• 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!

     

     

All Dwarves are Scottish

Our inhouse Voyager reading club recently decided to go back and re-read ( or read for the first time- *gasp!* ) Raymond E. Feist’s original classic fantasy epic Magician, published in 1982. Upon reaching the introduction of Feist’s Dwarves, and the character Dolgan in particular, it struck me that I assumed the ‘deep, rolling burr’ of the Dwarven accent was Scottish. The names of their mines ( “Mac Mordain Cadal”), Dolgan’s frequent use of ‘lad’ & organisation into clans didn’t help either.

So I got to thinking: when, exactly, did the Dwarf become synonymous with Scotland? Despite being responsible for much of the modern fantasy concept of Dwarves as an imagined race, Tolkien never gave them any distinctively Scottish traits. They were based much more on nordic myth I thought. One of our Sales Managers pointed out that a possible source for aspects of dwarvish culture for Tolkien may have been the archetype of the “rough & hearty” working class miners of Cornwall or Wales, which would certainly fit with his stated goals of creating a modern mythology for the British Isles.

Wikipedia argues that the modern version of the ‘Scottish Dwarf’ originates from the book Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson (published in 1961, but originally a novella from 1953 ) which featured a Dwarf named Hugi with a Scottish accent and a man transported from WWII to a parallel world under attack by Faerie. The book was a major influence on Dungeons & Dragons, which introduced Dwarves as playable race in 1974 and helped disseminate a “standard” idea of what Dwarves were like.

From there it seemed to become a self-perpetuating idea. The parallels between the bearded Dwarves as warlike mountain dwellers and long-haired Scottish Highland warriors are fairly obvious, and perhaps this was Anderson’s starting point too. The love of drinking, feasting and fighting has perhaps more Viking or sterotypical “working class miner” associations. A recent animated film, How to Train Your Dragon ( based on a children’s book of the same name ) features Vikings with scottish accents ( though all the children & teenagers mysteriously have American accents ) who also look a lot like oversized Dwarves. The enormously popular Warcraft universe has steampunk Dwarves with Scottish accents.

It all came full circle with the film version of The Lord of the Rings having Gimli sport a very Scottish accent. It will be interesting to see how far they take this with The Hobbit film though. From the little we’ve heard in the trailers they don’t seem particularly Scottish, but time will tell …! What do think? Do you usually associate dwarves with Scotland or is it just me?

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Tolkien Week & Hobbit Day roundup

Last week was officially Tolkien Week foy Harper Voyager! On Friday the 21st we celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the first publication of The Hobbit in 1937 and participated in the global Second Breakfast party. We had Tea, Scones, Pikelets, jam & cream (The bakery were out of seed cakes and the building folk wouldn’t let us light up our pipe weed!), not to mention a few rounds of Hobbit & Tolkien trivia.

Peter Jackson then announced the release of a brand new full length trailer for the first Hobbit movie!

Then on Saturday it was Hobbit Day, otherwise known as both Bilbo & Frodo Baggins’ birthday! Our UK colleagues posted up some fantastic images of Hobbit Day festivities in the UK on their site here: http://www.hobbitsecondbreakfast.com/oats-and-ounces/ Did you get up to anything? We’d love to hear about how you celebrated! It truly is a landmark book, practically responsible for the creation of fantasy as a literary genre and introducing generations of children and adults alike to an imagined world like no other. How many  times have you read The Hobbit?

Of Polished Steel & Burnt Ice

This month  we’re launching a brand new Voyager author, Steve Wheeler, and his epic Science Fiction novel Burnt Ice. It’s been a while since we had some new pure science fiction gracing the blog, so we’re very excited about this one!
Burnt Ice is set in a distant future where the Sphere of Humankind is a vast interstellar empire ruled by The Administration and wars are run & televised to entertain the masses by the omnipresent Games Board. Featuring rogue AIs, massive Space Urchins, a rag-tag squadron of soldier-engineers and genetic engineering, Burnt Ice is the beginning of fantastic new series A Fury of Aces.
Read an except here.
In his other life in New Zealand, Steve Wheeler works as a metal worker and has crafted knives, swords and props for The Hobbit movie ( How awesome is that?).  He’ll be launching Burnt Ice at the Weta Cave at Weta HQ on April the 14th and we’ll be sure to post pictures afterward!

Cover illustration by John Howe ( yes THAT John Howe!)

The Hobbit trailer is out!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know that Peter Jackson has been filming a 2 movie version of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of Rings “prequel”  The Hobbit! Not surprisingly, we’re pretty excited about it!

While there’s been a steady trickle of images from the movies coming out  of the dwarves and Martin Freeman as Bilbo, there’s been a lot left unseen. The MTV movie blog did a nice list of things we’re hoping to
see in the trailer here: http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2011/12/19/the-hobbit-trailer/

Well, the news is, we don’t need to wonder any longer! The official Trailer for Part 1: An Unexpected Journey came out today. We won’t go spoiling it for everyone, but suffice to say, it looks brilliant!

Head here to check it out for yourselves!

PS. It looks like LEGO have got the license to produce Hobbit & Lord of The Rings toys. We’re so getting some for the office!

Nerd Rage!

A friend of mine is a big Superman fan and was outraged when pictures surfaced of the new Superman costume in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Man of Steel. The costume doesn’t have the iconic red underwear on the outside!  He’s been surprisingly civil in his outbursts so far, but I just know that underneath it all simmers a boiling pot of black rage. I, for example, I find it INCONCEIVABLE that any self respecting person would not have read The Hobbit, seen Star Wars or played with LEGO as a child. And yet such people exist, in defiance of my entirely reasonable expectations.

I’ve  witnessed similar traits at a convention I went to recently where a model of Saruman’s tower from Lord of the Rings was labelled “Isengard”.  A young teenager then came up and began berating the maker of the model because the tower is called Orthanc, Isengard is the name of the compound it sits in. HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY NOT KNOW THAT?!?

The bane of any any fan’s life is when someone else refuses to understand the object of their fandom. When they stare back at you blindly, blinking like an uncomprehending farm animal.  Previously restricted to loungerooms, cinema foyers, bookstores and conventions, NerdRage can now be witnessed in almost any online setting.

This type of NerdRage stems from, in part at least, the incredible dissemination of knowledge and culture that the Internet has enabled. It also comes from the fact that the Internet has enabled us to more easily find people interested in the same things, no matter how niche. As a result people are increasingly surrounded by like minded people interested in the same things, be it knitting anime characters, writing erotic Harry Potter fan fiction, swooning over fictional characters, or discussing Voyager books.

Go on.Take the bait.

    People, and I include myself here, therefore are becoming less tolerant of ignorance. Some become just intolerant in general, but I like to think most nerd/geeks are a pretty accepting lot. That said, the very definition of “nerd” or “geek” has broadened to encompass all kinds of specialist knowledge and many now self apply what was in school a derogatory slur. Hell, chunky glasses, once the signifier of visually impaired nerds the world over, are now being worn as lens-less fashion statements by hipster hotties.

Another type of NerdRage comes from when the creative folks decide to change an aspect of our fan-object. Like removing Superman’s underpants ( away with you, filthy minded fanfic writers! ), killing off our favourite character in Book 4, or not including the Scouring of the Shire in the Lord of the Rings movies. In the new hyper-engaged world of teh Interwebz nerd/geek fans have developed  a greater voice that the creators of our beloved books, characters, TV shows, movies or toys, are increasingly actually listening to.

   Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is a good thing! But it can help foster a sense of entitlement that we don’t always deserve. After all, we didn’t spend months of our lives writing stories and characters, or weeks of 15hr days shooting a TV show. But what is art without someone to witness it? I sometimes wonder that the super-connected world of the 21st century will not allow the idealistic tenant of “art for art’s sake”  to exist, because if something new isn’t popular it will be shouted down.

So I guess that’s the conundrum; we both need NerdRage to keep individual voices loud and proud, but that same rage can keep us from embracing anything new or different. End rant.

The world first publication of an unknown work by Tolkien

Just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock … 🙂


Browse Inside this book

Get this for your site

Presented for the first time, The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún will transport readers to the heroic landscape of the nameless North of Sigurd the dragon slayer and the Völsungs, a mythic world of ancient Scandinavia, when gods walked the earth and dragons were real.

The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún, written by J.R.R. Tolkien some years before the publication of The Hobbit, was inspired by Norse legends contained within the poems of the Elder Edda and depicts drama and adventure in language only Tolkien could have written. Comprising two complete works of narrative verse, the book has been edited by Christopher Tolkien, who provides detailed commentary on the verses as well as a sketch of the complex history of the legend.

“That the ancient poetry in the Old Norse language known by the names of the Elder Edda or the Poetic Edda remained a deep if submerged force in his later life’s work is no doubt recognised. It is at any rate well-known that he derived the names of the dwarves in The Hobbit from the first of the poems in the Edda, the Völuspá. But it is certainly not well-known, indeed scarcely known at all, that he wrote two closely associated poems treating of the Völsung (or Nibelung) legend, using modern English fitted to the Old Norse metre, amounting to more than five hundred stanzas: poems that have never been published until now, nor has any line been quoted from them.” – Christopher Tolkien

The first full flourishing of a rich narrative style, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún showcases the powerful and dramatic storytelling that was destined to become famous throughout the world.

Available NOW

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.