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Asian Monsters : Margret Helgadottir

The World Tour of Monsters

by Margrét Helgadóttir

I am so happy that Asian Monsters is now out from Fox Spirit Books, after one year of work. Asian Monsters is the third volume of the annual Fox Spirit Book of Monsters series. We started with Europe in 2014 and continued with Africa in 2015. Next stop will be the Pacific area in 2017 before we end the world tour at the continent of America.

This year we stop in Asia. We present you tales of beasties from the nights of urban Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Lahore to the monsters of the mountains and forests, told by fourteen authors who are either from, have lived in, or have another strong connection to this wide stretching continent. We want to show the world not only all the great monsters but also all the wonderful authors in the world who tend to be ignored in the western popular culture. Who else should tell us about the monsters from their regions but the authors who know them best? Thus, from volume two (Africa) I have searched for authors from the region who can either tell a tale based on local folklore or even come up with a monster of their own. I also try to locate illustrators and graphic artists from the regions we visit but have not managed to have this hundred percent in the books.

Photo Credit Margret Helgadottir

What I have learned from the monster book series, is that every country and region in the world has wonderful dark and eerie tales of monsters, some of them really old, maybe even thousands, of years old. No matter where you are in the world, the monsters have been someone to blame when bad things happen (sudden death of dear ones, bad luck, ship wrecks) or a source to explain mystical things happening around humans (like thunder and lightning). Many monsters also challenge the humans’ thoughts and fears of what happens when you are dead, or the relationship between human and the animals in wilderness.

If you are familiar with the book series, you might have noticed that we were two editors on the first two volumes, yours truly and the lovely Jo Thomas, who knows 25 Ways to Kill a Werewolf. Jo had a special responsibility for the graphic stories and the art. In the last volume, African Monsters, Jo unfortunately had to step aside for parts of the production. Following up on this, we decided that I will edit the coming monster volumes alone. Then we’ll see. It wasn’t an easy decision, since the monster books are an idea and concept Jo and I created together three years ago, our baby so to speak.

Three years ago we demanded that something had to be done. We strongly felt that the monsters of this world are watered down and overused in the popular media, transformed into creatures which either long to be included in the human society and/or fall in love with a human girl. Also, some monsters have dominated the public scene in the last decades—vampires, werewolves, ghouls, demons, zombies—and they have mostly been from Western popular culture.

So Jo and I both felt it was about bloody time to show the world all the marvellous monsters which lurk, sneak, jump, glide, wander or fly around this planet, or even under your bed (you know they are there!). We also dreamed about giving the monsters a renaissance as real monsters, a comeback so to speak, their fifteen minutes of fame, with gorgeous art and in the style of a coffee table book so they will achieve a central and visual place in the humans’ homes. 

Photo Credit Margret Helgadottir

The monsters in the Fox Spirit books of Monsters don’t sparkle or have any desire to be a human or part of the human society. These monsters have no interest in you except tearing you apart or putting terror in your heart. Bless them.

In the continent of Asia you find the shape-shifters, the flesh-eating walking dead and the great monsters of the lakes and sea. Also, what has struck me while editing this volume is all the spirits and ghosts who exist in much of the Asian folklore. Several of these spirits and ghosts are mischievous, some quite terrifying, many sad.

The stories in African Monsters were about place and origin, about immigration and going home—maybe a strong witness of how much the soil of Africa means to these authors. Home is an underlying theme in Asian Monsters too but here it’s not so much about the place but about the family itself and the strong relationships between loved ones, dead, living or not there.

This time we have managed to include one translated story, the lovely story by Xia Jia (translated by Ken Liu), something I am immensely happy about. Hopefully this is something I will also be able to include in the coming volumes and I am grateful for any recommendations of authors who tell great monster tales in other languages than English.

I have tried to be loyal to Jo and my mission with the monster books and hopefully I have succeeded in this with Asian Monsters. I wish to thank all who have made this book possible: Adele Wearing and her fantastic team at Fox Spirit Books, people who have helped out with research and local knowledge, Daniele Serra for his wonderful cover art, and all the amazing authors and artists. Thank you!

***

Margrét Helgadóttir is a Norwegian-Icelandic writer and editor living in Oslo. Her stories have appeared in a number of both magazines and print anthologies such as In flight literary magazine, Gone Lawn, Luna Station Quarterly, Tales of Fox and Fae and Girl at the End of the World. Her debut book The Stars Seem So Far Away was published by Fox Spirit Books in 2015 and was shortlisted as Best Collection to British Fantasy Awards 2016. Margrét is co-editor for the Fox Spirit Books anthologies European Monsters (2014) and African Monsters (2015). African Monsters was also shortlisted (Best Anthology) to British Fantasy Awards 2016. She is also editor for the Fox Spirit Books anthologies Winter Tales (2016), Asian Monsters (Dec 2016) and Pacific Monsters (Nov 2017). Learn more on her webpage http://margrethelgadottir.wordpress.com or chat with her on Twitter (@MaHelgad)

Asian Monsters : Release Day

Hurrah! Welcome back to our continent by continent tour of the world of monsters! Discover something new and horrifying in the dark places and we put monsters back where they belong, lurking in the shadows of myth and tradition. So far we have visited Europe and Africa, and the books were accompanied with some fantastic blog posts by participating authors. 

This year we are visiting Asia and exploring monsters from many countries in stories and art.
Find Asian Monsters on Amazon.co.uk now!

asian

On Monday we begin a series of blog posts from the authors about monsters, both the sort in the book and the sort they deal with in life. 

Edited by Margret Helgadottir

Cover by Daniele Serra

A HUNDRED GHOSTS PARADE TONIGHT Xia Jia, translated by Ken Liu
GOOD HUNTING Ken Liu  
BLOOD LIKE WATER Eve Shi
BLOOD WOMEN Usman T. Malik
GOLDEN LILIES Aliette de Bodard
GRASS CRADLE, GLASS LULLABY Isabel Yap
UNRESTFUL Benjamin Chee
DATSUE-BA Eliza Chan 8
LET HER IN Eeleen Lee
THE POACHER OF QINGQIU CY Yan
ASWANG Fran Terminiello
THE VETALAS’ QUERY Sunil Patel
KOKURI’S PALACE Yukimi Ogawa
VIKURTHIMAGGA Vajra Chandrasekra, Art by Dave Johnson

Illustrations

A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight, Good Hunting, Kokuri’s Palace by Cindy Mochizuki
Blood Like Water, Blood Women, The Vetalas’ Query by Vincent Holland-Keen
Golden Lilies, Datsue-Ba, Let Her In by Kieran Walsh
Grass Cradle, Glass Lullaby, The Poacher of Qingqiu, Aswang by Imran Siddiq

Asian Monsters : Table of Contents

Monsters are coming! Margret Helgadottir is back with another fantastic line up as she returns monsters to the dark. African Monsters is presently on the short list for the British Fantasy Society award for best Anthology.

Asian monsters is the third volume in a world tour exploring horror continent by continent, beginning in Europe. Release of the books is accompanied by a series of blog posts explaining more about the origins of some of the monsters. See more about the series and the monsters here.  

Cover coming soon!

***

We are pleased to announce that Asian Monsters is due out this November. Asian Monsters will be the third in the Fox Spirit Books of Monsters series that started with European Monsters and continued with British Fantasy Awards shortlisted African Monsters.

In this collection we explore the old myths and monsters of the continent of Asia in short stories and art.

Edited by Margret Helgadottir and with cover art by Daniele Serra we are pleased to reveal the table of contents for Asian Monsters:

Xia Jia: ‘A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight’ (translated by Ken Liu)
Ken Liu: ‘Good Hunting’
Eve Shi: ‘Blood Like Water’
Usman T. Malik: ‘Blood Women’
Aliette le Bodard: ‘Golden Lilies’
Isabel Yap: ‘Grass Cradle, Glass Lullaby’
Benjamin Chee: ‘Unrestful’
Eliza Chan: ‘Datsue-Ba’
Eeleen Lee: ‘Let Her In’
CY Yan: ‘The Poacher of Qingqiu’
Fran Terminello: ‘Aswang’
Sunil Patel: ‘The Vetalas’ Query’
Yukimi Ogawa: ‘Kokuri’s Palace’
Vajra Chandrasekera and Dave Johnson (art): ‘Vikurthimagga’
The book will have illustrations by Cindy Mochizuki, Vincent Holland-Keen, Kieran Walsh and Imran Siddiq.
african

Cover of African Monsters

Congratulations Leicester City

Well, I have never been much of a football fan, but I am Lestah born and aside from a brief education based sojourn to Newcastle I’ve lived in the ‘shire all my life. So it is that I can’t help but feel some pride in the Foxes achievement and enjoy the holiday mood in the City.

Congratulations Leicester City Football Club on a job well done, from one skulk to another.

postcard - lcfc

 

African Monsters : A Mirror to a Tenebrous Sun by Su Opperman

When Jo Thomas approached me with this project I was immediately intrigued.  Recently, in the art world there’s been a surge of interest in Africa and the continent’s distinct visual style has extended far beyond its borders. African culture is embedded with deep metaphors and unique colloquialisms that have not been favoured with the degree of translation and ease of access often enjoyed by other cultures. In South Africa, our past of forced segregation has historically kept us apart from the rest of the continent; a separation that, to my mind, was reawakened and hard felt by the spate of xenophobic attacks on African foreigners by South African nationals over the last several years. On a daily basis the unfathomable is captured in the harsh contrasts of everyday life.

Our monsters give voice to us, they guide us, they hold our hands.

It begs the question: how much of our existence is encapsulated in our darker impulses? How much of our conciousness is denied rational conception? Halved as it is, the human soul strives to live in the light, yet the tenebrous remains ever-present. Consequently, I viewed African Monsters as a collective nod of the head to the sharing of shadows.

13 - A Whisper in the Reeds small

A Whisper in the Reeds by Su Opperman

From an illustrative perspective, it’s rare to come across a book project where creative interpretation is given free reign. As a result, illustrating for African Monsters was just pure fun! For once the creative beast did not rear her head and all was well in Artland. I took my easel and art gear to a friend’s top floor office and from there painted and drew with the Cape Town cityscape as backdrop. At heart, I’m a spontaneous artist, making marks with great aggression and consequently, no idea what they’re going to turn into. In this case, however, I had to be a little more specific, given the brief and subject matter at hand. I’d select a story, read it in the morning and let it permeate my mind for the rest of the day. In the evenings I’d draw from the narrative inspiration and in quick marks capture the gist of my feeling on paper – from there, I’d give those initial marks a more subtle definition as the night progresses.

To recreate a story you have to retell it, as Neil Gaiman once said. He was specifically referring to a case where one of his graphic novels was unsuccessfully translated into a stage production. But that aside, drawing these illustrations for African Monsters was in a large part an act of retelling. A personal re-creating. It must be interesting from a writer’s perspective to see the illustrator’s interpretation. Imaginations are not shared, but subjective occurrences. I find it fascinating to see how a singular story elicits a wide arch of interpretation.

With that in mind, I’d like to thank Margrét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas for organising such a great publication. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in it. I’d also like to thank the three writers I had to illustrate for: Nnedi Okorafor and Chikodili Emulumadu, your stories from Nigeria took my imagination to places rarely experienced before. Nerine Dorman, as a fellow citizen, I found your interpretation of an age old South African myth to be fresh and original. Let my last words then be, for those of you who read this blog to go read the book! You’ll like it.

African Monsters : The Editors

As they are the editors of the Fox Spirit book of African Monsters, we thought it could be a good idea to let Margrét Helgadóttir (MH) and Jo Thomas (JT) start the little blog tour we are having here at the Fox Spirit Books since the book is now published. In the coming weeks we are going to let the contributors tell about their monsters or other things on their minds. Let’s start with Jo, who has something she wants to say first:

JT: ‘Last year, we did a question and answer session between the two of us explaining where the Monster anthology idea came from. This year… Well, this year, you have a blog post. A slightly hi-jacked blogpost as I (Jo) got to write the first draft and have a few things to say personally. So, this year, I’d like to heap some praise on my co-editor, Margrét, and my publisher, Adele at Fox Spirit Books, for working like Trojans the last few of months in order to get everything in place. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been moving and starting a new job, so I haven’t had much time for putting African Monsters together. So, three cheers for the hard-working team that did! And now on to the main event.’

The original intention a few years ago, the idea that formed with a Twitter conversation, was a “look at the whole world of monsters.” This eventually narrowed down to look at the monsters in our own pond, the European monsters. We were fairly eager to extend in to further volumes for other continents quite soon after imposing the restriction for European Monsters and happily Adele agreed this was a good idea.

JT: ‘This is, of course, a source of argument between we two editors, with one being raised with the five-continent model of the world and the other with the seven-continent model of the world.’

Africa became the next place to visit on the world tour. It is, of course, a continent we’re both happy admit to the existence of and we had the benefit of Margrét having spent some of her formative years there so that she had a familiarity with a number of regions and folklores. As with European Monsters, the anthology was invitation only and so we used and abused Margrét’s contacts while also researching new ones. It was important to us to make use of authors and artists who lived or had connections with the areas they were working on. Although we had hoped to have been able to have solely African authors in the book, we have not been able to secure a hundred percent African talent for the resulting anthology, mostly due to time constraints and communication problems. Also, since we mostly have authors who write English in this book, the geographical representation, is sadly not a full reflection on the world’s second largest and second most populous continent.

african

MH: ‘I feel we have learned much from editing these books when it comes to getting a good representation in the books. In following books we will try to have at least one translated story from a non-English speaking author. The key is to have the right amount of time, some luck and a good network.’

There is a wealth of skilled artists and published writers to look into and we consider our own anthology a jumping off point into the world of African fiction. But nevertheless, we have covered a small part of a large continent that we hope you enjoy. This is not the colonial “Dark Continent”—or, perhaps, not just the colonial, as that era is part of the history that formed the present day—but the stories we have gathered give grim glimpses of a darkness where the scariest thing is sometimes the bright light of day.

African Monsters Release

That’s right folks, we are releasing a selection of monsters from the continent of Africa into the wild for your reading pleasure next week!

Working with writers from various countries in Africa or with strong links and a mix of African and European artists, editors Margret Helgadottir and Jo Thomas have put together another beautiful volume in the Fox Spirit Books of Monsters series.

Check out the Monsters page for more information on this and the European volume.

african monsters - small

 

If you are interested in a review copy of this or any other title please contact adele @ foxspirit.co.uk with details of where you post reviews.

African Monsters Table of Contents

African Monsters, the second in the FS Books of Monsters series that started with European Monsters, is due out this Christmas. There will be a launch party in London early in 2016, please keep an eye out for more details.

In this collection we explore the old myths and monsters of the continent of Africa in short stories and art.

Edited by Margret Helgadottir and Jo Thomas and with Cover art by Daniele Serra we are pleased to reveal the table of contents for African Monsters:

Nnedi Okorafor: On the Road

Joan de la Haye: Impundulu

Tade Thompson: One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sunlight

Jayne Bauling: Severed

Su Opperman: The Death of One

T.L. Huchu: Chikwambo

Dilman Dila: Monwor

S. Lotz: That Woman

Toby Bennett: Sacrament of Tears

Chikodili Emelumadu: Bush Baby

Joe Vaz: After The Rain

Dave-Brendon de Burgh: Taraab and Terror in Zanzibar

Nerine Dorman: A Whisper in the Reeds

Vianne Venter: Acid Test

Nick Wood: Thandiwe’s Tokoloshe

James Bennett and Dave Johnson (artist): A Divided Sun

The book will also have illustrations from Su Opperman, Kieran Walsh, Mariam Ibrahim, Eugene Smith and Benali Amine.

The third book in the series will be Asian Monsters coming Christmas 2016.

European Monsters

European Monsters

 

Billy’s Monsters…..Scarlett

2 - scarlett poster

Billy’s Monsters… Hester

Coming later this month from Fox Spirit Books

1 - hester poster (1)