Black History Month Spotlight: Cedric G! Bacon

Hello again everyone! It’s February, so in honor of Black History Month, the FWG wanted to feature interviews with Black authors, publishers, and creators within the furry fandom. Today we’ll be interviewing Cedric G! Bacon, the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at Thurston Howl Publications.

Those familiar with furry writing have likely seen his written works in Infurno, Furries Hate Nazies, or Thrill of the Hunt. He is particularly known for his horror stories though never turns down opportunities to work outside his usual comfort zone.

With the introductions out of the way, let’s get onto the interview!

FWG: What is your favorite work that you have written and favorite work you have published?

Cedric: I’m actually going to separate this into three answers, hahaha. The first two are my written/published, and then one that I’ve published for someone else.

For my own favorite work that I’ve published it’s a tie: the first would maybe be “Yule Carol” in 12 Days of Yiffmas (Red Ferret Press). To give a summary, it’s a Christmas themed story set in Japan and focuses on a vixen named Kiyohoko missing her deceased husband Heath terribly. Thus, on Yule Eve, she performs a ritual that binds his spirit into the physical plane, albeit briefly.

I took inspiration from the Bon festivals with this one and a lot of creative license in terms of the traditions, but the end result became very satisfactory and for being an early attempt at erotica, it was probably one of my most successful due to having dark elements and not outright horror, but also having characters that are just genuinely likeable, without having to force the reader into liking them, and I tried to make it appear as believable as possible. Definitely one I recommend to readers but because it’s in an erotic collection, definitely for the adult readership!

Second favorite story that I’ve written and published, it’s “The Battler” from Furries Hate Nazis. I’ve always been a fan of boxing and wrestling, and I’ve always wanted to do a story featuring either sport. It ended up becoming that “The Battler” (which was partly inspired by the story of Salamo Arouch and also being set in the universe of The Adventures of Peter Gray by Nathan Hopp) was that story, and it gave me an opportunity to say something about anti-Semitism and racism in the 1960s.

The final act fight scene between my Jewish boxer Mickey and the Nazi antagonist Vilm was probably the most cinematic writing I’d ever done, and definitely had to look at the various motions and movements from sources like Christy Martin’s fights and the old boxing anime Ashita no Joe.

For my answer on favorite written but not yet published, that would be “Poyekhali!” which will be appearing in ROAR 11. It’s a little bit of alternate history, but largely inspired by the Soviet space program that launched human beings into orbit. The main thrust of the story is inspired by Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, but I also take bits from others who were there, and even created an anthro version of Laika. But the reason I liked this story so much is because it used so much of my favorite themes—strong women in the leading roles, history, action, and research—and I can’t wait for everyone else to read it soon too!

And for my favorite work that’s not my own but one that I’ve published, I think that would be Fire-Branded Leather by F. Gibbs. It was the first long form work I ever edited and so it was great having a great writer to work with and break the ice, learning communication and listening skills along the way. First in a trilogy (with the second book, Cold Trailing, out now and the third on the way!) I can’t say enough how much I’ll always stand by this book. 

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Cedric: For me, I think a good story the sum of a bunch of different parts. When I sit down to write, I always try to think of the things that could click: the characters for one, setting for another, dialogue for yet another, and the plot that I’m hoping to tell with the story. Sometimes, even with beta reading and positive feedback, the story may not land…that doesn’t necessarily means it was a terrible story because as well known, there are a lot of intentionally terrible stories that actually did get published (looking at you Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey), but one that just didn’t hit right with a reviewer or an editor doth not a bad story make. But the key ingredient I think in this literary bouillabaisse is the writer having the confidence and believing in the story to really make it good: its that having the faith in the characters and having a solid track as you’re moving from point A to point B to point C with the plot, and the dialogue is firing on cylinders with you, you just have this knowing feeling that “Hey, this is actually turning out pretty sweet!” 

FWG: What does Black History mean to you?

Cedric: It’s most definitely the acknowledgment of the achievements made by folks that don’t get that shine too often. Yeah, we do celebrate the achievements of Amelia Earhart for example and her most definitely defining pioneering career as an aviatrix, but how many know about Bessie Coleman, who was the first woman to be an African American and Native American pilot? Or the recently passed Charles Saunders, whose novels and stories of the heroic Imaro gave a blackness to the fantasy genre that’d previously been dominated by writers (Lovecraft, most notoriously) who often relegated the black character to a stereotype.

I’d be the first to admit that I never knew much about Black History growing up, besides the big stuff that you learn in school. The good stuff, the stuff that really makes one take notice, didn’t come to me till much later, or learning how many sacrifices were made to retain one’s pride (Muhammad Ali telling the draft board to stuff it saying he wasn’t going to Vietnam—in a famous rebuttal—when he did, which stalled his boxing career for a long while is one example to think of) in order to make movements for a race that’s been marginalized for centuries due to being a couple shades darker than their friends and neighbors.   

FWG: Do you feel that your Blackness has affected your writing? How about your work in publishing?

Cedric: I think it’s informed how I shape certain characters and situations, most definitely. In “The Battler” for example, I made the narrator a black man who has to deal with the racism of his fellow humans but also that of the furren (borrowed once again from Nate Hopp for an anthro species) who will deign themselves uplifted from humans and especially a black man like my narrator. That the boxer he trains is an anthro and Jewish was a nice thing to write because it’s two people who come from different backgrounds but don’t care and are just happy to have each other in their lives for this experience… It’s just the hope I always have but have been disappointed on in reality.

The experience of having one’s differences made front and center has happened to me a number of times, from the drive-thru at McDonald’s all the way down to relationships, and internally that feeling of being like an outsider looking in is something that isn’t forgotten. And then that feeling that if I spoke up and out then the consequences could either be dire or fatal depending on the circumstances. There’s a lot of wrong that’s out there and few speaking on it, and the ones who do are just the worst types who are only speaking on it and chasing clout. 

Since becoming the top bat at THP, I’ve continued our namesake’s mission to always look out for marginalized voices that are speaking and saying what they have to say as loud as possible. And not only that but taking ownership of their stories and not having them told by someone without that background or knowledge—despite the well intentions, I must say. And you know, as a publisher I’ve had a chance to really get to know what is happening and the voices that are out there. And I’ve come to the realization that there’s no such thing as everything and everyone “having a place” and firmly do reject what the status quo has made of things. The status quo will protect shitty—if I can say that, if not censor haha—views and coddle the ones saying them, and that’s just not cool. 

I want our authors—our BIPOC, our women, our trans—to feel that they can speak on those issues that have affected them and not feel afraid to say them. I want them to say “FUCK YOU” to the Karen at Target that was acting out on them and not using their preferred pronoun. I want them to tell their story and be proud and stand up and be counted and know that they all do exist and ain’t going anywhere.

FWG: Do you feel that issues in the outside world affect your writing and publishing in the fandom?

Cedric: I believe so! I’d only be regurgitating my viewpoints above so I’ll be shorter here, but I think a combination of growing up reading superhero comic books and literature gave me an intense dislike whenever I read or see or hear about injustice being done. I was also raised by strong women so I have a fondness for a woman that takes no shit from a man, and if I may use this spot to say so, I very much welcome submissions from women in the fandom to send their works, whatever the genre, on over! 

FWG: If you could convince everyone to read a single book, what would it be and why?

Cedric: That would probably be Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. It was the first time I truly felt I was reading about a character just like me, not just because the main protagonist Atticus Turner was a black young man in mid-1950s America, but also because he was a black young man who’d grown up loving the stories of Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and other white writers who often denigrated people of color in their stories and grappled with that dichotomy, just like me.

The novel upends the expectations that the weirdness of Lovecraft et al was just that of the white man, and Ruff ties in a lot of the racism that was happening across America with the weirdness occurring to Atticus and his family, dispensing with Lovecraft’s whole thing of making characters white, upper-class academics and intellectuals and showcasing Atticus and his black, working-class and very close-knit family who approach the horror, are summarily frightened, but try to approach it logically and without Lovecraft’s whole trope of beginning scared, staying scared, and then going crazy afterward. 

That it was made into a TV series last fall on HBO should be another feather in its cap for interest. There were a bunch of deviations from the novel in the adaptation, but I think with that translation from prose to visual, it really helps enhance the theme and messaging and allows for the story to go deeper than the novel did (for example, dispensing with two male characters and adding more women to the cast really does a further one-up) and also creating further horrors and atrocities of that Jim Crow era in the United States at that time.

FWG: Do you have any projects incoming you’d like to tell people about?

Cedric: The conclusion to F. Gibbs Fire Dog Trilogy in The Eastern Horizon for one! Another conclusion is the third book in Stephen Coghlan’s furry sci-fi series GENMOS (Genetically Modified Species) entitled Conclusions. We also have the anthologies The Furry Game Show Network, Beneath the Suit, Howloween Vol. 2, Difursity Vol. 2 coming soon and as we speak we’re going through submissions for iPawd and edits for The Howling Dead. So far, the beginning of the year is looking quite up for Thurston Howl Publications!

FWG: Any last words for our readers?

Cedric: Just one! Tell your readers to never give up on their hopes and dreams. Writing is hard, goodness knows it is, but it’s just like anything else: time, effort, patience, and a little bit of persistence. Make your messaging clear and concise and don’t sweat about all that stuff about compared to so and so and such and such. Stand on your own two feet first and do your best on your own first, and all that good accolades will follow!

We would like to thank Cedric once again for taking the time to sit down and talk with us. He can be found on Twitter @batced. We hope you’ll join us again next week for our final interview with a Black creative within the furry fandom for Black History Month. Until next time, may your words flow like water.

Black History Month Spotlight: Rhyner

Hello again everyone! It’s February, so in honor of Black History Month, the FWG wanted to feature interviews with Black authors, publishers, and creators within the furry fandom. Today we’ll be interviewing Rhyner — a Black/Mexican transmasc queer dragon who hosts the What The Fuzz?! podcast which interviews furries of color to ask “real questions to dig into the people under the fur.”

In the world of furry writing, Rhyner actively updates Rhyner Writes, a blog where he discusses general topics for furry audiences. He was also a member of the inaugural Oxfurred Comma Inclusivity Award committee.

With this in mind, just one last thing from Rhyner before we get to the interview — “Please keep in mind: no one person can represent an entire group and that includes myself. I can only speak to my experiences and shared experiences as a mixed person. One story doesn’t paint the picture.”

FWG: What is your favorite work that you have written?

Rhyner: Normally you’d think it’d be a story I’ve written, but honestly nothing I’ve written has ever given me as much joy as the articles I have up on my website. The one in particular that folks seem to love is about overcoming anxieties to chat with others over Telegram or forums. While it’s something incredibly small it means a lot to me to be able to help someone with something that is so easily overlooked.

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Rhyner: A “good” story to me is a plot driven by realistic, grounded characters. They can have fantastical powers or be facing the annihilation of the universe, but if they don’t have relatability it’s not going to keep anyone invested in what’s going on. For instance “Breaking Bad” and “A Silent Voice” are wildly different stories that have pretty much nothing in common. Why am I so drawn to the plight of some old boomer selling meth on the side? Why do I care about what happens to some deaf girl? It’s because I can understand their struggles, and I latch onto them little by little. We see them at their worst, we see them do terrible things, but we see them do great things too. It’s that heavy helping of humanity that makes a story resonate with me no matter how recycled the plot itself is. But hey, if you want to throw some lore in there too it sure wouldn’t hurt!

FWG: What does Black History mean to you?

Rhyner: Black history at this moment means to me… Retreading my footsteps. It means going somewhere I’ve been before but things don’t look the same. People like me who grew up in “liberal California” were told racism was over when MLK gave his speech. We were told they desegregated schools and everything was fine after that. The Civil War being fought over slaves? “No, of course not! That was about states’ rights.” Since the start of June I’ve started to learn the real history. The resurgence of BLM flooded my timeline with things I never heard about before. The MOVE bombing, the rise and fall of Black Wallstreet, mass incarceration, and the list goes on and on. It’s painful to have to go back and re-learn your own history. Like getting bleach out of your clothes. But I’m glad to learn and I’m hungry to learn more.

FWG: Do you feel that your Blackness has affected your writing?

Rhyner: Yes. Normally I’d say it wouldn’t, but I have to write every script for my podcast. It wasn’t easy to come to terms with the fact that people will treat me differently simply because I’m black, but thanks to this Summer I quickly understood how the world saw people like me. I’ve had to make it clear why these things affect me since it could very easily be my black mother or black roommate or black best friends that end up meeting an unfortunate and untimely demise. With that in mind, going forward with writing outside of the scripts I don’t think I could go back to writing with a main character who doesn’t face similar struggles. 

FWG: Do you feel that issues in the outside world affect your writing in the fandom?

Rhyner: Yes. Although racial issues specifically really only pop up in the scripts for my podcast as mentioned before I find themes of social anxiety to be a prevailing topic amongst my blog posts. There isn’t a lot of furry literature to my name, but the stories I have started out there on SoFurry that aren’t just, well, erotic have themes of feeling unable to connect with others. 

FWG: If you could convince everyone to read a single book, what would it be and why?

Rhyner: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. It is nothing short of incredible how much information and thought was put into the careful articulation of every page in this book. It paints a massive, overwhelming picture of what black people are facing and have been facing in the United States from the start of slavery to now. It painstakingly goes over how the drug war started, how it was used as a weapon against black people, and what effect it’s had on us today. It’s a must read if you care about civil rights. Period. 

FWG: You interview a lot of BIPOC furs for your podcast. Have they ever mentioned furry writing or publishing? If so, what kinds of comments have you gotten about it?

Rhyner: Yes, some have. For example one guest known for his outlandish NSFW drawings, is also something of a storyteller. I thought to get his perspective on why writing tends to be overlooked in the fandom and he remarked that it was quite simple, really. Fursuits and art are instantly satisfactory while reading a story takes time – time that could be spent looking at 30 or more pictures in the same time span. It’ll be continually be difficult to get noticed as a writer in the fandom. All we can do is make it easier to get the works out there and put it front and center. 

Another guest on the show described the struggles of starting up a furry driven publishing business. Despite this, I found his drive to be inspiring. After all when forced to compete with Sofawolf, Furplanet, and others – why not have some fun with it? 

FWG: Is there anything the furry writing community could be doing to be more welcoming to Black creators?

Rhyner: The best thing the furry community can do is to be open and uplift. Be open to the storylines brought on by BIPOC creators of all backgrounds. If you’re a publisher, feature black creators during black history month, Indigenous furs during their month, and so on. If you’re a reader and happen upon a story you enjoy that’s from a black person or another person of color be sure to share their work.

Don’t be afraid to call out bigotry when you see it.

FWG: Do you have any projects incoming you’d like to tell people about?

Rhyner: Well, What’s The Fuzz?! Is available on all platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and you can see the full list on my website again anything else I’ve got cooking will be posted up on my Twitter @whatsthefuzz_

FWG: Any last words for our readers?

Rhyner: 2020 was a hard year for everyone and BIPOC individuals in particular. Police brutality raided our timelines. Ignorant questions cornered us at every turn whether it be at the mall, at work, or at home. The audacity of it all. To shepherd BIPOC people, as a monolith, into the role of reluctant teacher to quench the curiosity of the average white moderate. 

In the end, we were expected to dust ourselves off and bounce back like nothing happened. Everything changed, but also nothing changed at all. It’s 2021 now. 

Don’t shield the racist in your group chat. Ban them. Keep Nazis out of furcons, group chats, furmeets – everything. They have no place in this fandom and never will. Don’t just use the hashtag #BLM to make your account prettier. Act on it. We need people to understand the difference between an anti-racist and the person who says they aren’t racist. 

My advice to you? Check out sometime and look through the educational resources. There are articles, books, movies, TV shows, documentaries, plays, interviews, audiobooks, and more about the topics of racism in all of its ugly, insidious forms. 

Don’t forget that no BIPOC person owes you an education. You have everything at your disposal to educate yourself. Looking forward to seeing you at Howlfest. Take care.

We would like to thank Rhyner once again for taking the time to sit down and talk with us. We hope you’ll join us again next week as we interview another Black creative within the furry fandom. Until next time, may your words flow like water.

Black History Month Spotlight: Ryuukiba

Hello again everyone! It’s February, so in honor of Black History Month, the FWG wanted to feature interviews with Black authors, publishers, and creators within the furry fandom. Today we’ll be interviewing Christopher Weartherall, known in the fandom as Ryuukiba.

Ryuukiba is a wusky writer living in Denver who has been a part of the furry fandom for eleven years. His love of word building what a society would look like if it were ran by anthropomorphic animals lead him to begin writing stories in his own world called Fauhna following the fuzzy creatures that live there.

With the introductions out of the way, let’s get on with the interview!

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Ryuukiba: In order to create a story that is moving and impactful, a writer must find ways to creatively express the dynamic nature of experience. Whether the tale is wholly fantasy, or driven by realism, each story is defined by the novelty and intensity of the experiences of it’s characters.

There are many ways to foster a level of dynamism that makes a story excite and enthrall the reader. Some authors focus on gathering experiences from reality, while others focus on conceiving experiences that transcend it.

FWG: What does Black History mean to you?

Ryuukiba: The history of Black communities is varied and expansive. Around the world there are many microcosms of black experience shaped around different cultures and environments. While the spread of our communities about the world was initially involuntary, a hallmark of black experience is how our people take what we are given and find way to make it our own, to make it better. Throughout history, Black communities have pioneered groundbreaking advances in art, science, and social reform, no matter the adversity we have faced due to discrimination and oppression.

The study and appreciation of black history should be focused around this ability, and not the lamentation of past transgressions. Black history month is a grand opportunity for those outside our communities to acknowledge and embrace the power black people wield. Through this acceptance others can recognize the black community as something more beyond the myriad misconceptions that have been developed over the centuries.

FWG: Do you feel that your Blackness has affected your writing?

Ryuukiba: There are many elements of my experience that influence my writing, such as my status as a furry, and my experience as a member of the LGBT community, but my Blackness is not typically at the forefront of my mind when going through my creative process. I focus instead on cultivating stories that explore different realities from many perspectives, seeking to highlight the diversity of experience and the beauty of individuality.

FWG: Do you feel that issues in the outside world affect your writing in the fandom?

Ryuukiba: Most definitely! Although our experience’s in the fandom distinguish us from the rest of society in a way, a key element of the fandom is finding ways to exploit and reform elements of the outside world to suit our own purposes.

Furthermore, I find it exciting to use my writing as a sounding board to conceptualize how the issues we currently face will affect the times to come. Through the furry lens I can explore modern conflicts from a perspective unlike our own, mirroring it, or warping it to reflect my own idealized future.

FWG: Tell us a bit about your book. What was your favorite moment when writing it?

Ryuukiba: Sheath and Felix is a Novel about two gay floofs who fall in love, only to be unwittingly dragged into a conflict of unfathomable proportions when Sheath learns that he is the son of the creator of the universe and it is his destiny to save all of creation from imminent doom.

I started writing the tale as a series of short stories on DeviantArt in 2011 and over the years the vignettes added up to become a novel. I quite enjoyed the process of worldbuilding for the tale. The extended multiverse I ended up creating around it is filled with fantastical elements such as luminous beings borne from mysterious crystal, an occult society that makes sacrifices to an interdimensional leviathan, and an insane twin deity so powerful it could destroy reality in the blink of an eye. Using these and other elements I plan to intertwine future writings with the tale and its sequels.

FWG: If you could convince everyone to read a single book, what would it be and why?

Ryuukiba: Brave New World, by Adolus Huxely is an intriguing exploration of human motivation. It paints a picture of a world where everyone’s purpose is known from the moment of birth and society has reached a state of near perfect design. Alongside this utopian fantasy exists a world where some cling to the traditions of the past. Either out of personal desire or obligation, these “savages” have little comprehension of the “perfect” world outside their borders, and when one of them is introduced to the brave new utopia it is realized that true contentment may not be found in indulgence, peace, and purpose alone.

FWG: Do you have any projects incoming you’d like to tell people about?

Ryuukiba: I am currently in the process of writing the sequel to Sheath and Felix, in which Sheath continues his journey to discover his true potential and avert near certain doom amidst a civil war that has broken out amongst the people of his world.

In addition to this I am working on worldbuilding for a series called NeoTerra which will focus around the version of earth found in my multiverse. The series will tell the tale of an intergalactic war which happened between the Fauhnans of Fauhna and the Humans of Earth from the perspective of Octavia, a Transfemme professor of History living in the year 12822.

FWG: Any last words for our readers?

Ryuukiba: There are many elements to human experience that are combined in various ways to create each and every individual in existence. For as long as history has been written, we have found reasons to spark enmity over differences small and large. Now, more than ever, it must be emphasized that it is through the shared embodiment of our uniqueness that we can excel most as a civilization. If we continue to distract our minds from discovery and creation with enmity and strife, we will lead ourselves on a path to near certain doom.

Each and every one of us must make room in our experiences to express our own uniqueness and accept the uniqueness of others. through this exchange of our personal gifts we will foster a culture of admiration and acceptance that will lead us into a new era of curiosity and discovery.

We would like to thank Ryuukiba once more for sitting down to chat with us. Readers can learn more about the book by visiting the official Sheath & Felix website. Be sure to visit next week for another Black History Month interview. Until next time, may your words flow like water.

FWG Monthly Newsletter: January 2021

Welcome back everyone! We hope you’ve all been able to keep safe and get some good writing in. We won’t keep you long with the introductions, let’s get to the point of the newsletter — guild news.

Don’t forget that nominations for the 2020 Cóyotl Awards are now open! Nominations will be open until March 15th at midnight, Pacific time. Make sure to get those nominations in. Not sure what to nominate? The Cóyotl Awards Reading List should give you plenty of good ideas. 

With Black History Month in February, we intend to do our best to feature interviews with Black authors, publishers, and creatives within the fandom. As long as there are no scheduling snafus, we have lined up four amazing people we hope you will enjoy hearing for. In case you missed them, here are our interviews from last year.

If you have enjoyed posts like these on our blog, you could help us win an award! We qualify for an Ursa Major Award as Best Anthropomorphic Magazine. Nominations are open until February 13th so consider showing the guild some support.

Remember, we now have our Promotion Tip Line to submit to if you have new releases coming out, so don’t hesitate to fill that out so we can feature your book in our next newsletter! Here’s the new release we spotted this month:

You can find all of the open markets for furry writing in our Furry Writers’ Market! Currently, these markets are open.

A couple of final things month! First, we would like to congratulate James L. Steel for winning the Furcon Flash Fiction Competition! You can read their story here. We also interviewed Jafan Tafari about their latest book, Spin The Bottle, on the FWG blog. We hope you’ll take the time to give both of these a read!

I wish you all a fantastic February and hope until we meet again, your words flow like water.

– FWG President Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps

Statement on the Attack on the US Capitol and FWG’s Stance on Hateful Ideologies

Yesterday, the United States Capitol was overrun in what can only be called a terrorist attack by fascists attempting to overthrow the US Government. The Furry Writers’ Guild is in no way a political organization. However, during times like these, the Guild must take a stand and speak out against hateful ideologies.

The Furry Writers’ Guild is an inclusive organization. Our members come from many countries and many walks of life — and we celebrate that diversity. It is one of our greatest strengths.

As our Code of Conduct says: 

The FWG welcomes and supports all backgrounds and identities. This includes, but is not limited to, participants of any age, experience level, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, ability/disability, gender identity and expression, sexual identity and expression, or level or type of participation in the furry fandom.

We oppose — and will take action against — any behavior that supports hatred. We will not accommodate hate speech, for doing so is no defense of free speech. It only silences the speech of others, and we cannot and will not turn a blind eye to bigotry no matter how artfully it is coded.

To make it perfectly clear: If you would denigrate or demean another person based on ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality, gender, disability, or lack of means, the FWG is no place for you.

Our Code of Conduct includes a section on reporting inappropriate behavior. I will personally guarantee, if I receive a message regarding dangerous conduct from someone currently in Guild spaces, that our staff will take it seriously and will be swift to act.

We have shown support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the past and will continue to support authors, publishers, and anyone else who is a part of a marginalized community. We always want our members to feel safe and to do our best to uplift their voices. If the Guild can do better in this regard, please get in contact with me or any member of the Guild Administration right away — it’s a top priority.

We know the world is a scary place right now so we want to make sure good stories can keep being released into the world. We hope our members and all furries will do their best at this time to support one another and speak out to support those who need it most. Stay safe out there, friends.

– FWG President Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps

Interview: Dajan Tafari on Spin the Bottle and Writing Vore

Content Warning: This interview contains discussions about adult works that include the topic of vore content.

Welcome back everyone — it’s time for our first interview of 2021! Today we sat down to interview Dajan Tafari, the author of the recently released Spin The Bottle from Fenris Publishing. Dajan is a lion furry who joined the fandom back in 2012 and was once the type to lurk while making pencil drawings in the fandom. Five years ago he began writing and drawing vore content and the rest is history.

With our introduction out of the way, let’s get to that interview!

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Dajan: Well I guess that depends on what you mean by “good.” I’ve read stories that were badly written that I enjoy, and I’ve read well-written works that were a slog to get through. When I write, I tend to prioritize the emotional arc. I know I’ve done a good job with a story if I’ve made my readers feel something: happiness, relief, grief, laughter, anger. I ask myself, what contributes to that final catharsis.

Everything is just one brick in the road that takes the reader to that moment to maximize the emotional impact. I want to read a story that affects me similarly. I want to be moved. The stories that move me are the most memorable, and I’d say that is the most important thing for me when judging if a story (either mine or someone else’s) is “good.”

FWG: You wrote what is likely the first vore focused novella out for the furry market. What got you interested in writing a vore story?

Dajan: Well personally liking vore is a big part of it. Most of the stories I’ve written for FurAffinity were in the vore kink, and I’ve done a fair number of commission vore stories. There’s a lot of great vore art out there, but a good vore story is harder to find. Because vore is such a niche community, often times people have to take what they can get. So you see a lot—and this is more true for non-furry vore writers than furry vore writers by my estimates—of flash fiction single scene stories that are made quickly to satisfy quickly. You get a lot of carbon-copy flashes without much substance.

The problem with that is you miss out on all the stuff that can make erotica so engaging: the tension, the anticipation, the relationship itself. A good vore story has that. Some of the best vore stories I’ve ever read are actually quite long; ten thousand words or more.
I write the kinds of stories that I want to read myself. Most of my works available on FurAffinity are pretty long for short stories. I like to take my time building up to the actual indulgent scenes.

Erotica is all about feelings: arousal, tension, suspense, anticipation, and release. And so writing erotica in general lets me really focus on that emotion-centric writing process. My long stories earned praise that told me that I was doing something right. People would comment on the length and say in one way or another that it contributed to the enjoyment.

I think vore is an especially unique kink that can become incorporated into the world of the story itself. The way the rules of vore operate in a given scenario can influence the genre of the story. The way the society treats it can open up so many doors for plot. I’ve always been fascinated by the unique pred-prey relationships that can be afforded by furry fiction that you can’t see in human stories.

Vore lets me tell unique stories, and so after having moderate success in my freelance work, going to furry conventions and seeing people unashamedly buying vore-related art packs and merchandise from other artists, and then managing to have a vorish story published in Rechan’s and KC Alpinus’s “Thrill of the Hunt” anthology, made me want to go all the way. It made me realize that there’s not just a market for longer stories in the vore fandom. There’s a market for vore in the furry fandom.

When I started writing “Spin the Bottle” I imagined it would just be a short one-off story, maybe six to ten thousand words, but I became really invested in the characters while writing their earlier scenes, and I wanted to see how far I could take this. Once I was about thirty thousand words in, I knew this was the piece that I could take all the way. So I added some more vore scenes to help with the pacing, added a couple more characters to flesh out the arcs, and after a few months of rigorous edits and helpful feedback from my boyfriend, I had a working draft that I started to send to various furry publishers.

FWG: What challenges came with writing about a niche kink? Were there any concerns on if a publisher would pick it up?

Dajan: Oh there definitely was that concern. The furry fandom is wonderfully sex-positive in most regards, but you don’t want to push kinks on people, especially unsuspecting editors. So I started by reaching out via email to the various furry publications. They all have those emails listed to ask for submission guideline clarifications for a reason after all, so I started by just reaching out to see if it was even something they’d accept. It saved everyone a lot of time and potential discomfort. In the end I found two that were willing to publish vore writings at all, so the project basically had to get shelved until they opened for submissions. It’s just like writing any other book, except a single rejection would cut your prospects in half.

FWG: With those kinds of challenges in mind do you think it’s worth it for other authors to try and take on other specific niches similar to vore in their writing?

Dajan: I definitely think they should if for no other reason than to prove that niche material sells. The entire furry fandom is a living example of the good that can happen when people with a niche interest can come together and inspire each other to make great things. I doubt that what I wrote will do for vore what 50 Shades of Gray did for BDSM, but it’s a nice pipe dream. The furry fandom gets stronger when we share more unique stories not less.

When I submit non-erotic stories for publication in the fandom I often see that little blurb in the submission guidelines of “No foxes at Starbucks.” There’s already a desire to break away from clichés. What better way to do that then to open up more publications to these kinks? If more people are writing those stories, and more people are supporting those writers, I think the spaces will be made in one way or another to let non-traditional kink erotica have its place in the fandom. The furry fandom is already such an immense buffet (pun not intended) so why not strive to add one more side dish?

The barrier to entry is high right now, but I hope that if other erotica writers try to carve out the space for their work then maybe that barrier can whittle down over time. I hope that this is the start of a trend and not a lucky outlier, but time will tell. Personally I would love to fill my bookshelf with vore books by the authors I like. Writing is writing, but having something bound in paper adds a certain amount of legitimacy that I’d like to see extended to more furry authors

FWG: So do you have any other future projects in the works? A sequel to your already successful story?

Dajan: I always have future projects. “Spin the Bottle” IS going to get a sequel. The working title is “Truth or Dare” and it will pick up where the first book left off. As I mentioned before, I love exploring pred-prey relationships, and I’m looking forward to fleshing out—or I guess you could say fattening up—the world and side characters as well as exploring the notion of consequences, the effects and aftershocks of the first book’s events.

I also have a book of vore short stories in the works as well as adapting an old unfinished miniseries of mine into a book. And that’s just the erotica. I’ve got plenty of short stories, poems, and non-furry books to write that will keep me busy for a long time to come.

FWG: Would you have any advice for people who might want to write a vore story for the first time?

Dajan: I guess that depends on if the writer is into vore or not. If you’re into vore, you’ll know what you like (and there’s a lot of versatility to the kink). And because there’s so much versatility, if you aren’t into vore, if you’re approaching the kink as an outsider, you want to do your research. The aesthetics of vore tend to be obvious: big bellies, belches, bulges; you know, the three Bs. If you don’t know the nuances of what makes those things sexy (or comforting for my asexual vore-lovers), then you’ll step into the cliches that won’t spark joy.

In erotica, emotion is so critical. To go back to those infamous single-scene stories with no sense of build-up, I don’t typically come away feeling much of anything, especially arousal or satisfaction. So many of them are just, “Mean guy stomps in, says something demeaning to the prey, gulps them down, and then says something else demeaning.” It’s superficial. I’m not saying that those stories are made by people who aren’t in the vore community, but there are a lot of people in the vore community who wouldn’t make those pieces their go-to content, and outsiders who want to try their hand at the craft of vore stories would need to do their homework BECAUSE many people want more than that out of their vore stories.

I think any successful vore story needs to have some sort of arc to it (even if it’s something simple). It doesn’t need a big extravagant plot, but there needs to be a set-up, conflict, and pay-off whether physical, ethical, moral, societal, etc. Talk to vorephiles and come to them with a sense of curiosity. Even if you’re already into vore, talking to other vorephiles is critical. What one person might find sexy, another person might find offputting. Knowing turn-ons and turn-offs is especially necessary when doing freelance writing for others. And learning about the ins and outs of the fetish from other people can often enrich your own appreciation of it. Try to build a sense of community if you don’t have that. Make friends who you can talk to about it. Sharing and bouncing ideas off each other is great for inspiration and developing stories in the early stages.

Spin the Bottle wouldn’t have gotten as far as it did without my boyfriend and other good friends in the vore community to help edit and expand it. Talking to people about your ideas and desires, the things you want to try, other ways to approach the kink, and what you both love about other stories you’ve read is one of the most important things you can do to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the kink and its community so that you can create works that will bring satisfaction to others. No writing can happen in a vacuum, and that’s especially true for vore.

FWG: Any last things you’d want to tell our readers?

Dajan: So as I mentioned above, one of the things I love the most about vore is the versatility of it and the unique affordances that such predatory dynamics can add to the world and the story. If you aren’t into vore, definitely do some research and learn more about it. I think the kink is widely misunderstood. So I actually would encourage non-vore furries and non-vore non-furries to read vore.

The anime Beastars has been making waves in the furry fandom (and outside the furry fandom), and while I would argue that that isn’t vore, it does create a tense and intriguing story that can only be told with the predator/prey dichotomy of a furry world where civilized people consume each other. Vore can put a less grotesque spin on those dynamics.

I’m happy to say that two of my best friends who are not into vore or even furries at all both read my book and even though they don’t share the kink or even fully understand it, they enjoyed the story for what it was. One of them was even kind enough to write a glowing review about its plot and characters for my publisher’s newsletter (anonymously of course). Because vore is a kink and also a unique storytelling device, I would love to see it garner more legitimacy in the furry fandom rather than pushed aside as “the weird fetish.” I’m sure it will be a long time coming before it’s acceptable in the mainstream, but even if you aren’t aroused or comforted by the content, I think there’s a lot to be gained for “normies.”

I set out to publish the first printed vore book (that is to add not self-published), and now that I succeeded, what I want most of all is to see other people enjoy it for the merits of its story and characters that exist beyond the kink, and so it gave me great pleasure to see the Furry Writer’s Guild advertise Zarpaulek’s Vore Anthology (in which my next short story “Coming Out” will appear) over the summer and give more public attention to this sort of content, and I’m incredibly thankful that you took the time to sit down and have this chat with me.

Vore is a kink, yes, but (at the risk of sounding cheesy) there’s something magical and unique in the way it brings people together. After all, my boyfriend and I met online because he liked my vore stories and wanted to talk to me about them, and now we’ve been a couple for four and a half years. Somehow, writing in this niche kink on the internet has yielded some of my proudest successes and profoundest happinesses, and I look forward to keeping the momentum going and seeing not just where the vore fandom takes me but where I can take the vore fandom.

We would like to thank Dajan once again for sitting down with us for this interview. Digital and physical copies of Spin the Bottle are on sale now from Fenris Publishing. You can find Dajan to keep up with his future stories over on Twitter. If you’re a fan of vore be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the release of “The Vore Studio” when it likely releases sometime in 2021.

FWG Newsletter: December 2020

HAPPY NEW YEAR FWG MEMBERS! Congratulations, we all survived 2020 and made it into 2021. We’re glad that everyone has been able to keep safe, keep writing, and keep reading this year. Here’s hoping the next one can be a bit better. With that in mind…

The 2020 Cóyotl Awards Nominations Are Now Open!

This year, nominations will be open from January 1 until March 15 at midnight, Pacific time. Voting will take place from March 20 until April 30 at midnight, Pacific time. We highly encourage guild members to check out the Cóyotl Awards Reading List then go and nominate. Nominations can be done on the awards website.

We would also like to make people aware once more that discussions have been taking place about eligibility requirements for the guild on our forums and on our Discord. As it stands currently, the proposed requirements look as follows:

  • You’ve had one short story, poem, or novel published in a paying qualifying market
  • You’ve had two short stories or poems published in a non-paying qualifying market
  • You’ve had sustained income from a self-published work, written commissions, comics writing, visual novel or interactive fiction writing, and/or a writing-based crowdfunding presence.

This will not be brought to an official vote until elections but we would like feedback before then so come join the discussion!

Remember, we now have our Promotion Tip Line to submit to if you have new releases coming out, so don’t hesitate to fill that out so we can feature your book in our next newsletter! This month we have a couple of new releases to share with you:

We also have two books to share with you that are up for pre-order:

You can find all of the open markets for furry writing in our Furry Writers’ Market! Currently, these markets are open.

Fenris Publishing is currently open for submissions and Goal Publications will be opening for submissions on January 15th.

One last thing this month: we’ll be at FurCon 2021! We’ll be hosting four panels on writing for the convention as well as hosting another Flash Fiction Competition! The stories must follow the convention theme: FurCon Goes To Hollywoof and must be 250 words or less (titles not included). The winner will receive $25! Anyone interested in submitting should do so here before the panel takes place on Sunday, January 18th. Hope to see your stories there!

– FWG President Linnea “LiteralGrill” 

FWG Newsletter: November 2020

Hello there FWG members, it’s time for another monthly newsletter! Let’s get right down to business, shall we?

Usually, I save the part where I directly talk to you all until the end but we’re switching things up this month. I don’t want to talk about money, but I’ve got to bring it up. It isn’t free to keep the guild running. We are moving to becoming a 501©(3) and between running a convention and the Cóyotl Awards costs add up. Plus we have web hosting and a new logo… You get the picture.

The guild has never made mandatory dues and does not have plans to do so in the future. However, the guild keeps going thanks to donations from our members. A lot of you enjoyed Oxfurred Comma and the guild having more activity this year, and hope you will consider showing some support if able (2020 has been a hard year, we all know it).

If you can, please consider donating to the guild. We accept donations on paypal.

That’s all from me folks, we’ll show off the open markets and such as usual but until next time, stay safe, stay well, and I’ll see you next month. 

– FWG President Linnea Capps

Pre-Orders This Month:

Remember to submit to our Promotion Tip Line to have your books included in this section.

You can find all of the open markets for furry writing in our Furry Writers’ Market! Currently, these markets are open:

FWG Monthly Newsletter: October 2020

Hello there FWG members, it’s time for another monthly newsletter! We have a lot fewer releases and other bits of our usual news to cover this month, so let’s make our focus be on important guild activity.

First, we’ll make this quick: It’s NaNoWriMo! Want to try and write a novel in just a month? The FWG Discord has an official channel for the challenge and we’ll be trying to run some writing sprint challenges as well. Be sure to check it out if you’re interested!

Second, some of our most exciting news to date: It was one of the biggest promises I made when running for guild president, and thanks to a stunning donation to the guild to cover costs, the Furry Writers’ Guild will be becoming a 501©(3)! We intend to keep you all as updated as we can throughout this process, but the short version is this will allow us to offer a LOT more services potentially to members of the guild.

Things like helping provide discounts to certain writing-related services, offering a NetGalley program (similar to the SFWA), potential blog book tour services developed, and potentially even publishing guild anthologies. This is of course the VERY shortlist and not a promise yet, just things that look possible to do. We promise to offer more details as they are available.

With this in mind, we thought it was a good time to get some feedback on the guild. We have done a lot this year from our Suggested Reading List to Promotion Tip Line and even Oxfurred Comma! Still, we as a guild want to do more. We want to know what kinds of things guild members want so we have a better idea of what we can provide and to figure out where to put resources or recruit volunteers to help make things happen.

So we have created an official Guild Feedback Form we wish for you all to fill out (this includes non-members of the guild as well). It begins with a few very basic questions on guild activity followed by more direct questions on potential programs or fun activities we have considered running. You can skip the latter questions if you simply want to provide direct feedback, but we would love to hear what you think!

Here is the Guild Feedback Form. We will be looking at submissions for this through the end of November, so make sure to get your thoughts in soon!

Guild Feedback Form

One last thing, don’t forget about our ongoing discussions on requirements to join the guild.  We invite you to discuss this on the forum as well as on Discord in our guild feedback channel and on Telegram. We want to manage guidelines to support all the furry writers we can, so help us make that a reality!

Have you backed and/or submitted to Difusity 2 on Kickstarter? Let’s support BIPOC furry authors and make sure this gets funded.

Remember, we now have our Promotion Tip Line to submit to if you have new releases coming out, so don’t hesitate to fill that out so we can feature your book in our next newsletter! 

You can find all of the open markets for furry writing in our Furry Writers’ Market! Currently, these markets are open:

I’ll close this with a little talk about Oxfurred Comma. For the guild’s first-ever attempt at an online convention, all of the feedback you have shared so far has told us we managed quite the success! There are of course hiccups for us to iron out as well, but one of the most common questions we received was: Will this happen again next year even if conventions return in person?

We want to let you know this is a resounding YES. In fact if possible, this may become a twice a year online writing retreat of sorts as many people requested we should attempt to do something like it more often. We discuss this in the feedback form so don’t forget to fill that out!
Also, all of the panels minus one (we’re working out exporting issues) are now available on YouTube. If you couldn’t watch a panel live, we highly reccomend you check them out!

With so much happening in the world this month and COVID-19 cases on the rise in many places, now more than ever be sure to keep safe and allow yourself time to rest when you need it. We want to be able to read your stories for years t come and that can only happen if you’re cautious and we all help one another. Stay strong, do your best, and reach out if you need some help. Let’s all meet here again next month.

– FWG President Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps

Oxfurred Comma Begins TODAY!

That’s right folks! We’re keeping this one short and sweet. Oxfurred Comma begins today and we want to see you attend the first ever online convention that focuses purely on furry writing. Let’s hit the quick bullet points!

That’s it! We hope to see you all there enjoying this fun weekend of furry writing!