Winter Tales : Among Wolves

by B Thomas

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am infatuated with dark fiction. I’m not alone in this or King wouldn’t be one of the most iconic writers of all time, Gone Girl would not have been a smash success, and not one of you will get this next Brad Pitt reference: “Oh God. . . What’s in the box?” (I know some of you did.)

It’s also more than safe to say, that I have a deep respect and love for animals of all kinds, particularly wolves. Their elegance, their pack mentality, and the way they look at you with their heads low and their eyes unblinking. Sadly, though, they are also hunted, trapped, and facing endangerment. (That’s all the preaching I’m going to do, be assured). I knew several years ago that I wanted to write a story involving wolves, and our desperate need to get back in touch with nature. But the killer question was: in what way would this scenario be plausible? Easy: hello apocalypse.

The thing with apocalyptic fiction is that there are certain tropes that are nearly impossible to avoid. I.E – warring factions, groups of people who revert back to a barbarian-like state, etc. While I knew these were going to be present, I didn’t want that conflict to take away from the point that I was trying to get across. I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not I achieved this, but if anybody—even only one person who reads it thinks: maybe humans don’t know everything, then I will consider it a victory.

After three drafts, I submitted Among Wolves to the annual Writers of the Future contest where it earned an honorable mention. While I was happy about this, it didn’t change the fact that there it sat: unpublished and wanting to be read. Then I stumbled across Fox Spirit’s Winter Tales call for submissions: 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. . .

I was ecstatic. . . And nervous. Response times are brutal for any writer, and even though Fox Spirit had a rather short wait time, it was still excruciating. I wanted Among Wolves to belong in this collection and have the opportunity to work with a press that had been named the 2015 Best Small Press by the British Fantasy Society. My thanks to them are endless, along with my gratitude to Margaret Helgadottir for being such a communicative, insightful editor, and my trusted beta readers, some of you having read Among Wolves more than once. Thank you again.

Several months after my acceptance into Winter Tales, I embarked on a trip I had wanted to go on for a couple years. Along with my girlfriend and a few friends, we went out west to visit the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, a nonprofit sanctuary for wolves and other wild canines. It was incredible. We were given the opportunity to interact closely and personally with the animals and everything I desired to get across in my story had been reaffirmed a thousand times over.

If you are so inclined you can stop by my webpage at or follow me on twitter @jigsawkid7

European Monsters : We Can Still Be Wolves

We can still be wolves

Anne Michaud

In another life, raids and battles were part of me. In another life, riding the sea bumped the blood in my veins and claiming new lands raced my heart to a new beat. In another life, I believed in a god of fire that could lick an entire village with its flames, I believed someone ordered for thunder to roar and rain to fall. In this other life, I was vijka; I was a seawolf.

So long ago, Vikings ruled the world. Vikings fought to remain true to themselves, even when stronger powers invaded their own land and transformed it into something else than home. Vikings fought until they had to change, until the fight left them. And that story is one to remember, when anger and vengeance transformed into resilience, except for the few who just refused to follow the herd.


In my Vijka, when the line draws in the sand, one viking’s soul cuts in two. He finds a monster hiding within himself, playing in his head, eating at his heart. And then the monster becomes stronger, bigger than him. And so a war begins, with its powerful need to destroy everything until nothing remains, the monster makes him forget about being human. The monster consumes him, like fire.

Even if everything burns and everyone dies, even if nothing’s left to conquer, this monster waits for the end. It feeds on this anger and hate and  power; it feeds on the viking’s soul. And then the monster, its spirit, never truly goes away; it lives on as part of humanity, of History. We are vikings, we are Vijka.

Author Post : Rahne Sinclair

The Wolf in Fantasy by Rahne Sinclair

Regardless of where or what historical epoch a fantasy novel is set, there is a very specific subset of animals usually contained therein, and there is a high chance that the wolf is among them. There is something about the wolf that makes it an enduring part of our myths and legends.  Whether anthropomorphised to a loyal or magical being, or demonised to an evil adversary, this creature has played both hero and the villain in our stories.

Our early hunter-gatherer ancestors invited the wolf to his fireside and utilised its natural abilities to aid in their own survival. Overtime, further domestication and selective breeding turned the wolf into the dog we know today.

Man-kind then turned on its four-legged friend’s wild cousin. Medieval kings were known to offer great reward or pardons for a sack of wolf pelts. They were derided and hunted to extinction in many countries. The last wolf in the UK was killed in 1743. Conversely, many lords and knights would take the wolf as their emblem, signifying their strength in battle, their ferocity, and a warning to their enemies they were not to be tangled with.

As stories and fairy tales began to emerge, this hatred was reflected in the stories told and for many centuries, the traditional role of a wolf in fiction was as the enemy. Little Red Riding Hood was a story that used the wolf to represent the dangers of the forest, as opposed to the safety of the village, but by no means was it the only story to feature a big bad wolf. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, white wolves terrorise The Shire, and the Orcs hang out with Wargs. Maugrim of C S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a shining example of how wolves were thought of as sly, cunning, and ferocious.

As mankind re-learns the truth about this contender for our apex predator status, our perception of wolves has changed drastically in the past few decades, undergoing something of a 360 degree reversal to portray the wolf in a more positive light. Different aspects of the wolf’s personality are focused on. Their pack mentality epitomises some of the aspects of ‘family’. They share child care duties, and are fiercely protective of their young. In books like Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, the orphan Mowgli is raised by a she-wolf. In G.R.R. Martin’s Songs of Ice and Fire, the dire-wolves are given as pets to the Stark family’s children, who become companion and protector. Even YA and children’s stories have reflected this new admiration for the wolf. Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness show the wolf as a constant companion to the young hero as he battles evil during the Stone Age.

The newest trope for wolves has to be as the ‘love interest’. More accurately, this pertains to werewolves, rather than wolves, and is greatly at odds with its origins in Greek mythology and horror. With TV shows like Buffy and Being Human, the werewolves are still violent and bestial, but their human counterpart is a figure we are meant to empathise with. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaba, Remus Lupin is a greatly admired teacher who has to endure his curse. This is countered by Fenrir Greyback in The Half Blood Prince, who revels in his wolf nature. In the case of books like The Southern Vampire Chronicles (True Blood), plus countless erotic fictions, the human form of the werewolf represents the ultimate alpha male character. A character whose is strong, confident, protective and assertive, yet at times gentle and loving.

Similar to its real-world inspiration, the wolf in fantasy is still evolving. Like the best type of hero, the wolf has had a shady past, but is now a much reformed character.