About the girl at the end of the world

Covers 2 Book 2
Covers 2 Book 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Starfang Chapter 10

Chapter Ten

I woke up from a dream where April sat before me, our chess set laid open, and the peepul tree rustled in the afternoon breeze. There was brewed jasmine tea on the marble table. Her eyes were intense, looking straight into me, while she pushed her Queen in front of my chess piece.

Her lips parted, whispered Love You. Something the real April wouldn’t do.

Yet, in the dream, I cherished those words. Held them to my chest, to my heart. They were my talisman, holding the demons at bay.

The drab surroundings greeted me. I sat up. Another day. S’sahrak would be arriving in twenty minutes for its “daily interrogation activities”. S’sahrak was punctual to a fault.

I tore into the bread, feeling the hollow and biting hunger inside me. The bread was laced with the drug. So was the water. Yet I ate and drunk. I needed to have energy to face S’sahrak. Somewhere in my head, I imagined copious amounts of Mother’s herbal tonics, dishes of delicious food, my favorite trotters in ginger and vinegar. Real things to sustain me, to keep me from falling. I wanted to fight the addiction.


“Consider this,” S’sahrak said, flexing its claws. I focused on the glistening half-moon talons, fascinated by their obsidian sheen.  “Consider this, your situation. Ever wondered why you were here.”

“You are an agent of Yeung Leung, my enemy,” I said calmly.

S’sahrak tilted its head. “As you wish.”

“You are not an agent then?” I pushed on.

The shishini did not answer. Instead, it began to pace around the table, tracing a definite pattern. “We of the claw are not confined by such restrictive parameters. Agent? Enemy? What are those words? They restrict us.”

“Now you are a philosopher,” I muttered.

Shishini are philosophers,” S’sahrak said without missing a beat, its tail swinging a rhythm as it continued its pacing. “Like what is male or female, but restrictive and confining identifiers. We choose to be male or female or none, when we are ready to move on. You are restricted by your female-ness, but you choose to desire-to-mate with your first officer, have you not?”

Ice drenched my back. “How did you know?”

“I am an agent of Yeung Leung, am I not?”

“You speak in circles.”

“Life, my captain, is a circle.”

“Is it?” I admitted that S’sahrak’s pacing was hypnotic. The rosette patterns blurred with every circuit around the interrogation table. I rubbed my eyes, trying to clear a nascent headache.

“Your bond with your first officer might be a liability, my captain.”

“I am not your captain,” I grit my teeth. They are going to go after her! April, no! I began to smile grimly, a wolf smile. No, April won’t let herself be caught that easily. April would hunt them down. April would destroy them.

“I see,” S’sahrak nodded slowly, as if it was contemplating a piece of outlandish artwork.  “Then why do you persist to be female?”

“Stop,” I said dangerously. “You are being oblique.”

“Am I not?”

I felt the wolf grow larger inside me, heard the growling in my throat. With iron will, I caged it back. “What do you want, S’sahrak? Irritate your prisoner?”

“Isn’t that my goal, my captain?” S’sahrak clicked its claw-tips together. Tink-tink-tink.

I stared directly at the shishini clawleader, staring straight into its pupil-less eyes. I felt as if I was looking into pools of oil.  Was S’sahrak male, female or none?

“I do not want to play games,” I said finally. “But if you want to play games, so will I.”

“As you wish.” A gentle incline of the saurian head. “You have to realize this is already a game. I am your captor. You are my prisoner. There is a relationship here I can exploit.”

Shishini play games. Mind games. They play them like puzzle games. Stay focused, Francesca. Do not lose it.

“Then how do I address you?” I sat down, the very picture of an obedient prisoner. Even a day-old pup would sniff out the pretense.

“Call me clawleader or S’sahrak,” the shishini said, settling down in front of me. Now we were face to face. “At the moment, I am none. I am rar.”

I nodded, wondering at the terms.

“Now shall we begin?”

Continue reading “Starfang Chapter 10”

The Girl at the End of the World Vol 1

The end is nigh!

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

Cover 1 Book 1
Cover 1 Book 1

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

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

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

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


StarFang Chapter 9

Chapter Nine

A black wolf bounded towards me, running low, tail held high. I looked at my own body. I was weak, human-limbed, human-bodies. Pale of skin, weak, not-wolf.

I was standing in the no-place of the afterlife. Darkness, pierced by the occasional cold stare of stars.

“Aunt Gertrude?” I whispered as the black wolf moved closer, its amber eyes glistening brighter than suns.

Far from home, my grand-niece, the black wolf said.

“I am in a lot of trouble,” I replied. “Where am I?”

Afterlife, dream place, I don’t know, child. Whatever it is, I wish you the best of luck and strength. You need it. You have enemies who hound you, hate you.

My knees chose to become jelly then. I sank down, shivering. I was face to face with the wolf. I could see tears in her eyes. I wrapped my arms around the wolf, drawing strength and comfort. Her fur was warm, as if she had rested in the sun; I could smell the sun and a hint of herbs. And home, the forest, family. Everything I was far from.

“Please help me, Aunt Gertrude.”

I have strayed too far. I want to help you… but, my child, this is your trouble. You have the strength to deal with it. Best Yeung Leung. Best him.

“Yes, I will best him.”

The black wolf began to fade away, becoming lighter and lighter until the shape became transparent. The darkness around me grew stronger, shrouding me tighter. I began struggling.

“Aunt Gertrude!”

Best Yeung Leung.

Continue reading “StarFang Chapter 9”

StarFang Chapter 8

Chapter Eight

Accord Station was like any other dock I had visited: grey, functional and sterile. It had its pleasure and entertainment section of course, but the station’s circumference was dedicated to ship gantries and grapplers, numbered slots for the various ships that came to dock, refuel and re-stock. It hung-spun in space, beside the asteroid belt ringing the water planet Lucidia, a neutral dock, silent and majestic when seen on approach.  In the center of the circumference were Station control,  entertainment joints and the habitat section for the station workers and guests.

Station control didn’t bat an eyelid when five warships appeared at the borders, four escorting an enemy vessel. Calm instructions were given to us, our docking slots provided for our convenience. I was mentally calculating the bill for this re-stock and re-fuel, with half a mind to make the Amber Eyes pay half of it.

News would already be circulating on the station: four Black Talons ships escorting an Amber Eyes cruiser, do not get involved, do not get involved, stay down.

“Any other ships docked?” I drank in the sight of Accord, glad somewhat for a short breather.

“One shishini ship,” Mariette reported. “R’rrakak. Merchant ship dealing in ores.”

“Go on,” I flexed my hands, clenching them into fists.

“Two other merchant ships. Didn’t say where they are from. Merchants. Verity and The Joke.”


“Mixed. Station control claims that they are neutral. Clan-less.”

“I see.” Starfang was on automatic dock now, the machines and sensors taking over the procedure. “I will be at my headroom.”


Continue reading “StarFang Chapter 8”

Chapter Six

And we return to our serial StarFang – Aunty Fox


Chapter Six

I only met April when we were ten. It was the year when our clan defeated the Amber Eyes and held a big celebration to honor this victory. It was also held during the Mid-Autumn Festival; the event was very grand with the entire clan and sub-clans gathering on Noah’s Ark. Clan duties had kept my aunt, April’s mother, away for a long time – and the celebration was the only time she could attend. She wasn’t a ship captain, but a planetary governor, overseeing the agricultural growth and exports of food. April was the only cousin I didn’t get to see during every Spring Festival.

Dressed in a sky blue gipao, I fidgeted and tugged at the horrible fabric which was making my skin itch. I was standing dutifully beside Father and Mother while they toasted the assembled guests, relatives and allies with expensive wine. The hunt would be later. I glanced around, feeling bored; the green forest was calling out to me. At the same time, I felt awkward and uncomfortable, all gangly limbs and a body which had started to rebel against me. I hated the idea of growing up. The stupid gipao was attenuating every curve, every bulge.

I caught the eye of another girl, about my age, dressed in a red gipao and looking as uncomfortable as I was. The red shimmered under the light of multiple lanterns hung in the guest hall like a contained fire.  She had huge eyes and curly black hair. But what drew my attention to her was her smile. It lit up the hall. I was suddenly consciousness of my hair, tied in a neat ponytail… and I wanted to tear out the stupid hair-band and run screaming away to the forest

She smiled back and my world froze. I had never seen her before.

During the banquet, she came over, the strange new girl. She stretched out a hand in greeting.

“I am April Yue,” she said. Up close, she was pretty. “You must be my cousin, Ming Yue.”

This girl was my cousin. I tentatively grabbed that hand in return. She felt warm.

“Ma told me about you, said that there would be a girl about my age at the banquet,” April smiled. “Have you eaten already?”

I stared at the half-finished bowl of longevity noodles, my appetite gone. My parents were talking to their guests, going around each table, wine glasses in hand. I wasn’t part of their celebration.

“I am not hungry,” I said.

“Interestingly enough, so am I,” April shrugged. “You going for the hunt?”

“I can’t… turn yet,” I confessed, feeling my cheeks redden with heat. April pulled my hand and we slipped out of the banquet hall, which was loud with conversation, into the central courtyard with its lotus leaves and flowers. I often hid here, on normal days, to feed the koi fish that dwelled beneath the lotus leaves. As we ran along the corridor, the koi swirled in flame-colored patterns of red and orange, eager for their daily feed of fish food.

“I can’t either,” April said. “I can only do the eye-color changing thing.” She concentrated, inhaling slowly. Her eyes became gold with black rings. “But everyone can do that and turning is not a competition.” The gold faded back to brown.

A long howl interrupted our conversation. It was the signal for the hunt.

We didn’t take part in the hunt until we reached fourteen, the age where most youth experienced their first turning. By then, we had spent so much time together, my aunt having sent April to study at the school before entering the academy.

April gave me a rose agate pebble with smooth edges when I turned thirteen. It fit in the center of my palm. She said that she found it while she scoured the beach. She loved beaches. I loved her for that. When we were twelve, we realized our relationship was different. We were cousins, but we felt something stronger than that. Young as we were, we couldn’t describe how we felt.

I had the pebble made into a pendant. I didn’t wear it though. Instead I kept it in the main drawer of my desk on board the ship, to remind myself of what was real and tangible.

Continue reading “Chapter Six”

Bushy Tales

The bushy tales series was how it all began. If I were looking to buy a pub in 2012 Leicestershire would now be the proud home of The Nun & Dragon Pub, but instead it’s the home of Fox Spirit Books and our first anthology ‘Tales of the Nun & Dragon’.

Come, rest your weary bones, draw a flagon and hark to the tales of Nuns & Dragons, of bravery and steadfastness in the face of mighty and implacable foes. Settle down and indulge yourself in wild flights of fancy brought to life by your fellow travellers.”

The Nun & Dragon is a local like no other – share in the wild and wonderful tellings of a gifted panoply of authors, tales replete with wonder, a liberal coating of mysticism, the odd splash of darkness and a sprinkling of grim humour.

nun and dragon - ebook cover (2)

With stories by: Sarah Cawkwell, Mhairi Simpson, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jasper Bark, Mark West, Joan De La Haye, Simon Bestwick, Colin F Barnes, Andrew Reid, Ren Warom, Pat Kelleher, Cat Connor, Peter Ray Allison, S.J.Caunt, Wayne Simmons, Geraldine Clark Hellery,  V.C.Linde, Catherine Rogers,  Jay Faulkner,  Sammy H K Smith,  Francesca Terminiello,  K.A. Laity,  Karen Davies

The second book in the series ‘Tales of the Fox and Fae’ is also out.

Deep in the woods where wild things lurk you’ll find foxes and rarer creatures, the fae. Join us for tales of faeries at the bottom of the garden, foxes falling foul of their own nature, battles fought in the night where human lives hang in the balance. Not all faeries are good, not all foxes are hunted. Welcome to our Tales of the Fox & Fae.

fox-and-fae front-cover-1

With stories by:  Andrew Reid,  Margret Helgadottir,  James Bennett, Chloe Yates, Alec McQuay, Haralambi Markov, Peter Ray Allison, Jasper Bark (writer) & Soussherpa (artist) & Bolt-01 (letterer), Geraldine Clark Hellery, Jay Faulkner,  T.F.Grant,  Cat Connor

The final ‘Bushy Tales’ book, ‘Tales of the Mouse and Minotaur’ is coming later this year.

Tales of the Mouse and Minotaur explores the adventure of mice (and rats) and twists on greek mythology. It also sees the return of Gilrain.

All three books feature cover art by Vincent Holland-Keen and internal art by Kieran Walsh. In Mouse and Minotaur Kieran will be collaborating with Joe Kolessides on the internal art. I’m excited to see the images for that!

Spares Press Release

Monday 22nd October sees the official launch of ‘Spares’ a novella by Alec McQuay, through Fox Spirit.

No-one dies anymore. Ever.

In the wake of the virus wars you are either undamaged and whole or a walking corpse, animated by no-one knows what and cobbled together out of odds and ends by doctors who don’t really bare thinking about. In this world a surgical scar too many is the difference between a sheltered life of privilege with the Untouched and banishment to the dark, dangerous streets, where it’s every lurcher for themselves and gang culture is rife.

When one of their number is injured in a terrorist bombing, one such gang finds themselves with a large medical bill and a rapidly dwindling list of options, ultimately leading them on a collision course with the Untouched that could change humanity’s course forever.

Parts break, wear out, fall off or get stolen as humanity turns on itself for the one thing it needs in order to keep going:


Alec has created a vivid world in this post apocalyptic cyberpunk novella, where a good surgeon is the ultimate accessory.

Cover art is by Sarah Anne Langton http://www.secretarcticbase.com/

Alec McQauy blogs at http://theidiotlaureate.wordpress.com/

Fox Spirit Books https://www.foxspirit.co.uk/

For review copies of any of our books or more information please contact adele@foxspirit.co.uk


Weird Science for Girls?

I’m pleased to announce that Fox Spirit will be publishing, toward the end of the year, an anthology edited by Mhairi Simpson.

This is what Mhairi has to say about the anthology:
‘Weird Science, Stepford Wives, that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer… Genre fiction abounds with tales of men creating (or attempting to create) the perfect woman.

Now it’s the woman’s turn. But being female, she’s flexible. She doesn’t just want to create the perfect man. She wants the perfect companion, be it man, beast or washing machine.’


I love this concept and am excited to see the results.

Welcome to Fox Spirit

We are presently putting together our first anthology ‘Tales of the Nun and Dragon’.

‘The Nun & Dragon is an old pub, although not England’s oldest. Still, even before a pub stood there the site seemed to draw travellers who had a tale to tell. It sits in a small English village with one of those odd names like ‘Barton on the Beans’ or ‘Sheepy Magna’, though it isn’t either of those.

It’s not a place you find by looking, it’s a place you stumble across when your armour is scorched and bent or your hair bleached white by an encounter with an unholy order. There is a reason it’s known as ‘The Nun & Dragon’ after all.

It’s a place that draws stories, the kind no one would believe if you told them somewhere else, but here, where the homebrew tastes slightly of honey and cinnamon and the fire is always blazing, people will take you at your word.

If you collected all the stories ever told at The Nun and Dragon you would see all of history and culture from our world and possibly, if the tellers are to be trusted, beyond it, gathered there. ‘

Tales told include almost traditional slayings, things that won’t stay dead, fables, a PI taking a case from a nun with an unusual problem, and nunsploitation. This is a collection of unusual stories, spanning multiple genres and exploring the theme from every angle.

We have cover art by Vincent Holland-Keen and internal illustrations by Kieran Walsh. The list of authors will be announced after submissions close on 1st July.