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.

Countdown to Christmas Day 7

Please send in your reviews to submissions@foxspirit.co.uk for inclusion in our Christmas Countdown. 

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“All the Fabulous Beasts” by Priya Sharma

I first had the pleasure of reading Priya Sharma’s work when I was a judge for the British Fantasy Awards in 2016, where she won Best short story for her tale “Fabulous Beasts” and I’ve been hooked ever since. So it was with bated breath that I waited for my copy of her debut collection “All the Fabulous Beasts”, and it was well worth the wait. Alongside the beautiful artwork, which Undertow Publications is renowned for, Priya’s stories manage to weave the mundane with the magical, the ethereal with the horrifying, and she has managed to produce an unnerving collection of some of the most exquisite literary horror to date.

Priya’s writing focuses on the uncanny in everyday situations, revealing the darkness and beauty that are so intrinsically a part of life, and showing us that in order to live we inevitably have to die. From the unbreakable bond between a mother and her child in “Egg”, to the heartbreaking story of loss and bereavement within “The Sunflower Seed Man”, Priya shows us the wondrous which lingers underneath the veneer of our humdrum lives.

Identity and family also plays a huge part in Priya’s stories, her best known piece within the anthology “Fabulous Beasts” is a poignant and hard hitting story which grabs you by the throat and makes you look at the horror that can occur to those who live just round the corner; whilst other tales are set in more exotic locales such as India “The Englishman”, Hong Kong “The Absent Shade”, or even in an alternate history of Liverpool “Rag and Bone”, this distance from the horror doesn’t allow you any moment of reassurance, or an opportunity to think of her protagonists as an “other” someone far-away, different, troubled by issues that would never affect yourself. As Priya paints such a vivid imagery of the place that you see the colours that her characters see, and smell the fetid dirt under their fingernails, as cobbles form under your feet and dust prickles at your nose.  

The strength of Priya’s writing and the beauty of the tales transgresses all boundaries, she manages to convey a depth of emotion and understanding for her characters no matter how flawed they may be and it’s that understanding of humanity and all its intrinsic strengths and flaws which make this such a well rounded book. Because it isn’t just a collection of horror stories, or a debut of literary delights; it is much more than that, it’s a book about life; our life, the lives of those who mean so much to us, and the lives of those that we may wish in our weaker moments were dead. An exquisite collection that will delight all readers.

By Penny Jones

 

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 : Respectable Horror

Respectable Horror front cover

As part of women in horror month we are having horror snippets all month. Here is something from Respectable Horror, edited by K.A. Laity.

Respectable Horror front cover
By S.L. Johnson

The Feet On The Roof
Anjana Basu

Mrs Sinha Roy walked on the softest cushions of feet imaginable. The toes were well formed, the big and first toes of an even height, with the others slanting away, each in perfect proportion to the other. The arch under the foot was as high as a ballet dancer’s or, as she preferred to say, as a Maharani’s, even though many Maharanis were known to have carried their dignity on the flattest of flat feet. The high arch ended in two cushioned pads of flesh on either side, equally perfectly proportioned. People stopped to admire her footprints in the dust on the stone flags of a thakurdalan, or among a mash of marigold petals and milk left over from the puja. As if the goddess Lakshmi had stepped out of her lotus flower and condescended to bless those mundane steps. No wonder, people said, that she had been so blessed in her life. The possessor of footprints like those was bound to lead a fortunate existence.
Fortune – it had overflowed like the pan of milk that had been set on the fire as she stepped over the threshold in a flare of red and gold brocade . Good fortune had overflowed from the three storeyed roof into the green curve of the garden that held the house in its embrace. Good fortune had covered Mrs Roy’s plump white and black bordered person, giving her a creamy gloss well into her widowhood. She had three creamy white daughters and an equally creamy son. The son looked far too like the daughters to be considered perfectly masculine, but when he grew older, a small moustache and crinkled waves of hair put him into the mould of the god Kartik and gave him distinction. Yes, Mrs Roy was fortunate. She inhabited three acres of prime property in the heart of Calcutta and sat idly at her exquisite ivory inlaid desk while the city’s promoters vied with themselves in promising her crores of rupees . Everyone agreed that she would need many crores to compensate for the discomfort of moving out of her twenty room house into a flat.

The Jackal Who Came in From the Cold : Submission Call

During March we will be accepting short story submissions for an anthology.

‘The Jackal who came in from the cold’

The anthology has a spy story theme, and we will consider stories written in most genres as long as they contain a spy story. They do not need to include a Jackal. 

The stories in this anthology should be Furry. This means we are looking for anthropomorphised animal characters, people with extremely animalistic characteristics and the range in between. We have had plenty of stories that would classify as Furry in our anthologies in the past, but this is the first time we will be only accepting such tales, or tails. Anything from the secret life of animals, to a fox at Starbucks.

We will be using a sensitivity reader as part of our final decision process.

We would encourage furry writers to submit.

We are delighted to have @tylociraptor working on the cover for us and he ok’d me sharing this preview. 

Payment will be £15 plus a print copy of the final book. All our usual submission information applies.

As always we are only seeking English language, print and ebook rights and exclusivity is 12 months from the submission deadline. 

The details of this call will be put on our Submissions page during February along with details of how to submit, so you won’t have to keep looking for this post, it’s just early warning. 

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 

Out Now: Respectable Horror

Respectable Horror front cover

Respectable Horror front cover

Get your hands on this beauty! Respectable Horror is out in the wilds and ready to be lured to your home. Miss Poppy (our cover model designed by S. L. Johnson) will lead the way to a spectral crew of authors who are just dying to give you spine-tingling chills. This new collection offers names both familiar and new, writers who believe that it’s possible to terrify without more than a few drops of blood. The wind in the trees, the creak in the floor board, an innocent knock on the door: they’ll all take on a more sinister cast as you turn the pages of this book.

Introduction by K. A. Laity
The Estate of Edward Moorehouse by Ian Burdon
The Feet on the Roof by Anjana Basu
Spooky Girl by Maura McHugh
Recovery by H. V. Chao
The Holy Hour by C. A. Yates
Malefactor by Alan C. Moore
A Splash of Crimson by Catherine Lundoff
In These Rooms by Jonathan Oliver
A Framework by Richard Farren Barber
Running a Few Errands by Su Haddrell
Miss Metcalfe by Ivan Kershner
The Little Beast by Octavia Cade
The Well Wisher by Matthew Pegg
Where Daemons Don’t Tread by Suzanne J. Willis
Full Tote Gods by D. C. White
Those Who Can’t by Rosalind Mosis
The Astartic Arcanum by Carol Borden

Description:

Do serial killers, glistening viscera, oceans of gore and sadistic twists make you yawn behind a polite hand? Are you looking for something a little more interesting than a body count? These are tales that astonish and horrify, bring shivers and leave you breathless. You may be too terrified to find out what happens next – but you won’t be able to resist turning the page. We’ll make you keep the lights on. For a very long time.

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Respectable Horror: Matthew Pegg

MR James Ghost StoriesHaunted Objects.

Sometimes it can be quite hard to put your finger on exactly where a story came from or what inspired it, because so much of writing happens in the subconscious. I usually start out with a snippet of a plot, or a character or an idea, but once I start writing other things accrue and attach themselves to it; events occur that I wasn’t expecting, characters pop up and demand to take part, the story takes on a life of its own.

But I can put my finger on some of the influences on The Well Wisher.

I’ve always liked classic horror and ghost stories, ever since reading my grandparent’s copy of A Century of Thrillers: From Poe to Arlen, which sat on their small and only bookshelf, along with The Passionate Witch by Thorne Smith. (I’ve still got the book and the bookshelf.) A Century of Thrillers is a chunky volume, published by The Daily Express newspaper in the 1930s. Its a great collection of classic tales and well worth tracking down.

I wanted to write a story in that vein and thought it would be interesting to write about a haunted object. M.R. James’s The Mezzotint, A Candle in Her Room, (a terrifying children’s book by Ruth M. Arthur,) and Stephen King’s Christine all tackle this concept in quite different ways.

James’s haunted engraving replays a horrific incident from the past but doesn’t offer any real threat to its observers. You could argue that the true horror of the tale lies in the fact that the protagonist is powerless to influence the events he sees slowly unfolding in the picture.

In A Candle in Her Room the wooden doll Dido exerts a malign influence over three generations of the same family. It is the way that possession of the doll changes its owner that is frightening.

The Witch DollChristine, the 1950s Plymouth Fury, is the most concrete haunted object of the three, quite capable of killing you on its own. But like Dido, possession of Christine changes its owner. I like the way King turns the classic 1950s car, a symbol of the American Dream, into something evil. I also like the detail, missing from the film, that Christine’s milometer runs backwards: the more you drive it the newer the car gets. When thugs trash the car, owner Arnie pushes it round the block all night, putting his back out in the process, until the car repairs itself. There’s something satisfying about the physicality of that action.

I had a feeling that if you’re going to write about a haunted object then it should be a functional object, and if its normal function can become threatening in some way then that seemed to me to be satisfyingly neat. Of the three examples of haunted objects above, I think only in Christine do you get a sense of what has caused an inanimate object to turn nasty: Christine has been created by the human hatred of its previous owner, rather than any supernatural force. So its progenitors are Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde rather than Dracula: we create the monster and we become the monster, rather than the monster being a threat from elsewhere.

I like structure in stories. I find it satisfying when things have some kind of internal logic. So I wanted to know why my haunted object behaved the way it did. And that ‘why’ had to also be something to do with it’s function. That was what I was trying to achieve and I hope it works.

I’m being a bit coy about revealing too much about The Well Wisher because I hope you’ll read it and I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Miss Andrews, the central character, evolved all on her own to become a troubled, clever, kind, brave, flawed person. And I can’t claim to have planned any of that, it just happened. I do know that one influence on her was Jane Eyre. I’d recently seen a theatre version of the story and it was rattling round in my brain, especially Jane’s orphan status and poverty, which define the choices she can make in life.

For an unmarried Victorian woman, educated but not wealthy, being a governess was one of the few options available. Charlotte and Anne Bronte did this in real life and that experience is reflected in both Jane Eyre and Anne’s first novel Agnes Grey.

I felt that the Victorian governess was in a rather uneasy position, not quite one of the servants, but not truly a member of the family either. I liked that sense of isolation, unease and insecurity.

So Miss Andrews became a governess, sometimes too forthright for her own good but worried about her future, and much braver than me. I would like to know what happens to her next.

But as I said at the start, a lot of any story emerges from the subconscious. So when I was reading the proof copy of Respectable Horror, I was struck by how much of The Well Wisher seemed quite unfamiliar. “Where did that come from,” I wondered, “And that?”

I can’t even claim credit for the double meaning in the title….
 
Matthew Pegg is a writer based in Leicestershire in the UK. Most of his writing has been for theatre and includes work for puppet companies, youth theatres, community plays and a script designed to be performed during a medieval banquet. His most recent theatre work was Escaping Alice, a love story with chains and handcuffs, for York Theatre Royal. He’s also completed a community radio play based on the life of Wordsworth and has been commissioned to create a puppet play to tour to care homes for people suffering from dementia. In 2012 he completed an MA in Creative Writing, and since then he has been working on a novel, and placing short fiction with a variety of publishers. Website: http://www.mpegg.co.uk 

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Respectable Horror: Ian Burdon

Polin seaside

We’ve got a scintillating new collection of stories coming: Respectable Horror. As you might guess from the title it’s a return to creepy spooky unsettling tales — think Shirley Jackson and M.R. James. Here’s one of our writers telling you about how he came to write his story:

Polin seasideIan Burdon

I used to write.

I used to start things, then abandon them because they were crap. That isn’t false modesty, I still have some of them on floppy disk, or even typewritten with copious Tippex corrections (yes kids, that’s how old I am). I keep meaning to destroy them, but somehow can’t; so sometimes I take them out and read them, and they’re still crap.

Eventually I stopped writing fiction; not for any real reason, just the usual job and family things that took up my time. And I wrote stuff for work, which sublimated the urge to make things up (though I was a civil servant, so…).

I even got published.

Then one day my wife and I were on a remote single-track road in the Highlands, and, as we rounded a blind corner, a spume of characters and ideas blew in through the open car window and into my notebook. I started plotting a novel, somewhat inspired by my first degree (Theology) and Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, but set in Caithness, with characters who might or might not exist, depending on your point of view. I knew two things straight away: I wanted to write that story, and I didn’t have the skills to do it. So I wrote lots of practice pieces to try and develop, sharing my efforts with friends in similar circumstances.

Eventually, after lots of words, and lots of deletions, I produced a couple of scenes that I knew were qualitatively better than previous efforts, and promptly went on holiday.

This time, we were walking on a remote Sutherland beach [photo above!] where I was reminded of Jonathan Miller’s classic 1968 adaptation of Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come to You, My Lad. Gosh, I thought, we’re walking through the middle of an MR James story. Out came the notebook. Not long after, the first draft of “The Estate of Edward Moorehouse” was complete.

I didn’t write it with publication in mind, and I didn’t expect to write anything in the horror genre, respectable or not; it’s not what I normally read. Authors whom I’d like to emulate in one way or another include Muriel Spark, Edna O’Brien, Dorothy Dunnett, George MacKay Brown, M John Harrison and Christopher Priest.

Since Edward Moorehouse, I’ve completed several stand-alone stories and a 105K word collection of linked short stories—that began when I found myself inadvertently writing a vampire story and knew I didn’t want to write any such thing. I’m currently working on a sequel to that. And I still have that other novel to write, and the one about sex workers in post-war Edinburgh, and by the way did I tell you about the monk who talked to lizards, and the boy who rode trains with his coyote, and…

 

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You Left Your Biscuit Behind : Release day

OUT NOW! 

Our first crime themed anthology featuring crime, fantasy, horror, humour and baked goods. It’s basically just like one of our events. 

10 stories, by ten authors, all with a crime at their heart, some of them with biscuits. Whether that is the stories of the authors I leave to you. 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000448_00024]

Contents
Elf Prefix by Graham Wynd
Between Love and Hat by Jay Eales
Ghost Signals by James Bennett
No Mercy by K.D. Kinchen
That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles by Penny Jones
Feeding the Fish by Carol Borden
Mermaids in Cape Town by Mame Diene
Patron by E.J. Davies
The Price of a Biscuit by Kate Coe
The Princess, The Pekingese and the Ivory Box by R.A. Kennedy