Are we the hoarders?

I have been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and I have been watching book twitter argue up a storm, helped by inflammatory comments by a newspaper blogger.

The implication has been that Marie Kondo is telling people to get rid of their books, to only keep a few and that this is monstrous. This was not my interpretation. 

Firstly though, I have not in fact read the book, I just put the show on as soothing background. I then attacked my own clothing hoard and about halved it.  I feel better for that. I was hanging on to a lot of stuff that I never expect to slim back into, largely because being size 12 is no longer an ambition. I am 41 and more concerned with my blood pressure being acceptable than my size. I put some things that I love but that are too small for me away safely, I also got rid of some stuff that honestly if i do ever fit them again I don’t expect to want to wear. It makes me happy. 

I have no intention of going through my books. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that we don’t have a room big enough for all the books to be in at the same time.  The other is that books inherently bring me joy. I don’t bring books into the house that I find upsetting or offensive and outside of those instances books are a thing of joy to me. 

Marie Kondo keeps around 30 books in her home. She does not suggest this is the right number for you. In fact what I enjoyed about the show is at no point does she tell people they have too much of a specific thing (although some of the couples bicker about that).

There were two episodes that dealt with books in a significant way to my mind.  One was a widow who obviously needed help giving herself permission to get rid of all her husbands cowboy paperbacks. There was a huge bookcase taken over by these books that were clearly just making her feel bad and she had no interest in reading them. Marie gently ‘woke’ all the books (I understand this comes from her background with Shinto). I thought that was a lovely thing and if I ever get around to reorganising all my books I will take a few moments to wake them. Why not. She then essentially gave her client the ok to get rid of all the debris of a life she was no longer living. 

The other episode Marie visited a lovely couple where both guys were writers of various sorts. Although they didn’t have nearly enough books for my taste to begin with, they were hanging on to old text books and things they weren’t really attached to any more and they let some go. One of them actually had a much harder time letting go of every piece of paper he had ever written on. 

So all in all, I think there has been a lot of excited outrage at something that hasn’t been said and may not be what is actually intended. So what does that say about us? Why would the idea of getting rid of books be so abhorrent. Lots of people get rid of books. I have been book fairy to many a village and school event and charity shop, and my home is still over run. I am pretty sure at this point there aren’t many left I don’t want, that don’t for whatever reason spark joy. It would be a huge job to accept getting rid of three more books.

The shared horror at the KonMarie suggestion of actually addressing the books we have made me wonder, what are we pushing back against? Why does book twitter care so much about what other people do with their books.

Hans, are we Hoarders?

As someone said, this is not the firemen from 451 bursting into your home to destroy the written word, it’s an elfin Japanese lady telling you very gently, through her translator, that your books should bring you joy. To be honest, that is a message I am on board with. 

American Monsters Part. 1

American Monsters Part 1, volume 5 of the series overall, covers southern and central America and American territories and includes a number of translated stories because of the prevalence of latinate languages in the region.

Cover art by Daniele Serra

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. Liliana Colanzi: «The Wave»
  2. Santiago Santos: «A Carpet Sewn With Skeletons»
  3. Sabrina Vourvoulias: «Time’s Up, Cerotes»
  4. Ramiro Sanchiz: «The Pearl»
  5. Paula Andrade: «Almamula»
  6. Cesar Alcázar and Eduardo Monteiro (art): «Cerro Bravo» (graphic story)
  7. Christopher Kastensmidt: «A Parlous Battle»
  8. Mariela Pappas: «The Eyes of a Wolf»
  9. Solange Rodriguez Pappe: «The Entangler»
  10. Daniel Salvo: «Jaar, Jaar, Jaar»
  11. Flavia Rizental: «My Name is Iara»
  12. Gustavo Bondoni: «Vulnerable Populations»
  13. Fabio Fernandes: «The Emptiness in the Heart of All Things»
  14. Paula Andrade: «La Perla del Plata» (graphic story)
  15. Teresa Mira de Echeverria: «Lakuma»

Illustrations by Paula Andrade, Lynda Bruce, and Kieran Walsh.

Opening Paragraphs 

The Wave by Liliana Colanzi
Translated by Jessica Sequeira

The Wave returned during one of the fiercest winters on the East Coast. That year seven students committed suicide between November and April: four threw themselves into gullies from the bridges of Ithaca, the rest turned to the blurry dream of drugs. It was my second year at Cornell and there were still three or four more to go, or maybe five or six. But it was all the same. In Ithaca all the days merged into the same day.

The Wave always arrived the same way: without any warning. Couples fought, psychopaths waited in alleyways, the youngest students let themselves be dragged down by the voices whispering spirals in their ears. What did they say? You’ll never be good enough for this place. You’ll be the shame of your family. That kind of thing. The city was possessed by a strange vibration. In the mornings I’d put on astronaut boots to go shovel the snow piling up like one castle above another, so that the mailman could reach my door. From the porch I could see the Wave embracing the city with its long pale arms. The whiteness refracted all visions, amplifying the voices of the dead and the tracks of the deer migrating toward the false safety of the forest. The old Dream had returned to visit me several nights, images of hell I won’t say a single word more about. I cried every day. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t write, I could hardly get out of bed.

The Wave had arrived and I, who had spent the last few years going from one country to another fleeing from it—as if it were possible to hide from its icy embrace—stopped in front of the mirror to remind myself for the last time that reality is the reflection in the glass and not what hides behind it. This is me, I told myself. I’m still on this side of things, refining my senses. I’m just overwhelmed by the imminent feeling of something I have already lived through many times.

And I sat down to wait.

Review

“A wonderfully eclectic and compelling monster anthology that offers fresh, and often subversive perspectives on the weird, the dark, and the scary. The stories in American Monsters bristle with fangs and claws, introducing us to creatures that are formidable and terrifying, often ancient, and often dangerously capricious. Prowling the outskirts of society and the fringes of reality, many of these monsters live among the poor and the oppressed, and end up using their otherworldly powers to frighten, devour, or punish the oppressors. This is visceral, gripping, and satisfying horror with monsters that will get under your skin to haunt your dreams and your nightmares.”

Maria Haskins, writer and translator with speculative fiction in numerous anthologies and magazines. Blogs about science fiction and fantasy for Barnes and Noble.

Countdown to Christmas Day 24

It’s Christmas Eve, so we are just going to remind you what has been covered so far this month.

December 1st – We gave a quick run down of some of the Fox Spirit titles available that we would define as winter reading.

December 2nd – Sarah Daniels gave us short reviews of five beautiful children’s books for Christmas.

December 3rd – Anna Thomas does short reviews of her five favourites by Japanese Writers, read in 2018

December 4th – Adrian Reynolds reviews The Motion of Light in Water

December 5th – We check out Children of Artifice and it’s author Danie Ware as they get the spotlight on a new writing blog.

December 6th – Michelle Fry does five favourites in brief including the Fabulous Juliet McKenna.

December 7th – Penny Jones reviews Priya Sharma’s new collection of horror shorts.

December 8th – Five top December reads in brief from Lynn E. O’Connacht.

December 9th – Penny Jones returns to take a look at Tracy Fahey’s latest collection.

December 10th  – Highlights James Bennett, regular skulk member and author of the Ben Garston series. 

December 11th – Fave Five Anthologies by Jenny Barber, who has edited some of ours.

December 12th – Carol Goodwin reviews The Enclave by Anne Charnock

December 13th – S. Naomi Scott takes a look at Fox Spirit title Emily Nation by Alec McQuay

December 14th – Carol Goodwin reviews a collection of short Shadow of the Apt tales by the lovely Adrian Tchaikovsky

December 15th – Kim Bannerman reviews Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms, by Eugenia Bone

December 16th – Carol Goodwin reviews Jan Edwards’ Defender, book two of Hive Mind

December 17th – Jenny Barber reviews Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

December 18th – Review by S. Naomi Scott of Kindred by Octavia Butler

December 19th – Penny Jones looks at Laura Mauro’s Naming the Bones

December 20th – Spotlight on K. Bannerman with Damien Seaman

December 21st – Part one of Penny Jones’ examination of tradition.

December 22nd – Part two of Penny Jones’ examination of traditions

December 23rd – Part three of Penny Jones’ examination of traditions

And on CHRISTMAS DAY we have a fabulous short story by K.A. Laity so pop by and read Soot.

Just a reminder that for every post not written by Aunty Fox, we are donating £5 to http://www.booktrust.org/ to help give some kids a happier new year, so thank you to everyone who took part in this years Christmas Countdown. 

We hope those of you visiting the blog found something new to enjoy too.

Christmas Countdown Day 20

Today we turn the spotlight on another skulk member and sometime werewolf, Kim Bannerman.

Kim was recently interviewed over at Damien Seaman’s writing blog, it’s a good in depth interview and well worth a read.

There is also an in depth review of Kim’s latest novel, an Austen inspired tentacle romance, ‘Love & Lovecraft‘. 

Here at Fox Spirit we have adored Kim since our pre publishing days when we reviewed ‘The Tattooed Wolf’. So treat yourself to one of K. Bannerman’s titles this Christmas for something a little less ordinary.

 

Winter is Coming

Even the Skulk are not immune. In Kettutalo we must lay in provisions and asses our assets to survive the long winter.

What this means is we will not be reopening submissions for fiction during 2019 and in all probability 2020. We have lots of great books coming, next year in particular is a busy one so please don’t worry, there are many many books to come, including several planned titles for a new non fiction line. 

We are closing submissions so we can get caught up, take stock and plan properly moving into the future. A stronger, better, though perhaps less prolific Fox Spirit is coming.

We are sorry we will not be able to take on any more wonderful books for a while, it is always hard to turn down projects that we want to do, but right now we need to take a moment, refocus and ensure the long term future of Fox Spirit Books and the Skulk. 

Vulpes and FoxGloves are not affected and we are not cancelling any existing plans, including the launch of thee Darwin’s Fox non fiction line.

As for what to read in the meantime, we have over 70 titles out, many of them available as ebooks on kindle, and in January we will be making ebooks available right here on the website. We may even do some bundles. 

There will be foxy merch by agreement with certain artists and we will continue to promote the many wonderful artists and authors we work with. There will be sequels and series and a few new titles we have already said yes to. There will be blog series and newsletters and plenty of alternative fox. 

We are going to have a very busy couple of years, we just won’t be opening to submissions during them. 

Thank you to everyone who has worked with us and supported us, we hope you will continue this journey with us. 

Always your Aunty Fox.

A weekend of Words

Well the Foxes had a busy weekend.

Saturday we got up bright and early and headed to Nottingham in the light rain and chilly air for Other Worlds. A one day event run by the ever excellent Alex Davis and Nottingham Writers Studio. I pretty much spent the day downstairs, being on and watching panels. 

Among the guests were Gav Thorpe, J.R. Park, Alison Moore, Justina Robson, Stephen Aryan and Charlotte Bond. A stellar line up I was delighted to be part of. I moderated a discussion on short stories. As a huge fan of the short it was lovely to get writers takes on their role in the industry. I also sat on the Tropes panel which had some lively discussion around the role of tropes, for better and for worse. The other panels of the day were superb, with intelligent and varied contributions from writers who clearly really engaged with the subjects. Gav realised last minute that he was moderating but ran the panel brilliantly. I would later come to regret teasing him.

I wore fox ears. Of course.

Mr Fox and I then pootled off to get the train to Sheffield. After a very relaxed night at a premier inn which included pizza in bed and sleep, we were just about refreshed and ready for the final day of Sci Fi in the City. The book programme is run by Sam Stone and David Howe and they always put together an excellent and busy selection of treats for the event. 

I started with a one on one interview with Sam, which was up against cosplay so we had a small audience allowing for a very relaxed conversation with some input from others. I might have been a bit over excited about the colouring story book Zena the Zombie and tried to persuade Sam custom crayons were the way to go. 

After a break, during which pop up puppets did their hilarious version of Jaws (do see them if you get the chance), I moderated a panel on self publishing which looked pretty openly at the pros and cons, and why you might choose to self pub and the practicalities. Followed this up with what was originally posted as a small press discussion but ended up being ‘Aunty Fox and Ian Whates have a damned good catch up and chat about the stuff that goes on’. We covered a lot of the joys and hard truths of small press and while it felt very indulgent to spend a whole hour talking to the lovely Ian in this way the audience seemed happy to just occasionally provide a topic. A rare opportunity for those who attended to hear how it really is. 

Finally the afternoon wrapped for us with a writing SF & Fantasy Panel. I had to eat my words from teasing Mr Thorpe because I realised 5 mins before my 3 hour stint started that I was down to moderate this. I obviously stole some of the questions from the tropes panel, and honestly with the guests I had very little moderating was needed, it was more like throw something out and let them run with it. An absolute joy. I met some utterly delightful people, caught up with old friends including several skulk members and found some even bigger fluffier ears. We came home with lots more books and a whole load of others on my list to try. A fantastic weekend. My guests over the course over the day included Sam, Ian, Bryony Pearce and Rob Harkess among others.

I now have a couple of weeks for my voice to recover before Fantasycon at Chester, where I am pleased to say I am just a punter this year. If you are there I will be the one in giant fluffy ears. 

Just one final shout out for the weekender, to these fabulous cosplayers who went back for the cat. 

 

 

 

Now we are Six

Thank you to everyone who remembered our publishing birthday yesterday. We posted our very first post on June 2nd 2012, which I think makes us six. SIX! I had no idea we would make it this far.

Charlie Fox and the MutherFudger cakes

It’s been an incredible journey, working with any artists, hundreds of writers, our team of editors, formatters and the wonderful readers who keep coming back and supporting us.

We hope to continue it for many years to come. This years titles will start pouring out soon, in the mean time we have around 70 already out there for your enjoyment, SFF, a little crime and horror, books for kids and young adults, anthologies that are tightly drawn on theme and tone, others that meander through genres on a word, we have #ownvoices, new voices, experienced voices, the well known and the intrepid adventurers, all are fearless genre warriors! We have fencing manuals, and essays, we have illustrations and incredible cover art, we are more a militia than a cult. We have cookies.

If you are new to us, welcome to the Skulk! If you have travelled some of all of these first years with us, thank you for all your support. Strap in, there is much more to come. And plenty of pamphlets.

Aunty Fox Reads

When I started Fox Spirit I gave up book blogging formally, and only occasionally post about the books I am reading. I thought the run up to Christmas is a good time to share some of my recent reads though. I don’t gt as much time as I used to but these were all especially enjoyable.

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng 

I fangirled at poor Jeanette at Sledge lit because I loved this book. It is not an action packed book of fae adventures and magic, it is more a thoughtful look at religion and self through the attempt to convert the fae. Although not a great deal happens in terms of outward adventuring the main characters are forced to re examine everything they believe about themselves and the meaning of their own souls. The book never feels slow, part of its magic I suppose is that it feels as though there is a great deal going on even when it is all in the subtext, but this is what I imagine dealing with the fae would be like. A genuinely delightful and thought provoking read.

Raising Fire by James Bennett

This is the second in James’ trilogy, although it you want to dive straight into all action you could pick it up here. I think you would be missing out because Chasing Embers is fantastic and full of gorgeous world building. Once again Ben Garston, the only dragon left awake by the accords, spends much of his time fighting for his life and trying to work out who to trust. This book blend myths and fairytales from various parts of the world with a little history, building into James’ glorious version of reality. full of adventure and dragons. Read it. 

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

I picked this up because of the hardback cover. It’s a young adult, maybe middle grade read and it deals in demons and possession. It’s good fun. Not as complex as the Bartimaeus books which are my gold standard for this sort of story, but the characters are interesting and it’s a quick entertaining read. I particularly enjoyed the developing relationship between Prosper and his unwelcome passenger. Family dynamics are never as simple as they seem, so perhaps this is a good choice for Christmas.

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

I don’t buy books because people advertise them on social media, but occasionally someone I follow (a lot fo them are writers) will say something that will make me go and google their work. I downloaded Heidi’s book on Kindle for a look as it was on offer, then 3 chapters in, bought the paperback and the sequel. It’s a simple enough concept, using maps to Navigate through time as well as place, but it’s brilliantly executed and thought out and the element of time travel makes everything a little more complex. I enjoy the lead Nix and her relationships with the crew and her father. Really entertaining novel asking the question, what would you do for love and how far is too far? 

 

So What’s New?

You may have noticed we have been doing some work on the website. Well we are mostly done now and all the big changes are complete. 

If you link to any of our books or authors you may find the links have changed so please do check. 

Additionally with all the changes it’s possible we broke something and missed it, so if you find a broken link please let me know. 

But what’s new? 

Well, under ‘About Fox Spirit’ you will find ‘publication dates’ and ‘forthcoming titles’. The first is dates we released titles, for quick and easy checking, forthcoming titles is, as you would expect, the books we have committed to, getting added as things get firmed up, and the year we intend to release them. 

You may also have noticed we have made it easier for you to keep up with what’s going on over here at the blog by included recent posts on the front page. 

Authors are now found under the main page, with anthology breakdowns on the sub page ‘anthology authors’. You will also find the long list, our list of regulars ‘Often Found Skulking’ and the gallery on the main Author pages. 

We have given up trying to define books by genre, it’s never been a perfect solution for us, so they are now defined by being novels or collections etc, or part of a special line. Click the main books page to see everything, presented easily by cover and with filters. 

The book pages are all getting a button that takes you direct to the purchasing information on the ‘Buy Links’ page, which has also been made easier to use. 

We will continue to update and tinker with individual pages, but please have a look around. We may have shifted the furniture around but the coffee, cake and hospitality are the same as ever. 

Aunty Fox. 

 

Sledge.Lit

It’s only just over a week away now, so we wanted to remind you we will be having a launch at this years Sledge.Lit.

The book officially being brought out in style is Tracy Fahey’s ‘The Girl in the Fort’, but we will also be bringing copies of some of this years other new titles, fantasy novels Hobgoblin’s Herald and Into the Blight along with our Halloween release Got Ghosts, will all be making their event debut in Derby. 

We are pleased to say that in addition to the traditional wine and nibbles there will also be Fox cookies made by the fabulous Motherfudger. 

Please come along and say hi, even if you don’t buy. 

Quad, Derby on the afternoon of 25th November.