The Eligability Post

Well, with Hugo noms open, it was inevitable.

Our eligibility for 2018 titles

Novel
Starfang 2 : Rise of the Clan by Joyce Chng
Starfang 3 : Will of the Clan by Joyce Chng
Children of Artifice by Danie Ware

Novella
Petra MacDonald and the Queen of the Fae by Shona Kinsella

Anthology 
American Monsters part 1

Short Fiction
Contents of American Monsters
Santiago Santos: «A Carpet Sewn With Skeletons»
Sabrina Vourvoulias: «Time’s Up, Cerotes»
Ramiro Sanchiz: «The Pearl»
Paula Andrade: «Almamula»
Mariela Pappas: «The Eyes of a Wolf»
Solange Rodriguez Pappe: «The Entangler»
Daniel Salvo: «Jaar, Jaar, Jaar»
Flavia Rizental: «My Name is Iara»
Gustavo Bondoni: «Vulnerable Populations»
Fabio Fernandes: «The Emptiness in the Heart of All Things»
Teresa Mira de Echeverria: «Lakuma»

The Judgement Call (7506 words) by Simon Bestwick
Along the Long Road (5500 words) by Penny Jones

Graphic Stories
Cesar Alcázar and Eduardo Monteiro (art): «Cerro Bravo» – American Monsters
Paula Andrade: «La Perla del Plata» – American Monsters 

Artists 
Paula Andrade, Lynda Bruce, and Kieran Walsh – American Monsters internal art
Daniele Serra – American Monsters cover
Neil Williams – Judgement Call/Along the long road cover
Tabatha Stirling – Petra MacDonald cover
Sarah Anne Langton – Children of Artifice cover
Rhiannon Rasmussen-SIlverstein – Starfang 2 & 3 covers

Editor (short form) 
Margrét Helgadóttir

A P.S. Our period columnist for Not the Fox News, Alasdair Stuart is eligible as fan writer and probably some other stuff, you should get on that. 😉

Countdown to Christmas Day 10

Today we are recommending another Fox Spirit skulk member, but not our own publications. That is because in addition to some incredible short stories with us, in the last few years James Bennett has been writing novels. Awesome novels with DRAGONS. 

James is interviewed in two parts on Damien Seaman’s blog where he talks about his writing, his travels, the need for representation and getting his book deal

series image from Orbit.

:

Part 1 is here 

Part 2 is here

I have read the first two books in the Ben Garston trilogy and am very excited to get my foxy paws on the third.

And as we are reviewing this month here are my super quick reviews of the first two:

Chasing Embers
James Bennett takes myth, fairy tale, history and the almost real world and expertly pulls the threads together to weave a tale of dragons, daring adventures and ancient foes.
It’s also the heartbreaking and powerful story of a young girl’s desperation, betrayal and hope.
A fantastic story and a complete tale, with the promise of more to come.

Raising Fire
The first novel in this series created a rich world where history, myth and fairy tale blend together and offered us a protagonist driven by duty more than heroism as it built towards a climax. This second volume picks up with the fallout of the previous years events, dropping the reader straight into the action as we discover that far from being allowed to fade back into the background, Red Ben is going to be fighting for his life.
The focus in the second novel is on the eastern and western guardians of the remnants and the lore and the machinations of the Envoy, leading us through Xanadu in the past, Paris in the present and of course, a little bit of London among others. The threads of loss, betrayal, longing and survival weave throughout the fantastic story telling and compelling characters. It’s faster paced than the first, full of visceral battle scenes, with the occasional potent moment of sorrow or despair, rooting it deeply in the readers heart.
James Bennett is a superb storyteller and this series is a must read for fans of knightly adventures, dragons or fantasy, or pretty much anyone who reads fiction really.
I would recommend reading the first, but technically I think you could dip straight in at book 2, Bennett drops just enough breadcrumbs to follow the plot without the full background, although I think it is a shame to miss out on book 1 personally.

Review of Children of Artifice

Tej Turner has been kind enough to provide an early review of Children of Artifice by Danie Ware. So for those of you wanting to know a little more, here it is in full.

***

Children of Artifice is one of those novels where, from the very beginning, it is hard to know what to expect (and I mean that in a good way!).

Set within an enigmatic second world, where humans live within a secular city-state nestled within a gigantic crater, knowing nothing of what exists beyond the impassable ridge which surrounds them except for that they were placed there by a mythic race of mysterious beings known as the ‘Builders’ long ago, one could at first suspect that it is going to be a YA thriller of intrigue and discovery. The age it is set in appears to be historic, and yet the rich amalgam of technology and alchemy which sets the scene cannot be pinned to any particular age, and there is also magic. It has elements of fantasy and science fiction, but they have been blended together seamlessly and do not jar.

The author has described it as an ‘urban fairy tale’, which is very fitting. It does have that feel of old and new. It is quite gritty at times, and yet full of beautiful moments.

I do not want to say too much about the plot, because it is a novel which surprises you at every turn and right up until the very end, it is impossible to predict what is going to happen because there are always several paths it could take. So I will speak instead of its other features.

One of its focal themes is family – both the ones people are born with and ones they create for themselves – and the relationships between the characters are filled with nuances which are tender, tragic, uplifting and everything in between. Society – how it controls those within it, and the many ways (positive and negative) which people rebel – is another central theme, and there are some interesting parallels which can be drawn with our present day. It has a wonderfully crafted, vivid setting, and complex, believable characters that come alive from the pages and leave a lasting impression.

I am particularly pleased with this novel’s diverse voices. Both same-sex and heteronormative romances take place during the story but none are presented as bring particularly shocking and the characters are never given labels, and yet it still examines issues of identity, prejudice, and sexual fluidity which are relatable to a modern day reader. It is refreshing to read a novel written in such a way.

Children of Artifice has a fantastic story, one I would recommend to readers of any genre and age. It conjures beautiful imagery and puts you in a state of living dream, taking you on an emotional journey which stays with you. I am looking forward to the sequel.

 

Release Day : Children of Artifice

It’s Alive!! *lightning, thunder, torrential downpour*

Cover by Sarah Anne Langton

Children of Artifice is live and available on an Amazon near you. It will also be available through Forbidden Planet from Mid July. We will post more information on store based events as it comes in, but for now, Danie Ware will be at Edge lit on Saturday 4th July, easily identified by her badge that says Danie Ware and her general new book bounce. 

We will have copies of Artifice at Edge so you can get them signed, just pop over to the dealers room, or bring your own with you, or any of Danie’s books, we don’t mind, it’s just nice to see happy authors scribbling on people’s stuff. 

Anyway, a bit about the book…

An ancient city, sealed in a vast crater. A history of metallurgical magic, and of Builders that could craft the living, breathing stone.

Caphen Talmar is the high-born son of an elite family, descended from the Builders themselves, his artistic career ruined when his ex-lover broke his fingers. One night, gambling down at the wharfside – somewhere he shouldn’t have been in the first place – he meets Aden. An uncomplicated, rough-edged dockworker, Aden is everything Caph needs to forget the pressures of his father’s constant criticism. But this isn’t just another one-night stand. Aden is trying to find his sister, and he needs Caph’s help. Soon, they find themselves tangled in a deadly game of trust, lies and political rebellion. And, as Caph begins to understand the real depth of the horrors they’ve uncovered, he learns that Aden is not what he seems. And Aden knows more about the coming destruction than Caph could ever have guessed. 

Praise for Children of Artifice

“Danie does it again: a delicious tale that I didn’t want to put down.
All the people, all the detail, all the story – and none of the drag. A
one-sitting read of pure joy.” – David Devereux

“Slippery, smart and sexy: an heady alchemical brew of high politics and low magic that’s strong enough to lay anyone low.” – Simon Morden

“A skilful alchemy of raw emotion, renegade sensuality and emboldened fantasy. Ware tears out her readers’ hearts and dips them in molten gold, making every one of us a willing child of Artifice.” – Kim Lakin-Smith

“Children of Artifice has a fantastic story, one I would recommend to readers of any genre and age. It conjures beautiful imagery and puts you in a state of living dream, taking you on an emotional journey which stays with you. I am looking forward to the sequel.” – Tej Turner

 

Launch Day : Into the Blight

Our latest Fantasy outing is Into the Blight by Jonathan Ward. 

It is a time of turmoil and uncertainty.

For decades the Bask have ruled over the six clans of Arran. Now they rule no longer: overthrown by a creature from legend that wields terrifying power, and seeks to remake the land according to her own inscrutable designs.

Fearing that the creature might turn her attention their way, the rulers of the neighbouring kingdom of Taleria seek anything that could stand against her might. They find it in the past: in the tales surrounding a cursed land and an ancient power buried there. An expedition is mounted to claim this power for Taleria.

But there are some things in the world that should very definitely remain buried…

Read more here 

Contact us for review copies or author interviews adele@foxspirit.co.uk

Release Day : Skytown

K.C. Shaw’s adventure of sky piracy and privateering is available now!

This is the first full length outing for returning favourites Lizzy and Jo from some of K.C. Shaw’s short stories. 

Cover art by Jenny Haines

Get yourself on an adventure

Opening paragraphs of Skytown

 

Lizzy had no more gold nuggets sewn into the lining of her leather coat, the one that looked like it was made from a dead sofa. ‘Check again,’ Jo said. They couldn’t be out of money. They’d had so much.
Lizzy didn’t check again. Instead she folded the coat and laid it on her bed. ‘That gold was supposed to be for emergencies. Did you think it would last forever?’
Lizzy as a rule didn’t have much of a temper; she indicated her disapproval with silences, glowers, and a certain falling intonation of her deep voice. Jo fought the urge to shrink away in apology like a little girl caught doing wrong. ‘I didn’t think we’d spent so much,’ she said.
‘We’ve spent it all. Now we have to get more.’
It was early morning, barely past dawn, but the room they shared faced east and Jo could see quite well. Lizzy’s skin was so pale she practically glowed in the dark anyway. Through the open window, the surf crawled up and down the beach.
Jo said, ‘We can head farther south along the coast, I suppose. I’d like to see more of the world.’
‘If you want to continue eating while we see the world, we need to find airships we can take.’
Jo nodded. She must be practical like Lizzy and not squeamish about the profession she had, after all, chosen willingly. ‘Yes. It would probably be best to tread lightly in Hule; we can use it as a safe zone in case of trouble elsewhere. Besides, I’d like to come back to this village when we have money again.’

Launch Day

The Hobgoblin’s Herald is now available!

Andrew’s debut is a fantastic fantasy adventure for lovers of traditional fantasy and those looking for something a but different. 

Cover art by Tabatha Stirling

There are monsters in the forests of Katahia, and not all of them are human…
 
When a poacher’s daughter saves one of their chieftains, she is drawn into the twisted world of the dreaded hobgoblins, where life is cheap and pity is weakness. Together, the girl and the malignant beasts must cross a realm on the cusp of dynastic civil war, in search of a land where they might thrive, or else be eradicated in the coming conflict.
 
As the road before her grows ever darker and her allies ever stranger, Mallory must choose which side she owes loyalty, and what she is willing to do in order to survive.

Read the opening paragraphs here 

Find the book on Amazon uk here

Contact me at adele@foxspirit.co.uk if you are interested in reviewing The Hobgoblin’s Herald or interviewing the author. 

Cover Reveal : Hobgoblin’s Herald

This summer has a couple of fantastic new releases coming. One of which is the fantasy novel ‘Hobgoblin’s Herald’ by A.R. Aston. 

The book will be launched on 1st July so there will be plenty of time to grab a copy before Edge.Lit and get Andrew to sign it. 

In the mean time, here is the cover by the fantastic Tabitha Sterling mudlarkdesign.tumblr.com and for your enjoyment, the Prologue. 

‘The fetters of the Aelf were made of sapphires, the walls of their cells silver and ivory. It was nothing like the dank black dungeons of menfolk, or the festering oubliettes of Hezra Half-Gremlin. This cell was bright, and cold and austere. It hurt her eyes to look upon the mirror-polished star metal that entombed her here. And so the Herald dangled in a darkness of her own imposing, eyes screwed shut.
Her shackles rubbed unpleasantly against her flesh, and when she cried out, the sound was without echo. The walls
seemed to consume her screams and nullify her protests. Her captors had no desire to listen to her entreaties. Everything she said would be considered a lie by the Fated Ones. Thus she was doomed to suffer an ignoble, yet relatively painless death by their hands. She had days at most, but it was impossible to judge just how long that would be, for days were meaningless in a realm without night to mark the cycles.
They’d taken her bone-threaded war braids, and stripped the Herald of her rune-etched armour of boiled leather and
foraged steel. Upon capture, they’d even scrubbed her face of the blood marks, leaving only the silvery scars that formed their base behind. Like a cat declawed, the Aelf divested her of her scimitar, her daggers, and her sling. Now she wore a simple habit of pale blue silk, but this did nothing to disguise the fact she was a reviled heathen fated to die. She dangled from the ceiling by her hands, a flank of beef hung for smoking. Her bare feet dangled helplessly beneath her. They were the palest they’d been in years. The Aelf could not tolerate filth, not a single gram of it, not even caking their prisoners’ soles.
They had kept her fed with bland wafers and crystal still water, which seemed to sap her strength and will to fight with every mouthful. They could have poisoned her by slipping something odourless and colourless into the daily rations, but she suspected not. They simply had no need to nourish her or poison her. That was the worst thing of all, they didn’t hate her. She meant nothing to the tall, gleaming nightmares. She was an obstruction to remove and her captors would carry out her sentence with a workmanlike efficiency.
The Herald wondered where her allies were now. Were they even alive? She didn’t even entertain the notion they’d
be coming to save her. These were not those kinds of allies. Polder might have helped, but that passive psychotic was next to useless in a scrap.
The Fated Ones would kill her, unless she fought for herself. That was always the way it went.
Each day, she felt her resolve weakening. Her will was maintained now by hate and fear. Curse them for their indifference! 
With her eyes closed, she dreamt of the spiralling nightmare which had brought her to this ignominious terminus.
The five-limbed leviathans of Ashebos, the flying cities, the incandescent Lance of Rael, the black naga, the Djinncallers, the Eater of Names; all these things she had seen, all that pain and wonderment she had experienced, had sprung from a singular event, back in a different life, a different world.
It had been an act of mercy, for one who did not deserve an ounce of it.
She heard the whisper-quiet footsteps of her gaoler in the corridor outside. The lock on the door rattled, as simultaneously the bolts barring it were thrown open one by one. The prisoner clenched her fists, bared her teeth, and drew her feet up to her chest, like an animal tensing for the pounce. She spat bloody phlegm on their pristine floor, which made her smile. If the Aelf wanted her dead, they would need to get their hands dirty. She’d tear at them like a mad shrike. She’d make them work for their kill. She would teach them hate.’

 

Waxing Lyrical : Asexuality in Fantasy

Images added by Aunty Fox, also check this out for some illustrations of asexuality and dumb things people say.

Asexuality in Fantasy

By Joel Cornah

Writing characters is so often about letting the reader know what they are, rather than what they are not. In our world, so much of how people’s identities are perceived is bound up in ideas of sexuality and romance that, in the words of comedian Charlie Brooker;

We’ve become so accustomed to seeing characters pairing off with one another that it’s now almost impossible to see a man and a woman together on screen at once without internally speculating about whether they’re going to have sex or not.”

 Indeed, the trope of having two people (often of different genders) who do little but argue and despise one another but end up falling madly in love is incredibly prominent. I might even go so far as to say that for a lot of people, seeing two characters bicker has become an almost sure-fire way of predicting if they’ll end up together. But even in these cases, the writers will often tie them together through some reconciliation scene that ends with physical intimacy of some sort. Just to hammer home the point.

When it comes to writing asexual characters, those who lack sexual attraction, it can be somewhat jarring to audiences who are used to characters getting off with one another simply by being in the same room. I think this might be the source of some anti-ace feeling some publishers may have, especially as a sexual or romantic subplot is expected of most stories as a matter of course.

With the world I created for The Sea-Stone Sword and The Sky Slayer, I decided that prejudices based on sexuality were not really a thing in most societies. It made the writing process a lot more open and gave me much more creative freedom. Openly gay and bisexual characters are comparatively easy to show through the relationships and romances the characters endure and pursue. The age old ‘show don’t tell’ rule runs smoothly in these cases. But when it comes to asexual characters it’s much harder to make it explicit.

So how do you address it in a way that can be easily grasped? Is it as simple as having characters who just never experience sexual attraction or is it something we should actively point out in a character? Should they internally reflect on their lack of attraction, should they explain it to others, should it be discussed openly or simply allowed to exist.

I have one ace character in The Sea-Stone Sword, but it is not explicit because the issue doesn’t come up. She is quite young, and there were also other aspects to her character that were a lot more active and so became the focal point.

For asexual characters, the temptation for me was to simply never address it at all, and to delve into nonsexual aspects of their relationships. I wanted to explore the friendships they made, the loyalties they formed and causes for which they fought. It was important to me to flesh them out as characters and how they related to others and have that be the focus.

However, asexuality is, perhaps by its nature, something of an invisible identity. Easily overlooked, easily ignored. As such, many of us feel decidedly alone, left out, and isolated. Rarely do we see explicate representation of people who feel the way we feel and experience the world as we do. Part of this is down to social assumptions where we automatically expect characters to be sexual in some way. This worried me as I continued to write.

In my second novel, The Sky Slayer, there is another ace character, but this time I made it explicit. She’s a smartass, a sarcastic brains-of-the-outfit who pulls everyone’s strings. As a result, other character slowly start asking her advice. Once you get past the put-downs and jibes, she can be quite wise, so it made sense to me. This I immediately saw as a way in to give her sexuality some notice. When asked for relationship advice, she raises an eyebrow and informs them, “Ask the Doctor. I have no interest or experience with these carnal matters.”

It was also important to me that the character accept this, rather than pressing her into something with the old ‘go on just try it!’ routine. When another character shows an interest in her, they are told, “She doesn’t feel that kind of attraction.” and all parties accept this as a real answer, rather than objecting or insisting on pushing her.

I think it is important to have multiple ace characters, to explore the variety of ways asexuality can be experienced. As with any demographic, the less characters within it you have, the less fairly you will represent it.

But even these examples from my own work sometimes make me cringe a little and I feel uncertain about whether I took the right path. On the one hand, I want it to be respected and given a real place in a characters’ identity. But on the other hand, I don’t want to bring it up for the sake of bringing it up. So how do we tackle this issue?

Being asexual myself, it isn’t an issue that comes up terribly often. I don’t have conversations about it, I don’t go out and tell my story precisely because, so often, if feels like there isn’t a story to tell. How many ways can you say, ‘nothing happened’ and have it be interesting? Except by way of contrast to the expected norm, it has rarely felt like an aspect of my life that is ripe for creative exploration.

The obvious answer is to look to other people’s experiences. Talking to other asexual people from different background and cultures grants a view into the wide range of stories that are there. The struggles and triumphs, the attitudes and fears, and the whole spectrum of people. That is where the spark of creativity lies.

I think this allies to a lot of aspects of writing, not just regarding sexuality. Our own life can seem mundane to us simply because we experience them every day and end up thinking they are unremarkable. The remarkable only becomes so when compared to other things, and if we don’t seek out other experiences and stories, we might not find the spark at all.

 

Links for books;

The Sea-Stone Sword

The Sky Slayer

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