• 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 Falconer: Archetypes, Agents and Oracles—Where Myth and SF Meet

Flycon, the online speculative fiction convention, offered a chance for authors, editors and fans from all over the globe to meet and discuss SF/F topics. One subject of particular interest was Mythology and Science Fiction, moderated and hosted by Nyssa Pascoe from A Writer goes on a Journey. The panellists were Dave Freer, Amanda Pillar and the transcripts are still up for viewing.

At first glance myth and SF seem opposed. Myths happen in the past and usually involve the numinous where science fiction happens in the future and involves speculative technologies, environmental shifts, space travel, or life on other planets. Amanda Pillar summed it up by saying mythology is the metaphorical framework which a culture uses to understand the world around them and science fiction is basically stories set in the future. But how do they work together?

Dave Freer gave an example. ‘I borrow heavily from the symbolism common in many mythological stories. I think this helps to quietly get under the reader’s skin. Issues like stories beginning at dawn and finishing at dusk. Issues of the trickster – a common myth figure – who is so often the bane and saviour of humankind.’

Joseph Campbell, a hero of mine, used the term monomyth to describe this archetypal portrayal of characters. Monomyths are enduring stories that reach a broad audience, archetypal in that they occur in all places, in all peoples, in all times. These stories touch something inside us—giving us as sense of meaning—something science doesn’t always do.

Star Wars—Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher 1977

Star Wars—Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher 1977

George Lucas’ Star Wars is an example of a monomyth/science fiction blend. In Obi Wan and Yoda we see the archetype of the Wise Old Man and spiritual Guide. Luke Skywalker is the young Hero and Darth Vader is the archetype of Death. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung believed these characters emerge from the Collective Unconscious, a deeper level of our personal unconscious that links the minds of every being—even back into our animal past.

He said, ‘This deeper level manifests itself in universal archaic images expressed in dreams, religious beliefs, myths, and fairy tales. The archetypes, as unfiltered psychic experience, appear sometimes in their most primitive and naive forms (in dreams), sometimes in a considerably more complex form due to the operation of conscious elaboration in myths.’

Keanu Reeves in the Matrix plays 'The One', a contemporary interpretation of the savior archetype.

Keanu Reeves in the Matrix plays 'The One', a contemporary interpretation of the savior archetype.

Another film that blends myth and SF is the Matrix Trilogy. Neo is the Hero called to adventure. Morpheus is the Wise Old Man, and the Oracle, like Yoda, is the numinous guide. The animas figure—the sacred feminine that tutors through love (or lack of it) like Medea, Ariadne and Princes Leia—is characterized by Trinity. It’s interesting how the hero’s journey hangs not on strength or knowledge but ultimately on a relationship to love. (Remember what happens to Jason when he rejects Medea?) In the Matrix, Neo is unable to overpower agent Smith until he is awakened by Love—a wonderful mythic theme woven into a post-apocalyptic SF tale.

Do you have a favourite SF/monomyth? Please share it here.

Kim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette (Quantum Enchantment Book 1), which was published in January by HarperVoyager. Kim lives in Byron Bay and runs the website Falcon’s Astrology as well as a website dedicated to the Quantum Enchantment series.

Follow Kim on Twitter

A Vampire Goes on a Journey: Kim Falconer blogs

One of the most riveting Flycon panels, hosted by A Writer Goes on a Journey with Ross Hamilton moderating, was The Evolution of the Vampire. Stephanie Gildart, Pati Nagle and Jeri Smith-Ready discussed the hypnotic quality of vampires and how they have changed over time. From Bram Stoker to Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyers, vampires in literature were compared and contrasted.

Keifer Sutherland is one of the Lost Boys 1986

Keifer Sutherland is one of the Lost Boys 1986

Pati Nagle began with, ‘Handsome film vampires have had a lot to do with it (the changing images) Frank Langella and Christopher Lee. There have also been numerous more sympathetic vampires in fiction. One of my favorites is Joshua in George R. R. Martin’s ‘Fevre Dream’.

We talked about the 1922 making of ‘Nosferatu’ and its reinvention in The Shadow of a Vampire—Willem Dafoe being the only ‘living dead’ ever to be nominated for an academy award. From ‘terrifying’ to ‘sparkly,’ the meaning and purpose of the vampire archetype became clearer.

Willem Defoe plays the character from 1922’s Nosferatu

Willem Defoe plays the character from 1922’s Nosferatu

The erotic nature of vampires was pondered in depth. We could have talked much longer on this! Jeri Smith-Ready said ‘I think vampires, at least since Dracula, have often been connected to sex. He came out of the Victorian era, during which no one talked about sex (but everyone did it, of course). He seduced innocent women–against their will, naturally (wink) and turned them into creatures of very strong wants and needs. Repression has a way of twisting things.’

Kate Beckinsale portrays a gender evolution from female victim to a powerful ‘Death Dealer’ 2006

Kate Beckinsale portrays a gender evolution from female victim to a powerful ‘Death Dealer’ 2006

Writing Vampire antagonists also held the floor. Stephanie Gildart pointed out, ‘The most “evil” beings, to me as a reader, are the ones who could have chosen otherwise and yet still embrace the darkness in them. Humans have a choice. Giving vampires more complexity, making them more human, simultaneously gives them the opportunity of being even more evil.’

For me, the evolution of the vampire is not simply a trend in literature and film. These new images aren’t responsible for the sifting views, rather they are a reflection of them. As our perception of Self changes, our monsters change. The vampire, once powerful beyond our control, is now a creature we can dialog with—be intimate with. Originally, the vampire had no soul—‘In this chest beats no heart,’ Bram Stoker’s Dracula says, but now that’s changing. We are learning compassion for the beast within, and they sometimes love us back. In this way, the evolution of the vampire reflects the evolution of human consciousness.

What do you think? How have vampires changed for you as readers and writers? I’d love to hear from our Voyager authors who traffic in this fascinating mythology!

Kim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette (Quantum Enchantment Book 1), which was published in January by HarperVoyager. Kim lives in Byron Bay and runs the website Falcon’s Astrology as well as a website dedicated to the Quantum Enchantment series.

Zombies and Book Promotion—There is a Difference! by Kim Falconer

Vampires are definitely sexier ...

Vampires are definitely sexier ...

I had the pleasure visiting two great panels yesterday: Is the Vampire the new Zombie? and Book Promotions: What works and what should be buried in a bucket, under the ocean, of a distant planet, in another universe?
Vampires VS Zombies was a riveting message board style chat of V and Z literature, film and facts. Transcripts, and space to contribute ongoing comments, are hosted on A Writer Goes on a Journey. The panel included Gary Kemble, journalist for the ABC and Rob Hood, author of many dark tales and editor of the Daikaiju.

Much discussion covered different notions of zombies and vampires—what kinds of hunger they have and what sorts of evil they portray. Nyssa’s article on Emotions and Zombies (and AI, Dryads and Clones) was a good starting point and source of reference. More than a few of us thought having a psychologist on board would have been smart—it was scary at times and some people had to lie down, or close their eyes. You can’t talk about these creatures without it ‘bringing up stuff.’ Have a read through and feel free to add to the discussion with comments and queries!

Identity crisis ...

Identity crisis ...

Gary Kemble was also on the panel for Book Promotions: What works and what should be buried in a bucket, under the ocean, of a distant planet, in another universe? Joining him was Hal Spacejock’s daddy, Simon Haynes (Pete S Allen, owner of Creative Guy Publishing sent apologies. He couldn’t make it.

It was decided straight up that the worst strategy for an author was to beg people to buy their book. From then on, ideas were popping like pop corn. Simon offered a singular test for the success of a promotional idea—is it fun? I love that! If it’s not fun for the author, not an idea they can get enthused about, it’s probably not going to fly. We need to do things that make us smile. That’s the vibe that sells books! Simon offered series of promo articles including Promote Your Book Online—all on topic and helpful. Elizabeth E. Wein shared her online book launch too!

All the panels hosted by A Boy Goes on a Journey can still be read and commented on. It seems the author chats might be up too. Meanwhile, I’m getting back into the rooms! See you all there!

Kim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette, which was published in January this year. She runs Falcon Astrology as well as a website for the Quantum Enchantment series. She has been participating in Flycon all weekend, including via Twitter.

Kill all the overlords!

TITLE: The Working Dark Lord

DESC: Writers, how would you topple all the governments of the world, and achieve global domination? What would you do then?

: Jennifer Fallon, Chris Dolley, Tony Shilllitoe, Ryan Viergutz

Go and read a very entertaining discussion!

Panel with Jennifer Fallon and live chat with Jack Dann

Panel discussion with Jennifer Fallon at 11am: Shared Worlds, Shared Universes, and Collaboration

And at 1pm, live chat with Jack Dann. Go to http://www.monissa.com/flycon/ to join in.

In the mean time, visit the program at A writer goes on a journey as there’s plenty going on – including a fascinating discussion on the role of history and historians in fantasy.

(Times in Sydney time, but the program has times across the world)

Flying like a bird of great speed: Flycon update

Click here for the full Flycon timetable

Flycon is going marvellously well, and the con’s creators and maintainers should be very proud of themselves, it’s absolutely fantastic, especially in the midst of credit crunches and global financial crises to be able to chat with so many different authors from all over the world – our own local wonderful authors and plenty of the overseas authors. I got to chat with Jennifer Fallon, Devon Monk and Kim Falconer all in one day, not to mention Sherwood Smith! And plenty of other lovely luminaries in the speculative fiction world – including co-organiser Dr Gillian Polack. I must say, much of the talking does seem to disintegrate into the discussion of food, mmm, which might be accounted to the odd meal times when you are running between chats :). Gillian caught the author chat with Stephen Hunt and said it was full of techno-speak and a bit of computer games back and forth – sounded very fun!

Thus far I have learned that Jennifer Fallon has always lived in the Flycon spirit, never feeling bounded by location – she lives in Alice Springs in the middle of Australia (click her name for a link to her blog – which has links to her other Flycon appearances). I am woeful that I missed Karen Miller early this morning but Kim Falconer said it was a fantastic chat, and I have no doubt, Karen is always great to talk to. Karen also took part in the discussion on the crossover from writing fan fiction to writing and publishing professionally. Devon Monk in the afternoon was a great deal of fun, especially as we got quite into the knitting discussion before going into crockpots and one-pot cooking and stew (see what I mean). And of course we discussed the Allie Beckstrom series! Kim Falconer was in there – I managed not to notice she was Kim for about 45 minutes, despite her handle being ‘Falcon’ … what can I say? And tonight’s author chat with Kim, just finished now, was wonderful – we discussed all manner of things, including the law of attraction, the upcoming books of the Quantum Enchantment series, the usefulness of cats as models 🙂 and more!

More great discussions: Dr Gilian Pollack and Pati Nagle on the rise of Jane Austen’s popularity – I loved Austen and really enjoyed reading through the discussion

Book Promotions – what works and what should be consigned to a small locked titanium box and shot off into the sun
(they phrased it differently) – this is a great one for any author to read – the best ways to promote your book and name without antagonising and includes insights from Simon Haynes, author of the Hal Spacejock series.

And there’s more to come tonight and tomorrow: Gary Kemble’s interview with Sara Douglass, AND a chat with Sara at 8am Sydney time, Jack Dann (1pm) and Tony Shillitoe (8pm), Jennifer Fallon and Tony Shillitoe taking part in a panel entitled: Writers, how would you topple all the governments of the world, and achieve global domination? What would you do then? (3pm) and Devon Monk is taking part in an ‘ask the professionals’ panel. Jennifer’s also taking part in this panel: Writing in someone else’s world; letting another author play in your own creation. (11am) and Is it easier to be nastier to characters of your own gender? Who is writing compelling characters within their own gender and across the divide? What about gender-different characters, and whose are convincing? (8pm)

I’m exhausted just looking at this list – so you can imagine how the organisers are feeling! Stew for all! Time to get those bedrolls out – and snooze.

Click here for the full Flycon timetable