• 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!



Quantum trailer!

Check out the brilliant trailer Kim Falconer has made ( with help from fellow Voyager author Mary Victoria. ) for her Quantum Enchantment & Quantum Encryption series!

Books Gift Tips

 Who is giving books this holiday season?

A book is a wonderful surprise that brings lasting pleasure. Get the genre right and it says I know you and appreciate your interests. If you shop locally it supports the Aussie book industry and in this economical climate that means authors can keep writing and bookshops surviving. How do you know which books to give? Here are five tips on finding the tome that makes friends and family smile.

1) The gift certificate: This is the ‘sure thing,’ a way to give a present you know they’ll love because they get to choose it themselves. All physical bookshops have lovely little gift certificate cards. Online bookstores offer them as well. See retailers here for shops near you. The gift certificate says you’re thinking of them and you also think it’s best they make their own choices. This is especially good for in-laws, new friends, co-workers and ‘ex’s on good terms’.

2) Know your Audience: When you know someone well enough, you can be brave and choose a book or series that you think will light them up. This gift is touching because it reminds you both that you have shared interests, or even if their tastes are vastly different, you know that too and shop accordingly. This is recommended for live-ins, BFF’s , lovers or partners.

3) When you’re not sure: This is your chance to do some covert ops! Have you seen their bookshelf? What authors and publishers are there? Do you notice a consistent genre or theme? The idea is to listen when they talk about what they like. Pay attention. Do they have a new hobby? New fav author? New art interest? Self-help? Spec Fic? Tune in to what they love and find a book that reflects it. Hint: See if they are on Goodreads for a look at their TBR list!

4) The electronic age: Remember it’s not always about the printed page. eReaders can make wonderful gifts and there are ways to gift eBooks as well. Kindle had the option to ‘give as a gift’ for specific books or you can buy eGift Certificates that are emailed directly to their inbox. Sus out what eReader they have and go from there!

5) Trust your intuition. Giving gifts of any kind means taking a risk and that’s a wonderful way to expand the comfort zone. Allow your inner guidance, your intuition, to help make the choice! The beautiful thing about giving something as personal as a book is it shows you took the time and care.

What books do you think will make great gifts this year? I’d love to hear about them.

Kim is the author of the Quantum  Enchantment and the Quantum Encryption series. Her new book ‘Journey by Night‘ is out now. Read more about her books at KimFalconer.com

The Beginning of the End

With Journey by Night in bookstores this month, I’m starting to get emails and posts from readers who have already finished the book. They’re sending a lot of support and enthusiasm, which is wonderful. They’re also all asking the same question, each and every one. It comes phrased in a few different ways but all are saying, ‘It’s not the end, is it?’

 The answer is yes and no. Journey by Night is the last book I’ll write in the worlds of Earth and Gaela, at least for the next five years. I have two new series planed: The first one is well under way and the second I’ll write straight after. Both are envisioned as trilogies and set in very different worlds/premises. However, Journey by Night is not the whole story and it looks like the ‘missing chapters’ will be released soon. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me!

 What missing chapters? A year ago, when I first submitted book #3 in the Quantum Encryption series, the manuscript was over the word count. I knew there were sections that needed shortening but I hadn’t thought it would be the first six chapters. They were the bedrock of the story, to me, the life and times of Kreshkali and Nell growing up in the underground. The deleted chapters take place on Earth and answer questions about the origins of these two powerful witches—their intentions and what drives them. I felt more than a little attached.

 But I also trust my publisher completely and was open to her idea. She wanted me to try starting with chapter seven—one of the most intense and dark scenes in the book—and feather in important elements from the early chapters as memory. It took me a few days to get my head around the rewrite but once I did, I went to work and a month later I resubmitted the MS. Bingo. My publisher was happy and my editor (who never saw the original version) was thrilled.

 Meanwhile, those first six chapters sat in a bottom drawer and that didn’t feel right. I find it hard enough to leave a series and say goodbye to characters I’ve been ‘with’ for the past six or seven year but to know those early chapters would never be read hit hard. In the back of my mind I pondered ways this part of the story could be told. Fortunately, my publisher was pondering as well. After tossing around a few ideas, we came up with a great plan.

 ‘Kreshkali and Nell – the early years’(under a much better title) is going to be turned into an ebook with plans for an audio download as well. Both will be either free or at the most the price of a lollipop. So for those who have devoured the series and are mourning its end, there is a thirty-some-thousand word novella on the way!

If anyone has a brilliant idea for a title, please feel free to comment. The elements in this story are 24th century post-apocalyptic earth where the only currency is drinking water. Two girls grow up in the underground, learn magic in secret and stay alive any way they can. I wanted to call it ‘Childhood’s End’ but we know Arthur C. Clarke grabbed that one years ago. Suggestions welcome. Thanks!

Writing Villains that Rock

Once upon a time, villains were bad to the core. They did bad things for evil gain and that was all there was to it—soulless, unaccountable, wicked.

 This is no longer the case.

A contemporary villain, like the shape-shifting Daos (pictured left) from Quantum Encryption, is fully fleshed out and has all the ingredients that makes a good hero—they are on a journey, they have strong motivations, much is at stake, much is risked, the choices are hard, they believe in their cause and they are believable to the reader. In this way, the villain is just like the hero/heroine only they have contrary goals/moral/cultural conditioning. The writer these differences and uses them to challenge, test and block our hero. This only rings true if the villain is authentically formed and fully actualized. These villains come in many forms.

The Shadow Villain. Like Gollum in LOTR, this character represents the ‘dark side’ of the hero/heroine. He is a nemesis but a personal one. The readers ‘gets’ where he’s coming from—boating accident leads to finding a ring that haunt him for the rest of his life. This kind of villain can be a key player in the story, elucidating the history, world building and nature of an ‘evil’ object (the power of the one ring). In the end, this shadow villain may guide the hero through the darkness and like Gollum, succeed in the quest, even unintentionally, where the hero could not. The chance for redemption is always present. We are saddened by their demise.

The Betrayal Villain
. Like Cyper in the Matrix or Darth Vader in Star Wars, this type of villain was once on our hero/heroine’s side. As betrayer he creates the opportunity to do bad things AND tell the ‘other side’ of the story. The reader gets to hate this one particularly because it feels like they had a choice and made the wrong one—to go against our hero. The chance for redemption is present up until the end. If they make the ‘wrong’ choice, we cheer their demise. Standing ovation.

Super villain. Like Sauron in LOTR, the Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars, or the Machine Mind in the Matrix, the super villain is all powerful. There is an impersonal quality to them, like a force of nature. We do not ‘know’ them unless they have a representative with a growth arc or history (Darth Vader, Agent Smith). Only through these individuals is the super villain accessible in a personal way. As a force of nature, the super villain is the obstacle for the hero/heroine and one that is usually woven into the world building.

The Anti-Hero. Like Battlestar Galactica’s Number Six and Patrick Süskind’s Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from Perfume, these are serious ‘villains’ but the story is told from their POV. Sometimes they do ‘bad’ things (terrible things) but only to ‘bad’ ( like Dexter). In this case we love that justice is served. They may also be bad, or mad, and do terrible things for no good reason at all, but we are riveted to their story because it’s so interesting. The anti-hero is a way to tell the villains side of the tale while suspending judgment. The concept of the anti-hero is discussed more on Writing Excuses, a great resource. Also see my notes from a recent hero/villain workshop.

Who is a favourite villain on your bookshelf right now? In film? I’d love to hear about them. Comments welcome.

Kim is the author of the Quantum  Enchantment and the Quantum Encryption series. Her new book ‘Journey by Night‘ is out September 1, 2011. Read more about her books at KimFalconer.com

Kim Falconer and Castle Plaza Books – A Virtual Signing this Thursday!

Kim Falconer Virtual Book Plate

On Thursday, September 15, between 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm something new is happening.  We’re calling it a virtual signing, an innovation thanks to global technology, the internet and great minds thinking alike.

In one reality, this event will be held at Castle Plaza Bookshop
Shop T54 Castle Plaza, 992 South Rd Edwarstown
Adelaide, South Australia.

In another reality, it will be held wherever you are –  anywhere in the entire time space continuum that has a computer and a phone line.

The Virtual Signing is a way for readers to connect with their favourite authors, chat, ask questions, share revelations and get a signed copy of their latest book. Not so new an idea? It is when you take into account the author may be thousands of kilometres away from said reader.

Castle Plaza books, (and perhaps a books store nearer you), are bringing  authors and readers together who can’t physically make it into the store for signings. Instead, they will be having a Skype session at the store! You walk in, browse the bookshelf, select the next book in the series you’re after and sit down in front of the shop computer to chat, face to face in real time, with Kim. She will sign a bookplate (by cover artist Aaron Briggs) just for you that comes with your purchase while chatting about all things Earth and Gaela!

Not in the area to get your book? You can still SKYPE on the conference line and not miss out!Kim on Skype

 Castle Plaza Books says: The first Skype signing will be with the lovely Kim Falconer. All of Kim’s books will be available to purchase on the day and she will be sending out signed bookplates to be put into the books or you can pick up one pre-signed on the day!
Kim is the author of the Quantum  Enchantment and the Quantum Encryption series. Her new book ‘Journey by Night‘ is out September 1, 2011.
Quantum Enchantment Series

A Short History of Animals in Literature

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. –Mahatma Gandhi

Cave HorseThe first stories ever told were about animals and the places they went when they died. The experience of the numinous is often described through the power of animals and the stories we tell about them.

One of the attractions of speculative fiction is its ability to address speciesism—the assignment of worth and rights based on species alone. Through the animal characters in Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption series, I am free to investigate human verses non-human thought and examine consciousness from a different (less subjective) perspective. I’m not the only one!

From Achilles’ horse to Black Beauty, from Aesop’s Mr. Fox to Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, animals provide guidance, social commentary, moral authority and sympathy in fiction, often giving voice to the silenced and oppressed. In the late 17th – 18th centuries, moral allegories turned to social satire and animal no longer represented the gods but portrayed human foibles and political corruption.

By the 19th century spreading industrialization exploited both humans and animals and concern for animal welfare became a major social issue. Tales of animal abuse arose, in which animals were seen as the victims of human greed, ignorance, and industrialization.

In the twentieth century many writers turned to old animal stories and genres to produce new works dealing with themes of paranoia, alienation, and futility. And then we see, full circle, animals again as messengers of the divine.

Some Native American traditions teach that each soul can find its personal pathway through the medicine of animals. Medicine is anything that supports our connection to the life, mind, body, spirit, personal power, awareness and consciousness. We can learn to call on the medicine of an animal when in need of specific talents and attributes. Focusing our thoughts on an animal (as ancients did when in a state of reverence and awe) brings us into alignment with what that animal represents.

Black BeautyBut what about the animals themselves? We talk much about the power of animals to guide and heal us, to entertain us in stories and keep us company, guard or protect, but what are we doing for them? Millions of creatures without a voice can use our support. It begins with one small step that we all can take. Notes from my Animals as Healers here.

In the Quantum Enchantment series, Drayco the temple cat and Quillian the Were-fey is up there with my favourite animal characters alongside Hazel in Watership Down, Buck in The Call of the Wild, Anne McCaffrey’s  Ruth and of course Anna Sewell’s Beauty.

What are your favourite animals in literature? I’d love to hear about them!

Kim Falconer’s latest book, Journey by Night is out September 1! It is the third in the Quantum Encryption Series. As well as her author website, she runs an astrology and law of attraction forum, trains with a sword and is completing a Masters degree. Her novel writing is done early every morning. Currently she’s working on a whole new series.Quantum Enchantment Series

Rituals for the Solstice

For thousands of years, the ceremony at mid-winter solstice has been the most important of the yearly festivals. It is a turning point, symbolic of endings and new beginnings. In the southern hemisphere, we go to bed June 21 and experience the longest night of the year. The sun ‘dies’ to be reborn the next morning as it crosses 0 degrees of Cancer.  From then on, the days begin to lengthen and all is renewed.

One way to celebrate this event is to light candles on the eve of June 21st, sit in a circle and throw our old stories into a pot. This is symbolic of letting go of all the things we tell ourselves and each other that no longer serve us. We’ve heard these statements so often they have become patterns of belief: I can’t get paid for doing what I love. All the good ones are taken. I have to work hard to get anywhere. There is never enough . . . Whatever stories we tell that are holding us back, into the pot it goes. Then blow out all the candles and meditate in silence and darkness.

When the candles are relit, music, food and new stories are shared—stories that are full of hope and possibility: There is always enough. My art supports me well. There are more ‘good ones’ available every day . . . And so it begins. Hail to the new sun!

RAM: Clean the house, wash the windows, clear the air, especially with family. Ask: is your home a true reflection of you?

AUROCHS: Start a new course of study, join a community project, get friendly with the written or spoken word. Ask: is there anything you’d like to learn?

TWINS: Indulge yourself in sensuality –baths, long walks, massage, fine food, good vistas. Ask: Do you know the world by touch?

COBRA: This is a new chapter in your life. Open the door to your dreams by showing up! Ask: is your life an accurate reflection of who you want to be?

LION: Commune with your unconscious. Take time to record and reflect on your dreams. Ask: are you deep in the well of your creative heart?

CERES: Friends and likeminded others are a source of inspiration if you’re hanging out with your own kind! Ask: are these birds really of your feathers?

BALENCIA: Your career takes a turn for the better with a chance to take on more responsibility for greater reward. Ask: Do you light up in a smile when you think of your life work?

 SCORPION: Take your mind, body or spirit somewhere it’s never been before—meditate, travel, read, learn. Ask: are you holding yourself back from your real dreams?

ARCHER: Intimacy and intensity is what will like your fire now. Go ahead and take a risk. Ask: are you playing it safe with your emotions?

SEA-GOAT: Partnership is the focus and you will benefit by assessing the relationships in your life. Ask: do you feel free to be who you are?

WATER-BEARER: Putting energy into the body, health and physical wellbeing brings great results! Ask: are you getting enough exercise every day?

FISHES: Creativity springs from a well of romance. Write, play, choreograph, sing, act. Ask: are you allowing for love in your heart.

Kim Falconer’s latest series is Quantum Encryption. Book #1, Path of the Stray, and book #2, Road to the Soul are out now. Book #3, Journey by night is out Sept 1. Currently she’s writing an entirely new series. You can find out more about her at KimFalconer.com.

Image caption:  Rituals around Stonehenge appear speculative fiction including Traci Harding’s Ancient Future and recently in Jennifer Fallon’s The Undivided. Photograph by Richard Nowitz/Corbis