• 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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When Horror Meets Fantasy

   I was recently asked to be a guest speaker at a Hobart film festival themed around women in horror: Stranger With My Face.
I identify so strongly as a fantasy writer that I’m always surprised when I get included in discussions of the overlapping genres (like my utter astonishment the first time I was nominated for a short story award in a science fiction category).

But once I thought about it, and peeled some of my preconceptions away, I started thinking that yes, I am actually a horror writer (as well as a fantasy writer and a novel writer and a feminist writer, and so on).  It’s hard to argue with when I look at the Creature Court trilogy, which is full of blood and dark magic, obsession and addiction, cruelty and death, along with the aspects I’m better known for – like banter, frocks and steamy sex scenes.

Come to that, most fantasy does have elements of horror in it.  Lord of the Rings is not only rife with monsters and violence, but it also features one of the most iconic Dread Objects of genre fiction – the ring that destroys the souls of those who hold it.  Fritz Leiber, one of my own heroes for his funny and clever Lankhmar series, also put Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser through some deep psychological traumas and was a master at balancing the sinister with the amusing.

Urban fantasy is particularly related to horror – in fact, you could argue that the works of Laurell K Hamilton, Charlaine Harris et al. are closer in many ways to the traditions of horror than to fantasy, certainly in the way that vampires, werewolves and other Horror Movie Icons have been swept into the mainstream.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer might have served to popularise the idea of a girl hero fighting the darkness, but while that show epitomises the urban fantasy genre, it was created very much in conversation with horror movie tropes.

So what is your favourite fictional collision between horror and fantasy?

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Tracey O’Hara: Why I Write Urban Fantasy

Image of Dean and Sam from Supernatural

We read UF because it's fab but watch UF because ... see above!

With the rise of T.V. series like True Blood (based on the Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series of books) The Vampire Diaries (based on the LJ Smith series) and Supernatural, more and more people are becoming aware of the Urban Fantasy genre. UF is not action adventure, fantasy, romance, horror, or a blood thirsty thriller. UF can often be a story with all of those elements. Well at least the ones I like can. While some say the Twilight Saga started the whole supernatural phenomenon – UF and paranormal romance were well and truly alive and kicking ass way before sparkly vampires came on the scene. Anne Rice, Laurel K Hamilton & LJ Smith are just a few of the authors who have been writing it for quite a while.

I grew up loving action/adventure stories. From the very first time my third grade teacher started reading Enid Blyton’s, The Magic Faraway Tree, I was hooked. And if my action adventure had monsters and supernatural creatures too, then the more the better. I can remember hating Scooby Doo cartoons because the Scooby Gang always uncovered the all too human bad guy behind the clever ruse who would then utter the inevitable line “I would have gotten away with it too if not for those darn meddling kids”. I always felt cheated. I really wanted the ghosts and monsters to be real and that one day, Scoobs and the gang would come up against something that simply wasn’t just some old meanie dressed up in a costume.Then I discovered fantasy, horror and eventually UF. Now, I’m not going to go into the origins of Urban Fantasy or get into the debate of what is and what isn’t considered UF. There are too many differing opinions on both topics. Back in 2005 I started writing a vampire book. I had no idea where it fit, I didn’t even know about genres back then. I’d watched horror movies, read Stephen King (over and over again) and I just had this story in my head that I had to get out. I started writing it as more of a romance, but it kept trying to get darker and I had to keep reining it in.

Then I picked Dead until Dark, the first book in Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series. And I thought WOW – this is terrific. Scary, funny, serious and light all at the same time. This I liked. This I could connect with. Then I read Keri Arthur’s Ripple Creek werewolf books and was just hooked. While the latter is more paranormal romance, especially when compared with her Riley Jenson series, I found I really liked the relationship elements too. So I gave Mary Janice Davidson a go. While I started out liking the books, I came to realise I craved the dark and gritty more than light and humorous. I know, I’m a sick puppy.

So I started working on my story in earnest. Before then I didn’t really have much direction of where it was going or if what I was putting in there was going to work. But I realised I could have romantic elements and also have horror – in the same book.  I could have seriously dark component and light moments too. While I am now working on my third book, I’m still finding my way through the genre, still trying to work it all out. But one thing I do know for sure – I love playing in alternate worlds.

Tracey O’Hara grew up reading Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist, and J. R. R. Tolkien. As you can see above, her tastes also embrace other types of fantasy now. Tracey lives in Canberra but you can catch her and fellow Canberra UF author Nicole Murphy at the Australian Romance Readers Convention THIS SATURDAY!  It’s at the Swiss Grand Resort  and Spa at Bondi Beach and Tracey and Nicole will be doing the mass signing from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. Don’t be late, because they’re roadtripping back to Canberra that same day!

Image of Death's Sweet Embrace, an urban fantasy book by Tracey O'Hara

Romeo meets Juliet, supernatural style

 

A sneak peak of Death’s Sweet Embrace.

The excited babble of female voices floated down the hall toward Gideon. He turned and faced the wall, then pulled a mop from the cleaning cart and began running it over the already shiny floor, pretending to clean.

What are they doing here? 

The academy didn’t open for classes until this evening. The institution was still officially closed for the holidays.

As two girls neared, he tugged the brim of his cap down over his forehead, keeping his head low as he continued to mop. They walked by without even a glance in his direction, too lost in their own self-important chatter. Maintenance men were invisible, especially janitors, which suited him just fine.

The girls soon disappeared around the corner, talking and giggling, totally oblivious to his presence.

WELL DONE, MY CHILD.” Ealund’s translucent form floated across the floor, his ethereal beauty reflecting on the shiny black floor tiles.

With a quick glance to make sure the girls were gone, Gideon dumped the mop in the cart and pushed it toward his original direction. The incorporeal apparition glowed, his pellucid form surrounded by a silver-blue aura—and Gideon’s heart ached just looking upon such ethereal beauty. Ealund only showed himself to Gideon.

He was the image of angelic magnificence with waist-length gold hair floating around his head, pale flowing robes, and terrifyingly exquisite azure eyes—all that was missing were wings. And yet, Ealund’s presence of absolute and pure evil almost brought Gideon to his knees.

Apart from the girls, the hallways were deserted. He kept his head down and peered at the security camera in a corner just above a classroom door. They’d been set up everywhere around campus after the first murder several weeks ago, but he had the schematics and knew how to get around most of them.

HURRY, MY CHILD,” Ealund intoned.TIME GROWS SHORT.”

Death’s Sweet Embrace is published on 1 April, and if you see Tracey this Saturday at the ARRC you could get your hands on an early copy.

Kick-ass wallpaper

HarperVoyager in the US is directing readers to some butt-kicking wallpaper on Kim Harrison’s website. Check it out!

Why Do I Write Urban Fantasy? by Devon Monk

Devon's first book

Using magic meant it used you back ...

I didn’t know I was writing an urban fantasy when I wrote Magic to the Bone. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know the difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. When I emailed the completed book to my agent, my note went something like this:

Me: “Uh, here’s the book with that kick-ass woman lead character I was talking about. There’s magic in it, but it’s not sweet and fluffy, and there’s humor, but it’s not rollicking slapstick, and it’s set in a modern city. Also, there’s a mystery. And death. It’s got a couple chase scenes too. Oh, and there’s this hot mysterious stranger who causes some trouble. Not sure if it’s urban fantasy, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, or something else.”

Agent: “It’s urban fantasy.”

Me: “Really? Are you sure?”

Agent: “Yes. And I stayed up all night reading it because I couldn’t put it down.”

While I trusted her insight on how to classify the book (and was thrilled it kept her up late reading), I realized I had just entered a genre I knew very little–okay, nothing–about. Over the years I’ve had a lot of short stories published, but most were fantasy, not urban fantasy.

So I began reading more urban fantasies, paranormal romance and paranormal mysteries. I started noticing and appreciating the differences between the genres, and better yet, really enjoying the stories. Even though I grew up on fairy tales, epic fantasy, and science fiction, I realized I had stumbled into a genre that is just as rich in story telling, action, fun, and magic.

Writing urban fantasy lets me imagine what it would be like if the things that go bump in the night were on the bus with me, or were my neighbors, or liked to hang out and have a beer.

Writing urban fantasy has its share of challenges. You can’t just have a troll rampage through the city streets without someone noticing–unless you explain why no one notices, or better yet, let people notice and then complain about the problems troll-rampages always cause during rush hour. But even with the challenges, I love writing urban fantasy. I love pushing the paranormal and normal together and watching the sparks fly. I love asking, “what if this outrageous thing could really happen? What would we do?”

Urban fantasy is a rich and exciting genre with roots not only in fantasy, but also in mystery and noir crime novels. With a lot of hard work, and a little luck, I hope to be writing urban fantasy for a long, long time.

Magic to the Bone is now available across Australia!  Devon Monk will be blogging a bit more for us in the next week. Devon is also taking part in the Deadline Dames website, so make sure you check it out. And if you loved Magic to the Bone, or enjoy urban fantasy, let us know by leaving a comment!