Tag Archives: Fantasy

Release Day : Skytown

K.C. Shaw’s adventure of sky piracy and privateering is available now!

This is the first full length outing for returning favourites Lizzy and Jo from some of K.C. Shaw’s short stories. 

Cover art by Jenny Haines

Get yourself on an adventure

Opening paragraphs of Skytown

 

Lizzy had no more gold nuggets sewn into the lining of her leather coat, the one that looked like it was made from a dead sofa. ‘Check again,’ Jo said. They couldn’t be out of money. They’d had so much.
Lizzy didn’t check again. Instead she folded the coat and laid it on her bed. ‘That gold was supposed to be for emergencies. Did you think it would last forever?’
Lizzy as a rule didn’t have much of a temper; she indicated her disapproval with silences, glowers, and a certain falling intonation of her deep voice. Jo fought the urge to shrink away in apology like a little girl caught doing wrong. ‘I didn’t think we’d spent so much,’ she said.
‘We’ve spent it all. Now we have to get more.’
It was early morning, barely past dawn, but the room they shared faced east and Jo could see quite well. Lizzy’s skin was so pale she practically glowed in the dark anyway. Through the open window, the surf crawled up and down the beach.
Jo said, ‘We can head farther south along the coast, I suppose. I’d like to see more of the world.’
‘If you want to continue eating while we see the world, we need to find airships we can take.’
Jo nodded. She must be practical like Lizzy and not squeamish about the profession she had, after all, chosen willingly. ‘Yes. It would probably be best to tread lightly in Hule; we can use it as a safe zone in case of trouble elsewhere. Besides, I’d like to come back to this village when we have money again.’

Launch Day

The Hobgoblin’s Herald is now available!

Andrew’s debut is a fantastic fantasy adventure for lovers of traditional fantasy and those looking for something a but different. 

Cover art by Tabatha Stirling

There are monsters in the forests of Katahia, and not all of them are human…
 
When a poacher’s daughter saves one of their chieftains, she is drawn into the twisted world of the dreaded hobgoblins, where life is cheap and pity is weakness. Together, the girl and the malignant beasts must cross a realm on the cusp of dynastic civil war, in search of a land where they might thrive, or else be eradicated in the coming conflict.
 
As the road before her grows ever darker and her allies ever stranger, Mallory must choose which side she owes loyalty, and what she is willing to do in order to survive.

Read the opening paragraphs here 

Find the book on Amazon uk here

Contact me at adele@foxspirit.co.uk if you are interested in reviewing The Hobgoblin’s Herald or interviewing the author. 

Cover Reveal : Hobgoblin’s Herald

This summer has a couple of fantastic new releases coming. One of which is the fantasy novel ‘Hobgoblin’s Herald’ by A.R. Aston. 

The book will be launched on 1st July so there will be plenty of time to grab a copy before Edge.Lit and get Andrew to sign it. 

In the mean time, here is the cover by the fantastic Tabitha Sterling mudlarkdesign.tumblr.com and for your enjoyment, the Prologue. 

‘The fetters of the Aelf were made of sapphires, the walls of their cells silver and ivory. It was nothing like the dank black dungeons of menfolk, or the festering oubliettes of Hezra Half-Gremlin. This cell was bright, and cold and austere. It hurt her eyes to look upon the mirror-polished star metal that entombed her here. And so the Herald dangled in a darkness of her own imposing, eyes screwed shut.
Her shackles rubbed unpleasantly against her flesh, and when she cried out, the sound was without echo. The walls
seemed to consume her screams and nullify her protests. Her captors had no desire to listen to her entreaties. Everything she said would be considered a lie by the Fated Ones. Thus she was doomed to suffer an ignoble, yet relatively painless death by their hands. She had days at most, but it was impossible to judge just how long that would be, for days were meaningless in a realm without night to mark the cycles.
They’d taken her bone-threaded war braids, and stripped the Herald of her rune-etched armour of boiled leather and
foraged steel. Upon capture, they’d even scrubbed her face of the blood marks, leaving only the silvery scars that formed their base behind. Like a cat declawed, the Aelf divested her of her scimitar, her daggers, and her sling. Now she wore a simple habit of pale blue silk, but this did nothing to disguise the fact she was a reviled heathen fated to die. She dangled from the ceiling by her hands, a flank of beef hung for smoking. Her bare feet dangled helplessly beneath her. They were the palest they’d been in years. The Aelf could not tolerate filth, not a single gram of it, not even caking their prisoners’ soles.
They had kept her fed with bland wafers and crystal still water, which seemed to sap her strength and will to fight with every mouthful. They could have poisoned her by slipping something odourless and colourless into the daily rations, but she suspected not. They simply had no need to nourish her or poison her. That was the worst thing of all, they didn’t hate her. She meant nothing to the tall, gleaming nightmares. She was an obstruction to remove and her captors would carry out her sentence with a workmanlike efficiency.
The Herald wondered where her allies were now. Were they even alive? She didn’t even entertain the notion they’d
be coming to save her. These were not those kinds of allies. Polder might have helped, but that passive psychotic was next to useless in a scrap.
The Fated Ones would kill her, unless she fought for herself. That was always the way it went.
Each day, she felt her resolve weakening. Her will was maintained now by hate and fear. Curse them for their indifference! 
With her eyes closed, she dreamt of the spiralling nightmare which had brought her to this ignominious terminus.
The five-limbed leviathans of Ashebos, the flying cities, the incandescent Lance of Rael, the black naga, the Djinncallers, the Eater of Names; all these things she had seen, all that pain and wonderment she had experienced, had sprung from a singular event, back in a different life, a different world.
It had been an act of mercy, for one who did not deserve an ounce of it.
She heard the whisper-quiet footsteps of her gaoler in the corridor outside. The lock on the door rattled, as simultaneously the bolts barring it were thrown open one by one. The prisoner clenched her fists, bared her teeth, and drew her feet up to her chest, like an animal tensing for the pounce. She spat bloody phlegm on their pristine floor, which made her smile. If the Aelf wanted her dead, they would need to get their hands dirty. She’d tear at them like a mad shrike. She’d make them work for their kill. She would teach them hate.’

 

Waxing Lyrical : Asexuality in Fantasy

Images added by Aunty Fox, also check this out for some illustrations of asexuality and dumb things people say.

Asexuality in Fantasy

By Joel Cornah

Writing characters is so often about letting the reader know what they are, rather than what they are not. In our world, so much of how people’s identities are perceived is bound up in ideas of sexuality and romance that, in the words of comedian Charlie Brooker;

We’ve become so accustomed to seeing characters pairing off with one another that it’s now almost impossible to see a man and a woman together on screen at once without internally speculating about whether they’re going to have sex or not.”

 Indeed, the trope of having two people (often of different genders) who do little but argue and despise one another but end up falling madly in love is incredibly prominent. I might even go so far as to say that for a lot of people, seeing two characters bicker has become an almost sure-fire way of predicting if they’ll end up together. But even in these cases, the writers will often tie them together through some reconciliation scene that ends with physical intimacy of some sort. Just to hammer home the point.

When it comes to writing asexual characters, those who lack sexual attraction, it can be somewhat jarring to audiences who are used to characters getting off with one another simply by being in the same room. I think this might be the source of some anti-ace feeling some publishers may have, especially as a sexual or romantic subplot is expected of most stories as a matter of course.

With the world I created for The Sea-Stone Sword and The Sky Slayer, I decided that prejudices based on sexuality were not really a thing in most societies. It made the writing process a lot more open and gave me much more creative freedom. Openly gay and bisexual characters are comparatively easy to show through the relationships and romances the characters endure and pursue. The age old ‘show don’t tell’ rule runs smoothly in these cases. But when it comes to asexual characters it’s much harder to make it explicit.

So how do you address it in a way that can be easily grasped? Is it as simple as having characters who just never experience sexual attraction or is it something we should actively point out in a character? Should they internally reflect on their lack of attraction, should they explain it to others, should it be discussed openly or simply allowed to exist.

I have one ace character in The Sea-Stone Sword, but it is not explicit because the issue doesn’t come up. She is quite young, and there were also other aspects to her character that were a lot more active and so became the focal point.

For asexual characters, the temptation for me was to simply never address it at all, and to delve into nonsexual aspects of their relationships. I wanted to explore the friendships they made, the loyalties they formed and causes for which they fought. It was important to me to flesh them out as characters and how they related to others and have that be the focus.

However, asexuality is, perhaps by its nature, something of an invisible identity. Easily overlooked, easily ignored. As such, many of us feel decidedly alone, left out, and isolated. Rarely do we see explicate representation of people who feel the way we feel and experience the world as we do. Part of this is down to social assumptions where we automatically expect characters to be sexual in some way. This worried me as I continued to write.

In my second novel, The Sky Slayer, there is another ace character, but this time I made it explicit. She’s a smartass, a sarcastic brains-of-the-outfit who pulls everyone’s strings. As a result, other character slowly start asking her advice. Once you get past the put-downs and jibes, she can be quite wise, so it made sense to me. This I immediately saw as a way in to give her sexuality some notice. When asked for relationship advice, she raises an eyebrow and informs them, “Ask the Doctor. I have no interest or experience with these carnal matters.”

It was also important to me that the character accept this, rather than pressing her into something with the old ‘go on just try it!’ routine. When another character shows an interest in her, they are told, “She doesn’t feel that kind of attraction.” and all parties accept this as a real answer, rather than objecting or insisting on pushing her.

I think it is important to have multiple ace characters, to explore the variety of ways asexuality can be experienced. As with any demographic, the less characters within it you have, the less fairly you will represent it.

But even these examples from my own work sometimes make me cringe a little and I feel uncertain about whether I took the right path. On the one hand, I want it to be respected and given a real place in a characters’ identity. But on the other hand, I don’t want to bring it up for the sake of bringing it up. So how do we tackle this issue?

Being asexual myself, it isn’t an issue that comes up terribly often. I don’t have conversations about it, I don’t go out and tell my story precisely because, so often, if feels like there isn’t a story to tell. How many ways can you say, ‘nothing happened’ and have it be interesting? Except by way of contrast to the expected norm, it has rarely felt like an aspect of my life that is ripe for creative exploration.

The obvious answer is to look to other people’s experiences. Talking to other asexual people from different background and cultures grants a view into the wide range of stories that are there. The struggles and triumphs, the attitudes and fears, and the whole spectrum of people. That is where the spark of creativity lies.

I think this allies to a lot of aspects of writing, not just regarding sexuality. Our own life can seem mundane to us simply because we experience them every day and end up thinking they are unremarkable. The remarkable only becomes so when compared to other things, and if we don’t seek out other experiences and stories, we might not find the spark at all.

 

Links for books;

The Sea-Stone Sword

The Sky Slayer

The Curse of the Mouse and Minotaur

The virgins have been sacrificed, the sage burnt the incense lit and the libations poured.

I am delighted to announce that having done everything except raise the mummy (more luck than judgement tbh), we are finally releasing The Tales of the Mouse and Minotaur, the third and final volume of our Bushy Tales.

This series started with Tales of the Nun & Dragon which is the book that started Fox Spirit and it is the conclusion of our original project. As always a mixture of genres, with humour and darker stuff featuring greek myths and rodents, sometimes both. 

Stories from K.T. Davies, Chloe Yates, James Bennett, Nerine Dorman, Jay Faulkner, Sarah Cawkwell, Pat Kelleher, C C D Leijenaar , Joan De La Haye, Andrew Reid, Ben Stewart, Catherine Hill, Jan Siegel and T.J. Everley 

Heading into a new year with books!

As we reach the end of 2016 and stumble blinking into a new year, I thought instead of the usual
‘what did we do, what are we planning’ round up, I would simply gather some recommendations of
books to take you into 2017. These came in response to a shout out on twitter for people to tell me
what books they want people to take with them into the new year.

We meander through many excellent genre titles, occasionally stepping out of speculative fiction
and even into non fiction as people share titles that have excited them and that you might want to
consider. There is a good mix of getting away from it all and getting ready for whatever 2017 brings. 

I have added amazon uk links where possible, in case you want to know more about any of the books or add them to
your reading for the new year.

Names and quotes included with permission.

My choice is ‘How to Be Dull: Standing out next to genius‘ by Basil Morley Esq (K.A. Laity).  The only self help book you will need in 2017 tells you how to be taupe in a world full of primary colours. 

Kev McVeigh (@kevmcveigh) recommends ‘Will Do Magic for Small Change’ by Andrea Hairston as a great fantasy read to start the year with. Loving the title so will be checking this one out myself.

Infomocracy’ by Malka Older is suggested by Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) as a cyberpunk novel to help us through the challenges of 2017.

Will Ellwood (@fragmad) recommends ‘2312’ a sci fi by Kim Stanley Robinson ‘because society can be better’ which seems a good starting point to me. Also the collected short stories of J.G. Ballard.

Zero World’ by Jason Hough is recommended by Steve Taylor Bryant (@STBwrites), SFF with super spies. 

The Sorcerer to the Crown’ by Zen Cho, a sword and sorcery fantasy about English magic, wizards and breaking down barriers. Recommended by the wonderful Juliet E McKenna (@JulietEMcKenna).

Children of Time’ by Adrian Tchaikovsky which will have you siding with the spiders gets a shout out from Juliet E McKenna and Tade Thompson (@tadethompson)

On the Edge of Gone’ by Corinne Duyvis, young adult fiction, was recommended by Lynn O’Connacht (@lynnoconnacht) 

All the Birds in the Sky’ by Charlie Jane Anders recommended by Rob Haines (@Rob_Haines) it includes a witch who talks to animals and time travel. 

Image courtesy of Adrian Tchaikovsky

Shona Kinsella (@shona_kinsella) recommends ‘Blindside’ by Jennie Ensor, ‘The House of Shattered Wings’ by Aliette De Bodard and ‘The Good Immigrant’ by Nikesh Shukla

Alasdair Stuart (@AlasdairStuart) draws your attention to ‘Six Wakes’ by Mur Lafferty which is describes as a ‘note perfect locked room clone murder mystery in space’. (Sold!)

The Memoirs of Lady Trent’ by Marie Brennan is recommended by Margret Helgadottir (@MaHelgad) It has Dragons!

The Briefcase’ by Hiromi Kawakami while not spec fic also gets a big recommendation from Margret as does ‘Earth Abides‘ by George R Stewart.

Terrible George (@monster_soup) recommends the grim, violent reimagining of Alice in Wonderland, ‘Alice’ by Christina Henry. (I loved this one too!)

Alec McQuay (@Vampiricchicken) ‘Absolute Pandemonium‘ – Brian Blessed’s autobiography. ‘It’s the absolute nadgers’.

Mongrels’ by Stephen Graham Jones is recommended by Paul Michaels (@paulmichaels) as dark and wry.

The seasonal Jingling Nerdish (@whirlingnerdish) recommends ‘Geek Feminist Revolution’ by Kameron Hurley and ‘The New Jim Crow‘ by Michelle Alexander.

Das Kapital‘ by Karl Marx gets a recommendation from Damien Walter (@damiengwalter) for those leaning toward something a bit more serious for new year’s reading.

Lynda E Rucker’s ‘You’ll Know when you Get There’ a collection of stories, comes from James Everington (@JHEverington)

Shana DuBois (@booksabound) suggests ‘Desert Songs of the Night: 1500 Years of Arabic Literature’ edited by Suheil Bushrui and James M. Malarkey with the comment ‘Exploring the roots and beauty of other cultures is paramount today’. (Couldn’t agree more).

Mr Fox (@TJEverley) recommends ‘The Minotaur takes a Cigarette Break‘ by Steven Sherrill, a novel that sees the Minotaur working as a chef and living in a trailer. Also ‘All you Need is Kill‘ by Hiroshi Sakurazaka which sees the lead caught in a timeloop, reliving his death. 

V for Vendetta‘ by Alan Moore & David Lloyd makes it into the facing 2017 category with a call from Steve Birt (@EvilStevieB)

The seasonal Santa Runny (@runalongwomble) suggests ‘The Fifth Season‘ by NK Jemisin.

Beckett’s ‘Eden trilogy‘ or Walton’s ‘Thessaly trilogy‘. ‘I think we’ll need in 2017 the reflections they bring’. from C. (@solinthesky)

Chris Nguyen (@ChrisGNguyen) suggests Animal Farm by George Orwell and ‘All the Light We Cannot See‘ by Anthony Doerr

The Complete Worse Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Piven & Borgenicht because according to Chloe Yates (@shloobee) ‘we might fking need it’.

Recommended by Joyce Chng  Starhawk’s ‘Dreaming The Dark‘, a book on magic and spirituality.

From Dylan Fox (@foxie299) ‘Watership Down‘ by Richard Adams. ‘Teaches us to listen to our instincts, to believe, to fight, to keep fighting… and to accept death’.

So there you are, a few ideas to get you going as we head towards 2017, swords raised and flag flying and books stockpiled!

What I Learned from Cult TV: Friendship is Magic

Cult TV show My Little Pony

This is about my My Little Pony epiphany. I have sighed my way through a lot of bad entertainment consumption with the Executive Princess, much of it day-glo and glittery. I think the bottom of the barrel might be Barbie’s Life in the Dream House but it could also apply to the endless package openings on YouTube where that woman with the grating voice goes into orgasmic raptures in that sing-song way over every product that she’s paid to drool over.

If you do not know her, be grateful.

So I expected no less of MLP, which originally kicked off in the 80s with a film promoting a toy line (the horror of that 80s animation! If you have seen that travesty, you know of what I speak: believe me, anything that Madeline Kahn cannot rescue is irredeemable). Sure, I had heard of Bronies and other cutesy appropriations as every pony knows, but considering the unearned fanaticism that makes some folks fawn over that saccharine Speilbergian horror, Goonies, I didn’t pay much attention. I figured it was another ‘I love it because I grew up with it’ phenomenon (I grew up with war pictures and Westerns: I do not generally love either). I really didn’t think MLP would be any different from, say, those interminable Strawberry Shortcake episodes (scarring, I assure you).

I certainly never expected to fight off tears watching MLP’s Rainbow Rocks.

Somehow a bunch of things collided in my head last summer while I first got immersed in Ponyville. I was also reading some Megan Abbott (Fever and then later The End of Everything) and also noticing stories like the Slenderman stabbing. They stirred up a lot of the best and worst of girlhood. There’s a darkness in it that no one much likes to admit; it can be a very claustrophobic world.

Girls lives are circumscribed by society. Much as we like to think we are free and liberal (all current evidence to the contrary), the truth remains that girls lives are tightly bound. At the far end of the spectrum, they’re literally locked away until handed over to a husband or some other patriarchal organisation; at the more lenient end, they’re hemmed in by social constructions that breed fear into their very skin. They’re both disparaged and protected. They don’t have a choice. So what happens?

Girls expand to fill the spaces allowed them.

It may be very little, it may be a little bit more. But it’s almost always less: less than they want, less than they need, leaving a permanent curvature to their psyches like bound feet. In countless ways they are encouraged to be girly: ‘you look so pretty!’ ‘isn’t she adorable?’ ‘just like a little lady.’

Yet ‘girly’ is usually a slur. I know, I’m still dealing with that one, being a former tomboy now step-monster to a quintessentially girly girl. Do you know how much glitter there is in this house? Everything seems to sparkle. It makes me feel like Lou Grant sometimes, because this girl: she’s got spunk and there is not enough pink in the world for her. She has lots of princess dresses and I don’t know how many Elsa dolls. She’s better at applying makeup and not even six. It’s not my thing: and she sighs at my mostly black clothes. She paints my nails. There’s a part of me that finds rebellion in that. Because girly gets sneers. What’s more derided in pop culture than girls and their selfies? Could it be because selfies allow girls to choose how they’re represented?

Me and Executive Princess

Because girls are never right: if they’re girly, they’re denying themselves—if they’re not girly, they’re denying everyone else (‘Can’t you wear a dress at least once in a while?’). I hear parents who claim they raise their boys and girls the same; I also hear them say things to the girls they would never say to the boys. That’s because I remember too well not being allowed to do things my brothers were allowed. Seldom said ‘because you’re a girl’ but I knew that was why.

Everything girly is tainted: pop stars, for example. Is there anyone more despised than the floppy-haired pop stars girls scream for? Cultural disdain for them is one of the few things seemingly everyone can get away with. Girls like those safe, sexless, moronic pop stars, you say. No, girls are allowed them. They channel all the passion that frightens their parents into cute and inoffensive stars. Look at all the audiences at Beatle concerts: the tears, the ecstatic expressions, the clenched fists and contorted bodies. Where else do girls get to show that? Read Abbott’s books: she’s great at revealing how girls’ desires terrify their parents — and often themselves.

One of the keys to surviving girlhood is friendship, but that’s problematic, too. Friendship when it’s manly is the stuff of Oscars and literary prizes: important. For girls it’s rivals and mean girls and frenemies, at least that’s what popular culture tells us. For girls friendship is both safety and danger. When Lauren Faust worked on MLP to demonstrate Friendship is Magic she delved into one of the most rich veins of human existence: the compressed world of girls’ power.

I’ll admit it: the MLP world is girly as girly can be: Twilight Sparkle, the solitary and bookish young royal, gets sent to Ponyville to understand the power of friendship. She hooks up with Flutter Shy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Apple Jack and Rarity to discover this strange thing just in time to deal with a real crisis—the return of Nightmare Moon! Okay, if you’re still with me, this is a lot more charming than the cutesy names indicate (which were chosen by marketers after all). The dialogue of the show is often clever and there’s loads of winking references and homages (especially in the music and the music is often really good).

The essence of MLP’s world is the elements of harmony: everyone is valued for their unique abilities. The 1984/Harrison Bergeron-esque episode ‘The Cutie Map’ makes this point well. The ponies go to the mysterious village and discover its chilling appropriation of the equality sign in an attempt to make everyone in the village the same. Blah blah blah libertarian blah: the more interesting aspect comes out when our heroines start bickering over how to deal with the situation. One of the villagers asks them with alarm if their friendship is ending. The ponies are surprised because they bicker all the time: they’re all so different after all. For the villagers, however, difference = danger.

The episode hits at the fear wrapped up in girls’ friendships: that tension between wanting to be safe and trusted versus the knowledge that they have power over someone and want to test it. Girls have power over so little. The nice thing about MLP is that they demonstrate all the ways that friendships can be stressed by these differences—the anger and the frustration—but they also show the rewards of bringing those differences together to celebrate their community. Not just each other: their community, their town Ponyville and all of Equestria. But it’s never easy.

You see, the thing I hadn’t anticipated was how dark MLP gets. One of the monsters they fight is a creature called Discord. His chief evil is turning all the friends against each other. Of course they need to come together to fight him and he’s vanquished by being turned into stone, yet the discord between the friends causes them a great deal of pain. Like Queen Chrysalis of the Changelings or Lord Tirek, antagonists are often removed or neutralized, but sometimes they’re brought back and rehabilitated. One of the foundational myths of Equestria is that Princess Luna is the restored Nightmare Moon. Even Discord’s magic is believed to have its uses. No one is doomed to being evil.

Rainbow Rocks

In the Equestria Girls narratives (where the ponies become girls in an alternate world no there’s no time to explain, just roll with it) this idea of reclaiming those who would abuse power is key. In the first EG film Sunset Shimmer tries to steal Equestrian magic for her own self-aggrandizement. The girls stop her selfish use of power with their collective cooperation, which Twilight Sparkle spends most of the story building because in this world, the friendships had soured. Despite the anger and hurt from misunderstandings,  that cooperation is something they all yearn for—and its power. Power for yourself alone is bad. There’s nothing wrong with competition (ask Rainbow Dash!) but when you think the world revolves around you, the girls will stop you.

Even more interesting is the follow-up Equestria Girls adventure, my fave Rainbow Rocks. You know I’m a sucker for a battle of the bands. The songs are seriously good pop songs. Part of the appeal of the story is that Sunset Shimmer spends most of the story being cold-shouldered for her past mistakes, even when she tries to help make things better. Twilight Sparkle insists on her being part of the gang, but the others find it difficult to get over her previous bad behaviour. Her outsider status allows her to see the clashes that begin to crack up their tight relationships, though of course no one wants to listen to her.

As their rivals, the magically powered Dazzlings, gain power—all for the glory of Adagio Dazzle (‘We Will Be Adored’)—the girls bicker bitterly with each other, trapped below the stage for the finale. Escaping by luck, they almost succeed in the supernatural fight, but the Dazzlings are too powerful what with their magic amulets. It’s only when the Equestria Girls realise they need to truly welcome Sunset Shimmer—not just tolerate her presence—that they have the power to stand up to the magical assault from the Dazzlings (also thanks to DJ Pon-3’s cool mobile DJ station–the unsung heroine!).

It may not sound like much, but it chokes me up every time. There’s just something about the exile being welcomed at last, the outsider invited in. Maybe all the scorned hope for understanding. We may only get it in fiction, yet it’s incredibly powerful.

I’m lucky: I have a secret cabal of powerful, creative, magical women in my corner (though literally around the world). It didn’t happen over night and there are always some bumps along the road. I know how important it is to tend that garden (she says mixing metaphors like assorted nuts). It’s essential to have that kind of support. We need to be there to call bullshit on those negative messages women all hear just because we’re female. There’s an incredible power in testifying, ‘No, it’s not just you’—that many of us have been in the same situation–especially when all the other voices of experience avalanche like candy from a piñata.

I’m hoping the that uphill battle is changing. While it’s a bit hard to believe as we inhale the last poisonous gasp of truly toxic misogyny, I’m hanging on for tomorrow. Largely because there’s this Executive Princess here. I want to see what she’s becoming. I’ve got a feeling it will be something amazing. When the generation of girls who bellow along with ‘Let It Go!’ come to power, we all better hang on to our hats.

I don’t care / what they’re going to say / let the storm rage on / the cold never bothered me anyway. [door slam]

Elsa slams door

Launch Day: Dark Travellings by Ian Whates

Ian Whates is not only an established author but runs the well respected and multi award winning British indie NewCon Press where new writers butt up against legendary names such as Tanith Lee and Neil Gaiman. With numerous short stories published and novels out with Solaris and Angry Robot, we at Fox Spirit were obviously extremely pleased when Ian said yes to doing a collection with us.

This is the third collection of Ian’s short stories, and our first with him. It’s a collection of thirteen of his darker tales for fans of the fantastic.

Welcome to Dark Travellings.
Cover image is by Michael Marshall Smith, layout by Vincent Holland-Keen

dark travellings - front

Showcasing the darker side of the author’s imagination, Dark Travellings takes us from a post-apocalyptic future where music offers mankind its only hope to a quiet country lane where an apparently chance encounter leads to deception and betrayal, from rain-swept London streets terrorised by a creature out of folklore to the nostalgic beauty of a seaside town, where a young girl learns far more about her grandfather than she ever wished to. We are introduced to a cast of heroes and villains, including a brilliant artist with a unique form of inspiration, an ordinary man who stands firm against a vampire horde, and a woman who personifies a dangerously misunderstood legend. Thirteen stories that reveal the best and the worst of humanity: murder, adultery, treachery and depravity, but also compassion, hope, and love. Thirteen stories that will unsettle, delight, and entertain.

“The stories of Ian Whates manifest a vivid particularity of place and a clarity of suspenseful plotting, along with an endearing ability to conjure up vivid characters both noble and nasty.”

– Paul Di Filippo.

“Ian’s stories, unexpected yet unnervingly apt, come as a masterfully easy read that can lull or shock, please and dismay, and may quietly break your heart.” – Tanith Lee

“It is his characters who live through the story and make the reader need to know just how it’s all going to pan out, human characters who may seem familiar but then there’s that one thing, that shifted alteration that changes the world and changes the reader too.” – Interzone

“Intelligent, ingenious, often funny, and told with an easy and down to earth style.” – Adrian Tchaikovsky

“Brilliantly inventive.” – SFX

Launch Day for Eve of War

You may remember BFS shortlister ‘Tales of Eve’ where Mhairi Simpson collected fantastic tales of women seeking their perfect partner in life and the consequences of the search. Well now we see Eve’s daughters, fierce and defiant stepping out to battle.

Edited by Mhairi Simpson, who once again pulled in a great group of authors and Darren Pulsford who curated them into the anthology, we bring you ‘Eve of War’

Cover art and layout by Vincent Holland-Keen

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Sharp of mind and instinct; with poise and grace and power – Eve’s Daughters are a match for any opponent. Whether seeking out a worthy test or assailed by brave (but foolish) foes, she is determined and cunning, and will not fail.

Here are fifteen tales from across the ages; full of prowess both martial and magical, from an array of unique voices.

Contents:

Miranda’s Tempest by S.J. Higbee
The Devil’s Spoke by K.T. Davies
Himura the God Killer by Andrew Reid
The Bind that Tie by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Et Mortuum Esse Audivit by Alasdair Stuart
Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick by Juliet McKenna
A Veil of Blades by R.J. Davnall
In Amber by Rob Haines
Skating Away by Francis Knight
Ballad of Sighne by Rahne Sinclair
The Crossing by Paul Weimer
Lucille by Alec McQuay
Born by G Clark Hellery
Repo by Ren Warom
One Sssingular Sssenssation by Chloe Yates

BFS Awards Shortlists

We’ve had a good day so far.  The BFS Awards shortlists have been announced.

This year Fox Spirit has been shortlisted for Best Indie Press for the third year running, an honour we won in 2015.

Writer Margret Helgadottir is shortlisted for Best Collection with The Stars Seem So Far Away, a selection of short stories that take place in the same world and build to a shared conclusion.

African Monsters edited by Margret Helgadottir and Jo Thomas is shortlisted for Best Anthology. The collection is a coffee table style books featuring stories by writers from or with strong links to African countries and some stunning artwork.

In previous years anthology Tales of Eve (2014) and fantasy novel Breed by K.T. Davies (2015) have also been shortlisted.

You can see all the shortlists in full here. Huge congratulations to everyone who has made the lists, it is excellent company to be in as always.

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