• 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 Aurealis Awards 2012

Last Saturday The Independent Theatre in North Sydney played host to the 17th Annual Aurealis Awards*. Harper Voyager Australia again sponsored the awards along with Galaxy Bookshop. It was a chilly windy night in Sydney so scarves & shawls were the fashion accessory of the evening!  We’re super-proud to announce that The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood (HarperAU) won best Sci-Fi Novel and Ghosts by Gaslight (HarperUS) edied by Jack Dann & Nick Gevers won best Anthology! Creature Court author Tansy Rayner Roberts’ podcast Galactic Suburbia also won the Peter McNamara award- go Tansy!The Courier's New Bicycle

As always, it was a great evening and a chance to catch up with all our authors, blogger friends, Tweeples and fans of spec fiction everywhere. Discussions ranged from the future of spec-fic publishing  and cover designs to Star Wars and hypothetical murder mystery plots.  We were also very happy to see Stephanie Smith, who presented the Best Fantasy Novel Award, before her imminent move to Tasmania. She took time to introduce our new Voyager publisher, Deonie Fiford, to the audience too!

Congratulations to our shortlisted authors as well –  The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon, The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts & Stormlord’s Exile by Glenda Larke for the Best Fantasy Novel of 2011, and Children of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy for Best Sci-Fi Novel of 2011.

Stephanie Smith with 2 of our winning authors: Kim Westwood and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Susan Wardle, co-convenor of the awards, said that with approximately 700 entries across the thirteen categories, the judges had a challenging task. “The winners represent the best of Australian fantasy, horror and science fiction writing in 2011 as judged by a pannel of their peers.  This year’s winners join the likes of Sara Douglass, Garth Nix, Isonelle Carmody, Trudi Canavan, Shaun Tan and Sean Williams, all of whom are multiple Aurealis Award Winners.”

Congratulations again to our winners!

*The Aurealis Awards were established in 1995 by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis magazine, to recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers.

Deonie Fiford and Stephanie Smith
photo by Cat Sparx ( http://www.flickr.com/people/42956650@N00/)

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Thank you from Stephanie Smith

Here’s a personal  message from Stephanie:

THANKS EVERYONE for all your kinds words and good wishes. The sff/specfic community is a wonderful one …I love being part of it. To be able to work with such great writers has been an amazing journey. And my colleagues in HarperCollins have always been supportive, no matter how weird things got 🙂 I’ll join in the conversation somewhere sometime online (I’m still coming to grips with all the different ways communication is continuing and expanding!).
Catch you all later,

Stephanie

Farewell Stephanie Smith

It is with much sadness that we have to tell you our wonderful Voyager Associate Publisher Stephanie Smith is resigning. During her 20 years working at HarperCollins, Steph has been instrumental in growing the Voyager imprint into the leading Australian speculative fiction list, publishing such bestselling authors as Sara Douglass, Fiona McIntosh, Kylie Chan, Traci Harding and Jennifer Fallon. She has also played a vital role in establishing the Global Voyager list, and has been closely involved in the success of key brand authors such as George RR Martin, Raymond E Feist and Peter V Brett.

Her brilliant editorial skills, respect and support for her authors and understanding of the speculative fiction genre have stood Steph apart from her publishing peers around the world. She has worked outside her brief many times, including nurturing developing writers via the Varuna Program.

Steph’s “tree change” will take her to Tasmania where she will be closer to her family. She has been a dream to work with and we will miss her very much.

We are thrilled, therefore, that Deonie Fiford will be taking over when Steph leaves us at the end of the week. Deonie has over 15 years publishing experience, having worked both in-house and freelance as an editor for Hachette (where she helped to establish the Orbit list), Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins. She is very well respected in the speculative fiction community and has been on the judging panel of the Aurealis Awards.

Upon hearing of Deonie’s appointment, Steph had this to say: “Great choice! Deonie loves sff and has good connections in the genre community already. She has the talent and people skills to take Voyager’s premier position into the future.”

Farewell Stephanie! You are truly the Voyager Queen and we wouldn’t be where we are without you.

HarperVoyager sponsor 2010 Aurealis Awards

 

SpecFaction NSW Inc, the new organiser of the Aurealis Awards, is delighted to announce that HarperVoyager will be the exclusive sponsor of the 2010 awards presented in May next year.

Awards Co-convenor Nathan Burrage said, “The Aurealis Awards are Australia’s premier awards for Speculative Fiction and we’re delighted to be working with one of Australia’s top publishers, HarperVoyager, to present them for the first time in Sydney.”

“SpecFaction is a not for profit organisation and all our members are volunteers. Without the support of a sponsor like HarperVoyager, we could not hope to host the awards.”

HarperVoyager publish some of Australia’s biggest names in Speculative Fiction.

Stephanie Smith, Associate Publisher of HarperVoyager, said “HarperVoyager is delighted to be the sponsor of the Aurealis Awards in 2011. The awards have been instrumental in the development of the speculative fiction genre in Australia and are a source of pride for the genre community. Many Voyager authors have won, or been shortlisted for, the Aurealis Awards over the past 15 years, including such bestselling authors as Sara Douglass, Glenda Larke, Jennifer Fallon and Kylie Chan. Voyager’s enthusiasm for the genre and our commitment to seeing it grow and expand is as strong as ever.”

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for genre fiction, are for works of speculative fiction written by an Australian citizen, or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 November 2009 and 31 December 2010.

Entries close on Friday 31 December 2010. Finalists will be announced in late March 2011 and winners will receive their awards at a gala evening ceremony held in Sydney on Saturday the 21st of May 2011.

All entries are read by an independent panel of judges.  As with past awards, sponsorship arrangements do not influence the judging process.

For more information on the Aurealis Awards, or how to enter, please visit www.aurealisawards.com

Hugos, swords, readings and dreamers

Sunday morning we bumped into Peter V Brett looking slightly pale outside the dealers room on Level 2. He was preparing for his reading from The Great Bazaar and by all accounts did very well. We gave away some Voyager party bags with the v15 hardbacks inside to some lucky tweeters and passers-by, celebrating both our anniversary and hitting 1000 followers on Twitter! Duncan Lay wandered over on his way to his kaffeeklatsch and said he was enjoying himself and also preparing for a reading later that day. Haven’t heard yet how it was but I’m sure it was fantastic!
Then your correspondent went to a ton of panels: the artist’s paradox with GoH Shaun Tan, Cat Sparks and Nick Stathopoulos was especially interesting. Robert Silverberg’s panel with Peter Ball, Alan Baxter and Keith Stevenson also provided food for thought on the novella form – hard to sell? Hard to write? Growing in popularity? Increasing the number of small press publishers?
After a brief break for lunch it was time to see our own Stephanie Smith, Voyager Publisher, on the Dreaming Again panel led by Jack Dann, with Janeen Webb, Jason Nahrung, Angela Slatter, Richard Harland and Jenny Blackford. Jack was in fine form and asked if everyone else had turned up for a roast Jack panel! 🙂
Then it was a discussion on crowns and monarchies with interesting insights from a whole panel of Voyager authors! Duncan Lay, Jennifer Fallon, Glenda Larke, Fiona Mcintosh with guest appearance by Joel Shepherd, duked it out – and one good point they made is that by settling on a monarchy as your governing system, you can concentrate on telling the actual story.
After this it was off to rm 519 to listen to Mary Victoria read from Tymon’s Flight and -bonus- from Samiha’s Song. Mary read beautifully and had us all under her spell.
We had a lovely Voyager dinner with our authors and then a few of us headed to the Hugos, where Garth Nix was doing a fab job of MCing. We’re all thrilled that Peter Watts won a Hugo for his story in New Space Opera 2 and Peter’s speech thanking Jonathan Strahan, editor of the anthology, was nice. We also enjoyed George R R trying to run off with a Hugo he was presenting and Robert Silverberg’s quips about editors and wombats!
Finally, it was off for one final evening in the Hilton Bar accompanied by Peter V Brett to join Jennifer Fallon and Glenda Larke, Stephanie and HarperCollins account manager and fantasy fan extraordinaire Theresa Anns. Then bed!
Today we’re off to Mary V’s panel at 10 on Writing Strange Lands, and then dropping into Nicole Murphy’s reading, where she tells us she will not be reading from page 310!

Ten drafts and you have a book: Nicole Murphy on writing

Those of you who read and loved Secret Ones will be delighted to hear that on August 2 I turned in the manuscript for book three of the trilogy to the Queen of the Voyager universe (aka Stephanie Smith). If you haven’t read Secret Ones – go on, you know you want to.

I thought this might be a time to talk a little about how the series came to be, and how I write. It all started way back in 2003, when I had a dream – literally. Dreams by themselves don’t make stories, but the image I had of this girl, indulging in a hot affair while trying to keep secret that she could do magic, wouldn’t let me go.

So I did some planning. I worked out a backstory for how she secretly had magic (the gadda) and because of my background as a teacher (and because I was deep into reading Harry Potter at the time) devised the educational levels that people went through to develop their power.

In the process of doing that, I came up with two follow-up stories – both set in the world of the gadda and modern society, sharing characters but with their own romances. Note – these books were romances that just happened to have a fantasy aspect of the setting.

I was also reading books about revising and editing your work. It was something I was utterly TERRIBLE at and I needed to focus on it. So I came up with a schedule of activities to help me revise and devised my plan – a month for the first draft of each book (then just sixty thousand words each), a month for the first round of edits of each book, a month for the second round of edits. At the end of nine months, I’d have three edited books, ready to send out.
The first stage of the revision process was macro-level. I would write a short description of each scene, what its place in the book was, what it achieved and whether it was worthwhile. I did character outlines to learn more about them. I read the dialogue alone out aloud, to ensure it made sense and then I read the entire book out aloud.

The second stage was micro – it was about sentences, work choice, spelling and punctuation.

However, I was wrong about the books being ready to send out – they weren’t. I learnt to revise, which is an all important skill, but I still didn’t know enough to be able to look at the books critically and make really sound judgements.

For the next four years, I came back to the books on occasion but developed my craft editing and being a journalist. Finally, at the end of 2007 (after having Secret Ones, then called Love in Control, critted) I sat down and with everything I’d learnt turned it into the book that in July 2009 was bought by HarperVoyager.

Over the past twelve months, having to deliver another two books has been a steep learning curve. The schedule I originally devised to help me revise has become an organic part of me. I now use forms such as colour charts to help me take an objective look at narrative flow and ensure that the plot is satisfactory and the story balanced.

All of this happens with very little initial planning. Instead, I write – a lot. Secret Ones went through ten drafts before I submitted it. Power Unbound had eight drafts, Rogue Gadda seven (see, I am getting better). At a rough estimate, I think that I’ve written somewhere in the vicinity of 500,000 words since July last year. That’s a whole lotta time and effort.

My method of writing – getting a general idea of beginning, middle and ending and then blasting your way through and working out the details later – is known in the business as pantsing (as in ‘writing by the seat of your pants’). I don’t like the idea of being a pantser – see the above 500,000 words in thirteen months.

It seems to be that I’d have to write much less words if I planned more. That the schedule I originally developed to help me revise would, at the beginning of the project, be a brilliant way to plan a novel before it’s written.

Except – what if I can only write well if I do pants it? What if planning kills the excitement and makes me stilted?

Maybe I just have to accept the fact that I’m going to spend the rest of my life writing at least three times the amount of words I need to, in order to write the words that count.

I will try planning for the next project I want to pursue, but I’m ready to ditch it if I find it doesn’t work. Even thought the idea of doing all that writing makes me very, very tired.

Good thing I love it.

Nicole Murphy has been a teacher and journalist, but is now concentrating on the other two books in the Dreams of Asarlai trilogy. She has had many short stories published, and has edited speculative fiction magazines. She lives in Queanbeyan with her husband Tim.

The 2009 Canberra Conflux Experience by Tracey O’Hara

I have been eagerly awaiting Conflux to come around again. They‘re always such fun. Friday morning I arrived nice and early to registered. The lovely Karen Herkes was on site and already overseeing the final preparations for the convention. Her delightful welcome put me in a very cheery mood and ready to tackle a workshop “Taxation for Writers and Artists”. Not the most exciting event on of the day – but a necessary one for the clueless like me.

Unfortunately the guy giving the workshop never showed, leaving me to doubt if I would want him taking care of my finances. However, all was not lost. A bunch of us who’d turned up decided to share the scant knowledge among ourselves. One of those present was someone I’d been keen to catch up with, newly contracted Voyager author Nicole Murphy. It was great to see her in person and congratulate her on her new 3 book deal. Also present was Specusphere reviewer and talented writer Felicity Dowker, Allen & Unwin fantasy author Karen (K.S.) Nikakis and the lovely wife of Christian Tamblyn. We all had a very pleasant time chatting about things to do with the business of writing.

Because of a rare day off and the fact I hadn’t organised myself to sign up for any of the other fabulous workshops, I went home to do some writing on book 3 of my Dark Brethren series. Later I picked up the awesome Urban Fantasy author and friend Keri Arthur from the airport. We then went to dinner with the Canberra writing group and had a great time catching up with people.

Saturday started bright and early for someone who’s a night owl like me. I usually sleep in on the weekend to catch up on a few Zs lost through the working week. But at 10.00am I was on a panel about Vampires with Keri and the lovely Jane Virgo. What a fabulous time we had. The audience participation was tremendous, heaps of questions, heaps of laughs and a good time had by all. I just hope I didn’t sound as totally clueless as I felt.

The good thing about Conflux is you get to catch up with people you’ve met before and meet new people too. This year I was a special guest for Canberra Showcase Panel, made up of several of our local authors. Boy those guys were impressive. Maxine McArthur, Jack Heath, Simon Petrie, Gillian Polack and I were kept in line by the deft chair, Richard Harland. Jack Heath was hilarious; telling us that he went into writing because he worked out at a very young age he was extremely adept at lying. His story about a playground stunt gone wrong had the audience cracking up. Afterwards I met Harper Voyager editor Stephanie Smith who introduced me to Duncan Lay. There was quite a showing of Harper authors at Conflux.

That night was the annual historical banquet organised by historian, Gillian Polack. As usual (well as usual as far as I know given this was only my second year) the food was excellent. It was an 1880 Louisiana style bbq with girls in fabulous dresses and pirates abound. There were plenty of “ahrrrs” and “avasts” and the night included a plot to corrupt the entire room to the way of the pirate. By finding the treasure map we were inducted into the pirate way with the receiving of a gold coin (chocolate inside) or a gold ring. By the end of the night there was a fair portion of us who had crossed over to piracy.

Sunday was not so early for me. Even though I didn’t have anything to drink the night before I woke with a headache that I just couldn’t shake. I also forgot Daylight savings time, so missed the “Romance in SF” panel, which included my good friend, Erica Hayes. Our fearless organiser, Karen Herkes, asked me if I would sit on the “Where to From here” panel which ended up being a lovely round circle discussion on what happens after the first book. Of course the obvious answer was write the next one. I got to hear K.J. Taylor talk on her impressive achievements thus far – including having signed her first contract at 18. My goodness — that girl is talented.

I went to listen in on a couple of panels with the impressive special guest, editor for Baen Books, Jim Minz. I found him a little intimidating to say the least, because his knowledge and experience in the New York publishing world.

Unfortunately that was it from me for this years Conflux. I didn’t get to do nearly as much as or see as many as I wanted to. But I finished off my day saying by goodbye to the lovely Stephanie Smith and a receiving friendly hug and “a take care kiddo” from the legendary Jack Dann. What a way to end a fantastic weekend. Now have to wait until 2011 for the next one. Next year is AussieCon4. Woo Hoo!

Intense, sexy, bold ... a superb debut - Nalini Singh

Intense, sexy, bold ... a superb debut - Nalini Singh

 

Tracey O’Hara is the author of Night’s Cold Kiss,  a Dark Brethren novel, available now in Australia and New Zealand … and guaranteed to keep you up at night! Tracey lives in Canberra, Australia.