Christmas Countdown Day 13

Emily Nation by Alec McQuay 

Review by S. Naomi Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

[This review may contain spoilers.]

At some unspecified point in the future, the world is an arid wasteland thanks to a war without explanation. Onto this stage steps Emily Nation the eponymous protagonist of this remarkable and thoroughly enjoyable novel.

Emily is an assassin, and by all accounts a pretty good one at that. When her work follows her home to her wife and daughter one day things start to turn very bad indeed, and Emily is left wrecked and ruined, surviving on a diet comprising of mega-violence, casual sex and alcohol in varying amounts, right up until the point she’s dragged back to her home town of Camborne to help the locals fight off a gang of rabid raiders whilst simultaneously trying to figure out what’s going on with the daughter she thought dead.

I really enjoyed this book, and given that there are plenty of questions left unanswered at the end I’m supremely hopeful for a sequel some time soon. It’s borderline hardcore violence with more than a hint of distinctly dark humour, and rattles along at a fair old pace. In places I was reminded of Tank Girl at her best, but with a twist of some of the edgier elements of cyberpunk thrown in for good measure. All in all a fun read and one I would recommend without reservation. Not quite five stars, but not that far off.

Winter Tales : Among Wolves

by B Thomas

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am infatuated with dark fiction. I’m not alone in this or King wouldn’t be one of the most iconic writers of all time, Gone Girl would not have been a smash success, and not one of you will get this next Brad Pitt reference: “Oh God. . . What’s in the box?” (I know some of you did.)

It’s also more than safe to say, that I have a deep respect and love for animals of all kinds, particularly wolves. Their elegance, their pack mentality, and the way they look at you with their heads low and their eyes unblinking. Sadly, though, they are also hunted, trapped, and facing endangerment. (That’s all the preaching I’m going to do, be assured). I knew several years ago that I wanted to write a story involving wolves, and our desperate need to get back in touch with nature. But the killer question was: in what way would this scenario be plausible? Easy: hello apocalypse.

The thing with apocalyptic fiction is that there are certain tropes that are nearly impossible to avoid. I.E – warring factions, groups of people who revert back to a barbarian-like state, etc. While I knew these were going to be present, I didn’t want that conflict to take away from the point that I was trying to get across. I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not I achieved this, but if anybody—even only one person who reads it thinks: maybe humans don’t know everything, then I will consider it a victory.

After three drafts, I submitted Among Wolves to the annual Writers of the Future contest where it earned an honorable mention. While I was happy about this, it didn’t change the fact that there it sat: unpublished and wanting to be read. Then I stumbled across Fox Spirit’s Winter Tales call for submissions: Frost pierces through everything. Your bones ache in the icy wind. Harsh winter storms rage and the sun is leaving, not to return for many months. . .

I was ecstatic. . . And nervous. Response times are brutal for any writer, and even though Fox Spirit had a rather short wait time, it was still excruciating. I wanted Among Wolves to belong in this collection and have the opportunity to work with a press that had been named the 2015 Best Small Press by the British Fantasy Society. My thanks to them are endless, along with my gratitude to Margaret Helgadottir for being such a communicative, insightful editor, and my trusted beta readers, some of you having read Among Wolves more than once. Thank you again.

Several months after my acceptance into Winter Tales, I embarked on a trip I had wanted to go on for a couple years. Along with my girlfriend and a few friends, we went out west to visit the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, a nonprofit sanctuary for wolves and other wild canines. It was incredible. We were given the opportunity to interact closely and personally with the animals and everything I desired to get across in my story had been reaffirmed a thousand times over.

If you are so inclined you can stop by my webpage at or follow me on twitter @jigsawkid7

Video killed the radio star

In the last couple of weeks Hannah Kate has interviewed both Aunty Fox and Kate Laity on Hannah’s Bookshelf.

The shows are a couple of hours and the interviews cover a wide range of bookish stuff including the Library at the End of Days.

Check out Aunty Fox talking genre, small press publishing and the Art of War.

Hannah’s Bookshelf with special guest Adele Wearing – 30/01/2016 by Hannah’s Bookshelf on Mixcloud

You can also listen to Kate Laity talking books, managing identities and more here.


Hannah’s Bookshelf with special guest K. A. Laity – 23/01/2016 by Hannah’s Bookshelf on Mixcloud

Monday Methods : Alec McQuay

Alec’s book ‘Emily Nation’ is officially released in paperback TODAY! Post apolcayptic Cornwall, an alcoholic assassin, a mysterious benefactor…

emily nation

Now here is Alec with a Monday Method for you all.
Monday methods!

I thought I’d start by summing up my writing environment in one neat little picture. In the background you can see what I like to call organised chaos, but what everyone else at work thinks of as an unholy mess. They’d probably be right, and if I had to submit a metaphorical picture of the inside of my brain, a big heap of bits of paper, probably teetering on the verge of falling over and crushing me to death, would about do it. I’m not the organised kind in anything that I do. You want a wedding planned for next June amidst the softly swaying trees of rural Pembrokeshire? Nope, can’t help you. Oh, the shit just hit the fan, the doves are attacking the guests, the priest is stuck at the bottom of a well, the venue (a busy roundabout) is on fire and you have to get married within the hour or you’ll turn back into an ornamental bedside lamp? Well hold on to your fucking petticoats,  you’ve come to the right place…


I’ve got a full time job, two kids, three cats, a dog and more hobbies than I can shake a stick at, and I still find the time to write. That doesn’t make me special though, if you ever find yourself at a convention (try Edge Lit in Derby, tis a good ‘un) you’ll find out this is quite close to the norm. We all have our ways of getting it done, and this is mine. It’s all about controlling my environment, and the way I do that is really simple. I stay up really late when everyone else is sleeping, pour myself a huge brew the colour of Black Beard’s shaded parts, crank up the tunes to FUCK YOU, EARDRUMS! type levels and get typing. A lot of people can’t write to music; personally I find it’s best to avoid anything you’d normally sing along to, avoid rap as the music is heavily dependent on the words and, for preference, opt for a band with a vocalist whose indecipherable singing you can’t understand anyway. Keeps the distractions to a minimum, but you can still stop to shred an air-guitar solo every now and then. That’s a given. There’s no-one around, I can’t hear anything that I didn’t put there to be heard and the whole world is kept at arm’s length while I try and turn the internal chaos into something resembling a story.

Sometimes it actually works.

About the girl at the end of the world

Covers 2 Book 2
Covers 2 Book 2

There was supposed to be an introduction to Girl, I wrote it but I never sent it to the formatter with the rest of the book. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to share it yet. Now Book 1 is out, Book 2 is almost finished and I think perhaps this is a better place for it. The apocalypse can happen to anyone & I never saw it coming.

‘It’s all over and I’m standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here.’
Nena – 99 Red Balloons

‘The Girl at the End of the World’ is undoubtedly the most personal collection for me that Fox Spirit has done. Maybe that is why I let it get totally out of hand. It was supposed to be one volume of around 20 stories, it’s now two volumes and because there were too many great ideas for covers each volume gets two cover options as well. A total of over 40 stories but I have no regrets, it was hard cutting the submissions down even that much.

The brief was ‘pre, during, post and personal apocalypse’. I wanted a wide range of interpretations and I got them! From the kick off with James Bennett’s ‘Antichristine’ to the far future sci-fi finish I hope it is obvious to readers that although you may find the odd zombie shambling among the pages there is a lot more scope to the end of the world than just natural disasters (which also feature) and the walking dead. There is some humour in there, in particular Carol Borden’s ‘Sophie and the Gates of Hell’ made me laugh out loud while reading through the submissions. The volumes include some wonderful treatments of traditional themes like the post apocalyptic urban survivor stories and some less well trodden routes are also explored. There was no genre specified for these volumes, so you’ll find fantasy, horror, sci-fi, crime and genre-bending playfulness within these pages. There are authors who will be familiar to regulars at Fox Spirit as well as plenty of names that are new to our tables of contents.

Why these books are so personal to me, why this project was inevitable really from the moment Fox Spirit was registered as a publisher is two-fold. One is my own love for these sorts of heroines: Ripley, Sarah Connor, Resident Evil’s Alice and of course Buffy the Vampire Slayer to name a few. Women and girls fighting for their own survival, to hold back the end of the world and in some cases just to be normal and live in the world again for a moment. The same love for these characters and for exploring what goes into their survival that led to the collaborative project ‘The Girls Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse’ stayed with me once that came to an end. It just took a little time to work out what I wanted to do with it.

It was more than that though. Fox Spirit would never have happened if my world as I knew it hadn’t ended. When I realised that my marriage was never going to work I had to let go of the shared life we had planned and suddenly I had no idea what my future was going to look like. It was a painful, frightening and sometimes just numbing experience. I got to spend some time as a zombie, mostly looking for my own brain rather than eating anyone else’s. A lot of the time I was just trying not to fall apart, to keep going every day and then I started to put myself back together and move on. It was while I was moving on from that I ended up agreeing to do ‘Nun and Dragon’ and through that Fox Spirit emerged. I am very fortunate that so many of my close friends, of the people who propped me up through it all are writers and artists and let’s be honest about it, a bit insane.

‘Sorry to barge in. I’m afraid we have a slight apocalypse.’ – Rupert Giles BTVS


The Girl at the End of the World Vol 1

The end is nigh!

The first volume (city cover as shown) of Girl at the End of the World is now available via amazon worldwide. The alternate ‘girl’ cover and ebooks will be going live over the next few days so keep an eye out!

Cover 1 Book 1
Cover 1 Book 1

Volume 2 is due for release at the end of July.

It’s the end of days. The sky is falling, the seas are burning and your neighbour is a zombie. It’s brutal out there. It’s every man for himself and these heels are going to have to go; you simply can’t run in them!

Across two volumes, The Girl at the End of the World offers forty-one striking visions of the apocalypse and the women and girls dealing with it. From gods to zombies, from epic to deeply personal, from the moment of impact to a future where life is long forgotten; bestselling authors and exciting new writers deliver tales you’ll still remember when holed up in a fallout shelter with one remaining bullet and a best friend with a suspicious bite mark on their neck.

The two volumes feature a number of new and established authors including Adrian Tchaikovsky and best selling crime novelist James Oswald.