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.


Countdown to Christmas Day 5

We are going to blow our own wind instruments a little today. My personal preference would have to be the Sax, but you may be more into the Oboe or French Horn. All welcome here. 

Danie Ware, author of the blindingly excellent urban alchemical fairy tale ‘Children of Artifice’ has been featuring heavily over at Damien Seaman’s blog this week with an Interview about her writing career and dayjob and the juggling act many of you raising kids on top of work and writing will be familiar with.

Then there was an in depth review which looked at the prologue debate, the core of family drama in the book and how Danie is a master craftsman when it comes to using description to move things forward and world build at the same time. 

From the review
The book is heartfelt and emotional, authentic and musical, a new mythology that draws its power from the old.

Maybe add this one to your Christmas reading list and don’t forget to drop us a line at if you want to share some of your own favourites on the blog this December. 

Billy’s Monsters : Interview with Vincent Holland-Keen

billys monsters - front coversmall

Billy has a minor role in the adult novel The Office of Lost and Found. What about him made you want to follow up on his story after the events of that?

Well, it wasn’t my idea; you (Aunty Fox) suggested it 😛 But despite that, I did think it a good idea. It had been a while since I’d finished a novel, the proper sequel to The Office of Lost and Found had stalled, and tackling YA just felt right. As a kid, I loved ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ and ‘The Dark is Rising’. As an adult, I’ve been just as enraptured by Harry Potter, the demon Bartimaeus and pretty much anything Diana Wynne Jones has written. A child or teenager going on an adventure seems inherently more dangerous because they have relatively little power in our world. Grown-ups are primed not to believe them. They can’t solve a problem with a credit card. If they want to chase down a villain, they have to get on their bike or catch a bus. And because they haven’t experienced as much of the mundaneness of life, they can see magic where an adult might not. Personally, I can’t understand why a writer would want to write a novel about a navel-gazing university professor for a coterie of literary critics when they could be writing about explosions and monsters for the kid they were when they discovered their love of stories. Billy was my excuse to do just that.

Were there any difficulties in adapting the Lost and Found world to a YA suitable novel?

No. Do you need a longer answer? Oh, okay then. The Office of Lost and Found is deliberately weird. It’s set in our world, but with a grim strangeness bleeding into it. One of the lead characters repeatedly tells the other that there’s no point trying to make sense of what’s going on, because the answers don’t make any sense. Most of the strangeness is pushed to the background for this follow-up in order to focus on just one of Lost and Found’s threads: monsters that lurk under the bed. Of course, that on its own is fairly conventional in fiction terms, so the fun comes in exploring the repercussions of that reality and throwing in twists on the concept you might not expect. In fact, the most difficult part was figuring out how to handle swearing. There are a least a few occasions where the right word to use was absolutely the f-word, but I fudged in something else instead. That’s not to say the prudish won’t find some abhorrent language in there, but in relative terms I tried to keep it quite prim and proper.

Most of us don’t embrace the monsters under our bed. What makes Billy so different?

But you do, right? I can just imagine you giving the monster a big hug before bedtime and the monster sighing and patting you on the back and going ‘yes, yes, that’s quite enough of that’. I don’t think Billy would quite go that far and to begin with he was certainly as scared as a typical child would be. He feared those misshapen shadows glimpsed out the corner of an eye until he was shown how to view such things in a new light; one where a gruesome hybrid spider-rhinoceros creature could instead be a mate you played tag with (with emphasis on the ‘could’; just like humans, some gruesome hybrid spider-rhinoceroses are assholes you wouldn’t want to play tag with). So I don’t think Billy is really that different from anyone else, he was just given an opportunity denied to most of us.

3 - billy poster

How would you describe Scarlett and Billy’s unusual brand of heroics?

Billy watches too many movies, so likes to think he’s an action hero – Indiana Jones, John McClane, that sort of thing. But there’s a difference between racing into a burning building to save a puppy because you want to be the hero, and racing into that burning building because you want to save that puppy. In contrast, Scarlett absolutely doesn’t think she’s a hero and only does what she feels she has to. Consequently, she’d probably be annoyed if you did call her hero.

There is obviously a lot more to explore in the world of the Nightmare Factory. What are the chances of a follow up having more action take place in that world?

None. Well, maybe a small chance. The worlds conceived in The Office of Lost and Found stretch far beyond the realm of monsters, so I’m interested in seeing what else is out there. And then it would be interesting to see how that something else impacts on our world and maybe the world of the Nightmare Factory. As a general rule, I’m all for smushing lots of things together to find out if the resulting reaction is pleasingly combustible. But for the time being all I can say is that the follow-up to Billy’s Monsters is going to be concerned to a greater or lesser extent with clouds of the white and fluffy variety.

European Monsters : The Editors

As the editors of the Fox Spirit book of European Monsters, Margrét Helgadóttir (MH) and Jo Thomas (JT) have been invited to contribute to the Fox Spirit blog. Now, they could explain how the book sprang out of a Twitter conversation between the editors-to-be, along with a few other guilty parties, about how monsters have been declawed. They could try to find words to explain how happy they are for their first book as editors to see the light of day. Or they could wax lyrical about the stunning stories and breath-taking artwork.

They’re not, though. They’re going to discuss where monsters come from…

MH: So, you wanna go first? What monsters are you afraid of, and why?

JT: I guess the answer to that is rather trite in that it isn’t monsters that scare me. Don’t get me wrong, if I ran into any of the monsters that made the cut for our book, I’d probably collapse in a boneless heap. But the idea of monsters doesn’t scare me as such because they just do what monsters are supposed to do.

In other words, it’s human beings that scare me. As I can’t read them especially well and don’t know what to expect of them–particularly the ones I don’t know–I find human beings unpredictable. So humans are probably my biggest phobia.

Next to mirrors in the dark, but that’s another story.

So, what scares you?


MH: I think I would say something similar. I am very scared of the dark. I’ve always been. I used to check under my bed before turning the light off–and sometimes I still do–I think I would probably die of shock if some day, something was staring back at me. But it has become easier as I have become an adult and more rational. But still, once in a while, I can’t turn off the light. But like you, it’s the humans who scare me the most, more than monsters. I think I can read humans quite well, but maybe that’s the problem. Sometimes I look at a person in a crowd and I think she or he has cold eyes, and it frightens me. When you think about what humans are able to do to other humans or animals–That’s scary.

I always cover my large mirror before I go to bed.

So, what do you think has been most important in shaping your ideas about monsters? Fairy tales, popular culture, something your neighbour told you?

JT: The first monster I remember being in the house was the three-toed snorty-blog. Something to do with a birthday card from an aunt and, obviously, the monster was supposed to be cute and cuddly. I spent several years thereafter being told I was actually the three-toed snorty-blog–what with my being unable to breath properly (I had near permanent colds).

Technically, though, I suppose the first monster in the house was my older sister being told that there were witches hiding down the toilet and they’d eat her if she went at night. This was my dad’s attempt to stop her going to the toilet in the night and she still has to turn the lights on if she wakes up in the night. I do, too, but my monsters are in the mirror, not down the toilet.

Anyway, that’s what monsters should be as far as I’m concerned–a way of explaining something that doesn’t make sense away that can be as good or as bad as it likes–very much like Nature. It might be misunderstood, it might be good at heart, but it probably doesn’t care about you either way. I think the sea monster stories in our book in general capture that well but the Icy Sedgewick story we collected does a particularly good job.

How do you think of monsters?


MH: To do the academic approach first, I agree with you. I think monsters throughout our history have been merely products of humans’ inability to explain things, be it the strange mountain shapes, thundering and lightning, or the neighbour who died so sudden. Several of the stories in European monsters is based on such folklore and legends. Aliya Whiteley’s story, for instance, builds on a myth about ‘the beast of Exmoor’, a very interesting legend about an enormous phantom cat roaming the wilderness of Exmoor, most likely a cat which escaped from the zoo, and sadly not so much a real monster. I think also some people in a position of power, be it parents—like your story about your dad and sister–bishops or the elders of a society, have used an idea of a monster or something evil as an efficient tool, as a way of controlling people. And then we have the freak shows and carnivals lurking in our cultural past, and the horror stories told by the camp fire. I think people just love to be scared.

Personally I adore monsters and the idea that there are monsters. Have you experienced how you sometimes can wake up in your bed in middle of the night, certain that you are not alone in the room, but you can’t move, not a muscle? And the air feels icy, and you are terrified that if you open your eyes, something really is in your room? What if the thought that you don’t dare to say out loud–that there is a nightmare, a monster there–is true? How terrifying, but wonderful.

JT: Ah, sleep paralysis and nightmares. I sometimes get that, complete with padding paw-steps coming up the stairs. The first time I had one, I was enraged at being unable to move. I wanted to invite the dog on to the bed but couldn’t because I was paralysed and unable to speak. I was too asleep not to realise the dog I heard wasn’t real as I didn’t have one at the time, but too awake to find the situation scary.

(I’ve also heard other people talking about the same or very similar. Some of them interpreted it as a haunting, some as alien abduction.)

MH: Why do you think monsters have been so overused and watered down?

JT: I think I just unintentionally covered that in the sleep paralysis story I just shared. We start to sympathise with monsters–recognising something of ourselves in them, maybe–or think their powers are pretty awesome and we wouldn’t mind having them as pets if we can’t actually be them.

I guess that’s what bothers me about the Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance tendency to de-claw by making monsters love interests. It ends up being an unhealthy, obsessive kind of romance about an ideal on a pedestal instead of a recognition of the individual who has dangerous potential. That said, much as I love reading romances, I find romance is right next to insanity when observed in real life so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Anyway, this is why I wanted to work on a project like European Monsters, a project that gives them their teeth back and takes away the romance.

What particular monsters do you consider overused?

MH: That is exactly why I wanted to do the European Monsters project too. I think especially the humanoid monsters like the vampires and the shapeshifters might have been used too much, if you can say ‘used’ about monsters. I have read hundreds of books about vampires, for instance. I adore these creatures, but I think the images of them in the western popular culture the last decade might have become stereotypes. After Anne Rice introduced the vampires as melancholic and beautiful monsters who are outsiders of the (western) human society, and who only long to be humans and part of the human society, maybe find the true love, we have seen so many interpretations of this. This goes for many monster stories of today, not only stories about vampires: the lonely monster who only wants to be friends with the humans. Many of these stories I think can be read as stories about patterns in the human psyche. But that’s not bad. I love these stories. I have even written a few myself. But sometimes I want to be introduced to different monster stories where the monsters just are monsters, and no philosophy around their existence. Many of the monsters we know are based in western popular culture. I look forward to get to know monsters from other parts of the world, as we continue with the book series.


And about nightmares. I think humans’ fears are often revealed through the nightmares: The monster that stalks you, and how you are glued to the ground not able to run away. Or being eaten alive or invaded. I think there is much to Freud’s theories about dreams. I believe our minds work with our anxieties and worries when we sleep just like they renew our cells and heal physical injures or sicknesses. And sometimes in this process our minds produce dreams that might relate to the worries you have, or something you have witnessed, like many trauma victims who suffer from awful nightmares. Yet, now and then I wonder if our dreams are something entirely different, something we have no names for yet. I write some of my dreams down and use them in my writing. But not all these dreams and dream monsters can be tracked back to something I have witnessed or experienced. Some of these monsters, what if they just were there? I don’t make sense now, do I?

You have written about werewolves yourself. When you have been writing these books, have you been conscious about werewolves in western culture?

JT: Yes. I made a conscious decision to “dial back” to an older version–the putting on a wolf skin is a part of the mythology that has been abandoned with the more modern Western / Hollywood version. However, I haven’t been able to escape the idea that werewolves are, at least in part, humans. Which means that some of them are good or behave well because that potential is in all human beings. Not that most of them act on it, as those people who choose to become werewolves are generally after the power, not being nice and fluffy. So, I didn’t go far enough back to ensure that they were driven to do ghastly things, only ensure that they were physically capable of doing it and often inclined to it.

This thing of werewolves, though, really comes from the idea that the Hollywood version wouldn’t work nagging at me. Obviously, the magic for my kind of werewolves doesn’t exist, either, but it feels more consistent and logical, closer to how the world seems to work to me than the glamorous Hollywood version. I wouldn’t have been able to puzzle that out if I hadn’t spent time creating characters and situations to act it all out for me.

What monsters do you feel you need to put some time into to find out how they work? What calls in your dreams or sits in the back of your mind when you’re writing?

MH: I have written a couple of stories based on Norwegian folklore, like our stories about the grey people and the goblins, who are far scarier than the Hollywood version. I have also written a few stories about unbalanced humans, but it’s the shapeshifters who have mainly been haunting my monster writing. Shapeshifters fascinate me, because of the balance between the parts that are human, animal, wild and monstrous. But maybe mostly about how different from humans they are. I don’t have any particular favourite yet and I have written about several kinds. One of these shapeshifters, a lion, has the putting on skin mythology, that you mentioned. It was a belief that existed amongst the sami people and even the vikings. Not any of my shapeshifters have changed by being bitten yet.

I’m also very fasinated by the folklore around shapeshifters and how humans long for the animal characteristics, strength etc. In Norway it’s been common since the old Norse days to name boys after animals (Bjørn-bear, Ulf-wolf, Are-eagle, Orm-snake, Rein-reindeer etc), mainly because one thought the boys would get the animals’ attributes too.

What calls in the back of your mind when you are writing?

JT: Pack. More precisely, the awareness that even if I don’t understand the wider world, I have two dogs that I have to live with and care for. They are my immediate family (barring parent, siblings and their offspring) and I wish I could understand them better. I guess I envy their not being human… But I wouldn’t choose to be a werewolf as I suspect that one can’t be a particularly good wolf unless one knows how to socialise with other wolves.

Roots. I was born outside of the UK, although we returned while I was still a toddler. My parents and grandparents moved quite a bit and I was always encouraged to remember the traditions of the places we came from and had been as well as the places we were living at the time I grew up. So a lot of what I write often appropriates from all over Europe with a touch of the Caribbean. It’s not intentional, more an echo of the material that went in with reading.

Nature. I grew up rurally–although not as wild as it could have been in other parts of the country–and I think it shows. Nature is a true beauty, no matter how tamed you think it is. It can also be monstrous. It doesn’t care, it can as easily be bad for your health as it can be good for you, it works on a grand scale and yet so much of it is made up of critters so small we can’t even see them. I should find a way to include it as a protagonist more often. Perhaps working with monsters is actually part of that.

I guess this leads to asking: As you’ve moved around a bit yourself, how do your travels reflect in your writing?

MH: That is a very difficult question you are asking. So far my stories have been heavily influenced by my Nordic background, Norway and Iceland, where I have lived most of my life. I have a work in progress that takes a place in Africa. I have been thinking about trying to write more stories from Africa for a while. I have moved lots around in general, which has led to a sense of rootlessness and homelessness. I think this might be reflected in my writing. Many of my characters are on the road and on hunt for a home or themselves. This also includes the stories about shapeshifters. I’ve written one story about a young shapeshifter girl who has lived in an orphanage, not knowing who she is or where she is from, but when she becomes a sea eagle, she instinctively knows where her home is.

I think also many of the stories in the anthology European monsters address this balance between the human society and the wilderness and nature, as we have talked about now. And many of the protagonists are searching for something. The girl who lost her boyfriend to the lake monster in Kirsti Walsh’s story, the monster in James Bennett’s story who longs for his home land, or the girl who travels across the world to a woman she doesn’t know in Nerine Dorman’s story.

…And now you know a little bit more about where our monsters came from.

Author Posts: Alasdair Stuart

FINALAMZPSeudoTapesVol1Al you are a journalist, podcast host and all around geek about town. You wrote the essay collection The Pseudopod Tapes so to start off tell us a little about the podcasts you are involved in and your role in them?

I host 1.5 of the shows put out by Escape Artists Incorporated. There are three, each covering a different genre of short fiction; Escape Pod for science fiction, Pseudopod for horror and Podcastle for fantasy. They’ve been going for close to a decade now, with Escapoe Pod whistling past episode 400 and Pseudopod not far behind.

The set up for the shows is really simple; the host introduces the story, provides a little background on it and the author and then gets out of the way. The host then pops up at the end of the story, reads a little feedback from previous episodes in some cases, pleads for donations to the show in all cases and closes.

What I do is a little different; each show I host has a micro essay on the back about something in the episode that I liked, or something it reminded me of, or that affected me. Some of the time they’re funny, some of the time they’re grim but they’re always very personal. It’s a weird approach, and one I openly steal from mid-1990s TV show Midnight Caller, but it works, and I enjoy doing it.


What would you say typifies your writing, what can people expect when they see Alasdair Stuart on a byline or book?

Based on this interview, maybe ‘no short responses’? : )

Aside from that sage advice of course, a couple of things. I LOVE genre fiction, it’s got me through every single one of the bad times in my life and that’s IMG_0293given me a baseline of respect for any piece of fiction I interact with. Creating it is incredibly difficult and just finishing a project with a modicum of coherence is a win worth acknowledging, if not celebrating. That in turn marks me out as, if not a forgiving reviewer, certainly a far more understanding one than the World War Z-esque stampede to see who can piss on someone else’s work fastest this business sometimes seems infested with. Throw in humour, self-awareness where it’s needed and that’s basically me.

Oh and meta-fiction. Meta-fictionality is one of those words that brings people out in hives but it’s actually really good fun. The strand of it I always enjoy is the idea that similar stories connect, because that gives you a new layer of understanding to drop over the top of something. For example;

Hellboy is recovered in the closing stages of the Second World War and, ultimately, grows up to join the BPRD. Up until that point, the BPRD field team includes Indiana Jones, Atomic Robo and Rick and Evie O’Connell. Following the war, Rick, Evie and Indy are stood down from active duty and placed in secure jobs. Rick and Evie end up consulting with the British government, themselves plagued by a constantly accelerating stream of extra-terrestrial contacts whilst Indy is given tenure at his old job. There, decades later, he teaches Lara Croft and, a couple of years later, Nathan Drake. Meanwhile in the UK, the O’Connells are contacted by Barbara and Ian Chesterton, two Cambridge dons who haven’t aged since the 1960s about doing a little field work for a new government organization called Torchwood…

Stories are lego. You can connect them together very easily and every new shape is more fun than the last. It’s also a massively useful analytical and educational tool and most of all, it’s FUN.

You have been a huge supporter, not just of Fox Spirit but of the whole Indie publishing movement. What is it that excites you so much about the indie scene?

Three reasons, firstly because I think Fox Spirit, and the small press, are home to some of the most vibrant, interesting writing in genre fiction. Secondly because, especially now I don’t write fiction anymore, I can see how so much of the field is by definition inward looking and cliquey. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it’s certainly not a universal one, but you can only go to so many conventions and hear the same jokes from the same people before the Bill Hicks Flying Saucer Tour starts to sound like a good idea. The small press flies completely in the face of that, and some of the most talented, nicest, hardest-working people I’ve met work in the field. They’re unsung heroes and if I’m not prepared to sing their praises, then who else will?

Thirdly, I’m a contrary bastard. I’m tremendously lucky in that some of the places I blog for have huge footprints and that mouthpiece has been demonstrated to help authors and events on more than one occasion. It doesn’t get the audience feedback a lot of stuff does but it makes a difference. I grew up listening to the Mark and Lard show on Radio 1, and it was amazing. Two hours a night Monday to Friday, all off chart, all weird as hell and all interspersed with poetry, film reviews and books. I finished the first stage of my education with them and whilst they never got the acclaim everyone else did, the work they did, the mindset they had of being open to the new, is something that really sunk in with me. Someone needs to be the Mark and Lard of genre fiction and, honestly, I don’t think anyone else is better at it than me.

Your interests run the gamut of genre, film, TV, books, magazines, video and role playing games and all the stuff I haven’t mentioned. What is the common thread? What is in in any media or genre that hooks your interest?

ColdbrookExcellent question. I think it boils down to two things; clarity of approach and FUN. I watched the first episode of Top of the Lake last night (As I write this) and …honestly I may not be back. It’s beautifully shot, has three of my favourite actors in it and there’s a scene in the first episode that just breaks the show in two. It’s a monologue about the friendship one of the female characters had with her chimp, how badly it ended and how that’s why she’s ended up at Holly Hunter’s character’s compound. It’s one of the most demonstrably bad pieces of writing I’ve ever encountered and it just hits the ground like a lead weight. If it’s meant to be funny then it isn’t, if it’s meant to be poignant it’s absurd and if, as seems likely, it’s meant to massively differentiate the male and female viewpoints in the series then it’s so clunky you can hear the gears shift halfway through. There’s nothing close to it in tone in the rest of the episode and that sort of huge disparity, the moment where a writer gets too attached to a character, a beat, an image is a deal breaker for me. Conversely, a story that stays on target is a thing of beauty and we’re blessed with far more of them than a lot of people seem to notice.

Then there’s the fun, because there should always be fun, or at the very least enjoyment. In the space of the last few days I’ve read Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon, seen Pacific Rim and watched the latest episodes of Hannibal and a chunk of season 5 of The West Wing. All of which are hugely enjoyable, despite being tonally completely different. In each case it’s because they have a clear tone, stick to it and have fun playing with their particular set of narrative toys. ‘Access’ the CJ-centric documentary episode of The West Wing was as enjoyable as watching Gypsy Danger use shipping containers as knuckle dusters which was, in turn as enjoyable as reading Tim Lebbon’s uniquely horrific take on the zombie apocalypse. Fun is the programming language of all good fiction, whatever it is, and whatever approach it takes. As long as it’s entertaining you’re more than halfway home.

What one thing would you say everyone should know coming into scene be it through journalism or fiction writing, game design, cover and comic art or whatever?

Don’t be British about anything. My career has been hurt, over and over, by being too polite, too modest. It’s as bad, and more insidious, as click hunting or endlessly beating your own drum because it changes how you think. You’re work isn’t good enough, you don’t deserve the attention, keep going and eventually you’ll be discovered without ever having to do anything.

It’s all crap. All of it.

Every single aspect of every single art requires mental focus and discipline. The foundation of that is confidence, not arrogance, confidence. It’s very 39928easy to be frightened of ‘no’ and it’s even easier t hide under ‘maybe next time’ forever. If you do, you will be a decade down the line with nothing done and so much more work to do that you may not bother with any of it.

Please don’t do that. You deserve better. We all do. Show up. Start something, put your hand up first, volunteer. Feel frustrated no one’s noticed what a genius you are yet? Use that as motivation. Can’t finish a project? Be honest, put it away and start something else. Never, ever stop moving, never, ever stop trying and for the love of all that’s holy don’t be British about anything. The natural reticence and modesty that people like to view as part of the national character is creative kryptonite. Don’t go near it. Put your hand up. Try something. Make something. It’s much more interesting.

Author Post : Joan De La Haye

Joan has been running a series of interviews over on her blog.

13 Questions with Alec McQuay

1. What drives you to write?

Getting everything out of my head! I dwell on things so I need an outlet, and writing gives me the freedom to do literally anything with that.

2. What attracted you to writing horror?

I was looking for a longer project to move on from short stories and flash fiction and the news and the internet were banging on about opt-out organ donation, the right to die debate and this war and that war, all while charities had endless pictures of doe-eyed, starving children in every ad break. I guess rather than an attraction to horror as such it was a reaction to what I was seeing at the time.

Read on at Joan’s blog

Author Post : Den Patrick

A little quicky interview with author Den Patrick!


In addition to being a Pocket Scribe you have a number of other projects going on. Can you give us a run down of what’s happening in the world of Den?

I’m definitely not suffering from a loss of things to do. I have three books out from Gollancz in August, September and October. The War-Fighting Manuals are primers on how to conduct warfare in a High Fantasy setting. There’s one for orcs,  elves, and dwarves, as you’d expect. They’re written in character, and have snarky footnotes. Each book is humorous without ever descending into parody.

I’ve submitted a handful of tales to your good self, and I’m really pleased with each of them. I’ve also completed another short story for Jurassic Publishing, edited by Jared Shurin from Pornokitsch. I think that’s top secret at the moment so…

Next year (2014) sees the launch of my first full length novel, the first book in The Erebus Sequence. I was describing it to Richard Morgan who said, ‘Excellent, Gormenghast on speed!’. It tracks the fortunes of Lucien, who is a disfigured orphan growing up in a huge castle where intrigue and secrecy are rife.

Everyone’s road to publication is a little different, how did you go from quietly scribing away to yourself to a Gollancz contract and how has that experience been?

I’d been a book reviewer and blogger for a while. I met Simon Spanton and Gillian Redfearn at conventions and signings. I did a spot of work experience for Gollancz whilst I was unemployed. Later that year I was lucky enough to be invited to the Gollancz 50th Birthday party. Simon and I were propping up the bar, talking Tolkien, as good geeks are won’t to do. We thought it would be pretty funny if someone wrote the orc guide to warfare. And then Simon said ‘Do you think you could do it?’. We met a few more times (in pubs, naturally) and the inner Games Master in me had mapped a world and sketched out a timeline before I knew it.  They were a pleasure to write.

Your agent is the marvellous Ms Mushens. A lot of new writers question the value of an agent, can you tell us in your personal experience what you have found valuable about that relationship?

I am a massive advocate of agents. For me, it’s been really useful to have someone with her experience. I certainly couldn’t have brokered the deal she did for The Erebus Sequence. Juliet’s talent isn’t just confined to contracts. She worked on the manuscript, giving me feedback on both structural and line edits. This care and attention to the story and encouragement to refine the novel really helped my confidence as a writer.

How did the Fizzy Pop Vampire come about and will there be more? Would you work in a partially visual media again, like comics and if so what appeals to you about these forms?

The Fizzy Pop Vampire was a bunch of rhyming couplets that appeared on a page one boring Saturday afternoon years ago. I’d mentioned it in passing to Sarah Anne  Langton, and she asked to illustrate it. We put the story out on the iPad, and sold over a hundred copies. We’ve a second story lined up. Hopefully a publisher will make us an offer. Who knows?

I also have a five issue science fiction comic I’d love to see in print, but making comics is like pulling teeth. It’s called Deconstructed and is homage to films like Moon, Alien and Solaris in my own quirky way,

Captain Fox and his crew are due to be recurring characters in the Fox Pockets. What made you want to go back to them after the first story or to put it another way, why should readers seek out all the pockets they appear in?

I have tendency to want to revisit many of my short story characters. I grow quite attached to them and Captain Fox especially. The main thing that characterizes the Jago Fox stories is yearning and redemption. I think anyone who’s really wanted for someone, or felt they could do better despite a troublesome past, might relate to these stories. And they have some pretty cool monsters too. I call them Supernatural Maritime stories. I hope people enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.


Joan De La Haye Radio Interview

Fox Spirit author Joan De LA Haye will be interviewed on 1485am Radio Today in SA by  Michael De Pinna and Carolyn Steyn on Monday 25th June 2012, talking about her books.

You can ‘Tune in’ here and it’s at 2pm in local time which is 1pm GMT.

Joan’s Novel ‘Requiem in E Sharp’ will be Fox Spirit’s first publication in July, with the Oasis release and Shadows re release following shortly.