The furry writing community is more than just authors, editors, and publishers. Reviewers can also play an integral role in the community. Today, we find out a little bit about why that is.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and the Furry Book Review.
I’m Thiger, a writer, editor and illustrator. I edit for Thurston Howl Publications and Weasel Press and run Furry Book Review and the Leo Awards. The FBR is for furry reviews and the Leos are for furry literature prizes, but both have the same goal: increasing the fandom’s visibility and spreading the good word. Running the FBR is less carefree than it sounds, since most of the actual reviewing is done by my gracious contributors, but it’s still fun! I never expected myself doing it, but the lovely thing about the furry lit world is how it’s relatively small and everything is connected, so a job can take you to another unexpected job and so on.
What is your favourite thing about the furry fandom?
I think the furry aesthetic makes reality more approachable, and that can mean all sorts of things, from cultivating a curiosity for wanting to draw by watching Disney films as a kid, to letting you explore your sexuality because bodies with animal heads are less threatening than humans.
What made you decide to get involved in the furry reviewing scene?
I love reading things critically, which led me to editing, which is my current major. So when this position was offered to me, it seemed a natural fit.
What do you believe makes a good story?
I think a novel can have great plot and worldbuilding, but without great prose and characters it can never be called “great.” I consider depth of characters the same as depth of themes or plot, since they carry both of those out.
What do you believe is the main importance of providing formal reviews for furry books?
The furry world is small, but the furry literary world even more so. For small authors, oftentimes self-published, our review can be their first and their first boost of visibility. The blog is a great way of spreading positivity around the community, even when the review isn’t positive.
Are there sometimes any difficulties in providing impartial reviews?
There have been cases where people involved with the blog needed to have their books reviewed, but our network of reviewers is vast, so there’s always uninvolved available to offer an unbiased review with no “conflict of interest.” For FBR’s Leo Awards, we go even further, and try to compose half of the judges with non furries.
Are there common issues you see throughout furry fiction? Is there any advice you would give to furry writers as a whole?
This is a tough question. I’d say a major problem for furry literature is that it’s very niche and it’s very hard for it to sell, so it has to protect itself by merging with other well known genres as cushion, which can result in a proliferation of similar genre books heavy on tropes. Even for more serious furry lit, which is usually called Xenofiction, it’s hard to escape Watership Down’s shadow. On top of that, it’s hard to assert a work’s anthropomorphism without visual aid, which can result in books with “zipperback” characters, meaning they could be replaced by humans with no changes.
My advice for aspiring furry writers would be to consider all these challenges before starting, and to be mindful of tradition. I think knowing who came before us and paved the way is extremely important, and it’s always a good idea to read the kinds of books you want to write, so definitely give the furry classics love. This is common knowledge with human novels, but often overlooked when it comes to furry novels. There’s a canon there, too.
What do you believe furry fiction provides that other genres can not?
What I said earlier about furry being more approachable is doubly true when there’s no pictures, as Kyell Gold proved by publishing Waterways and helping hundreds explore their sexuality. On top of that, literature’s more introspective nature lends itself to exploring how an animal might think more than, say, a furry comic or cartoon, which is as fascinating as reading about any alien civilization.
Is there anything you’d like to see more of in furry fiction?
I’d like to see more innovation and variety. There’s already been some furry poetry books out there, but I’d love to go further and see furry epic poetry, furry postmodernism, furry of all kinds which haven’t been done before or, at least, since the middle ages.
What kind of stories do you wish writers/publishers would send to you?
While we love getting books from the fandom’s biggest names with guaranteed quality, what tends to make me feel warmest is when we can make a small author’s day better. And while the main mission purpose of the blog is to enrich the fandom, I do love when we review things from outside of it like mainstream comics or regular novels with anthro characters, just for the bizarre reactions.
Which book that you have reviewed would you recommend over all others?
Akela, by Ben Goodridge. That book went above and beyond avoiding the pitfalls I described earlier; it did so effortlessly by being an ambitious, sober, sombre book about Australian culture that pulls no punches and depicts a main character with so many dimensions, you’ll find yourself falling in love with him.
We hope that you’ll check out the Furry Book Review site and see what books they recommend. Authors, consider sending your books through to them for review.
Tomorrow we hear from another author – one who has found great success in the self-publishing area, and is now making the transition to traditionally published. Found out more tomorrow!
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