New Release! The Jackal Who Came in From The Cold

Fox Spirit’s first foray into an entirely Furry anthology is now live! 

Tales, or tails, from behind enemy lines. Stories of daring and some downright shenanigans. You can wander through wars and stumble on adventures as our brave and sneaky spies conduct their business. This collection of furry shorts brings us a broad range of spy stories and an equally ranging look at Furry literature.

 

Cover Art by Tyler Arseneau and layout by Vincent Holland-Keen

Introduction by Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen
A Treacherous Thing by C. A. Yates
Survivors of the Holocene by Madison Keller
Starlight and Thorn by K. C. Shaw
The Man in the Background by Miles Reaver
Dirty Rats by Jan Siegel
The Sentinel by Will MacMillan Jones
Pay the Piper by A McLachlan
The Long Game by Neil Williamson
Agent Friendzone by Kyell Gold
Big Bird by Frances Pauli
The Off Air Affair by Huskyteer
Game of Shadows by  H. J. Pang
The Winged Fox by K. R. Green
Le Chat et la Souris by Tom Mullins

Available in print from Amazon (ignore the out of stock, it’s a quirk of Ingram and Amazon’s relationship)

Coming soon as an ebook available direct from our estore in mobi and epub, to suit most readers.

Monster Blog – by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría

SOUTHERN MONSTERS

by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría

About fifteen years ago, a group of paleontologists made a discovery (just one of many that often take place in Argentine territory) that caught my attention. It was the fossil of a mosasaur, a marine animal that lived on this planet seventy million years ago. The name that the Argentine paleontologists gave to that fossil and the place where they’d found it really impressed me.

It is common that the denomination of a dinosaur or other prehistoric animal is based on the name of the region where it was discovered or after its discoverer. However, this mosasaur, this particular species, received a different name: Lakumasaurus antarcticus.

Yes, the specimen had been discovered in the southernmost place on Earth and bore the name of a mythological animal.

I loved the idea of a dinosaur with the name of a mythical spirit belonging to the Yámana culture, the original inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego and a large number of islands that mark the end of the American continent. “The end of the world”, as Jules Verne called that region … except for Antarctica.

That animal had lived on a very different Earth. What today is composed entirely of perennial ice at that time was a tropical, fertile and warm land. A landscape gone millions of years ago that could well have been another world.

When I was still studying astrophysics (later I decided to change my career and got my PhD in philosophy), I used to spend many hours at the Museum of Natural Sciences of La Plata (which is inside the campus). And every day I used to admire the replicas of the prehistoric animals that had lived on a planet very different from mine and, even so, the same one.

When I heard the news of the discovery of Lakumasaurus antarcticus I was already studying philosophy, in Buenos Aires. I could not help but to join the memories of my hours with those ancestral and gigantic bones with the myths that I was investigating at the time for my thesis. Yámana myths among many others. And the myth of Lakuma, the Spirit of the Waters, especially.

I felt that many things in my life were being reconnected by de magic of a very distant creature and place.

When, a few months ago, I was asked to write a story about a South American monster, I had no doubt about what it would be. It would have been impossible to speak of another monster that was not Lakuma: a “monster” that, at the same time, is mythical and scientific (indirectly, of course). And a monster that, far from being “terrible” to me, is deeply evocative.

After years of studying astrophysics and visiting the dinosaur room of the museum, after a PhD in philosophy and research, one day I decided to dedicate myself completely to my passion: writing. It seemed that I had always been jumping from one island of reality to another, just as the Yámanas had lived moving from one south island to another in search of food and dreams.

As a writer, Lakuma became a symbol of my life, of what it was and what it is, of worlds as different as the Cretaceous Earth and the Earth of the present … or as Mars, Jupiter or the space between asteroids. A symbol of the possibility of living completely different experiences and, from a certain point of view, all of them “in solidarity” with each other.

Thus my story was born, one that unites very different times, that interweaves mythical and factual realities, and that ultimately seeks to portray the importance of dreaming and creating “better worlds” (as the writer or the artist does) in the midst of a society that constantly attacks human dignity (a society that often considers its members an statistic).

There was a time when there were not in the South Pole, as there are today, miles and miles of ice as vast and deep as the geological abysses. A time where those lands exuded a green and exuberant vegetation. Days in which immense fusiform reptiles dominated the life and death of its warm seas, as if they were the spirit of its waters.

For millions of years, day after day, this was so. And if there had been humans at that time, they would never have hesitated to consider those landscapes and that life as “inevitable” or “eternal”. But now we know that was not the case.

Probably (hopefully) there will be a future in which humans will populate the Solar System and beyond as if we had always belonged to space. And surely there will also be those who will think of that reality as something “eternal” and “immutable”.

If science fiction is the literary form that announces change (all change), it is also the literary form par excellence that announces the possibility of the different, of the other. The non-immutability.

In our human history, monsters have always been “the Others”, the different ones, those who do not conform, those who demand to be respected for who they are.

Science fiction talks about monsters to be able to talk about the different in a symbolic way and show the need for that difference. The beauty of the monster.

Society loves the status quo, of course, but life shouts with all its strength that change is not only necessary but inevitable. The “monsters” exist, but they are not what people should fear.

We are all monsters as we seek our originality and we separate ourselves from “the establishment”.

Lakuma is my monster, the symbol of what adapts to the sway of the times (just like its body adapts to the waves of the sea), but also of what is capable of anchoring itself to the ideals of a better world (ideals dreamed and put into practice, like those of the Yámana shamans).

And what are those dreams that give me roots but also wings? Those that imply that everything can and should change, but that it is necessary to work so that this change is for the better. Those of a world in which we see the end of inequality between genders, the freedom to be what we are and want to be (and yes, I speak of the right to be LGBTIQ +), and where there is a true human brotherhood (beyond of cultures, socioeconomical differences, skin colors, countries of origin, capacities, etc.).

The Lakumasaurus antarcticus teaches us that nothing is permanent. That the kings of the sea, like the retrograde and inhuman ideas that are dominant in an era, must evolve or perish within the framework of the long marathon of time.

Lakuma, the mythological being of a vanished people, teaches us that the best of a human group, the noblest of what the human being can be, remains beyond themselves in those ideas that prove to be “monsters” before the dead and cold eyes of ossified prejudices.

In my case, these monsters allowed me to see myself (accepting myself as the “good monster” I want to be, without the fear of being different), and to think, to dream and to create worlds where the landscape is wide enough to shelter each and every one of the people (wonderfully different from each other, as we are all) who want to read my stories.

Monster Blog – Gustavo Bondoni

The Story Behind My Choice of Gualicho

A quick google search will inform anyone interested that a Gualicho (or Gualichu) is a spirit from the mythology of the original people of Patagonia.  It’s the kind of evil spirit that every mythology has, and was often used to explain away every misfortune that befell the tribe. 

Now, I’ll be honest: I knew very little about the Mapuche people—the native population of parts of Patagonia—until very recently.  Argentina is a mainly European country and native populations represent a tiny percentage of the overall population.  The history and traditions of the original inhabitants of the country are only superficially studied in school.  When one encounters a person of evident native ethnicity, most assume that they are more recent immigrants from Bolivia or Paraguay.

These attitudes are the result of initial wars of conquest followed by a few centuries of assimilation—unlike in other areas, the original sparse native populations succumbed mainly to intermarriage with the much more numerous Europeans.

 Nevertheless, I’ve heard the word “gualicho” countless times in everyday conversation.  It has lost its original meaning to become synonymous of any kind of magic spell cast by a witch or shaman.

But it survived.

Somewhere in the wars of subjugation of a people who were far from most centers of commerce and population, one concept burned so strongly that not only was it understood by the conquerors, but it survived and entered the dominant Spanish language to live on in the vernacular.

Two hundred years later, an Argentine writer of mainly Italian ancestry (only a quarter of my forebears were from Spain) sat down to choose a traditional monster from South America. 

My research identified dozens of candidates, from legendary monsters to native gods and from spirits only a handful of indigenous people ever believed in to entities that frightened the superstitious colonists hundreds of years later.

The process ended as soon as I found the Gualicho.  I became fascinated with the fact that a word could morph and survive one of history’s truly definitive wars of annihilation.  It must have had some powerful mojo.

As a term that reaches us through an essentially oral evolution, the etymology is pretty confused, but in my imagination, I can see the Mapuches repeating it again and again every time they came into contact with those Europeans who, through firearms or disease, had become so intimately connected to the unimaginable evil befalling their people.

There was nothing else you could call them, was there?  Those pale-faced interlopers must have seemed to be perfect stand-ins for the evil spirit that haunted their people.

It must have been a powerful spirit indeed, powerful enough to find a way to survive.  But surely a spirit strong enough to be familiar to someone unconnected to the history of the region two hundred years after the people whose legends it had sprung from were gone would find a way to abide, to plan for the time when it could vanquish not only its original victims but also the new interlopers…

But who would it fight?  Would it attempt to ally itself with the Mapuche against the new enemy?  Would it continue to torment the Mapuche’s descendants? 

The answer, once I understood the spirit, was obvious.  This thing would fight agains everyone.

But how?

Well, to get that answer, you’ll have to read the story.

American Monsters – Christopher Kastensmidt

The Many Faces of Kalobo

Hello all! I’m Christopher Kastensmidt, author of The Elephant and Macaw Banner series and “A Parlous Battle”, a story in that series published in American Monsters.

The Kalobo (or “Capelobo”, as it’s known in Brazil) is a relatively unknown legend in Brazil. Dozens of people have told me over the years that they’d never heard of it before the Brazilian publication of “A Parlous Battle” way back in 2011. In fact, if you Google images with “Capelobo”, the most popular images of the creature are those related to my series. I’d like to share a few of those here.

Since it was one of the first creatures that appeared in the stories, it was also one of my first art commissions. Brazilian artist Paulo Ítalo produced two drawings of the creature for me. I worked very closely with him on these and they are the closest to my own personal concept of the creature:

After that, I allowed other artists liberty to create their own interpretations, without any interference from me. U.S. artist Jay Beard created two very different pieces inspired by the creature:

When Czech magazine Pevnost published the story, the artist Jan Štěpánek drew this amazing illustration:

Finally, one of the most well-known illustrations is this gorgeous painting by SulaMoon:

Many thanks to Margrét Helgadóttir for the chance to introduce this creature to readers around the world in the American Monsters anthology. For those looking for more stories from The Elephant and Macaw Banner, the complete series is now available in one volume from Guardbridge Books.

American Monsters – Mariela Pappas

The duality of human nature is one of my favourite topics to write about, that’s why when I was invited to be a part of American Monsters, I immediately though about the lobisón; the Guaraní myth of the seventh male son becoming a wolf when the moon is full.

The word werewolf is often associated with fur, claws and fangs. Monsters howling at the moon. But besides all the horror movies clichés, the myth itself speaks about something else; the horrifying idea that someone you’ve met could turn into someone (or something!) completely different in just a split second. The fear that rationality can evaporate and unleash that inner, wild part of ourselves that we try so hard to control. No matter how civilised, rational and well-adjusted a modern man can be, he is still at the mercy of the moon phases. At the mercy of his own hidden nature.

But who benefits with supressing that wild part of the human soul? Despite some concessions must be made in order to coexist with others in a healthy society, institutions like the Catholic Church have gone too far in what repression concerns.

In my short story The Eyes of a Wolf, an orphan named Estanislao is forcefully adopted by a priest in a middle-of-nowhere town in Entre Rios, Argentina. Even though the boy is doomed to become a werewolf, the priest tries to raise him a good catholic. Just like the Church tries to bury that dark part of ourselves where there is lust and desire. But at the same time, the priest fails to bury his own shameful desires for the boy.

And when another young man named Tobias arrives town and Estanislao falls in love with him, there is simply no way to keep that wild, shadow side of him restrained. Tobias, like the full moon in the werewolf myth, is the trigger for Estanislao to reveal his true nature. Just like in the cheap horror movies I love so much the wolf transformation scene carries broken bones, growing fur and painful changes, confronting your own true self involves pain. And exposing that true self can be even more painful, even dangerous in a society that is becoming more and more conservative and fearful of everything that exceeds the norm. In Estanislao’s case, he has love waiting for him on the other side. The love that accepts us for who we truly are, and knows nothing about race, class or gender.

In times like these, when the Church aligns with the right-wing governments in an alarming manner (especially in Latin America) and true horrors like racism, misogyny and hate crimes against LGBT people flood the news, maybe we should look deeper into our inner wolf. Love and nurture ourselves during our painful transformations, and break free from what is keeping us bound, tamed, afraid. Find in the strength and the passion of our beasts, the freedom to be ourselves. And the courage to fight for that freedom before is taken away from us.

American Monsters – Editors blog

Editing American Monsters
By Margrét Helgadóttir

Five 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 and that only a few of them dominate the scene—vampires, werewolves, ghouls, demons, zombies—all from Western popular culture. We wanted to give the monsters a renaissance as real and scary monsters, a comeback so to speak, and we wanted to bring all of the world’s glorious and terrifying creatures out in the open.

On December 24th, Fox Spirit Books released the fifth volume of Fox Spirit Books of Monsters, a seven-volume series with titles published annually from 2014 to 2020. The series is like a grand world tour exploring old myths, folklore and monster tales continent by continent. The genres used span from horror, fantasy, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, YA, crime, and the more literary. The journey started in Europe in 2014 before it continued to Africa, Asia and the Pacific region. This year we stop in Central and South America.

In the latest book we present you tales of beasties and monstrous terror from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Equador, Uruguay and Guatamala, told by fourteen authors who are either from, have lived in, or have another strong connection to this wide stretching region. This book is the first of two volumes covering the American continent. In American Monsters part two— out in November 2019—we will visit North America including Mexico and the Caribbean.

As editor for these books, it is always very exciting to start researching for a new volume and the most nerve-racking part is when I try to find contributors. I wish to give my thanks to the editors and authors who helped me out with the research and pointed me in direction of other talented authors. I regret to tell you that one challenge turned out to be too difficult to overcome; the search for authors able and willing to contribute from Central America has been extremely difficult. It is thus with sorrow that we can’t give you more stories from authors in Central America. I feel however that we are still bringing you enough stories to give you a small hint about the immense folklore and diversity of monster tales in the southern parts of America.
Language has been a barrier. Some of the authors in Central and South America don’t write fiction or even communicate in English, and I quickly realised that we needed to have several stories translated if I should be able to present this part of the American continent seriously. I am thus very pleased to tell you that we have five translated stories in this volume, four of these are translated (from Spanish) exclusively for this book. Thanks so much for the excellent translations from Fabio Fernandes and Mercedes Guilloux.

It’s been a steep learning curve. This is the first time I have been editing translated stories but even if the process on the translated stories stretched over more time than the other stories, we managed somehow—even though not all the authors communicate in English—to edit and polish these stories too. I have learned very much from this process, something I will use the next time I need translations.

So, language has been a demanding but a fun challenge. In general, I am struck by how language itself reveals an identity in storytelling. There is a certain poetic undercurrent in the voice in many of the stories, both translated and not. The stories feel dark yet oddly personal and honest. Also, I believe that the choice of words and sentence structuring give the tales a peculiar but mesmerising flow—you have no choice but to read them to the end without pause. I have been reflecting on this while editing: maybe it is the identity, the cultural identity of this geographical region that shines through? I don’t know but I hope you will like it as much as I have.

And then it’s the monsters. Humans of all times, regardless of geography, culture or demography, have created stories and myths about beasts and monsters. You can find traces of them in old texts and even in old sea maps. Monster folklore is passed down from generation to generation, and these stories are important in traditions and customs. The tales serve not only as entertainment, but often teach a lesson as well.

Some monsters are universal. You will always find the shape-shifters, the flesh-eating walking dead and the great monsters of the lakes and sea. But what is important to one culture might not be so vital to another.

In the Fox Spirit Books of Monsters I don’t just wish to scare people with monsters they have probably never heard of, but I also want the books to give their readers an insight into the continents we cover. The stories in American Monsters part one are dark and complex, several are a mixture of magic, realism and science. Most of the stories are tales about contemporary life set against a historical blend of the Catholic Church’s influence, indigenous questions, invasion and colonialism, dictatorships, and political struggles. Quite many of the stories tell tales about forbidden taboos or the struggle of minorities, be it indigenous, gender or sexuality.

The monsters portraited is also a complex mix. We have many shapeshifters, more than in previous volumes. There are beasts and spirits too. Then there are the weirder and mysterious creatures and creations, such as light, waves, mountains or even islands—all dark stories that will leave you in utter terror.

I wish to give my thanks to Adele Wearing at Fox Spirit Books and her wonderful crew, and all the artists and authors for making such a lovely book. I hope you will like this volume as much as I have while working on it. There are some monsters here I have truly fallen in love with, they are so hideous and horrible, they don’t sparkle or want to be our friend. They are the truest monsters. Enjoy!

Fearless Genre Warriors -FREE!

The fabulous Jenny Barber contacted a whole den full of Skulk and pulled together a collection that spans all the Fox Spirit anthologies and collections published up to 1st November 2018 and what have we gone and done? Made it free!

It is available for under £3 on Amazon (the minimum they would allow), but keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook for the adverts with the passwords in during the run up to Christmas to grab it for nothing in convenient multi format zip files. 

Then just pop to our free fiction page, pop in the relevant password and download. 

If you are heading to Sledge.lit there is a password in the brochures here too. 

Now about that book, In Jenny’s words:

‘Would you like some free short fiction? Would you like some free short fiction from a simply stunning selection of new and established authors? With bonus poems and articles and internal artwork? 

Fearless Genre Warriors covers it all – we have horror tales, fantasy tales, SF tales, crime tales, humorous tales, and tales that blend any or all of the above! So whatever your fiction thing is, we’ve got you covered!’

And here are those wonderful contents, feast your eyeballs on this lot and then maybe consider picking up one of the books they came from, or leaving a few words of review. 

Introduction
The Dragon’s Maw – Cheryl Morgan
Palakainen – K. A. Laity
The Band of Straw and Silver – Andrew Reid 
From the Womb of the Land, Our Bones Entwined – AJ Fitzwater 
The Itch of Iron, the Pull of the Moon – Carol Borden 
Tits Up in Wonderland – Chloe Yates 
Fragrance of You – Steven Savile 
Kumiho – V.C. Linde 
The Ballad of Gilrain – Sarah Cawkwell 
The Ballad of Gilrain – lyrics Sarah Cawkwell, music Adam Broadhurst 
Art is War – Alasdair Stuart
The Alternative La Belle Dame Sans Merci – Jan Siegal 
Thandiwe’s Tokoloshe – Nick Wood 
Unravel – Ren Warom 
The Cillini – Tracy Fahey 
Katabasis – K T Davies 
Train Tracks – W. P. Johnson 
Sharkadelic – Ian Whates 
Feeding the Fish – Carol Borden 
Antichristine – James Bennett 
Lucille –  Alec McQuay 
Carlos – K. A. Laity
A Very Modern Monster – Aliya Whiteley 
You Are Old, Lady Vilma – Jan Siegal 
Winter in the Vivarium – Tim Major 
Always a Dancer – Steve Lockley 
The End of the World – Margrét Helgadóttir 
The Holy Hour – C. A. Yates 
In the Mouth of the Beast – Li Huijia 
Kokuri’s Palace – Yukimi Ogawa 
A Change of Heart A Babylon Steel story – Gaie Sebold 
Indiana Jones and the Pyramid of Envy – Alasdair Stuart 

There is also some bonus stuff in the back, talking about the anthologies we put together. 

The Jackal Who Came in from the Cold – Table of Contents

Our spy themed foray into Furry is almost ready for your reading pleasure, so House Fox is delighted to share with you the table of contents for this fabulous tome. 

Floof will Out.

Contents

Introduction by Leinir
A Treacherous Thing by C.A. Yates
Survivors of the Holocene by Madison Keller
Starlight and Thorn by K.C. Shaw
The Man in the Background by Miles Reaver
Dirty Rats by Jan Siegel
The Sentinel by Will MacMillan Jones
Pay the Piper by A McLachlan
The Long Game by Neil Williamson
Agent Friendzone by Kyell Gold
Big Bird by Frances Pauli
The Off Air Affair by Huskyteer
Game of Shadows by HJ Pang
The Winged Fox by K.R. Green
Le Chat Et La Souris by Tom Mullins

Snippet Sunday : African Monsters

New thing for 2018, now that it is properly underway. Sunday’s we are going to give you just a few paragraphs from a story to enjoy. There is no particular order to these, but we hope you enjoy them during the year. 

From ‘That Woman’ By S. Lotz
Published in African Monsters

It took me almost eight hours to drive from Accra to the Northern District, and by the time I pulled up outside the police station, back aching from the punishment doled out by the potholes that plagued the roads, all I wanted was a cold drink and a soft bed. No chance of that—I only had two days to conclude my business here. A month earlier, my superior had received a flurry of furious letters from a Gushengu resident complaining that the local police were refusing to look into the suspicious deaths of several men from the district, and that he and his son were now “under attack”. The letters were garbled and borderline illiterate, but they were persistent. Considering the other priorities we had at the time, it was an unusual errand, but my boss was newly appointed, and was wary of giving his detractors any cause to accuse him of incompetence. I was instructed to investigate the man’s claims.
The police station was understaffed, but eventually a constable in a crushed shirt showed me into the district police commander’s office. The commander, a large middle-aged woman with a flat face, greeted me politely and waved me into the seat in front of her desk. I knew little about her; just that she’d been there for many years, working her way up the ladder despite the many difficulties she must have faced as a woman in a male-dominated profession. I don’t consider myself an unconfident man, but I found myself sweating under her gaze: she had unusual, light-coloured eyes that were hard to read and gave her a predatory air. Shrugging off my discomfort, I explained that I was an investigator from the Deputy Inspector’s office in Accra and outlined the reason behind my errand.
She listened without showing any emotion. ‘And who is the man who sent these letters?’
‘A Mr Kwame Nfani.’
‘I know of him. He has been here many times.’ She gave me a bland smile, no hint of guilt that she’d been neglecting her duties. ‘And he says that a great injustice has been done, eh?’
‘He says that a man from his village and four others in neighbouring villages have died in suspicious circumstances, and he believes his son will be next to die.’
‘And how did he say these men died?’
‘He did not.’
‘So on this basis—hearsay—you are conducting an investigation?’
What to say to that? She was correct. She let me squirm for a while, then leaned back in her chair. ‘Ask your questions.’
‘Was there an investigation into the deaths?’
‘No. There was no need. There have been no suspicious deaths in the region recently. But I know of what you speak. In the cases of the men Mr Nfani is referring to, the doctor said three of them were due to malaria, and two succumbed to meningitis. As you know, there was an outbreak of meningitis in the region at the time.’

Monster Writing Competition

Monster writing competition – We want your monster stories!

We published volume three of our Fox Spirit Books of Monsters: Asian Monsters a few months back and Margret Helgadottir is now working on editing volume four: Pacific Monsters, to be released in November. The mission with the series is to give the monsters their comeback, to reestablish their dark and grim reputation, and to bring into the spotlight the monsters hiding in the far corners of the world. To celebrate the monsters, we’re having a writing competition.

We hereby invite you to write your best monster flash story and send it to us before July 1st 2017 midnight (GMT). We want speculative and dark flash stories with full plot. We ask that the stories take place on Earth. We are not looking for fanfiction, satire, erotica, paranormal romance, splatter or overly gory stories. The stories must be written in English.

Only one entry per author. No simultaneous submissions allowed. All entries must be original and unpublished elsewhere, including your blog. We ask that the stories are at a minimum of 500 words, but no longer than 1500 words. Paste story in body of email and send to: ‘narjegerredaktor at gmail dot com’ and title the email with ‘Monster writing competition.’ Margret will read all the stories and select the winning story and to runners up.

The winning story will be published on Fox Spirit Books’ webpage. The winner also receives a copy of the three first monster volumes, plus a Fox Spirit Tote bag with awesome notebook and pen.

Story number two and three will also be published on Fox Spirit Books’ webpage plus win notebook and pen.

If any questions, contact Margret on the email address above.