• 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!



A Kiss from the Muse—how to get it! Part III

The Enchanted Shore by Rowland Wheelwright

The Enchanted Shore by Rowland Wheelwright

Still looking for that kiss from the muse? Here are some of my favourite ways to awaken the inner spirit of creativity.

Ritual Routine means showing up to write. When we do so, we send a message to the Muse saying, I’m here. I’m ready. I’m listening. Do you have rituals around your writing? Mine are green tea, Spanish guitar and a date with my computer every morning, 7 am sharp. Novelist Sean Stewart reinforces the point. “Do whatever it takes. If it means getting up at four in the morning, get up at four in the morning.”

Most authors agree that ritualizing the practice of writing keeps creative juices flowing. Jonathan Kellerman, who spends 2-6 months planning his novels before he starts writing says, I treat writing as a job. I go to work five days a week. I don’t sit around drinking espresso, waiting for inspiration.

Dreams come from the wellspring of imagination. Listen to them! Image is the language of the unconscious and keeping a dream journal can be a way to communicate with the deeper layers of the mind, opening up the realm of the Muse.

Law of Attraction says that what we think about comes about. If you are thinking like the fisherman on shore after the mermaid has fled, longing desperately for her return, you are shouting out to the universe ‘blank page’ and that is what you attract! When the Muse is gone, imagine her there with thoughts of allowing, joy, vitality, creative abundance and gratitude. The trick is, if she’s there, enjoy her presence; if she’s not there, enjoy her presence! Once you start thinking your Muse is with you, she will be.

Self-talk is closely related to the above and has a powerful effect on the Muse. Are you saying I’m blocked? I’m stuck? When friends ring do you tell them the well is dry? What you say to yourself and others is what you are reinforcing. To bring up the muse, think more along the lines of I’m full of ideas today, thank you!

Clear a Space for the Muse to Dance. To have anything in your life, you need to ‘make room for it’. One of the most crucial ingredients in honoring the Muse is clearing a space for her. Stephen King talks about this in his article on the The Writing Life.

Some writers in the throes of writer’s block think their muses have died, but I don’t think that happens often; I think what happens is that the writers themselves sow the edges of their clearing with poison bait to keep their muses away, often without knowing they are doing it.

Allow her presence by eliminating anything that might be misconstrued as poison or disrespect of her mystery. Welcome your creative spirit in. As Traci Harding says, The Muse is everywhere and can be encountered in the most unexpected places. How do you call up your Muse? I’d like to hear your favorite technique. Comments welcome.

See Part I: A Kiss from the  Muse

See Part II: A Kiss from the Muse: How to get it!

Kim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette, which was published in January this year. She runs Falcon Astrology as well as a website for the Quantum Enchantment series.

The Hero’s Journey: Getting Published Part I

Holding Rosette in my hands (and sharing her!)

Holding Rosette in my hands (and sharing her!)

Since The Spell of Rosette is now in print and I am holding the actual book in my hand for the first time, it seems apt to talk about how she came to be. The process of getting published is like the archetypal Hero’s Journey with all its challenges, confrontations and rewards. The course may vary for each author but it always begins the same, with the call to adventure—the call to write.

The Departure, 2001: This is the point in life were the hero knows something’s up. For me it was an itch that turned into a burning desire to write fiction. Like many heroes, I initially refused the call outright. I was too busy being a single mum, minding strays (human and feline) and upon reflection, too scared to take the risk and too attached to my reality to imagine a novelist’s life. But the itch persisted and I dabbled. This is dangerous ground for the hero because dabbling is the same as answering the call. And once you do, you evoke Supernatural Aid. My SA came in the form of Stephan King. I bought his book On Writing and read it cover to cover in three days. (amazing for a woman too busy to write fiction!) King did two things for me:1) He got me thinking like a novelist. 2) He got me writing every day. Pretty good supernatural aid!

The Crossing of the First Threshold, 2002: This is the next step—when the adventure actually begins. The first scene in The Spell of Rosette was my threshold and arose from an exercise suggested in King’s book. I started with the premise ‘what if a girl came home one day to find her family murdered.’ From a five hundred word essay the story grew and a year later I had a rough draft of a novel.

The Belly of the Whale, 2003: This is when you know you have left the old life behind and are truly committed the journey, wherever it takes you. I knew I was in the belly of the whale by 2003. Over the next few years I revised and polished, conjured Kreshkali and met Jarrod. Finally I showed pages to an author friend and she suggested (see the related blog on The Way of the Sword) that I, A) keep writing because it showed promise and , B) Learn something about sword fighting before I attempted another scene of that nature. I took up Iaido, the Samurai sword, and by 2005 my skills were advancing, sword scenes improved and I felt the book was finished. I lifted my eyes from my computer screen and asked, ‘What’s next?’

Journey continued in Part II. Questions and comments welcome.

Kim Falconer’s novel The Spell of Rosette is now available  throughout Australia.

Kim runs Quantum Enchantment‚ the official website for The Spell of Rosette and its sequels (which she is working on). She also runs Falconer’s Astrologytrains with a sword and is completing a Masters Degree.

Soul Influence by Kim Falconer

Oscar Wilde once said that to influence a person was to give them a piece of your own soul. He wasn’t too keen on the idea, though he was inspired by many intellectuals of his time. One in particular was the mysterious Madame Blavatsky—the Russian aristocrat who ushered in the New Age with her theosophical spiritualism. From her sprung writers such as Rudolf Steiner, Gurdjieff, Krishnamurti, W. B. Yeats, Dion Fortune, Katherine Mansfield and Aldous Huxley. All of these authors had an effect on me, Oscar Wilde none the least. His stories, ranging from the horror classic, The Picture of Dorian Gray, to the seemingly trivial fantasy, The Importance of Being Earnest, made a lasting impression.

Author Kim Falconer

Author Kim Falconer

I agree with Peter V. Brett when he says writers are like psychic sponges. We mop up the brilliance of each other’s minds, reserving the insights for a rainy day, or perhaps our next novel. Wilde thought it was something to guard against but C. G. Jung (another hero of mine) said, we don’t create in a vacuum but through our relationship to others, and let’s face it, reading someone’s words is an intimacy, a relationship, a window into their soul.

I carry a lot of those souls around with me: Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, C S Lewis, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin—she’s a favourite, the woman who brought feminist theory to SF /F. Ann Rice—who always describes light and colour in such sensual ways, and Anne McCaffrey, who successfully merged SF and Fantasy, not an easy task.

I’ve read all of David Eddings too. He, like Wilde, tries to avoid influence. ‘I have a sub-conscious burglar lurking in my mind, he says. If I read a good fantasy it’s likely to show up in my next book.Stephen King is the opposite. He says that reading in your genre is necessary for understanding the market, to know editorial likes and dislikes. I love Brett’s take on this—‘Like all writers, I steal my ideas. . .

The Spell of Rosette

The Spell of Rosette - out now!

Whether we call it theft, awareness or influence, there wouldn’t be a fantasy author alive who hasn’t been touched by JRR Tolkien and I doubt any of us mind sharing a piece of his soul. I was inspired by LOTR to the point where I spent my teens and early twenties writing reams of epic poetry. These works were so extensive they made Homer’s Odyssey look like Haiku. Tolkien’s academic paper, On Fairy Stories, opened my mind to notions of immersion as well, but more on that topic in another blog! I’d like to hear your most influential authors. What bits of soul do you carry around with you? Comments welcome!

Kim Falconer’s first novel The Spell of Rosette is available at all good bookshops throughout Australia! Kim lives in Byron Bay with two gorgeous black cats. As well as her author website, Quantum Enchantment‚ she runs an astrology forum and alternative science sitetrains with a sword and is completing a Masters Degree. Her novel writing is done early every morning. Currently she’s working on additional volumes in the Quantum Enchantment Series.

Read other posts by Kim Falconer

Peter V Brett tells us the writers who inspired him

The Painted Man

An irony of the early reviews The Painted Man has received is that my work is frequently compared to that of David Gemmell and Robin Hobb. It’s incredibly flattering, since both authors are immensely popular, but the truth is I’ve never read anything by either of them. I’ve since added books from both to my reading pile, of course. I want to see what other people are seeing.

But that’s not to say by any means that I am not influenced by other authors. I have always been a pretty voracious fantasy reader. The first non-school book (without pictures) that I ever read was The Hobbit, along with about a million superhero comics from Marvel and DC. My parents, both heavy readers themselves, started to worry when all I spent my time reading was comics, so my father went to the library and checked out a copy of Terry Brooks’ Wishsong of Shannara.

After that, I read whatever fantasy books I could get my hands on. RA Salvatore, Douglas Niles, Piers Anthony, Lyndon Hardy, CS Friedman, Michael Moorcock, Barbara Hambly, Peter S. Beagle, Tanya Huff, Raymond E. Feist, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, William Goldman, Phillip Pullman, David Farland, Naomi Novik and countless others. I think I must have read the entire TSR line of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance books in the 80’s and 90’s. I also read a lot of horror stories, mostly Stephen King and James Herbert.

All of those authors made an impact on me and my writing, but the two books that I really credit with raising my game as a writer were James Clavell’s Shogun and George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones. These authors taught me just how far the fantasy novel medium could reach, with countless levels of complexity and point of view kept compelling even over the course of a thousand pages or more. I realized then that a lot of the limits in novels are self-imposed by the authors, whether consciously or not. I don’t know if I can ever achieve that level of writing, but I intend to spend the rest of my life trying.

But I still read comics.

The Painted Man will be available next week across Australia. And there are plenty of people buzzed about it! A review appeared in the first edition of Black Magazine, and you can also see a review and interview at sf/f site A Boy Goes On A Journey. I’ll post more links to reviews with Peter’s post next week, there’s plenty to choose from.