• 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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Highlights from the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2012

Yes, we are both Gemini; no we didn’t ring ahead to colour coordinate! Isobelle Carmody (left) and Kim Falconer (right) at the Byron Bay Writers Festival 2012

Last year, HarperVoyager had a strong presence at the Bryon Bay Writers’ Festival. I shared the stage with Fiona McIntosh and Traci Harding, and we had the time of our lives. We enthralled audiences with talk of magic spells, quantum physics, time travel, totems and how best to portray the sounds of screams from the dungeon. With our then Voyager publisher in the audience, Stephanie Smith, we were all on fire. The memory was so buoyant, I wasn’t sure how this year’s festival would measure up.

Being the only Voyager author, I wasn’t sure who I would connect with this time around, but that all changed in a flash. There was another speculative fiction author present and when I met her I was immediately reminded of the binding tie that makes fantasy authors kindred spirits no matter what ‘house’ they hale from. Sharing the stage on topics of fantasy, creativity, dreams and the spirit of the written word was the well known and loved fantasy queen, Isobelle Carmody. I had the pleasure of being ‘in conversation’ with her to a packed house of YA fans, a most enjoyable session. I can attest without doubt, the love of speculative fiction is alive and well! What a fabulous experience.

Other highlights included Wild Things, a tribute to Maurice Sendak. His books have expanded the way we think about children’s literature and what is possible to write, treating children as ‘people’ with strong emotions, drives and desires. On similar topics were panels addressing education, literacy and the future of books. A personal favourite of mine, ‘The Perfect Pitch’ was a lively panel where publishers, including HarperCollins publishing director Shona Martyn, listen to six hopeful writers try to sell their work. Very exciting!

At the extreme end of the reality scale was the ‘Righting the World’ discussion with Australian environmentalist Ian Lowe, author Niromi De Soyza, who ran away from her family home in Sri Lanka at 17 to join the Tamil Tigers and fight for her country’s freedom; Indonesian author Andrea Hirata; and American author Katherine Boo, who is known for her works on the disadvantaged and poverty stricken. They shared horror stories but every one of them ended in hope, a most moving and uplifting panel.

I was pleased to see again this year how every session at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival began by acknowledging an empty chair. This is part of the PEN program and represents a writer who is in prison for writing what someone in power, somewhere in the world, believed is ‘off Limits’. Acknowledgement of the Pen empty chair reminds us all the freedom of expression we otherwise take for granted. Sobering.

On the nuts and bolt of writing side of things, I gave a workshop on writing, selling and promoting genre fiction. You can see the PowerPoint presentation with live links here. All in all, though I missed my Voyager sisters, it was a wonderful Byron Bay Writer’s Festival 2012.

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A quick reminder about some events coming up soon

It’s time for Dreaming Again

Pulp Fiction and the Queensland Writers Centre are celebrating the release of Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann, in Brisbane on Tuesday 23rd September, 6.00pm for a 6.30pm start at QWC, Level 2, 109 Edward Street, Brisbane. To quote them: ‘There will be readings, there will be signings, but most importantly there will be nibbles and drinks — and books!’

It’s free – but bookings are essential so there’s enough of the aforementioned nibbles and drinks! To RSVP, phone Pulp Fiction Bookstore on 3236 2750 or email pulpfictionbooks@bigpond.com

And if you haven’t got a copy of Dreaming Again yet, wait til you go to the celebration, as all profits from sales of the book on the night will go to the Clarion South Writers’ Workshop. A number of writers in Dreaming Again are Clarion South alumni – ‘survivors of a six-week writers’ boot camp!’.

Dreaming Again contains 35 stories by authors such as Isobelle Carmody, Terry Dowling, Margo Lanagan and Garth Nix — along with Brisbane’s own Peter M. Ball, Rowena Cory Daniels, Trent Jamieson, Chris Lynch, Jason Nahrung, Angela Slatter and Kim Wilkins – and the organisers expect that a number of these fab authors will be there on the night.

Don’t forget that Jack Dann is a special guest at  Conflux 5: Dreaming, which runs from October 3 to 6! See www.conflux.org.au for the full details. If you haven’t signed up to go yet, please do! The Voyager team will be attending, and it’s sure to be fantastic – and a good reason to go to Canberra …

Traci Harding will soon be taking part in the annual celebration of all things Traci: Trazfest 2008, from Friday October 3 – Monday October 6 2008. Trazfest is the chance to meet Traci and other fans in a relaxed three-day event which includes the Trazling Awards Night (during which a Talent Quest & Costume Party takes place). This year it’s at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast. You must pre-book, so visit Trazling.net or Traci’s website for more information or email trazfest@trazling.net.

Dreaming Again – Jack Dann’s introduction continued

Last week we posted the start of Jack Dann’s introduction to Dreaming Again, a new anthology of Australian fantasy. Here’s a continuation of the introduction. We’ll be conducting a Q&A with Jack in coming weeks.

Dreaming AgainI won’t apologize for shooting for the stars, for turning my back on reasonably good stories and reasonably good writers, for wanting only the golden-tipped prose that makes old men think they are young, or makes the hair stand up on the neck, or carry the reader into that detailed day-dream we call sense-of-wonder. I won’t apologize for wanting only those stories that galvanize, that stimulate wonder and thought and laughter…that cause discomfort…that in their small, subtle, and mysterious ways transform all those who encounter them.

And, yes, I’m excited about the stories in this volume. And, yes, this probably sounds like hype. So what? This book isn’t about the editor. It’s about the stories. It’s about the numinous light shows and the Cimmerian darkness created by the talented authors who contributed to this book. It’s theirs…their talent, their ideas, their unique perspectives on life and death and the universe. They are the poets and tale-tellers and culture-changers. They are some of the best writers working in this wild, beguiling land with its great red heart and vast desert expanses. They are some of the best fantasists working in this country edged by blue seas, coral reefs, rainforests, and sophisticated urban culture. It just so happened that I was lucky enough to see these stories first and with great love and respect include them in this showcase collection, this ten year celebratory sequel to Dreaming Down-Under.

In his generous preface to Dreaming Down-Under, Harlan Ellison wrote: “Because the work, all this work, all this fresh, tough, and brilliant work, all these stories, they need no California fantasist to shill for them. They speak for themselves. They have voices. Now, go away; and listen to them.”

Harlan was absolutely right.

You don’t need my introduction or story notes; you just need the stories that are waiting like patient angels—or disguised demons—to embrace you. So I would not take offence if you gave up on this introduction right here and now and started reading the stories. In fact, in this unusual ego-less frame of mind that I seem to have slipped into…I would urge you to do so.

However, should you be in the mood for some shading and perspective and background, I’ll soldier on. After all, this bit of the book is free!

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Ten years ago, Janeen and I had an agenda. Then as now, we wanted to shake up the established thinking about the “shape” of contemporary writing in Australia: to open up—and redefine—the literary canon to include the non-mimetic side of our literature. We wanted to showcase the very best contemporary stories that pushed the envelope of genre fiction and those stories that used genre tropes or might be considered magical realism. We referred to those stories as “wild-side fiction” to convey that evocative, almost dangerous sense of being right out there on the edge. And we wanted to get the word out to the rest of the world that there was something happening here in Australia.

Here’s a snapshot of how it looked back in 1998: The genre culture was vibrant. Writers and fans were meeting regularly at science fiction conventions, which were rather small and intimate. Mainstream publishers such as HarperCollins Voyager, Pan Macmillan, Random House, and Penguin were developing new lists of Australian fantasy and SF writers; and new, vigorous small press publishers such as Eidolon, Ticonderoga, Aphelion, and MirrorDance were pushing boundaries and publishing some wonderfully quirky and imaginative work. There was healthy competition between the two major Australian genre magazines Eidolon and Aurealis, each featuring cutting-edge fiction by Australian authors. Jonathan Strahan and Jeremy Byrne were editing the annual Year’s Best Australian SF, fantasy, and horror fiction; and although the Australian Ditmar Award (voted on by readers) had been long established, two new professional awards were created: the Aurealis Award and the Turner Award. A generation of hot new talented writers such as Sean Williams, Simon Brown, Lucy Sussex, Stephen Dedman, Aaron Sterns, Paul Brandon, K. J. Bishop, Kate Forsyth, Richard Harland, Ian Irvine, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Margo Lanagan, Scott Westerfield, Fiona McIntosh, Janeen Webb, and Kim Wilkins were making their bones and pushing the various envelopes; and established professionals such as Garth Nix, Terry Dowling, Damien Broderick, Isobelle Carmody, Sara Douglass, Sean McMullen, Greg Egan, and Rosaleen Love were writing at the top of their form. Harlan Ellison thought we were experiencing a Golden Age of Australian Science Fiction, and, indeed, it sure as hell felt like something was going on. In fact it felt like the heady days of the late 1960s when SF writers in England and the United States challenged genre conventions and started a period of experimentation called The New Wave.

What were we challenging ten years ago?

To be continued …

Dreaming Again will be available throughout Australia in July.