• 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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Highlights from the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2012

Yes, we are both Gemini; no we didn’t ring ahead to colour coordinate! Isobelle Carmody (left) and Kim Falconer (right) at the Byron Bay Writers Festival 2012

Last year, HarperVoyager had a strong presence at the Bryon Bay Writers’ Festival. I shared the stage with Fiona McIntosh and Traci Harding, and we had the time of our lives. We enthralled audiences with talk of magic spells, quantum physics, time travel, totems and how best to portray the sounds of screams from the dungeon. With our then Voyager publisher in the audience, Stephanie Smith, we were all on fire. The memory was so buoyant, I wasn’t sure how this year’s festival would measure up.

Being the only Voyager author, I wasn’t sure who I would connect with this time around, but that all changed in a flash. There was another speculative fiction author present and when I met her I was immediately reminded of the binding tie that makes fantasy authors kindred spirits no matter what ‘house’ they hale from. Sharing the stage on topics of fantasy, creativity, dreams and the spirit of the written word was the well known and loved fantasy queen, Isobelle Carmody. I had the pleasure of being ‘in conversation’ with her to a packed house of YA fans, a most enjoyable session. I can attest without doubt, the love of speculative fiction is alive and well! What a fabulous experience.

Other highlights included Wild Things, a tribute to Maurice Sendak. His books have expanded the way we think about children’s literature and what is possible to write, treating children as ‘people’ with strong emotions, drives and desires. On similar topics were panels addressing education, literacy and the future of books. A personal favourite of mine, ‘The Perfect Pitch’ was a lively panel where publishers, including HarperCollins publishing director Shona Martyn, listen to six hopeful writers try to sell their work. Very exciting!

At the extreme end of the reality scale was the ‘Righting the World’ discussion with Australian environmentalist Ian Lowe, author Niromi De Soyza, who ran away from her family home in Sri Lanka at 17 to join the Tamil Tigers and fight for her country’s freedom; Indonesian author Andrea Hirata; and American author Katherine Boo, who is known for her works on the disadvantaged and poverty stricken. They shared horror stories but every one of them ended in hope, a most moving and uplifting panel.

I was pleased to see again this year how every session at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival began by acknowledging an empty chair. This is part of the PEN program and represents a writer who is in prison for writing what someone in power, somewhere in the world, believed is ‘off Limits’. Acknowledgement of the Pen empty chair reminds us all the freedom of expression we otherwise take for granted. Sobering.

On the nuts and bolt of writing side of things, I gave a workshop on writing, selling and promoting genre fiction. You can see the PowerPoint presentation with live links here. All in all, though I missed my Voyager sisters, it was a wonderful Byron Bay Writer’s Festival 2012.

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Feeling the Passion- Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2011

Fiona McIntosh

Fiona McIntosh

Voyager authors Fiona McIntosh, Traci Harding and Kim Falconer lit up the fifteenth annual Bryon Bay Writers’ Festival with explanations of quantum physics, the relationship between myths and fantasy, authors and editors, animal totems and how best to portray ‘the sounds of screams from the dungeon.’ They certainly kept some of the literary minded on their toes with spontaneously insights and new perspectives.

 Ideas about writing and the how-to of publishing were bantered about and questions like what is speculative fiction exactly . . . and how do you go about world building . . . were answered in depth. One panellist nearly fell out of her chair when the Voyager authors started talking about their daily word counts (three thousand words a day an upwards) and their rigorous publishing schedule (between one and three books a year). It’s quite a contrast to some of the other writers and made for a lot of spirited debate.

kim_traci

Kim Falconer & Traci Harding

 Sessions from the Nuts and Bolts of writing workshop, the how-to of online presence to Bad Boys: Writing Dark Heroes to Die For gave emerging writers plenty to think about over the six consecutive days of events. Thursday the 4th was the secondary school day- think crowded tents, attentive audiences and wildly varying questions. One young girl asking Traci Harding for advice on when to start a new paragraph and her answer had the teachers taking notes.

 The main panels and events were held over the weekend, August 5th  – 7th  under a warm sunny sky and big high top tents. As always, it was a festival not only for the mind but for the senses as the theme of passion infused every topic. Byron Bay is one of the favoured festivals of the region not only for the beautiful seaside venue but for the moments captured that can never be repeated with their conversations unscripted and panels uniquely composed. Congratulations to the new director, Candida Baker on a marvellous achievement!

kim_traci_fiona 

 

 

 

 

Kim Falconer, Traci Harding and Fiona McIntosh

World Without Walls – Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2010

The beautiful setting of the Byron Bay festival

Quillian the were-fey - a detail from Aaron Briggs' illustration on Path of the Stray

I had no idea what I’d signed up for when saying yes to the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival. Being the only SF/F author among all the literary and media giants required some quick thinking. I got very good at defining Speculative Fiction on the spot, and explaining that my books were not actually written for children. All in all, it was a blast!

My workshop on immersion sold out. It went fabulously. You can see the visual aids to get an idea of content. I also put together a high school presentation. Three hundred young students and me on stage, mic in one hand, notes in the other—a real challenge when the wind blew my hair in streamers across my face. Once I started talking though, it all rolled out. We discussed writing speculative fiction, the genre that asks what if. I signed books after, as well as binders and back packs. Great fun!

Kim and the Quantum Enchantment trilogy

My panel with Kathy Lette, Laura Bloom and Krissy Kneen was hilarious. While the others were talking about their first orgasms and the importance of thorough research prior to any sex (scenes), I pointed out the value of sex as a tool for world building. It can reveal deeper levels of character and even more fundamentally, portray the social paradigm. I used the title of the panel, Bodice Rippers, as an example of how sexual references tell us something about gender biases in the culture. I signed lots of books after that one.

The panel on The Magical and Fantastical was my favourite. Chaired by Angela Meyer, I shared the stage with Maria Van Daalen, an academic and the only Mambo Asogwe Voodoo High Priestess in Europe. I won over some new readers that day, though at the signing, a woman waited in line for quite some time to tell me she couldn’t get into fantasy, but her husband loved it. I waited for her to hand me the book to sign (for her husband) but it turned out she didn’t like him much either and wasn’t getting one . . . On Sunday I did a panel on Keeping the Faith with the incredibly successful Matthew Reilly and brilliant Larissa Behrendt, chaired by the incoming festival director, Candida Baker. There was a great discussion at the end on eBooks, thanks to audience questions from Jodi Cleghorn.

Murray's book on Reg Mombassa

The festival theme this year was World Without Walls, but I renamed it World Sans Social Filters after the biography panel Significant others: writing the life of an icon. Turns out Gretel Pinniger, aka Madam Lash, hates her biographer, Sam Everingham, and wants to do bad things to him. They were separated on stage by the calm and charismatic HarperCollins author, Murray Waldren and his icon subject, Reg Mombassa. The eye of the storm. To his credit, Everingham didn’t retaliate against the barrage of accusations from Pinniger. He was sweating bullets but managed to respond gracefully, all considered. The Chair, Jill Eddington, deserves a metal, at the very least.

My biggest thrill besides introducing so many readers to the genre was meeting the people from HarperCollinsAus. What a fabulous team, and boy do they know how to host a dinner party! Looking forward to seeing everyone at AussieCon4!

Kim Falconer lives in Byron Bay with two black cats. She runs an astrology forum and alternative science site‚ trains with a sword and is working on the second book in the Quantum Encryption trilogy, the follow up to Quantum Enchantment, both of which are set in the world of Gaela, as well as on Earth. The first book in the new series is called Path of the Stray and is out now! Kim is going to be the guest of honour at tonight’s Fang Books Chat. Join us at 8pm over at Fang’s website.