• 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!

     

     

Seeding the breeze with Poet Trees

It’s wonderful when fans take an idea from our books and make it real…

In my Diamond Eyes trilogy, “The Poet Trees” are a crown of old tree houses where the heroine, Mira, once lived as a child. They also symbolise the dream home she keeps alive in her mind. She hopes to escape there some day from the captivity of the Serenity Asylum, where she’s being treated for “delusions” because she can see spectres of people from history.

But the Poet Trees harbour more secrets than anyone can imagine. All of the branches have been embossed with golden braille, quoting wise words from famous books, ballads, poems and scholars. These were collected and left behind by Mira’s parents to help guide her through life – hopefully giving her a brighter future, but also to help her avoid all the “ghosts” from her past.

As the crowning glory in a field of wildflowers (surrounded by rainforest and overlooking a private cove in Moreton Bay) The Poet Trees also provide far more than tranquil hideaway for Mira after she escapes. For fans, the The Poet Trees provide some of the most memorable scenes of the series. Almost magical, the leaves seem to whisper wise words to Mira on the breeze, and each time a mysterious hero is in the shadows. Not to mention a few sinister secrets.

“Poetry, or Poet Tree?” Not much difference really.

Plato once said: Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.

Each thriller in the Diamond Eyes series features a dozen quotes from the Poet Trees – one for each major turning point in Mira’s life – in order to support one of the main themes that the more things change, the more they stay the same’,even when events seem to be spiralling totally out of control. Since Mira can actually witness past events, and can see the violence of mankind stretching back for centuries, she becomes understandably frustrated at her inability to break free of the cycles that seem to keep her locked into a frightening fate at the hands of her enemies. The ancient Athenian Phaedrus seemed sympathetic when his words echoed across time, embossed forever in braille on the tallest limb in the grove, to warn her that: the only problem with seeing too much, is that it makes you insane. Yet Plutarch warned her that: Fate leads those who follow it, and drags those who resist.

Yet, the primary inspiration for Leopard Dreaming comes from Aristotle: Hope is a waking dream.

All are wise words that have echoed down to us over the centuries, perhaps because they apply so well for so many people in so many instances. And Mira tries to see herself as no different.  As her writer, that’s how it seems, at least.

And the other day I received this picture from a fan who lives in the centre of Australia, over 3000 kilometres away, where the first real Poet Tree has sprouted up at Alice Springs! Thanks to roving reporter Janne Leddin Hardy, the braille on this tree says:
2 C is 2 KNOW… which is amazing, because that nails the motif for the whole trilogy.

And even cooler: This species of tree is a eucalypt, called a ghost gum (because they appear to glow white at night under starlight) which is also reflective of the ghostly yester-world that Mira can see as she looks back through time….

So please feel welcome to share your own favourite quotes with me on twitter @ThePoetTrees … where wisdom grows through sharing. Or at www.facebook.com/anitabell.fanpage

In a perfect world, every city in the world would have its own Poet Tree. A tree of wisdom, where all the locals could share wise words for their coming generations.

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Predicting the future

I’ve been writing my Diamond Eyes trilogy for the last few years about a girl who is blind, but can see the past through various different shades of sunglasses, which act as filters for “slower” light frequencies. She can also glimpse the future at times, painfully through tears when she cries, so I’ve needed to research a lot about future technologies and “tomorrow” style living so I can create settings which are believable. And it’s been so interesting! Some of the gadgets I predicted now really exist, like electronic “google map sunglasses” and the talking GPS walking cane for blind people – both of which are greatly needed by two elderly members of my family.

And that’s not all. I’ve been basing the trilogy’s overall story arc on the premise of rising hostilities between China and Japan… which has become a real issue in the news this week. The third book, Leopard Dreaming, is out on October 1 and the plot twists are very close to the frightening news headlines.

This is not the first time I’ve been the victim of my own thorough research.

The last time it happened, I was writing a thriller on the premise of a massive earthquake and tsunami (after interviewing some of the world’s top geologists who advised me that the most likely place in the world for it to happen would be in the ocean trench off Aceh) and then unfortunately it really did happen.

Such things aren’t really coincidence, luck or supernatural foresight though… For Leopard Dreaming, I researched international politics well enough to set them against a believable back-drop of conspiracies. It didn’t take much research to find that China, Japan, the Soviets, Vietnam, Korea and even Indonesia have been disputing over islands in that region for over 2000 years. But the details about their amazing reasons were in the back stories, recent developments, and strategic troop movements that were much harder to find – but, after I did, it wasn’t hard to notice that certain things were likely to boil to a head. Naturally, in my thriller, I have factions working behind the scenes as well…
It saddens me that I’ve been able to see this coming for so long, and yet all of the parties involved continue to move dangerously closer to war. But hopefully, life can imitate art closely enough to aim for a peaceful resolution.

So is this just luck, coincidence or something else? The research techniques I used earlier in my life to understand the property and stockmarkets well enough to enable me to purchase my first investment as a teenager and retire within a decade are the same skills I use with every book in the Diamond Eyes series to project the future. Or, in other words, I take an educated guesstimate — simply a calculated forecast based on probability, historical trends, observations, politics, studies of human nature and good ol’ common sense.

As Mira would say; “I don’t need to see the future to know how this ends. I’ve seen all the patterns of the past and the direction it’s sweeping us.”

So I don’t believe predicting future events is an uncommon phenomenon for writers who really take their research, settings and backstories seriously, and I’d love to hear if anyone else has similar experiences.

Order the book through our links here.
anitabell.com
goodreads.com/aabell
facebook.com/AnitaBell.FanPage
twitter.com/ThePoetTrees

Voyager at the 2012 Norma K Hemming Awards

5 Voyager authors have been shortlisted in the 2012 Norma K Hemming Award!  The Devil’s Diadem by the late great Sara Douglass, Hindsight by A A Bell,  Eona by Alison Goodman,  Road to the Soul  by Kim Falconer & The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts. The Norma K Hemming Award recognises excellence in the exploration of race, gender, sexuality, class and disability in Australian speculative fiction. Congratulations guys!

AA Bell wins the Norma K Hemming Award 2011

Winner of the Norma K Hemming Award 2011

The Norma K Hemming Award is given for excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class and disability in speculative fiction. 

 The award was presented last night at Swancon 36 (the 50th Australian National Science Fiction Conventiion)

We’re absolutely thrilled about Anita winning this award and would like to congratulate her!

Diamond Eyes … and ears … part II

Following on from yesterday’s interview with AA Bell, author of Diamond Eyes, here is an interview with the musician behind the Diamond Eyes book trailer.

Interview with the Musician, David Meshow:

What inspired you when writing the Official Theme to Diamond Eyes?

From the story, I imagined how I would be if I was blind. Seeing nothing, but seeing something that nobody else can see, because it’s only in my head, gave me a lot of strange feelings. I first tuned my acoustic guitar with an unusual scale. After having found the main “chords” I recorded the guitar on my computer, just a simple test. Then I added some improvised piano. I love the sound of piano because you can get some smooth peaceful high tones and aggressive low notes at the same time. At the final recording step, I thought: What could I play to replace these testing notes? I tried different things but my final answer was; ‘Hey David, don’t change anything. The first recording test was pure emotion. It sounds deep.’ And finally, I used the soundless preview of the traditional trailer to get many ideas for the main ambiance and for adding different sound FX.  

How long did it take?

A few minutes here and there, but if I calculate the full time of the composition, mixing and production to finished product, I’d say it took me a good full week. But i don’t like to calculate my time because it “scraps” my imagination and the mood I have when I’m recording a song. It has to be done with heart. The most difficult is the final mixing step because I have to admit that I’m never 100% satisfied. Sometimes I just need to stop or I’ll never release my work. Hehe! 

What has this fabulous response from Youtube fans meant to you as an artist?

Ha! I’m surprised! I’m the kind of person who is always anxious until I get the first comments. It’s always like that. I really wasn’t expecting such a good response. I wasn’t sure about making a video for the song either. I was wrong, I guess. A lot of fans have told me it’s my best yet. And if I’m here today, it’s thanks to them! This 50 million views could not have happened without them. I’m really happy about everything that’s happened! 

Diamond Eyes by AA Bell is out now in all good bookshops.

Diamond Eyes … and ears …

Blitzing the book trailers for many NY Times bestsellers this week is the non-traditional low-budget trailer for Diamond Eyes, by AA Bell.

Over 60,000 views in the first week. (here and here)

Interview with the Author, AA Bell:

How did music play a role during the initial creative process?

Since the main character is blind, music and poetry plays an increasingly important role in the Diamond Eyes trilogy, adding sensory depth to settings as well as a few main plot twists. During the research stage, I therefore searched high and low for musicians who could play as many instruments as my main character, and play them so well, they could do it anywhere – in a garden or forest, and with a quirky sense of humour to suit the varying paces of the story, from slow and melancholy to fast-paced action. That’s how I found French Canadian, David Meshow, a young musical genius who can play at least 8 different instruments (and up to 4 at once, while singing in English, which isn’t his first language!) He also taught me how to play the most amazing electric guitar melodies around a campfire, so I could use it to increase the ‘magical’ aspects of a specific scene in Hindsight (launching in June.)

And in post production?

It seemed only natural that such unique music should play a large role in post production too. So I wrote to David for permission to use part of the music which had inspired me so much during the creative process, and sent him a copy of the book, but he was so inspired by the story, he told me he was keen to write a brand new piece just to suit it. And wow, what a fabulous example of inspiration breeding inspiration. I couldn’t be happier. And over 4000 fans also agree it’s his best yet.