• 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!



When Horror Meets Fantasy

   I was recently asked to be a guest speaker at a Hobart film festival themed around women in horror: Stranger With My Face.
I identify so strongly as a fantasy writer that I’m always surprised when I get included in discussions of the overlapping genres (like my utter astonishment the first time I was nominated for a short story award in a science fiction category).

But once I thought about it, and peeled some of my preconceptions away, I started thinking that yes, I am actually a horror writer (as well as a fantasy writer and a novel writer and a feminist writer, and so on).  It’s hard to argue with when I look at the Creature Court trilogy, which is full of blood and dark magic, obsession and addiction, cruelty and death, along with the aspects I’m better known for – like banter, frocks and steamy sex scenes.

Come to that, most fantasy does have elements of horror in it.  Lord of the Rings is not only rife with monsters and violence, but it also features one of the most iconic Dread Objects of genre fiction – the ring that destroys the souls of those who hold it.  Fritz Leiber, one of my own heroes for his funny and clever Lankhmar series, also put Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser through some deep psychological traumas and was a master at balancing the sinister with the amusing.

Urban fantasy is particularly related to horror – in fact, you could argue that the works of Laurell K Hamilton, Charlaine Harris et al. are closer in many ways to the traditions of horror than to fantasy, certainly in the way that vampires, werewolves and other Horror Movie Icons have been swept into the mainstream.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer might have served to popularise the idea of a girl hero fighting the darkness, but while that show epitomises the urban fantasy genre, it was created very much in conversation with horror movie tropes.

So what is your favourite fictional collision between horror and fantasy?

Get a taste of Power and Majesty …

Don’t miss out on the debut novel from Australian Tansy Rayner Roberts … click the cover below to read the first chapters today!

Click to read the first chapters!


‘Just read 1st chaps Power & Majesty by Tansy Raynor Roberts. A definite keeper!’ — Glenda Larke, author of the Watergivers trilogy, via Twitter.

Power and Majesty ticks all the boxes for great dark fantasy and a few more for good measure. Roberts evokes an exotic, renaissance-tinged city full of stylish and decadent characters. Charming, mysterious and occasionally grim, this is a silky and sophisticated new entry to Australian fantasy. I would recommend this to anyone who likes the darker end of the genre, particularly fans of Anne Bishop or Jacqueline Carey.’ — Stefen Brazulaitis, Bookseller, in Australian Bookseller & Publisher

Peter V. Brett: Where I get my ideas from

The Painted ManLike all writers, I steal my ideas. I steal them from books and comics I read, movies I see, what I read in the news, apocryphal stories overheard at parties, television shows, jobs I’ve worked, incidents I witness on the street or subway, what have you. Like a big sponge, I soak up all these tidbits of life and story, filtered through my own understanding, and then, when I’m saturated, I squeeze them out into something new that is both none and all of those things. (Sometimes I just make shit up, too, but that’s a rarity, and even then, I probably just forgot what I was stealing from.)

Any fiction writer that tells you otherwise is lying to you. No one sits in an empty white room all their life and churns out stories. Even the ones that tell you they never watch TV or read books get it from somewhere.

For the most part, though, writers tend to be pretty honest about our rampant kleptomania, even though no one ever seems to believe us. Every aspiring writer wants to know where established writers get their ideas, like there’s some secret well we’re guarding that they could tap if they only knew where to drill. There isn’t. Believe me, I’ve looked.

But “ideas” are kind of a deception in themselves, making people (especially Hollywood executives) think that it’s a story’s concept that makes a success. Great stories don’t come from concept and they never have. They come from compelling characters. Harry Potter didn’t work because it was a story about a wizard boarding school for kids. It worked because that school was filled with rich characters that made you care about what happened to them. The concept can certainly help, but great icing will only get you so far if the cake underneath is stale and hard, and that cake is characters. No one wants to read about a world where everyone speaks with the same voice. A good writer can step into the shoes of hundreds of disparate people, and make them seem as real as the ones you meet on the street.

So “where do I get my characters?” is the real question, though admittedly, the answer is much the same. I steal them.

When I meet people, I always try to figure out what makes them tick. What their motivations are, what goals they’ve set, and what they are willing to do to reach them. Why do they love what they love, or hate what they hate? What is their everyday life like, and how is that different from mine? What can I learn from them?

It’s not a mercenary thing; I still have genuine feelings for or against all those people like any normal person does, but I remain as driven try to grok people I don’t like and tend to avoid as people I love so much I can’t imagine living without. It’s just how my brain works.

The things I manage to learn in the brief glimpses I get into people’s psyches become whispers in my head, fragments of personality I can give voice to in my writing. Sometimes a whisper is enough to cover some incidental character, and other times I combine dozens or hundreds of those fragments into fully realized characters. Characters that don’t always do what I want them to… but that’s a whole other post.

So, in closing, if there’s anything in this blog entry that spoke to you… steal it!

Peter V Brett is the author of The Painted Man, out now in all good bookshops. Peter will be attending this year’s World Fantasy Convention, October 30 – November 2, 2008, in Calgary, Canada.

The Painted Man has been nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and you can discuss by the book should win at the forum here!

Peter V Brett tells us the writers who inspired him

The Painted Man

An irony of the early reviews The Painted Man has received is that my work is frequently compared to that of David Gemmell and Robin Hobb. It’s incredibly flattering, since both authors are immensely popular, but the truth is I’ve never read anything by either of them. I’ve since added books from both to my reading pile, of course. I want to see what other people are seeing.

But that’s not to say by any means that I am not influenced by other authors. I have always been a pretty voracious fantasy reader. The first non-school book (without pictures) that I ever read was The Hobbit, along with about a million superhero comics from Marvel and DC. My parents, both heavy readers themselves, started to worry when all I spent my time reading was comics, so my father went to the library and checked out a copy of Terry Brooks’ Wishsong of Shannara.

After that, I read whatever fantasy books I could get my hands on. RA Salvatore, Douglas Niles, Piers Anthony, Lyndon Hardy, CS Friedman, Michael Moorcock, Barbara Hambly, Peter S. Beagle, Tanya Huff, Raymond E. Feist, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, William Goldman, Phillip Pullman, David Farland, Naomi Novik and countless others. I think I must have read the entire TSR line of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance books in the 80’s and 90’s. I also read a lot of horror stories, mostly Stephen King and James Herbert.

All of those authors made an impact on me and my writing, but the two books that I really credit with raising my game as a writer were James Clavell’s Shogun and George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones. These authors taught me just how far the fantasy novel medium could reach, with countless levels of complexity and point of view kept compelling even over the course of a thousand pages or more. I realized then that a lot of the limits in novels are self-imposed by the authors, whether consciously or not. I don’t know if I can ever achieve that level of writing, but I intend to spend the rest of my life trying.

But I still read comics.

The Painted Man will be available next week across Australia. And there are plenty of people buzzed about it! A review appeared in the first edition of Black Magazine, and you can also see a review and interview at sf/f site A Boy Goes On A Journey. I’ll post more links to reviews with Peter’s post next week, there’s plenty to choose from.