• 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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The Reign of Beasts has Begun

    Reign of Beasts, the third book of the Creature Court trilogy, is about to land!  I’m crazy excited about this.  There’s something incredibly satisfying about lining those three books up next to each other.  Possibly I carry them around the house, arranging and re-arranging them in fake casual poses…

Other authors do that, right?

If Power and Majesty was the book that set up the city, the characters and the magic, and The Shattered City was the book that tore it all down and hurled the bits at the feet of my poor characters… well, Reign of Beasts is the book that puts it all back together, but it’s not an easy path for any of them.  Another city is going to pay the ultimate price… because yes, I don’t just go around destroying individuals in this series, I tear down whole cities.  That’s just how I roll.

As well as visiting some new geography, indulging in a little steampunk, and allowing certain characters to get hot and heavy with each other (in between battles) Reign of Beasts also slips into the past, revealing all manner of secrets through the eyes of one of the more mysterious members of the Creature Court: the one with many names, and far too many guises.

Back when I was regularly teaching creative writing, an exercise I would suggest early on was to make your ‘list of awesome,’ a stack of bullet points about your favourite themes, topics, hobbies, obsessions, historical periods, nouns… basically everything you think is awesome.  And then, of course, to write something that crams as many of those things in as possible.

I think that experienced writers often do this as a matter of course, without bothering with the list – we build up all our favourite obsessions, and spread them across our writing, trusting (as much as we CAN) that we can spend our themes freely and there will be new ones along to fill up the well… and if not, well, it’s not like it hurt Dick Francis or John Grisham to always be writing about the same thing, right?

I never made that list of awesome when writing the Creature Court books – they grew far more organically than that – but if I had, then the list would look something like this:

frocks
secret society of sexy shapechangers
Rome, Rome, Rome
gothic city with many rooftops
secret underworld
women who craft
roaring twenties
sentinels with paired weapons
blood magic
more frocks
Victorian music hall, pantomime & commedia dell’arte
steam trains
bisexual heroes and villains and… other
a sky that’s trying to eat you
flappers with swords

All ideas, themes or images that I love, or have been wanting to write about for years.  I’m particularly happy that, having seeded the importance of theatre in the lives of some of my charactes, I spend a lot more time in and around a certain theatre in the city of Aufleur, as well as getting outside the boundaries and visiting a new city, and introducing my readers to Ashiol’s home and mother, before we spiral into the final, devastating battle.

Also, words cannot express how delighted I am that the final cover of this trilogy features a flapper with a sword. It sums up the books themselves very clearly in my mind.

Reign of Beasts is in stores this week and if you’re in Tasmania she’s launching at The Hobart Bookshop on Thursday 2nd Feb!

Tansy’s Writing Blog – http://tansyrr.com
Crunchy SF Feminist Podcast – http://www.galacticsuburbia.com
Pendlerook Designs, Tasmanian Hand-painted Dolls – www.pendlerook.com

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Creature Court Contest!

 

Tansy Rayner Roberts, author of Power & Majesty and The Shattered City is having an awesome contest through her blog:

THE CREATURE COURT
FASHION CHALLENGE CONTEST.

Design or describe an outfit for one of the characters of the Creature Court novels to wear.

EVERYONE’S A WINNER:

Everyone who enters the contest & provides me with a postal address (to creaturecourt (at) gmail.com – please don’t post addresses in comments) will receive a Creature Court postcard with a juicy snippet from Book 3 hand-written by me.

I’ve always thought costume design ( whether for film, stage or cosplay ) is an underrated skill, so hopefully this will help some folks get their designs out there!  Just head over to the Contest post , comment & email Tansy your entry to creaturecourt (at) gmail.com to enter!

Congratulations to Ólöf Erla Einarsdóttir!

Icelandic artist Ólöf Erla Einarsdóttir won the the Ravenheart Award for her beautiful cover for Tansy Rayner Robert’s Power and Majesty at the David Gemmell Awards.  Congratulations! Here are a few pics of her at the awards:

Ólöf Erla Einarsdóttir wins the Ravenheart Award
Ólöf Erla Einarsdóttir ( left ) wins the Ravenheart Award
Ólöf Erla with her award
Ólöf Erla with her award

Voyager and Swancon – a happy combination

Voyager authors, family and friends gathered at Chez Pierre for wine, food and great company

This time last week, I was in Perth, preparing for the start of Swancon 36, the 50th National Science Fiction Convention. At that point, it was just a blur of potential, a string of days that could either be great or not.

Now, it’s over and I’m happy to report that the word ‘great’ doesn’t even begin to describe Swancon. It was a particularly great con for Voyager – A.A. Bell’s Diamond Eyes took out the Norma K Hemming award and Tansy Rayner RobertsPower and Majesty won the Ditmar Award for Best Novel.

On Saturday afternoon, Tansy, Glenda Larke and I sat with HarperCollins WA rep Theresa Anns on a panel entitled ‘Meet the Voyager authors’. After giggling over Theresa’s question of how Voyager queen Stephanie Smith hogtied us to get our novels (if you’ve ever met Stephanie you’ll know how ridiculous an image that is – although I’m still having issues with the rope burns…) we discussed the journey to becoming part of the Voyager clan and how we’ve been enjoying it.

Someone (I think it might have been Theresa) asked if being a Voyager author meant being part of a community. At first, we answered no – the three of us had known each other before Voyager took our books and our friendships extended beyond.

Jonathan Strahan obviously enjoying himself

But as we kept talking, we realised that in fact, there was a community of authors out there. There are folks that we’ve only met the once or twice but feel we know through the internet, such as Mary Victoria or Kim Falconer. Then there’s the people we get to meet just through being with Voyager, such as Duncan Lay and Bevan McGuiness. Then there’s the authors that aren’t published with Voyager Australia any more but are still part of the clan at these events – Simon Brown, Sean Williams, Trudi Canavan.

All this became clear later on Saturday when we Voyager mob (with a few ring-ins) went out for dinner. It’s something that happens often at conventions – a chance for us all to sit and chat and you know what – there is definitely a family feel to these things. We catch up, we laugh, we joke, we have fun.

Tansy Rayner Roberts, bookseller Robin Pen and myself ordered the snails - how could you not? Tansy loved them.

My snails, before they were devoured. Delicious, my friends. The venison was good too.

And that’s just the authors – I know that there’s a network of readers out there as well. I wasn’t part of the famous Purple Zone – the forums that used to run on the Voyager website – but I know a lot of those folks are still in touch and at Worldcon, there was a Purple Zone dinner. And this blog is now the heart of the Voyager community in Australia and it’s great to be able to share news and ideas and find out what is going on in each other’s lives.

Later this year is another convention that will prove to be a highlight for Voyager. At Conflux (Sep 28-Oct 1, Canberra) Voyager web-mistress and HarperCollins digital editor Natalie Costa Bir is going to be a guest. I’m looking forward to another opportunity to connect with the Voyager family (authors, editors and readers) and continue to celebrate the fabulous work that Voyager is publishing.

Nicole Murphy lives in Canberra with her husband Tim. She is the author of the Dreams of Asarlai trilogy, which starts with Secret Ones and is wonderfully active at Conflux and other conventions.

Tansy Rayner Roberts: Craft, Magic and “women’s work”

There's a lot of hard work behind the glamour ...

I have been asked many times since the release of Power and Majesty whether I sew myself – in particular, if I can make dresses like Velody can.  If only!  Dressmaking is one of those astounding skills that I romanticise in my head, but am incapable of actually doing myself.  It’s not that I don’t love to sew, I’m just not very good at measuring.  Or straight lines.  When it comes to actually measuring straight lines, my head goes out the window.

You know how they say ‘measure twice, cut once?’  Well, my sewing technique is more along the lines of ‘think about measuring, remind self that measuring is really important, then throw measuring tape out the window and just APPLY SCISSORS’.

My pet craft, luckily enough, is quilting.  Where cutting fabric into tiny pieces and sewing it back together again is a feature, not a bug!  I love to hand piece (folding fabric over paper templates is the one way I am capable of sewing a straight line) because sewing machines freak me out, just a little.  I love to machine quilt because it’s all about wavy lines, and it looks good even if you get a little madly creative, and who doesn’t love a machine with a laser pointer?

The owner of the quilting machine, who is something of a mentor to me, despairs of my ragged hems and a style that can only be describes as ‘slapdash,’ but admits I’m quite good with colour.

Crazy quilts are my favourite – you can throw in every half-baked sewing technique you’ve ever learned, blag the rest, and if you use enough velvet and kimono silk scraps, somehow it ends up looking like art.  I’m currently working on a crazy quilt about The Creature Court – piecing a square for each character, like a jumbled scrapbook of who they are and what is most important to them.  At the rate I’m going, the quilt will take me far longer than the books did!

I love to read about women who craft, too.  Just about the only mainstream fiction I read these days involves women and quilting circles, or knitting yarn.  Sometimes they fight crime, as well!  You don’t find a lot of it in fantasy – though it is there, at times, around the edges.  Most fantasy worlds are pre-industrial, and so clothes are hand-made and woven, food is cooked from scratch (even if, as the late great Diana Wynne Jones pointed out, it’s mostly stew) and every tool is clanged out from a real forge, by a blacksmith.

It always drives me crazy when the only person you see pick up a needle in a fantasy novel is the motherly type (cough, Polgara, cough) who does everyone’s mending, or a soppy damsel whose embroidery is a symbol of how useless she is.  Before we had factories, sewing a straight line was an essential life skill, and while women have always taken on the majority of the domestic craft (it was often the only way to earn money from home, so you could mind the children at the same time) there’s no reason why we shouldn’t also see men fixing their own tunics or darning socks. 

I also love it when crafting techniques are used in descriptions of magic.  Sure, people call magic a ‘craft’ all the time, but I like it best when that is taken a step further, giving a realism to magical technique.  One of my favourite books of 2010, Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey, placed magic as an important lady’s accomplishment in the Regency period, along with playing the piano, drawing, and dancing prettily.  Her descriptions of ‘glamour’ make it feel like a real, tangible thing, and I thought it was particularly clever the way she showed that the few men who excelled at glamour were accorded professional status, while the women were expected to use it only to catch husbands

In Power and Majesty, I introduced three characters: Velody, Rhian and Delphine, who were each practicing craftswomen.  This gave them jobs and a grounding in the world I was trying to convey, and also tied closely to the importance of religious festivals in their city of Aufleur.  It also meant that I was able to write what I knew – about the pleasures and practicalities of making something, even if I did have to run the dressmaking scenes past someone who has actually done it.  Having a dressmaker heroine also gave me the metaphors and descriptive defaults to reach for when she is trying to explain magic to herself for the first time. 

In that first book of the trilogy, Velody’s craft and her fellow workers belonged to the daylight – they represented the part of her life she loved most, and what she wanted to protect from the darkness and magic of the new world she had been introduced to.  But in the second book, The Shattered City, Velody’s two worlds are going to collide with a vengeance.  Something as simple as a needle and thread could get people killed…

The Shattered City is out now and continues the story of Velody and the Creature Court. You can follow Tansy on Twitter, visit her website AND visit the official Creature Court website (don’t turn your back on anyone …)

And catch Tansy talking about her writing career and the Creature Court on Galactichat!

Sneak Peek: Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts

If you’re at AussieCon4 now, you can catch Tansy Rayner Roberts reading from Power and Majesty at 3pm. If you’re not, or you have a spare block of time, read this sneak peek of the beginning of Shattered City, Creature Court Book Two.

1.
The Day after the Nones of Felicitas (nefas)
The silk was cool to the touch. It was a magnificent gown: flame-orange, trimmed with soft charcoal-black leaves of silk that tumbled from the Duchessa’s shoulders to her knees. A perfect festival dress for the chief day of sacrifice, the centrepiece of the sacred games which would shortly be taking over the city.
It was the last fitting, and Velody was just managing to make the alterations — a stitch here, a stitch there – without her hand shaking on the needle.
There was no reason to be nervous. Sure, her entire professional career hung in the balance – a word from the Duchessa in the right circles could ruin her – and yet there were so many other things to worry about.
Velody could think of one person at least, if not an entire Court of them, who would laugh at her if they knew how anxious she was about this one every day event. The world was so much bigger and more dangerous than she had ever known, and here she was fretting about the effect of a dropped waistline.
The slender, nineteen-year-old demoiselle who ruled the City of Aufleur gazed at herself in the mirror, lifting the weight of her long blonde hair. ‘Should I bob it?’ she asked idly.
Velody’s own hair was bundled back in the snood. She still refused to have what most demmes these days referred to as ‘the chop’. The very thought of it made her neck cold.
‘The city fathers would implode, my lady,’ she said with a polite smile. ‘But you would look exceptional.’
The Duchessa gave her an impish grin worthy of her age. ‘I would, wouldn’t I?’
The curtains in the room shifted as the door was opened abruptly. ‘Ladies,’ said the Ducomte Ashiol Xandelian d’Aufleur, striding through the room and hurling himself on the nearest
floral sofa. He was dark, dangerously handsome, and held himself as if the city revolved around him.
Velody would not look. He was playing games with her, and she refused to allow him to put her on edge.
The Duchessa sighed dramatically. ‘You will have to forgive the rudeness of my cousin, Mistress Velody. He was raised in the wild.’
‘He does not disturb me, high and brightness,’ said Velody, plucking pins from her mouth and ignoring the deep shiver that went through her flesh at the man’s presence.

Read on

Get a taste of Power and Majesty …

Don’t miss out on the debut novel from Australian Tansy Rayner Roberts … click the cover below to read the first chapters today!

Click to read the first chapters!

 

‘Just read 1st chaps Power & Majesty by Tansy Raynor Roberts. A definite keeper!’ — Glenda Larke, author of the Watergivers trilogy, via Twitter.

Power and Majesty ticks all the boxes for great dark fantasy and a few more for good measure. Roberts evokes an exotic, renaissance-tinged city full of stylish and decadent characters. Charming, mysterious and occasionally grim, this is a silky and sophisticated new entry to Australian fantasy. I would recommend this to anyone who likes the darker end of the genre, particularly fans of Anne Bishop or Jacqueline Carey.’ — Stefen Brazulaitis, Bookseller, in Australian Bookseller & Publisher