We have had an incredible busy year and launched a wonderful range of titles but we are not done yet!
Coming up before the end of the year we have the Sledge.Lit launch of The Girl in the Fort by Tracy Fahey, we will also be bringing some of this year’s other new titles for a public viewing. If you can’t make Sledge but would like Tracy to sign your copy of Girl, we have done some simple foxy bookplates so let us know.
We have some free fiction to add to our collection which I am looking forward to sharing with you all, from new to us writers.
Of course we also have three more titles to launch.
As you know every Christmas we release our newest Monster title and this year it is Pacific Monsters, which an incredible selection of stories and art as ever. Margret Helgadottir has once again worked hard to link up with writers from the region to tell their monsters their way.
We are also delighted to say that the multi award winning Daniele Serra will be staying on as cover artist to complete the series.
We also have a poetry collection by the fabulous Jan Siegel who was pure skulk recently on First Date celebrity edition. Jan has guest poems in this collection from people better known in other creative arts including Pat Cadigan and Helen Lederer, who all demonstrate their adaptability here. Multiverse is a wonderful collection, dark, funny, reflective and including cake.
Approach with Caution! The second volume of the Pseudopod Tapes is almost here! A new collection of outro essays from Alasdair Stuart, one of the UK’s best genre voices and author of our own Not the Fox News column. Whether you are a listener or not the host of the world renowned horror story podcast once again offers a collection of essays on genre and life that are more than worth the price of entry.
We would also like to remind you, if you join your kids up for the Fennec Kit’s Club they get a Christmas card and goodies from Aunty Fox and Kit, so let us know, there are limited places this close to Christmas.
Asian Monsters is presently on the short list for the British Fantasy Society award for best Anthology and Chikodili Emelumadu’s short story Bush Baby from African Monsters made this year’s Caine Awards shortlist. 2017 has proven to be a good year for monsters.
We are pleased to announce that Pacific Monsters is due out this November. Pacific Monsters is the fourth volume in our world tour exploring horror continent by continent, beginning in Europe. See more about the series and the monsters here.
In this collection, we explore the old myths and monsters in the Pacific region with short stories, graphic stories and art from Australia, New Zealand and some of the Pacific Islands. Margrét Helgadóttir is once more the editor.
Our gorgeous cover series by Daniele Serra will continue for this fourth volume. Dani is a previous BFS Best Artist winner and is up for the award again this year.
Table of contents:
Tina Makereti: ‘Monster’
AJ Fitzwater: ‘From the Womb of the Land, Our Bones Entwined’
Rue Karney: ‘The Hand Walker’
Michael Grey: ‘Grind’
Octavia Cade and Dave Johnson (art) : ‘Dinornis’
Raymond Gates: ‘The Legend of Georgie’
Jeremy Szal: ‘The Weight of Silence’
Simon Dewar: ‘Above the Peppermint Trail’
Iona Winter: ‘Ink’
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada: ‘All My Relations’
Tihema Baker: ‘Children of the Mist’
Kirstie Olley: ‘Mudgerwokee’
Michael Lujan Bevacqua and Dave Johnson (art) : ‘I Sindålu’
AC Buchanan: ‘Into the Sickly Light’
The book will have illustrations by Laya Rose, Lahela Schoessler, Kieran Walsh and Eugene Smith.
The mission with our Fox Spirit Books of Monsters book series is to give the monsters their comeback, to reestablish their dark and grim reputation, and to bring into the spotlight the monsters hiding in the far corners of the world. We published volume three of our Fox Spirit Books of Monsters: Asian Monsters last November and Margret Helgadottir is now editing volume four: Pacific Monsters, to be released this November.
To celebrate the monsters, we have had a writing competition the last months, inviting authors to send in their best monster flash stories. We are thrilled to see that authors still know how to tell a good monster tale. We know it is quite challenging to both write a good monster story and to tell it with few words.
Margret has now read all the flash stories and selected the winning story and the two runners ups. She says it was a really tough decision and that there were so many good stories she sadly had to put aside.
She has picked the dark story “Momma’s Embrace” by Heather Johnson as her favourite, you can all read it here on the blog tomorrow morning. Heather will receive a copy of the three first monster volumes, plus a Fox Spirit Books Tote bag with our awesome new notebook and pen.
As the two runner ups, Margret has picked the two stories “Waking Up Underground” by Richard Marpoleand“At the Water’s Edge” by Shona Kinsella. We will publish these two stories here tuesday. Richard and Shona will both be sent a tote bag with our cool Fox Spirit note book and pen.
Congratulations to all three authors! We wish to thank all that sent in their stories for the chance to read them.
The stories will later be added to the free fiction page for people to carry on enjoying.
I reached out to a whole bunch of my favourite editors with a few basic questions around short story collections and the editors perspective. For today’s session I am delighted to welcome Jonathan Oliver of Solaris/Abaddon, Mhairi Simpson and Margret Helgadottir who have edited for Fox Spirit and Farhana Shaikh who runs Dahlia publishing.
When you put a call out do you already know exactly what you are looking for?
Jonathan Oliver : I start with a theme, so generally I know what I’m looking for, but when I put together submissions guidelines, I always say to authors ‘here’s the brief, but play with it, stretch it to its limits.’ So, I want to give my writers as much room as possible to explore within the theme I’ve given them. After all, I don’t want to end up with an anthology of similar stories.
Mhairi Simpson : No. When I did my first call I had a very specific idea in mind. By the end of it I realised I knew nothing and was just happy to be astonished at the wide variety of tales even a relatively narrow prompt can produce.
Farhana Shaikh: I try not to be too clear about what I’m looking for because I don’t want a piece of writing to fail before I’ve had the chance to consider it properly. This is especially true for an anthology because the breadth of style tends to be so broad and different writers respond to themes in such different ways.
What I’ve realised though is that a short story is successful as long as it does what the writer set out to do. In the simplest of terms, I could try and break down what that success often looks like. For example it might mean strong characterisation and a refreshing voice, but I find those terms can be reductive because it might also just be a beautiful story told in the simplest of ways.
Margrét Helgadottir : I have only put out an open call one time, for the Winter Tales anthology. I knew then what kind of stories I wanted – a strong voice, an interesting plot, atmosphere, and also a more unspoken chill of the dark and cold winter season – but other than this I tried to be very open both in the call and when I read the submissions. As for the monster books (working on volume four now), they are invitations only. I am hunting for monster stories. They can be written in all genres but they have to have something monstrous about them and they have to be dark. I am very clear in the invitation what I am not looking for (satire, erotica etc).
What things will make you discount a story quickly?
Jon : Badly presented and with obvious errors. The other thing is if the story has completely ignored the brief. So, if I say this anthology has to be about a haunted house, and I get a submission that’s about a mutant spider or something, with no haunted house in sight, then that will be pretty quickly rejected. Fortunately it’s not something I have to worry about a lot as all of my anthologies are invite only.
Mhairi : Condescension on the part of the author. A pushy author asking if I’ve made a decision yet when the submission period is still open. Any mention of sexual assault which doesn’t feel right in the story.
Farhana : My pet hate is writing that is cluttered with adjectives or flowery language. I tend to steer away from writing that is trying too hard or clever, or where the writer clearly hasn’t worked out what the heart of the story really is. Having said that, I do like to re-read writing (this is especially true for short stories) because I don’t like to make too rash a decision about whether something works or not. Editing is after all, hugely subjective and sometimes I have to challenge myself to work with writing that is not necessarily to my taste.
Margrét: Except for not following the guidelines and the idea of the book, I will quickly put a “no” on any story that uses racism, rape, violence, discrimination of gender or sexual orientation, when it is clear that it doesn’t do anything for the plot. I don’t discount a story because of bad grammar or language if I see a potential—a core in the story that will shine if the story is polished in the edits. I have had 2-3 stories in all the volumes I have edited that required more work from me and the author than the other stories but I am very satisfied that they are part of the books today.
Would you consider taking a story that doesn’t quite fit the idea behind the call and whatever your answer, why?
Jon: I like to be pleasantly surprised by submissions. So, for example, we all have an idea about what constitutes a haunted house and a haunting, but I also like to see new takes on such traditional subject matter, new twists on the formula. Sure, I’m a sucker for a traditional ghost story, but more so I love the possibilities that new fiction explores.
Mhairi: Yes. I’ve initially said no to a story which didn’t seem to quite fit the call. I had something else in mind. Then as more stories came in I realised I had an opportunity to show ideas which weren’t in line with my own thinking, because none of the stories quite fit the call, certainly not what I’d been expecting to get. It was a learning experience – I learned not to make assumptions about what did and did not fit. It broadened my mind and was a tad humbling, too.
Farhana: I’d be reluctant to accept anything that was too far from the initial concept, purely because I think collections have an odd way of working in that the stories once ordered have their own life and rhythm. I’d be reluctant to upset the balance of that. But as I’ve said, the scope for an anthology tends to be quite wide, so it’s rare that such a thing happens. Where this has been the case, I’ve simply asked the original contributor to submit something else.
Margret: No and yes. If it’s far out from the book idea, no. If the book is about Europe I will not include a story that takes place on the Moon. However I can include a story if it plays with the boundaries of the sub call but still has one foot inside the frame. I have done this a few times but only when the stories were so excellent in both language and plot that I just couldn’t say no. Often they can be shaped a little bit in the edits so they fit the book better.
How do you approach running order?
Jon: You want to start with a belter right out of the gate. You want something substantial in the middle and you want to end on a story that packs some sort of punch. In between you can get the reader settled and explore all the wonderful variations on the ideas your authors have sent you.
Mhairi: I try to find a thread or arc which links all the stories together and then decide where each story falls along that arc. For Tales of Eve it was a genre thread, varying from hard sci-fi to high fantasy so I started with the hardest sci-fi and ended with the highest fantasy. It was actually really difficult!
Farahna: By the time I get to a running order, I’ve probably read the work separately a good few times and something will be emerging about how I’d like to start and where I’d like to begin. Of course, a reader may choose to go in whatever order they wish, but sometimes as an editor I think such things are important.
Margrét: I try to put the strongest stories up front and in the back. You need to catch the readers right away. A short excellent story as number one is a very good tactic. It sets the tone of the rest of the book quickly. The last two stories should be the after thought of the book, something to make the book live a little bit longer in the readers’ minds, make them reflect a little bit about the book theme. Other than this I am concerned about putting the stories in anthologies in a natural flow, vary it a little for the reader. This goes for both the length of the stories, style and theme. I don’t put two vampire stories next to each other of the other ten stories are about were wolves for instance.
What are some of the things you think people underestimate in regards to the time/effort involved in the anthology editors role?
Jon: Coming up with the theme always takes the most time. You want something iconic enough that people will pick the book of the shelf, and bring some sort of expectation, but you also want something different enough that you stand out. In an invite only situation you know to some extent the strengths of your authors, so editing the stories is the easiest and most pleasurable part of the whole affair.
Mhairi: It’s not the typos – if a story’s got that many mistakes I’d send it back and tell them to run it through spellcheck or a beta reader. When it comes to figuring out what a story is trying to say and if it can be said better, however, that can take a while. It’s usually a clarity issue – I’m not sure what’s going on and the author makes some changes and through the various changes we get closer to the diamond at the heart of the tale.
Farhana: I don’t know if anyone does underestimate what an editor brings to a collection but of course, they bring a whole deal of experience and expertise. It’s the editor’s role to not only select the stories and collate these in some order, but often it can mean a lengthy battle with contributors to undertake revisions, and ensure these come back on time, as well as project manage the entire thing. It’s fine, if you have around ten contributors or so, but once you start veering in to the twenties and beyond it can become challenging. An editor may also be involved in promoting the book, and keeping all the contributors in the know, so it’s a huge effort with lots of emailing back and forth. If the editor is also the publisher, as in my case, then there’s lots more going on behind the scenes away from the anthology with regards to choosing the title, managing the jacket cover designs, and working with suppliers to ensure the project can be delivered on time and on a shoe-string budget.
Margrét: I think many don´t realize what the editor job is. If you are editor for books from small presses you must involve yourself in the book production and getting the book out there. In addition to the editing of the language and grammar, editing of the story flow and angles, proofreading and all that, I would say that at least 30 percent of my tasks in a book production is preparing the book production (researching the book, invitations to contributors etc) and all the work when the book is published with marketing, trying to get reviews and spreading the word amongst the thousands of other titles. I spend a lot of time researching what magazines and venues which might be interested in looking at the book. The monster books are a challenge since I try to reach book bloggers and media also in the continents we cover: Africa, Asia etc. It is hard work but it is so satisfying when you see results.
As they are the editors of the Fox Spirit book of African Monsters, we thought it could be a good idea to let Margrét Helgadóttir (MH) and Jo Thomas (JT) start the little blog tour we are having here at the Fox Spirit Books since the book is now published. In the coming weeks we are going to let the contributors tell about their monsters or other things on their minds. Let’s start with Jo, who has something she wants to say first:
JT: ‘Last year, we did a question and answer session between the two of us explaining where the Monster anthology idea came from. This year… Well, this year, you have a blog post. A slightly hi-jacked blogpost as I (Jo) got to write the first draft and have a few things to say personally. So, this year, I’d like to heap some praise on my co-editor, Margrét, and my publisher, Adele at Fox Spirit Books, for working like Trojans the last few of months in order to get everything in place. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been moving and starting a new job, so I haven’t had much time for putting African Monsters together. So, three cheers for the hard-working team that did! And now on to the main event.’
The original intention a few years ago, the idea that formed with a Twitter conversation, was a “look at the whole world of monsters.” This eventually narrowed down to look at the monsters in our own pond, the European monsters. We were fairly eager to extend in to further volumes for other continents quite soon after imposing the restriction for European Monsters and happily Adele agreed this was a good idea.
JT: ‘This is, of course, a source of argument between we two editors, with one being raised with the five-continent model of the world and the other with the seven-continent model of the world.’
Africa became the next place to visit on the world tour. It is, of course, a continent we’re both happy admit to the existence of and we had the benefit of Margrét having spent some of her formative years there so that she had a familiarity with a number of regions and folklores. As with European Monsters, the anthology was invitation only and so we used and abused Margrét’s contacts while also researching new ones. It was important to us to make use of authors and artists who lived or had connections with the areas they were working on. Although we had hoped to have been able to have solely African authors in the book, we have not been able to secure a hundred percent African talent for the resulting anthology, mostly due to time constraints and communication problems. Also, since we mostly have authors who write English in this book, the geographical representation, is sadly not a full reflection on the world’s second largest and second most populous continent.
MH: ‘I feel we have learned much from editing these books when it comes to getting a good representation in the books. In following books we will try to have at least one translated story from a non-English speaking author. The key is to have the right amount of time, some luck and a good network.’
There is a wealth of skilled artists and published writers to look into and we consider our own anthology a jumping off point into the world of African fiction. But nevertheless, we have covered a small part of a large continent that we hope you enjoy. This is not the colonial “Dark Continent”—or, perhaps, not just the colonial, as that era is part of the history that formed the present day—but the stories we have gathered give grim glimpses of a darkness where the scariest thing is sometimes the bright light of day.
African Monsters, the second in the FS Books of Monsters series that started with European Monsters, is due out this Christmas. There will be a launch party in London early in 2016, please keep an eye out for more details.
In this collection we explore the old myths and monsters of the continent of Africa in short stories and art.
Edited by Margret Helgadottir and Jo Thomas and with Cover art by Daniele Serra we are pleased to reveal the table of contents for African Monsters:
Nnedi Okorafor: On the Road
Joan de la Haye: Impundulu
Tade Thompson: One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sunlight
Jayne Bauling: Severed
Su Opperman: The Death of One
T.L. Huchu: Chikwambo
Dilman Dila: Monwor
S. Lotz: That Woman
Toby Bennett: Sacrament of Tears
Chikodili Emelumadu: Bush Baby
Joe Vaz: After The Rain
Dave-Brendon de Burgh: Taraab and Terror in Zanzibar
Nerine Dorman: A Whisper in the Reeds
Vianne Venter: Acid Test
Nick Wood: Thandiwe’s Tokoloshe
James Bennett and Dave Johnson (artist): A Divided Sun
The book will also have illustrations from Su Opperman, Kieran Walsh, Mariam Ibrahim, Eugene Smith and Benali Amine.
The third book in the series will be Asian Monsters coming Christmas 2016.
Well, the nights are drawing in and winter is coming, so it seems a good time to share a little more about forthcoming anthology Winter Tales, edited by Margret Helgadottir and due for release in early 2016
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. The cheerful men arriving to the mountain bothy in the midst of the winter storm, why do they unnerve you so much? The hunter who follows after you on your way home from the store, what does he hunt? The old neighbour lady seems so innocent, but you know the truth: you saw her that night. Why will the police not listen to you?
Dark, grim, beautiful and grotesque. We are delighted to bring you a collection of speculative winter stories and poems from new and established writers. The collection is edited by Margret Helgadottir. Winter Tales will be released in early 2016 from Fox Spirit Books.
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. Winter seems to never end. There is however beauty and magic. The snow covered pine trees reaching for the sky, the green northern lights dancing over the mountains, the wolf packs howling at the moon, and the snow crystals glinting like stars in the pale moonlight. When the temperatures drop, people and creatures gather around the camp fires to share warmth, friendship and tales, to chase away the frost and try to ignore the terrifying creatures lurking in the darkness.
We are now collecting winter tales, to drive away the grim winter and bring you the wonders and magic of the season. Fox Spirit Books will publish the Winter Tales anthology in the beginning of 2016. The anthology will be edited by Margrét Helgadóttir. We want unusual and elegant speculative fiction stories with full plot and strong characters. We are seeking diversity. The stories can be light with a touch of romance or humour, or dark and terrifying. Stories about creatures, monsters, animals and shapeshifters are welcome. The stories can be within speculative subgenres such as the weird, fables or folkloric, magical realism, adventure, dystopian, cyberpunk, mystery or fantastic, but we ask that the stories take place on Earth and have the winter as frame. Poetry is welcome. We are not looking for nonfiction or fanfiction. We are not looking for satire, erotica, paranormal romance, splatter or overly gory stories.
Submission deadline: June 15th 2015. Response will be given by end of October 2015 at the latest. The manuscript must be written in English. Stories should be 1500 words up to 7500 words. Any stories below or above this will not be considered, with the exception of poems which should be no longer than 30 lines. In this instance we are not accepting graphic stories for submission. No multiple submissions, simultaneous submissions, or reprints. We do not want stories that have appeared on your blog or other public websites for this anthology E-mail your submission to narjegerredaktor at gmail dot com. Put SUBMISSION WINTER TALES as the subject of your email. The submission email must contain your real name, your writing name if different, the title and word amount of your submission, and a 100 words bio. There is no need for a submission letter other than this.
Document title should have the story name and your name or initials for easy identification. Documents must be in .docx or .doc (word), or .rtf (rich text) formats. The story document itself needs your name and email at the top, then the title of the story and the name you want it publishing under followed by the text of the story. Please format your document according to the guidelines on the submissions page at Fox Spirit Books.
Payment and rights Fox Spirit is a small independent press and at present we can only offer a token payment of £10 for stories with a copy of the print book and a copy of the ebook. We are looking for twelve months exclusivity from the submission deadline and details of rights are on the Fox Spirit submissions page (https://www.foxspirit.co.uk/sample-page/submissions). If you have any questions, send email to: narjegerredaktor at gmail dot com
This Valentines Day we are delighted to offer something much better than chocolates or flowers. A new shiny book!
‘Margret Helgadottir’s kinetic prose immerses the reader in a future woven from the threads of Nordic history, studded with jewels pillaged from our mythic past.’
– Damien Walter, Columnist for The Guardian
‘Finely observed, beautifully written; Margret Helgadottir’s stories have the chill brightness of new myth. She is a writer to watch.’
– Adam Roberts
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