Halloween Reads from Fox Spirit

In addition to our two upcoming releases, The Girl in the Fort with Fennec and Got Ghosts, we have several other titles perfect for curling up under a blanket with as the nights draw in. 

Of course, we have our 2017 anthology, Respectable Horror. Full of thrills and chills to make your blood run cold. 

Introduction by K. A. Kaity
The Estate of Edward Moorehouse by Ian Burdon
The Feet on the Roof by Anjana Basu

Respectable Horror front cover

Spooky Girl by Maura McHugh
Recovery by H. V. Chao
The Holy Hour by C. A. Yates
Malefactor by Alan C. Moore
A Splash of Crimson by Catherine Lundoff
In These Rooms by Jonathan Oliver
A Framework by Richard Farren Barber
Running a Few Errands by Su Haddrell
Miss Metcalfe by Ivan Kershner
The Little Beast by Octavia Cade
The Well Wisher by Matthew Pegg
Where Daemons Don’t Tread by Suzanne J. Willis
Full Tote Gods by D. C. White
Those Who Can’t by Rosalind Mosis
The Astartic Arcanum by Carol Borden

Or is you fancy something that is sure to make you feel the bite of oncoming winter… Winter Tales might be just what you need.

Mat Joiner: The frost sermon

Cover by S.L. Johnson

Su Haddrell: The Bothy
Sharon Kernow: The Wolf Moon

Ruth Booth: The love of a season
Masimba Musodza: When the trees were enchanted
Fiona Clegg: Sunday’s Child
Tim Major: Winter in the Vivarium
Lizz-Ayn Shaarawi: Snow Angel
Amelia Gorman: Under your skin
B. Thomas: Among Wolves
Eliza Chan: Yukizuki
DJ Tyrer: Frose
G.H. Finn: Cold-Hearted
David Sarsfield: Voliday
Kelda Crich: Coldness Waits
K.N. McGrath: The Siege
Jonathan Ward: Spirit of the Season
James Bennett: The Red Lawns
Anne Michaud: Frost Fair
Jan Edwards: Shaman Red
Adrian Tchaikovsky: The Coming of The Cold
Verity Holloway: The Frost of Heaven
For shorter reads we have G. Clark Hellery’s murderous camping collection Weird Wild or Colin Barnes gothic novella A Heart for the Ravens. 
Or you might prefer to wonder paths unknown with Ian Whates in Dark Travellings
And for those of you who are having an urban Halloween, perhaps the fairy tale stylings of King Wolf, a short collection by Steven Savile

Of course, you may be in the mood for something completely different. A journey into outer space, a fun adventure to drive away the shadows. Have a browse, because the only thing we know for sure is dark evenings are perfect for reading. 


Waxing Lyrical : Online Fiction

On the subject of online fiction, we welcome Jenny Barber. 

Waxing Lyrical: Online Fiction by Jenny Barber

So there I was, not at Worldcon and living vicariously through everyone’s tweets, when reports of the short fiction panel started popping up. Specifically, the view that print magazines were going to die and hopefully online providers would start selling short fiction.

Start selling?  Start…?  (Looks at calendar. Sees that it is, in fact, still 2017. Shakes head.) If I had been drinking tea, it would have sprayed all over the screen.

I don’t remember exactly when I discovered that online magazines existed (I started slushing for the late Fantasy Magazine [http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/] around 2009-ish so it was probably a couple of years before that), but I do remember the rampant glee at finding so much quality short fiction available for free. Free was important back then as I couldn’t afford print subscriptions to the magazines I knew about, but still had a short fiction addiction that needed feeding. 

What really cinched my newfound love for online fiction was the sheer range of stories available.  I’d spent a good decade or so reviewing predominantly UK horror ‘zines for the British Fantasy Society and while I do enjoy a good horror story, online fiction opened the SFF world up much wider.  New authors, new styles, stories from all over the world and all a mouse click away! Amazing!

Since then, the online markets have expanded: bigger, better, and more beautiful, there are more magazines, more diversity, more ways to support the publications and more ways to read (and listen) to their fiction. 

Online fiction and their venues regularly win Hugos, Nebulas, British Fantasy Awards, British Science Fiction Awards, World Fantasy Awards, Locus Awards, Aurealis Awards, Shirley Jackson Awards, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards & Parsec Awards (to name but a few!) so you can be sure of the highest quality fiction for the low, low price of (mostly) free!

But if you have the spare cash, you can get handy subscriptions (with bonus and/or advanced content) or single issues of titles delivered in the ebook format of your choice – available either directly through the magazines own sites; or from digital stores like Weightless Books [https://weightlessbooks.com/], Smashwords [https://www.smashwords.com] or Amazon.  Those that don’t have subscription options usually have ways to donate via paypal or funding sites, so watch out for the publisher patreons and kickstarters to show your love and pick up some fantastic fiction to boot.

But where can you find some of this award-worthy, affordable, accessible fiction?

::Link-fest mode engaged, Cap’n!::

Strange Horizons [http://www.strangehorizons.com/] is one of my firm favourites and Beneath Ceaseless Skies [http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/] is another top one. Uncanny Magazine [http://uncannymagazine.com/] is not to be missed and if you want some Chinese translation (and other) SFF head over to Clarkesworld [http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/].

Lightspeed [http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/] publish some awesome fantasy and science fiction, and their sister magazine Nightmare [http://nightmare-magazine.com] is perfect for the horror aficionados, with more horror shorts found at The Dark.  [http://thedarkmagazine.com]

But also! Have a look at Apex Magazine [http://www.apex-magazine.com/], Shimmer [https://www.shimmerzine.com/], Holdfast [http://www.holdfastmagazine.com/], Abyss & Apex [http://www.abyssapexzine.com/], Heroic Fantasy Quarterly [http://www.heroicfantasyquarterly.com/], Fireside Fiction [http://firesidefiction.com/], Kaleidotrope [http://www.kaleidotrope.net/], and Tor.Com [http://www.tor.com]

If you like longer fiction, then may I point you at GigaNotoSaurus [http://giganotosaurus.org/] for all your novella pleasures. If you prefer flash, then Daily Science Fiction [http://dailysciencefiction.com/] will give you flash fiction five days a week (and free subscription if you want the stories delivered via email.)

Don’t want to sit staring at a screen? No problem! Many magazines do audio versions of their stories, and if you really want a treat, go check out some of the excellent dedicated podcast magazines.  The Escape Artists clutch of ‘casts are highly recommended and cover a broad range of genre in Escape Pod [http://escapepod.org/], Pseudopod [http://pseudopod.org/], PodCastle [http://podcastle.org/] and Cast of Wonders [http://www.castofwonders.org/].  Also check out StarShipSofa [http://www.starshipsofa.com/], Toasted Cake [http://toastedcake.com/] and The Drabble Cast [http://www.drabblecast.org/] for more audio goodness.

shameless book plug

So whatever the current state of print magazines may be, online short fiction is ready and waiting to welcome you into its digital folds!

Waxing Lyrical : Accept no Substitutes

Accept no Substitutes.

by Adele Wearing

Please see the Waxing Lyrical category for more information on being part of this series. 


A little while ago there was a lot of excitement over an openly gay character appearing in an established science fiction universe. The author was a straight white man. There is a lot of this going on, with writers recognising (at last) that people like to have the option of reading about characters more like them. The rise of the #weneeddiversebooks campaign, targeting mainly the young adult arena, certainly drives this point home.

diverse books

In itself, this greater representation seems like a good thing. We do need diverse books, we need to see the real variety the world provides represented in our reading, so on the one hand, yes we should all be pleased people are writing more diverse characters. For one thing, it makes books a bit more interesting. For another it’s important that everyone recognises the need for diversity and engages with it the best they can. I just want to take a moment here to stress; no one is saying that anyone else shouldn’t write more diverse characters. Not here anyway.

Of course this apparent progress has given rise to its own issues. How valuable is diversity that is only page deep? What is it people really want? Do we want straight white cis men to be representing everyone? Is that actually diversity or is it just the old guard hanging on to their dominance of genre fiction by telling other people’s stories for them instead of letting them tell their own.

In awards terms this year; The Hugo’s have shown that women and writers of colour are more than capable of writing their own stories and representing themselves, so perhaps the industry needs to open up more space for that and let them. As a side note, the Clarke award demonstrated that it is still ok to be white and male in science fiction, it turns out you just have to write really great books (therein may lie the actual problem for many of the writers crying SJW).

speak for myself

It’s an insidious issue, because it’s easy to claim the mantle of ‘ally’ by writing diverse characters and it’s very difficult to challenge reasonably. After all it’s not generally that LGBT writers don’t want straight writers having LGBT characters, it’s just, they want a chance to write their own books, their own characters and tell their own stories their way. It’s a near perfect soap box, it’s hard to tell a man who is trying to be an ally to women that he’s not helping, especially as the intentions may be entirely genuine, but if women can’t be heard, can’t be seen due to the sheer number of men selling feminism, then isn’t that at risk of silencing women just as effectively as the people who openly tell them to sit down and be quiet? Effectively you are talking over them, drowning their voices out and you might as well order off the menu for them while you are at it.

It amounts to this for me. If you really want to be an ally draw gay writers into your discussions about gay characters, help them to share some of your platform and be heard.  Readers, if you really want to support diversity you need to read diverse books and that means you need to seek out diverse authors: Nnedi Okorafor, James Bennett, Tade Thompson, and Zen Cho are a few good starting points. You may have to look a little further but when it comes to diverse reading accept no substitutes.

Waxing Lyrical : Reality is just the consensus anyway


I have talked about the importance of diversity in writing before, in detail, so I won’t go into that at length again today. I mention it only because it does relate to what I want to talk about today, which is how stories are given and received.

I often say you need to study English Literature while you are young. That’s because as you get older and maybe a little more jaded, you start to realise that writers are people. Worse, they are people with deadlines and insecurities and tea addictions and family problems and hospital appointments and crummy landlords and all the same crap we have. Actually it’s not a bad thing, in fact if writers weren’t real people they’d be way less interesting. There is something of a loss of mysticism though and that makes it harder to really believe that the placement of the cigarette in the mug instead of the ashtray meant something deep and symbolic about how the character felt about themselves and the state of their relationship and you know the economy or puppies or something,  (like your eng lit teacher would tell you) and you start to suspect the writer forgot they had put an ashtray within reach, but remembered the character hadn’t quite finished the coffee (because that happened loads when you were a student). My dear Mrs Chapman (my eng lit teacher) I am truly sorry, but it turns out that the vast majority of the time the curtains are simply blue.


This leads me on to the point that intersects neatly with why I love diversity. Everything we read goes through two key filters (putting aside agents, editors, proof readers, etc etc ). The first filter is that unique element of every story, the story teller. If you give a dozen people the same brief you get a dozen different stories (essentially this is how anthologies happen) because everyone has a different experience of life that they bring to their work. The more varied you want your reading experience to be, the more varied your writers should be. If your shelves are full of writer type a you are experiencing fiction through dozens/hundreds of very similar filters. Try something different. I promise it makes it much more interesting.

The second filter then is equally unique. The second filter is the reader. Which is interesting because it means not only do no two people write the same story the same way, but neither do any two people read the same story the same way. Not exactly. We all affect it through our experience the same way the writer affects it with theirs. However as a reader you will only truly experience your own reading, so you must look for your diversity in writers. I know, it’s a drum I keep banging, but that’s because it matters. And I’m right.

This throws up an interesting question. If the writer simply forgot about the ashtray, but the reader takes meaning from stubbing a cigarette out in the mug is the reader wrong? Can the curtains only ever be blue?

found on zazzle
found on zazzle

I’d suggest not. I think its ok to read more into it.  That if the reader finds it speaks to them in a different, deeper way then actually that’s great, they’ve got something they needed or wanted. I have never believed that stories need to have a deeper meaning. I have always held that stories are important for their own sake and the idea that a tale has to have a purpose, a message or moral is a disservice to the importance they play in our lives in the first place. I would never deny anyone the right to find more in a story though. I am quite sure I have.  It’s ok to take whatever you take from a story.

That the writer wasn’t cleverly concealing more meaning in an action or a choice in no way negates that the reader gets that from the story. I don’t generally ask ‘did you mean for your book to have this impact’ because it doesn’t matter. It had the impact whether it was intended or not.

So after all that do I have a point?

I think I do and I think it goes something like this.

The writer will write the story they want to write. That may not be the story the reader reads. That’s ok.

I’d also add, because it can never be said too much in my view, that stories matter because they are stories and really, they don’t need to be anything more.

It’s all about the story

It has to be really.

I was always a reader because I love stories. I love watching them, reading them, listening to them, even playing them. I reviewed so I could find new stories and tell people about them. Now I get the ultimate dream for anyone who doesn’t write, isn’t a creator of stories, I get to put stories out there that you might otherwise never get the chance to read.

The thing is books, even ebooks are just one medium for stories. Stories can be told in a multitude of ways and I love that! I love that changing the method of telling changes the story. I quite deliberately don’t seek audio rights from authors and I keep exclusivity periods short because I believe this:

It’s all about the story.

Selling or giving the story to a podcast doesn’t devalue an anthology or novel. It’s a new entity and it supports the telling and retelling of the tale. Stories that appear in FS anthologies appearing in other anthologies or magazines doesn’t devalue our anthologies. A Fox Spirit anthology is a particular collection on a particular theme, collected according to our values and preferences. It’s an entity that is more than the sum of its parts. Besides, it’s generally standard to note when reprinting where the first print was and that helps spread the name of Fox Spirit Books, a thing I approve of.

I mention this now for a couple of reasons, to remind my wonderful skulk of writers that they are free to submit their stories to podcasts and for audio and that Nun & Dragon’s exclusivity period is a month or so past now, so they should be looking for other opportunities to spread those tales too.

The other reason is that on the 13th July at Edge Lit in derby we launch Noir Carnival and Spacewitch will be launching as a part of that event. The brains behind Spacewitch, Del Lakin-Smith shares this view and we will be seeking new and interesting ways of engaging with readers and making it about more than selling books. It’ll be about sharing stories, growing them, being part of them. You don’t have to write for us to be part of what we do. We love getting reader photos, we would love to support people in sharing our stories so if you have ideas contact me on adele @ foxspirit.co.uk and lets see what we can come up with together.