• 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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Those camels just don’t stop undying

An un-undead camel

The lovely people over at Terra Incognita have new podcasts for your ears …
It’s their TISF 026 Christmas Special featuring ‘In From The Snow’ written and read by Lee Battersby and
‘Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh’ written and read by Jason Fischer (audio published 15 December 2010).
Both stories are from the excellent (if we say so ourselves) 2008 anthology Dreaming Again, edited by the also excellent and lovely Jack Dann.
And while we haven’t heard Jason’s reading voice, we have heard his singing voice, detailing a certain song that ends with ‘doo dah’ and starts with ‘Undead camels ate their flesh’ … so there is no doubt this will be good listening.  For those of you with weaker knees, you may want to curl up next to someone strong while listening to the powerful but unnerving ‘In From The Snow’. Happy listening and thanks to Keith Stevenson at TISF.
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The Aust Spec Fic Blog Carnival for January 2009!

In a homage to rhyming, bad poetry and a certain sing-a-long blog
The Spec Fic Blog Carnival has been forced into verse and may leave you agog
With horror, but believe me, it hurt me more than anyone to rhyme.
Anyway, here’s the list of new things in publishing – have a good time!

*quality of starting verse may prepare you for what is to come.

Let’s start with Satima on the Specusphere, latest edition now out!
Followed by the Overlord on OneDollarOrbit – it’s a $1 Shout!
Then comes Simon Haynes interviewing Jim Hines on the Stepsister Scheme
And Simon also achieved his Hal Spacejock e-book dream.

Jennifer Fallon asked: Is epic fantasy on the wane?
Glenda Larke and Neil Gaiman wondered if a judge was insane …. (I think so)
Josh Palmatier was interviewed by Simon Haynes on The Vacant Throne
And Josh was admired by Glenda Larke and many others (they aren’t alone).

The AHWA looked back at 2008 and chose the best dark stories
While ROR (Writers on the Rise) reflected on their shared glories
And look out for Christmas Down Under – submit your story to Festive Fear
Plus Juliet Marillier discusses editing, and sheds blood, sweat and more than one tear.

Import and be damned, said the AWM of parallel importation
On the same topic, Michael Gerard Bauer talked of what is lost in translation.
Brendan Podger thinks fantasy books are getting too big for their boots
And HarperCollins picked up a new division, meaning ABC Books uproots …

Shane Jiraiya Cummings offered fiction for free on his website
Keri Arthur talked about her next release, Deadly Desire … that’s right …
And the search for 10 culture critics on literary cultures now starts,
While the David Gemmell Legend Award captures hearts.

The Aus Writers’ Guild National Screenwriters Conference takes place in Feb
Ticonderoga Online went up in a new format on the web.

That was exhausting, so, in related news, let’s get to a topic that can be really exhausting, because it’s hard work: writing.

Glenda Larke talked about how she writes her books – from the first draft to the last,
Justine Larbalestier gave away a ton of know-how (you won’t get through this fast):
characterisation, getting published, getting unstuck, generating ideas, choosing POVs, NOT writing on what you know!
The Sirens put out their first newsletter of the year
And the AHWA roll out a flash short story comp – get your writing into gear!

Simon Haynes tries to distil his writing into two pages.
Cat Sparks finds the gloom on the web sent her writing through several stages.
Tansy Rayner Roberts responded to Lilith Saintcrow on angry chicks in leather,
And also enjoyed Russell T Davies talking about our generation typing at each other.

Jennifer Fallon helped lazy writers unite,
And Kim Falconer talked of the hero’s fight

Just for fun … and let’s call this freeform because if I see another rhyme … I might become the Hulk.

Why you don’t want a LOLcat as your editor
The wonderful Jason Fischer puts out a new (and free!) story.
Would you answer this ad? Cat Sparks contemplates time travel
AussieCon 4 offers t-shirts – bring on Melbourne September 2010!

And finally …
Karen Miller discusses the new, young Dr Who
That’s Sir Terry to you: Sir Terry Pratchett is awarded a well-deserved knighthood!
We hear more from the Clarion South brigade – this time on their tutors.
Cory Doctorow tells us to watch out for surveillance on New Year’s Day (yikes)
Phil Berrie talks about the pros and cons of Authonomy
And Australian Speculative Fiction Blog Carnival Host is not made poet laureate.

Late breaking news: The Great Gender Debate 09

Alisa Krasnostein on the 25% female authorship
Tansy Rayner Roberts on why it matters
An editor’s genuine opinion – Russell B Farr of Ticonderoga
Girlie Jones looking deeper at gender
Ben Peek writes a letter
Some useful answers to questions about gender inequality

Articles on the subject:
Girls vs Boys as readers by Sherwood Smith
Girlish, moody fiction? No thanks
A Bout of Aboutness: Urban Fantasy and Sword-and-Planet

Go to the home of the Aust Spec Fic Blog Carnival – also known as A Boy Goes On a Journey, a fantastic resource for all Aust Spec Fic writers, run by Nyssa Pascoe.

Clarion South: Working with the big bad bold … tutors

This post continues our series by the graduates and future students of the Clarion South Writers Workshop. There will be more from them later this year and the next Clarion South workshop is on right now!

The question: What was it like working with Jack Dann and the other tutors, all of whom are well known and successful writers?

Lee Battersby: I think if you have the opportunity to spend a week in close proximity to guys like Jack and Gardner, and you’re serious about following a writing career, it’s something to which you need to give serious consideration. These guys have seen it all and done it all, and I know that the Clarion South students I tutored came away from their time with Gardner with a massive fillip to their confidence and know how.

Angela Slatter (there right now!): At this stage, I don’t know! I’m doing Clarion in 2009, so it’s all ahead of me. I’ve worked with Jack on the Dreaming Again anthology – that was easy!

Steve Turner (hanging out with Angela at the current CS!): I am really looking forward to it – I had the first Dreaming Down Under book edited by Jack and I have always loved it, and have always enjoyed his short stories. I was already a fan of Sean Williams and have a half dozen of his books so was very excited about that. I am also a Marianne de Pierres fan and am proud of the fact that she is also from Brisbane. It’s also amazing to look at the credits of Margo Lanagan and Kelly Link and I have since read their award winning short story collections and it only makes me feel so privileged to work with World Fantasy, Ditmar, Aurealis and Nebula award winners of this calibre.
Amanda le Bas de Plumetot: I’ve actually worked with Jack in a workshop run by the Victorian Writers’ Centre a couple of years ago. I really enjoyed it. He doesn’t pull his punches and I like that in a workshopping situation.

Jess Irwin: It’s really great to get advice and insight from such prominent writers and editors – I mean, unless I kidnap her I’ll never have another week with Kelly Link devoted to the craft and industry of writing. (Don’t kidnap people, folks!) It’s okay to get nervous, but remember: if it bleeds we can kill it… um… I mean, they’re all human beings, they love speculative fiction, and they’re here to help you. They’re your peers and colleagues. You don’t need to be nervous. But playing a few rounds of Mafia is a pretty good cure, too

Helen Venn: Stimulating and a little intimidating until it sank in that they were there to help.

Christopher Green: Jack Dann, as well as the tutors of Clarion South ’07 (Rob Hood, Lee Battersby, Kelly Link (with guest appearance by Gavin J. Grant), Gardner Dozois, Margo Lanagan, and Simon Brown) are all incredible to work with. One of the main things that struck me about them was their passion. They are tireless, seeming to have limitless energy when it comes to sharing their knowledge, offering advice, etc. I was honoured.

Paul Haines: Each tutor brought something new to the table, in the way they approached stories, or how they responded to the group. Jack Dann arrived in week 5, a tough time for most of us as everything was starting to fray and exhaustion had crept in. He was invigorating for the entire class, with his approach, his ideas, and most of all his energy. David Hartwell was also interesting, in particular for letting us in on his vast experience as an editor in the business, more so than his critiquing of the work.

Deborah Kalin: I didn’t work with Jack Dann or Gardner Dozois – my tutors were Sean Williams, Michael Swanwick, Ellen Datlow, Margo Lanagan, Ian Irvine, and Scott Westerfeld. Every single one of them was inspiring, encouraging, daunting, and incisve — in short, unforgettable!

Brenn McDibble: I studied and read a few works of each tutor before I went to Clarion so it was an interesting exercise to match their advice and creative processes to their work. Maybe I figured that if I knew what made those six people tick I might figure out my own tick. It was a shock to me if one of them actually asked me to explain myself and my response was probably another exercise in creativity.

Jason Fischer: Amazing. There’s nothing quite like this course. To be given the chance to work with professionals you’ve admired for some time, with the view to becoming a professional writer yourself. Others have spoken of the “paying it forward” aspect of the SF community, and it’s alive and well in courses like Clarion South.

Check out the earlier posts about Clarion South

For a full list of the Clarion South tutors, click here

Find out more about Clarion South (intake is closed for the next Australian session, which is taking place now, in Brisbane, from Jan 4 to Feb 14)

Clarion South: Quality over quantity – Part Two

This week’s question was: How many short stories would you recommend being published prior to applying for Clarion?

Christopher Green: I don’t think it matters how many stories you’ve published prior to Clarion. I think your ability, drive, and passion for what the art (as pretentious as it sounds) matter far more than how many stories you’ve sold at the time of your application.

Paul Haines: I don’t think you need any published. You need to have written short stories, and the more the better, unless you’re naturally brilliant, and you of course need to submit work to get into the course. It helps if you understand short stories, what they do, how they work, how to write them.

Brenn McDibble: A few successes would help. I think the main thing is to have had a reasonable amount of feedback from peers etc prior to Clarion and to have your writing reach a high quality and a point where you have no idea how to improve it. The principle behind Clarion, as I understood it, was to take the good writers and give them that last final push over the finish line to where all the publishable writers are battling it out for those few prizes.

Margo Lanagan: Nah, you don’t have to have had any published – I hadn’t. Oh, okay, a novel here and there. But it’s more about how Clarion aligns with what you want for yourself, than how it aligns with what you’ve achieved so far. You just need to have banged your head against a brick wall or two, writing-wise. You need to have seen an illusion or two crumble, probably. If you come in cocky, you have to crumble in public. You don’t want that.

Deborah Kalin: I had a grand total of no published stories. Others I know go to Clarion with a slew of publishing credits under their belts. Like so much of writing, it’s very individual, and basically a case of whatever path you take gets you where you’re going. Clarion is not for those just starting out and, by the same token, you can be at a place in your writing where Clarion can’t teach you anything you don’t already know.

Jason Fischer: It doesn’t matter. If you’ve got talent and the desire to improve yourself, apply. From what I understand it goes against the quality of the sample writing you include in your submission. You gotta be in it to win it.

Tune in for more next week from the Clarion South crew.

Check out the earlier posts about Clarion South

Find out more about Clarion South (intake is closed for the next Australian session, which will take place in Brisbane from Jan 4 to Feb 14)

Clarion South: Getting Creative … Part 1

We asked: Were there any exercises to stimulate the creativity while at the Clarion South workshop? The answers came free-flowing and prompted a lot of LOLZ from this blog maintainer – seriously! Smutty collaborations, stationery, haikus and inspiring movies (ha!), physics (see Lee Battersby’s response tomorrow re: unicorns), the necessity of french toast (Christopher Green, tomorrow). I toyed with calling this post ‘getting stimulated’ in the spirit of the answers below, but had an eleventh hour change of heart. Read on!

NB. Margo Lanagan attended Clarion West, which is one of the US counterparts of Clarion South, and was then a tutor at Clarion South.

Margo Lanagan: At Clarion West we had a high-speed progressive story-writing session with Gwyneth Jones that pretty much undid me with laughter. Gwyneth seemed to realise how far we’d regressed in the 5 weeks before she arrived. She let us have our heads and get silly. Apart from that, who needed stimulation? Talking story for hours a day was quite stimulation enough.

Deborah Kalin: One of Margo’s first acts was to send around prompts — an image, an opening line, I forget the third — and asked us to write the start of a story based on each prompt. I remember being terrified, imagining we’d have to read them aloud or hand them in (clearly, I have assessment anxieties!). When we’d finished, she told us: you have three more weeks of Clarion and now, if you can’t think of anything else, you have three stories you can work on. It was so amazingly simple and sweet I fell in love with her then and there.

Brenn McDibble
: Well, I think the most stimulation came from sitting around the table with a bottle of wine after class. The whole chatter was wild and far out science, memes, extrapolations and revolved around writing, books, movies and occasionally stationery. Stationery is important to writers, and you can see what I mean. It was full on immersion in all things speculative 24 hours a day with like-minded individuals… although we’d all been assimilated into a kind of single-minded entity by the end.

Jason Fischer
: We played a lot of Mafia, which is basically a bluffing game involving cards and secret identities. Some people got WAY too into that, but it was great fun. Another exercise that came about were some round-robin stories, where you write a sentence and pass them around. I hate to say that I sabotaged several of these masterpieces with my grotty sense of humour, but this was good for unclogging the creative process.

Michael Greenhut: Occasionally, some of us got around a table and did some round robin writing; Each of us contributed one sentence at a time to a Frankenstein story. Some these became interesting, while others became runaway smut.

Sean Williams: I encourage my Clarion students to write a haiku a day. I also buy them pizza and make them watch “Throw Momma from the Train”, since everything you need to know about writing is in that movie. Well, maybe not, but it does stimulate the two most important things to come out of week one: frank discussion and bonding (even if the latter is against my poor taste in movies).

Tune in tomorrow for the second set of answers from the Clarionites.
Check out the earlier posts about Clarion South
Find out more about Clarion South (intake is closed for the next Australian session, which will take place in Brisbane from Jan 4 to Feb 14)

Clarion South: What comes first, the successful writer or the workshop? Part One

Welcome to the first of many Clarion South posts. The Clarion South Writers Workshop is the most intensive professional development program for speculative fiction writers in the southern hemisphere. Previous tutors at the Workshops include Sean Williams, Kelly Link, Jack Dann, Gardner Dozois, Margo Lanagan and Marianne de Pierres. Past and future students of the program have agreed to answer a few questions on the Voyager blog which will hopefully give writers out there plenty of information on what Clarion is all about. The recent speculative fiction anthology, Dreaming Again (edited by Jack Dann) included a number of stand out stories from Clarion South graduates, and many have gone on to be published in prestigious publications.

Our first question to the Clarionites was to ask: why do you think Clarion has produced so many successful writers? Or, are successful writers attracted to Clarion?

Sean Williams: I think it’s a combination of several things. Clarion is an environment in which a focussed work ethic is both strongly encouraged and demonstrated to be effective. It provides a strong sense of community, and it also encourages critical thinking and a thick skin. All these things are crucial if you want to be a writer.

Lee Battersby: Clarion produces successful writers because it demands a massive commitment of time, energy, and sacrifice — it’s six weeks away from the world and the people you love, and that can be tough — as well as a significant expense, and that means that anybody who turns up on day one has already shown a huge amount of drive and dedication to their craft before they start the six week schedule. They don’t mess about when they call it a boot camp — it’s tough stuff, and the writers who come out the other side and go on to achieve success do so because they’ve learn to ally that dedication to a whole range of hard-nosed professional advice.

Jason Fischer: I’d say people who want to be successful are drawn to professional development workshops such as Clarion South. I can only really speak for the last course (2007) but Gardner Dozois told us that we were more-or-less doomed and that statistically speaking only three of us were likely to be heard of ever again. I think this spurred several of us onto various successes (with Writers of the Future, and sales to prozines like Realms of Fantasy) just to spite him. 🙂

Paul Haines: I think you need to have some standard of good writing to get into the course, a desire to succeed as a writer (or you wouldn’t be on the course), and a high level of determination to achieve whatever goals you set yourself to survive the bootcamp nature of the course. To answer those two questions: it’s both.

Six more Clarionites will answer the same question tomorrow. If you’d like more info on the Clarion South Writers Workshop, please visit www.clarionsouth.org and keep an eye on the Voyager blog for further posts.

Many thanks to Jason Fischer, author of (among many other stories) ‘Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh’, published in Dreaming Again, for gathering all these answers from the tutors, graduates and future students of Clarion South.

Sound the clarion call …

Make sure you check out the Voyager blog from next week on as we bring you the thoughts and advice of Clarion South graduates, and new students. This is the start of a set of posts that would-be speculative fiction writers should not miss out on reading!

Hear from Sean Williams, Lee Battersby, Angela Slatter, Aidan Doyle, Steve Turner,Amanda le Bas De Plumetot, Ben Julien, Jess Irwin, Helen Venn, Laura Goodin, Christopher Green, Paul Haines, Deborah Kalin, Bren MacDibble and Jason Fischer. You might recognise some of these names from Dreaming Again and other popular sf/f anthologies – because they are published short story writers (and in some cases, long story writers too … er, that is, novelists).

So …

Watch out

Clarion’s about.

Click here for more informaton on Clarion South.