• 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!



The Dictionary of the Tree

Image from the Dictionary

I’ve mentioned it before a few times, but I thought it deserved its own post! Our author of the month Mary Victoria has created an online glossary for her world in the Chronicles of the Tree series. She’s up to ‘S’ so far but there are loads of great entries, with many having beautiful illuminated manuscript images. You should definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

 I have no idea if its actually true, but I remember someone telling me in high school at “eskimos have over 100 words for snow” because it its such an important part of their physical and cultural landscape. So thats part of what Mary has done, except obviously her world is centred around living in a tree the size of a continent!

  The ramification of such a specialised world-environment is to give a writer ( and reader ) complete freedom to create an entirely unique culture, which I’ve always found exciting, and Mary’s concepts of Sap, Hardwood, Fringes & Hell are fantastic.

Ever since Tolkien and Herbert ( Dune ) I’ve had a fascination with fantasy glossaries. I’ve always thought they help immerse the reader into the world of the book, by providing back stories and extra info that fleshes out the motivations of the world, and I feel their loss every time there isn’t one. (Its my only legitimate excuse to flip to the end of a book straight away!) Does everyone else love them as much as I do? Do some people not like them and prefer to come up with their own backstories, pronounciations and family trees?
The Chronicles of the Tree

Fallon Friday — A word about world building and DNA

Fallon Friday back for 2009, with useful advice on how to write, and how not to write, from bestselling author Jennifer Fallon.

The following is a series of questions all people with a God-complex (er… I mean fantasy writers) need to ask themselves before they start creating their worlds.

If you’re halfway through your epic already and you can’t answer most or all of these questions, then I have five important little words for you: back to the drawing board.

The Big questions

  • Is your world Earth-like?
  • If it isn’t Earth-like, how do humans fit in?
  • Are the animals, plants and insects the same as Earth?
  • If they’re not, are they all different, or only some of them?
  • Have they evolved on this world or do they come from somewhere else?
  • If you have creatures not of this world, where do they fit on the food chain?
  • How many sentient races do you have (human, dwarves, elves, etc)?
  • How do the various species interact with one another?
  • Who is the dominant species?

Warning… we are human and we live on a world with a complex eco-system of which we are a part. Look around you. All our animals have 4 legs, all our birds have 2, all our spiders have 8, all our insects have 6. There is a natural symmetry to our world, so before you go patting yourself on the back for your awesome creativity and your six legged horses, or your two legged talking cows, you’d better be damn sure all the other creatures in that classification are built along the same lines.
It’s fine to have a different type of fish, because, it’s well, a fish. We have fish. They fit nicely in the food chain. But a mammalian beast with three eyes, when every other mammal on your world has two (or four – whatever), doesn’t make sense and you’ll pull most readers who’ve managed to make it past the first two years of high school, right out of the story because —unless you’re writing about the Island of Dr Moreau – such a thing is just plain silly.

Bear something else in mind… we are only a few DNA strands away from being cats, ourselves. If you’ve got six legged horses, and six-legged dogs, more than likely, you’re gonna have to start thinking about six-legged humans.

And if you do decide to go the two-legged cow route, be careful the reader doesn’t get so swallowed up in your fabulous detailed descriptions of your yellow-spotted gurglebeast, that they lose sight of the real story.

Bottom line — don’t go messing with the eco-system unless you’re very sure your seven-legged, three-eyed, fire-breathing, giant dust mites, are going to fit naturally into the world.

Jennifer Fallon is the author of thirteen fantasy books, comprising three trilogies (the Demon Child trilogy, the Hythrun Chronicles and the Second Sons trilogy) and one quartet (The Tide Lords series). You can read more from her at her website and blog, or check the Voyager blog on that wonderful day after Thursdays when her Fallon Friday posts go up.

Read the 2008 series of Fallon Friday posts.

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