• 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!



Jack Dann: A Few Keys to the Kingdom

In a recent interview with Gary Kemble during Flycon, Jack Dann let readers know his ‘keys to the kingdom’ – those pieces of advice that he would give to any writer. He’s kindly allowed us to reproduce the ‘keys’ here. Read on!

1. You must begin. Every day you must write, no matter what.

2. Being a professional simply means you write and publish. So even though you know you’re the next Hemingway or Faulkner, you’ll probably need a job. That’s good—it puts you in the midst of things, into the middle of life…you know, the stuff you want to write about.

3. Give the best part of every day to yourself. You must try to write every day!

4. Make appointments with yourself to write.

5. Copy. I don’t mean plagiarize, but find writers you admire, read and reread their best work, dissect their prose sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, memorize paragraphs if you have to, but get into the weave of the writer’s work. It will give an unconscious form and balance to your own work. Don’t worry, no one else will know. You will put these unconscious “forms” through you own sensorium. When you sit down to write, forget about your favorite authors.

6. Read constantly and widely.

7. Be prepared to be surprised and upset by what you write…and by what you think. Serious writing forces you to come to terms with yourself…forces you to explore private demons.

8. Don’t try to be a critic while you’re writing. Once you have a draft, or become blocked, then you must rethink and rework and be as hard on yourself as if you were writing for The New York Times Book Review.

9. If you’re having trouble with a sentence or a passage or a plot twist, ask yourself if something doesn’t need to be cut.

10. If you find yourself blocked, take a break and read. Take notes, read, take more notes. Usually a writer gets blocked when he or she needs more information. It’s a natural part of the process.

11. Trust your instincts. Your unconscious knows more than you do, so if you get an urge to buy a book on the flora of Afghanistan, buy it! Chances are in a week, month, or a year, you’ll need it.

12. Rewrite everything until you feel that what’s on paper corresponds as closely as possible to that wonderful image you originally had in your head.

13. Keep working toward making clear sentences and building solid story structures. Style is really only transparency of thought and idea.

14. Read and reread Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Then read it again.

15. And of course you must send your work out to editors. Don’t write long cover letters. When your manuscript is returned, send it out again…the next day!

16. The easier alternative to all of the above is…to remain a reader!

This article is copyright (c) 1989 and 2000 by Jack Dann. First published in different form as “A Few Keys to the Kingdom: Thoughts on Getting Published, and on Being the Best Writer You Can Be” in Writer’s Digest 69 (January, 1989). All rights are reserved by the author. Reproduced with the permission of Jack Dann.

Jack Dann is the author and editor of so many books that if I listed them here, the scroll button would die a little death. Most recently for Voyager Books, he edited the anthology Dreaming Again, which Bookseller+Publisher gave a five star rating and wrote: “Here are stories that engage with the building blocks of our culture and others that give shape to our shared darkness and light. Dreaming Again is at once quintessentially Australian and enticingly other. If you read short fiction you’ll want this collection. If you don’t, this is a reason to start.”.

Visit Jack’s website, www.jackdann.com to find out more about Jack’s work.