain a stoic appearance—he wouldn’t convince anyone to eat if he showed the scent alone was this terrible.

Dream of Asarlai: Book Two

Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one close enough to smell it. Lisa Jane gasped and held her napkin to her face.

“We can’t eat that,” she said.

Everyone leant forward, the people at the far end of the table standing to do so. All recoiled, although Yarrow knew they couldn’t possibly all smell it.

“I understand your concern.” As he spoke, Yarrow used a pair of tweezers to pick up one rancid piece of beef. The green coating on the meat was foul. He lay it on the pile of cheese slices that rested on the other side of the silver tray and pulled the corners of the top slice around the meat. “But we agreed that your food poisoning be natural rather than an incantation, so the guardians won’t suspect a plot.”

He rolled the morsel between his palms so the cheese encased the meat. Then he dipped the ball in a small tureen of mustard, before laying it on a small plate and handing it to the person on his left. As he made more, the plates were passed around the table until everyone had one. Meanwhile, the butler refilled the wine glasses.

All twenty of Robert’s guests stared down at the poison pill before them and their thoughts were clear on their faces—dread, fear, disgust.

“We do this to save Sclossin and all gadda,” Yarrow said quietly. “We do this to ruin the festival and so reveal how terrible the plan to invite humans into our village is. You will be revered for your actions tonight.” He lifted his glass in a toast then swallowed, both to mask the smell with the bouquet of the wine and to hide his smile. He was so glad he wouldn’t be eating the meat.

As one, his guests picked up the poison and swallowed. None chewed, and each grabbed their wine and used it to wash the horrid meat down their throat.

“Now, I suggest you all go home and make yourself as comfortable as possible. I pray that you will not suffer too much tonight.”

One by one, they transferred away, disappearing from view in the blink of an eye. Yarrow put the lid back on the silver bowl and his butler took it away to safely dispose of it. No one in the Yarrow household was to be harmed by the tainted meat.

Yarrow went to his study and sat in his armchair. His port was open, a crystal glass standing ready. He poured himself a drink and sipped it slowly, easing into the leather upholstery with a relaxed sigh.

Everything was in order. Each of his different groups had their task and combined, they were going to spell disaster for the festival tomorrow. The bardria would have to re-consider making the town of Sclossin more accessible to humans and the next step in cutting all access to humanity would be taken.

Yarrow shook his head. It astounded him that it wasn’t clear to all gadda that for the sake of their survival they needed to cut ties to the human race. At the human population bloomed and their technology improved, the chances of them discovering that in their midst lived a secret race with powers beyond imagining grew.

It would be disastrous. Everyone agreed on that. Either there would be gadda who would use their power to try and rule humanity, or there would be humans who would find a way to use vulnerable gadda for their own vices.

Some people thought the answer was to hide in plain sight. Be right in amongst the humans. People wouldn’t conceive of the concept that their neighbour, workmate, friend wasn’t human.

Robert’s entire being quaked with the stupidity of that idea. The only salvation was to leave the humans to their lives, their world and hide the gadda away.

It was the right way. Tomorrow’s decimation of the festival would prove it. And the best part of his plan was the guardians couldn’t stop it.

Robert Yarrow downed the last of his port with a smile.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/181532
Thanks Nicole. You rock!

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Nicole Murphy at Melbourne Science Fiction Club

Melbournians – here’s you chance to meet the author of the Dream of Asarlai trilogy in person!

Nicole Murphy will be speaking at the Melbourne Science Fiction Club this Friday night, the meeting starting at 9pm. Her topic is on why romance is important in science fiction and fantasy. It might be controversial. It might be funny. It will be interesting.

Nicole would love to meet you and chat about your views on literature’s two great stomped upon genres – romance and speculative fiction – so come along!

More information at –  http://www.msfc.sf.org.au/

Threshold and Tutankhamun

So, the other weekend, I had a trip to Egypt.

From the website for the exhibition: http://kingtutmelbourne.com.au/

Not the actual Egypt– oh, how I wish it had been. But I went to Egypt in terms of the artefacts and the culture via the Tutankhamun exhibition in Melbourne. I also went to Egypt in the literary sense by re-reading one of my favourite books – Sara Douglass’ Threshold.

 Re-reading Threshold was not just about paying a kind of homage to Sara, but I was interested to see the impact it would have on me when I then went to the exhibition.

 First, for those few who haven’t read Threshold, a quick recap – A young woman and her father are forced into slavery by his unpaid gambling debts. Because of their skills in working glass they are taken from their homeland to a place far south – a place of sand and heat and where the spectre of Threshold, a giant pyramid, looms over all. There, the horror of Threshold unfolds and along with new and discarded loves, she must fight to defeat the evil and restore balance and peace to the land.

 Oh, there’s so much to love about Threshold. Not just the uniqueness of the Egyptian-based setting (and when this was published in the 90s it was truly unique) but also the idea of number and mathematics as the basis of a magic system. Fabulous!

 Threshold the structure was created by a mountain of slaves – first when making the building, then the artistry as theentire thing is encased in glass. I was struck on this reading as to how difficult it must have been, particularly for those doing the most intricate work, to have faced the fact they had to destroy their creation to save themselves. A piece of you goes into everything you create – years later it still resonates and you see where you were, what you were needing and feeling at the time.

 There was a sense of that wandering around the exhibition and seeing the extraordinarily beautiful things that were there. Honestly, we in our day and age tend to think we’re pretty damn cool, with what we can create. Then you look at the delicate, precise, astonishing things that could be done 3000 years ago, without all our so called technology and education and think – art really does surpass all of that. And those artists put their heart and soul into these pieces, to honour a man they considered a god.

 And yet, they were doing all this and it was going to be locked away, never to be seen again. Art is meant to be viewed, is it not? Admired and seen and interacted with and loved. So it must have been a bitter sweet thing to both spend all those days and hours creating these incredible objects, and know that few people would ever get to admire it.

 The whole push of the building of Threshold is about the search for immortality. This is where it divulged from the Egyptians – their belief was that you were already going to be immortal, that this was just a step to the next life. You’re going to live forever, so let’s make that next life a good one by being good in this one.

 In Threshold, there was no sense of thinking of the implications beyond that of having what had been dreamed of for generations. I think that some of those chasing had plans for what they would do when they were immortal, but I didn’t get the sense that they thought through all the practicalities.

From the website for the exhibition: http://kingtutmelbourne.com.au/

 In this, the ancient Egyptians were to be admired. The tombs were filled with everything a good man or woman could need to have a comfortable life in the next place. Tut had games buried with him. Don’t want to spend the afterlife without something fun to do – how boring would that be?

 But most interesting was that Tutankhamun came to power at a terrible time for Egypt– his father had tossed out the old gods, established a new one and it had caused ructions throughout the empire. In just the nine years he was pharaoh, Tutankhamun turned all that around and left Egypt once again in touch with its pantheon of gods.

 At the beginning of Threshold, the people of Ashdod are under a thrall to The One, but that is tearing the country apart. It’s easy to see that Threshold may indeed have been heavily influenced by the story of Tutankhamun and his need to rebuilt his fractured country and make them whole again.

 Unfortunately, I’ll never have the chance to ask Sara Douglass if that was the case.

Nicole Murphy is the author of The Dream of Asarlai trilogy: Secret Ones, Power Unbound and Rogue Gadda

Cool Find!

      I just came across a cool site all about Gadda from Nicole Murphy’s Rogue Gadda series! Pretty awesome 🙂 Its kinda like a real-life glossary for the series actually..

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

And so the story ends…

 

Finishing a trilogy is a strange experience. It takes years to write, years more to edit and get published and you live with these characters, this story, this world constantly on your mind.

Then, it’s over. Sometimes, you don’t leave the world or the characters wholly behind because the next work will also be there, but sometimes that is really the end. You don’t have any other stories to tell there. You’ve got all these bright shiny ideas that have been clamouring at you from the corner for AGES, hoping that you’ll pick them and start creating.

And yet, for the readers, the experience is far from over. I said my first goodbyes to the Dream of Asarlai story in August last year, and did my final bit of editing in February. It’s been months since I’ve given any of them any thought.

And yet for you readers, this is all still a future sensation. You’re still coming to the point of saying farewell. You’re still excited about what could happen, curious about how it’s all going to end.

And somehow, I’ve got to find the headspace to remember what that feeling was like for me as I was writing it, so I can empathise and celebrate with you.

It’s a very good thing that we authors are well practiced in living with a divided brain or this might just do us in.

So, what can I say to you all about the conclusion to Dream of Asarlai (without spoilers, of course).

The hero of Rogue Gadda is Hampton Rourke, aka the Sabhamir. Hampton’s become a bit of a favourite with a lot of people over the course of the series. He’s a great character to work with – he’s very charming and genuinely likes people, so his interactions with others flow smoothly. Yet Hampton is also a man struggling with his place in the world, riddled with doubts that he dare not let anyone else see.

His foil in this book is Charlotte Haraldson. Charlotte is a member of the long lost race of gadda who split from the bardria centuries earlier. For a lot of quite good reasons, Charlotte has come to hate gadda, power and everything it stands for.

So OF COURSE her perfect match is going to be the most powerful gadda alive.

As for Asarlai – there’s still a few twists left in her tale, but her dream of exposing the gadda to humanity and elevating them to ruling the planet is still very much on course.

Unless Hampton can stop her.

I’ve had a blast writing the Dream of Asarlai trilogy, and I hope you all have a blast reading it.

 

Rogue Gadda: An excerpt

 

The following is an except from Rogue Gadda, the third book in the Dream of Asarlai trilogy by Nicole Murphy. Rogue Gadda comes out on 1 July 2011. The series started with Secret Ones and continued with Power Unbound.

The trilogy is set in the world of the gadda, which is really our world. But the gadda aren’t human, they are descended from different ancestors and have access to the power of the world around them and use it to perform what we humans call magic.

They look human. They act human. They live ostensibly human lives. But they are also beholden to the council of the gadda, the bardria, and the rules of the gadda which are policed by the six guardians – Sabhamir, Heasimir, Garramir, Firimir, Coiremir and Ceamir.

The most paramount thing in the life of any gadda is keeping their true identity secret from humans – being known would just be too difficult and dangerous, for gadda and humans alike.

For centuries, this has been the case. However, Asarlai has a dream – she can’t see why the gadda, with the power they can wield, aren’t rulers of the world …

****

Asarlai

 Tension hummed through her body, but the woman who called herself Asarlai didn’t dare let Rogan Connor see it. The only relief she, the sorcerer, could find was to clench her toes in her shoes. Otherwise, she kept her hands resting on her knees and her expression blank.

Connor held the amulet up to the light, looking at the crystal suspended in the middle of the knot of wood and silver. He turned the piece around, pulled it close to his eye, held it away.

‘The gem is flawless, Anna. It should work well for your needs.’

‘Thank you, Patrick.’ They had agreed at all times to use the names they’d adopted for their human personas – Connor thought there was less risk of their real identities being revealed if they refused to use them at all.

Asarlai saw the sense in it, although it was no concern of hers. Rogan Connor thought her real name was Lisa Booker, so the mistake on his part would affect her little.

However, if the guardians found out that Rogan Connor, banished murderer, was still alive, and that he had regained some use of his powers …

She looked down at her hands to check they still looked relaxed. Every day, she cursed how her genius had backfired.

She’d experimented on Ione Hammond Gorton to finally give the young woman the power she deserved. Somehow, the incantation had gone wrong and instead, Asarlai had been robbed of her power. Continue reading