• 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!

     

     

Noir Fantasy – how Rhonda Roberts fell for the darker side of the city

blade_runnerI first saw Blade Runner in a dirty old theatre in a seedy little back street in Shinjuku.

I’d stumbled into it in a bid to stave off heatstroke and get away from the cloud of pollution that’d swirled just a few feet above my head all day. To my amazement the big screen reflected Tokyo back to me…the Japanese-English, the noodle shops, the smog, the huge blinking neon signs…all filtered through the nostalgic lens of Vangelis’ music score.

I was confused… I still had a headache from the car fumes after all. How could I have not known I was living in a noir paradise? Then I surrendered to the fantasy.

After that I became a fan of noir fiction and film… Black, ebony, midnight, darkness…the shadow always injects the delight into any tale. Show me a trench coat and I’ll follow you down any dark alley. The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep …Joan Crawford in shoulder-pads holding a smoking gun.

Most of all I loved the Bad Women in noir – they’re so abandoned…wild. Beyond the pale.

Then I saw Alien…and best of all Aliens. This was the ultimate dark alley.

I went with a uni friend on a weekday to the old picture theatre in Glebe. Besides us there was only a father and the two young girls he was reluctantly babysitting. Twenty minutes later, when the alien explodes out of the stomach, we were left totally alone in this huge crumbling theatre.

But Ripley was there…finally the fantasy heroine I always wished for. Okay Ripley doesn’t have a trench coat but like all great Noir heroines it’s the shadows that define her.

I see Kannon Dupree as a very Australian noir heroine. Like Ripley her sad past defines her yet she has a love of life that pulls her into the light.

Are you a fan of the same movies as Rhonda? I know the majority of us at Voyager are!

Rhonda Roberts’ first book, Gladiatrix, is now available across Australia and New Zealand. Rhonda lives in the south of Sydney (as you might gather from this post – she certainly knows the area well!) and is working on the next book in the Time Stalker series, Hoodwink.

Visit Rhonda’s website

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Rhonda Roberts on the Radio

Gladiatrix author Rhonda Roberts will be doing a live radio interview today on 4RO (Qld) at 12:30pm (Qld time) with Jacq Ellem. Keeps your ears peeled and your radios tuned!

A Heroine from the Illawarra – Rhonda Roberts

There was never any doubt in my mind Kannon Dupree had to be a true Australian heroine: down to earth, courageous and generous. Nor that she would grow up in the Illawarra

Kannon was left for dead when she was two years old. Yuki, the half-Japanese woman that found her, became her adopted mother and brought her to live in the northern suburbs of the Illawarra

A view of Sandon Point where Kannon surfs

A view of Sandon Point where Kannon surfs

The steep Escarpment edging so close to the ocean from Stanwell Park to Sandon Point in Bulli provides a spectacular backdrop to Kannon’s childhood. Though her house is only an hour south of Sydney, she’s a typical Wollongong girl – she’d rather be barefoot and outside more anything else. She grew up exploring the sandstone cliffs of the Escarpment and surfing off Sandon Point. This was the perfect place for her to become the adventurous and dynamic young woman who demands to know the answers to her sad past no matter what the cost.

All fantasy novels should be set here!

All fantasy novels should be set here! How beautiful.

The people that populate this dramatic landscape are rich in diverse traditions and history. The local indigenous people have a strong connection to the land, in particular Sandon Point. Because of the coal mining and Port Kembla Steel Works there are diverse immigrant communities who have bought their intriguing traditions with them. There are Wiccans who gather on the cliffs every full moon and fundamentalist Christians who preach on the street corners. There are seedy land developers and corrupt councils with a history of violent murder. Anything can happen here and often does.

It’s a writer’s paradise.

gladiatrixRhonda Roberts’ first book, Gladiatrix, is now available across Australia and New Zealand. Rhonda lives in the south of Sydney (as you might gather from this post – she certainly knows the area well!) and is working on the next book in the Time Stalker series, Hoodwink.

Visit Rhonda’s website

Adventures in Japan – Rhonda Roberts

The castle at Nagoya, where Rhonda lived

The castle at Nagoya, where Rhonda lived

Japan is a floating theme park full of cherry blossoms, samurai castles, ancient temples and the best and worst in us all. I love it. And it’s been a key inspiration for Gladiatrix. Kannon Dupree was raised by Yuki, her half-Japanese foster mother, she is trained in Japanese martial arts and like the Japanese she places a premium on loyalty and honour.

I first lived in the Land of the Rising Sun back in the 1980s. I intended visiting for six months and left two years later… And I certainly got my fill… I probably averaged four hours sleep a night through those years.

I lived in the foothills of Mount Fuji, learnt martial arts and tea ceremony, climbed through Ninja strongholds, woke up screaming in the middle of a midnight earthquake, sweltered through summer and froze in the snow in winter and celebrated a new festival with my neighbours every month. Just the leaves changing colour meant an instant shindig and a new set of kimono.

You’ve got to love the Japanese will to party.

Every person I met and every place I visited turned up riches I still draw on. From the island of the Goddess at Miyajima to Hiroshima Ground Zero, from flower-arranging to sword festivals, from drunken businessman climbing telephone polls in cherry blossom time to bald-headed monks watching baseball under the counter while they served in a magnificent Buddhist temple, I was constantly astonished and intrigued. And I’m writing about them still.

The temple at Kyoto

The temple at Kyoto - a perfect place to travel back in time

Rhonda Roberts is the author Gladiatrix, the first book in the Time Stalker series. She lives in south of Sydney, Australia. She’s currently at work on Hoodwink, the follow up to Gladiatrix. Rhonda was an academic for eleven years. During this time she worked in Australia, the United States and in Japan, where she lived for three years. Visit her website at www.rhondarobertsauthor.com

Download a PDF extract from Gladiatrix

Rhonda Roberts on time travel

Time travel became a passion for me when I was a kid growing up in Western Australia. In my school holidays we used to visit these old towns left over from the Gold Rush, full of huge ornate marble pubs and grand post offices.

Talk about ghost towns… You could almost hear the rowdy miners laden down with gold dust and nuggets bellying up to the bar for a beer on a Saturday night. But when I saw them the towns were deserted and choked with dust and weeds.

A decade or so later I spent nine months living with a family in a quaint little Bavarian village in the shadow of a ruined castle. They told me about the great battle that had been fought there two hundred years before that was so brutal a river of blood had flowed. The village observed the seasons, holding beer fests in summer and dances in winter; there were deer and other game in the local forests… It felt like I’d gone back to an older, agrarian time.

I love travel and every different culture I’ve visited has presented me with glimpses of a past world and past way of life. It was this passion with different histories and different cultures that led me to become an academic specializing in cross-cultural analysis of knowledge systems. And time travel just had to be a key part of the Time Stalker series too.

Rhonda Roberts lives in the Illawarra just south of Sydney. She’s currently at work on Hoodwink, the follow up to Gladiatrix. Rhonda has a PhD in Science, Technology and Society and was an academic for eleven years. During this time she worked in Australia, the United States and in Japan, where she lived for three years. Visit her website at www.rhondarobertsauthor.com

Download a PDF extract from Gladiatrix

Rhonda Roberts: Creating Ancient Rome

gladiatrixI started writing Gladiatrix one summer when I had two weeks of vacation left and nothing much to do. I’d been looking around the bookshops for a good read and couldn’t find anything that suited so I decided to start writing the book I wanted – a feisty heroine who solves a mystery in an exotic far away place.

I wanted to send her to ancient Rome so then time travel became a part of the plot. That’s when the research started …

I try to visit the places I write about but I’m afraid Rome is the one spot I’ve never been. I visited northern Italy while I was living in Europe, but not Rome. So the ancient city of Gladiatrix is all my research and imagination. I have a bookcase full of maps of Augustan Rome, archaeological texts on the place and a head full of old movies.

I chose ancient Rome because years ago I tutored in a course called ‘Man, Women and Deity’. The subject examined the different forms of deity worship over the ages and there was a fascinating section on the Isis cult and its spread outside Egypt. I was so intrigued by the fact that an ancient Egyptian religion almost took over the Roman Empire that when I decided to write on time travel Rome was the place I wanted to send my heroine.

I like writing about history because in my academic life I specialized in cross-cultural analysis of knowledge systems, that is what passed for science and technology in other times and places. So I did a lot of research for Gladiatrix and then tried to make sure the story hung together and that the reader liked the characters enough to suspend disbelief and come on the adventure with them.

Rhonda Roberts lives in the Illawarra just south of Sydney. She’s currently at work on Hoodwink, the follow up to Gladiatrix. Rhonda has a PhD in Science, Technology and Society and was an academic for eleven years. During this time she worked in Australia, the United States and in Japan, where she lived for three years. Visit her website at www.rhondarobertsauthor.com

See the maps used in Gladiatrix

Coming soon … Gladiatrix

gladiatrix

Introducing Kannon … a hero for the ages, you might say, given the events of the story …

Left for dead when she was two‚ Kannon Jarratt has no idea of her real identity. Then, twenty years on‚ she discovers that her mother might be US Time Marshal‚ Victoria Dupree. Victoria is one of a select few allowed to travel in time – on official business only, and she’s currently in Ancient Rome, investigating the mysterious leader of the Isis cult, which has had a  suspicious resurgance in modern times.

When Kannon travels to the US to find out more about Victoria, she finds herself far more involved in Victoria’s work than she would have expected … ending up stuck in Ancient Rome – and lucky to be alive at all – in the time of Augustus, with no friendly faces around.

To survive, Kannon is forced to become a gladiatrix in the service of Domitia Crassus‚ the only person (and a vile one at that) who can lead her to her mother. And she’s not becoming a gladiatrix for nothing, there’s a bloody battle with death coming up …

I loved this book – it’s a mixture of all the good bits in an adventure story – the fantasy/SF element of time travel, the depiction of Ancient Rome, which is fantastic, a strong, sassy female lead who gets the job done, and a hot-as-hell-fire ex-gladiator who has been forced into slavery … I pounded through the second half of the book, eager to discover the identity of the Isis cult leader, the Hierophant, wondering if Kannon had discovered her mother, wondering if half the characters would survive! I loved the fact that the book starts of in Australia before travelling through both time and space. And lucky for me, when I’d finished I was able to throw a ton of questions at poor Rhonda Roberts – who kindly answered straight away. She’ll be writing for the Voyager blog in the next few weeks  – incorporating some of those answers – and for the Captain’s Log, the next issue of which is due very soon. Keep an eye out for those pieces and in the mean time, visit Rhonda’s website and read a brief excerpt from Gladiatrix.

Gladiatrix will be available across Australia in one week’s time.

If you’ve managed to snaffle an early copy of Gladiatrix, please feel free to post a review or your thoughts on the book in the comments section.