• 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!

     

     

  • Advertisements

Winterfest 2009 by Tim Miller

Over the weekend, 18-19 July, the annual Winterfest was held in Marsfield Park, North Ryde. It was a weekend full of history where there was Dark Ages fighting and the experience of medieval life. There was full flight falconry, a tournament joust, archery range, markets and of course a tourney field. There were many historical combat and re-enactment groups there to demonstrate their abilities with a blade. Stoccata, the group I fight with, where there to put on our own demonstration duels of sword and buckler, rapier, longsword and Italian single sword vs. George Silver’s single sword. It was a lot of fun and great to hear the crowd really get behind the fighters.

Yarrrr ARGH

Two people you wouldnt mess with

Neigh

Unless you were this guy ...

POW! BANG! SHAZAAM!

tourney-ing - not your average afternoon!

Thanks to Kristin Sadlier for the photos.

Tim Miller works in the Editorial & Publishing department at HarperCollins Australia. In his spare time he swordfights, writes, reads fantasy and peruses sword and dagger catalogues (so don’t mess with him). Read Tim’s post on swordfighting.span>

Advertisements

Conflux 5 – The Alternative Brown Shades of SF and Fantasy by Tim Miller

Tim was one quarter of Team Voyager at Conflux. He blogs on his experience:

11.40am Check in at the exclusive Canberra Gateway Motel. The world shifts into a state of brown shades – the building, the room, the art on the wall, the covers on the bed – all brown. I glance over my shoulder to have a look and see if I have passed through some kind of portal. Nope, it’s just Canberra. I think what the hell, I go with it and immerse myself in all things fantastic.

My Friday at Conflux involved two workshops, Finishing the First Draft with Maxine McArthur and Creating Dynamic Characters with Karen Miller (our very own Voyager author – Accidental Sorcerer anyone?). Stepping into the first was like stepping straight back into all the creative writing classes I did at uni, and the nostalgia instantly set in. We discussed the most common traps why authors never finish the elusive first draft, from the problems starting, that mess in the middle, to all that tricky stuff at the end. Karen’s workshop was awesome, it was set up to look at all the research and character building that goes into all those beloved characters that we read on the pages of book.

Friday night we all attended the launch of Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann. Let me just say something here, he is one of the most interesting writers alive. As soon as he opened his mouth the entire room was captivated and would have happily listened to him for hours singing the praises of the talented writers that contributed to DA.

Saturday was the day for some engaging panels. With so much to choose from, the three of us split up to go our separate ways. My favourite for the morning would definitely have been Making a Living as a Writer – But Not Necessarily a Novelist with Gillian Polack, Mark Shireff, Liz Argall (Chair), Margo Lanagan and Karen Simpson-Nikakis. The consensus was that it was very hard to, but really the writer in me was kind of hoping. Of the panel it was only Mark that could make a living and he works as a script producer for television. The others revealed exactly how they could afford to write – working part of the year, writing the other, having jobs that let them research for their writing, or teaching and consultation work.

Of the afternoon’s panels, Rewriting – The Real Art of A Good Story drilled home some truths that all writers need to be aware of. I believe Cat Sparks said it best – Don’t hand in shit. If the first thing an editor or publisher sees is a piece that not only doesn’t meet the guidelines, but obviously needs more work, then the next time they see your name they aren’t likely to take you seriously. Some friendly advice, put the ms away for a bit, a week, a month, whatever, then come back to it with fresh eyes and rewrite it – it will make it better.

Ok Saturday night at Conflux gave me the rare opportunity to mingle with some authors. A little unknown fact, they don’t walk around the evil HQ every five minutes, nor do they stop in for a chat. Stephanie Smith, Publisher of all things Voyager, invited Nat, Sarah and myself out for a Voyager dinner with some authors – Karen Miller, Kim Westwood, K. J. Taylor and Adam Browne. I had a good chat with Adam about Conflux in general before the topic turned to writing. At the end of the night he gave me some encouraging words and told me he would be looking out for my novel when it comes out. I also chatted with Karen Miller, discussing the workshop of Friday and Accidental Sorcerer before it turned into writing in general and Supernatural. I think a good night was had by all.

Sunday saw our last day at Conflux, so with my copy of Dreaming Again in my hot little hand, I sucked up my courage and went about asking some of the contributors to sign my copy. Not only did they sign, but they were happy to and to have a chat as well. To name a few: Jason Nahrung – ‘Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn’, Aaron Sterns – ‘The Rest is Silence’ and Jason Fischer – ‘Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh’.

We also got up to a few other things while in Canberra. We visited Floriade, and with the help of a quick coffee fix took some interesting photos, I’m sure Nat will put up the more interesting ones [No! Big Merino was embarrassing enough!]. We walked a lot, our motel was down the road from Conflux and Nat kept assuring us 3kms were a lot shorter than 100kms [whole other story here about the Oxfam Trailwalker] . Although there was the one night were the heavens opened up and we got drenched, but even that couldn’t dampen our spirits. I had a great time, at Conflux and with the company I went down with, Nat and Sarah are top ladies and if the chance comes up again next year I wouldn’t dream of going with anyone else.

Tim Miller works in the Sales department at HarperCollins. He’s part of the Voyager Cabin Crew and works on the Voyager Newsletter as well. And he’s working on a novel and short stories, when not being forced to blog for Voyager Online!  

The Scholar and the Sword

Tim Miller from the HC sales department recently did what I can only describe as his ‘sword exams’ and has blogged about it for us below:

On a very cold Saturday morning in the middle of winter, four would be swordsmen turned up for testing, all hoping that they could match the skills and speed of the Scholars whose ranks they hoped to be joining. On a stage that sat scant centimetres higher than the rolling mist that had come in from the south, the four donned armour, picked up their weapons and stepped forward to face all challengers.

'En garde!' - Tim is on the left in authentic blue shorts

'En garde!' - Tim is on the left in authentic blue shorts

Each combatant had to fight 4 five minute bouts, proving they had what it takes to earn the rank of Scholar. Years of training came flooding back in the blink of an eye, technique learned from the repetitive drills blocked the strike to their heads, muscle memory allowed them to counter and perfect timing found each within perfect striking distance.

Pow!

Pow! Tim is now on the right.

There is something to be said about stepping into the arena of combat with something to prove. The adrenalin pumps around your body, you can’t stand still from the excitement and you want the approval of the crowd (no matter how small it was). As I deflected each blow and countered with my own I had the unique sensation of feeling truly alive. Back in the day, these kinds of things could often end up with one man dead, the weight of the steel bettering the measure of the man. And with my competitive nature I sure as hell wasn’t going to fail this test.

Time for some R&R and half a kingdom please

Time for some R&R and half a kingdom please

After twenty minutes of sweaty armoured fighting; the steel clashing, battle-crying, death-defying me came through victorious and a newly appointed Scholar. What does this mean, I hear you ask? To be honest I thought it would mean I got to wear a sword on my hip and challenge people to duels left, right and centre but alas that’s not the case. Apparently there are laws about that kind of thing… so I have to do with the knowledge that I am more than capable of using my sword to defend myself from would-be attackers.

Now it’s back to the training, in another couple of years I can go for my next ranking, Free Scholar, where you have to show proficiency with 3 different weapon systems. In the meantime I will put all this knowledge to use and my sword wielding characters may appear to know what they are doing…

Click below for a video of the fight.

Is the sword mightier than the pen? Tim Miller writes …

I started Historical European Medieval Martial Arts – sword fighting – for two purposes. Firstly, as a writer, I wanted some accuracy when writing about sword fights, what is possible and more importantly what isn’t. All those flashy fights you see on television are well choreographed but twirling your sword around your head isn’t as useful as you would imagine against someone who knows how to handle their weapon. Within seconds twirly guy is lying dead at the feet of experienced guy. Not that we kill people in class but those beginners who try and be twirly guy are the ones leaving with the most welts and bruises.

Secondly, I started because I was a typical boy growing up, pretending to be Robin Hood or King Arthur running around the back yard with my brother, armed with sticks ‘dueling to the death’ where one of us would dramatically fall down dead with the stick clutched under the armpit. I suppose it was a natural transition from this that I finally decided that I wanted to learn how to sword fight and to do it well. Not to mention that I actually get to use steel swords …

A year and a half ago I joined Stoccata School of Defence where over multiple ten week terms I have begun learning how to use a variety of different weapons, taught by Peter Radvan and Paul Wagner. We spend an hour each week learning English Short Sword based on George Silver’s Paradoxes of Defence, which is core curriculum for the school. The second hour is spent learning another system, since starting I have learnt fundamentals of English Quarterstaff, English Long Sword and 1.33 Sword and Buckler. Other weapon systems that are taught are Highland Broadsword, Highland Claymore and Italian Rapier.

You do not immediately start fighting with steel. Initially sword-like objects are used, as equipment is not only expensive but deadly. After the two nightly lessons, those students with enough experience and who wish to, bout against each other and the instructors. Those fighting with steel weapons put on armour for protection and safety precautions are taken to avoid injury. Students not at that level will bout with wooden swords which will still leave a nice bruise of two.

It’s not like other martial arts where belts are achieved but there is a ranking system. Every couple of years, a handful of students attempt to gain certain levels by proving to the instructors that we have an understanding of the system and that we can safely defend ourselves through numerous bouts. This year (sometime in June) I will be going for the rank of Scholar with four other students. I believe one or two students are going for the rank of Free Scholar, the next higher rank. The school makes a day of it on the weekend, where the bouts are in public and anyone can come and watch. (See this space soon for actual photos from the event)

Tim works in the sales department at HarperCollins Australia (Voyager’s parent). He swordfights (obviously!), reads plenty of sff, writes and generally packs 28 hours into one day.

A message scroll from HQ (delivered by a messenger on an exhausted horse, of course)

Just thought I would share some excitement from Voyager’s Evil Headquarters – apparently a fabulous Voyager author is going to be surprising us at HQ with a visit on Thursday! Who? I don’t know … as it’s top secret. As to who she’ll be surprising, well, at HQ we have a group that meets on a monthly basis, called the Cabin Crew, and we sit around one of those wonderful big boardroom tables and plot world domination chat about Voyager books and why we love them (and eat sandwiches) and discuss upcoming author signings, covers we like/don’t like and so on … it’s very interesting to see how people in a company can have so much in common – and alot of them do some very interesting things at and away from work. We’ll be having some guest blog posts from some of the people who work with Voyager, or who do things that Voyager fans might find interesting! In his alternate life, one of the Cabin Crew members is a swordfighting swashbuckling lad who will be blogging about swords and possibly sorcery. So keep an eye out! (and hopefully it will all be fun and games and no one will lose that eye)

One of our PZ message board members, Gillian, will be blogging on her work as a historian, and it will definitely be interesting to see what she talks about, those of you trying to work out settings for medieval plots will no doubt glean plenty from what she says. And on that note … yesterday I did a 20 kilometre walk (training for the Oxfam trailblazer) and have completely reassessed the likelihood of fantasy characters who walk for days on end, cross country and climbing up to mountain passes etc. It HURTS to walk for that long (we did 5 hours of scrambling up and down rocks and fallen trees! IT HURTS ALOT. And it’s exhausting, and if I were a fantasy character then the bad guys would have long ago caught up to me and put an end to my muscle-aching misery. Just an insight!

I’ll see if I can take some pics of our guest author and put them up later in the week, in the mean time, look out for some great posts from people who love fantasy, a guest post from Fiona McIntosh and of course, the fabulous Fallon Friday post from Jennifer, who has got a tiny bit of spare time somewhere now that she’s finished writing The Chaos Crystal (see her last Fallon Friday post to see just what else she does in an ordinary day)!

Taelian