• 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!

     

     

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The Aurealis Awards 2012

Last Saturday The Independent Theatre in North Sydney played host to the 17th Annual Aurealis Awards*. Harper Voyager Australia again sponsored the awards along with Galaxy Bookshop. It was a chilly windy night in Sydney so scarves & shawls were the fashion accessory of the evening!  We’re super-proud to announce that The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood (HarperAU) won best Sci-Fi Novel and Ghosts by Gaslight (HarperUS) edied by Jack Dann & Nick Gevers won best Anthology! Creature Court author Tansy Rayner Roberts’ podcast Galactic Suburbia also won the Peter McNamara award- go Tansy!The Courier's New Bicycle

As always, it was a great evening and a chance to catch up with all our authors, blogger friends, Tweeples and fans of spec fiction everywhere. Discussions ranged from the future of spec-fic publishing  and cover designs to Star Wars and hypothetical murder mystery plots.  We were also very happy to see Stephanie Smith, who presented the Best Fantasy Novel Award, before her imminent move to Tasmania. She took time to introduce our new Voyager publisher, Deonie Fiford, to the audience too!

Congratulations to our shortlisted authors as well –  The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon, The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts & Stormlord’s Exile by Glenda Larke for the Best Fantasy Novel of 2011, and Children of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy for Best Sci-Fi Novel of 2011.

Stephanie Smith with 2 of our winning authors: Kim Westwood and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Susan Wardle, co-convenor of the awards, said that with approximately 700 entries across the thirteen categories, the judges had a challenging task. “The winners represent the best of Australian fantasy, horror and science fiction writing in 2011 as judged by a pannel of their peers.  This year’s winners join the likes of Sara Douglass, Garth Nix, Isonelle Carmody, Trudi Canavan, Shaun Tan and Sean Williams, all of whom are multiple Aurealis Award Winners.”

Congratulations again to our winners!

*The Aurealis Awards were established in 1995 by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis magazine, to recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers.

Deonie Fiford and Stephanie Smith
photo by Cat Sparx ( http://www.flickr.com/people/42956650@N00/)

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Aurealis 2011 finalists announced!

The finalists for the 2011 Aurealis Awards have just been announced and lots of Voyager authors have been selected! Congrats to Jennifer Fallon, Glenda Larke, Tansy Rayner Roberts & Kim Westwood!

This is from the official press release:
‘ Winners of the 2011 Aurealis Awards and the Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, on the evening of Saturday 12 May at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney. Details of the evening and a link to the online booking website are available at www.aurealisawards.com

An after party will be held at Rydges, North Sydney, following the awards presentations.  Accommodation is available at Rydges for $149 (room only) or $174 (including full buffet breakfast).  To take advantage of these rates please use the code ‘Aurealis’ when making your booking.

For further information about the awards please contact the convenors at: convenors@aurealisawards.com

The 2011 Aurealis Awards are sponsored by HarperVoyager and Cosmos Magazine and proudly supported by Galaxy Bookshop.’

Here are the Australian Voyager finalists:

FANTASY NOVEL

The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon (HarperVoyager)

Stormlord’s Exile by Glenda Larke (HarperVoyager)

The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperVoyager)

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood (HarperVoyager)

For the full list head to www.aurealisawards.com

How to Write What You -Don’t- Know

Monster Dragon from How to Train Your Dragon

The adage write what you know works well for how-to manuals, cookbooks, auto repair guides or medical text. With such topics, writers need a certain level of expertise. When it comes to speculative fiction, however, it’s another story. No one on Earth can know what a were-beast, off world portal or post apocalyptic witch is really like until the author creates it from the blank page. Sometimes that process can be a challenge so I’ve put together four quick tips for writing what you don’t know.

Tip #1: Research. If you have a world that is primarily desert, you don’t have to live in the Sahara to write it convincingly (just ask Glenda Larke!). You do have to ‘know’ what it is like to have three millimetres of rain a year and dust storms so blinding you can get lost between your camel and your tent. In other words, research the ecology of desert life. You can’t have bright green grass and furry platypuses, unless you explain a turf that goes eleven and a half months without water and a river mammal that swims in sand.

Tip #2: Savvy proofreaders. Research can take the place of direct experience, especially in world building, but there are exceptions. Horses are one. If you don’t know horses, you can learn about them, but if they are going to do more than graze in the paddock, you’ll need a proof-reader with horse sense to check your work. Readers who are also riders will spot ineptitude a mile away. Jolt! If it’s going to be a feature in your novel, get an expert to proof and/or offer technical advice.

Tip #3: Hands on. If you’re going to give some art, animal, dance, ritual, music or machine a big role in your script, immerse in it, hands on! As a bonus, your life will become richer for the experience. In my first two series, I researched quantum computing, physics theory, geo-engineering, bio-engineering and were-animal mythologies. I joined a local dojo and learned to wield a sword. Already on board were things like felines, horses, witchcraft, magic, astrology, gender studies and astral travel. I wove together the elements that were second nature to me with the ones I studied and learned. Anything else, like falconry, was proofread by an expert in the field.

Tip #4: Start with a grain of truth. No matter how wild and farfetched your story becomes, that grain of truth is what you build on and what will give your prose more weight. In my most recent series, Quantum Encryption, a main character takes my love of the Gray Wolf, an endangered species, and comes up with a solution to their looming extinction. I also look at possible results from geo-engineering projects that might do more harm than good. It’s all about the speculation, but begin with something real.

Any other tips? Favourite fantasy worlds or beings? I’d love to hear about them. Comments always welcome.

Kim Falconer is the author of the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption trilogies, set in the worlds of Gaela and Earth and exploring all manner of ideas, people and places. The latest in the series is Road to the Soul, which will be published 1 March. Visit Kim’s website and find out more about Kim and her books!

Creating New Souls by Kim Falconer

Quillian the Were-fey over Timbali Temple, Southern Continent by Aaron Briggs

Quillian the Were-fey over Timbali Temple, Southern Continent by Aaron Briggs

The inspiration for Road to the Soul came like a match strike, lit by my publisher Stephanie Smith in the spring of 2008. I wasn’t looking for ideas at the time or even thinking about new characters. Far from it!

Stephanie and I were going over the ‘proof reader queries’ for The Spell of Rosette, a gruelling process of discussing the copyedit questions. My first novel was nearly ready to print, save for these scribbles and marks still waiting in the margins. We got to page 131, a moment in the story where Rosette stops to collect herself. She sits under a jade statue of a Were-fey, a winged serpent-like creature leaping out of an ‘angry’ sea.

Quillian protecting Tryn from a rogue Lupin, Northern Continent by Aaron Briggs

Quillian protecting Tryn from a rogue Lupin, Northern Continent by Aaron Briggs

Steph asked, ‘Kim, why is the sea angry?’

I said, ‘Because it surrounds the Southern Continent which is  . . .  in trouble.’

‘Really?’ Steph was interested. ‘What kind of trouble?’

‘Big,’ I said to HarperCollins Voyager’s Associate Publisher. ‘Big, big trouble.’

‘I see . . . Will it appear in future books?’ she wanted to know.

Pause . . .

‘Yes.’ I said. ‘It will.’

And that was it. The story of the lost Southern Continent and a magical Were-fey named Quillian had begun.

Archaeopterx the ‘first bird’—a dino with feathers.

Archaeopterx the ‘first bird’—a dino with feathers.

In the end, the Were-fey statue at Treeon Temple wasn’t depicted in a roiling sea, but the story had gotten a foothold and there was no stopping it. The deeper answer to the question—‘Why is the sea angry?’—has turned into the Road to the Soul and one jade Were-fey has come to life in full Technicolor.

Were-fey are amazing creatures and like most of my ideas, they began with a grain of truth. I wanted to portray a sentient, non-human being with a sharp mind, agile body and Shakespearian wit. This Were-fey had to be adept in four elements–land, sea, air, and time. He had to be special, the last of his kind.

The beautiful Bird of Paradise by Tim Laman

The beautiful Bird of Paradise by Tim Laman

My first reference for creating him was Archaeopterx, the Greek name for ‘ancient wing.’ This first ‘bird’ was a sharp toothed, claw-winged, feathered dinosaur that lived in the late Jurassic period, 150 million years ago. I mixed in the Bird of Paradise for a brilliant plumage and the Loon for underwater grace and fishy appetite. Thus was born Quillian, a perpetually hungry, telepathic, highly vocal risk taker, bonded to the young apprentice Tryn and the pivot on which Road to the Soul turns.

I had a very clear picture of Quillian in my mind but it wasn’t until my cover artist, Aaron Briggs, interpreted the depictions that I trusted readers would see him vividly as well. I hope they continue to engage with this character as book two in Quantum Encryption unfolds its epic journey.

Loons and cormorants dive down to 45 metres!

Loons and cormorants dive down to 45 metres!

Speculative fiction is full of ‘made-up’ creatures and environments from Tanith Lee’s Silver, Glenda Larke’s myriapedes, Karen Miller’s Vampire Butterflies and Mary Victoria’s World Tree. What are some of your favourite beings? What makes them so believable? I would love to hear more about it.

HarperVoyager sponsor 2010 Aurealis Awards

 

SpecFaction NSW Inc, the new organiser of the Aurealis Awards, is delighted to announce that HarperVoyager will be the exclusive sponsor of the 2010 awards presented in May next year.

Awards Co-convenor Nathan Burrage said, “The Aurealis Awards are Australia’s premier awards for Speculative Fiction and we’re delighted to be working with one of Australia’s top publishers, HarperVoyager, to present them for the first time in Sydney.”

“SpecFaction is a not for profit organisation and all our members are volunteers. Without the support of a sponsor like HarperVoyager, we could not hope to host the awards.”

HarperVoyager publish some of Australia’s biggest names in Speculative Fiction.

Stephanie Smith, Associate Publisher of HarperVoyager, said “HarperVoyager is delighted to be the sponsor of the Aurealis Awards in 2011. The awards have been instrumental in the development of the speculative fiction genre in Australia and are a source of pride for the genre community. Many Voyager authors have won, or been shortlisted for, the Aurealis Awards over the past 15 years, including such bestselling authors as Sara Douglass, Glenda Larke, Jennifer Fallon and Kylie Chan. Voyager’s enthusiasm for the genre and our commitment to seeing it grow and expand is as strong as ever.”

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for genre fiction, are for works of speculative fiction written by an Australian citizen, or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 November 2009 and 31 December 2010.

Entries close on Friday 31 December 2010. Finalists will be announced in late March 2011 and winners will receive their awards at a gala evening ceremony held in Sydney on Saturday the 21st of May 2011.

All entries are read by an independent panel of judges.  As with past awards, sponsorship arrangements do not influence the judging process.

For more information on the Aurealis Awards, or how to enter, please visit www.aurealisawards.com

Hugos, swords, readings and dreamers

Sunday morning we bumped into Peter V Brett looking slightly pale outside the dealers room on Level 2. He was preparing for his reading from The Great Bazaar and by all accounts did very well. We gave away some Voyager party bags with the v15 hardbacks inside to some lucky tweeters and passers-by, celebrating both our anniversary and hitting 1000 followers on Twitter! Duncan Lay wandered over on his way to his kaffeeklatsch and said he was enjoying himself and also preparing for a reading later that day. Haven’t heard yet how it was but I’m sure it was fantastic!
Then your correspondent went to a ton of panels: the artist’s paradox with GoH Shaun Tan, Cat Sparks and Nick Stathopoulos was especially interesting. Robert Silverberg’s panel with Peter Ball, Alan Baxter and Keith Stevenson also provided food for thought on the novella form – hard to sell? Hard to write? Growing in popularity? Increasing the number of small press publishers?
After a brief break for lunch it was time to see our own Stephanie Smith, Voyager Publisher, on the Dreaming Again panel led by Jack Dann, with Janeen Webb, Jason Nahrung, Angela Slatter, Richard Harland and Jenny Blackford. Jack was in fine form and asked if everyone else had turned up for a roast Jack panel! 🙂
Then it was a discussion on crowns and monarchies with interesting insights from a whole panel of Voyager authors! Duncan Lay, Jennifer Fallon, Glenda Larke, Fiona Mcintosh with guest appearance by Joel Shepherd, duked it out – and one good point they made is that by settling on a monarchy as your governing system, you can concentrate on telling the actual story.
After this it was off to rm 519 to listen to Mary Victoria read from Tymon’s Flight and -bonus- from Samiha’s Song. Mary read beautifully and had us all under her spell.
We had a lovely Voyager dinner with our authors and then a few of us headed to the Hugos, where Garth Nix was doing a fab job of MCing. We’re all thrilled that Peter Watts won a Hugo for his story in New Space Opera 2 and Peter’s speech thanking Jonathan Strahan, editor of the anthology, was nice. We also enjoyed George R R trying to run off with a Hugo he was presenting and Robert Silverberg’s quips about editors and wombats!
Finally, it was off for one final evening in the Hilton Bar accompanied by Peter V Brett to join Jennifer Fallon and Glenda Larke, Stephanie and HarperCollins account manager and fantasy fan extraordinaire Theresa Anns. Then bed!
Today we’re off to Mary V’s panel at 10 on Writing Strange Lands, and then dropping into Nicole Murphy’s reading, where she tells us she will not be reading from page 310!

The stormtroopers have arrived: Saturday at Worldcon

So, yesterday dawned a bit too bright and early for anyone celebrating Voyager’s 15th birthday and the Ditmars, but as a famous person once said: the con must go on. And so it did. We went to lots of panels, including one on cover art: a dying form? If the images shown by GoH Shaun Tan are any indication, then no, it is not! Was lovely to see Nick Stathopoulos’s cover for Dreaming Down-Under there – and we plan to go to the Dreaming Again again panel at 2pm today.
Around lunchtime we spied a very big queue indeed – no surprises, George was doing a signing. In the end they had to organize a second signing later in the day to give fans a chance to get to the front and the grrm the chance not to get RSI.
We saw Peter V Brett and Cory Doctorow discussing online presence and fan interaction – a great insight into how the author deals with such relationships. We also caught a bevy of Voyager authors talking about the trilogy in fantasy-why is it so common now? A whose choice is it? Fiona Mcintosh ably chaired the panel between Glenda Larke, Trudi Canavan and Russell Kirkpatrick and also forced ‘dettol lollies’ on the unsuspecting audience! It was a great chat and a bit of a prelude to the upcoming Crowns and Swords panel where I suspect Glenda and Fiona will return to the subject of castles ;).
Also spent a bit of time in the Dealers Room talking to Galaxy Bookshop’s Mark Timmony and then bumped into Karen Miller, a lovely surprise!
In the evening, after a foray into Melbourne’s laneways for dinner (successful) we dropped into the Hilton Bar and spied Cory Doctorow, Kim Stanley Robinson and Jason Nahrung, among others. And we also had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan Strahan, one of the best editors around, and co-editor with Jack Dann of Legends of Australian Fantasy.
And then, finally, it was time for zzzzzzzz.