• 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!



Film rights for The Painted Man picked up!

The Painted Man

The Painted Man

This just in from Voyager UK:

Voyager are delighted to announce that filmmaker Paul W. S. Anderson and longtime producing partner Jeremy Bolt, the duo behind the Resident Evil film franchise, have picked up film rights to Peter V. Brett’s debut fantasy novel THE PAINTED MAN, via their personal production companies Tannhauser Gate, Inc. and Bolt Pictures Inc.

Said Anderson and Bolt, “For us, this is a stunningly fresh novel which will make an epic movie. The genius of the novel is in having the epic scope and the pleasures of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings while being entirely fresh in every facet of the writing itself. You are always looking for something new, this has it, and like Lord of the Rings, it’s a perfect four quadrant movie.”

The Hollywood Reporter was chosen to break the news to the trade – click here for the article.

The next book in the series, THE DESERT SPEAR, will be out in April 2010

Talking all that Tolkien – Richard K Morgan

For all you fans (or non-fans) of Tolkien, author Richard K Morgan has written a very interesting  (and perhaps provocative for die-hard fans) essay on The Lords of the Rings, and the parts/characters/things that, although he may not love Tolkien’s work, he did love about it. It’s started joyueous debate (LOTS of debate!) storming around the internet.

What’s very lovely about the essay is that RKM has found parts of Tolkien’s work that he really engages with, like little jewels in the er … mud, not that I think LOTR or any of Tolkien’s work is mud or related substances, and wishes that Tolkien had focused on these parts and drawn them out for what they signify. Lovely because these characters are the orcs. Not traditionally thought of as the nicest creeturs in the world – but that’s what he likes. They aren’t nice, but that makes them very human. I think more and more people identify with characters with bad intent in them, not because we’re all evil murderers at heart, but we aren’t infallible and it’s good to know we’re not the only ones. That’s why I like George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, because the characters are as ‘shades of grey’ as any one of us. I’d never have the guts to go on a quest beyond all I know to confront the heart of evil, I don’t think … and even if I did, I’d complain and whinge and think ‘Why me?’. But I still like to read about people who would. But I like it even better when they complain – like Eustace in The Voyager of the Dawn Treader before he became all born again.

Haven’t you ever read an author’s work and wished they had developed a character more, one that you feel you could really relate to or want to know more about? When I read Diana Wynne Jones’ ‘Dragon Reserve, Home Eight’ – a short story, I longed to read more about the characters in it, a girl whose world is suddenly invaded by horrible creatures who, through invasion, have unwittingly saved her from a death order. Of course, wanting a longer novel from a short story is a fairly common urge from readers, I believe, whereas if it’s about characters in an epic novel, it’s a bit different. What do you think? Have you experienced this?

Go and read the essay, which is posted at Random House’s Suduvu blog.

The Captain (now off for a blissful weekend and going to watch Watchmen at IMAX)

Animal, Vegetable or Mineral? Part II Tips for Writing Non-human Sentience

Sentient non-humans are like people dressed up in fur or circuitry, right? Not quite. They are in non-human bodies for a reason and the non-humanness will have its impact. JARROD in The Spell of Rosette is a quantum computer that attracts consciousness. He has human traits—programmed as an Aries, he’s fiery, assertive, inventive and brave. He’s also virtually enlightened, considering the speed at which his cognition is running, so there are some differences between him and the boy next door. For one, it’s hard to surprise him. He doesn’t get lonely and his perspective is vast – think galaxies and millenniums. Still, he has the human touch.

Rakka, Kim's Torresian Crow, a sentient being

Rakka, Kim's Torresian Crow, as a bird, he has a unique view and angle on life

Writing a sentient being that can relate to people means giving it one or more of the five senses—sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. Remember C-3PO and his relationship to oil? If the character is a dog, think about where dogs have the edge on humans—like their acute sense of smell. Birds have uncanny navigational and migratory skills and there is also that ‘bird’s eye view.’ Taking these attributes into consideration when writing non-human intelligence means building authentic characters.

Kim's granddaughter Kayla communing with the plants

Kim's granddaughter Kayla communing with the plants

The same goes for sentient plants. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy gets a slap when she tries to pick fruit from a talking tree. In Tolkien’s LOTR we encounter Old Man Willow, who uses what he has (roots, soil, crevasses) to ensnare the Hobbits. The trick in writing non-human sentience is observation. Think about what is important to their survival. What motivates them? What frightens them? What makes them unique? A computer may be less aware of the environment than a horse but it probably talks faster than a carrot. A snake would make reference to surface textures and vibrations in the ground; a crow might talk about the prevailing wind or the nearest eatable carrion.

Using a technique borrowed from Psych-K, 4 questions 3 answers, can help writers get into the non-human mind. If writing a sentient horse I might ask:

1. What would I see?

a. Auras
b. Body language
c. Far into the distance

2. What would I hear?

a. Meaning in birdcalls
b. Other horses’ thoughts
c. Beyond human frequencies

3. What would I say?

a. Ideas my human companion hasn’t thought of
b. Premonitions, prophecy
c. The scent of water

4. What would I feel?

a. The earth as I roll in the sand
b. Whole apples crushed to juice in my jaws
c. Endurance, power, speed

Each sentient being has a unique perspective that can move the story forward, add insights and also connect the readers to life in a new way. What are some of your favorite SF/F non-humans? What makes them appealing? How do they think in ways that are different to people? Comments welcome.

Read Animal, Vegetable or Mineral? Part I

Read more posts by Kim Falconer

Kim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette (Quantum Enchantment Book 1), which was published in January by HarperVoyager. Kim lives in Byron Bay and runs the website Falcon’s Astrology as well as a website dedicated to the Quantum Enchantment series.

Read the Australian Bookseller & Publisher review of The Spell of Rosette.