Cover Reveal! Monsters

This year’s Monsters volume is running a little closer to Christmas, but it is on its way!

American Monsters Part 1, a collection of stories from South and Central America, including a number of translations, artwork and once again Daniele Serra’s stunning cover art!

So without further ado, the cover!

And a reminder of those contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. Liliana Colanzi: «The Wave»
  2. Santiago Santos: «A Carpet Sewn With Skeletons»
  3. Sabrina Vourvoulias: «Time’s Up, Cerotes»
  4. Ramiro Sanchiz: «The Pearl»
  5. Paula Andrade: «Almamula»
  6. Cesar Alcázar and Eduardo Monteiro (art): «Cerro Bravo» (graphic story)
  7. Christopher Kastensmidt: «A Parlous Battle»
  8. Mariela Pappas: «The Eyes of a Wolf»
  9. Solange Rodriguez Pappe: «The Entangler»
  10. Daniel Salvo: «Jaar, Jaar, Jaar»
  11. Flavia Rizental: «My Name is Iara»
  12. Gustavo Bondoni: «Vulnerable Populations»
  13. Fabio Fernandes: «The Emptiness in the Heart of All Things»
  14. Paula Andrade: «La Perla del Plata» (graphic story)
  15. Teresa Mira de Echeverria: «Lakuma»
The book will have illustrations by Paula Andrade, Lynda Bruce, and Kieran Walsh.

 

American Monsters Pt 1 : TOC

TABLE OF CONTENTS – AMERICAN MONSTERS PART ONE
 
Pacific Monsters is presently on the short list for the British Fantasy Society award for Best Anthology. This book has made it to several award shortlists, including the awards Australian Shadows, Sir Julius Vogel, and Aurealis. The lovely people at Sheffield Fantasy and Science Fiction Social also awarded the book Best Anthology and Margrét Helgadóttir was awarded Starburst Magazine’s Brave New Words Award for her editor work on the book. It’s been a good year for monsters.
 
We are pleased to announce that American Monsters volume one is due out this December. American Monsters volume one is the fifth book in our grand world tour exploring monsters tales continent by continent, told by local authors. Margrét is once more the editor. We have split up America in two volumes. In this collection we explore the old myths and monsters in South and Central America, with short stories, graphic stories and art from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Equador, Uruguay and Guatamala. This book will have five translated stories, something we are very proud of.
 
Our gorgeous cover series by Daniele Serra will continue for this fifth volume. The cover will be released later.
 
Stories from North America (including Mexico and Caribbean) will be out next year before the series end in 2020 with Eurasian monster tales.
 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. Liliana Colanzi: «The Wave»
  2. Santiago Santos: «A Carpet Sewn With Skeletons»
  3. Sabrina Vourvoulias: «Time’s Up, Cerotes»
  4. Ramiro Sanchiz: «The Pearl»
  5. Paula Andrade: «Almamula»
  6. Cesar Alcázar and Eduardo Monteiro (art): «Cerro Bravo» (graphic story)
  7. Christopher Kastensmidt: «A Parlous Battle»
  8. Mariela Pappas: «The Eyes of a Wolf»
  9. Solange Rodriguez Pappe: «The Entangler»
  10. Daniel Salvo: «Jaar, Jaar, Jaar»
  11. Flavia Rizental: «My Name is Iara»
  12. Gustavo Bondoni: «Vulnerable Populations»
  13. Fabio Fernandes: «The Emptiness in the Heart of All Things»
  14. Paula Andrade: «La Perla del Plata» (graphic story)
  15. Teresa Mira de Echeverria: «Lakuma»
 
The book will have illustrations by Paula Andrade, Lynda Bruce, and Kieran Walsh.
 
***
 
The Fox Spirit Books of Monsters is a coffee table book series from Fox Spirit Books, edited by Margrét Helgadóttir. The series has dark fiction from around the world, written by local authors, short stories and graphic stories based on local folklore, legends and myths. Illustrated by local artists.
 
The series has 7 books published between 2014 and 2020, starting with Europe (2014), continuing with Africa (2015), Asia (2016) and Pacific region in 2017. Volume five (2018) and six (2019) will cover South, Central and North America before the series end with Eurasia (including Russia, Eastern Europe and the Balkan) in the end of 2020.

Sunday Snippet : Pacific Monsters

The FS Books of Monsters are a Horror series curated by Margrét Helgadóttir (and in the early volumes, Jo Thomas), who are women in horror. 

MONSTER
Tina Makereti

It came out of the sea on a Saturday morning, heaving its body onto the rocks beside the boat sheds in the darkness before dawn. It sat in a shallow pool potted with black mussels and a slick of seaweed while it took a few breaths, then drew itself up the stairs. It could smell rust and exhaust fumes.
The dragon boaters had woken it the day before, crowds of them, their barrage of noise muted only slightly by the shallow watery cradle of the harbour. Somehow the tides had brought it in as it slept, released from its bed in the depths of the Pacific by the rumblings of a quake. It wasn’t just their yells that woke it, or the slice of their paddles in the water—a thousand small splashes that sounded like storm rain from where it lay. They brought something else with their bright-painted hulls and racing arms. It felt them moving above, pushing against the limits of their age just as they pushed through the water, a hard-held breath waiting for life to happen. It felt the enormity of future somethings beating in their chests. It opened an eye and saw the firm thighs flash, the twist of wrist tendon.
It wanted them.
It watched all day, one eye and then two, from just below the surface. A girl looked right into one of those round dark lenses just before she plunged her paddle, but quickly dismissed what she had seen as reflection—the heat and sweat of the day causing distortion in her vision. Even so, that afternoon she developed an aversion to water, preferring to keep fingers and toes above. The others on her team teased when they noticed her reserve, dipping their own fingers in to splash her. The thing beneath could almost taste the juice in their taunts. It dreamed of nibbling their sweet digits.
Still, it stayed—calm, quiet, breathing in salt-wet infused pockets of air, readying itself for the closing of gills and opening of lungs. It could wait. The upper world would still be there when it was ready. Last time, the land under the sea had rumbled the thing up from below in great surges, wave after wave, until it found itself pushed up into the harbour and past, washing through a beachfront house with the massive tide. The house had been quickly abandoned when the sea came knocking; so it stayed awhile, slumping and sloshing from room to room, curious about the upper world. The house was wood, and spare, and the contents were now damp and sandy and preparing to rot. There it found a woman’s petticoat among some items pushed into a wet corner, and a framed family portrait that had remained miraculously nailed to a wall. It wondered about the smooth-skinned creatures in the picture, with their coverings and ruffles and silky heads. It reached thick fingers to the bulbed seaweed and baby mussels that formed stringy colonies on its own head, felt its own calloused black barnacle skin, and made a sound very like laughter.

Snippet Sunday : African Monsters

New thing for 2018, now that it is properly underway. Sunday’s we are going to give you just a few paragraphs from a story to enjoy. There is no particular order to these, but we hope you enjoy them during the year. 

From ‘That Woman’ By S. Lotz
Published in African Monsters

It took me almost eight hours to drive from Accra to the Northern District, and by the time I pulled up outside the police station, back aching from the punishment doled out by the potholes that plagued the roads, all I wanted was a cold drink and a soft bed. No chance of that—I only had two days to conclude my business here. A month earlier, my superior had received a flurry of furious letters from a Gushengu resident complaining that the local police were refusing to look into the suspicious deaths of several men from the district, and that he and his son were now “under attack”. The letters were garbled and borderline illiterate, but they were persistent. Considering the other priorities we had at the time, it was an unusual errand, but my boss was newly appointed, and was wary of giving his detractors any cause to accuse him of incompetence. I was instructed to investigate the man’s claims.
The police station was understaffed, but eventually a constable in a crushed shirt showed me into the district police commander’s office. The commander, a large middle-aged woman with a flat face, greeted me politely and waved me into the seat in front of her desk. I knew little about her; just that she’d been there for many years, working her way up the ladder despite the many difficulties she must have faced as a woman in a male-dominated profession. I don’t consider myself an unconfident man, but I found myself sweating under her gaze: she had unusual, light-coloured eyes that were hard to read and gave her a predatory air. Shrugging off my discomfort, I explained that I was an investigator from the Deputy Inspector’s office in Accra and outlined the reason behind my errand.
She listened without showing any emotion. ‘And who is the man who sent these letters?’
‘A Mr Kwame Nfani.’
‘I know of him. He has been here many times.’ She gave me a bland smile, no hint of guilt that she’d been neglecting her duties. ‘And he says that a great injustice has been done, eh?’
‘He says that a man from his village and four others in neighbouring villages have died in suspicious circumstances, and he believes his son will be next to die.’
‘And how did he say these men died?’
‘He did not.’
‘So on this basis—hearsay—you are conducting an investigation?’
What to say to that? She was correct. She let me squirm for a while, then leaned back in her chair. ‘Ask your questions.’
‘Was there an investigation into the deaths?’
‘No. There was no need. There have been no suspicious deaths in the region recently. But I know of what you speak. In the cases of the men Mr Nfani is referring to, the doctor said three of them were due to malaria, and two succumbed to meningitis. As you know, there was an outbreak of meningitis in the region at the time.’

Monster Tales : Tihema Baker

My Identity

by Tihema Baker

Ko Tainui te waka

Ko Tararua te maunga

Ko Ōtaki te awa

Ko Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, ko Te Āti Awa ki Whakarongotai, ko Ngāti Toa Rangatira ngā iwi

Ko Tihema Baker tōku ingoa.

This is my pepeha – my identity. It includes the vessel that brought my ancestors to Aotearoa New Zealand, to the mountains and river that geographically ground me, and the nations I belong to. For the Māori peoples of Aotearoa, identity is inextricably tied to whakapapa (genealogy), which demonstrates our worldview: we are the sum of everything that came before. It’s a profound recognition of the past and understanding of how it shapes the future. Everything that transpired, everything that aligned, everything that fell into place and resulted in our existence defines us. From the emergence of raw potential from the void, right up to the mothers who gave birth to us. By stating my pepeha, I am introducing myself as definitively as I can as Māori.

If you were to meet me face-to-face, however, it’s unlikely you would think I’m Māori. To most, I look white, or what we would call Pākehā; my skin is the freckly type that burns within a few minutes of summer sun, my hair is fair, my eyes are blue. Undoubtedly, if you met me on the street, you would assume I was white.

It’s a symptom of the world we live in, which insists on defining people by their skin colour or physical attributes. This directly contradicts that Māori worldview that identity has absolutely nothing to do with skin colour. I am the sum of everything that came before me. And if that means I am Māori, then I am Māori. There is no other qualifier.

That worldview doesn’t sit so well in a western, colonised society built on the exact premise that people are defined by their skin colour. Sure, today in New Zealand we don’t have laws that directly prejudice brown-skinned Māori (for the most part), and we don’t have overt displays of white supremacy (for the most part). But the remnants of a society built on racial profiling still infect our lives.

Like so many Māori children, I suffered through an education where teachers mangled my Māori name in almost every way imaginable. As an adult, I suffer through the same in professional environments, often having to correct colleagues on something as simple as calling me what I wish to be called. But there’s a unique element to this that comes exclusively with being a “white Māori”; having to justify being Māori to everyone else.

My mum recalls taking me as a toddler to the doctor, where the receptionist asked why she hadn’t given me a “nice” name like “Reuben”. Just a few weeks ago I caught an elevator with a woman who works at the same place I do and she asked, “How come you have a Māori name?” When I told her what I thought would have been the obvious answer – that I am Māori – she responded, “But you have red hair,” like the two are somehow mutually exclusive. Before I knew it, my well-trained, instinctive response churned itself out, “Well, my mum’s Australian and…”

This is how my ability to engage socially has been conditioned by a lifetime of pre-empting the quizzical looks, the interrogation on how Māori I really am, the automatic “othering” that occurs the moment I introduce myself. I am programmed to explain myself, to contextualise my appearance so it makes sense to other people, to whom a white face with a brown name does not compute. As a human being biologically wired to seek acceptance by others, I often unconsciously just compromise my own sense of identity for their benefit. And I’m not even innocent of this ignorance myself; my own instinctive defence of my whiteness – that “my mum’s Australian” – is a glaring oversight of Australia’s own indigenous peoples. 

And that’s the irony; this “othering” isn’t only committed by Pākehā. I remember, at 6 years old, being pushed by a Māori girl for being a Pākehā who had stolen her land. When I defiantly told her I was from Ngāti Raukawa, she refused to believe me based on how white I was. At 8 years old a Māori relief teacher read my name from the roll, looked over her glasses at me and said, “You’re not Māori, are you?” Again, those experiences weren’t just limited to my childhood; I played a game of netball just yesterday and introduced myself to a new Māori teammate who, when I gave him my name, looked me up and down and said, “Not the name I was expecting.”

I could rattle off examples of these micro-aggressions all day, but I think the picture is clear. This is the bizarre space I occupy as an apparent “white Māori”; possessing too brown a name to fit in with Pākehā but too white-skinned to fit in with Māori.

Frustratingly, these attitudes extend to my writing too. When I was first in talks with my publisher, which specialises in Māori literature, about my novel, I was asked if either of the two main characters were Māori and, if not, why not? I hadn’t really thought about it; I had described one of them as having fair hair and skin only because I vainly wanted him to look like me. Just because I hadn’t explicitly jammed in somewhere that he was Māori didn’t mean he wasn’t. It just meant his appearance wasn’t an indicator of him being Māori or not.

As a Māori writer, this expectation – that my writing should “look” Māori – has been incredibly challenging to break through. People are surprised when they find my novel doesn’t reflect their view of what “Māori literature” is; I’ve had friends tell me they assumed my novel was written entirely in Māori for no other reason than I am Māori. Basically, my novel is about teenagers with superpowers, inspired by comic books, superhero movies, and Harry Potter – it’s about as nerdy and un-Māori in “look” a book could get. But it’s what I enjoy. That’s why I wrote it.

This just doesn’t add up in a lot of people’s heads. They can’t fathom a Māori writer producing a YA sci-fi novel, instead expecting something about Māori gods or taniwhā. It undermines all the aspects of my identity as Māori that shaped the book and therefore absolutely make it – like everything I write – a piece of Māori literature; my novel explores fundamental Māori concepts like life-force and spirit, the complex relationship between older and younger siblings, among others. They’re just not explicitly labelled as such. And they shouldn’t have to be; just like I shouldn’t have to reconcile my identity as Māori with my white skin so it makes sense to others, I shouldn’t have to tokenise my writing with as many Māori references as possible for it to be accepted as Māori literature. In line with that Māori worldview, my book is the result of everything that influenced it, all my experiences that moulded the words I put on the page. If those were the experiences of a Māori person, then the literature is unequivocally Māori too. 

Of course, not all Pākehā and Māori have these views. I have been fortunate throughout my life to be surrounded by Pākehā and Māori who simply accept me for who I am, and who protect me when I get tired of sticking up for myself. I must also acknowledge that my skin colour often affords me privilege that others do not have. I do not get stopped by police while driving or walking through the streets. I receive smiles from strangers, am asked for directions or assistance, when my brown friends and family are avoided. I’ve also never been killed or blamed for terrorism based on my skin colour. Who knows how many other scenarios I have been advantaged in due solely to my white skin – probably more than I’ll ever know. And that’s not even beginning to scratch the surface of my privilege as a white man; even if I was brown I still wouldn’t face as much prejudice in New Zealand as a brown Māori woman does. I acknowledge that. This is just an account of my experiences as a Māori with white skin, in a colonised society built upon the distinction of skin colour. It’s one I’m not sure has been explored in literature often.

So I decided to write about it because it’s a theme I touch on in my story “Children of the Mist.” There’s a passage that describes the narrator’s experience having to justify his white appearance to other Māori. At first read it probably seems quite out of place; a monologue that delves much deeper into the narrator’s psyche than any other passage in the story. Mechanically, it serves an important function in the story’s overall conclusion, but it’s also an example of a specific story element inspired by my lived experience. I thought it would be interesting to delve into, because in reading my story – and any other, for that matter – you are not just reading a text that exists independent of anything else. You are reading a text inspired by history, by opinion, by experience. You are reading the sum of everything that came before.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou katoa.

 

Monster Tales : Rue Karney

Finding the Words

by Rue Karney

When editor Margret Helgadottir first asked me to contribute to the Pacific Monsters anthology I faced a dilemma. Margret asked for a monster that came from Australian history and culture. But as a non-Indigenous person living in a country steeped in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, I needed to invent a monster that reflected this country and its existing First Nations’ peoples while not stepping into cultural appropriation.

My first thought was to write about a mass murderer — a monstrous human. Margret gently vetoed that idea because it was outside the aims of the anthology. Nevertheless I wanted to come up with a way to portray the violent men who made it their mission to kill, maim and destroy in their quest to steal land from those who had cared for it for more than sixty thousand years. These men, and there were many of them, were the mass murderers I wanted to write about. My challenge was to take their actions and create a believable monster within a story that accurately reflected their deeds but also contributed towards a conversation around the truth of Australia’s frontier wars.

Australia’s First Nations peoples have never ceded this land. In the 150 or so years after Captain James Cook landed at Botany Bay, an event that started the colonisation of Australia, there were hundreds of battles as the white invaders drove the Indigenous peoples off their country. There are several excellent books on this part of Australia’s recent history but as I live in the state of Queensland I took Timothy Bottoms’ The Conspiracy of Silence: Queensland’s Frontier Killing Times as my guide.

In his book, Bottoms provides the statistic that, conservatively, the figure of Aboriginal peoples killed in Queensland in the frontier wars is around 48,000. These men, women and children were killed because they were fighting for their own land, land that the Europeans stole from them. Bottoms quotes multiple original sources that detail attacks that occurred across Queensland including shootings, poisonings, rape, bashings and other horrific violence. There are no words to describe the horror of these atrocities that led to this devastating figure. Yet, that was the goal I set myself as a fiction writer approaching the task of writing a story for Pacific Monsters: I had to find the words.

I had a conversation with a close friend, an Aboriginal woman who grew up in the far north of Queensland around Cape York, about a particularly brutal man who was responsible for several massacres. This man’s name brands the country up there. A major river is named after him, as is a national park. Streets are named after him. A hotel is named after him, and to this day there are First Nations’ peoples who refuse to set foot in it. My friend told me that, such was the horror of this man, there is a legend that when he died he was buried upside down to make sure he could never return and terrorise the land again.

Here was my monster. A violent man, guilty of mass murder, who returned from the dead but because he was buried upside down he could only walk on his hands. Thanks to Bottoms’ research, I had first-hand accounts of the type of atrocities my monster, and others like him, committed. My next challenge was to build the story around him. And for that I needed a name for my central character.

I can’t recall what name I used when I began my first rough drafts of the story but I do know that nothing came together until I settled on the name Providence Slaughter. Her name is intentionally literal because it marries the two key aspects of the story — death and wisdom. Providence is a woman ignorant of her own ancestry and so ignorant of her family’s involvement in this horrendous part of Australia’s history. In writing her story, I wanted to bring this history to light in a way that her character would not only accept its truth but also do something with the knowledge.

Providence must reconcile the truth of her past with her present situation. She is disconnected from the land, as many non-Indigenous Australians are, in part because of her inability to recognise and accept past wrongs. The monster in my story is her past and her present just as the frontier wars that took place in Australia are our nation’s past and our present.

This is probably the most political story I have written because, despite the overwhelming evidence, the truth of the frontier wars is something some Australians find too unpalatable to accept. Yet the ramifications of the actions taken by white invaders continue to echo in today’s political, cultural, economic and social landscape. Young Aboriginal men in Australia are more likely to end up in jail than in university. The life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women is around a decade lower than that of non-Indigenous Australians. First Nations peoples are six times more likely to suicide than non-Indigenous Australians. These statistics are the result of inter-generational trauma; trauma that cannot start to be healed until Australia owns its bloody recent history and starts to make amends.

My monster story is not going to make a dent in these horrifying facts. But it tells the truth of the frontier wars, and the more stories out there telling this truth, the closer Australian society will be able to shift towards acceptance.

Rue Karney https://www.facebook.com/RueKarney/

Monster Tales : Octavia Cade

Wishful Monsters
By Octavia Cade

Monsters are strange things.
We’re fascinated by them. There’s whole industries devoted to bringing them to life, to packaging them up in consumable form so that we can be briefly entertained by fright. And it’s fun because it is brief. I can enjoy spending two hours watching a zombie horror film precisely because zombies don’t actually exist. If my life revolved around fending them off, I’d not be turning towards them for my leisure hours. I’d be refilling the flame-thrower and any moments I could snatch for escapism would tend to the absolutely harmless.

We generally don’t want the monsters to be real. But sometimes it’s just so disappointing when they’re not.
Especially when we hold the burden of having removed them ourselves. Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend turns an individual amongst monsters into the monster those monsters fear, and on a species level Matheson isn’t far wrong. Extinction took a lot of monsters from this world long before humans came alone, but we’ve certainly done our best to slaughter the rest.

This can best be seen in the lands where humans are not. And, for longer than anywhere else, New Zealand was that land. The last major land mass to be colonised, absent of any native mammal but small bats, it was for millennia a land belonging to birds. Flightless, many of them, and some not. The most dangerous was the largest eagle to ever exist – Haast’s eagle. It died out when humans killed its food to line their own stomachs.

That food was my Pacific monster. The tallest bird ever known, the giant moa. Females were as much as 3.7 metres in height, and all of them were flightless.
All we have left of it are bones. Bones, and stories…

Every so often the rumours start back up. That down in the remote, unexplored back blocks of Fiordland the moa survives. Perhaps not the giant moa, which would be genuinely hard to miss, but one of the smaller species of the genus. There’s sightings, a blurry photo or two. Tracks in the earth.

When my Pacific Monsters story was being edited, Margrét commented on the character who’d just found a moa footprint. Wouldn’t she wonder what it was?
There isn’t a person in this country who would see a three toed footprint that size and not think – not hope – that it was a moa. We’re a young country. We take our monsters where we can get them.
Do I think they’re still out there? Honestly, no. Do I want them to be? Oh, so much.

Jurassic Park

It’s wishful thinking, I know. Imagination layering itself over science, and with just enough hook to cling to, because, Jurassic Park-like, there is an astronomical outside chance that discovery of ancient DNA might be enough to bring them back.
But what would we do with them if we did? If we found them, alive still, in the dark and distant corners of the bush?
I’d like to think we’d be happy. That, as a nation, we’d pull of the mother of all conservation efforts, exceeding even that of the black robin – a native bird pulled back from the brink when once there were only seven individuals remaining.

But then I remember the context of monsters, and how the moa met a monster new-come to their shores… and it was us.
They didn’t survive the human race.
If they’re still out there, I hope they stay far, far away. That they’re rumours forever, because some monsters survive best in wishful thinking.

They’re Here! Pacific Monsters

Welcome to Pacific Monsters. Editor Margret has again risen to the challenge, researching and inviting authors who really understand the horrors of the Pacific Region, covering New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. The great joy of this series is of course that exploration of a regions own monsters and the way some horrors are both universal and extremely local. 

Today is the launch of the 4th Volume of Monsters, a collection of short stories, graphic stories and art. We hope you enjoy it and the blog posts from some of the authors that started yesterday and will continue for the next week. 

More on all our Monsters here.

 

Monster Tales : Kirstie Olley

The Dark Canvas of the Imagination
or
Let’s All Stop Pretending We Aren’t Afraid Of The Dark

by Kirstie Olley

It’s the middle of the night, you wake up throat dry and just know you aren’t going back to sleep until you’ve had a drink of water. The only problem is your bedstand doesn’t have the usual glass of water on it. Sure, you’ve lived in this house for five years now, you can travel the path in the dark without stubbing any toes or smashing any shins. And you’re thirty now, too old for this heart-flip moment.

Your husband’s sleeping soundly beside you and the baby’s in the cot at the end of the bed – you haven’t slipped off into some empty other world with no life in it. But in a way you have. Here in the dark is where your imagination does some of its finest work, whether you’re a writer of horror or not. The dark is a tapestry for your creative side, and if your creative side is anything like mine it can be a vindictive little asshole. That lump of laundry that didn’t quite make it into the hamper? Well that’s a serial killer crouching, hoping you won’t notice him and leave the room so he can murder your family.

What’s that, standing by the TV, silhouetted weakly by moonlight through the window? It’s not the speaker tower which your oldest threw their pyjama shirt over in a final defiance of bedtime, no, it’s a small skinny creature science has yet to identify which has a penchant for the delightful flavour of human blood.

And what lies behind the door leading into the kitchen? You can’t even see it yet! Damn it you just wanted a drink. Something scapes on the linoleum floor and you just know it’s something with sharp, hooked claws that will pierce your skin. And you’re right. You just had the size and fluffiness wrong. It’s your cat.

You’ve made it to the sink now at least, and relieve your dry throat. While Sockies rubs on your leg, asking for one last serve of wet cat food you try to remind yourself you’re an adult now. Only kids are afraid of the dark.

Thirst quenched and cat fed, you make the return journey. You’re almost to the bedroom door when a shuffling noise catches your attention. From the further dark of the hall something charges at you. Before you know it, something has latched around you. Your mind vanishes into a moment of black and white static and hiss like a TV channel when the antenna’s off-kilter. Then you realise it’s your oldest, come from their bedroom, freshly woken-up from a nightmare. They cling to you, shaking. With care you scoop them up in the cradle of your arms and bring them to bed with you. After all, it would be too cruel to leave them alone in the dark with all that canvas for their imagination to paint on.

***
Kirstie Olley writes horror and fantasy and her overactive imagination enjoys painting the canvas of the darkness full of all manner of things. She still expects, every time she throws the garage door open to put the bins out the night before pickup, that she will be greeted with a shambling crowd
of zombies. She’s still undecided whether she’ll be excited or terrified when it actually happens. You can read her latest horror story “Mudgerwokee” in Pacific Monsters, or if you can’t wait that long  (or want to join her in obsessing over the Bush-Stone Curlew (screaming woman bird)) check out her website: www.storybookperfect.com

Not done yet!

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.