• 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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Entitled to a good title – Fiona McIntosh on naming her books and series

I’ve been asked to talk about titles of books and titles of series. Are they important?

The very simple answer is yes. They are crucial, but that also goes for naming of characters and naming of worlds.

Sometimes titles come easily; my fantasy series have been easy to name. The individual book titles have been harder and I’ve probably struggled most with the current series, Valisar, in terms of what each volume’s name should be.

There are of course practicalities to consider. Firstly, the umbrella name of the series has to be easy to remember. Ask a bookseller how many times they’ve been confronted by a question along the lines of:

“I’m looking for a fantasy novel that I think has a forest or some sort of landscape on the cover. I don’t know the author and I’m not sure of the title but it might have a woman’s name in it. I think it begins with a letter near the end of the alphabet.” And from that alone a bookseller does his or her best to swing into action and help their customer.

Odalisque

Odalisque

So, as creator, it pays to use names that are snappy, rhythmic, easy to recall and as punchy as possible. Continue reading

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Evil, vile, bad, awful, mean, wonderful villains! Fiona McIntosh blogs

Royal Exile

Royal Exile

Villains are always fun to write and over the years of producing several adult fantasy trilogies I’ve learned a great deal about characterisation and none give me more pleasure to craft than the baddie. In Royal Exile it’s the barbarian warlord Loethar who grabs this role early on. He’s not powerfully built, in fact he’s lean and not especially tall, so you could almost overlook him.

Almost … because Loethar is not someone you ignore. What he lacks in physical stature he makes up for with his quiet presence that is both sinister and intriguing. I’ve decided he’s my favourite villain across all the books I’ve been involved with and this is because I realise I’ve finally achieved something with my characterisation that I haven’t been able to tap into before. Loethar has arrived complete. What he reveals as we move along is his choice but as weird as this sounds, he seems to know who he is, what is driving him, what his strengths and weaknesses are. I am the one who still has to find it all out.

This pleases me because I don’t plan!

I’m also very happy to note that the role of bad guy doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulder in this story. The ‘evil load’ is spread. I’ve only discovered this as I’m working through volume two, A Tyrant’s Blood. I really believed Loethar would shoulder that burden throughout the story but he’s been joined by a couple of new nasties.

I’m really enjoying juggling those shades of grey in personalities. When I first began writing I used to love the very clear delineation of good v bad and perhaps that speaks a lot about my own character that used to view life in definite contrasts. Either I liked something or someone, or I didn’t, for instance. As age has worn me down and children have given me a new insight, I guess I’m a lot more capable in my 40s of understanding all those shadings that live between the polar opposites of black and white. And this has helped my writing and especially assisted my understanding of writing villains. Things aren’t always what they seem and the old adage of walking in another’s shoes has become increasingly important to me as I craft these present characters from my stories. It began in Percheron where it was obvious I was really enjoying Maliz and for all his darkness I really rather liked him. He was charismatic, intelligent, witty, sharp – all those qualities that are admirable. He was also ruthless, cruel, narrow-minded, etc. It was walking between all those shadings that the intrigue of a character comes out. Heroic characters have less ability to juggle traits, which is why probably most of us enjoy the reluctant hero. I know I certainly do. That way he/she (but for me, it’s usually he) can have plenty of flaws, lots of vulnerability and less ‘heroic’ aspects.

Villains work best, of course, when we can imbue them with very credible reasons for their motivations. We can’t just put it down to poor toilet training. The reader demands an acceptable back story and it doesn’t matter how slowly we discover it, or that we can’t ever forgive them, but it makes a whole pile of difference to the punch of the story if the villain can at least justify in his or her mind why. I felt I began to really understand this with characters like Herezah and Salmeo in Percheron. I don’t condone nor forgive their actions but there were moments where I felt sympathy for what they’d survived and what drove them and by the end it helped to know this in the context of the story.

I actually don’t set out with a set of attributes that I stick to the bad guy and then go with. I usually set out on a series with little more than knowing the villain and what he’s doing. Why he’s doing it and how far he’s prepared to go to strut his evil stuff I tend to discover with the same sense of alarm and wonder as a reader.

That’s what makes crafting him fun.

Fiona McIntosh’s latest book, Royal Exile, Valisar Book One, is now out.

Click here to visit Fiona’s website.

The obstacle course of writing … Fiona McIntosh blogs

Hello everyone – I’ve been asked to comment on writer’s block and what other obstacles I might have faced when getting down to the business of writing.

Now my response here is very personal and I imagine if you gathered up 25 writers in a room and asked them the same question we’d all come up with 25 very different replies. There are no rules to writing. And like any artistic expression it is a very personal journey with unique characteristics because of the individual on that journey. However, there are certainly some common obstacles that all writers face in their craft – how we deal with those hurdles might well be what sets apart the successfully published authors from those still aspiring to be published.
OdalisqueFirstly, let me say that I don’t believe in writer’s block. It doesn’t exist for me because from my perspective it’s simply a state of mind, rather than something tangible. I took a long time to get around to writing creatively. My first attempt was in 2000 and that same year the same manuscript was accepted and bought by HarperCollins. Since the publication of that first novel in 2001 I have not stopped writing. The floodgates were opened and the torrent erupted. I now have 15 novels published, another two written and in their editorial process for publication in 2009. However, I genuinely accept that other writers believe in this phenomenon, may well have experienced a horrible period of simply not being able to know what to write. I sympathise but I have no experience of it.

Obstacles to writing are likely, for the most part, self inflicted. I sense that they usually come from within and are connected with a fear of failure, fear of humiliation – a sense of anxiety, often inferiority regarding our work. Many of us feel like frauds waiting to be found out. And to write is to make yourself bare because writers draw deeply on their own psyches, emotions and fears. Laying oneself naked, and thus vulnerable to rejection and criticism takes enormous courage and resilience. And all those armchair critics who love to snipe online about this book or that, might well consider how brave a writer is to simply finish a manuscript and make it available for consideration. The fear of rejection, criticism, humiliation, etc, can be crippling. The trick, I’ve found, is to resist reading reviews as best I can – for new writers this is especially wise in the early days when you’ve not fully developed the hide of a rhino and are still in that starry-eyed cosmos of being dazzled by the brightness of seeing one’s name in lights, so to speak. And should you accidentally google your own name, and inadvertently spot a comment about your new book, and then by some mishap click through and read with sickening horror as the critique shreds your precious work as pointless piffle … learn not to take it all too seriously. We write books. We are not saving the world. It doesn’t matter if someone – and it is only one reviewer, possibly a reader of fantasy but not someone credited as a journalist whose specialty is to review genre fiction – doesn’t like your work. Rarely is it personal. And if it is, all the more reason to dismiss it. You have to learn from the outset – and this applies to submitting manuscripts for consideration by commissioning editors – that you cannot please everyone. You are going to come across people who hate your work, I mean really despise it, and you must not feel wounded by that. The Net allows every man and his dog to comment and you have no way to defend yourself. Move on.
Myrren's Gift
More importantly, the fact that an editor doesn’t want to buy your blood, sweat and tears, is not a reflection of who you are. That editor simply couldn’t see how the manuscript fitted into his or her stable, or felt it needed too much work at this point and they didn’t have the time or money to invest in it at this stage, or your writing needed a bit more polish, or they simply weren’t buying during the month your ms lobbed. You know sometimes a work is not picked up for the most banal reasons: editor is moving jobs and doesn’t feel it’s appropriate to buy a manuscript – even though she loved it – on behalf of the soon to be ex-employer. That’s happened to me. It’s life.

I often believe that very little separates me as a published writer from an aspiring one. But that gap – I feel – is all about our approach to writing. I am not necessarily a more talented writer than you or a better storyteller but I am someone who can be very disciplined with my writing and I will always finish a manuscript and to deadline. Too many hopefuls that I talk to admit to working on the same manuscript for endless months – sometimes years … what? – constantly editing and re-writing and not actually finishing and sending it off for consideration. Perfection or constantly tinkering is a real obstacle for some. When you get in to the habit of setting deadlines, achieving them and finishing your manucripts, one of the major obstacles to being successful at writing has been overcome. And the more you write and finish, the more you’ll keep improving. If you keep persisting, the odds are that the increasing quality and the repetition of your submissions are going to work in your favour.

The other obstacle we all face and which my experience has taught me will never fade is the familiar worry that your work is not good enough to stand alongside other authors, especially those big name best sellers. You convince yourself that your work is inferior. This is an easy trap to fall into and the more you permit it, the higher that obstacle becomes in your mind. Ignore it. Accept that your work is valid and let an agent and/or publisher decide whether it’s commercial enough to invest in it. It’s not your call. But make sure you do your homework. A pitfall is not having a grasp of what the market wants or where its tastes might go. It is no surprise that Stephenie Meyer’s work is being lapped up by YA readers globally. The trend began two or three years ago when vampires were suddenly the in-thing for fantasy reading, not that vampires haven’t always been popular for fantasy but they were considered a more horror-style character. Anne Rice gave them personality and elegance a while back and then writers like Laurell K Hamilton made them instantly more accessible to the wider public and so it was simply a matter of time before a writer such as Meyer came along with a great tale and some fabulous characters that were going to appeal on such a mass level. So start to understand the market and its trends. See what is pleasing people; what they’re watching on television will often march into books and vice versa. Right now something like Dexter is hot, hot, hot; so villains have arrived that are ‘cool’ and they can be charismatic and have redeeming qualities. Hannibal Lecter was one of those – I can remember thinking when I first read Silence of the Lambs all those years ago that I wanted to write a villain like Lecter, where you can’t help but like him and want him to win.
Royal Exile
So far I’ve suggested sneering into the face of writer’s block if it visits, discipline, persistence, doing solid homework and ignoring detractors, as ways to leap across the most common obstacles that writers face. Poverty is a real problem to overcome and the best way to do that, if you’re a writer, is to work out a routine whereby you can hold down a job that keeps a roof over your head and food on your table but also gives you writing time. This actually comes back full circle to discipline if I’m really honest. I wrote my first novel while working full time in my own business, raising twins and having to travel constantly. I made time at the end of the day, stealing only from my own sleep, to write Betrayal. That way, no one else but me suffered. And I was strict about the times and especially what I did with that time. I never read back what was written; I used the time only to push the story forward. You need to tell the people around you what you’re doing, get them on side and working as your cheering squad. And then you have to make the time, whatever works for your life, to write. For some with full time jobs and children, it might only be half an hour a day. But in that half hour, make sure you take the story forward. Even 500 words a day will give you a decent sized fantasy manuscript within a year. Writing daily is achievable for all of us, no matter how busy we are. If you want to be a writer of fiction and see your books on the commercial bookshelves, then you have to take the business of writing seriously. You have to write daily and if you’re making excuses – I’m too busy, I have a bad cold, I’ve had a mad social calendar, I can’t tear myself away from So You Think You Can Dance … then you’re not really serious yet about the craft.

There are distractions everywhere, determined to drag you from your writing time. So the key is making a commitment to yourself and that manuscript – and then being disciplined. And if you write yourself into a corner by the way… just write yourself straight back out of it! It’s easy with fantasy…because it’s all made up anyway!

Fiona’s latest book Royal Exile is out in just a few days!

Visit Fiona’s website.

Read an interview with Fiona and a review of Royal Exile at A Boy Goes On a Journey

It’s all about chocolate! Fiona McIntosh blogs on changing plot twists

Bridge of Souls

I’ve been asked to talk about why I changed a plot twist in The Quickening. I’ve been very fortunate with my stories that, although my editors have worked hard to help me turn the books into the best they can be, we haven’t actually had to do a lot of re-writing. For the most part we’re simply polishing every inch of it, scrutinising character motivations, ensuring there are no ‘plot holes’ and so on. I am quite often asked to add some editorial but in terms of savaging or re-writing scenes entirely, I’ve been luckily left without wounds to lick.

However, there were two occasions that do stand out. Both occurred in The Quickening. The first was a near 30,000 word cut. Now I know that horrifies some readers because they feel cheated out of those words, and aspiring writers pale when I mention it, but it was a sane move by my editor and for good reason. Let me explain.

For those of you who have read Blood and Memory, you may recall the scene when Ylena escapes the Rittylworth monastery, which is under attack from the King’s men? Originally, this scene belonged to a different female character. Originally she was going to play a much bigger role in the story and take it in a new direction. I had a huge and harrowing chapter or two that involved her to kick off this involvement. As much as we all liked this new part of the story, I agreed with my editor that it was dragging the reader away from Wyl Thirsk for too long….or rather away from the main thrust of the story. And in using these chapters I was asking the reader to get deeply involved in another three characters that complicated the tale. I didn’t find it hard to see how to make it work without her and we simply hacked off that 30,000 words and re-worked it so that Ylena took up the thread. It wasn’t hard to do and it wasn’t hard to let go of that passage or all that work. Editing is where the book is made … where all the shine is added. As a writer it’s important to be flexible and open to these sorts of editorial situations and to be eager to find solutions and not try and cling to those hard won words. Fortunately I am not precious about my work and just shrug and move on.

And then the other occasion – one I felt a little more strongly about and took a day to really think it through – was the ending of Bridge of Souls. This was the culmination of an epic story that had required readers to not only constantly grieve but the main characters were punished over and over. Poor Wyl Thirsk. He had a very tough run. And because, as I’ve explained previously, I don’t plan anything, by the time I neared the final chapters I realised with a sense of chill, that the characters were not going to allow a happy ending for Wyl and Valentyna. After all the struggle, there wasn’t going to be a chance for them. And as I was writing I can clearly remember getting all teary as the worst possible scenario began to unfold. I couldn’t stop her. Valentyna decides to put her beloved King Cailech out of his misery rather than wait for an executioner to do the killing. She has no idea of how Myrren’s Gift works but of course the reader does, and so does Wyl Thirsk, trapped within Cailech. Wyl loves Valentyna more than his own life and we share his deep despair as we watch through his eyes, her actions. It’s a very sad part of the story. And although the series ends with a scene that is filled with hope for the three realms, there is no doubt that readers would have been left feeling drained and somewhat hollow because of the dark finish. I really liked it. But my editor was extremely concerned that readers deserved an ending that delivered a sense of closure to Wyl Thirsk’s struggles. My choice of ending left him more traumatised than ever, trapped in a body he knew he would despise every day of his future life because it was the final change for him. There would be no escape from this guise. The curse that was Myrren’s Gift had come full circle – its demands had been fulfilled. But Wyl was essentially left in a state of despair and the body count was awfully high. My editor asked me to seriously consider giving the reader a chance to celebrate rather than close the final book on such grief.

I wasn’t happy especially as I couldn’t see my way around the final outcome, but after sleeping on it I decided to take her advice and reconsider the final chapters. Fortunately once I’d reached this decision I was surprised that ideas began to flow on how I could change the ending to reflect a less traumatic outcome.

But so far those are the only two occasions in 10 adult fantasy novels that I’ve had to seriously consider re-writing the plot. Deep down I still favour bittersweet over sweet endings as you’ll see from Trinity and even Percheron and probably Valisar will ultimately go the same way, and in some homespun psychology, I’ve decided that I now firmly believe this trait has a lot do with my favouring bittersweet chocolate over milk or – ugh – white!

Fiona McIntosh’s latest book, Royal Exile (Valisar Book One), will be out in September.

Click here to visit Fiona’s website.

Fiona McIntosh: The mathematics of speedy writing

I’ve been asked about how I write my books so fast.  That’s a tricky question to respond to because I really don’t know any other way or any other speed to write at.  I’ve realised that I do seem to roar through a manuscript fairly briskly but it’s also fair to say that I’m not one of these writers who pays much attention to anything but getting the bones of the story laid out on my first pass.  I never read what I wrote the day before and I simply never think to edit as I go along.  Everyone has their own style that comes naturally so I’ve stopped questioning myself about the fact that I don’t make notes, I don’t keep any sort of running document or exercise book to scribble information into.  I know I’ve forgotten more than I’ve remembered and that when I reassure myself I will recall something the next day, I usually don’t.  But, I’m not a planner when it comes to my writing.  Thinking the story out makes me feel imprisoned and I am more comfortable just leaping in and writing in an organic style, allowing the plot to shape itself as the characters make their often curious decisions.  I think it’s quite easy to sit back, with the luxury of forethought as much as reflection, and pass judgement on how characters behave.  But I am a firm believer that human beings are often erratic, frequently irrational and many of us are driven by emotions rather than maths.  A lot of us don’t work out to the nth degree what the repercussions of a decision might be – well, not until we’re our parents’ ages anyway.  And right now for me that’s early 80s!  Many of my key characters are young and so I like to give them leeway to make questionable decisions and they’re almost always in stressful situations and so they react instinctively rather than having too much time to work out the best course of action.  That makes the story rip along quite fast but it does lead the characters into some dangerous circumstances that could have been avoided if they’d thought it through more.  Younger characters are often selfish, slightly self centred and spontaneous.  To me this feels real.  And so in not trying to analyse the plot or the characters too much and just letting go and seeing where the story takes itself, I can get straight down to writing a lot faster than the writer who prefers to have a more structured, planned approach to the manuscript. 

And here’s how I set out:

I work out when I want this book finished.  Let’s say I have 18 weeks.  To me that’s 90 working days because I don’t count weekends.  And then I decide how big I want my manuscript to be – roughly.  I usually settle at around 150,000 words, give or take 10,000.    And then I divide that 150,000 words by 90 working days and I get my all- important equation, which I round up to 1700.  So that means I must write 1700 words per day, five days a week, between now and the deadline for me to produce a nice fat 150K word manuscript.  And then I double my daily word count to 3500, which I find achievable daily, and that means I can produce a manuscript in nine weeks, knowing I’ve got several more working weeks up my sleeve if I need to do some editing of another novel, or go on tour, or run a workshop or whatever.  As neat as I get my calculations, life gets in the way and by doubling my word production, I give myself a ‘life buffer’ for when things go pear-shaped because of family commitments or whatever decides to obstruct the flow of my beautiful equation.  I live by my daily word count (DWC). It becomes my master and I its slave.  It is how I keep discipline to my writing and sometimes I reach the DWC in two hours and other times it may take five.  But I always reach it and as soon as I do, I stop writing for the day….often mid sentence!  And that’s how I appear to write fast when really I’m just writing smart for someone who doesn’t plan, has children to take care of, a life to enjoy beyond the keyboard, travel to be done, and more than one book a year to write.

Fiona McIntosh’s next book will be coming out in September. Royal Exile is the first book in the new Valisar series. Watch this space as she’ll be blogging regularly in the lead up to September.

Subtext, suffering and sacrifice: Fiona McIntosh blogs

The author may insist that she writes purely for these thrills, but serious underlying themes are still embedded throughout Percheron. The main subtext focuses on the harsh consequences of doing “the right thing”: how actions that seem detrimental will actually produce huge positive kickbacks; and how the suffering and sacrifice you personally experience right now will achieve long term goals for the good of the many. — Sandy Auden, SFX Magazine

In a recent review Sandy Auden made this observation, which set me thinking. I honestly believe that when I write my fantasy stories – or indeed my crime or children’s books – I have no agenda. My creed for novels is that story is king. Everything else pays homage to that, and an addictive, unpredictable, engaging story is what I set out to deliver. It has never entered my thoughts that I might try and underpin a tale with a subtle message, so this was an intriguing observation. Do I have a subtext? I still say absolutely not … but perhaps Sandy’s point is well made that even if I don’t set out to present themes, they emerge all the same.

Royal Exile

In Royal Exile there is suffering and there is sacrifice – no doubt about it. And if I consider one of the aspects of life that always humbles me it is how some individuals during the history of the world have found the courage to make remarkable sacrifices in order for so many others to benefit.

Paul Cartledge’s book Thermopylae is one of those utterly compelling accounts of ancient times where a very few made a difference and changed the course of history. Whether the Persians ruling the world – because they’d crushed Greece and essentially the west – would have been a bad thing, is another debate. But 300 Spartans held off the might of the Persian Empire and their unflinching courage gave Greece the time to rally its forces to ultimately send Emperor Xerxes packing. All but two of the spartans perished. This is made all the more poignant because the 300 men knew they were sacrificing their lives before they even marched to that tiny pass to engage the enemy. But they were prepared to die in battle for the greater good.

As I was reading this fabulously addictive book, I couldn’t help but think about their wives, mothers, sisters. I think over the centuries a lot of the greatest grief, deepest courage and most intense sacrifices have been made by mothers. Until you are a mother, it’s really very hard to understand why your own mum worries so much about you. It always seems like she’s just fussing; then you become one and you begin to understand the essence of fear. I could be wrong but I believe it’s the defining moment for adults – when you become a parent, life is no longer selfish and suddenly someone far more important than you or your lover actually matters.

I think it’s only when you can feel anxiety on behalf of others that humanity shows its true colours and nowhere is this more openly displayed than how a mother feels about her child. In general, there is nothing she would not do to ensure that child’s wellbeing. Nothing. (I’m sure the same could be said for fathers. I’m using mothers as my example)

I am not a ‘natural’ mum. I don’t go gooey over other people’s babies, I don’t have an instinctive nurturing instinct and I am far from the clingy mother. Along came a pair of sons – at the same time – and I have never in my life felt like I did the moment I clapped eyes on my children. There was this deep and immense swell of something. I don’t want to call it love – because that’s too simple and you can fall out of love as easily as you fall into love. No, this was so much more because it seemed to occur deep in my soul. In fact no one else at that moment could experience what I was experiencing in that delivery theatre because I was undergoing a life-altering event. From the second I held those two bundles, my life had changed. Suddenly nothing….and I seriously mean nothing could ever matter to me so much as they did. It was chemical as much as physical. I had no control over it. Now that sounds obvious, I suppose, but you need to go through it, and most of us girls will, to understand the implications and repercussions of what this all means. If you’re a mum, you already know.

And in considering this aspect of being a woman, I guess I always knew what motivated Herezah in Percheron for instance. Yes, she was conniving, controlling, cruel, but I did understand her. She could have been a better woman but I certainly understood what was driving her. At the very core of Herezah was a mother doing whatever it took to protect her son, firstly from death and then from exterior forces/control. And she was doing this from the smothering prison of a harem. I rather admired her, despite all of her terrible actions. And in Royal Exile we see a similar situation of the suffering of parents – a mother in particular – in order to protect her young. Queen Iselda is extremely brave despite extraordinary pressures and cruelty. And the only reason she can rise above that despair is her need to ensure her children survive her. Whatever it takes.

This notion of ‘for the better good’ that Sandy refers to is probably best captivated, however, in a single character in Royal Exile. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so I won’t name that character yet but this person has to deal with considerable heartache, constant fear and personal loathing as much as everyone else’s hate, because he/she knows that what he/she is doing may kill a few along the way but ultimately will save thousands and thousands of innocents. There is one particularly shocking scene where the despair of sacrifice of one is so hideous to contemplate but as a reader you can see why that one death is so necessary. It was ghastly to write. I don’t like to use the word ‘device’ because I don’t plan my books at all so I’m not that well prepared to have a device that might get me over a hurdle or adroitly move the readership from one part of the story to the next. I’m just not that organised! My books are bit like life – what happens, happens. Yes, I get a chance to go over and re-write parts but my editor will tell you, we haven’t actually changed a plot twist in any book other than Bridge of Souls. I don’t actually set out to punish any character. It happens. And I guess in this regard it is a lot like life and although I have never thought about having underlying themes in my tales, Sandy has pinpointed that no writer – even those of us crafting popular fiction – can escape the fact that our stories do still reflect life….even though it’s often somewhat larger than life.

Writers constantly draw on their own experiences. And the deeper a writer plumbs their own emotions and subconscious, the richer the experience is for the reader. I am a mother. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect my children. And on a wider perspective, I suspect there are very few sacrifices I wouldn’t be prepared to make to protect anyone I loved. I think we all share this trait because we’re human.

And really … that’s essentially what all of my books are about. Being human, with all of the frailties but also the strengths that make stories of human struggle so compelling. Royal Exile is human struggle from start to finish and no doubt echoes stories from the history of civilisation. Perhaps after all, there is a subtext.

Hope you enjoy it. F

For the full review by Sandy Auden, please click here.

Revenge is sweet … Fiona McIntosh’s new book …

Coming this September, the start of a new epic series by the author of the Quickening and Trinity trilogies.

Royal Exile

Those of you who have finished Goddess will be please to know that Fiona McIntosh has completed the opening volume to a new series called Valisar.  Royal Exile releases in September this year – and we’re very excited about it. The series is set in a world familiar to those who have enjoyed The Quickening, and will not disappoint!

 An early review from Australian Bookseller and Publisher says:

The writing is straightforward and explanatory, with the plot unfolding in short, episodic chapters. The action is crisp and surprisingly brutal, with central characters regularly (and graphically) dispatched throughout. This ruthlessness is often surprisingly missing from epic fantasy, but McIntosh wields it with relish and aplomb.

Fiona will be writing some blog posts here so keep an eye out for those, and if September still seems too far away for you, then maybe it’s time to reread the Percheron trilogy one last time!

 

Here’s a brief excerpt of a review for Goddess, the final book in the Percheron trilogy, that appeared on the SFX website:

Sling on your veil, step into your bellydancing bikini and shake those hips (girls, you can do the same), cos Fiona McIntosh is pulling out the stops for this third and final volume in Percheron, her Arabian fantasy series …

… Influenced by The Arabian Nights, this series also has its fair share of illicit sex, manipulative females, and vicious demons, although McIntosh’s tale is told less for the “moral lesson” quality of the original 1001 Nights and more for the sheer thrill of heroic deeds and adventure in exotic lands.

The author may insist that she writes purely for these thrills, but serious underlying themes are still embedded throughout Percheron. The main subtext focuses on the harsh consequences of doing “the right thing”: how actions that seem detrimental will actually produce huge positive kickbacks; and how the suffering and sacrifice you personally experience right now will achieve long term goals for the good of the many.

Click here to go the full review.  

The Goddess review was written by Sandy Auden (c) SFX magazine 2008, reproduced with permission of the publisher, and originally appeared in issue 171 of SFX Magazine