• 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!



All Dwarves are Scottish

Our inhouse Voyager reading club recently decided to go back and re-read ( or read for the first time- *gasp!* ) Raymond E. Feist’s original classic fantasy epic Magician, published in 1982. Upon reaching the introduction of Feist’s Dwarves, and the character Dolgan in particular, it struck me that I assumed the ‘deep, rolling burr’ of the Dwarven accent was Scottish. The names of their mines ( “Mac Mordain Cadal”), Dolgan’s frequent use of ‘lad’ & organisation into clans didn’t help either.

So I got to thinking: when, exactly, did the Dwarf become synonymous with Scotland? Despite being responsible for much of the modern fantasy concept of Dwarves as an imagined race, Tolkien never gave them any distinctively Scottish traits. They were based much more on nordic myth I thought. One of our Sales Managers pointed out that a possible source for aspects of dwarvish culture for Tolkien may have been the archetype of the “rough & hearty” working class miners of Cornwall or Wales, which would certainly fit with his stated goals of creating a modern mythology for the British Isles.

Wikipedia argues that the modern version of the ‘Scottish Dwarf’ originates from the book Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson (published in 1961, but originally a novella from 1953 ) which featured a Dwarf named Hugi with a Scottish accent and a man transported from WWII to a parallel world under attack by Faerie. The book was a major influence on Dungeons & Dragons, which introduced Dwarves as playable race in 1974 and helped disseminate a “standard” idea of what Dwarves were like.

From there it seemed to become a self-perpetuating idea. The parallels between the bearded Dwarves as warlike mountain dwellers and long-haired Scottish Highland warriors are fairly obvious, and perhaps this was Anderson’s starting point too. The love of drinking, feasting and fighting has perhaps more Viking or sterotypical “working class miner” associations. A recent animated film, How to Train Your Dragon ( based on a children’s book of the same name ) features Vikings with scottish accents ( though all the children & teenagers mysteriously have American accents ) who also look a lot like oversized Dwarves. The enormously popular Warcraft universe has steampunk Dwarves with Scottish accents.

It all came full circle with the film version of The Lord of the Rings having Gimli sport a very Scottish accent. It will be interesting to see how far they take this with The Hobbit film though. From the little we’ve heard in the trailers they don’t seem particularly Scottish, but time will tell …! What do think? Do you usually associate dwarves with Scotland or is it just me?

Win a copy of A Kingdom Besieged!

A Kingdom Besieged has hit the top ten bestselling books in Australia this week. Win a copy (see instructions below)!

 The Darkness is coming …

The Kingdom is plagued by rumour and instability. Kingdom spies in Kesh have been disappearing — either murdered, or turned to the enemy side. Information has become scant and unreliable; but one thing appears clear. Dark forces are on the move …

Since Pug and the Conclave of Shadows enforced peace after the last Keshian invasion, the Empire has offered no threat. But now factions are rising and Jim Dasher reports mobilizations of large forces in the Keshian Confederacy.

As the men of the West answer the King’s call to muster, Martin conDoin — left as caretaker of Crydee Keep — will suddenly be confronted with the vanguard of an invading army. He reminds himself that he is a year older than his legendary ancestor, Prince Arutha, was when he stood firm against the Tsurani invasion, but Arutha had an army to command, and Martin is left with old men and young boys.

Massive events are about to unfold, events which threaten the future of all human life in Midkemia …

We’re celebrating by giving away a copy to the reader who answers the following question creatively:

Australia is divided into  kingdoms by state and territory lines: The Kingdom of South Australia, the Kingdom of the North, The Kingdom of Victoria etc … Which Kingdom would you rule, and which Kingdom would you attack, and why?

Congratulations to Linda, our winner!

Where did it all begin? Voyager debut Duncan Lay tells us

Duncan's first book

Duncan's first book

I find it hard to answer when people ask: “Where did it all begin?”

Do I go back to my childhood and my love of reading and writing? What about when my best mate introduced me to fantasy reading, by giving me a copy of Legend, by David Gemmell, at age 15?

But one definite place where it all began was when I interviewed fantasy giant Raymond E Feist, in 2002, at Starbucks coffee shop in Hornsby.

Back then I was the editor of the Hornsby Advocate and, like so many other people, a frustrated writer.

My one attempt at a fantasy book had slightly interested one agent – and that was it. Convinced I couldn’t write fantasy, I was trying – and failing – to get a contemporary Australian novel published. After getting to the final 10 of a pitching contest at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and having an agent want to read the whole manuscript, I had hit a brick wall.

But if I couldn’t write, at least I could interview one of my favourite authors, who was out here on his Talon Of The Silver Hawk promotional tour.
I managed to arrange an interview with Feist through HarperCollins, as he was also going to have a book signing at Borders Hornsby.

Now, no author is going to be unpleasant to an interviewer, even one from a suburban newspaper, but I found Feist to be charming and an absolute delight to talk to.

We discussed his books, as well as fantasy in general and also his friend William R Forstchen (they co-authored Honoured Enemy). I have all eight of Forstchen’s Lost Regiment series – coincidentally bought at Karen Miller‘s Phantasia bookshop in Penrith.

Then we began talking about writing, and he described how his characters sometimes take his story threads off in different directions to the one he planned. That they almost tell the story for him. The way he described it they begin at A and have to get to Z but they don’t go there via B, C, D etc – they might jump to H, then back again and so on.

This was very similar to the way I like to write – that once I have my characters firmly in my mind, they almost take control of the story.

We spoke for so long, the HarperCollins PR lady had to come and get him, as the crowds in Borders were getting restless!

I walked away from that interview just buzzing, my mind afire. If Feist, the mind behind such classics as Magician, wrote like that, then why couldn’t I?
It was hugely invigorating.

Now the story that became The Wounded Guardian did not begin to take shape until 2004, almost exactly two years later – my son was born one month after the Feist interview and helped occupy my time – but I decided in 2002 to leave my contemporary novel and go back to fantasy.

Now, seven years later, my dream is about to come true!

I emailed Raymond E Feist after I signed my contract with HarperCollins and he wrote back, a lovely email that included:

“Don’t go blaming me, mate, if you got the storytelling bug. And if you somehow manage to get rich and famous doing this, it’s not my fault!
Anyway, continued success to you and if I played even a small part in motivating you to live your dream, thanks for letting me know.’’

He does not endorse books, and I would not expect him to ever read The Wounded Guardian. But he played more than a small part in motivating me to live my dream!

Find out more about The Wounded Guardian, which is officially published on 1 July (but will be hitting bookstores from next week onwards).

Duncan Lay is a layout designer and headline writer at the Sunday Telegraph. He lives on the Central Coast of NSW. Visit Duncan’s blog.