• 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!



UnConventional & the full Sir Julius Vogel Awards Wrap-up

Via Mary Victoria’s own site: http://maryvictoria.net/

Well, now that I’m home and have emerged from under a pile of unanswered email and unwashed laundry (or is it the reverse?) I can finally give you the promised Con report.

This was my first real experience of a New Zealand fantasy and science fiction convention and I must say, it was lovely. The panel discussions were engaging, the company excellent (of course) and the turn-out and interest high. We could barely all fit into the main hall when everyone gathered together. I’m happy to report that NZ fandom is alive, kicking, and often fetchingly dressed in steampunk finery.

I arrived on Saturday after a short delay to my flight, just in time for my first panel, ‘Women in SFF.’ Trudi Canavan, Helen Lowe, Lyn McConchie and I yakked for an hour or so on subjects ranging from how to define strength of character to the vexed issue of chainmail bikinis… I could see some audience members gazing at us quizzically, perhaps asking themselves what we had against chainmail bikinis. I mean, all the vital bits are covered, right?

Saturday evening was about unwinding a little, catching up with friends and a sumptuous Indian dinner! I didn’t make it to the zombie ball but did dodge many of the undead on my way to bed.

     Sunday dawned uncomfortably early (and perhaps may be termed a Dawn of the Dead without inviting too much heckling…) with a 9am panel on the subject of ‘Armageddon as Allegory.’ I took one look at the faces of my fellow panelists gathered in the cafe – Darusha Wehm, Simon Petrie, Beaulah Pragg and Phil Simpson – and thought, “yes, I know exactly how you feel.” But despite our need for sleep and largely due to the valient efforts of Simon as panel chair, we actually came up with a game plan for the discussion! It turned into a fantastic one – I think my favourite panel of the lot. We talked about the different approaches to ‘end of world’ scenarios in fantasy and science fiction, collective responsability vs. the mechanism of a Dark Lord and other interesting subjects.

By two o’clock, it was time to head back to the trenches at a ‘Geography in SFF’ panel with Russell Kirkpatrick, Trudi Canavan, Stephen Minchin and myself debating the merits of fantasy maps. Trudi and Russell both had some slides to show of maps in their own books, as well as some older efforts. The audience seemed passionate on the subject, with most falling in the ‘we love maps’ category but a vocal minority standing up for themselves in the opposite camp. We talked physical geography, geography as an influence on society and finally mental or idea maps… we could have gone on for twice as long, I think.

But all good things come to an end and thereafter it was signing and reading time. I read from ‘Samiha’s Song’ and Alma Alexander’s ‘River’ for a very appreciative audience sitting in leather armchairs. That’s the way to do it.

Sunday evening rolled around and it was time for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards. These were presented with great flair – Kiwis have style! – by the Con organisers, Trudi Canavan and Helen Lowe. Trudi was channeling some great 1940′s Jessica Rabbit style with her cropped jacket and black gloves. As for me, I arrived at the ceremony somewhat flummoxed as I’d just heard my daughter was running a 40 degree fever (she has since recovered, never fear.) I had all the maternal angst and distraction going, therefore, and was totally unprepared when they announced ‘Samiha’s Song’ had won Best Novel…

Well, I’m afraid I lost it. I managed to say something resembling ‘thank you’ when collecting the statue but waterworks were threatening. In order to avoid general embarrassment I hightailed it back to my chair as soon as possible – only to have to come forward again to collect Frank’s award for artwork!

So if I look a little odd in these photos, forgive me. But it was an absolute joy to congratulate my fellow winners. They are, from left to right, below:

Kevin Berry for New Talent, and after Trudi, Lee Murray for Best YA Novel, yours truly for Best Novel (Adult) and Alicia Ponder for Best Short Story. (For some reason Anna Caro wasn’t in this photo with us but I was stoked to see her and Cassie Hart take away the award for Best Collection for ‘Tales For Canterbury’.)

The full list of all winners including fan categories can be found on the SFFANZ website.

So there we are! I’m home now, with a convalescing daughter and two spiky awards. I can’t tell you how happy and proud this makes me… the ‘Chronicles of the Tree’ were a NZ endeavour, very much inspired by the vegetation and landscape in New Zealand, so it’s doubly satisfying for me to strike a chord with Kiwi readers.

As to the artist who won a well-deserved award for his artwork on ‘Oracle’s Fire’ – he was suitably appreciative. I think he found the button to turn the award on, too. He looks evil in this photo – Frank, have you discovered a way to end the world, again?

Via Mary’s own site: http://maryvictoria.net/ Check it Out!

The launch of Tymon’s Flight

Today was quite a day. Memorable, wonderful, and boy am I glad it’s over. 😉

It began with a bang at the RadioActive studios and a live slot on the Caffeine and Aspirin 11am show. The first thing I saw when I walked in the waiting area was a fellow who had fallen asleep on the couch over a copy of Moby Dick. Hm, I thought, not a good omen for writers. I got to teasing him when he woke up but frankly… I’ve never managed get through Melville, either. 

I’d never done a live radio gig before and naturally I managed to blank out on the very first question! I didn’t hear anything but the words, ‘realms of fantasy.’ I had no idea what the interviewer was asking. So I took a wild guess and answered anyway. I started talking about my childhood and how I’d always loved fantasy. Turns out he’d asked me exactly that… Hilarious.

The rest of the interview went quite smoothly for a newbie effort. I think I kicked the mike throughout. I kept laughing through the guy’s reactions because, well, they were funny. So if you catch the show you’ll hear a lot of me chuckling away in the background, and various suspicious sounding thumps and bumps. Apologies. We talked for a good twenty minutes, then signed off. After we were done we both realised we’d forgotten to talk about the launch! So he put me back on… After the show, I got to meet Adele Jackson who is the Storylines children’s book festival coordinator here in Wellington. Talk about a plus!

An hour or so later I was down at the Weta Cave, working myself into a flap about speaking in front of a roomful of people. The store manager Anna Willett was patient with me throughout. By the time I’d breathed deeply and counted to ten a veritable crowd had gathered and the temperature had risen to Mordor-orc-sweatshop levels. First up to speak was the lovely Tammy Ruffell of HarperCollins, who introduced me with so much praise that my ears sizzled, fell off and had to be picked up from the floor. Then it was yours truly up before the laughing crowd. I read a few pages of the Prologue and answered some excellent audience questions (which were not rigged! true story!) 

Thereafter it was signing time. I signed. And signed. And signed. And signed some more. People bought armloads of books. For themselves, for their friends, for their third cousins and second aunties in deep Taranaki… I don’t know how many copies were sold yet, it must have been more than seventy. But in between all that signing came the best part: seeing and speaking to the people who had come to celebrate this milestone with me. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the end of it all, I must say.

There was one little highlight for me that sums up these feelings. Most people there were of course friends and acquaintances, people I’ve met on Facebook or Weta colleagues. They were there to show support and cheer me on, as well as (hopefully!) buy a cool book. But there were a few people with no connection to me who happened to wander into the Cave while all this was going on, and stayed to check out the book. Among them was a mother with her two pre-teen age children. The boy was keen to have a copy, and after his mum had vetted it for a few pages she agreed to buy one (I passed the ‘mum’ test, yay!) The girl asked me what the story was about. I briefly described the concept of the World Tree, a tree the size of the Himalayan mountain range, a tangle of leaves and branches many, many miles high…

The look on her face was classic. You could have scraped that kid’s jaw off the ground… She simply loved the idea of a giant tree. That was the first time I’d seen a complete stranger, a kid, who totally ‘got’ the story and was excited about it… And that, patient friends, was the most wonderful experience of all.

Here are a few snaps of the day:

The audience listen to Mary read from the Prologue

The signing is on! Mary to the right, Frank (cover illustrator) to the left.

Mary in full flight 😉 - picture courtesy of Brendon Doran

See the Weta Cave in its full glory (scroll to the bottom of the forum).

Tymon’s Flight is now available throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is the first book in the Chronicles of the Tree, and Book Two, Samiha’s Song, will be out in February. Mary Victoria lives in New Zealand and is currently working on the second and third book in the Chronicles of the Tree trilogy.