• 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!

     

     

  • Advertisements

Perseverance Pays Off – A.A. Bell on the making of Diamond Eyes

After 10 years in development, my first fantasy crime thriller, Diamond Eyes, finally takes flight! YAY!

Initial inspiration struck me early in 1999, due to a slight vision condition which can’t be corrected fully by surgery or lenses. However, an earlier decade working in the spooky halls of a century-old mental-health sanctuary in Queensland, also provided plenty of  “juiciness” for the surreal settings.

 Although I can’t focus back through time to witness dark deeds, like my heroine, Mira Chambers, I did manage to see through a scam by a disreputable businessmen who tried to rip me off on my birthday. The title came later that year, enroute to an eye specialist when my young son asked how eyes really worked, and I used my diamond ring as an example of a crystallised lens.

 So what took so long to develop it? Diamond Eyes was 10 years in the making, due mainly to the extensive research and unusual stylistic elements involved, including a 3-year MA(Research) scholarship in advanced editing strategies (e.g. text world theory, ironic ascension and covert/overt narratology), using Diamond Eyes as the development project. Along the way, I also won Highly Commended in the 2008 FAW Jim Hamilton Awards for a shorter draft as an unpublished manuscript. However, I also spent much of my time honing my story craft skills across multiple genres by publishing over 120 spin-offs and other stories under various pen-names (many also award winners) in the genres of crime, romance, fantasy, science fiction, psychological thrillers, military action/adventures, comedy and even poetry and metaphoric songwriting – strong elements from all of which were fundamental to production of this series; Diamond Eyes (2010), Hindsight (2011) and Leopard Dreaming (2012).

Continue reading

Advertisements

A Kiss from the Muse—how to get it! Part II

The Siren by John William Waterhouse (1900)

The Siren by John William Waterhouse (1900), no doubt inspired by a muse ...

Want divine inspiration? A kiss from the muse? Here are some of my favourite ways to awaken the inner spirit of creativity.

Allowing comes first. My friend Jeannette Maw has this notion down to a fine art. She says creative desire is like a wild horse. It can not be approached with clenched fists and waving arms. The Muse responds to serenity and peace—an open palm. Before I begin each morning session, I sit in front of my monitor, open my hands and say, ‘Come hither. Dance with me.

Meditation stills the mind, allowing the normally active brain waves—beta 13-30 cycles per second—to drop down to alpha 7-13 cycles per second or even lower to theta 4-7 cycles per second. By achieving this state, a measurable increase in creativity and intelligence is reported. I practice Transcendental Meditation twice a day, every day and freelance writer Patricia Fry suggests a ‘walking meditation’. She says, I use ‘Meditation Walking’ to unlock the flow of new article ideas and to work through a problem with a story.

Non-Judgment is vital. It means easing up on critical self-assessment. The narrative doesn’t have to be perfect the moment it hits the page. Knowing this can help writers relax and let it flow. In first drafts, I treat myself like a child. I don’t say, Demons, Kim, what’s happened? You used to be able to write! I encourage saying, this is a good idea. Tell me more.

Anne Hines says first drafts are like really bad first dates and suspending judgment is the best way to get to the gold. She describes a classic Far Side cartoon where a wild haired writer hunches over his table, entirely surrounded by wadded up balls of rejected pages. On each one is written, Call me Bob, Call me Phil, Call me Arnold. He’s got a good story there and if he keeps going he’ll stumble upon Call me Ishmael!

Music is another way to call forth the creative flow. In mythology the Muses are closely associated with music and some writers find playing their favorite tunes in the background encourages creativity, relaxation and joy. (I’m listening to the soundtrack from Vicky Cristina Barcelona as I type.) Daniel Handler author of A Series of Unfortunate Events (under the pen name of Lemony Snicket), says: I’ve never had writer’s block for an extended period of time — I just have the occasional 24-hour bug. On those days I listen to *Top Ten,* an album by the Flying Lizards, in its glorious entirety, and then take a long brisk walk. In the 2003 Nancy Meyers film, Somethin’s Gotta Give—Diane Keaton’s character is a playwright who listens to French music for inspiration.

What do you find awakens the Muse? Comments welcome. Part III (coming soon) has more hints on getting the kiss from the Muse.

See Part I: A Kiss from the  Muse

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.

Clarion South: Getting Creative AKA the physics of unicorn horns … Part 2

We asked: Were there any exercises to stimulate the creativity while at the Clarion South workshop? As with yesterday’s posts, there’s some hilarious stuff here. Fridge inspections, yes, I can understand that, practical physics of unicorns, NO!

Lee Battersby: I would have loved to have done some formal exercises, but with the massive workload the students faced, there really wasn’t time. That said, we did play around in informal settings (I have a particularly vivid memory of discussing the practical physics of unicorn horns with a couple of the lads, complete with on-all-fours demonstrations around the floor….).

Steve Turner: I’m yet to find out at Clarion South – personally, I actually got into short stories just this year as a break from writing the heavier sections of my novel. The short stories were used to stimulate the creative juices but I don’t have any exercises except that I come up an interesting story, think it through to its logical conclusion, then tell myself that will be predictable garbage, and go back over the more important bits to see how I can reverse, twist or shock by changing the predictable to something even I didn’t expect.

Jess Irwin: I brought things along, but didn’t end up using them. Just being among 16 like-minded individuals was enough. Talking out your plot problems with fellow Clarionites at 2am is a great cure for writers’ block :). There was also the late-night fridge inspection. Whatever kicks the plot forward.

Christopher Green: Drink a lot of ice tea, nap from 2pm to 6pm, stay up until 3 am, get up and shower prior to 9 (And breakfast. Must have breakfast, preferably French Toast and pineapple juice. To be honest, though, the most creatively stimulating part of Clarion was the ability to wander to another floor, open the door (knocking is for people who write romance novels) and demand a story intervention.

Paul Haines: Mr Dann suggested collaborations, and Claire McKenna and I jumped on it, successfully too. The resulting dark sf story appeared in Agog! Smashing Stories. Both Jack Dann and Lucy Sussex praised the story, so we were chuffed.

Helen Venn: Not that I recall but that could just be exhaustion.

Poor Helen! Perhaps it was the Christopher Greens and Jess Irwins of the group walking around at 3am and barging through the door that meant less sleep all around! Clearly, coffee as well as ice tea should be a prerequisite. The overly-awake Clarionites will be back with MORE – including their thoughts on what you need to do before you get to Clarion, why they decided to go to Clarion and who their fave authors are …In the mean time, click on any of the authors’ names to go to their blogs or websites.

Peter V Brett tells us the writers who inspired him

The Painted Man

An irony of the early reviews The Painted Man has received is that my work is frequently compared to that of David Gemmell and Robin Hobb. It’s incredibly flattering, since both authors are immensely popular, but the truth is I’ve never read anything by either of them. I’ve since added books from both to my reading pile, of course. I want to see what other people are seeing.

But that’s not to say by any means that I am not influenced by other authors. I have always been a pretty voracious fantasy reader. The first non-school book (without pictures) that I ever read was The Hobbit, along with about a million superhero comics from Marvel and DC. My parents, both heavy readers themselves, started to worry when all I spent my time reading was comics, so my father went to the library and checked out a copy of Terry Brooks’ Wishsong of Shannara.

After that, I read whatever fantasy books I could get my hands on. RA Salvatore, Douglas Niles, Piers Anthony, Lyndon Hardy, CS Friedman, Michael Moorcock, Barbara Hambly, Peter S. Beagle, Tanya Huff, Raymond E. Feist, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, William Goldman, Phillip Pullman, David Farland, Naomi Novik and countless others. I think I must have read the entire TSR line of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance books in the 80’s and 90’s. I also read a lot of horror stories, mostly Stephen King and James Herbert.

All of those authors made an impact on me and my writing, but the two books that I really credit with raising my game as a writer were James Clavell’s Shogun and George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones. These authors taught me just how far the fantasy novel medium could reach, with countless levels of complexity and point of view kept compelling even over the course of a thousand pages or more. I realized then that a lot of the limits in novels are self-imposed by the authors, whether consciously or not. I don’t know if I can ever achieve that level of writing, but I intend to spend the rest of my life trying.

But I still read comics.

The Painted Man will be available next week across Australia. And there are plenty of people buzzed about it! A review appeared in the first edition of Black Magazine, and you can also see a review and interview at sf/f site A Boy Goes On A Journey. I’ll post more links to reviews with Peter’s post next week, there’s plenty to choose from.