• 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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UnConventional & the full Sir Julius Vogel Awards Wrap-up

Via Mary Victoria’s own site: http://maryvictoria.net/

Well, now that I’m home and have emerged from under a pile of unanswered email and unwashed laundry (or is it the reverse?) I can finally give you the promised Con report.

This was my first real experience of a New Zealand fantasy and science fiction convention and I must say, it was lovely. The panel discussions were engaging, the company excellent (of course) and the turn-out and interest high. We could barely all fit into the main hall when everyone gathered together. I’m happy to report that NZ fandom is alive, kicking, and often fetchingly dressed in steampunk finery.

I arrived on Saturday after a short delay to my flight, just in time for my first panel, ‘Women in SFF.’ Trudi Canavan, Helen Lowe, Lyn McConchie and I yakked for an hour or so on subjects ranging from how to define strength of character to the vexed issue of chainmail bikinis… I could see some audience members gazing at us quizzically, perhaps asking themselves what we had against chainmail bikinis. I mean, all the vital bits are covered, right?

Saturday evening was about unwinding a little, catching up with friends and a sumptuous Indian dinner! I didn’t make it to the zombie ball but did dodge many of the undead on my way to bed.

     Sunday dawned uncomfortably early (and perhaps may be termed a Dawn of the Dead without inviting too much heckling…) with a 9am panel on the subject of ‘Armageddon as Allegory.’ I took one look at the faces of my fellow panelists gathered in the cafe – Darusha Wehm, Simon Petrie, Beaulah Pragg and Phil Simpson – and thought, “yes, I know exactly how you feel.” But despite our need for sleep and largely due to the valient efforts of Simon as panel chair, we actually came up with a game plan for the discussion! It turned into a fantastic one – I think my favourite panel of the lot. We talked about the different approaches to ‘end of world’ scenarios in fantasy and science fiction, collective responsability vs. the mechanism of a Dark Lord and other interesting subjects.

By two o’clock, it was time to head back to the trenches at a ‘Geography in SFF’ panel with Russell Kirkpatrick, Trudi Canavan, Stephen Minchin and myself debating the merits of fantasy maps. Trudi and Russell both had some slides to show of maps in their own books, as well as some older efforts. The audience seemed passionate on the subject, with most falling in the ‘we love maps’ category but a vocal minority standing up for themselves in the opposite camp. We talked physical geography, geography as an influence on society and finally mental or idea maps… we could have gone on for twice as long, I think.

But all good things come to an end and thereafter it was signing and reading time. I read from ‘Samiha’s Song’ and Alma Alexander’s ‘River’ for a very appreciative audience sitting in leather armchairs. That’s the way to do it.

Sunday evening rolled around and it was time for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards. These were presented with great flair – Kiwis have style! – by the Con organisers, Trudi Canavan and Helen Lowe. Trudi was channeling some great 1940′s Jessica Rabbit style with her cropped jacket and black gloves. As for me, I arrived at the ceremony somewhat flummoxed as I’d just heard my daughter was running a 40 degree fever (she has since recovered, never fear.) I had all the maternal angst and distraction going, therefore, and was totally unprepared when they announced ‘Samiha’s Song’ had won Best Novel…

Well, I’m afraid I lost it. I managed to say something resembling ‘thank you’ when collecting the statue but waterworks were threatening. In order to avoid general embarrassment I hightailed it back to my chair as soon as possible – only to have to come forward again to collect Frank’s award for artwork!

So if I look a little odd in these photos, forgive me. But it was an absolute joy to congratulate my fellow winners. They are, from left to right, below:

Kevin Berry for New Talent, and after Trudi, Lee Murray for Best YA Novel, yours truly for Best Novel (Adult) and Alicia Ponder for Best Short Story. (For some reason Anna Caro wasn’t in this photo with us but I was stoked to see her and Cassie Hart take away the award for Best Collection for ‘Tales For Canterbury’.)

The full list of all winners including fan categories can be found on the SFFANZ website.

So there we are! I’m home now, with a convalescing daughter and two spiky awards. I can’t tell you how happy and proud this makes me… the ‘Chronicles of the Tree’ were a NZ endeavour, very much inspired by the vegetation and landscape in New Zealand, so it’s doubly satisfying for me to strike a chord with Kiwi readers.

As to the artist who won a well-deserved award for his artwork on ‘Oracle’s Fire’ – he was suitably appreciative. I think he found the button to turn the award on, too. He looks evil in this photo – Frank, have you discovered a way to end the world, again?

Via Mary’s own site: http://maryvictoria.net/ Check it Out!

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Game of Thrones net roundup

With the explosive success of the HBO adaptation of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire the net has seen a wide variety of interesting articles and creations inspired by both the show and the books, from the sublimely thought-provoking to the groan-inducingly silly.

Here’s a few choice picks we’ve came across so far:

i09 has a great array of sci-fi/fantasy/spec-fic/general geeky articles and these are just a few of the neat Game of Thrones themed articles they’ve had up. They’ve posted up concept art from the TV show, including some unused designs for The Eyrie and the Sept of Baelor. They’ve also posited some real-life scientific explanations for the unpredictable seasons of Westeros- perhaps their myth of the origin of Dragons has some truth to it! And here’s one for the old-skool D&D fans ( or perhaps those with a philosophical bent )!

If, like us, you’ve planned trips to New Zealand around locations used to shoot The Lord of the Rings, this article about the locations used in Game of Thrones is pretty useful for planning your next holiday! While we’ve posted it on the blog before, this speculative map of Westeros and beyond by SerMountainGoat is so spectacular its worth sharing again.

Several academics and professional political analysts have enjoyed speculating on the apparent political viewpoints portrayed both diagetically and non-diagetically by the series & the show. This rebuttal article is an interesting read, particularly as much of the speculation is based purely on the events of the first season ( and largely, the first book ) of the series.

While it’s far from specific to Game of Thrones, this BBC article provides some interesting theories as to the origins of the ubiquitous British accents in fantasy films & TV. Apparently it’s all Kevin Costner’s fault!

Best author photo ever.

And now for the silly stuff: Prepare to never take Bronn seriously again: here he is singing Unchained Melody on Top of the Pops in 1995 ( he’s the one on the right! ).
Have you ever wondered what Daenerys Targaryen would look like playing air guitar? Wonder no more!
In case you missed it, i09 has a link up to the Simpsons Game of Thrones intro sequence that’s pretty awesome.
A couple of keen Lego fans have put together some Game of Thrones scenes in plastic brick form, and one dedicated fan even re-created the opening sequence in stop motion!
Continuing the brick-theme, those crazy Minecraft kids have built some astounding recreations of the locations in Westeros, inspired more from the books & their own imagination than the TV show.
Lastly, GRRM’s US publisher put up this great April Fool’s news item. It also gave us possibly the best author photo of GRRM ever.

And we’ll leave you with this little gem of badly photoshopped wisdom.

If you’ve seen any other cool Game of Thrones articles or amusing tidbits, let us know!

AWESOME Fan-made interactive Song of Ice and Fire map

A Song of Ice and Fire & Game of Thrones fan ‘Ser Mountain Goat’ has created an amazing interactive map of the world of George RR Martin’s epic series, from the continent of Westeros to the Dothraki Sea and beyond! They’ve even made a Google-Earth style planet view (Though its a bit big for slow internet connections.)

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.

A Lexicon of Collective Nouns

I don’t know about you, but before I get devoured by a group of supernatural creatures, I like to know what to call them. Collectively. Luckily now I have a handy guide! For those who missed it on Twitter:

‘Outland’: Watch a trailer for the new Australian comedy

This could be fun!

Via Digital Spy:

Published Saturday, Oct 29 2011, 3:12am EST | By Alex Fletcher
A trailer for the brand new Australian comedy Outland has been released.Outland focuses on the lives of a group of gay sci-fi fans and has been compared to The Big Bang Theory.

The show stars Christine Anu, Ben Gerrard, Paul Ireland, Adam Richard and Toby Truslove. Outland‘s producer Laura Waters said: “[Production company] Princess Pictures is proud that closeted science fiction fans will finally have a voice and that a full family of gay Australian characters can go where they never ventured before – prime-time television.”

Outland will be produced and filmed in Melbourne by the same team behind the highly popular Summer Heights High and John Safran’s Race Relations. It is due to begin in Australia in February and is expected to air in the UK later in 2012.

Watch the trailer for Outland

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