• 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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The Brave Tale of Maddie Carver

A very special Christmas present from Stacia Kane

Stacia Kane has written a short story in the world of the Downside Ghosts trilogy, about the beginning of Haunted Week, and it’s all yours for your Christmas reading. Click on the link above. It’s just a little over 2000 words, so it might be nice to snuggle down to before you sleep, or to read while trying to digest the Christmas turkey.

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Hard Heroes: Part II

 

Linda Hamilton plays hardcore hero Sarah Connor in Terminator II

 How do you manage to make your characters harder without being too hard? Part I

Along with goals and history, flaws are an essential ingredient in writing strong, engaging characters. As Stacia Kane, author of the Downside Ghost Series, says, I don’t like characters who are just naturally strong and brave and smart and wonderful. To me it’s the flaws–and what they do with them–that make a person strong, and that makes them human. And the stronger and braver and tougher they are to the outside world, the more their flaws and weaknesses matter.

 ‘The flaw’ can move the story forward and make characters believable. For example, Tryn Bistoria in my Quantum Encryption Series is a capable, smart, talented apprentice but ruthless in the lengths she’s go to keep her familiar a secret.  It’s the flaw that draws the reader in and keeps the pages turning—the chink in the armour counts.

Sometimes the flaw is meshed with the character’s strength. Duncan Lay points this out when referring to Martil in the Dragon Sword Histories: (His) strength is also his greatest weakness in that he is a warrior without peer, a warleader even but he hates and despises what he is forced to do to win battles, both individually and as a war captain. Often the ‘flaw’ is the thing the character will try to hide. It’s internalised and that can lead to even deeper issues.

But strength isn’t always physical, as Mary Victoria, author of the Chronicles of the Tree series, reminds us. Samiha is strong precisely because she’s weak. Her flaws and her humanity give her insight. Her lack of physical strength gives her moral power. . . Playing with the way the character handles power can be very revealing and it gives us a chance as writers to explore some of the deeper elements of human psychology.

Jennifer Fallon reminds us not to forget the external factors as well. She says, when characters are required to make hard decisions, slam every other door open to them, so their path, no matter how hard or awful, is the only logical one to follow, then your readers will accept it and forgive that character anything you want/need them to. I have a character in The Second Sons series, who murders his father and arranges for the murder of his mother, and everyone reads this series and says “poor baby”, because I left him with no other honourable alternative, so the act, far from making him unsympathetic, made him a hero.

Environment, history, goals, flaws, Satima Flavell, author and editor, sums it up. To be memorable, a character needs to be complex. We need to see flaws as well as virtues, and we need to see, over the course of the book or series, just what has caused those flaws and how the character deals with them. A certain degree of self-awareness and self-acceptance is usually found in truly memorable characters, no matter how troubled or apparently conscienceless they might be.

Sometimes that self-awareness can rise spontaneously, without the author planning it. Traci Harding’s Tory from The Ancient Future Series demonstrates this:  I think the attraction with Tory is that she the observer in all of us . . . She is not compelled by religion to do the right thing, but has an appreciation for different cultures and draws from the beliefs of all, and her own common sense, in her search for the answers to the greater mysterious in life . . . I’m not too sure if I took Tory on a great adventure or she took me, but I feel I have my Tory’s boots when I’m writing her character. She taught me so much and is still teaching me as she morphs herself into other characters and other tales.

Have a comment on the topic? We’d all love to hear from you. 

Special thanks to Traci Harding, Stacia Kane, Jennifer Fallon, Mary Victoria, Duncan Lay, K J Taylor, Tracey O’Hara, Satima Flavell and Nicole Murphy for your input and contributions to this discussion.

A good (but Unholy) read

The Departed Have Arrived …

The lovely Stacia Kane has been nominated for not one but TWO awards over at Goodreads.com

You can vote for her as best/favourite author or you can vote for City of Ghosts (Book Two of the Downside Ghosts) as best/favourite paranormal story.
What are you waiting for?!
And if you haven’t met Chess, Terrible and the rest of the characters in the Downside Ghosts, click on the image above to find out more about Unholy Ghosts, Book One of the Downside Ghost trilogy.

Win a Voyager Christmas Gift Pack worth over $200!

It’s nearly Christmas and Voyager has the most fabulous present to put under the tree.  We’re celebrating the year that was with this awesome prize pack of some of our best and brightest stars of 2010. Begin a new adventure with the following books that are sure to keep you occupied all summer long:

Secret Ones by Nicole Murphy
Diamond Eyes By AA Bell
Path of the Stray by Kim Falconer
Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane
Tymon’s Flight by Mary Victoria
Spellwright by Blake Charlton
Slave of Sondelle by Bevan McGuiness
Pilgrims by Will Elliott
Power and Majesty by Tansy Rayner Roberts
Being of the Field by Traci Harding

One lucky winner will win them all while 4 runners will receive the book of their choice from this collection.  To win answer the following question in 25 words or less:

What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2011 and why?

Email your answers to promotions@harpercollins.com.au by 5:00pm on Friday 17th December!

Need some inspiration? Check out some 2011 sneak peeks here

The Devil’s Diadem by Sara Douglass
Heaven to Wudang by Kylie Chan
Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Power Unbound by Nicole Murphy
Road to the Soul by Kim Falconer
Samiha’s Song by Mary Victoria
Seventh Wave by Paul Garrety
Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts
Twilight’s Dawn by Anne Bishop
Undivided by Jennifer Fallon

Competition terms and conditions

  1. Information on how to enter forms part of the terms and conditions of entry. Promoter is HarperCollins Publishers Pty Limited ABN 36 009 913 517, 25 Ryde Road, Pymble NSW 2073, Australia.
  2. Competition closes at 5pm Friday 17th December 2010 (AEST).
  3. Entry is open to Australian & New Zealand residents only.
  4. Entry is closed to employees (and their immediate families), agencies or trade customers of HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd and its associated companies.
  5. All entries are via e-mail only. The competition requires entrants to answer a question.
  6. Entries close 5pm Friday 17th December 2010 (AEST) and entrants may enter one (1) time only.
  7. This is a game of skill in which chance plays no part.
  8. The judge’s decision in relation to any aspect of this competition is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  9. First prize consists of a copy of Secret Ones, Diamond Eyes, Path of the Stray, Unholy Ghosts, Tymon’s Flight, Spellwright, Slave of Sondelle, Pilgrims, Power and Majesty, Being of the Field. Four runners up will receive a copy of a book of their choice from the above list.
  10. Prize is not transferable or redeemable for cash.
  11. All prizes will be awarded. The prize will be awarded the business day following the competition closing date, 5pm Friday 17th December 2010 (AEST) at 25 Ryde Road, Pymble NSW 2073.
  12. The cost of entering the competition is limited to the cost of individuals telephone charges and Internet access rates.
  13. The promoter shall not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever suffered (including but not limited to direct or consequential loss) or personal injury suffered or sustained in relation to use of this prize.
  14. All entries received remain the property of HarperCollins Pty Ltd and may be used for additional promotions.

Terrible T-shirts for Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts

One of Stacia Kane’s fans has created t-shirt designs based on the books.

Check out Stacia’s post on the designs at her blog – and see what else she has in mind… I like the reference to main character Chess in the one below … as well as her relationship with Terrible.

I’d like to see t-shirts with some of the quotes from the Book of Truth …  ‘And the sun set so nothing but darkness existed, and the dead rose with a violent hunger.’ (cue shiver down the spine!)

How much should you compromise your vision to get published?

 

The Departed Have Arrived ...

 

Your writing reflects your unique — and sometimes messy — vision of the world. But how much should you compromise or censor yourself to get published? Urban fantasy author Stacia Kane delves into tricky questions of art and commerce over at the fabulous io9.

 

The Big Idea by Stacia Kane

Meet Chess Putnam ...

It actually started with one line in an old issue of STARLOG magazine, a mention of a “professional debunker;” that is, someone who investigates hauntings. This would be unlike the “Ghosts are totally real, dudes—and we will find them!” shtick of those ghost-hunting TV shows that sprout up everywhere these days, with lots of night-vision camera work and people running around screaming. (Am I the only one who thinks, “That’s right, boys. It’s Doctor Venkman!” every time I see one of those?)

I already had a series that straddled the urban fantasy/paranormal romance line—the Megan Chase books (Juno/Pocket)—but I really wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to move away from heavy romantic elements, and I wanted to write a main character with real, deep problems. Someone who couldn’t solve those problems by casting a spell or pulling a gun or sexing up a gorgeous paranormal creature; I was frankly tired of gorgeous paranormal creatures. Don’t mistake me; I’m not putting down books where gorgeous paranormal creatures are sexed up, or saying that there aren’t plenty of books out there where no gorgeous paranormal creatures are sexed up. I just wanted to do something else.

I wanted to write dark fantasy; I wanted to write something creepy and dangerous and badass, something more Escape From New York than Pride and Prejudice (with or without zombies). Continue reading