• 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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Tracey O’Hara: Why I Write Urban Fantasy

Image of Dean and Sam from Supernatural

We read UF because it's fab but watch UF because ... see above!

With the rise of T.V. series like True Blood (based on the Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series of books) The Vampire Diaries (based on the LJ Smith series) and Supernatural, more and more people are becoming aware of the Urban Fantasy genre. UF is not action adventure, fantasy, romance, horror, or a blood thirsty thriller. UF can often be a story with all of those elements. Well at least the ones I like can. While some say the Twilight Saga started the whole supernatural phenomenon – UF and paranormal romance were well and truly alive and kicking ass way before sparkly vampires came on the scene. Anne Rice, Laurel K Hamilton & LJ Smith are just a few of the authors who have been writing it for quite a while.

I grew up loving action/adventure stories. From the very first time my third grade teacher started reading Enid Blyton’s, The Magic Faraway Tree, I was hooked. And if my action adventure had monsters and supernatural creatures too, then the more the better. I can remember hating Scooby Doo cartoons because the Scooby Gang always uncovered the all too human bad guy behind the clever ruse who would then utter the inevitable line “I would have gotten away with it too if not for those darn meddling kids”. I always felt cheated. I really wanted the ghosts and monsters to be real and that one day, Scoobs and the gang would come up against something that simply wasn’t just some old meanie dressed up in a costume.Then I discovered fantasy, horror and eventually UF. Now, I’m not going to go into the origins of Urban Fantasy or get into the debate of what is and what isn’t considered UF. There are too many differing opinions on both topics. Back in 2005 I started writing a vampire book. I had no idea where it fit, I didn’t even know about genres back then. I’d watched horror movies, read Stephen King (over and over again) and I just had this story in my head that I had to get out. I started writing it as more of a romance, but it kept trying to get darker and I had to keep reining it in.

Then I picked Dead until Dark, the first book in Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series. And I thought WOW – this is terrific. Scary, funny, serious and light all at the same time. This I liked. This I could connect with. Then I read Keri Arthur’s Ripple Creek werewolf books and was just hooked. While the latter is more paranormal romance, especially when compared with her Riley Jenson series, I found I really liked the relationship elements too. So I gave Mary Janice Davidson a go. While I started out liking the books, I came to realise I craved the dark and gritty more than light and humorous. I know, I’m a sick puppy.

So I started working on my story in earnest. Before then I didn’t really have much direction of where it was going or if what I was putting in there was going to work. But I realised I could have romantic elements and also have horror – in the same book.  I could have seriously dark component and light moments too. While I am now working on my third book, I’m still finding my way through the genre, still trying to work it all out. But one thing I do know for sure – I love playing in alternate worlds.

Tracey O’Hara grew up reading Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist, and J. R. R. Tolkien. As you can see above, her tastes also embrace other types of fantasy now. Tracey lives in Canberra but you can catch her and fellow Canberra UF author Nicole Murphy at the Australian Romance Readers Convention THIS SATURDAY!  It’s at the Swiss Grand Resort  and Spa at Bondi Beach and Tracey and Nicole will be doing the mass signing from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. Don’t be late, because they’re roadtripping back to Canberra that same day!

Image of Death's Sweet Embrace, an urban fantasy book by Tracey O'Hara

Romeo meets Juliet, supernatural style

 

A sneak peak of Death’s Sweet Embrace.

The excited babble of female voices floated down the hall toward Gideon. He turned and faced the wall, then pulled a mop from the cleaning cart and began running it over the already shiny floor, pretending to clean.

What are they doing here? 

The academy didn’t open for classes until this evening. The institution was still officially closed for the holidays.

As two girls neared, he tugged the brim of his cap down over his forehead, keeping his head low as he continued to mop. They walked by without even a glance in his direction, too lost in their own self-important chatter. Maintenance men were invisible, especially janitors, which suited him just fine.

The girls soon disappeared around the corner, talking and giggling, totally oblivious to his presence.

WELL DONE, MY CHILD.” Ealund’s translucent form floated across the floor, his ethereal beauty reflecting on the shiny black floor tiles.

With a quick glance to make sure the girls were gone, Gideon dumped the mop in the cart and pushed it toward his original direction. The incorporeal apparition glowed, his pellucid form surrounded by a silver-blue aura—and Gideon’s heart ached just looking upon such ethereal beauty. Ealund only showed himself to Gideon.

He was the image of angelic magnificence with waist-length gold hair floating around his head, pale flowing robes, and terrifyingly exquisite azure eyes—all that was missing were wings. And yet, Ealund’s presence of absolute and pure evil almost brought Gideon to his knees.

Apart from the girls, the hallways were deserted. He kept his head down and peered at the security camera in a corner just above a classroom door. They’d been set up everywhere around campus after the first murder several weeks ago, but he had the schematics and knew how to get around most of them.

HURRY, MY CHILD,” Ealund intoned.TIME GROWS SHORT.”

Death’s Sweet Embrace is published on 1 April, and if you see Tracey this Saturday at the ARRC you could get your hands on an early copy.

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The 2009 Canberra Conflux Experience by Tracey O’Hara

I have been eagerly awaiting Conflux to come around again. They‘re always such fun. Friday morning I arrived nice and early to registered. The lovely Karen Herkes was on site and already overseeing the final preparations for the convention. Her delightful welcome put me in a very cheery mood and ready to tackle a workshop “Taxation for Writers and Artists”. Not the most exciting event on of the day – but a necessary one for the clueless like me.

Unfortunately the guy giving the workshop never showed, leaving me to doubt if I would want him taking care of my finances. However, all was not lost. A bunch of us who’d turned up decided to share the scant knowledge among ourselves. One of those present was someone I’d been keen to catch up with, newly contracted Voyager author Nicole Murphy. It was great to see her in person and congratulate her on her new 3 book deal. Also present was Specusphere reviewer and talented writer Felicity Dowker, Allen & Unwin fantasy author Karen (K.S.) Nikakis and the lovely wife of Christian Tamblyn. We all had a very pleasant time chatting about things to do with the business of writing.

Because of a rare day off and the fact I hadn’t organised myself to sign up for any of the other fabulous workshops, I went home to do some writing on book 3 of my Dark Brethren series. Later I picked up the awesome Urban Fantasy author and friend Keri Arthur from the airport. We then went to dinner with the Canberra writing group and had a great time catching up with people.

Saturday started bright and early for someone who’s a night owl like me. I usually sleep in on the weekend to catch up on a few Zs lost through the working week. But at 10.00am I was on a panel about Vampires with Keri and the lovely Jane Virgo. What a fabulous time we had. The audience participation was tremendous, heaps of questions, heaps of laughs and a good time had by all. I just hope I didn’t sound as totally clueless as I felt.

The good thing about Conflux is you get to catch up with people you’ve met before and meet new people too. This year I was a special guest for Canberra Showcase Panel, made up of several of our local authors. Boy those guys were impressive. Maxine McArthur, Jack Heath, Simon Petrie, Gillian Polack and I were kept in line by the deft chair, Richard Harland. Jack Heath was hilarious; telling us that he went into writing because he worked out at a very young age he was extremely adept at lying. His story about a playground stunt gone wrong had the audience cracking up. Afterwards I met Harper Voyager editor Stephanie Smith who introduced me to Duncan Lay. There was quite a showing of Harper authors at Conflux.

That night was the annual historical banquet organised by historian, Gillian Polack. As usual (well as usual as far as I know given this was only my second year) the food was excellent. It was an 1880 Louisiana style bbq with girls in fabulous dresses and pirates abound. There were plenty of “ahrrrs” and “avasts” and the night included a plot to corrupt the entire room to the way of the pirate. By finding the treasure map we were inducted into the pirate way with the receiving of a gold coin (chocolate inside) or a gold ring. By the end of the night there was a fair portion of us who had crossed over to piracy.

Sunday was not so early for me. Even though I didn’t have anything to drink the night before I woke with a headache that I just couldn’t shake. I also forgot Daylight savings time, so missed the “Romance in SF” panel, which included my good friend, Erica Hayes. Our fearless organiser, Karen Herkes, asked me if I would sit on the “Where to From here” panel which ended up being a lovely round circle discussion on what happens after the first book. Of course the obvious answer was write the next one. I got to hear K.J. Taylor talk on her impressive achievements thus far – including having signed her first contract at 18. My goodness — that girl is talented.

I went to listen in on a couple of panels with the impressive special guest, editor for Baen Books, Jim Minz. I found him a little intimidating to say the least, because his knowledge and experience in the New York publishing world.

Unfortunately that was it from me for this years Conflux. I didn’t get to do nearly as much as or see as many as I wanted to. But I finished off my day saying by goodbye to the lovely Stephanie Smith and a receiving friendly hug and “a take care kiddo” from the legendary Jack Dann. What a way to end a fantastic weekend. Now have to wait until 2011 for the next one. Next year is AussieCon4. Woo Hoo!

Intense, sexy, bold ... a superb debut - Nalini Singh

Intense, sexy, bold ... a superb debut - Nalini Singh

 

Tracey O’Hara is the author of Night’s Cold Kiss,  a Dark Brethren novel, available now in Australia and New Zealand … and guaranteed to keep you up at night! Tracey lives in Canberra, Australia.

The Deadline Dames

Devon Monk, author of the upcoming Magic to the Bone is taking part in a website called The Deadline Dames, a group of 9 urban fiction/paranormal romance/young adult writers joining together and blogging about their writing lives. Devon made the first post there and is also going to blog a little for us in the next few weeks, plus she’s done a Q&A for the next Captain’s Log – discussing her writing, her inspiration and her … competitive knitting. Yes, there is such a thing, and it sounds fab! But you’ll have to wait for her post to see more!

In the mean time, checkout The Deadline Dames, who also include Keri Arthur and Lilith Saintcrow (both featured in the January Aust Spec Fic Blog Carnival).

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.