• 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!



Is it okay to make fun of fantasy?

Where did this topic come up? There was a discussion on the message boards about maps and I mentioned Diana Wynne Jones’ well-known work ‘The Tought Guide to Fantasyland’. I was tremendously surprised to see some negative comments about this work, mainly because I laughed very hard over the book, seeing alot of truth in what was written in it – this is the Amazon summary for the book:

Diana Wynne Jones describes (starting, of course, with a map) every sword-and-sorcery cliché in wickedly accurate detail, arranged alphabetically. Elves sing in beautiful, unearthly voices about how much better things used to be. Swords with Runes may kill dragons or demons, or have powers like storm-raising, but they are not much use when you’re attacked by bandits. You can only have an Axe if you’re a Northern Barbarian, a Dwarf, or a Blacksmith. Jones also tackles hard-hitting questions: how does Fantasyland’s ecology work when there are few or no bacteria and insects and vast tracts of magically irradiated wastelands? Why doesn’t the economy collapse when pirates and bandits are so active and there is no perceptible industry?

I suppose I was surprised at the negative feedback (suggesting that DWJ is in some ways spurning the industry that has brought her up) because I don’t feel that DWJ portrays fantasy in a bad light, but rather attempts to showcase some of the cliche that feature heavily in much fantasy – whether that be good or bad fantasy (also a debatable topic). I feel that if more fantasy authors read the Tough Guide, they might actually avoid some of the pitfalls that appear in written fantasy – so they might actually build a world that is believable, full and can be built on further in later books. I agree that when you read fantasy, you are suspending disbelief in many ways, but I do think some things should be properly documented, and that character’s reactions to certain situations should be drawn relatively realistically. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed fantasy that panders to the cliche – the Wheel of Time for once, but eventually I got sick of Nynaeve tugging her skirt, or checking her hemline or whatever it was, and of Mat, Perrin and Rand all thinking, “If only Rand/Mat/Perrin was here, he’d know how to deal with women” – ie. tired dialogue. And I can certainly say that I have read all of Diana Wynne Jones’ books and only disliked one (A Sudden Wild Magic). What interested me most was that people don’t really make the same criticisms of Terry Pratchett, and he does exactly what DWJ does in the Tough Guide, which is to take stereotypes and show the humorous side of them, turning them upside down as it were.

I suppose it is obvious that I think it is okay to make fun of fantasy – if done properly and accurately. But I am not a fantasy writer and therefore am quite thick skinned on this one.