FWG Blog – December 2018

December brings to a close another year at MFF, where several of our members had a great time, and an incredible amount of attendees in general were!

 

Guild Newsroom

First and foremost, as you probably all know, furry historian Fred Patten has passed away. The number of accomplishments in his life were immeasurable, and he will be missed by many. A memorial for Fred took place at Midwest FurFest a few days ago.

In a more lighthearted tone, our fallible VP has somehow lost entire access to the fwgblog email! We are gathering info for our next member spotlight, to be picked in the next week, so if you have work to be featured or an upcoming project to announce, you’re a great candidate! Email sean[at]anthroaquatic[dot]com with the following questions answered:

  • Have you been featured before? (If so, when?)
  • What are you working on? (Give us a couple of sentences about it.)

If you emailed fwgblog[at]gmail[dot]com after October 28th, we did not receive your email, so please resend it here! We are looking for a member to feature for January 2019.

 

Member Highlights

Some highlights from last month, as featured from our FWG Member News section on the forums:

 

A little light on reported information this month! Our usual reminder to all our member that have had something exciting happen in the past month not featured here: be sure to keep up with you Member News thread on the forums! Not only is this how we get our information, but these threads are able to be viewed by any person logged into the forums. Share your achievements with the rest of the writing community! http://www.anthroaquatic.com/forum/index.php?board=12.0

 

The Marketplace

For those of you looking to submit, keep an eye on the open markets on our website. For those of you who just forget, The Marketplace is your reminder for all things open for submissions!

 

Short Story Markets:

Publisher Title Theme Deadline Pay
Fanged Fiction Thrill of the Hunt Furry erotica featuring a predator/prey dynamic December 14th $0.0075/word + one copy of the anthology
Zooscape Zine Zooscape Excellent furry stories N/A (continually open at this time) $0.06/word (maximum $60) for original, $20 for reprints
Thurston Howl Publications Species: Bunnies Furry stories featuring bunnies January 1st One copy of the anthology (non-paying)
Thurston Howl Publications Breeds: Bunnies Furry erotica featuring bunnies January 1st One copy of the anthology (non-paying)
FurPlanet Inhuman Acts 2 Furry noir stories February 1st $0.0050/word + one copy of the anthology
Thurston Howl Publications Even Furries Hate Nazis Furry stories against Nazism February 15th One copy of the anthology (non-paying)
Thurston Howl Publications Movie Monsters Stories featuring monsters have/ could be in movies March 1st One copy of the anthology (non-paying)
Thurston Howl Publications Sensory De-tails Furry stories relating to strong animal senses April 1st One copy of the anthology (non-paying)

 

Novel Markets:

 

Special Events and Announcements

Books flew from MFF, and furry stories are in the hands of several readers. That’s always a success! Though what’s bigger news? Another writer GoH for Midwest FurFest! Our own Mary E. Lowd will be an honored guest at the 2019 Midwest FurFest!

 

Wrap-up

 

Our forums are open to all writers, not just full members of the FWG. Check them out here and join in on the conversation. While you’re there, check out how to join our Slack and Telegram channels. Before joining any of these, though, we ask that you please read up on our Code of Conduct! With all the negative going around in the world these days, both furry and non-furry, we want to make sure the guild feels like a safe place to all its participants, free of threats and hate speech.

We have two weekly chats, called our Coffeehouse Chats! Our first one is Tuesday at 7:00pm EST in our Slack channel, and our other is Thursdays at Noon EST on our forums in the shoutbox on the main page. Both of these chats feature writers talking about writing, usually with a central topic. As with the above, these chats are open to both members and non-members, though you must be registered for the forums.

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Member Spotlight: Nighteyes Dayspring

For the month of November, we got the chance to talk with Nighteyes Dayspring about his writing.

 

Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

The project I just finished is a story called “Mile High” I submitted to Heat, that I’m hoping to see get included in the next issue. This story follows a charter pilot on a trip to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe where he and his crew are picking up a mysterious passenger to take to New York. Jonas, the captain of the aircraft, has been paired with a new first officer he doesn’t like very much. This piece deals with the tension between Jonas, his first officer, and a hyena who catches Jonas’s eye.

I’ve got a friend who is currently training to be a pilot, and he’s been telling me about the experience, so it sparked an interest in me and served as an inspiration. I like to make stories like this as accurate as I can, so there were a lot of technical details for this story I had to conduct research on to get right. I had to run certain sections of dialogue by aviation-oriented friends to make sure they’re correct. I watched a number of different cockpit videos just to get the feeling of landing and handling a plane right. I also used a tiny bit of French dialogue to help establish the feeling of being in Guadeloupe, which I ran by our resident French speaker, Erkhyan, to make sure what Google Translate suggested was correct. Also, since Guadeloupe isn’t a place I’ve been, and it’s not on Google Street View, I also watched dash cam video shot in Guadeloupe of someone just driving around the island in order to capture the feeling of the setting.

I know some people might consider this overkill, especially for an adult story, but I feel it’s important if you are using a real place, even in a world inhabited by furries, to try and get the details right. In anything based on reality there are going to be small things you might fudge, either because you can’t find out about something or you need something to be setup a certain way for the purpose of the story, but I like that to be a conscious decision on the part of the writer.

Now the fact I called the story “Mile High?” I just couldn’t resist the word play.

 

What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between? How do you find that this helps and/or hurts your writing style?

I’ve always been more of a pantser than an outliner, but that’s started to change. As I’ve worked on longer work, I’m finding that pantsing just doesn’t work for me. I can’t just write a novel without an outline and clear direction. I’ve tried it twice. One time it was an abysmal failure; I will someday figure out how to fix that piece. The other time, I took a half-written novel and rushed it to completion. I’ve been working on that book, Scars of the Golden Dancer, on and off for years, beating the back half into some semblance of readability. It’s only recently reached a state where I’m ready to start shopping it around.

I think there are merits to both approaches. There is something about taking a few tidbits, sitting down and seeing where it’s going. I love doing that, but in order to get the type of stories I want to write, and produce longer work, I find I need to invest more in planning and worldbuilding. I’m sure someone out there can pants a whole novel and it will be brilliant, but that’s not me. A consequence I find with pantsing sometimes is that I’ll do that to explore an idea, and then it will click what I want it to be. This aha moment is great, but that often requires rewriting large chunks of the story in order to make it smooth and even.

 

What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

I like to write stories with well executed details in interesting settings. Even when I’m writing erotica, I think it’s important to make your world feel real. If I can create a setting and story as a writer where I get to explore, I can generally take the reader along with me for a fun ride. Of course, I still need good characters with their own personalities, strengths, and flaws to make the story complete. When I successfully bring together a rich setting and fun characters to write, I find the story will flow much easier. I think an element of exploration is important with writing. If I want to see what’s going to happen, if I want to be there with these characters, the reader is going feel that same passion, and they’re going to keep reading.

Like anything though, there are exceptions where I’ve focused on just the characters, letting the setting fade away some. I’ve written two stories about a couple that have yet to leave their apartment. There is a tight focus on their interactions, and while it’s outside of my typical wheelhouse, I still think it worked well.

 

Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

The character I most identify with is a jackal character called Zayn. He’s the primary subject of Scars of the Golden Dancer. This project has taken me eight years to shape, but in that time, I’ve gotten to explore Zayn’s personality in great detail, and I feel a strong attachment to him. At his core, Zayn is quintessentially a survivor. In the start of the novel, he’s working as a prostitute and he’s done things to support himself that others would shy away from. This makes him a broken character, but I love that I’ve gotten to take him from his lowest point and rebuild him. I’ve never personally been as desperate as Zayn, but I know this feeling of having to rebuild yourself well. Watching Zayn work to heal, to learn to love again, has been cathartic for me, and these emotions bring back memories about parts of my youth.

The first part of his journey will be included in FANG Volume 9 in the story “Silk and Sword”, which will be out next month.

 

Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

It’s tough to answer a question like this discussing furry writing without mentioning Kyell Gold. Back when I was first exploring furry books, Kyell’s writing was starting to get well known, and it was a real inspiration to try achieve something like he was doing. I took a break from writing for a while, but around 2010, I got my first sale with FurPlanet, and I started seeing writing as a more serious activity. Since then I’ve met a number of writers who’ve influenced me, and that I get to beta swap with. There are so many great writers in the Furry Writers’ Guild I’ve met, I don’t think I can fairly name a few without making it a long list.

For writers outside of the fandom that most inspired me, Ray Bradbury would be at the top of that list. Bradbury wrote a lot of great stuff, and reading book like the Martin Chronicles, which is a fixup of short stories, really helped me get the confidence to start stringing my small ideas together. If someone of Bradbury’s stature could create a book out of disconnected stories, I too could start linking some of my short stories into bigger work. This is still a transition I’m going through, but I’ve kept Bradbury in mind as I’ve laid out the groundwork to build a novel series.

 

What’s the last book you read that you really loved?

This is another tough one. I’ve read some great stuff. I’m going to have to say Kismet by Watts Martin. It’s got a great plot, and the world building is really exciting to read about. I love the way Watts’s protagonist Gale has a deep back story that she can rely on and yet struggle against. Gale inhabits a world where bioengineering can make you an anthro, called totemics in the book, but she also inhabits a world where not everyone is happy about that. I think the way Watts investigates humanity’s struggle with what totemics represent to the future of humanity, against the backdrop of the River, space colonies built along the asteroid belt, is really exciting. He’s got a very rich world, and a great story coupled with pertinent questions about identity I think readers can really ponder as they read the book. It’s a book that explores some of same kinds of issues we currently see in the news, but it’s also a story that gives us some distance from the news of the day.

 

Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

I enjoy board gaming a lot. I’m a fan of both competitive and cooperative games. My currently favorite games are Scythe, The Red Dragon Inn: Battle for Greyport, and Glory to Rome. I’m also an avid fan of music, although my tastes are quite diverse. Being a writer, I’ve got different albums for different moods. When I was working on editing Dissident Signals with Slip-Wolf, I had over a dozen albums I was using as background music for the project.

 

Advice for other writers?

First, read. I know everyone is busy with their life, but if you want to be a writer, you need to read. Also, don’t be afraid to take chance and try new things.

I’d like to point out, there’s a lot of writing advice out there. I think it’s critical to keep in mind you should do what works for you. The way I write may not work for you, and the way you write may not work for me. And you know what? That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. You need to find the techniques and styles that work for you. Writing has a lot of guidelines, but not a lot of hard and fast rules. Even grammar is something that has its subjective elements. People have been arguing about the Oxford comma and split infinitives since before any of us were born, and someone out there will likely be arguing about those long after we’re gone.

 

Where can readers find your work?

Most of my work is for sale through FurPlanet. I also maintain on my website a comprehensive list all of my published stories. My next published story is going to be “Silk and Sword”, and will be in FANG Volume 9, which is coming out at Midwest FurFest 2018.

 

What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom? Why write furry?

Furry helped me find who I really was. I spent my teenage and adult years in a part of the United States where you just don’t come out as gay. I know people did back when I was a teen, but I never know anyone who just went around saying they were gay. I had a friend who told me about the fandom back in High School, and the fact I could just be me without layers was something I found very appealing. Getting involved in the fandom was a slow process for me, but I’ve always loved how it has connected me with other people, without having to hide who I was.

As for writing furry, I’ve been interested in writing about animals my whole life, so once I found out about furry writing, I knew I had to try my hand at that. Even though I now have over twenty published stories under my belt, I’m still loving the genre.

FWG Blog – November 2018

It’s November, bringing us ever-closer to the end of 2018! It’s time for the FWG Blog Post!

 

Guild Newsroom

For those that missed the announcement last month, membership is now available to self-published authors! For more details on how you can qualify as a self-published author, check out our membership guidelines.

 

Member Highlights

Some highlights from last month, as featured from our FWG Member News section on the forums:

To our members that have had something exciting happen in the past month not featured here: be sure to keep up with your Member News thread on the forums! Not only is this how we get our information, but these threads are able to be viewed by any person logged into the forums. Share your achievements with the rest of the writing community!

 

The Marketplace

For those of you looking to submit, keep an eye on the open markets on our website. For those of you who just forget, The Marketplace is your reminder for all things open for submissions!

Short Story Markets:

Publisher Title Theme Deadline Pay
Thurston Howl Publications The Furry Cookbook Furry stories featuring a food or beverage item November 1st $10/story + one copy of the anthology
Goal Publications The Daily Grind Furry stories featuring coffee November 14th $0.0075/word + one copy of the anthology
Fanged Fiction Thrill of the Hunt Furry erotica featuring a predator/prey dynamic December 1st $0.0075/word + one copy of the anthology
Zooscape Zine Zooscape Excellent furry stories N/A (continually open at this time) $0.06/word (maximum $60) for original, $20 for reprints
Thurston Howl Publications Species: Bunnies Furry stories featuring bunnies January 1st One copy of the anthology (non-paying)
Thurston Howl Publications Breeds: Bunnies Furry erotica featuring bunnies January 1st One copy of the anthology (non-paying)
FurPlanet Inhuman Acts 2 Furry noir stories February 1st $0.0050/word + one copy of the anthology
Thurston Howl Publications Even Furries Hate Nazis Furry stories against Nazism February 15th One copy of the anthology (non-paying)

Novel Markets:

  • Goal Publications is open until the end of the month for “Pocket Shots”, which are novelettes from 15k-30k words.
  • Fanged Fiction is open until the end of the month for 18+ “Pocket Shots”, which are novelettes from 15k-30k words.
  • Thurston Howl Publications is open to novel/novella submissions, with no planned date for submissions to close.

 

Special Events and Announcements

Our revitalized Member Spotlight will be posted on the 7th of November. In addition, our Title Spotlight will be posted on the 15th of November. Stay tuned for those!

In addition to being a Guest of Honor at the upcoming Midwest Furfest, Kyell Gold will also now be a Guest of Honor at Furrydelphia!

 

 

Wrap-up

Our forums are open to all writers, not just full members of the FWG. Check them out here and join in on the conversation. While you’re there, check out how to join our Slack and Telegram channels. Before joining any of these, though, we ask that you please read up on our Code of Conduct! With all the negative going around in the world these days, both furry and non-furry, we want to make sure the guild feels like a safe place to all its participants, free of threats and hate speech.

We have two weekly chats, called our Coffeehouse Chats! Our first one is Tuesday at 7:00pm EST in our Slack channel, and our other is Thursdays at Noon EST on our forums in the shoutbox. Both of these chats feature writers talking about writing, usually with a central topic. As with the above, these chats are open to both members and non-members.

FWG Ballot Result: Self-Published Works Qualify!

A two-week voting period ended on September 30th, asking members to vote on the following questions:

  • Should self-published works qualify for FWG membership?
  • If so, what criteria be established?
  • Should unpaid works still qualify for membership?
  • Should we establish a minimum pay rate of ½¢ per word?

So as not to bury the lead:

Self-published works will qualify for FWG membership.

90 FWG members voted—not quite half the current membership, but that’s a pretty good virtual turnout. Here’s a breakdown of the votes.

Question 1: Right now, self-published work doesn’t qualify for FWG membership. Should that change?

  • 87.8% voted YES
  • 12.2% voted NO

Obviously, YES won overwhelmingly.

Question 2: If you voted YES, how should works that meet the already-established content criteria be qualified for membership?

  • 11.1% voted that works should net $200 earnings in a 12-month period
  • 11.1% voted that works should sell at least 50 copies in a 12-month period
  • 64.2% voted that either of the above should qualify
  • 13.6% voted “Other”

“Other” ideas included different values for the above, entirely different criteria such as receiving a minimum number of reviews, or no required threshhold other then the work simply being available for download or purchase.

Question 3: Right now, works published for free can qualify for FWG membership. Should this be removed from qualifications, so membership requires at least one paid story sale or qualifying self-published novel?

  • 51.1% voted NO.
  • 26.7% voted YES, but only if the self-publishing qualification passes.
  • 22.2% voted YES (unconditionally).

This was probably not a well-constructed question, in that it would have been possible for the two YES votes combined to be a majority but NO to still be a plurality; it would have been a better signal to split it into one definitive YES/NO and a second “If you voted YES, should it be only if the self-publishing qualification passes,” or similar wording. As it turns out, NO won a slim majority of votes.

Question 4: Right now, the membership criteria for paid story sales does not specify a minimum pay rate. Should we explicitly require a minimum of ½¢ per word?

  • 66.7% voted NO
  • 33.3% voted YES

In summation:

  • The self-publishing qualification passed, with the either/or criteria of number of copies sold or $200 or more earned.
  • No other changes to qualifications passed.

The new rules go into effect October 1, 2018 (i.e., immediately). The membership qualification page will be updated within the month, including some guidelines on what information we’d like to see as qualification proof.

FWG Blog – October 2018

Welcome back to Furry Book Month (or Furry Booktober), as well as the FWG Blog!

Yes, it’s been quite some time since we’ve done one of these blog posts, but new VP Sean Gerace of Ottercorrect Literature Services and Goal Publications/Fanged Fiction (that’s me!) is resuming these, as well as our Author Spotlights and Title Spotlights—both of which will resume next month. Our blog post will be resuming its monthly status.

 

Guild Newsroom

For the last couple weeks of last month we had a vote circulating to members, the primary goal of which to come up with entry requirements into the guild for those that are exclusively self-published. The results? Our president will be sharing them once the vote is all tabulated.

 

Member Highlights

First, some highlights from last month, as featured from our FWG Member News section on the forums:

  • Frances Pauli had a story come out in the Wind in the Willows edition of Non-binary Review. The story will be featured and possibly dissected on the Alphanumeric Podcast, coming up in the near future.
  • Allison Thai had a story accepted to Ombak: a magazine for Southeast Asian speculative fiction, their first pro sale!
  • Hakuzo Sionnach’s latest novella, “Of Foxes and Spiders”, has been released on Amazon.
  • Mary E. Lowd had a few things come out in Daily Science Fiction this past month! “The Pink Agate“, “Hypercrystal Wish“, “Veins of Black, Dust of Gold“, and “The Oldest One“.
  • S.Park has had their gay romance novel about were-horeses, Stallion Assassin, accepted by JMS books.
  • Lisa Timpf has had both a furry story entitled “Gone” and a poem entitled “What Really Happened” released in New Myths, Issue 44. Their story “Roxy” and poem “Fidelis Reinvented” will be released in their Passages anthology, coming soon. They will also have their story “The Open Road” and two poems (“Moonlight” and “A Cat’s Confession”) appearing in From a Cat’s View by Post-to-Print Publishing.
  • Cybera Wolf is republishing their LGBTQ+ comedy with Deep Desires Press’s YA imprint, who are also publishing the fifth and sixth books in their “Tales of Monsterotica” series.

Three of our members have also been announced as upcoming convention guests of honor! Kyell Gold will be one of the guests of honor at this year’s Midwest FurFest, Frances Pauli will be featured at the next Furlandia in May, and Mary E. Lowd has recently been announced as a guest for the inaugural Furvana, starting this time next year.

To our members that have had something exciting happen in the past month not featured here: be sure to keep up with you Member News thread on the forums! Not only is this how we get our information, but these threads are able to be viewed by any person logged into the forums. Share your achievements with the rest of the writing community!

 

The Marketplace

For those of you looking to submit, keep an eye on the open markets on our website. For those of you who just forget, The Marketplace is your reminder for all things open for submissions!

Short Story Markets:

Publisher Title Theme Deadline Pay
Sofawolf Press HEAT Erotic furry stories October 14th $0.01/word + one copy of the finished title
Thurston Howl Publications Purrgatorio The ten regions of Mount Purgatory —a followup to Infurno and Seven Deadly Sins October 15th (Sloth and Avarice only—rest are closed) One copy of the anthology (non-paying)
Thurston Howl Publications The Furry Cookbook Furry stories featuring a food or beverage item November 1st $10/story + one copy of the anthology
Goal Publications The Daily Grind Furry stories featuring coffee November 14th $0.0075/word + one copy of the anthology
Fanged Fiction Thrill of the Hunt Furry erotica featuring a predator/prey dynamic December 1st $0.0075/word + one copy of the anthology
Zooscape Zine Zooscape Excellent furry stories N/A (continually open at this time) $0.06/word (maximum $60) for original, $20 for reprints
Thurston Howl Publications Species: Bunnies Furry stories featuring bunnies January 1st One copy of the anthology (non-paying)
Thurston Howl Publications Breeds: Bunnies Furry erotica featuring bunnies January 1st One copy of the anthology (non-paying)
FurPlanet Inhuman Acts 2 Furry noir stories February 1st $0.0050/word + one copy of the anthology
Thurston Howl Publications Even Furries Hate Nazis Furry stories against Nazism February 15th One copy of the anthology (non-paying)

 

Novel Markets:

 

Special Events and Announcements

Furry Book Month has begun, and a lot of our publishers have special promotions going on right now! If you’re a publisher or author with a promotion not listed here please email fwgblog[at]gmail[dot]com with your promotion so we may add it.

  • FurPlanet will take 10% off all orders with code FBM2018, and any order over $100 will receive a free book up to $20 in value.
  • Bad Dog Books is offering 20% off all books—excluding sale items—with code FBM2018. In addition, all issues of ROAR, FANG, and other selected anthologies will be 50% off.
  • Fusselschwarm, the biggest German/European distributor, is offering 15% off all English anthologies, novels, and novellas ordered via email (order[at]fusselschwarm[dot]net) for the month.
  • Goal Publications/Fanged Fiction is offering 15% off all books, both print and ebook, excluding sale and clearance items, with promo code FBM2018.
    Goal Publications author, Jako Malan, is also running a drawing for the sequel to his award-winning title, reWritten. Check out this page for the full details, and win a chance to be a part of a major scene!
  • Thurston Howl is offering $3.00 off of all furry orders.
  • Jaffa Books will be taking 10% off of all ebooks.
  • Ottercorrect Literature Services will be taking 10% off all new projects for FWG Members with contracts signed in the month of October.
  • Rabbit Valley is giving 20% off orders of $50.00 or more with the coupon code FurryBook2018 during checkout.

 

Wrap-up

Our forums are open to all writers, not just full members of the FWG. Check them out here and join in on the conversation. While you’re there, check out how to join our Slack and Telegram channels. Before joining any of these, though, we ask that you please read up on our Code of Conduct! With all the negative going around in the world these days, both furry and non-furry, we want to make sure the guild feels like a safe place to all its participants, free of threats and hate speech.

We have two weekly chats, called our Coffeehouse Chats! Our first one is Tuesday at 7:00pm EST in our Slack channel, and our other is Thursdays at Noon EST on our forums in the shoutbox. Both of these chats feature writers talking about writing, usually with a central topic. As with the above, these chats are open to both members and non-members.

Awareness Week: Post-Colonialism Suggested Reading

To close off the FWG Awareness week for March, we’ve reached out to editors, authors, and publishers in the furry fandom to bring you a short reading list of works touching on post-colonialism and the development of cultural identity in former colonies. While not a common topic both within furry literature and outside it, such themes can be found in the stories listed here. Please bear in mind that this is by no means a comprehensive list, though!

Furry Short Stories:

  • We Are One” by Thurston Howl (from ROAR 8), a sci-fi horror story about finding a paradise supposedly untouched. To say more would give away spoilers.
  • Migration Season” by J.A. Noelle (from Seven Deadly Sins), a story about the clash between cultures and the cost of pride.
  • Long Time I Hunt” by Erin Lale (from ROAR 7), which follows a wild cat spirit through time, starting with its connection to Native Americans through to present day.

Furry Novels:

  • Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada, which follows three generations of polar bears in a circus.
  • Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen, set in the distant future where humans have vanished and their uplifted animal creations have built their own society.

You can find the furry anthologies and novels here:

Non-Furry Novels and Series:

  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, a novel with two overlapping story arcs, both of which focus on Okonkwo. The first arc focuses on his fall from grace within his tribe, and the second focuses on the culture clash that devastates Okonkwo’s world when aggressive European missionaries arrive.
  • Cities of Salt by Abdul Rahman Munif, a story of the disruption to a poor oasis community after oil was found there.
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, set in Kerala, India, 1969, this story follows the trials and tribulations of a family as it tries to cope with cultural changes.
  • The Alliance-Union books by C. J. Cherryh, an expansive series that follows Earth and its interstellar colonies as they declare independence, expand and encounter other species, and the conflicts that ensue.
  • The Ancillary Trilogy by Ann Leckie follows a former ship’s AI trapped in a human body as she tries to learn what it means to be an individual, and uncover the act of treachery that tore her former life away.

(All of these can be found either at your local bookstore or on Amazon.com!)

Many thanks to Mary E. Lowd and Kiris, whose suggestions helped us put this list together!

Awareness Week: Author Spotlight – Jako Malan

Welcome to the second FWG Awareness Week! This is a bi-monthly event, run by the moderators in the FWG Slack group (Searska GreyRaven, ritter_reiter, and George Squares) as a way to bring focus to minority culture and writers in furry literature. Through features such as interviews, reading lists, and author AMAs, we hope to provide ample material and a safe, respectful setting for inter-cultural dialogue within our diverse community.

Our focus this month is on authors from post-colonial nations, and for our second interview we’d like to present Jako Malan! Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Jako is a computer programmer by trade who has a recurring fascination with the furry fandom. He considers himself a casual furry, enjoying the added aesthetic quality and versatility of working with non-human characters. After a delightful episode of globetrotting—which included an extended stay in the US and England—he now lives with his wife and two young children in Bellville, nestled comfortably behind the Boerewors Curtain. Jako is the author of the post-human anthro novel reWritten, and his anthro stories can also be found in Passing Through and Symbol of a Nation. A member of the Furry Writer’s Guild, he can be found there and on Twitter under the alias Erdwolf_TVL.

Disclaimer: While the Awareness Week project seeks to amplify underrepresented voices and perspectives, please bear in mind that our interviewees comprise one opinion out of many, and do not represent everyone within their demographic.

Tell us briefly about yourself as an author. How long have you been writing?

I see myself as a creator in a more general sense, rather than an author. I allow my imagination to run amok; mashing together ideas that seem completely unrelated and (sometimes) outright ludicrous. I tend to latch onto a specific theme or idea and become completely obsessed by it. I tend to move on to the next theme or idea rather abruptly, though. If I had the time, talent and resources, I would probably make movies. Writing is a quick and economical alternative, though, so it has been my tool of choice.

As a hobbyist writer, I don’t force myself to write a specific quota of words per day. I often go months (sometimes years) without writing a single word of fiction. When the bug bites, however, I tend to be very productive. I wrote large parts of reWritten in the mornings before work and during lunch breaks, checking in well over 2000 words on a good day.

The oldest piece I have in my archives dates from around 1992. It is essentially a piece of fan fiction loosely based on my favorite TV show at the time – Ovide and the Gang.

Creative writing was one of my favorite subjects, though I didn’t produce much work outside of what was expected of me in school. I spent most of my free time being a computer nerd – creating and playing DOOM mods and writing computer programs.

The writing bug bit me in my senior year at high-school. I wrote three fairly long fan fictions based on the Star Wars prequels – Gungan lore with a host of original characters. It was fun, but being fan fiction, it would never be published. I started toying with the idea of creating something original around this time.

Throughout, most of my writing was done in English, despite it not being my mother tongue. Afrikaans is a truly beautiful language, but it takes a lot of work to do really well. It involves a lot more typing (because of accent marks and double-negatives). The potential audience size is also a lot bigger when sticking to English.

After finding inspiration in the Furry fandom in the early 2000s, I started working on an early version of what was to become reWritten. This first incantation – Shadows and Reflections – was written as a script for a graphic novel. It was mostly complete in 2006, though I only managed to get the first 25-odd pages illustrated before funds (and motivation) ran out. I might revive this one day, though.

I took a lengthy break between 2008 and 2016, during which I wrote (mostly terrible) poetry whilst building my career, traveling the world. My wife and I got married in 2013. Our daughter was born in 2015 and our son in 2016.

Despite many sleepless nights during this time, 2017 was my most productive year to date. I was accepted into the Furry Writer’s Guild. My debut novel and two shorts were published.

Right now, I’m stewing over a novel-length furry piece, three or four short stories, and the script for my visual novel, Project Greenfields (the latter being most active). I’d really like to have something done by the South Afrifur Convention in July, but so far this year has been more about fighting fires than stopping to smell the flowers.

How did you encounter the furry fandom, and why did you start contributing to it?

I think that most of us start out as furries. The characters on cereal boxes, sport mascots, cartoons, movies… We literally grow up surrounded by anthropomorphic animals. It is our “normal” as kids.

I remember a particular despair when my father told me that cartoon animals didn’t “live” like we do – I could not meet them nor visit them in their hometowns. I guess we all have that watershed moment where we can choose to continue believing in cartoon animals or not. (Clearly, I chose the former.)

Though I kept my interest in animal people, I spent my young days oblivious to the existence of the furry fandom. These were pre-Internet days, so ideas travelled more slowly.

In the early days of dial-up internet, my sister and I joined the Jar Jar Binks Fan Club Message Board. (I believe this still exists.) Amongst others, I met a dragon scalie from Pennsylvania who introduced me to the furry fandom. I managed to visit him during my first trip to the USA and we are still in contact to this day. I am not sure if he still considers himself a furry, though.

Yerf!, VCL, IRC, and various awful websites hosted on AngelFire became my staples. I did some personal furry-themed illustrations and paintings. It dawned on me that Furry would be a good platform to tell my stories in. Apart from being a genre that piqued my interest, it would also give me an audience to target – one that I considered myself a part of and understood fairly well.

The rest is history, I guess!

Who are your favorite authors? How about furry authors?

As far as mainstream fiction goes, I liked reading Arthur C. Clarke, PJ O’Rourke, Neil Gaiman, and local veteran author Leon Rosseau. Furry authors I like reading include Tempe O’Kun, Watts Martin, Patrick Rochefort, and Mary E Lowd.

I must confess, however, I’m not a big consumer of fiction. (I’d probably be a more prolific writer if I were.) I do consume a lot of poetry, non-fiction, and music with strong lyrical content, though. I adore the work of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Justin Hayward, and Jacques Brel. Local poets and songwriters whose work I enjoy include Amanda Strydom, Koos du Plessis, Anton Goosen, and Randall Wicomb.

I try to appease my lack of reading by convincing myself that programs are novels for computers. And that writing fiction is programming for the human mind.

By that measure, I guess, I am a prolific writer after all.

You’ve lived in the US and the UK for an extended period, before returning to South Africa. How did life abroad compare to life back in South Africa?

After finishing high school, I spent four months working as a telephone operator at a New England ski resort. This was pre-9/11 – the USA was still the place we knew from watching television as kids. The fabled land of opportunity, yellow school buses, red fire hydrants and Mickey Mouse. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to the USA again hereafter. It is telling how things have changed since then (and, I think, not for the better). I’d love to visit the USA again, this time with my wife – though I’d be hard-pressed to live there long-term. The strong consumerist culture of America is very different from the more conservative norms / austere circumstances most South Africans grew up with. What I do like about the USA, however, is how easy it is to get hold of “cool stuff” and that you never have to travel very far to find that rare record, piece of electronics, or… furry convention?

I lived in Kew Gardens (South East London) between June 2005 and July 2006. I was on a working holiday visa, though I did manage to cement the first of a good nine-year-long career at a large multinational. I really enjoyed my stay in London and really wished I could stay a bit longer. It is not without its share of social ills, but it is a well organised and charming old place.

What I miss most about London is the public transport. The ability to walk around town at just about any time of day, not being bored and being reasonably assured of your personal safety. London is great if you are young and single. Not the ideal place to raise a family, though. London kids are… strange. I also have fond memories of hanging out with the London Furs during this time.

As of today, I am back in Cape Town’s northern suburbs, where I was born and grew up. With my wife and kids, it is convenient to be close to my parents and in-laws. Cape Town is a beautiful and pleasant place. Not as vibrant as Johannesburg. Not as accessible as London and not as ambitious as Boston. It does offer a very decent standard of living and has good amenities.

You once mentioned South Africa as “a setting with unique stories that’s woefully underrepresented in the sci-fi community”. Aside from the distinct choice of species you show in your stories, what would you personally want to see in South African furry or sci-fi fiction?

Little things can make the difference between a narrative that feels tired and done – and something that feels fresh and innovative. There is hardly such a thing as a new story. As writers, we have been pretty good at repackaging these old ideas and distracting the audience with fancy new decor.

Take the movie District 9, for example. It is not African per se. The plot could have worked just as well in another international city. But little nuanced things gave it a distinct local flavour. And I think audiences appreciate this. The animated piece Khumba is also a good example (although in my opinion, it tries a bit too hard to appeal to international audiences).

Many popular period pieces have local equivalents (or local perspectives) that allow a writer to make great use of the local scenery. We had a revolutionary war against Imperial Britain. (Two, in fact!) We had an age of pioneers, which includes a lot of conflict with the indigenous peoples. We had our unpopular war (the Angolan Border War). We had our civil rights movement (against apartheid). The list goes on.

In terms of furry, obviously we have incredible biodiversity. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to species. Our relationship with animals is different to that in other parts of the world. Human influence is still big, but since land is not at such a premium (such as in Europe), animals have less contact with humans and can “be themselves” to a larger extent.

On a grander scale, what I would really love to see is more pre-colonial African folklore, superstition, and culture woven into our stories. I think the emphasis thus far has been too focused on recent history (Nelson Mandela, the fight against apartheid, etc.) I don’t claim to be an expert in African culture, but I DO know enough to know that I haven’t even scratched the surface.

South Africa has had a long history of tension and conflict – examples which come to mind are the Boer Wars and the struggle against apartheid, echoes of which still remain today. Do these conflicts influence your writing, and if so, how?

I always say that my indoctrination program was interrupted at a very critical point. Until the age of 13, I experienced a very different “normal” than I did thereafter. Some of the mind-shifts my generation had to make were rather dramatic. People who were national heroes before were now suddenly the villains. Things that you took for granted before were suddenly gone.

An example of this would be the role of Afrikaans (my home language) in society. Before apartheid ended, you would see both Afrikaans and English on just about every product you buy at the store. Appliances and cars would have Afrikaans manuals and labels. Most things are exclusively English nowadays. There is also a move towards English-only in academic circles, as students believe they will be more employable in the global economy.

Overall, though, I am grateful for a very privileged upbringing, comparable in many regards to that I might have had, were I born in Europe or the USA around the same time.

I think the conflict that has the biggest influence on my writing was the border war with Angola and possibly the Rhodesian bush war. These are recent conflicts where the distinction between the “good guys” and the “bad guys” isn’t as clear cut. These were messy, politically complex wars. Many who died were ignorant to what was really going on.

To say these things do not influence my writing would be ignorant on my part. reWritten doesn’t deal with the above mentioned conflicts in any direct way, however. It is more of a statement on post-humanity (more on this later).

The search for cultural identity is an involved process for furry species created by humankind, as in your novel reWritten. Did growing up in a nation with an analogous background (i.e. a colony created by a powerful nation) affect the way you portrayed this aspect of furry identity?

As a white Afrikaner, the search for identity is very topical. People have very strong opinions about who we ought to be. A pseudo-identity was manufactured for us by the nationalist government. For better or worse, it was forced down our throats. It is probably the closest we’ve had to a true identity, but it is neither authentic nor sustainable.

Ultimately, I think we are heading towards self-discovery, but we are not there yet. Other groupings in South Africa are in a similar process of self-realization: the Lost Generation, the Born Free generation and those I consider to be the “True Millennials” (born after the Internet).

Each of us have a story to tell and a destiny to fulfill. And we also have to figure out how to live together in harmony.

Though there may be undertones of this seeking in reWritten, the Mammalæ world is more post-human than anything else. The sons of man look at the wreckage of the world we left behind for them. They try to make sense of what they see. And try to survive at the same time.

I think we are pretty bad tenants in this world, but Mammalæ have a different perspective on this.

Their society is built in the ruins of our own. They were created in our image, to live amongst us. It is therefore inevitable that they would imitate us in many respects. In other aspects, however, their society is much more complex. With many different species of different shapes and sizes, created for different purposes and with different natural tendencies. Their society inevitably operates differently.

This is a challenge, but it also enables many things that would be difficult to portray in a homogenous society. I alluded to the inner working of their society in reWritten, but I hope to explore this in much more detail in Greenfields.

For non-native writers looking to use South Africa as a setting, is there anything you would like to see them portray more of? Are there also any stereotypes or misrepresentations you would like to draw attention to?

There are parts of South Africa that can be used as a plug-in replacement for other parts of the world, without too much inner knowledge. To make a story truly South African, subtle details will need to be considered. To make a story both South African and one that appeals to an international audience… I think this still needs to be done well.

With regards to Africa as a whole, I’d like to echo something that is often said. People need to realise that Africa is a continent and not a country. Africa has many languages, many cultures. Many histories. There is room for The Lion King and derivatives. But to think that Africa is just about savannahs with animals running around is like thinking that London is the entire United Kingdom. Or that New York City is the be-all and end-all of the USA. Or that Germany is one big year-long Oktoberfest.

Which of your works are you proudest of?

Naturally, I am very proud of reWritten. It has been a long and exciting journey to get my work in print. However, the piece I had the most fun writing and re-reading (to date) is “The Savage Caravan” (Passing Through anthology by Weasel Press). It sets the tone for a spicier kind of story that works well in the furry market. The Gentler Times canon which it belongs to is also a lot more accessible than that of Artisans and Opportunists (the universe of reWritten). It is more Zootopia-like, in that it uses the existing world we live in, but where humans are replaced with anthropomorphic animals.

Any parting words of advice for aspiring writers in the fandom?

As an author, you have a duty to explore. Expose yourself to new ideas. Learn to absorb without feeling an obligation to change yourself (or the others). If you only expose yourself to that which you are comfortable with, your writing will be boring and predictable.

Furthermore, I encourage you to find your own measure of success. Not everyone who writes a piece will get published. Not everyone who gets published will sell a million copies (or make any money to speak of). Unless you are a professional writer, write for yourself first, everyone else second.

When the time comes to show your work to the world, take the time to polish your work and make it accessible. Get an editor. Have your stuff beta-read. Be willing to make changes you don’t necessarily agree with, if they will make your work more accessible.

Make use of all the wonderful free resources that are available online. Visit tvtropes.org. Join the Furry Writers’ Guild. It is a small community with many folks willing to help. Often for free.

Lastly, play nice. Don’t be a primadonna. It is a small community and hardly anything nowadays happens without everyone knowing about it.

 

Discuss this article on the Guild forums, or check out Jako’s page on Goodreads.