Tag Archives: Werewolves

Starfang Launch Day

And it’s a space opera so we can make rocket jokes! Now count with me 5.4..3..2..1..Blastoff! 

Is a clan captain going to sacrifice everything for her clan? Tasked to kill Yeung Leung by her parents, powerful rival clan leader of the Amber Eyes, Captain Francesca Min Yue sets out across the galaxy to hunt her prey, only to be thrown into a web of political intrigue spreading across the stars. Is Yeung Leung collaborating with the reptilian shishini and playing a bigger game with the galaxy as a price? Is Francesca’s clan at stake? Welcome to Starfang: Rise of the Clan, where merchants and starship captains are also wolves.

“Wolves should not be in space, but here we were, a clan of wolves and merchants. Instead of the preserved forests of New Earth and Noah’s Ark, we were in ships of steel and armor, reading data scans and commanding officers on the bridge. Wolves within the uniform of merchants and mercenaries, human seeming, claws and teeth sheathed.”

– Captain Francesca Ming Yue, of the warship Starfang.

Welcome to Starfang, a space opera with werewolves, politics and intrigue.

 

Joyce Chng is a Singaporean writer and we are pleased to be publishing Starfang is its full glory, complete with gorgeous cover art by Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein. Joyce also writes as J. Damask

This book was previously available as a serial on our website but we think it’s well worth getting a copy for your shelves. 

Fool if you think it’s Over!

The last installment of the Elkie Bernstein trilogy by Jo Thomas is here! 

As far as Elkie’s concerned, it’s all over and her happy ending is just around the corner. She’s on her way back to Wales having freed Ben from the clutches of the controlling Dr Olsen and ensured that Dave, her ex-everything, will never be in a position to kill again. She’s even managed to find herself a (somewhat unwilling) father figure in Conn, the one werewolf in the world who seems to have his shit together. All she has to do is say “thank you” to the Valemon, a company so at odds with Olsen they were willing to support her, then get on a plane for home. Easy, right?

cover art by Sarah Anne Langton

Available now in paperback! 

Jan Xu or ‘Werewolves in Singapore’

Am very pleased to announce that the re release of the first two Jan Xu novels ‘Wolf at the Door’ and ‘Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye’ by Joyce Chng writing as J. Damask are now available from Fox Spirit Books. These novels were previously available through Lyrical Press, but now, here they are in shiny new covers by S.L. Johnson to fit with book 3 ‘Heart of Fire’, after a few months off the market.

Wolf at the Door #1

Being an ex-teen vigilante comes with its own set of problems.

Housewife, ex-teen vigilante…and shape-shifting wolf…Jan Xu has enough problems without adding her sister’s to the mix. Marianne is returning to Singapore and she’s filled with strange ideas. She’s also not alone. She’s coming home with a new boyfriend who has a dark agenda of his own.

With sibling rivalry threatening the inevitable: a battle-to-the-death with fang and claw, Jan and Marianne must overcome their issues if they’re ever going to find peace within their troubled relationship.

Wolf at the Door web

Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye #2

The world turns and the dragon catches its own tail.

Jan Xu, now alpha and leader of the Xu clan, faces more challenges when a past misadventure rears its head and threatens to tear her life apart. Added to this is a revelation about her role in her pack, which can make or break her, or potentially help her defeat an old foe, if she managed to hold onto her sanity.

Desperate to protect her family as her world turns obsidian, Jan is thrust in the midst of conflict between vampire, wolf, dragon and Singapore’s Myriad. What can one do when the past won’t let go?

Obsidian Moon Obsidian Eyeweb

Heart of Fire #3

Jan Xu, wolf and pack leader, faces more dangers when she saves a foreign male wolf in love with one of her ancient enemies, a jiang shi, a Chinese vampire. Throw in a love-struck drake—and Jan finds her situation suddenly precarious, with her reputation and health at stake. How much is a wolf going to take when everything is out of control again and her world thrown into disarray? How is she going to navigate the complexities of Myriad politics while keeping her pack and family intact without losing her mind? The third book of the Jan Xu Adventures will see Jan Xu’s continual fight as pack leader, her clan’s Eye (seer) and mother of three young children. Her mettle, courage and love for her family will be tested to her utmost limit

WEBHeartofFire

Revisited : 25 Ways to Kill a Werewolf by Jo Thomas

Today we launch the second Elkie Bernstein novel at Edge.Lit4, so it seems a good time to revisit the first in the series.

Elkie is a great heroine, with nothing but her determination, her wits and the strength of any girl living in rural Wales to help her she survives focused attacks, personal betrayal and more. Elkie is an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances.

25 Ways Wrap 72ppi

25 Ways to Kill A Werewolf by Jo Thomas
Cover Art by Sarah Anne Langton

‘My name is Elkie Bernstein. I live in North Wales and I kill werewolves.’

When Elkie finds herself fighting for her life against something that shouldn’t exist she is faced with the grim reality that werewolves are real and she just killed one. Part diary, part instruction manual Elkie guides the reader through 25 ways you can kill a werewolf, without any super powers, and how she did it.

Opening paragraphs

My name is Elkie Bernstein. I live in North Wales and I kill werewolves.

I’m human and nothing special. No quick healing, no super strength, no fantastic reflexes, no mutant powers. Just human. I get hurt and the injuries take their own time to heal. It leaves me weak and vulnerable so I avoid it. I can’t fight a million attackers at once — I don’t have the raw talent or the trained skill — so I avoid doing it. I can’t read minds or call lightning from the sky so I avoid situations where they would be my only possible line of defence.

I’m nothing special. But anyone who tells you that you have to be special to kill werewolves hasn’t been trying hard enough. And anyone who says there’s only one way to kill a werewolf needs to experiment more. A lot more.

Cover Reveal : A Pack of Lies

The second Elkie Bernstein novel is coming out very shortly and will have a launch in its honour at Edge.Lit in July.

In the mean time here is the cover for A Pack of Lies by Jo Thomas

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A Pack of Lies is the second in the series and while it isn’t a requirement to read the first book to follow the story, we would still suggest you do, because it’s superb and they make a gorgeous pair. The artwork is by the fabulous Sarah Anne Langton.

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J. Damask series cover reveals

A little while ago we published the third in J Damask’s ‘Xan Ju’ series ‘Heart of Fire’ with this stunning cover by S.L. Johnson

WEBHeartofFire

We are delighted to say that we subesquently obtained the rights for the previous two novels and will be re releasing them shortly and S.L. Johnson has returned to give them a wonderful look as a series!

Obsidian Moon Obsidian EyewebWe love these striking covers with their nod to Warhol and look forward to bringing you the books this spring.

Wolf at the Door web

European Monsters : Unsympathetic Werewolves

Unsympathetic Werewolves
by Hannah Kate

When the editors of European Monsters asked me to contribute a werewolf story to the collection, I was over the moon. The idea of a book dedicated to dark, unsettling monsters appealed to my dark side – just as I’m sure it will appeal to the dark side of many readers. The initial brief was simple – to write a werewolf story that went back to the monster’s ‘roots’. A story about something frightening, monstrous and disturbing. Something unsympathetic, unromantic and unredeemed.

I have been a fan of werewolf fiction for a long time, and, in my other life (www.shewolf-manchester.blogspot.com), I’ve done a lot of academic research on werewolves in medieval and contemporary popular culture. I guess that might be one of the reasons why Jo and Margret asked me to tackle lycanthropes for European Monsters! So I put my thinking cap on and went to work on my story…

… but there was a problem. That word – ‘unsympathetic’ – kept nagging at me. Werewolves are definitely frightening, either in terms of encountering one or in terms of transforming into one. They are certainly disturbing and monstrous as well – at least most of them are. But are they unsympathetic? Have they ever been unsympathetic? Can we strip back the last few years of sparkly vampires and brooding shirtless teenwolves to find something more primal? Something that recalls a huddled mass of ancient ancestors, staying close to the campfire and trying to make sense of the howls of their lupine adversaries in the darkness?

The short answer is: no. Aside from didactic Christian texts (for instance, Inquisition handbooks and treatises on the devil), most literary and folkloric stories present the European werewolf as a sympathetic monster. That’s not to say all werewolves are ‘good’ or ‘noble’, but rather that the myth of prehistoric fireside stories of fearsome wolves stalking the forests is exactly that – a myth.* But like all short answers, this fact reveals a much longer answer that provided the inspiration for my story, ‘Nimby’.

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Given that we have no evidence of what ancient humans actually talked about around their fires, we have to look to literature for the earliest versions of the European werewolf. I’m going to skip over the first couple of millennia, if that’s okay, and jump to the first real ‘golden age’ of werewolf fiction: the late Middle Ages. Two of my favourite werewolf stories originate from this period: Marie de France’s Bisclavret and the Middle English William of Palerne (a translation of the Old French Guillaume de Palerne, but I think the translation totally outshines the original).

The werewolves in these stories aren’t hideous beasts that prowl the forests waiting for innocent travellers to eat (though Marie hints that some werewolves do this, just not her hero). They are civilized, aristocratic men who, due to circumstance and feminine malevolence, are forced to adopt the form of a wolf and abandon their former homes until they can find a cure. These men are tortured and miserable souls, cursed by the wicked women in their lives and perpetually grieving for their lost humanity. The possibility that they might lose the last shred of this humanity and become a snarling monster is never very far away.

But these men are victims. They are lost to a curse that is beyond their control. A Freudian might suggest that they are symbolic of the ‘beast within’ – the uncivilized and animalistic id that continuously threatens to overwhelm the more socially acceptable ego. I prefer to think of these medieval werewolves in terms of the cultural changes that were occurring when these stories were written: programmes of deforestation and urbanization (which had begun centuries earlier but became more sustained in the late Middle Ages) were ‘civilizing’ the wilderness, new genres of literature (particularly the romance) focused on nostalgic longing for a more innocent past, and organized wolf-hunts had set in motion a project that would eventually see native wolves hunted to extinction in many parts of Europe. Under these circumstances, werewolves are created as a romanticized reminder of a more rural, wilder past. These wolves belong to the forest, even at a time (especially at a time) when both wolves and forests were beginning to be systematically destroyed.

Skip forward a few centuries, and we can see the descendants of these romantic, sympathetic werewolves in contemporary fiction and film. Many werewolves are still victims – the innocent hiker whose only crime was to forget to stick to the road, the young man feeling the weight of his bloodline forcing him to change into something he is not, the embattled underdog who fights the oppressive vampire. (I’m leaving female werewolves out of this for now, because… well… that’s a whole other story…) Even in the most gory, bloody horror films, we still have sympathy for the werewolf. It’s not his fault he’s a monster! He’s trying his best to control it!

Of course, when presented with such a long history of sympathetic, romantic – even noble – werewolves, the temptation obviously is to try and subvert it. ‘Nimby’ is the second story I’ve written about an unsympathetic werewolf. In my earlier story, ‘Home’ (coming out in another anthology soon), I set myself the challenge of making a truly unlikable, powerful and unpleasant werewolf, in contrast to a helpless, innocent, sympathetic vampire – but that’s the opposite way round to the usual power dynamic between these supernatural creatures. You can read a bit more about my choices for ‘Home’ here (http://hannahkate.net/out-now-undead-memory-vampires-and-human-memory-in-popular-culture-peter-lang/).

For ‘Nimby’, I decided to take a different approach. I made a list of all the common characteristics of sympathetic and romanticized werewolves and thought about the potentially negative consequences of each one. Given my fondness for medieval werewolf romances, I ended up settling on the werewolf’s strong relationship to land (and forest). Lots of fiction and folklore has focused on the territorial nature of the werewolf. Others continue to link the wolf with a nostalgic image of the pastoral, pre-cultural, uncivilized wilderness. This sort of werewolf is the very opposite of progress, development and change.

And the more I thought about it, the more unsympathetic (and unlikeable) I thought that would be – I actually quite like progress and development, and territorialism is seldom a pleasant trait. That was when I first saw the werewolf who would become the main focus of ‘Nimby’, and the story began to take shape. I’ll warn you now – this werewolf doesn’t stalk the huddled masses around the campfire; he doesn’t pick off hikers on the moor; he doesn’t belong to a pack; and he doesn’t even howl at the moon. But I humbly submit him to the (admittedly small) ranks of thoroughly unpleasant and unsympathetic lycanthropes. And I hope you dislike him as much as I do.

* In his 2009 book, Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American Literature, S.K. Robisch calls this the ‘campfire myth’. This is a great book and I thoroughly recommend it.

Starfang Chapter 12

So here we are at the conclusion of our superb web serial. Joyce’s novel ‘Heart of Fire’ will be out soon with Fox Spirit Books and if you’d like to see StarFang available as a novel please let us know. You can tweet @FoxSpiritBooks or use our contact page on the website. We are also keeping the giveaway open until the end of August, send us your fan art to be in with a chance of a copy of Heart of Fire in paperback. – Aunty Fox

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Chapter Twelve

I spent a month recovering in Noah’s Ark. Of course, I was reprimanded by Mother and Father. I let my quarry get away. What happened to the blood feud? Why wasn’t I chasing him? They were shocked by the news of my craz addiction. Father wanted to pull me off-duty, but I fought and argued with him. I lost Mariette. I wanted revenge. It was more than clan honor now –  it was truly blood feud now. Yeung Leung had effectively drugged and killed Mariette, in spirit and in body. He had her blood – and countless others – on his hands. He had killed kin. My hatred for him burned like a white star.

Dr Myint and his colleagues worked on my right arm and hand. Some flesh was restored, but my right arm was

now crooked and unable to move. Even turning now was agony. My body was broken. Looking at my arm made my heart lurch. It was never easy, trying to reconcile t the shrunken arm with its former healthy version. With luck, Dr Myint reassured me, the arm would regain some tone.

In the midst of all this, Yeung Ma and her brother were kept in the clan prison for high-level criminals. They were given adequate food and water.

Lien was surprisingly welcomed by my clan, given her feral status and an Amber Eyes-Pariah child. She played with my younger cousins and cousins’ children, Mog play-bowing and happy to have play mates. Yet I caught Mother’s glance a few times, that calculating gleam in her eyes. She had something in mind and I didn’t like the taste of it.

Help her, the message had said. Help her.

When the month was over, I was ready for the hunt. The hunt for Yeung Leung.

Starfang slipped out of dock, like a silent predator.

 

 

Chapter 11

Our fantastic web serial is almost over. Go back to the beginning and read it all.

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Chapter Eleven

I held the rose agate pendant so tightly in my grip that the contours pressed hard into my flesh. They were taking her away from me. She was screaming my name. Telling me not to save her. 

And somewhere, Lien was crying. Lien, the feral child on board Starfang. Her large eyes swam with glistening tears. 

I started awake, my heart pounding so hard it was painful. The ship was thrumming with a rhythm that immediately informed me that it was pushing its engine drive. It was moving hard, in one direction. Was it being pursued?

The dream hollowed me out. I cleaned up with a sense of grimness heavy in my limbs. The food was late again. I sipped the water, feeling the clawing demands of the hunger. Hurried footsteps halted in front of my door and a tray slid in, rattling loudly. There was only two slices of bread this time. As I paused to retrieve the tray, the footsteps pounded away with an urgency I found intriguing. S’sahrak was late too. S’sahrak was never late.

I pushed myself into nangun drills, ignoring the biting pangs in my stomach and in my veins. I kept the visions of April, my Pack-crew and Lien before me, goading myself on. Somewhere, they lived and that mattered.

Would they accept me, an addict to craz?

The ship suddenly shook significantly to knock me off my feet. I rolled onto my haunches, using my hands as traction. I was too experienced, too ship-wise, to know that was a strike on the ship’s flank, possibly starboard. When I carefully got up, another strike rattled the ship, a warning blow this time. Two ships seemed to be firing their cannons at it.

The door slammed open and S’sahrak stepped in. Immaculate and precise the shishini was, I sensed it was disturbed and harried.

“Please come with me,” S’sahrak said. Its rosettes were vivid brown now. I noticed the pistol hanging by its left side. It was an assault-type weapon used by many clans.

Two black-armored guards backed S’sahrak, carrying heavier weapons. They meant business, right down to their visored faces. I also smelled wolf off them. So, I was indeed on a clan ship. I inclined my head and walked out obediently. I couldn’t stare down the wolf guards – they must be trained to ignore the instinctual reactions when it came to more dominant clan members. I reined in my urge to escape – wait, Francesca, wait. Not now, not now.

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Starfang Chapter 10

Chapter Ten

I woke up from a dream where April sat before me, our chess set laid open, and the peepul tree rustled in the afternoon breeze. There was brewed jasmine tea on the marble table. Her eyes were intense, looking straight into me, while she pushed her Queen in front of my chess piece.

Her lips parted, whispered Love You. Something the real April wouldn’t do.

Yet, in the dream, I cherished those words. Held them to my chest, to my heart. They were my talisman, holding the demons at bay.

The drab surroundings greeted me. I sat up. Another day. S’sahrak would be arriving in twenty minutes for its “daily interrogation activities”. S’sahrak was punctual to a fault.

I tore into the bread, feeling the hollow and biting hunger inside me. The bread was laced with the drug. So was the water. Yet I ate and drunk. I needed to have energy to face S’sahrak. Somewhere in my head, I imagined copious amounts of Mother’s herbal tonics, dishes of delicious food, my favorite trotters in ginger and vinegar. Real things to sustain me, to keep me from falling. I wanted to fight the addiction.

~*~

“Consider this,” S’sahrak said, flexing its claws. I focused on the glistening half-moon talons, fascinated by their obsidian sheen.  “Consider this, your situation. Ever wondered why you were here.”

“You are an agent of Yeung Leung, my enemy,” I said calmly.

S’sahrak tilted its head. “As you wish.”

“You are not an agent then?” I pushed on.

The shishini did not answer. Instead, it began to pace around the table, tracing a definite pattern. “We of the claw are not confined by such restrictive parameters. Agent? Enemy? What are those words? They restrict us.”

“Now you are a philosopher,” I muttered.

Shishini are philosophers,” S’sahrak said without missing a beat, its tail swinging a rhythm as it continued its pacing. “Like what is male or female, but restrictive and confining identifiers. We choose to be male or female or none, when we are ready to move on. You are restricted by your female-ness, but you choose to desire-to-mate with your first officer, have you not?”

Ice drenched my back. “How did you know?”

“I am an agent of Yeung Leung, am I not?”

“You speak in circles.”

“Life, my captain, is a circle.”

“Is it?” I admitted that S’sahrak’s pacing was hypnotic. The rosette patterns blurred with every circuit around the interrogation table. I rubbed my eyes, trying to clear a nascent headache.

“Your bond with your first officer might be a liability, my captain.”

“I am not your captain,” I grit my teeth. They are going to go after her! April, no! I began to smile grimly, a wolf smile. No, April won’t let herself be caught that easily. April would hunt them down. April would destroy them.

“I see,” S’sahrak nodded slowly, as if it was contemplating a piece of outlandish artwork.  “Then why do you persist to be female?”

“Stop,” I said dangerously. “You are being oblique.”

“Am I not?”

I felt the wolf grow larger inside me, heard the growling in my throat. With iron will, I caged it back. “What do you want, S’sahrak? Irritate your prisoner?”

“Isn’t that my goal, my captain?” S’sahrak clicked its claw-tips together. Tink-tink-tink.

I stared directly at the shishini clawleader, staring straight into its pupil-less eyes. I felt as if I was looking into pools of oil.  Was S’sahrak male, female or none?

“I do not want to play games,” I said finally. “But if you want to play games, so will I.”

“As you wish.” A gentle incline of the saurian head. “You have to realize this is already a game. I am your captor. You are my prisoner. There is a relationship here I can exploit.”

Shishini play games. Mind games. They play them like puzzle games. Stay focused, Francesca. Do not lose it.

“Then how do I address you?” I sat down, the very picture of an obedient prisoner. Even a day-old pup would sniff out the pretense.

“Call me clawleader or S’sahrak,” the shishini said, settling down in front of me. Now we were face to face. “At the moment, I am none. I am rar.”

I nodded, wondering at the terms.

“Now shall we begin?”

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