We hope you keep tuning in to Oxfurred Comma, but also check out this Q&A from KC Alpinus, who you may have heard in her two panels this weekend. Have a read of what she has to say about furry writing here, and catch up on the recordings if you missed her earlier!
Tell us a little bit about your most recent project (written or published). Was there a particular inspiration for it?
There are two most recent projects that I’ve worked on: the first is for the Hades Game. It was a fanzine for the character Ares, and I wrote two pieces of SFW/NSFW stuff for them. As for the inspiration for them, eh, there was a little inspiration looking at the personification of war and how the individual may devote their life to war and conquest, but unless they’re extremely influential, they’re rarely remembered.
My second piece is something that I’ve been persuaded to probably flip around into a novella. I wrote it in about 3 hours while dealing with my condition, so, naturally, I thought it was going to be hot garbage. Thankfully, my peers thought it was pretty good. It chronicles a dragon who loses her ability to fly, when flying is her defining feature. There actually is some inspiration behind this that deals with recovery and not only accepting disability, but working through that acceptance without people trying to turn you into “disability/inspiration porn”.
What is your favourite thing about the furry fandom?
The fantasy and escapist elements. I was the quintessential nerd through my primary school years, so braces, glasses, love of books, and highly intelligent (read: “socially awkward”), which automatically put a bullseye on me because I was “weird” to my peers. I wasn’t interested in the things like clothes, make-up, and boybands, but I loved collecting animal figures and creating stories for them. I then moved to wolf roleplays and found the fandom through them. I just loved the idea of being able to think of anthropomorphic figures with unique stories or dressing up as a tiger, a dragon, or a dhole and getting into that headspace. Now, this isn’t to say that the fandom does not have an issue with BIPOC people and women, but that’s a discussion for a different time.
Why write furry fiction?
Why not? I mean, yeah, there are some stories where I want to write humans, as in the case of my nerdy-but-streetwise necromancer teen Jazz, but other times, I want to explore some themes with anthropomorphic animals, like a dragon or an ancient saber-toothed goddess who needs to learn to let go of the illusion of control.
What is your writing process like?
I need to write like I need to breathe. Stories are always coming to me, whether I’m planning to write or whether I want to or not. So, my writing process usually starts with an idea, like “what if an ancient creature is transported to a different land and wreaks havoc there? What if the creatures being terrorized were rabbits? What if these rabbits could wield swords?” So, after I start brainstorming, I get these questions down and begin coming up with the right character. Depending on the story I want to tell, I also sketch out their flaws that will add some tension and conflict to the story. For example, when I wrote “Scorned” in Inhuman Acts, I wanted to create a PI who was a drunk and not the kind of character that you would necessarily root for, but you could kind of understand why they were so rough around the edges. Thus, Maltese, my maltese tigress was born. “Malty” has been through the wringer with her cases, but she fit the type of story that I was trying to write. So once I have a character and a pretty abstract idea of where I want the story to go, or at least the ending, I begin “talking” to my characters. I visualize them in my mind and I get a feel for their personalities and try to see how they feel about their experience. I try to really get inside of their heads and move from there. The more alive they feel to me, the more in-depth I can make their stories. I try to make them come as alive for my readers as they are for me.
Do you outline and plot, or are you a “pantser”?
I’m a “plantser” in that I will create the bare bones of an outline and plot because I tend to wander and take forever to finish a story if I don’t, but as far as interactions, emotional beats, and all of that good stuff, I like to go wherever the character and spirit of the plot take me.
What do you consider your biggest strength as a writer?
Emotional impact. I like writing stories that have things that will stick with the reader long after they’ve put down the anthology because they emotionally resonated with them.
What is your favourite kind of story to write?
I love stories that are fantastical and happy, but the ones that I seem to excel at are the bittersweet ones. I like my stories to end on a sad but hopeful note.
Does it align well with what you like to read?
Come to think of it, it actually does. The stories that come to mind are Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, Alistair Reynold’s “Zima Blue”, Ken Liu’s “The Paper Menagerie”, Ursula Vernon’s “Poccasin”, or Bruce Coville’s “The Passing of the Pack” or his entire anthology, Oddly Enough.
Which character of yours do you most identify with, and why?
Taisa, my little pitbull puppy in “No Dogs”. She’s a combination of myself and my niece. Sometimes, I do wish that I was a bit more like Asthar, my saber-toothed hunting goddess.
Which authors or specific books have most influenced your work?
Patricia McKissack’s The Dark Thirty, specifically “The Conjure Brother” and “Boo Mama”, K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs, L.A. Banks Neteru Series, Bruce Coville, Eden Royce, and more recently, Ursula Vernon’s short stories. (She also hugged me when I presented her with a Leo Award at Anthrocon 2018 and signed a book for my niece, so that was pretty cool.)
What is the last book you read that you really love?
Are you good furs really doing this? It’s like asking me to pick my most recent favorite sunrise (everyone that I see) or favorite grape (cotton candy or Moscato). But if you really want me to pick one, it would be Blood Like Magic, by Liselle Sambury. In Sambury’s world, witches of Voya’s family are given a task by their ancestors once they come of age. Once that task is complete, they are rewarded with a peculiar magical ability, which is often proportionate to the difficulty of the task. Voya is tasked with destroying the person that she loves to complete her task and she struggles with her decision.
This story hit home on so many levels because there is a lot of Black Girl Magic, but more importantly, her family has roots in the Southern USA but immigrated to Toronto. My family hails from Georgia and I moved to Calgary a few years ago for better opportunities. Also, now, during this time of great loss to me, it has been comforting to think that my family members and ancestors are still looking out for me and my family, as well as knowing that those I’ve lost will always be near to me. (Love you always, Mompard.)
Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading. I’m a bit slower at it because my chronic illness and chronic pain slow me down, but I love to read. I am also an avid video and board gamer. My current games are Spiritfarer and Gloomhaven, respectively. When I’m not doing those, I can be found painting mini-figures, putting together Zoids models, and traveling. Oh, and being a class clown with my brother. We’re pretty silly together.
Do you have any advice to give other writers?
Yes, keep reading and writing. Also, don’t let rejection or fear of rejection stop you from writing. It takes tough skin to keep going, but the world needs to hear your story.
Is there anything you would like to see more of within furry fiction?
Definitely more fantasy and non-cis male characters. I love cis-male characters, but furry literature has had a lot of cis male characters represented and I’d like to see others featured. Same with other sexualities that include bi, pan, aro/ace, and everyone else.
Where can readers find your work?
My work can be found on Goal Publications website (please drop them a line and pick up some good books. They employed me when no one else would), Furplanet, Armoured Fox Press, and possibly Sofawolf. I believe I’ve worked with or had a story published by every major furry publisher, so just ask for the red dhole!
Ta-ta for now!
Pet dholz, drink mead, and save the dhole.
Like please, save the dhole. 😀
Tomorrow has no more Oxfurred Comma content, but it does have another author Q&A! So please come back then and continue to support the wonderful furry authors.