• 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!

     

     

Conflux 5 – The Alternative Brown Shades of SF and Fantasy by Tim Miller

Tim was one quarter of Team Voyager at Conflux. He blogs on his experience:

11.40am Check in at the exclusive Canberra Gateway Motel. The world shifts into a state of brown shades – the building, the room, the art on the wall, the covers on the bed – all brown. I glance over my shoulder to have a look and see if I have passed through some kind of portal. Nope, it’s just Canberra. I think what the hell, I go with it and immerse myself in all things fantastic.

My Friday at Conflux involved two workshops, Finishing the First Draft with Maxine McArthur and Creating Dynamic Characters with Karen Miller (our very own Voyager author – Accidental Sorcerer anyone?). Stepping into the first was like stepping straight back into all the creative writing classes I did at uni, and the nostalgia instantly set in. We discussed the most common traps why authors never finish the elusive first draft, from the problems starting, that mess in the middle, to all that tricky stuff at the end. Karen’s workshop was awesome, it was set up to look at all the research and character building that goes into all those beloved characters that we read on the pages of book.

Friday night we all attended the launch of Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann. Let me just say something here, he is one of the most interesting writers alive. As soon as he opened his mouth the entire room was captivated and would have happily listened to him for hours singing the praises of the talented writers that contributed to DA.

Saturday was the day for some engaging panels. With so much to choose from, the three of us split up to go our separate ways. My favourite for the morning would definitely have been Making a Living as a Writer – But Not Necessarily a Novelist with Gillian Polack, Mark Shireff, Liz Argall (Chair), Margo Lanagan and Karen Simpson-Nikakis. The consensus was that it was very hard to, but really the writer in me was kind of hoping. Of the panel it was only Mark that could make a living and he works as a script producer for television. The others revealed exactly how they could afford to write – working part of the year, writing the other, having jobs that let them research for their writing, or teaching and consultation work.

Of the afternoon’s panels, Rewriting – The Real Art of A Good Story drilled home some truths that all writers need to be aware of. I believe Cat Sparks said it best – Don’t hand in shit. If the first thing an editor or publisher sees is a piece that not only doesn’t meet the guidelines, but obviously needs more work, then the next time they see your name they aren’t likely to take you seriously. Some friendly advice, put the ms away for a bit, a week, a month, whatever, then come back to it with fresh eyes and rewrite it – it will make it better.

Ok Saturday night at Conflux gave me the rare opportunity to mingle with some authors. A little unknown fact, they don’t walk around the evil HQ every five minutes, nor do they stop in for a chat. Stephanie Smith, Publisher of all things Voyager, invited Nat, Sarah and myself out for a Voyager dinner with some authors – Karen Miller, Kim Westwood, K. J. Taylor and Adam Browne. I had a good chat with Adam about Conflux in general before the topic turned to writing. At the end of the night he gave me some encouraging words and told me he would be looking out for my novel when it comes out. I also chatted with Karen Miller, discussing the workshop of Friday and Accidental Sorcerer before it turned into writing in general and Supernatural. I think a good night was had by all.

Sunday saw our last day at Conflux, so with my copy of Dreaming Again in my hot little hand, I sucked up my courage and went about asking some of the contributors to sign my copy. Not only did they sign, but they were happy to and to have a chat as well. To name a few: Jason Nahrung – ‘Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn’, Aaron Sterns – ‘The Rest is Silence’ and Jason Fischer – ‘Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh’.

We also got up to a few other things while in Canberra. We visited Floriade, and with the help of a quick coffee fix took some interesting photos, I’m sure Nat will put up the more interesting ones [No! Big Merino was embarrassing enough!]. We walked a lot, our motel was down the road from Conflux and Nat kept assuring us 3kms were a lot shorter than 100kms [whole other story here about the Oxfam Trailwalker] . Although there was the one night were the heavens opened up and we got drenched, but even that couldn’t dampen our spirits. I had a great time, at Conflux and with the company I went down with, Nat and Sarah are top ladies and if the chance comes up again next year I wouldn’t dream of going with anyone else.

Tim Miller works in the Sales department at HarperCollins. He’s part of the Voyager Cabin Crew and works on the Voyager Newsletter as well. And he’s working on a novel and short stories, when not being forced to blog for Voyager Online!  

Floricon – or what we did on Saturday afternoon and Sunday

Team Voyager is back in Sydney again, and rather sad as it’s all grey and rain is threatening. Conflux was marvellous and we all had a thoroughly good time! The only unfortunate thing was that we didn’t get to meet as many Purple Zoners as we’d have liked. PZers, for the uninitiated, are the occupants of the Voyager Message Board. So all you PZers out there, let us know the next con we should be attending and we’ll do our best to get there!

All the panels we went to were good – lots of excellent advice from authors, editors and publishers. On Sunday I especially liked Cat Sparks in the ‘From the Editor’s Desk’ panel – she was frank, funny and didn’t hold back. Amanda Pillar and Shane Jiraiya Cummings also gave alot of insight into the process behind receiving and processing stories at a small press. Team Voyager got to chat with Shane afterwards about Black Magazine, which we’ve all been reading and enjoying. In my case mostly due to Jenson Ackles getting the front page of issue two … 😀

I think my favourite panel overall was ‘Achieving the Dream’ with Jack Dann, Cat Sparks, Trudi Canavan and Kim Westwood, the convenor was Lynda Davies. All the authors spoke with such passion about the moment they felt they achieved their dream – of being able to write, not so much of ‘being a writer’, which they pointed out is not the same thing at all. And it was never the moment their finished book arrived from the publisher, it was far more the realisation that they could write, that they must write.

Being from Voyager, we went to pretty much all of the Dreaming Again events, because we’d read the whole anthology and loved it: the launch on Friday night, the panel mentioned above, Jack Dann’s guest speaking session, and the Dreaming Again panel. At the Dreaming Again panel I was once again awed by the talent in the room – Angela Slatter, who is such a beautiful writer, Richard Harland, whose story ‘A Tour of the Kingdom of the Dead’ was creepy and amazing, Jason Fischer, who is absolutely lovely and had to sit through several renditions of ‘Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh, Doo Dah Doo Dah’, Kim Westwood and Adam Brown who had dinner with us on Saturday night, Jason Nahrung, whose story is one of my personal faves – but actually, most of the stories in DA are – and many, many more: Peter M Ball, Jenny Blackford, Russell Blackford, Trudi Canavan, Margo Lanagan, Sean McMullen and Aaron Sterns (lovely horror writer who I also got to chat to briefly and who was away at one point in talks over film rights for one of his works!). Stephanie, our fab Voyager publisher, was also on the panel. Sarah, Tim and I forcibly leapt in front of several of the authors over the weekend and asked them to sign our books, and I believe all copies of Dreaming Again (both at the con and at Borders nearby in the Civic Centre) were sold out. We missed the 1920s banquet at the con but I hear it was spectacular and the rumour is that Cat Sparks was best dressed (as she seemed to be for the whole weekend, I think).

Saturday afternoon we took advantage of a break to go down and see Floriade. I thought it was beautiful – tons and tons of flowers by the water, and the sun had come out after a rather grey and rainy morning, so it was a perfect spring’s day. We took some rather silly pics and generally ran around (coffee/tea hit to blame). We also spied a tower in the distance that we nicknamed Isengard, due to it’s resemblance to that rather evil building. I concluded that the next Conflux should be held right next to Floriade and it can be called Floricon and the theme will be ‘Flowering Again’ and everyone will have to dress up as noxious and poisonous herbs and weeds because that would be v amusing and the research would be great! I would come as a toadstool. And then it was back to our lovely seedy film noir detective motel to get ready for the night’s entertainment.

On Saturday night we had a delicious dinner down at Milk & Honey where Kim Westwood had launched ‘The Daughters of Moab’ about 2 months prior, and got to meet upcoming Voyager author K J Taylor (who we also saw at the panel ‘What is Fandom’). Karen Miller joined us at dinner and has left me waiting eagerly for the start of Supernatural season four, which she says is terrific … she described a new ‘angelic’ character to me and now I can’t stop thinking about it! Luckily Supernatural is back on Monday night at 8:30 (Channel 10 did not pay me to make that announcement), and 90210 has been AXED. Ha ha. We walked back to our motel, got caught in a sudden downpour and eventually arrived back in Lyneham wondering if we were going to come down with pneumonia. Special props go to Tim for refusing to put on his jumper so that our books could be protected from the rain.

Cut to our last moments and Sarah and I caught some of Food Historian Gillian Pollack’s guest speech but had to leave halfway through – we got to speak to Kim Westwood and Karen Miller again – both lovely, lovely authors! And then we just had time to quickly visit Koko Black down at Civic to buy some chocolate (woe is us, there is no Koko Black in Sydney as yet). We returned to the Marque Hotel to see a Dalek exterminating Liz Argall and had a quick chat with Amanda Pillar of Morrigan Press, who edited the Voices anthology launched at Conflux, she’s also a PZer. Finally, to the car we went, hoping to get back to Sydney before it was too dark. We had a brief stop in Goulburn for fuel (and McDonalds) and I got a photo of the Big Merino (yay) which will make its way into this blog, I’m sure, as will our Floriade pics … cos they have alot to do with Conflux … er … I wonder what happened back at Conflux where the speakeasy was taking place? 1920s cocktails and spec fic authors … anything could happen …

Photos to come as soon as I can find my cable.

Taelian