Member Spotlight: Gre7g Luterman

Gre7g Luterman is an author with Thurston Howl Publications that’s been writing since the late 70s. We get a chance to speak with him a bit about his writing.


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

I just had two books come out this past month: Fair Trade which is the conclusion to the Kanti Cycle trilogy, and Reaper’s Lottery which is my first SciFi murder mystery. The mystery has been an incredibly challenging project and I spent two years bringing it from conception to conclusion, finally publishing the seventh version of the story, if you can believe that!

Science fiction is a wonderful thing to write. You take our known universe and tweak one little thing or set up a scenario we aren’t familiar with and then follow the changes through, seeing how it affects each aspect of the characters’ lives. If the krakun tricked the geroo into working as their slaves, how would that impact the geroo’s religious beliefs? If the geroo live on a spaceship where the number of crew isn’t allowed to increase, would that lead to euthanasia and a lottery for selecting who gets to be parents next? If there was never an unwanted pregnancy, how would that change the culture?

And then taking this to the next step of making it a murder mystery, you get to ask questions like, With so much inequity, who would be pushed to murder? Why would they kill? Who would they kill? And what would they hope to accomplish by killing? This is great fun for the writer and, without a doubt, it translates into a really fun ride for the reader as well.


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 am the epitome of the pantser! I never have any idea where a story is headed until it gets there. Oh, I’ve tried to outline where the story must be going but, as soon as I do, the story will immediately turn in a different direction. If I try to force it to where I’ve outlined then the final story will not be a fun read.

My writing process is to make a new character and write a few scenes for him/er, try to find out what is interesting about them, why the reader should like them, should care about what happens to them. I toss a complication into their life and rely on my intuition as to whether there is a whole story there. Since I don’t know where it’s headed, I have to rely on gut feel.

Then I let them wander. I let them build a support network of people who care, who try to help them cope and overcome. I don’t worry about whether they’re going the right direction or not. Then, eventually, I’ll round that final bend and see the destination. Aha! So, that’s where this was going all along.

I finish up the draft, then move it to the right half of the screen and open a blank document on the left. And then I rewrite the entire story. I straighten out the wandering. I add bits here and there so that insignificant events become important if they contribute to the destination. I don’t show people my first draft. Until I do a rewrite—a version written with the destination in mind—then the draft isn’t worth reading.


What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

Romance with a splash of danger, definitely! Prepare for a meandering explanation of why…

My goal is always to keep the reader from putting the book down. The best way to accomplish that goal is for the reader to worry about what will happen to the main character. Readers worry about characters when two things happen: first, they have to love and care about the MC and second, the MC has to be in peril.

Love is the most powerful and pure of all emotions. When we show how the main character is lovable and worthy of another character’s love (not just the main character loving a secondary character), then the reader will love and care about out MC. Then when we put this lovesick character into peril we not only make the reader worry about what will happen to them but we propel them into action, driving them to … wherever the heck this story happens to be headed, since I couldn’t see it from the beginning.

This is the recipe for a great story that will be loved by those who read it.


All of your recent novels are set in the Hayven Celestia universe created by Rick Griffin (of Housepets! fame). Why write in his universe, and how well has that collaboration worked?

The why is an easy one. When I read Rick’s short story Ten Thousand Miles Up, I was immediately fascinated by the world he had created—furry heroes that were tiny compared to their masters but yet kept enslaved with a light touch. He got me thinking about a generation ship with an endless mission and how society would have to change to adapt to it. Plus, his story focused on all the important players like the captain and the commissioner, but my curiosity is always for what life is like for the common guy in any society. And like any good fanfiction writer, when the canon doesn’t give me what I want, I feel compelled to make it up!

Rick is not only great fun to work with, he’s incredibly frustrating. He’s so very creative, so very imaginative, and just as stubborn as I am about how I think things should go. So it was only natural that we’d bump heads constantly. I thought collaborating would be like us finishing each other’s sentences or maybe alternating chapters or something. We tried that and it was readily apparent that our styles and recalcitrant natures would never allow it.

Fortunately, we worked out an informal agreement where he’d write his stories one way, I’d do mine my way, we seriously consider each other’s opinions, but don’t feel compelled that every aspect of the universe remain identical across our stories.


What has most influenced your work? Is an author, a title, or something else?

I’d have to say books by Nancy A. Collins. Collins mostly writes about my favorite subject to read, monsters in the modern day—vampires, werewolves, and demons hiding in a familiar setting—but she has an amazing ability to make the reader care about the characters. I want a book that can ruin my life, make me stay up until 2am, completely wrecked because I have to go to work in the morning but I still need to know what happens in the story.

Plus, Collins is willing to give a main character the perfect love, then wad the lover up and throw him away! Oh man, I just can’t do that. I can throw away a secondary character’s lover, but the main character’s? Yikes. If I killed off Tish (Kanti’s true love) I’d cry for days.

So yes, if any writer out there has influenced me and represents a direction that I’d like my work to grow, it would be her.


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

I’m going to give you two instead of one, because I read them around the same time and loved completely different things about these two completely different books. The first was A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. Despite not loving the characters—sadly—I loved the SciFi of this novel. Not only were the tines a fascinating species whose biological differences led to lots of differences in how they do things, the zones of thought was a brilliant creation that I know I could never equal in my own writing. Plus, the scale of the story was so big that I would never even dare to tackle it myself.

The second was a kids’ book called Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez. This was a charming romp filled with charming characters. I don’t think I was ever truly worried about whether the characters would succeed or fail—it is a kids’ book, after all—but I couldn’t help smiling at every single thing they said. Imagine if Harry Potter had been written by Ursula Vernon and you’d have this world.


The hero from your Kanti Cycle trilogy, Kanti, does a bunch of un-heroic things. Does that make him a bad hero?

Perhaps? Kanti’s never been a particularly heroic geroo. He’s not the smartest, the bravest, or the most talented around. He’s never dreamed of being a hero. He just wanted to keep his head down and remained unnoticed.

As a writer, I’ve always bristled at perfect heroes—you know the type, the Richard Rahl who at every junction always makes the correct decision, no matter the cost. That’s not Kanti. Despite the furry pelt, he’s very human. He gets scared and his first impulse is to run or to keep his loved ones from heading into danger, even if that’s morally the wrong thing to do.

But on the bright side, that gives Kanti an awful lot of room to grow. And though he’s still no John McClane, the Kanti at the end of the series is certainly a lot more heroic than the one at the beginning.


Advice for other writers?

Yes! First, don’t write about your fursona or an O.C. that you’ve been RPing for ages. Make up a new character when you start writing the book. Then fall in love with the character while you write. The reader needs to fall in love with this character for them to love your book, and if you fall in love with them while writing, then the reader will probably do the same while reading it. If you write about a character you already love, then chances are you will skimp on that romance, leaving the reader out in the cold.

Next, hurt the character, hurt them badly, and threaten to hurt them more if they don’t accomplish something in a given amount of time. This makes the reader worry about your MC, propels them into action, and gives them a ticking clock so they can’t drag their ass about it.

Finally, at the end of the story, give the MC something back. And crucially, if you hurt the character by taking something away, make sure the reward for accomplishing your quest is something different, something unexpected, or something they didn’t even know they wanted. Giving them what you took away—like returning Dorothy to Kansas after living in a magical land—is not a very satisfying conclusion.


Where can readers find your work?

You can look for Skeleton Crew, Small World, Fair Trade, and Reaper’s Lottery on my Amazon Author’s Page, my old and dusty fanfiction at, and keep an eye out for my new books by watching my @Gre7gL Twitter account. And again, don’t hesitate to contact me by email. I really do enjoy discussing the craft.


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

Oh, that’s an easy one. When you’re a furry, you’re passionate about furry characters. Maybe you’re misanthropic and think furry characters would be superior to humans, perhaps you romanticize them, are aroused by them, or maybe you think the best monsters are ones that are covered in fur. It doesn’t matter why but you have a passion for them.

And when you’re a furry and a writer, you want to share those characters and the dramas in your head with other furries. You want other furries to feel that same agony when your lovable characters fail, the same elation when they succeed.

When your passion is furry, that’s when you should write for furries. Writing outside your passions may create something so-so but when you write what you love, you can make something amazing!


Member Spotlight: Mary E. Lowd

Though long-overdue, we had a chance recently to speak with member Mary E. Lowd about her writing, editing, and publishing ventures!


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

Fate has conspired such that I actually finished three books in approximately one week, so it’s hard to exactly measure what counts as my most recent project when it comes to writing.  Those three books are all spin-offs of my Otters In Space trilogy in one way or another, and they’re all slated to come out from FurPlanet this year.

One of them, Tri-Galactic Trek (to be released at MFF in December), is a collection of short stories, including five that have already been published and five new ones, that are technically a television show that appears briefly in Otters In Space 3: Octopus Ascending.  With my Tri-Galactic Trek stories, I’ve tried to capture the heart of what I loved about watching Star Trek: The Next Generation as a kid, except with cats, dogs, a bear, and a photosynthetic green otter.

The second, Nexus Nine (to be released at AC in July), is a novel that takes place after the events in Tri-Galactic Trek, sharing some characters, but focusing specifically on a calico cat with an ancient computer chip in her head that contains lifetimes’ worth of memories.  Clearly, I was drawing inspiration from the character of Jadzia Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  However, I always felt like there was so much more to do with Dax, and so I invented my own character in order to explore the rich concept of a character who’s struggling to balance her current self with the overpowering weight of all of those extra memories inside of her.

The third book, Jove Deadly’s Lunar Detective Agency (tentatively to be released at TFF in March) is actually set in the Otters In Space main universe, except focused on a bloodhound detective on the moon.  A friend of mine, Garrett Marco, and I brainstormed the idea for an interconnected pair of novellas about this character years ago — he would write a story about Jove Deadly and his brother; and then I would write a story about Jove and his sister; and both stories would involve the same mysterious, stolen computer chip.  So, the final book is a co-written novel in two halves, and I’m very excited about it.  Reading someone else’s words purposely designed to mirror your own writing style is a wonderful and surprising joy.  Garrett managed to write the exact same kind of dumb jokes that I love best about my own writing, and so I got to experience them without having come up with them myself — truly delightful; one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given.

As you can see, I’ve been really busy.  However, there is one more project I need to mention: at the end of last year, I founded a new furry e-zine called Zooscape.  The first issue came out in December, and there will be a new issue out on March 1st.  For years, there’s been talk in the furry writing community about how we need a high paying, consistently released, free-to-read online magazine in order to raise the profile of furry fiction.  So, when my younger child started kindergarten last fall, I started one.  If you ever need to explain what furry fiction is to someone, just send them there:


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?

Outlining does not come naturally to me.  I’ve struggled with it ever since I was introduced to the concept in sixth grade when we were required to turn in outlines for our big research papers before the paper itself was due.  My mom walked me through writing an outline, but it made no sense to me.  At some level, I don’t really get how it’s possible to outline a work before actually creating the work, because until I’ve written it, how can I really know what I’m capable of pulling off?

For instance, I wrote a short story this week about a cat communicating telepathically with an electric eel.  At a high level, I knew the entire structure for the story, but when it came to actually writing it, I found myself faced with trying to communicate the idea of death through memory images shared between these two creatures.  And suddenly, I found myself writing about my own experience from 2016 of spending the night by my grandmother’s side as she died.  Because that’s the most powerful, real image of death that I’ve experienced.  And yet, how could I have ever predicted that a space opera story about a telepathic eel would involve describing how it felt to stay up all night by my grandmother’s deathbed?  I could never have seen that coming.

All of that said, I know that having an outline — if I can figure one out — can really help me to work through a novel length project without getting stuck or somehow writing myself into a corner.  So, I’ve been working on developing outlining skills, and since traditional outlines don’t seem to work for me, I’ve had to come up with some of my own strategies.  In some cases, I use Tarot cards with evocative images on them to stand in for characters or places in a story, and then I can arrange them in a way that helps give me signposts as I travel through the work.  I’ve also found it can be very helpful to pick a story structure that I’m already very familiar with from a book or movie and use it as a sort of road map.  For instance, my novel The Snake’s Song follows the general shape of The Hobbit, and the longest novel I’ve written, a still-unpublished piece of space opera, was specifically designed to follow the general shape of The Lord of the Rings — assemble the team, and then the team voyages to the one place where the dangerous object can be destroyed.


What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

This is a really tough question, because stories vary so much… and I like different things about different ones.  But I think, if I have to pick, my favorite kind of story to write is either the kind where I can toss off lightweight jokes that amuse myself or the kind where I pour my feelings into the keyboard because they’ve become too big and overwhelming to keep inside myself anymore, and the story provides a safe box to put them in.  So, those are two totally opposite kinds of stories, and I seem to have failed to pick between them.


You’ve published a lot of short stories. Since the beginning of 2018, what are your favorites? Why those?

I had twenty-five stories come out in 2018, but the two that really stand out for me are “Not All Dogs” and “Wing Day,” possibly because they were two of the hardest to write.  For “Not All Dogs,” I had to tap into the unconscious racism that comes from being raised with systemic white privilege and not having realized it yet…  So, I had to look back at the ways I used to be a worse person, and it’s really hard to do that without flinching.  However, I’m really proud of how the story finally turned out.

“Wing Day” was difficult to write differently.  I had a really complex idea about three generations of a family — a human woman, her adopted butterfly-alien daughter, and the cloned butterfly-alien granddaughter — and in order to convey their story coherently and concisely, I ended up just writing down all of these disconnected sentences about them in a totally random order.  Rearranging and shuffling those sentences — and sentence fragments — until they came together into an actual story felt a little like watching a bunch of bright colors tumble around inside a kaleidoscope until they suddenly came into focus as a coherent picture.  It was kind of magical, and the story turned out so much better than I had dared to hope it would, like a carefully cut gemstone.  It’s still hard to believe all those disconnected fragments actually came together like that.


What has most influenced your work? Is an author, a title, or something else?

I don’t think that I can escape that the answer to this question is Star Trek.  Quite obviously, my Tri-Galactic Trek stories are heavily influenced by Star Trek.  However, I can see traces of Star Trek in almost everything I’ve ever written, even stories where it wouldn’t be obvious to anyone else who read them.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was like a second family to me when I was a child, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is still, on some levels, my favorite work of art ever created.  My entire world view and approach to life was heavily shaped by both of those shows.


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

I joined a book group last year that’s had me reading a lot of good books lately — N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway, Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch and Binti, and Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw.  I highly recommend all of those books, but my favorite of the books we’ve read is The Power by Naomi Alderman.  The Power is a thought experiment in gender-flipping the power structures of the entire world; women develop electric-eel like powers, making them the stronger sex, on average, and everything changes.  It’s a book that manages to be both horrifying and also, strangely, an experience in wish-fulfilment, at least, for me.  I think it’s a really, really important book, and I think that a lot of people need to read it.


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

I have dogs, and I spend time with them.  Really, though, I spend most of my time writing, reading, or watching videos — which is not as different from reading as people like to believe.  Basically, I immerse myself in story as much as possible, and then I try to deconstruct and understand that story.  But I do also spend time with my dogs and go on walks sometimes.


Advice for other writers?

Find ways to enjoy the process of writing whenever you can, because the rewards for finished works are few and far between.  Getting published is a long, slow process, full of rejection and heavily dependent on luck.  And even when you’re fairly successful, published stories can still feel like they fall into a deep, dark void, never to be heard from again.  So in the long run, the best way to survive is to find joy in the process of writing itself.

You will always be your own first reader, so write what you must deeply desire to read.  At least then, you’ll get to read a good story while you’re writing, no matter what happens next.


Where can readers find your work?

Most of my books are published by FurPlanet, but my most recent novel, The Snake’s Song: A Labyrinth of Souls Novel, is through ShadowSpinners Press.  They’re all available on Amazon. Also, I keep links for where to find my books on my personal webpage:

My short stories get published all over the place, but I tend to reprint them on my own archive site, Deep Sky Anchor.  So, you can find a lot of free short stories there:


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

When I discovered the furry fandom, I no longer had to stumble over the question, “Why otters?” when I told people about my books.  Suddenly, the answer was simple:  “It’s furry fiction.”

But my favorite thing about the furry fandom is that it’s given a label to my favorite kind of fiction, and it’s so much easier to find something when it has a label.  For almost two decades, I struggled to find the stray piece of science-fiction with animal-like aliens or fantasy about animals, mixed-in with all the other science-fiction and fantasy.  As soon as I had a word for what I was looking for — furry fiction — I didn’t have to struggle anymore.  I could just read.


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!




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.

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!)

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 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.