• 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!



Those camels just don’t stop undying

An un-undead camel

The lovely people over at Terra Incognita have new podcasts for your ears …
It’s their TISF 026 Christmas Special featuring ‘In From The Snow’ written and read by Lee Battersby and
‘Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh’ written and read by Jason Fischer (audio published 15 December 2010).
Both stories are from the excellent (if we say so ourselves) 2008 anthology Dreaming Again, edited by the also excellent and lovely Jack Dann.
And while we haven’t heard Jason’s reading voice, we have heard his singing voice, detailing a certain song that ends with ‘doo dah’ and starts with ‘Undead camels ate their flesh’ … so there is no doubt this will be good listening.  For those of you with weaker knees, you may want to curl up next to someone strong while listening to the powerful but unnerving ‘In From The Snow’. Happy listening and thanks to Keith Stevenson at TISF.

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.

The latest updates to the Reviews page …

… are now up:

Hammer of God…in 60 Seconds – an interview with Karen Miller about the Godspeaker trilogy, over at Tor.com – with extremely interesting insights into the themes of the book: ‘The basic idea of the trilogy arose out of Miller’s interest in religion, and the impact of religion on ordinary people, and how it can be used as a terrible weapon or a gift of solace in hard times.’

And don’t forget Karen Miller’s alter ego with Niki Bruce’s review of Witches Incorporated, beautifully entitled Wands at 20 paces:’ … a joyful story of friendship, romance and adventure. It’s beautifully written with action from start to finish and endearing characters.’

The Nile (click for full review) have a dream review up for The Gene Thieves: ‘This is a chronicle of where science, malice, heroism and passion may one day take us. Recommended unreservedly.’

Drop by the blog tomorrow to read Kim Westwood’s piece on ‘Nightship’, the Aurealis-shortlisted story she wrote for Dreaming Again.

Jack Dann: A Few Keys to the Kingdom

In a recent interview with Gary Kemble during Flycon, Jack Dann let readers know his ‘keys to the kingdom’ – those pieces of advice that he would give to any writer. He’s kindly allowed us to reproduce the ‘keys’ here. Read on!

1. You must begin. Every day you must write, no matter what.

2. Being a professional simply means you write and publish. So even though you know you’re the next Hemingway or Faulkner, you’ll probably need a job. That’s good—it puts you in the midst of things, into the middle of life…you know, the stuff you want to write about.

3. Give the best part of every day to yourself. You must try to write every day!

4. Make appointments with yourself to write.

5. Copy. I don’t mean plagiarize, but find writers you admire, read and reread their best work, dissect their prose sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, memorize paragraphs if you have to, but get into the weave of the writer’s work. It will give an unconscious form and balance to your own work. Don’t worry, no one else will know. You will put these unconscious “forms” through you own sensorium. When you sit down to write, forget about your favorite authors.

6. Read constantly and widely.

7. Be prepared to be surprised and upset by what you write…and by what you think. Serious writing forces you to come to terms with yourself…forces you to explore private demons.

8. Don’t try to be a critic while you’re writing. Once you have a draft, or become blocked, then you must rethink and rework and be as hard on yourself as if you were writing for The New York Times Book Review.

9. If you’re having trouble with a sentence or a passage or a plot twist, ask yourself if something doesn’t need to be cut.

10. If you find yourself blocked, take a break and read. Take notes, read, take more notes. Usually a writer gets blocked when he or she needs more information. It’s a natural part of the process.

11. Trust your instincts. Your unconscious knows more than you do, so if you get an urge to buy a book on the flora of Afghanistan, buy it! Chances are in a week, month, or a year, you’ll need it.

12. Rewrite everything until you feel that what’s on paper corresponds as closely as possible to that wonderful image you originally had in your head.

13. Keep working toward making clear sentences and building solid story structures. Style is really only transparency of thought and idea.

14. Read and reread Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Then read it again.

15. And of course you must send your work out to editors. Don’t write long cover letters. When your manuscript is returned, send it out again…the next day!

16. The easier alternative to all of the above is…to remain a reader!

This article is copyright (c) 1989 and 2000 by Jack Dann. First published in different form as “A Few Keys to the Kingdom: Thoughts on Getting Published, and on Being the Best Writer You Can Be” in Writer’s Digest 69 (January, 1989). All rights are reserved by the author. Reproduced with the permission of Jack Dann.

Jack Dann is the author and editor of so many books that if I listed them here, the scroll button would die a little death. Most recently for Voyager Books, he edited the anthology Dreaming Again, which Bookseller+Publisher gave a five star rating and wrote: “Here are stories that engage with the building blocks of our culture and others that give shape to our shared darkness and light. Dreaming Again is at once quintessentially Australian and enticingly other. If you read short fiction you’ll want this collection. If you don’t, this is a reason to start.”.

Visit Jack’s website, www.jackdann.com to find out more about Jack’s work.

Jack Dann interviewed for Flycon

Gary Kemble’s interview with Jack Dann is up on the Articulate website – check it out.

Jack Dann blogs for the SLV

“It really is summer again.
Time to sneak away and…read.
I want to reread E. F. Benson’s coy and cozy Map and Lucia trilogy and P. G. Woodhouse’s exquisitely silly Jeeves novels. I want to take another look at Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels and try to figure out how the hell she did it…and I want to finish The Gnostic Gospels, read the Folio editions of Dante’s Inferno and Purgatorio, illustrated by Blake and Dali respectively, and the last two volumes of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. I’ve also got my eye on Hilary Mantel’s historical novel A Place of Greater Safety and Anathem by Neil Stephenson. I’m going to read a lot more science fiction and fantasy, and I think I’ll reread Henry Roth’s 1934 stream-of-consciousness masterpiece Call It Sleep.”

Jack Dann is blogging for the State Library of Victoria as part of their Summer reading program. Dreaming Again has been chosen as one of the books for the program.