• 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!



Kim Westwood: How Nightship came to be

It began with a phrase.

I’d been wandering through the opulence that is Harrods, in London, marvelling and discomforted at the same time. I arrived at a massive four-poster bed. The counterpane was scattered with fox pelts, a cowhide slung over one carved wooden end like a throw rug. Who’d sleep easy, here?

“On my bed a dead cow and a slaughter of foxes.”

The image remained, the phrase repeating in my mind, but I did nothing with it. Then back home in the cosiness that is my Canberra living room, I watched a documentary on SBS. The full context of that program has faded now, but one image remains: grainy footage of a woman shrouded, kneeling in a field, her punishment a stoning to the death.

I sat down to write.

The London phrase expanded into a paragraph. I saw my protagonist for the first time in my mind’s eye. I heard the Nightship; I felt its depth and darkness. My inner gyro fixed in Australia: the eastern seaboard, now flooded, a network of canals extending across the old state borders, the epicentre of events taking place in a much-changed Sydney. The Nightships loomed, great hulking juggernauts, monsters of industry and the symbols of their owners’ power.

Enter the Iron Families.

I unhitched the terms ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ from assumed ground, and made them social positions linked to lifetime occupations. To be a ‘man’ was to wield the Families’ power. Regardless of the individual’s perceived sex at birth, if they were an Iron Family member, then from the onset of adulthood—the raw age of thirteen—they were accorded the epithet of ‘man’. ‘Woman’, was a title applied only to those undamaged few who could conceive. As for ‘girls’ and ‘boys’, they were an entirely different thing, and the source of my protagonist’s suffering, intermixed with small, hard-won freedoms.

As with all my stories, I felt let for a time into another world, a scribe for what went on there. The story played out to its end and then I honed it, whittling the bones until done. Nightship had emerged, behemoth, from the fog.

Stay tuned for the novel.

Go to the Terra Incognita SF site to listen to or download a podcast of Kim Westwood reading her Aurealis-shortlisted story, ‘Nightship’.

‘Nightship’ was published in Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann.

Kim Westwood is the author of The Daughters of Moab, an Aurealis finalist for the Best Science Fiction Novel. Click here for a full biography and a list of Kim’s published short stories.

Aurealis Awards finalists announced!

See below for categories including our fantastic HarperVoyager authors – and congratulations to Karen, Kim, Jack, Alison, Margo, Sean and Simon!

best science fiction novel
K A Bedford, Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
Marianne de Pierres, Chaos Space, Book Two of the Sentients of Orion, Orbit
Simon Haynes, Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch, Fremantle Arts Centre Press
Kim Westwood, The Daughters of Moab, HarperVoyager
Sean Williams, Earth Ascendant, Astropolis Book Two, Orbit

best science fiction short story
Simon Brown, ‘The Empire’, Dreaming Again, HarperVoyager
Nathan Burrage, ‘Black and Bitter, Thanks’, The Workers’ Paradise, Ticonderoga Publications
Trent Jamieson, ‘Delivery’, Cosmos, #21
Margo Lanagan, ‘The Fifth Star in the Southern Cross’, Dreaming Again, HarperVoyager
Tansy Rayner Roberts, ‘Fleshy’, 2012, Twelfth Planet Press

best fantasy novel
Alison Goodman, The Two Pearls of Wisdom, HarperCollins
Sylvia Kelso, Amberlight, Juno Books
Margo Lanagan, Tender Morsels, Allen & Unwin
Juliet Marillier, Heir to Sevenwaters, Macmillan Australia
Karen Miller, The Riven Kingdom, Godspeaker Book Two, HarperVoyager

best fantasy short story
Thoraiya Dyer, ‘Night Heron’s Curse’, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, #37
Karen Maric, ‘The Last Deflowerer’, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, #32
Angela Slatter, ‘Dresses, Three’, Shimmer, Vol 2 #4
Cat Sparks, ‘Sammarynda Deep’, Paper Cities,
Senses 5 Press
Kim Westwood, ‘Nightship’, Dreaming Again, HarperVoyager

best anthology
Bill Congreve & Michelle Marquardt (editors), The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fourth Annual Volume, MirrorDanse Books
Jack Dann (editor), Dreaming Again, HarperVoyager
Jonathan Strahan (editor), The Starry Rift, Viking Children’s Books

The following titles are listed for HarperCollins Children’s books:

best young adult long fiction
Isobelle Carmody, The Stone Key, Obernewtyn Chronicles, Volume Five, Penguin/Viking
David Cornish, Lamplighter, Monster Blood Tattoo Book Two, Omnibus Books
Alison Goodman, The Two Pearls of Wisdom, HarperCollins
Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock, Penguin/Viking
Sean Williams, The Changeling, The Changeling series
book one, Angus & Robertson

best children’s (8-12 years) long fiction
Simon Higgins, Moonshadow, Eye of the Beast,
Random House Australia
Sophie Masson, Thomas Trew and the Island of Ghosts, Hodder Children’s
Emily Rodda, The Wizard of Rondo, Omnibus Books
Carole Wilkinson, Dragon Dawn, Black Dog Books
Sean Williams, The Changeling and The Dust Devils,
The Changeling series books one and two,
Angus & Robertson

Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors, it takes amazing writing to get here. And the rest of the shortlisted works are below. What a spectacular list all around!

best horror novel
Jack Dann, The Economy of Light, PS Publishing
Nick Gadd, Ghostlines, Scribe Publications
John Harwood, The Séance, Jonathan Cape

best collection
Robert Hood, Creeping in Reptile Flesh, Altair Australia Books
Sean Williams & Russell B Farr (editor), Magic Dirt: The Best of Sean Williams, Ticonderoga Publications

best illustrated book/graphic novel
Steve Hunt & David Richardson, The Cloudchasers,
ABC Books
Shaun Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia, Allen & Unwin
Colin Thompson, The Floods Family Files, Random House Australia
Julie Watts, The Art of Graeme Base, Penguin/Viking

best young adult short fiction
Deborah Biancotti, ‘The Tailor of Time’, Clockwork Phoenix, Norilana Books
Dirk Flinthart, ‘This Is Not My Story’, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, #37
Trent Jamieson, ‘Cracks’, Shiny, #2
Kevin MacLean, ‘Eye of the Beholder’, Misspelled,
DAW Books

best children’s (8-12 years) illustrated work/picture book
Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg & Kim Gamble, Tashi and the Phoenix, Allen & Unwin
Richard Harland & Laura Peterson (illustrator), Escape!, Under Siege, Race to the Ruins, The Heavy Crown, The Wolf Kingdom series, Omnibus Books
Ian Irvine & David Cornish (illustrator), Thorn Castle, Giant’s Lair, Black Crypt, Wizardry Crag, The Sorcerer’s Tower series, Omnibus Books
Sally Morgan with Ezekiel, Ambelin and Blaze Kwaymullina & Adam Hill (illustrator), Curly and the Fent, Random House Australia
Richard Tulloch & Terry Denton (illustrator), Twisted Tales, Random House Australia

“The Daughters of Moab is a richly peopled canvas”

Lucy Sussex of The Age newspaper has kindly given permission for us to reproduce her stellar review of Kim Westwood’s The Daughters of Moab:

The Daughters of Moab

The Daughters of Moab

Amid the hype for Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, it tended to be forgotten that was working in a venerable and popular genre: the post-apocalyptic novel. Australia has produced a few of these, of which the best known is Neville Shute’s On the Beach. Now debut author Kim Westwood has added a very Australian take on the theme. She mixes ecological disaster with religious cults, Mad Max with feminism. Eustace Crane controls the Followers of Nathaniel, struggling to stay alive and exploit the few remaining unpoisoned resources. A mini Machiavelli, his chief weapon is the hired assassin Assumpta — a woman who is more than she seems. Westwood is a stylist, with a line in lyricism, and a nice sense of humour: “Styx and stones”. The Daughters of Moab is a richly peopled canvas, of which perhaps the real star is the ravaged landscape, so intensely depicted as to be almost a presence.

Copyright 2008 Lucy Sussex, first published in The Age on 2 November 2008.

Sending the Daughters off … Kim Westwood looks back on her launch

Well, the dust has finally settled on a busy August publishing debut.

Kim Westwood’s Canberra launch of The Daughters of Moab went like a rocket, around seventy-five people turning up to Milk & Honey café-bar to celebrate. Thanks to Dymocks City Walk Bookshop, there were lots of books and lots of signing!

The Sydney launch at Gleebooks was a more intimate affair — but in very illustrious company. Linda Funnell, Fiction Publisher at HarperCollins, was master of ceremonies, while Peter Bishop (director of Varuna Writers Centre at Katoomba) and Bill Congreve (publisher and co-editor of Mirrordanse Books and the Year’s Best Australian SF & Fantasy anthology series) were fabulous launch speakers.

Here’s an excerpt from Kim’s thank you speech:

Kim Westwood, author of The Daughters of Moab

Kim Westwood, author of The Daughters of Moab

Thanks Linda, Bill, Peter!

I thought I might be too nervous to speak off the cuff, so I wrote something down. Think of it as a little story. But first I’d like to raise a glass in absentia to Stephanie Smith, who shepherded me gently through the HarperCollins door, and to all the Voyager folk for being so incredibly supportive.

I’ve been asked what my first novel has in it. Well, it’s got sex and intrigue, violence and drug references, and all of those things in a poetic envelope—which is why I’ve coined the term ‘poetic apocalyptic’ for it.
Someone the other day, seeing the cover and the shout line “Assassin, Protector, Blood Sister”, said ‘if you write that sort of thing, you have to expect a lot of people won’t want to read it’. I thought Oh no! I’ve gone and written ‘that sort of thing’.

I’ve got used to the idea now, and decided that if it incites some to antipathy, but others to the varied pleasures of recognition, then I’ll be quite happy. The only thing I hope it isn’t is beige.

I had the image that began the book for many years in my mind, a story waiting to be developed. But as I embarked on that journey, I realised it was a much longer story than I’d written before.
It grew like Topsy into a world that became totally consuming. The deeper I went, the more it was like I was living my life in two worlds, 24-hours a day. The feeling was compounded by hearing myself referring to my characters as if they were in this world: ‘That’s just what Eustace would do,” or ‘That’s a very Assumpta thing’.

The Daughters of Moab

Kim's debut novel

It’s true that you become inordinately fond of your characters, however misguided, or brief their moment—they are, after all, the myriad parts of yourself moulded from the dough of experience and imagination, each element transmogrified then mulched into a new internal landscape. Names and places get borrowed for their rhythm—the assemblage of consonants and vowels just right—or for their resonance, or both, then inhabited by new owners, charged with new meaning. This is what, for me, makes the process so intensely addictive. The world of my novel filling gradually with its own life, and all the while me following behind, writing, writing.

About four years along, the end of the writing process loomed, and it was a terrible wrench to send the Daughters off by themselves to the printer, me tearfully waving a little hanky and them promising they’d be home again soon.

Well, here they are. Home. And I have only one desire: and that is to send the maverick Daughters and all the other partly lost, partly found characters of the novel out into the world—this world—with hope and heart, and in the best of company.

Thank you for coming.

A brief excerpt from a review of The Daughters of Moab :

‘ … Westwood’s post-apocalyptic vision of a devastated Australia, affected by climate change, authoritarian racial oppression and genetic manipulation, is an impressive debut that echoes the best of George Turner.’ — Sunday Canberra Times.

Doesn’t that make you want to read it! Click here to be find out more about The Daughters of Moab.

Edgy Aussie Fantasy

The Daughters of Moab

The Daughters of Moab

If you’ve been following the blog then you’ll know that Kim Westwood recently launched her first book The Daughters of Moab. Cat Sparks has put up some photos of the Sydney launch on Flickr, so check them out.

And it’s lovely to see some of the reviews that have come out in the papers.

Westwood has created a totally believable world, there is enough functioning technology to enable the action scenes to have some bite; there are weird sidebar characters and the references to our own recent history, the Stolen Generations for example, has strong resonances. Click for full Cairns Post review

The prose is beautiful … it adds a surreal quality, enhanced by use of present tense, that reduces the tension and pace of the journey … a strong declaration of the arrival of a distinctive voice in Australian literature. Click for full Courier Mail review.

World, watch this space. Kim is coming to get you!

Writing the Poetic Apocalyptic – Kim Westwood guest blogs

The Daughters of MoabThe Daughters of Moab — my first novel, out in August — began with a single luminous image that sat in my mind a long time, unexplored. That image I knew was post-apocalyptic: a lonely railway line spearing through a devastated landscape, and two figures working on it, padded against the elements. In it I saw danger, and hopelessness, and camaraderie.

Engaging fully with the scene was like stepping onto a passing train — a train that wouldn’t release me back onto the platform until the journey was done, the tale told to its unknown end. From there the story unfolded in bright, perplexing pieces thrown like lures from my subconscious, asking me to bite. And so I did, writing each initially as a fragment of poetry without knowing how it might connect to the rest, but trusting I would find out. Then the Eureka! moment would arrive, and that which had always lain beneath the surface appeared as a pathway through the narrative, calling me, This way! This way!

A while ago I coined the term ‘poetic apocalyptic’ for my writing, because many of my short stories reveal a preoccupation with humanity’s capacity for destruction and equal instinct for survival, while the rhythms and nuances draw inspiration from the language of poetry. And so I see The Daughters of Moab as a poetic work stretching across a long narrative arc, but retaining a certain spareness — my aim being to limn the heart of that world, not interrogate its every corpuscle.

The journey has been beguiling, all-consuming. Just as events and experiences from the ‘outside’ have worked their way into the fabric of the story, the ever-developing lives of those inside it have bled through to superimpose themselves on external reality, leaving me with a sense of floating perpetually between the two. But finally the train is nearing the station. And now is the moment of stepping onto the platform.

Kim Westwood

The Daughters of Moab is out in August 2008. You can also get an early reading copy by signing up to the relevant Books Club at www.booktagger.com