This Valentines Day we are delighted to offer something much better than chocolates or flowers. A new shiny book!
– Damien Walter, Columnist for The Guardian
This Valentines Day we are delighted to offer something much better than chocolates or flowers. A new shiny book!
Fairy Drag: Or, How I Wrote The Changeling by Tracy Fahey
You don’t mess with the fairies in Ireland. They are malignant force, older than humanity, who live by their own laws. Unlike their elegant Victorian English counterparts, the Irish fairies are Other, different in every way; both in looks and in character. They’re tall and pale, with a warlike approach to life and an immense propensity for revenge. Country life, until well into the 20th century was ruled by a series of invisible boundaries –folk who lived there didn’t cut down the whitethorn, didn’t build a house on a fairy path, didn’t meddle with the forts. These sites, demarcated by fairy behaviour became forbidden zones
As with all stories, the writing of this started as a result of several unaligned thoughts coming together – the persistence of supernatural rituals in rural Ireland, a gruesome murder in Northern Ireland, and the old belief that you needed to disguise the sex of a baby to save it from been ‘swept’ or ‘fetched’ by the fairies. The fairies, it was said, would steal away an unprotected baby and replace it with a sickly fairy child who would dwindle and wither away, despite all human efforts. I became fascinated with the idea of ‘infant drag’, where clothing, hair and adornment function as a protective, gender-masking disguise. The idea of drag in this story is a double-edged sword. It is a catalyst for concealment, transformation, but also for revenge. I began wondering how this experience might translate into later life…and so this story came to life.
The story has an unhappy ending, but then, all fairy stories do. They end in tears, in partings, in kidnappings, desolation and death. Our poor changeling fares no differently.
DRAG NOIR is out now.
Kiki and Me
One night in the dim and distant long ago, I was working the graveyard shift at that notorious punk drag dive, Axolotl Snot, on the grimy lower east bank of The City. The night outside was cold and inside the clientele wasn’t much warmer. One moment I was wiping down the ever-sticky bar for the hundredth time, the next I was slack jawed with awe as the infamous drag queen Kiki Le Shade sashayed into my world. She was a dame and she had balls. One look into those hypnotically glacial peepers and I was spellbound. She bent me to her will and I thanked her for every displaced vertebrae… At least that’s how I wish it had gone, but I’ve never worked in a bar and I’ve only ever admired drag queens from afar. I have, however, been in love with them since I was a kid.
Ideas of gender have always fascinated and appalled me. The way we step into the construct of gender identity at birth and then stick to it as though it’s all perfectly natural and right when it’s clearly absolute bollocks has plagued me my entire life. Arbitrary rules of behaviour and “deportment” (ugh) that depend upon whether or not you have a tallywackle or a witch’s cackle have never made the least bit of sense to me. I never understood why I was supposed to do this or that because I was a “girl” or why my friend couldn’t wear this or act like that because he was a “boy”. I just wanted to do the things I wanted to do because I wanted to do them. I believe that’s how everybody feels, deep down at least, but all too often life teaches us that stepping out from the baaing masses is fraught with castigation and derision – those wicked sharp whip licks of social control. Well, fuck, as they say, that shit.
The long and the short of it is I’m a fan of chutzpah, if you’ll allow me the indulgence. Bold, in-your-face, no apologies types are my number one poison, my idols and my role models, and who’s better at in-your-face than drag queens? Undoubtedly I have a romanticised view of them, but it certainly seems to me that drag queens make no apologies. More often than not it is their opportunity to act out, play up and throw their besequinned shit in the face of folks with wild abandon – and they seize it. Drag has never seemed like a mask to me. It is, rather, a medium for liberation. An excuse to be fearlessly bold, a ticket to kick the world in the tits while sticking your tongue out and wiggling your glitter-encrusted arse at it. That beautiful bright light of subversion being thrown so boldly in the face of a generally conservative world that pouts and frowns at “otherness” like we don’t all have secrets, fears, desires and frustrations that torment and thrill us, tickles me in all the best places.
Needless to say, I really wanted to write a story for Drag Noir but, after whacking my brain into inanimate object after inanimate object, I was stumped. Not because I couldn’t think of a million and one scenarios, but because I couldn’t think of the right one (some might argue I didn’t do that anyway but they can kiss my big fat bellend). Then I came across the song ‘Let’s Have a Kiki’ by Scissor Sisters. I can’t remember if it was on the telly or if someone posted it on Facebook, but it stuck in my head like only the most vicious of earworms are wont to do. It did the job though, one of those mental switch thingummies. I listened to that fucking song about eight million times while sitting in front of my screen and not once did my fingers stop typing. Kiki was pretty much born in one go, but she felt like she’d always been with me. First came the image of the faded drag queen, a shadow of her former self that long ago night at the Axolotl, sitting in a parking lot on one of those awful white plastic chairs, inches long ash clinging to a still blazing cigarette, lipstick smudged, wig askew. And I wondered what she was waiting for, because she was definitely waiting for something. Turns out, it wasn’t what I expected… which is just how I like it.
Click to buy!
Double release day!
Today we are delighted to announce we have unleashed a mass of femme fatales on the unsuspecting public. Available now from Fox Spirit Books are two exciting volumes of high heels and deadly doings!
The third in our Noir series of anthologies edited by K.A.Laity is ‘Drag Noir‘ where the drag scene meets the seedy world of Chandler and Hammett, where glamour meets grit, where everyone wears a disguise.
And from Alchemy Press editors Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber we are delighted to bring you ‘Wicked Women‘! Women who write their own rules, skate along the edge of the law and generally aim to misbehave.
So join us for double trouble!
If you would like review copies or to interview the editors please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Regardless of the social progress made in recent years, our world is still not yet kind to the subversive: women who love women remain the target of stares and lewd comments; men who love men have blood which is considered unclean by the majority of the planet’s health authorities (because ‘AIDS was invented by homos’); whilst men who dress as women are still victim to physical and verbal abuse. Public acceptance may be on the increase, but as every queer person and drag queen knows, we have a long way to go.
Meanwhile, a different yet parallel rights movement is fighting for its own social and legal equality: rights for the disabled. Those with cerebral palsy are still the target of stares and verbal abuse; those with mobility needs are still denied access to the majority of the planet’s public transportation (back of the bus? You’re not even getting on!); whilst closed-circuit hearing loops are still absent from most public spaces. Progress has been made, but as every blind or autistic person knows, we have a long way to go.
Of course there are more similarities between disability and gender nonconformity than my structuring two similar paragraphs on each. Firstly, each has the ability to make the public uncomfortable, as each causes us to question our own identities: whether the shaky and often-transitional nature of our perceived gender, or our immortal able-bodiedness. Each presents us with a deviation from the norm which a great number of people still feel uncomfortable with, and which presents this difficult truth: that the privilege one receives for cis-heterosexuality or able-bodiedness is a result of random chaotic chance.
The second similarity is that both gender nonconformity and disability have been heavily medicalised by both public discourse and institutions. The very term ‘homosexuality’ was coined in an attempt to diagnose a mental condition; trans people are subject to intense physical and mental scrutiny by medical professionals who pass ultimate judgement on their personal identities; the disabled are also still viewed through this same medical lens. Are deaf people merely a medical condition, or a culture with its own language and social groupings? The nonconformists share a history of dehumanising medical discourse. Both groupings have been the target of eugenics programs. It is this similarity which prompted me to write my sci-fi short story ‘Straight Baby’.
It is this shared discourse lies at the heart of the story. In a world in which parents have (or believe they have) genetically engineered every aspect of their children, the disabled and the queer face the same threat of marginalisation and persecution. This shared struggle is embodied in Thomas, a disabled homosexual who faces intense persecution because of the random chaotic chance of his birth – a deviance which can never be truly eradicated, regardless of technological advancement.
Yet the story also examines the interplay between his identities as a gay, disabled man. Whilst other gay men are beaten and arrested when caught with other men, Thomas’ physical disability has, thus far, allowed him to escape the clutches of the heterosexist legal system. In this future, as in our own time, the disabled are frequently viewed as asexual. Thomas’ physical state covers his deviance as a homosexual: his disability is his drag.
Yet Thomas’ drag is not merely external. He manages his position in society via an internal drag, mentally conceiving of himself as a female femme-fatale – a perspective which allows him to navigate his affairs with married men. In short, Thomas is a sexual being in the ‘asexual’ drag of disability, perceiving himself in female terms. Each ‘deviance’ contradicts and reinforces the other. He is a threat masquerading as harmless.
At its root, the story is based in the fact that every struggle is a shared struggle. Gay men and wheelchair users, lesbians and the blind, drag queens and the autistic have all been marginalised by social and medical discourse. Without solidarity and recognition of our shared fight, we risk a future in which society once again uses technology in an attempt to eradicate the nonconformists – a future in which no drag can save us.
DRAG NOIR is out tomorrow!
How I Came to Write ‘Geezer Dyke’
A port stop during a cruise disembarked us in Mexico, facing a row of tour vans and buses. Most of these were staffed by sign-wielding native folks with weary, worldly-wise faces; obviously they did this job for the living it provided and not because they found it fun. One of the tour guides was a lesbian, white-skinned, aging none too gracefully, and it was evident from her accent that she’d begun life as a North American Midwesterner. She looked and clearly felt, however, more akin to her brown-skinned career associates than to the flocks of North American tourists who surrounded her. We wondered what, or who, had led her to this path. And of course, romantics that we are, we wondered whom she went home to when her day of tourist-wrangling was over.
DRAG NOIR: Out this Halloween!
I wanted to thank everyone for their continued patience.
Due to the sheer quantity of excellent submissions and the number of other books we are putting out this year the Fox Pockets have not been completed in the time we anticipated. I will be emailing writers over the next week regarding all the remaining pockets with the exception of the Evil Genius Guide, which is to have a guest editor.
The books will be going ahead, albeit a little later than we anticipated. Missing Monarchs will be out in 2014, the remaining titles may slip into the first half of 2015.
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!
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.
While the order of stories may be subject to change, here’s the stories you’ll be reading when Drag Noir pops out in a couple months from now with a faboo cover from S. L. Johnson:
The Meaning of Skin – Richard Godwin
Wheel Man – Tess Makovesky
No. 21: Gabriella Merlo – Ben Solomon
Geezer Dyke – Becky Thacker
Lucky in Cards – Jack Bates
Trespassing – Michael S. Chong
Chianti – Selene MacLeod
The Changeling – Tracy Fahey
Straight Baby – Redfern Jon Barrett
Kiki Le Shade – Chloe Yates
Protect Her – Walter Conley
King Bitch – James Bennett
A Bit of a Pickle – Paul D. Brazill
Stainless Steel – Amelia Mangan
The Itch of the Iron, The Pull of the Moon – Carol Borden
We’ve got a whole lot of interesting takes on the theme from folks around the world. I hope you will enjoy — I know I did as I sweated the choices. I was afraid I might not have enough submissions; instead, I had to make tough choices among some fine stories but the ones that made the final selection brought surprises and delights as well as that elusive noir spirit.
Doll yourself up and get ready for this one.
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.
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.
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!