• 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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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!

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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.

Conflux 5 – The Alternative Brown Shades of SF and Fantasy by Tim Miller

Tim was one quarter of Team Voyager at Conflux. He blogs on his experience:

11.40am Check in at the exclusive Canberra Gateway Motel. The world shifts into a state of brown shades – the building, the room, the art on the wall, the covers on the bed – all brown. I glance over my shoulder to have a look and see if I have passed through some kind of portal. Nope, it’s just Canberra. I think what the hell, I go with it and immerse myself in all things fantastic.

My Friday at Conflux involved two workshops, Finishing the First Draft with Maxine McArthur and Creating Dynamic Characters with Karen Miller (our very own Voyager author – Accidental Sorcerer anyone?). Stepping into the first was like stepping straight back into all the creative writing classes I did at uni, and the nostalgia instantly set in. We discussed the most common traps why authors never finish the elusive first draft, from the problems starting, that mess in the middle, to all that tricky stuff at the end. Karen’s workshop was awesome, it was set up to look at all the research and character building that goes into all those beloved characters that we read on the pages of book.

Friday night we all attended the launch of Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann. Let me just say something here, he is one of the most interesting writers alive. As soon as he opened his mouth the entire room was captivated and would have happily listened to him for hours singing the praises of the talented writers that contributed to DA.

Saturday was the day for some engaging panels. With so much to choose from, the three of us split up to go our separate ways. My favourite for the morning would definitely have been Making a Living as a Writer – But Not Necessarily a Novelist with Gillian Polack, Mark Shireff, Liz Argall (Chair), Margo Lanagan and Karen Simpson-Nikakis. The consensus was that it was very hard to, but really the writer in me was kind of hoping. Of the panel it was only Mark that could make a living and he works as a script producer for television. The others revealed exactly how they could afford to write – working part of the year, writing the other, having jobs that let them research for their writing, or teaching and consultation work.

Of the afternoon’s panels, Rewriting – The Real Art of A Good Story drilled home some truths that all writers need to be aware of. I believe Cat Sparks said it best – Don’t hand in shit. If the first thing an editor or publisher sees is a piece that not only doesn’t meet the guidelines, but obviously needs more work, then the next time they see your name they aren’t likely to take you seriously. Some friendly advice, put the ms away for a bit, a week, a month, whatever, then come back to it with fresh eyes and rewrite it – it will make it better.

Ok Saturday night at Conflux gave me the rare opportunity to mingle with some authors. A little unknown fact, they don’t walk around the evil HQ every five minutes, nor do they stop in for a chat. Stephanie Smith, Publisher of all things Voyager, invited Nat, Sarah and myself out for a Voyager dinner with some authors – Karen Miller, Kim Westwood, K. J. Taylor and Adam Browne. I had a good chat with Adam about Conflux in general before the topic turned to writing. At the end of the night he gave me some encouraging words and told me he would be looking out for my novel when it comes out. I also chatted with Karen Miller, discussing the workshop of Friday and Accidental Sorcerer before it turned into writing in general and Supernatural. I think a good night was had by all.

Sunday saw our last day at Conflux, so with my copy of Dreaming Again in my hot little hand, I sucked up my courage and went about asking some of the contributors to sign my copy. Not only did they sign, but they were happy to and to have a chat as well. To name a few: Jason Nahrung – ‘Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn’, Aaron Sterns – ‘The Rest is Silence’ and Jason Fischer – ‘Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh’.

We also got up to a few other things while in Canberra. We visited Floriade, and with the help of a quick coffee fix took some interesting photos, I’m sure Nat will put up the more interesting ones [No! Big Merino was embarrassing enough!]. We walked a lot, our motel was down the road from Conflux and Nat kept assuring us 3kms were a lot shorter than 100kms [whole other story here about the Oxfam Trailwalker] . Although there was the one night were the heavens opened up and we got drenched, but even that couldn’t dampen our spirits. I had a great time, at Conflux and with the company I went down with, Nat and Sarah are top ladies and if the chance comes up again next year I wouldn’t dream of going with anyone else.

Tim Miller works in the Sales department at HarperCollins. He’s part of the Voyager Cabin Crew and works on the Voyager Newsletter as well. And he’s working on a novel and short stories, when not being forced to blog for Voyager Online!  

Dreaming of good pictures – Again

So … I finally found my camera cable, only to discover that I have managed to take some of the worst and most out-of-focus photos ever to be taken in this world.So the below shot is the only worthy one from Conflux. Okay, to be honest, I mostly forgot about my camera apart from at the launch, at Floriade, and er … on the way home, as you will see.

This pic was taken at the launch of Dreaming Again on Friday night – a little bit before the authors did a mass signing and the wine was opened! And there was plenty more dreaming to come …

The authors of Dreaming Again

The authors of Dreaming Again pose for a pic at the launch of the book.

They are (starting from top left): Keith Stevenson, who proofread the whole anthology (thanks Angela for letting me know), Angela Slatter, Sean McMullen, Russell Blackford, Richard Harland, Aaron Sterns, Adam Browne and Jason Nahrung. Next row starts with Jason Fischer, then it’s Peter M Ball, Jenny Blackford, Trudi Canavan, Kim Westwood, Jack Dann and Stephanie Smith.

To distract you all from my awful picture taking, here is a shot of the place we nicknamed ‘Isengard’, of a tower we could see across the Lake Burley Griffin, which Farnwyn has named for me – it’s the Carillon on Aspen Island, and very poetic it is.

Isengard

Click photo for bigger image. Note artistic rainbow that redeems me for bad photography.

But wait – there’s still hope! A young man and his Dalek made my day by fitting in with my idea of how a con should be – and many thanks to the man in the gold hat and suit who also helped with that idea. And yes, I did ask his permission to take and use this photograph! He exterminated Liz Argall not long afterwards, so I am aware of what he could do if I -didn’t- ask permission!

A Study

Dalek and Boy: A Study

To make you aware of just how exciting and touristy Canberra and the whole trip was for this Sydneysider, here is my classic shot. And be aware, you’ve been spared the mass of Floriade shots that we took.

An Extremely Large Merino. Do Not Mess With The Sheep

An Extremely Large Merino. Do Not Mess With It. It Might Sit On You.

Yes, the big Merino at Goulburn. Photo followed up shortly by McChicken Burger in the tradition of all good road trips. We came home clutching books, feeling inspired and planning to write, write and write. And it was all down to Conflux.

Only one question remains in my brain … I’d like to know if Jason Fischer would come out of Goulburn humming ‘Undead Sheepies Ate Their Flesh … Doo Dah Doo Dah …’

NB. Thanks to Angela and Farnwyn for additional info to edit this post – and I also think this link to Cat Spark’s photos may be much more useful!

Floricon – or what we did on Saturday afternoon and Sunday

Team Voyager is back in Sydney again, and rather sad as it’s all grey and rain is threatening. Conflux was marvellous and we all had a thoroughly good time! The only unfortunate thing was that we didn’t get to meet as many Purple Zoners as we’d have liked. PZers, for the uninitiated, are the occupants of the Voyager Message Board. So all you PZers out there, let us know the next con we should be attending and we’ll do our best to get there!

All the panels we went to were good – lots of excellent advice from authors, editors and publishers. On Sunday I especially liked Cat Sparks in the ‘From the Editor’s Desk’ panel – she was frank, funny and didn’t hold back. Amanda Pillar and Shane Jiraiya Cummings also gave alot of insight into the process behind receiving and processing stories at a small press. Team Voyager got to chat with Shane afterwards about Black Magazine, which we’ve all been reading and enjoying. In my case mostly due to Jenson Ackles getting the front page of issue two … 😀

I think my favourite panel overall was ‘Achieving the Dream’ with Jack Dann, Cat Sparks, Trudi Canavan and Kim Westwood, the convenor was Lynda Davies. All the authors spoke with such passion about the moment they felt they achieved their dream – of being able to write, not so much of ‘being a writer’, which they pointed out is not the same thing at all. And it was never the moment their finished book arrived from the publisher, it was far more the realisation that they could write, that they must write.

Being from Voyager, we went to pretty much all of the Dreaming Again events, because we’d read the whole anthology and loved it: the launch on Friday night, the panel mentioned above, Jack Dann’s guest speaking session, and the Dreaming Again panel. At the Dreaming Again panel I was once again awed by the talent in the room – Angela Slatter, who is such a beautiful writer, Richard Harland, whose story ‘A Tour of the Kingdom of the Dead’ was creepy and amazing, Jason Fischer, who is absolutely lovely and had to sit through several renditions of ‘Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh, Doo Dah Doo Dah’, Kim Westwood and Adam Brown who had dinner with us on Saturday night, Jason Nahrung, whose story is one of my personal faves – but actually, most of the stories in DA are – and many, many more: Peter M Ball, Jenny Blackford, Russell Blackford, Trudi Canavan, Margo Lanagan, Sean McMullen and Aaron Sterns (lovely horror writer who I also got to chat to briefly and who was away at one point in talks over film rights for one of his works!). Stephanie, our fab Voyager publisher, was also on the panel. Sarah, Tim and I forcibly leapt in front of several of the authors over the weekend and asked them to sign our books, and I believe all copies of Dreaming Again (both at the con and at Borders nearby in the Civic Centre) were sold out. We missed the 1920s banquet at the con but I hear it was spectacular and the rumour is that Cat Sparks was best dressed (as she seemed to be for the whole weekend, I think).

Saturday afternoon we took advantage of a break to go down and see Floriade. I thought it was beautiful – tons and tons of flowers by the water, and the sun had come out after a rather grey and rainy morning, so it was a perfect spring’s day. We took some rather silly pics and generally ran around (coffee/tea hit to blame). We also spied a tower in the distance that we nicknamed Isengard, due to it’s resemblance to that rather evil building. I concluded that the next Conflux should be held right next to Floriade and it can be called Floricon and the theme will be ‘Flowering Again’ and everyone will have to dress up as noxious and poisonous herbs and weeds because that would be v amusing and the research would be great! I would come as a toadstool. And then it was back to our lovely seedy film noir detective motel to get ready for the night’s entertainment.

On Saturday night we had a delicious dinner down at Milk & Honey where Kim Westwood had launched ‘The Daughters of Moab’ about 2 months prior, and got to meet upcoming Voyager author K J Taylor (who we also saw at the panel ‘What is Fandom’). Karen Miller joined us at dinner and has left me waiting eagerly for the start of Supernatural season four, which she says is terrific … she described a new ‘angelic’ character to me and now I can’t stop thinking about it! Luckily Supernatural is back on Monday night at 8:30 (Channel 10 did not pay me to make that announcement), and 90210 has been AXED. Ha ha. We walked back to our motel, got caught in a sudden downpour and eventually arrived back in Lyneham wondering if we were going to come down with pneumonia. Special props go to Tim for refusing to put on his jumper so that our books could be protected from the rain.

Cut to our last moments and Sarah and I caught some of Food Historian Gillian Pollack’s guest speech but had to leave halfway through – we got to speak to Kim Westwood and Karen Miller again – both lovely, lovely authors! And then we just had time to quickly visit Koko Black down at Civic to buy some chocolate (woe is us, there is no Koko Black in Sydney as yet). We returned to the Marque Hotel to see a Dalek exterminating Liz Argall and had a quick chat with Amanda Pillar of Morrigan Press, who edited the Voices anthology launched at Conflux, she’s also a PZer. Finally, to the car we went, hoping to get back to Sydney before it was too dark. We had a brief stop in Goulburn for fuel (and McDonalds) and I got a photo of the Big Merino (yay) which will make its way into this blog, I’m sure, as will our Floriade pics … cos they have alot to do with Conflux … er … I wonder what happened back at Conflux where the speakeasy was taking place? 1920s cocktails and spec fic authors … anything could happen …

Photos to come as soon as I can find my cable.

Taelian