• 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 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.

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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.