• 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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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.

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Pulp Fiction signing in Brisbane next week

Pulp Fiction Booksellers are holding a signing just before the Aurealis Awards, with lots of your favourite authors in attendance – including Voyager and Angry Robot authors, so if you’re in Brisbane, do not miss out!

When: Saturday 23rd January

Who:
10.30-11.30 Trudi Canavan and Kaaron Warren
11.30-12.30 Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, Sean Williams
12.30-1.30 Karen Miller and Glenda Larke
2.30-3.30 Pamela Freeman and K J Taylor

Where:
Pulp Fiction Booksellers
Shops 28-29 Anzac Square Building Arcade
265-269 Edward Street
(entrance halfway between Ann and Adelaide Streets)
Brisbane

Why? Because if you’re in Brisbane and DON’T go to this signing then we shall remove your ‘fantasy fan’ badge and lock it away FOREVER, ok?

Conjecture this weekend in Adelaide

http://conjecture2009.org/

5 – 8 June, 2009

Special mention: Sean Williams is DJing at the marked ball!

And fabulous Voyager authors Karen Miller, Tony Shillitoe and Trudi Canavan will be taking part in panels and events throughout the weekend.Extra special mention: If you’re a fan of Supernatural (and you should be in this humble blogger’s opinion!) then make sure you chat to Karen about the show.

The great rise and fall part II: Sean Williams delves into the heart of Geodesica

Here we have part two of Sean William’s piece on Geodesica, really getting to the heart of what has been explored. I really recommend reading the duology – two very different books that make up our story. Feel free to admire the way the covers sit together :). Click here to read part one of this piece.

AscentDescent

The future history of humanity helped define the shape Geodesica took. It could never have been a trilogy. Book one, to my mind, represents a rocket launching pad and book two the entire trajectory of the rocket, going up and then going in a beautiful parabola. That’s why Ascent and Descent have such different flavours and structures: Ascent is about a time of crisis in an “ordinary” interstellar empire, while Descent covers the entire span of Coevality–the million-year regime that comes about because of the invention of time travel.

Geodesica is a love story spanning nearly the full length of human history but it’s also, like all of my space opera novels, an exploration of what people might be like in the far future. Geodesica takes that latter inquiry in a direction I’d never gone before, that being: what will post-humans fight about? (See “Further reading” below for more on this.) Ultimately it’s a quest for selfhood and identity–the very same quest that occupies us in every stage of our lives–with giant explosions.

Of the latter, the teenage me and I agree, there can never be enough. Where aliens are concerned, though, I’m undecided. They make for great scenery, and they raise important philosophical and scientific questions. But in Geodesica, I decided, the issues I wanted to deal with were human issues, and so adding aliens to the mix would deflect attention away from where I wanted it to be. There are aliens in the books, but to a much lesser degree than in Orphans, say, where presenting humanity as a fragile species struggling to evolve in a hostile, alien universe was very much the point.

My favourite character in Geodesica is Isaac Deangelis, whose name means “he who laughs” but who has very little to laugh about through the course of his life. (Names are important to me. His surname, “of the angels”, was chosen deliberately.) Bred to be a ruler, he routinely juggles more concerns than we ordinary humans could bear, but he falters at simple interpersonal relationships. Only on losing everything does he realise that he has never been free. Ultimately he must confront himself and his own obsessions, and thereby learn how to live with himself.

That seems to be a universal lesson. It’s certain one I’ve grappled with myself, and I will continue to explore it in my fiction as long as I’m able. You can dress them up as space opera or fantasy as much as you like, but every story is really about us. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about writing, that’s it.

Sean Williams is the author of twenty-nine novels and over seventy short stories, and won an Aurealis this year for his collection of short stories in Magic Dirt (link below). To find out more about him, go to www.seanwilliams.com.

Further reading from Sean:

2006 Conjure GoH Address (the million-year romance)

“A Longing for the Dark” (the future of fighting), presented in podcast form, read by me, courtesy of the Terra Incognita Australian Speculative Fiction podcast:
www.tisf.com.au or
www.keithstevenson.com/terraincognitasf/tisf005.html or
www.keithstevenson.com/media/TISF_005.mp3

Lastly, “Night of the Dolls” (lots of the themes mentioned here), in my best-of short story collection Magic Dirt:
http://ticonderogapublications.com/publications/magicdirt.html
(Like “A Longing for the Dark”, this is a standalone excerpt from Geodesica: Descent)

The great rise and fall: Sean Williams on Geodesica

Some time ago, I asked Sean Williams if he would write a piece for the Voyager blog, and he agreed to write on the Geodesica duology – made up of Geodesica: Ascent and Geodesica: Descent, two books which make a whole that I found amazing to read. So, in two parts, here is Sean’s piece, a wonderful exploration of writing these two books and the themes explored within them.

Ascent

Ascent

What’s Geodesica about? Perhaps I should start by describing where the idea for this story came from. As a young boy I spent a lot of time on buses, going back and forth between my home in Adelaide and the small country town where my grandparents lived. I’m sure I’m not the only such kid to have day-dreamed about taking a bus to another planet. In 1992 I tried to write a story about just that.

“Cloverleaf” detailed the escape of a criminal into a vast, space-bending maze that connected all the far-flung worlds of humanity’s future empire. He’s chased by cops and ultimately falls foul of an intelligence that has taken root inside the maze, an emergent property of the minds of all the commuters travelling through it like him.

No one bought “Cloverleaf”, and so the idea languished. It wasn’t until 2003, when I was looking for a series to follow Orphans, that the idea came out of the bottom drawer and leapt back into the forefront of my mind.

This being an old story for which I felt a great deal of affection, I quickly decided that it would be a “Williams with Dix” rather than “Williams and Dix” project–meaning that it was something I would work on alone, through development, pitching and writing, with Shane coming onboard much later to give me vital editorial support.

Descent

Descent

Having decided that, I proceeded to ditch almost everything about the original story except the central conceit and the title–and soon enough even the title went too. The duology was originally pitched as Cloverleaf, with individual volumes called Bedlam Watch and Palmer’s Wake. They then became Geodesica and Geodesica Falling before evolving into versions that ended up on the shelves.

Next I had to invent a new space opera milieu for the maze to intersect with. The one I settled on featured waves of progressively more advanced post-human sorts expanding outwards from Earth, each taking over territory controlled by their predecessors–something I’d never seen in fiction before. I made the maze of alien origin, something stumbled across and exploited, rather than built, and set the story off-Earth instead of starting at home and moving elsewhere–because sometimes the view over our shoulder is more terrifying than that ahead.

Sean Williams is the author of twenty-nine novels and over seventy short stories, and won an Aurealis this year for his collection of short stories in Magic Dirt (link below). To find out more about him, go to www.seanwilliams.com.

Part two of this piece will go up tomorrow, but below is the list of further reading that Sean sent through.

Further reading:

2006 Conjure GoH Address (the million-year romance)

“A Longing for the Dark” (the future of fighting), presented in podcast form, read by me, courtesy of the Terra Incognita Australian Speculative Fiction podcast:
www.tisf.com.au or
www.keithstevenson.com/terraincognitasf/tisf005.html or
www.keithstevenson.com/media/TISF_005.mp3

Lastly, “Night of the Dolls” (lots of the themes mentioned here), in my best-of short story collection Magic Dirt:
http://ticonderogapublications.com/publications/magicdirt.html
(Like “A Longing for the Dark”, this is a standalone excerpt from Geodesica: Descent)

The Crooked Letter available free

Sean William’s The Crooked Letter, First book of the Cataclysm, is currently available as a free PDF from his overseas publisher Pyr.

See: http://ladnews.livejournal.com/112580.html

Sean says: For those who aren’t familiar with it, The Crooked Letter is kinda urban New Weird on a massive scale. It’s been compared to China Mieville, Philip Pullman, Ursula K Le Guin, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, yada yada, and it won both the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards the year it was released (the first fantasy novel in the history of the awards to do so). Chronologically speaking, it’s the first book in my Change series, and stands as a prequel to The Stone Mage & the Sea, The Blood Debt, and The Changeling. It’s also my attempt to take all the world’s religions and wrap them up in a crazy Darwinian package that even an atheist like me might be tempted to believe. It was the most difficult book I ever wrote, and now it’s free. Check it out!

Keep an eye on this blog in about 2 weeks when we’ll be posting up something Sean wrote on the Geodesica duology.

Lynne Green: Starstruck at the Aurealis Awards

Fantastic Queensland should be very proud. The running of the Aurealis Awards showed how an awards ceremony can be both sophisticated and fun. The awards were everything you expect from such occasions: beautiful women in fabulous frocks (too many gorgeous women to name names), dashingly handsome men (Sean Williams suits up nicely), and civilised drinks at a posh venue.

Then again, it had all the unique twists you would expect from a community event of SF writers. Some of the attendees were wearing eye-catching items of clothing; a black kilt – and I have to give an honourable mention the pair of very nice legs so revealed; enviable purple, velvet cloaks that glowed like gems, pink shoelaces for breast cancer awareness; and Simon Higgins was sporting a rather swish coat. There were Star Trek jokes flying all over the place, and that pun is very much intended. Whenever someone was announced as a winner, the audience was just as thrilled as the award recipient, which is a most delightful experience.
However, you can probably get all this information from other sources. So I will share my personal impressions of the function.

My biggest thrill was meeting with people who had just been virtual acquaintances; hello Trudi, Angela and Kathleen! Trudi had her book launch before the ceremony, and was also one of the presenters on the night. Because I know that Trudi is a mad knitter, I was expecting someone more mumsy and not such a glorious glamour puss. I was able to recognise Angela because of her hair and glasses; she is attending Clarion at time of writing and looked wonderful for a woman under the stress of continuous creativity. Kathleen recognised me from my Facebook photo. I have been requested to put up a right-side-up photo on Facebook to make recognition easier in the future.

As well, I was able to meet up with Natalie, one of my fellow judges. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch up with the other two judges attending the ceremony. That was disappointing, as we had worked well as a team and I was hoping to chat with such perceptive, cooperative and charming people.

To be truthful, I was star struck on the night. At one point I was standing next to Jack Dann, and I couldn’t make my mouth open to say ‘hi’. I felt the same when I saw Sean Williams, even though I give him cheek on Facebook – I’ve been known to make fun of his love of baked goods – I felt too shy to go up and chat. I was stunned when I spoke with Trudi, even though Trudi is as nice and approachable a person as you could ever meet.

Everyone talks about a ‘Golden Age’ or era for Science Fiction or Fantasy or Horror. For me, Australia is going through a ‘Golden Age’, and I am so lucky to meet with SF Australian authors, who are among the best writers in the world. Proof was provided last night, with stellar names accepting or presenting awards. I was walking with the stars.

So, my highlights of the night: Alison and Simon as presenters, because they were relaxed and had fun; watching the winners struggle up and down the stairs, because they weren’t expecting to win and so sat up the back; the sudden intake of breath from the couple behind me as the husband was announced as a winner; mixing with ‘the SF community’, though they are more like a family.

So, if you get a chance to attend the awards in the future, do go. I relished the opportunity to see the hardworking writers and illustrators receive their well-deserved recognition. All the nominees were of the utter, soaring, pinnacle of Australian talent, and they all deserved to win. I still feel like I’m gleaming with stardust.

(And thank you to my husband, who is painfully shy and loathes crowds, for attending with me. (((Hugs))) sweetheart.)

Lynne Green writes under her own name, as the Voyager Science Queen, and under the pen name of Lynne Lumsden Green for everything else. Though she already has a B. Sc. in zoology, she is currently studying Creative Writing at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her long term goal is to become a respected writer and academic in the fields of Fantasy, Popular Science Fact, and Science Fiction. Her favourite authors are Diana Wynne Jones, Isaac Asimov, Neil Gaiman, and all of the Voyager authors, with Terry Pratchett as her personal hero. Recently, Lynne has had some quiet success with her short stories, and hopes this will lead to her ultimate domination the world.

So, who won an Aurealis on 24 Jan?

Learn more about the Aurealis Awards