• 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!



Maria Quinn wins Norma K Hemming Award

Voyager is pleased and proud to announce that the inaugural Norma K Hemming Award has been won by Maria Quinn for The Gene Thieves.

The Gene Thieves

The inaugural Norma K Hemming Award for excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, class and sexuality in Australian speculative fiction was won by  Maria Quinn (1942 – 2010) for her novel The Gene Thieves , published by HarperVoyager in 2009. After working in the US and Canada, she moved to a London agency as Creative Director. Returning to Australia, she became a magazine editor and feature writer. Her television credits include producing the national program King’s Kitchen. She won the 2007 Todhunter Literary Award for short story and was the recipient of a prestigious Varuna fellowship. The Gene Thieves was her first novel.

Most Australian early post-WWII SF authors (such as Frank Bryning, Wynne Whiteford and A Bertram Chandler) were published overseas. So was Hemming at first. Fan historian Graham Stone recalls that the first of her sixteen (known) stories Loser Takes All appeared in a 1951 edition of the British magazine Science Fantasy as by N K Hemming. To be published anywhere In the 1950s you had to be male, or at least appear to be male. Norma Hemming outed herself as a woman to her readership at the first Australian science fiction Convention, Syncon 1952. In addition to her stories she also wrote for newspapers, fanzines and importantly for the
stage, writing Australia’s first science fiction plays. For nearly forty years after her death she was a footnote for magazine bibliographers until, in 1998, Sean McMullen and Russell Blackford produced a detailed biography and analysis of her work in Fantasy Annual No 2, followed a year later by publication of the book ‘Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction (Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy)’ by Russell Blackford, Van Ikin and Sean McMullen (1999). This important literary reference is a critical survey of the history of Australian science fiction from its nineteenth century origins to the year 1998.
The Norma K Hemming Award for excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, class and sexuality in science fiction was established by the Australian Science Fiction Foundation in her honour. A collection of her stories by Dr Toby Burrows, head of the scholars centre at the University of Western Australia, was launched at Aussiecon 4, which is also the venue for a staged reading in the style of a radio play from the last of Norma Hemming’s five plays The Matriarchy of Renok.

Exciting events in September

Don’t forget that from next week …

Maria Quinn will be talking about a future Sydney as part of the City of Sydney Events – go and see her speak on Thursday 3 September at 6pm in the Customs House Library

Duncan Lay will be signing copies of The Wounded Guardian at Angus and Robertson Erina from 1pm on Saturday September 5.

 Kim Falconer, author of The Spell of Rosette and Arrows of Time, is going to be featured in OutThere, the national in-flight magazine for Australia’s largest regional airlines, Regional Express (REX), as well as New South Wales’ AeroPelican Air Services, as part of an Open Universities Australia campaign. She’ll also feature in the OUA handbook and on their website. This is throughout next month.

Barking Up A Chinese Gum Tree? by Maria Quinn

The Gene Thieves

The Gene Thieves

My good news for the week came in the form of an email telling me that The Gene Thieves is to be published in Taiwan, Hong Kong and territories, so will be printed in traditional Chinese characters. How cool is that!? It does prompt some funny questions though like, how do you say (or write) ‘Frankly, it seems to me like you’re barking up a gum tree’ in Chinese?

The question of translation is often a vexed one for authors, particularly where idiom, such as the example above used in my book, is concerned. Australian English is rich in colourful colloquial expressions and these can add marvellous texture to novels and the characters inhabiting them. The crossover between Aussie idiom and cockney slang usually makes for relatively easy understanding between us and the English, but Americans often look askance at expressions we use, innocent of their ‘other meanings’ in that diverse country.

When I used to write advertising copy, including Coca-cola themes, I was once enjoying a recording session in Nashville which included some of the best session musicians on earth. During a short break, the fantastic guitarist sat head down, looking glum. I opened the mike from the control room and told him he looked ‘like a shag on a rock’. It took me a minute to reconcile the hilarity with the American meaning of ‘shag’. So I wonder how something like the following translates to a non-Aussie speaker.

She had a good gander at the bloke driving the ute, as it pulled up behind the dunny. She was mad as a cut snake because it was her dunny. Just because this was the back of beyond didn’t mean any galah could drop his daks there, when he felt like it. She was jack of every banana bender heading for the iron- ore further west using the place as a pit stop just because word was out it was owned by a sheila, out here on her Pat Malone.

‘Hey, mate, put a knot in it. This is private property.’ ‘Wrong end love. Don’t go crook at me. I don’t need a blue, just a sh…’ He grinned a daggy, gap-toothed attempt at a smile. ‘I’m no bludger, I’ll leave ya a tip.’ He pulled the wooden door so hard, the little corrugated outhouse shook.

‘You do that.’ She turned back to the rickety veranda, a happy little vegemite…I’m sure the red backs will appreciate it.

I hasten to tell you all this is not an extract from The Gene Thieves, but where dyed-in-the-wool readers would get it, many a translator used to more traditional English might, in fact, be barking up a gum tree trying to transpose it into Swedish, Hindi, Arabic, Japanese or Russian. As a writer all one can hope for is that the meaning remains true, no matter what language expresses it. Actually I plan to send my first copy of the Mandarin text of The Gene Thieves to Kevin. He’ll be able to tell me if the Australian accent can still be heard. But I’m sorry PM, we’ll both have to wait a year or so to see it.

Maria Quinn is the author of The Gene Thieves, published by Harper Voyager earlier this year.  It’s a book that has sparked some interesting debate on the ethics of surrogacy … a future that is already here. You can find out more about Maria at her website and read some of her short stories there.

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Maria Quinn on ABC Unleashed

The Gene Thieves

The Gene Thieves

Look out for Maria Quinn‘s piece on surrogacy up at ABC Unleashed today. Go and have your say and don’t forget to go through your copy of The Gene Thieves to hear more about where surrogacy can (and is) going …

‘Should surrogates be allowed to charge?’

 That’s the headline from the Mosman Daily as they talk about The Gene Thieves by Maria Quinn … go to their website to debate the topic!

The Gene Thieves

The Gene Thieves



NORTH Shore private school mothers are described as “rich pickings for surrogates” in a new novel by Waverton journalist Maria Quinn.

In the book, Quinn explores a future world where many babies are born to surrogate mothers so wealthier women can avoid pregnancy and birth.


Close Encounters of the Best Kind: Maria Quinn bumps into an unsuspecting reader

The Gene Thieves

The Gene Thieves

So here I am walking to the post office smiling to myself, not paying too much attention because I’m revisiting the lively debate that cropped up at the crowded launch party for The Gene Thieves. Who should play Dancer in the movie, Hugh Jackman or Simon Baker? Seemed that every one of the hundred or so guests wanted to put in a bid, even though only six people in the room could possible have read the book, as it was just hitting the shelves! Okay, Simon Baker is already a blue-eyed blonde, but there’s always bleach and coloured contacts. Mind you, I knew I was breaking one of the golden protocols of a good screenplay, when I specified Dancer’s hair, eyes and tallness (never restrict the casting possibilities, a dark-haired star might walk away from the script!) but hey, I was writing the novel. Now I’m tackling the screenplay. So, as I said, I wasn’t really watching where I was going.

But then, neither was the man who walked into me.

That’s because he had his head in a book…my book!

As I walked past the station entrance he walked out, turned right and we bumped shoulders. The astonished look I gave him was mistaken for annoyance and he stopped, slammed the book closed and apologised.

“Sorry, silly of me, reading a book while I’m walking. I was reading it on the train and just had to finish the chapter.”

“Must be a good book.” I smiled ingratiatingly, resisting the impulse to fling my arms around him and land a great big kiss on a rather nice face.


He turned, anxious to get away from this chance encounter with a talkative stranger.

“That’s me.” I prodded the cover of the novel he’d now tucked under his arm.

“I beg your pardon?”

“The author, Maria Quinn, that’s me.”

He pulled the book out and scrutinized the cover, then looked up at me.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Look inside, there’s a picture.” Now the picture is in black and white and I tend to be pretty much in colour, remnants of red hair and big, bright earrings. Not the world’s best likeness but good enough for a police line up; at least he obviously thought so.

“ That’s amazing, I love this book!”

We stood, blocking the footpath, while passing pedestrians muttered threats. He scrounged around inside his suit coat and pulled out a slightly chewed looking biro.

“Will you sign it for me?

… ‘To Sam, truth is stranger than fiction, even science fiction …’ (name changed to protect the innocent reader).

Maria Quinn is the author of The Gene Thieves, available in all good book shops now … and being read by all sorts of strangers on the street!

Read a review of The Gene Thieves in Synergy Magazine

Gene Thieves steals the show

The Gene Thieves by Maria Quinn was successfully launched on Sunday 8 March at the Kirribilli Bookshop just north of the bridge. Sophie Scott, who is the ABC’s chief medical reporter, launched the book, and Voyager publisher Stephanie Smith was also there to say a few words. By the sounds of it, The Gene Thieves has gotten off to a strong start, making a buzz in Lawyers Weekly of all places!

Maria signing books

Maria gets down to the signing business - it's not easy being an author!

Maria with the ABC's chief medical reporter Sophie Scott

Maria with the ABC's chief medical reporter Sophie Scott, who launched The Gene Thieves

How many people can you squeeze into a bookshop? The launch of The Gene Thieves tests the limits.

How many people can you squeeze into a bookshop? The launch of The Gene Thieves tests the limits.

Voyager Publisher Stephanie Smith with Maria

Voyager Publisher Stephanie Smith with her stellar author!

Visit Maria’s website

First three photographs taken by Sascha Zsigmond, fourth photograph by Jim Trainer.