FWG Interview: Weasel on Furry Publishing, Editing, and Diverse Voices

Welcome to another FWG interview! On Twitter we got requests to interview both publishers and editors, so today we decided to do just that. Today we’ll be sharing an interview with Weasel, owner of Weasel Press, and an experienced editor and writer within the furry fandom. Enough with the introductions, let’s get to the interview!

FWG: For those that might not know you, tell everyone a bit about yourself.

Weasel: My name is Izzy, though most people know me as Weasel. I’ve been a writer for so many years, I’ve already forgotten, and a publisher for about 8 years. I’m a queer, biracial latinx author, and I’m the owner of Weasel Press/Red Ferret Press/Sinister Stoat Press. It’s been a long few years, haha!

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Weasel: That’s a tough one. Characters. They’re the backbone of your story. Worldbuilding can happen at any point, but if you got weak characters, characters who are problematic, your story is going to fall apart. It just will.

I also think representation matters. As a queer Latinx reader, it’s a hard blow when I pick up a book and the characters are coded as straight, cisgender, and white. People of color exist in this world, we deserve to be in media as much as white people are.

The moment I see a book that is white and heteronormative, I’m not as interested.

Make strong characters. Be diverse.

FWG: As you mentioned, you do publishing within the furry fandom. What got you into the publishing scene, and what made you want to become a publisher?

Weasel: You’re asking me to go way back! So, I got into publishing after working with my community college’s art journal. I wanted to do something like it, so I started Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad ones. I released the first issue of that journal in 2012, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t feel like 2012 every time I look at it.

I did about 3 issues before starting Weasel Press. I had an author ask me if I was ever interested in putting out single-author books and I was like “man, lemme think on it.”

And well, here I am, 70-somethin’ books later.

FWG: You publish some non-furry things at Weasel press, so what drew you into a more niche publishing scene like in furry?

Weasel: The first book we published was Furry. Ribbon and Leviathan by Manna Plourde. I’ve been a furry for years. The exact number I don’t even know, but it’s been a time.

I didn’t know what I wanted to publish when I first started. I knew I wanted furry, I wanted beat generation style work, and I wanted works that were sex-positive.

About 20% of the books we publisher are furry, and I’d like to do more. It’s a touch difficult to do from a funding perspective, but there are ideas that I hope to implement someday.

FWG: You publish a lot more poetry than other publishers within the fandom. Can you talk about that a bit?

Weasel: Poetry is a big thing for me. Poetry is a way of processing. For me, it’s processing trauma. So publishing poetry was more so second nature for me. It’s like “of course, I’m going to publish poetry. ”

I think we have some of the coolest poetry projects on the net right now. Only 2 of those projects are furry, but each book I have is unique and tackles something personal to the author. We publish books on domestic violence, environmental issues, drug addiction, sex, experiences from people of color, trans experiences.

If you’ve not checked out a poetry book from us, you’re missing out, because we have some really gut-punching titles.

FWG: Weasel Press always seems to be an outlet for diverse voices to express themselves. As of May 2020, Weasel press is only accepting works from authors of color,  authors who identify as LGBTQ+, authors with disabilities, and current and former sex workers. Can you talk about why you decided to go that route?

Weasel: I did it because I’m tired of seeing marginalized voices not having a platform. I did it because for a period I was getting submissions from old, straight, white guys. How many of them get published? A lot. And that ain’t what I want anymore. For anyone who has had a book with weasel press in the past, sure I’ll work with you. But new folks? Nah. I’m good.

We need more people of color. We need more queer people. Authors with disabilities. Current and former sex workers. Where are their voices in publishing? For a long time, all I heard was crickets on that front. And I’m tired.

I’m tired because any book I pick up is from a white perspective and that perspective ain’t always for me. it ain’t always for people of color. White people write for white people.

So I made some changes. If you’re a queer author, I want your work. If you’re an author of color, send it my way asap. If you’re an author with a disability, we need your voice. And if you’re a current or former sex worker, we want to work with you.

Representation matters. It took me so many years to realize that. Other publishers should do better, and I don’t want to hear the excuse of “well they just don’t submit to us.” That’s called laziness. Don’t bring that to my table.

FWG: When these diverse writers send you their works, what can they do to help them stand out? What makes a good query to you?

Weasel: That’s a hard question for me. I get so many good queries we can’t take due to our line up being full or our funding just isn’t there. Ultimately, I want works that are real though. I tell every author, be real, be you.

Don’t send me something you think will sell. Give me something you wrote, that has your voice and needs to get out. Give me your fantasy novel that’s been queered up, or give me your horror book from a non-white perspective.

If you’re writing it, love what you’re writing. If you don’t love it, I don’t want it.

FWG: What do you wish more authors knew about the challenges of getting books out and published?

Weasel: So much. The first thing I wish I knew is the amount of money you receive from sales. I knew it wouldn’t be much, but it’s definitely a lot less than I expected.

Put it this way, Weasel Press made $1000 in sales this month. After printing charges and fees and distribution discounts, we maybe got about $300 of that as actual profit. $300 we didn’t have before, but definitely a jump from what I would have expected.

I wish I would have known how much of my job would be administrative as opposed to production.

And I wish I knew how many death threats I’d get beforehand haha

FWG: You have received death threats due to your publishing work? Are you comfortable discussing this with our readers?

Weasel: I’ve received my fair share of threats. None were from the fandom. I’ve had old white guys say they would find me and kill me. I’ve been called one racial slur after another. Most of these are just due to rejection. I haven’t gotten any in a few years so it’s gotten better on that front.

FWG: This segues into our next question. What kind of challenges do you find in not only being a publisher that isn’t white but in publishing diverse voices like you do?

Weasel: A lot of the challenges stem from people who don’t follow our guidelines and don’t meet the requirements. There are the people who believe I’m censoring them because I won’t publish their white narratives.

I’ve had people tell me I’m not a real publisher because of who and what I publish. Even members of this fandom have made a passive remark like that.

I know from my perspective, I’ve felt like some see me as second class or low tier.

I know I’ve had some difficulty recruiting diverse voices. But since the shift in our guidelines, it’s been way easier. I think because of how we started, and how we didn’t have our guidelines explicit like we do now, it’s been a challenge to shift our brand the way we want it. It’s getting there though, slowly but surely.

I haven’t had an issue with the voices we do publish, they’ve all been phenomenal to work with. It’s given us a big positive energy boost and I love it.

FWG: You have multiple imprints related to Weasel Press. Can you explain why you chose to go this route over keeping everything under the Weasel Press banner?

Weasel: It’s an organizational thing for me as well as a branding thing. I didn’t know there were some genres I wanted to explore until I received more of it. Like horror, or sex-focused works. With horror, I was able to create that brand, logo, and tailor it to horror. The imprints all function the same as Weasel Press, but I wanted to be able to make it fun, to create an image that says “horror” or “sexually explicit.” it gets tough when genres blend, but Howl and I work it out.

FWG: Outside of publishing, you do also are an editor. What has been your favorite anthology or book that you’ve done editing for so far?

Weasel: I have several. I’ve loved working on all of our books, but if there’s a few that stand out, it’s the titles below (not all of them are furry):

Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones -This is my baby. I started with this journal, and I can’t let it die. It’s been with me since the beginning and I’ve loved watching it grow each time we put an issue out.

Tales in Liquid Time by Neil S. Reddy – I didn’t know what I was doing at all. But this book was one of our firsts and I look at it so much! We’ve come so far from 2014, but I’ll never forget how fun it was with the strange stories in that book.

#ohmurr! – I can’t not talk about this book. This is such a big moment for me. We blended kink and sex-focused photography with fandom businesses, short fiction, furry experiences, and it was the most fun I’d had in all the years I’ve put out an anthology. Check out #ohmurr! if you’re looking for something different and sex-focused because the magazine is an experience. #justsaying

FWG: Any last thing you want to tell our readers?

Weasel: Don’t let anyone tell you what to write. Write your truth.

We would like to thank Weasel once more for answering all of our questions! In lieu of promoting himself, Weasel asked us to promote recent Weasel Press releases. #ohmurr is currently available for purchase and more information can be found on Twitter @ohmurrmag (NSFW). What Makes a Witch, written by Linnea Capps, has also recently released and will have an audiobook coming soon. It is available for purchase here. Until next time, may your words flow like water.

FWG Monthly Newsletter: August 2020

Hello there FWG members, it’s time for another monthly newsletter! We’ll keep the introduction short and get right down to business.

Oxfurred Comma, an online convention for furry literature, will be taking place from October 17th to 18th in conjunction with Furry Book Month. We’ll have forms to fill out for those interested in hosting panels as well as participating in our dealer’s den out to you in the next couple of weeks. These will be posted on the FWG Blog and social media.

You do not have to be an FWG member to participate in this convention either. We want to help all anthro writers especially with how this year has hurt sales. Any writers seeing this should be sure to sign up and invite their writing friends!

Outside of this, we have been having internal discussions among FWG officers about potential changes to the requirements for joining the guild. We understand times are changing and many authors are using platforms like Patreon and finding success. We also know other avenues of writing can be distinctly furry, like comics writing or visual novels.

We have opened up discussions on this topic and hope to receive your feedback. These include rough drafts on what new requirements might be. Please keep in mind that forum posts and our Discord channel for FWG feedback will be the easiest ways for us to keep an eye on your comments as Telegram messages can move quickly. Let’s get this discussion started!

As a final note, we would like to remind everyone that we opened our promotional tip line last month as it has not received much attention. You can find it on the website or at this link. If you have a new story posted, a new book coming out, literally any writing news you’d like us to boost on social media PLEASE use this form: we want to help support you!

With guild business out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff! We featured another two members this month on the blog for interviews that we hope you check out. We’ve also had requests to interview anthology editors as well as any members with experience in producing audiobooks. If you’d qualify and want to be featured, contact our social media manager!

We saw a few new releases cross our path this month you might want to check out including:

We also hunted down a book currently up for pre-order:

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!

Currently the Furry Writers’ Market lists these markets are open:

We’ve been getting a lot of new guild members lately! Let’s all welcome James Hudson, Dan “Spike” Gilmore, Ana Valens, JT Bird, J.S. Hawthorne, and TinyPrancingHorse! We’ve had more new members this year than in a long time, it’s been so exciting!

One last thing: the guild has been very vocal about this on social media, but we would like to remind all of our readers once more how vital the USPS is not only for small business and rural communities but for Furry Publishing. The works we all currently enjoy and the publishers we love to work with may cease to exist without it. Please make sure to do all you can to help defend the USPS! Until next month, keep staying safe and keep writing.

  • FWG President Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps

Interview: FuzzWolf on Furry Publishing

One of the biggest facets of getting a book published is, well, publishers! While many authors self-publish these days, the furry community is lucky to have several publishers and imprints focused on publishing anthropomorphic fiction.

Today we’re sharing an interview with FuzzWolf, an FWG member and the current owner of FurPlanet. We discuss many aspects of furry publishing, what drives book sales, and how to promote yourself as an author. Without further ado, let’s get to the interview!

FWG: For‌ ‌those‌ ‌that‌ ‌might‌ ‌not‌ ‌know‌ ‌you,‌ ‌please‌ ‌tell‌ ‌our‌ ‌readers‌ ‌a‌ ‌bit‌ ‌about‌ ‌yourself.‌

FuzzWolf: Hi. Well, my name’s FuzzWolf. Most people just call me Fuzz. I’ve been a furry since 1998. I’m originally from Scotland, but my family moved to the US when I was 8 so I don’t have the accent anymore.

In 2005 I moved to Dallas, TX to live with my boyfriend. It’s 15 years later and now we’re married and have a house so I’d say that worked out.

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

FuzzWolf: Lots of different things, it depends. Characters you care about is the main one. You don’t always have to like them, but they have to be interesting and the reader has to be invested in whether they succeed or fail in what they’re trying to do.

There should be a clear goal, something the main character wants to do, and then there are obstacles in their way preventing them from that goal.

Another thing I enjoy in a good story is a degree of worldbuilding. It depends on the story whether the worldbuilding is very present, and the world itself is a character of sorts, or whether it’s more subtle worldbuilding where the story is more about the characters.

FWG: You work in publishing in the furry scene, so let’s dive into that! What got you into the publishing side of the fandom?

FuzzWolf: I had taken a “desktop publishing” class in college in the early 90s so there was some level of interest there long before I got into fandom publishing.

Like most publishers in the fandom, I started off as a writer. I was published in FurNation Magazine. FurNation was based here in Dallas so I picked up one of my contributor copies in person, and the owner showed me around the equipment he used to make the magazines. I was fascinated by it, and I started helping out. I volunteered with FN for a bit, doing layouts and making magazines and comics by hand.

After I was laid off in 2007, I decided I wanted to start my own publishing business. By the way, this is the exact opposite of what all the “start your own business” guides will tell you to do. Don’t start a business because you’re done with corporate America after getting laid off. You have few resources to work with and you’re not in the right headspace. I got a new job later that year, but the passion for publishing was still there so I moved forward.

Eventually, I ended up acquiring FurPlanet from its former owner and officially took over in March 2008.

FWG: What kind of unique challenges do you face as a publisher of what might be considered niche literature?

FuzzWolf: There are probably as many benefits as there are challenges. I suppose the biggest one is audience size. As with the rest of society, only a small percentage of people read books, and you cut that number down even more when working within a small niche like furry. So, a furry company is likely to hit a growth ceiling sooner because there are only so many furries out there.

However, like a lot of niche interests, the people who are into furry are really into furry. And the furries who buy books are super supportive of their publishers.

I wouldn’t call this a challenge so much as it is a difference between mainstream and furry publishers. For mainstream publishers, the majority of their book sales are going to be sold online at that big river dot com company, and maybe some through traditional bookstores. A minority of our sales are through those avenues. We sell almost all of our books directly to consumers without an intermediary, either via our website or face to face at conventions. That means more work for us, either packing and shipping online orders, or all the work that goes into dealing at a convention, but it means we interact with our customers directly and I think that’s a positive thing.

FWG: FurPlanet puts out several anthologies a year, but also several novels. Do you get a lot of pitches for novels? If so, do you publish many of them?

FuzzWolf: We have it on our website that we’re not officially open for novel submissions so we don’t get that many. Most of the novels we publish are new books from authors we have already been working with. I would like to open up to additional authors at some point. It’s just a matter of time being available to do so.

FWG: Going back to anthologies for a moment, how do these compare in sales to novels themselves?

FuzzWolf: A couple of years ago, I went through our sales data back to 2006 to answer that question. I found that in general, anthologies sell only about 1/3 what novels and novellas do.

FWG: There’s plenty of furry writers who focus on getting stories into anthologies. With those numbers, would you suggest writers consider focusing on getting their own novel out there to help increase their prestige or name recognition?

FuzzWolf: I enjoy short stories, and I think they serve an important function for writers. They give authors a chance to work with an editor and go through that process of having someone from outside their friend group review their work, and work with them to make it the best story it can be. Anthologies also give experience in writing and revising to a deadline and writing towards a specific theme. Submit stories to enough anthologies and you’ll get to write about a lot of different things. Broadening your writing beyond your preferred genre is a critical step in a writer’s development.

They also get your name in front of a publisher. I know I’ve personally advised authors I’ve seen write amazing short stories that I want to see their novel when they finish it.

Also, in both mainstream and furry writing, short stories are how a lot of authors build an audience and get their name out there. You can also repurpose the stories after their exclusivity period has expired, depending on the particular contract. This gives you content for your various galleries (FA, SF, etc), and if a market is open to reprints and you happen to have a previously-published story which fits then you can get paid twice for it.

Even if you’re not submitting to anthologies, I still think writing short stories and posting online is good for building your skills and growing an audience. Even writing to a weekly prompt achieves some of that diversity of stories.

I’d recommend submitting short stories and posting them online while also working on a longer-term project, like having a novel idea brewing in your head.

FWG: FurPlanet puts out ROAR and FANG annually. Are there any challenges getting an anthology series out yearly? Differences between these anthologies and one-off anthologies?

FuzzWolf: There are definitely challenges with keeping a regular title going, especially if you’re trying to keep them releasing at the same time each year. We aim to release FANG and ROAR at Anthrocon every year, but this year we missed that mark due to COVID 19 throwing the world into chaos.

With a one-off anthology there is less of an issue if you have to postpone a release since there isn’t a second volume that has to come out in 12 months that may also be affected.

There is also the matter of editors. With our regular series, we have the advantage of working with an editor for several volumes over a period of time, and they improve their skill with each volume and learn our expectations. There can be a few bumps in the road early on in a working relationship so the one-off anthologies have that. We take a chance when we do a one-off because it doesn’t have name recognition going back years like our regular anthologies do. We just have to hope that the theme resonates with readers.

FWG:A lot of furries say you have to write or draw sex to be successful in the fandom. You’re in a unique position to know about this directly. Do adult novels sell better than those for general audiences?

FuzzWolf: Speaking very broadly, our adult books do sell better than our general audience books. However, there are a ton of caveats to that.

For one thing, in the mainstream book trade Adult Fiction simply means books for grownups, as opposed to Young Adult or children’s book categories. In the fandom, we label books as adult in part due to how conventions define them. If a book has a couple of explicit scenes, even if the sex is not the point of the book, we have to label that adult. But in an actual bookstore, they don’t have a big warning sticker plastered on American Gods, for example.

I’ve seen books with a lot of sex sell moderately, and books we marketed as YA sell extremely well. You can be a non-adult writer and have successful books. You just have to tell a good story and find your audience.

FWG: How important is cover art to selling a furry novel? Do you think employing well-known artists in a fandom that tends to be visually focused helps sell books?

FuzzWolf: I cannot overstate how important cover art is to selling books, any books. The audience for each genre has certain expectations when it comes to covers. This is where things like minimalist typographic covers for science fiction and literary fiction, shirtless men in kilts in romance, and painted castles in fantasy come from.

In general, furry readers want to see a furry on the cover. Don’t go abstract, even if it’s beautiful. If you are trying to sell primarily to furries, you have to have furries on your book cover.

A well-known artist will help with sales. Not only for their highly developed skill, but because they will often assist with promoting the book. Here’s a tip, always credit your illustrators. Do so in the book, and also in your marketing material. If you tweet the cover of your book, include your artist’s Twitter handle. They will often retweet it, and very often their following will be bigger than yours.

I’ve heard writers complain sometimes about furry being such a visual community, but I’d like to stress that artists should be your friends when it comes to selling your book. Artists and writers can and should work together.

I’ll also add that you don’t have to go with the most popular artists if that is out of your budget. You can find a lot of skilled artists who are not that well known, and a book cover commission can offer less well-known artists access to a new audience.

To summarize my feelings on covers, they say you should never go cheap on a mattress or a pair of shoes. When it comes to books, put your budget into your cover. It will help.

FWG: What about books having interior pictures? Is this worth doing for most releases?

FuzzWolf: This has been a point of discussion among some of us before. I think what it comes down to is if you want interior illustrations because they’re cool, or you really want to see your characters illustrated then it can’t hurt.

In my experience, it doesn’t help sales though. If you have a set budget and are weighing between interior illustrations or a better cover then I’d put the money into the cover, another editor pass, or another type of marketing.

FWG: Can you give any insights on the process of getting artwork for books for our readers who might be curious or self publish?

FuzzWolf: Look at the books which have covers you really like or that drew you to the book. You can hire that same artist or someone with a style that appeals in the same way.

An important thing to remember is that a great piece of art and a great book cover are not the same things. Sometimes a piece will work as a standalone illustration, but won’t be appropriate for a book cover.

Another point to ask is if your artist has any experience with typography and design. Are they sending you a cover with your title and name on it already? Or are they just doing the art? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to find a graphic designer to work on the actual layout for you.

On that note, I’d also advise hiring a typographer for your interior layout. There are subtle nuances to typography that can affect the visual appeal and readability of your book. It seems easy, but a lot of time goes into it, and I consider a worthwhile investment.

FWG: What would you say is the one thing you wish all writers knew about publishers and publishing books?

FuzzWolf: While a deep love of books is usually what drives someone to publishing, you’ll have to deal with a lot of less fun things too. Contracts, accounting, taxes, printers, marketing. If you can accept that challenge, you’ll be in a better position to be successful.

FWG: Do you have any last thing you’d like to tell our readers?

FuzzWolf: Please continue to order books and comics from all the furry publishers and our community’s independent sellers. You can support furry-owned businesses and the post office at the same time!

We would like to thank FuzzWolf once again for answering all of our questions! FurPlanet will be having an online book launch for Kyell Gold’s final volume of Love Match. The book releases August 25th and the book launch will take place this coming weekend. You can read about the book and pre-order it on their website and find details on the book launch here.

We hope this insight into furry publishing was informative to all of our readers. If you have ideas or suggestions on what kinds of interviews we should feature next, please contact our Social Media Manager. Until next time, may your words flow like water.

Interview: Mary E. Lowd on Writing and Species as Allegories

Did you know that both National Dog Day and National Cat Day both occur in August? Before you think this is a weird way to start a post on the FWG blog, we promise the pieces to the puzzle will be arranged shortly.

Today we are sharing an interview with Mary E. Lowd who is not only a Furry Writers’ Guild member but has also recently had the novel “When a Cat Loves a Dog” published by Goal Publications. We sat down with Mary to discuss writing in general, her new book, and using species as allegories in stories. Enough with the introduction, let’s get to the interview!

FWG: For those that might not know you, please tell our readers a bit about yourself.

Mary: Hey, readers.  I’m a science-fiction and furry writer who lives in Oregon.  I grew up reading the Redwall books by Brian Jacques and watching Star Trek: The Next Generation — the combination of those pretty much established my aesthetic.  After college, I spent a period of time that felt like forever (but was apparently only seven years) trying to be a serious science-fiction writer whose stories centered on humans… and failing horribly, by way of writing Otters In Space. 

Then I discovered the furry fandom, joined the Furry Writers’ Guild, started writing for furry anthologies and furry publishers, and have somehow ended up a decade later editing my own furry fiction e-zine.

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Mary: For me?  Spaceships and talking animals.  Robots are also good, maybe some magic.  Seriously though, every reader will have a different answer, and those answers will vary depending on the day.  Right now, during a global pandemic, I’m probably more interested in escapist wish-fulfillment stories than hard-hitting incisive idea pieces.  And that’s okay.  Fiction fills many roles — some stories will change how you think about the world forever; other stories simply help you get through a hard day.

FWG: To say you are a prolific writer would be an understatement. You have won several awards (including our own Coyotl Awards), have over 150 published short stories, and even run your own e-zine. How do you manage balancing your life while maintaining so much writing output?

Mary: I… don’t.  I’ve been fighting with my husband about this very question a lot over the last month.  He’s incredibly supportive… but then, also… not.  Because come on, we live in a society that puts different pressures on women than on men, and even when he tries to do half of the work it ends up being a smaller half, and I can either pick up the slack or… let the house fill with trash and the children run wild.  So, looking forward to a year of, essentially, homeschooling due to the pandemic… well, I don’t know.  I’m exhausted, and every day, there’s another day tomorrow.  Somehow though, I’ll keep writing, because as far as I can tell, I became a writer because it soothes my intrinsic anxiety.

There was a time when I had to do my writing with a baby on my lap, a six-year-old next to me, and Blue’s Clues taking up half of my computer monitor.  So, I’ll manage somehow, but I don’t know how.  I do have a special cheat code though:  my mom is the most amazing, and she lives next door.  So, a great deal of the writing I get done is directly due to her support and willingness to watch my kids for big chunks of time.

FWG: We also have to ask, with so many published works, do you have any tips for our readers on how to get stories or books accepted by publishers?

Oh goodness, so much… But this question is really too broad, because the answer is entirely different for short stories vs. novels, and then again completely different depending on the type of novel publisher.  In every case, persistence is key.  Sadly, rejections are the cornerstone of most successful writing careers.  Get used to them.  Find ways to celebrate them.  The writing group I was in for a decade had everyone announce their rejections from the week at the beginning of every meeting and then be rewarded with chocolate. 

I like to think of my rejection total as an ever-growing high score.  Right now, it’s 1682, and that will likely be out of date by the time this interview is posted.  Because the rejections don’t stop; you don’t graduate out of them; you just learn to weather them and keep persisting.  And I promise, with practice, they do get easier.

FWG: So we have established you’re well published, but what is your favorite of all them that you have written?

Mary: This is always a hard question, because if I didn’t love a work enough to pour my time and energy into it, then I wouldn’t bother writing it.  However, I think I have to go with Nexus Nine.  When I was a kid watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Jadzia Dax was my favorite character.  She may still be my favorite character of all time. 

Anyway, my heart was broken when she died at the end of season six, but then when Ezri Dax showed up at the beginning of season seven, lost and confused by holding Jadzia Dax’s memories without actually being her… I can’t really explain the emotions I felt.  Her first scene is incredible.  She’s both Dax and not Dax, and I immediately loved her and felt for her plight, even while missing Jadzia and knowing they weren’t the same.

I wanted to write about that kind of character, and so I created Mazel Rheun, a calico cat with a computer chip in her head that carries the memories of dozens of previous individuals, most recently the dog who was her captain.  Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a big part of my heart and who I’ve become, and Nexus Nine is my love letter to it.

FWG: When a Cat Loves a Dog was recently published by Goal Publications. Can you tell us a little about the book?

Mary: When a Cat Loves a Dog originated with the character of Topher Brooke, a pug dog comedian who makes fun of cats ironically.  See, Stephen Colbert used to have this show called The Colbert Report where he presented the news while pretending to be a rightwing numbskull.  So, I was playing my standard game of “what kind of dog or cat would this person be?” and the idea for a story popped into my head about this pug dog comedian proposing to his cat girlfriend.  You can read the story, “A Real Stand-Up Guy,” on my personal archive site here: http://deepskyanchor.com/a-real-stand-up-guy/

When a Cat Loves a Dog follows Topher Brooke and Lashonda, the cat he proposed to, after they get married and decide to have a family.  In order to do their story justice, I had to read a bunch of books researching the history of in vitro fertilization and gene therapy which was completely fascinating.  I also read up about mixed-race adoption and sea steads. 

I don’t think I’ve ever researched another book more thoroughly.  Though there’s also a lot of personal touches lifted from my own life and experience of marriage.  The result is a novel that’s a mix between a tender love story between a cat and dog, an exploration of how their society reacts to their marriage, and some fun medical sci-fi.

FWG: In your previous stories in the Otters in Space trilogy, as well as more recently published works like When a Cat Loves a Dog, you use differing species as a lens to discuss a lot of real-world issues. What inspired you to do this?

Mary: Okay, so, literally, I had a dog who got really mad when cats were way up high.  Like if they were on the floor, they were friends; if they were on the top of a bookshelf, they were probably evil mountain lions planning to eat his sheep.  He was a Sheltie, so he was pretty sure he must have had some sheep somewhere.  When I wrote Otters In Space, focusing on a cat who was oppressed by a dog who wanted to outlaw cats traveling up the space elevator to the otter space station… that’s what I was writing about.  That’s it.

Yes, in the first few scenes, my tabby cat protagonist worries about how there’s no point in going to the cops, because they’re all dogs and won’t listen to her.  But… see, I was so sheltered, naive, and privileged that I thought I was writing about an interesting speculative concept.  I had no idea back then that the real world police were actually worse than the dogs in my book.  I was white and grew up watching Star Trek.  I thought sexism and racism were sad chapters in the past.  I’ve learned a lot over the last fifteen years.

FWG:  We’ve seen attempts to use species as allegories for race and racism in films like Zootopia in recent times. Do you think there are advantages to using animals for anthropomorphic characters instead of human characters to discuss these issues? Disadvantages? 

Mary: Using animal characters in place of humans is a little like someone in a sitcom telling a story about their “friend” who needs advice, when everyone knows they mean themself.  It gives you distance.  It gives you space.  It gives you plausible deniability.  But in the end, we know that stories we tell about animals are usually at a deeper level about ourselves.  Or even if they’re not — if say, it’s a story about a weird quirk of jellyfish biology that simply doesn’t apply to humans — then we’ll still find a way to make it about us anyway.  Humans are good at that.

There can be a sense of safety in using a funhouse mirror to look at yourself and see yourself reflected in a more comfortable, fuzzier way, before having to admit to yourself that, yes, that’s you.  But there’s also a danger that people will look at the twists and contortions of the mirror — for instance, intrinsic biological differences between predator and prey species — and try to map those features onto human differences in a way that magnifies them out of proportion.  This is why it’s sometimes important to strip those levels of obfuscation away.  There are some stories that need to be told straightforwardly with absolutely no misdirection, no space for misinterpretation, no way to wiggle out of what you’re seeing.

So, yes, there are both advantages and disadvantages for using furry characters; both furry and mainstream stories have their place, and both kinds of stories should be told with care.

FWG: Given the current political climate, and how this topic has recently been controversial in the mainstream writing space, has your approach to covering these kinds of topics shifted? Especially in a time where we are trying to center BIPOC voices in all areas.

Mary: My approach to thinking about the relationship between furry fiction and allegory began shifting years ago as I started becoming aware of how pervasive racism is in the United States and how much I’d been sold a lie back in the 90s about how sexism was over.  This was particularly driven home for me by two key aspects of writing Otters In Space 3.

The first two Otters In Space books were already published when I was writing the third, establishing certain facts as canon.  For instance, Emily the octopus chef on the otter spaceship talks in the first book about how octopuses die after laying their eggs — except her, making her an outcast.  In the third book, I wanted the characters to visit a big octopus city under the ocean, and I realized I was deeply uncomfortable with the idea of actually depicting the society implied by Emily’s speech. 

When I’d written the first book, I’d been fascinated by the real world fact that octopi die after laying their eggs, and I hadn’t been thinking about how I was essentially — in video game terms — making octopus women a largely unplayable race.  That made me really uneasy, so I needed a way to retcon what I’d already written.  I ended up settling on making Emily from a backwards cult, and so when Kipper (the tabby cat main character) gets to the octopus city, she’s surprised to discover octopi are generally fine after laying their eggs. 

When she expresses her surprise, the octopus woman guiding them through the city acknowledges that, yes, sadly there are still religious cults who expect women to die after laying eggs and thus enforce those expectations.  Similarly, Kipper discovers that there’s a lot about the world above sea level that she didn’t know, because the dogs printing the history books have a very particular, religiously skewed world view.  This is partly a retcon, but it partly simply reflects my experience of life.  I grew up thinking that sexism and racism were over, but as I experienced more of the world, I learned that what I’d been told was wrong.

The second key aspect of writing Otters In Space 3 that stopped me in my tracks was that I had outlined a plot arc for one of the cat characters that involved her driving around aimlessly to get her kittens to fall asleep, being pulled over by a police dog for no reason other than prejudice, and being wrongly arrested.  Between the time I outlined this plot arc and actually got to writing it… 

Look, I don’t know if it would be considered libelous under our complicated legal system to say that Sandra Bland was murdered by police, so…  I’ll just say that she was arrested in a way that was very similar to what I’d outlined.  And it hit me really hard that when you’re writing furry fiction, you will end up writing allegory, whether you plan to, intend to, or want to.  It’ll be there.  People will look at the animals in your stories, and they’ll see people.  The furry worlds that you create may or may not reflect your subconscious beliefs about race, gender identity, and sexual orientation, but it will look like they do. 

So be conscious about your choices.  Be aware of how your words will sound when seen through an allegorical light, because you can’t fully escape that light.  Stories about animals are, at their heart, stories about people, because they’re written and read by people.

FWG: When tackling difficult subjects like this, how important do you find sensitivity readers to be for your work, and how do you get them to check out your novels before publishing?

Mary: I haven’t actually used any sensitivity readers, but I’ve found it essential to seek out and read works — books, blog posts, tweet threads, etc. — by people who have lived experiences that I don’t.  There is absolutely no substitute for listening to other people and believing them about their own lives.

FWG: Any last words for our readers?

Mary:  Find the points of brightness in the world and hold on to them.  For me, that’s furry fiction — writing it, reading it, and right now, re-watching BoJack Horseman.  And if you can find the strength to make more points of brightness — believe that they mean something to someone else out there, even if you can’t see it.  Because we need more light.

We would like to thank Mary for sitting down to talk with us. Be sure to check out the e-zine she runs called Zooscape and to follow her on Twitter. We hope you found this interview informative and entertaining. Until next time, may your words flow like water.

July 2020 Newsletter (Three Big Announcements!)

Hello there FWG members, it’s time for another monthly newsletter! Is it surprising that we have a lot to talk about once again? Let’s just get right down to business.

We want to be able to do more to promote our members in the guild. To make this happen, we have three new projects we intend to tackle with your help.

First, we intend to update our suggested reading page. There were links to a lot of older articles and the like on there, but a lot of those things while solid resources aren’t regularly updated. So we will be taking works submitted by our membership to feature on our list!

If you would like your work featured you will need to fill out this form. We intend to attempt to populate the list by looking at furry publisher’s websites but if you don’t fill out the form, we can’t guarantee we’ll catch your work. Help us help promote you! We’ll only be listing works including current FWG members as a perk for your continued membership and support.

Second, we wish to use our social media platforms to help promote people further. It is impossible to catch every new release, book giveaway, and other promotional things to help our members get spotlights. Our staff simply doesn’t have that much time to dig through Twitter (our social media manager is already doing the work for two other officer positions).

So we will be introducing the FWG Promotion Tip Line as a new service offered to members of the guild! All you have to do is fill out this two question form to get featured on our social media. This is the place to tell us if you have new books released (self published or not), give us links to posts to stories on places like SoFurry or FurAffinity, or generally anything else furry lit related the guild can promote. We’ll be keeping this link up on our front page so it’s easy to find. This is another service only open to current FWG members as a perk for your continued support and membership.

We also want to make it clear that NSFW material is okay to submit to us for promotion. We always tag any links to NSFW works on our social media so that users can avoid them if they wish. NSFW furry lit is STILL furry lit. We will not exclude adult focused writers.

Third, we’ve been discussing this idea and there seems to be interest from some of our membership as well as furry publishers. We want to host an online convention with a focus on furry literature. We know how hard it has been hurting authors to lose convention sales so we want to help make that slightly better. We don’t have a lot of details to offer yet as this is a larger project to figure out, but we intend to try and host this during Furry Book Month in October. We hope to feature panels, readings from authors, an online dealers den, and potentially a writing contest among other fun things.

If you have interest in volunteering to help with this please contact a guild officer so we can speak with you. We will most certainly need help with potentially streaming panels, so if you have a solid PC setup and time to help we really would like to hear from you. We’ll likely have calls for panels, the dealer’s den, and other things as we get closer to the date. Publishers, expect us to reach out to you soon.

Our final piece of guild business is to mention we still have two potential officer positions to fill: Social Media Manager and Cóyotl Awards Chair. If you would be interested in volunteering please message our guild president Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps.

With guild business out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff! We featured two interviews with FWG members this month. We discussed multimedia fiction with Thurston Howl and discussed writing adult furry works with recent Cóyotl Award winner Gre7g Luterman. Be sure to check these out as they offer fantastic insights to help with your own writing!

We’d love to take this opportunity to mention we would love to feature more interviews like his, as well as potential guest posts on writing tops for our blog. Please contact a guild officer if you would be interested.

We saw a few new releases cross our path this month you might want to check out including:

We also hunted down two books currently up for pre-order from furry publishers! 

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!

Part of our website update was making our Furry Writers’ Market better than ever before! You can find all of open markets for furry writing we can track down here: https://furrywritersguild.com/furry-writers-market/

Currently, these markets are open:

Consider checking out our page for details and writing up a story for one of these awesome anthologies!

We have a few more things to mention, we’d like to welcome our newest members G.C. Stargazer, Ezen Baklattan, and Roci Stone! We also wanted to say we had a massive several person tie for who beta read the most stories this month on Discord. Keep the competition, and those stories to look at coming.

We’d also like to congratulate Sparf, T. Kingfisher, Gre7g Luterman, and Tim Susman on their recent Cóyotl Awards win! If you’re reading this, we’re working on figuring out a safe way to get awards shipped out to you. We’ll get a hold of you soon to get those shipping details.

I know life has been hitting us hard lately, so I want to remind you all just how much of an achievement it is to have kept going. Whether you’ve been writing thousands of words or only a few, any progress is still progress. It’s not easy keeping creative right now, so allow yourself whatever time you can to relax, especially with a good book if you can. Keep safe and well everyone, let’s do our best to get through August too.

FWG President Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps


Interview: Gre7g Luterman on Writing Erotica

Welcome to another interview with a member of the Furry Writers’ Guild! Before we get started we’re obviously discussing things that are NSFW today as we discuss erotica writing so readers be advised.

At the Furry Writers’ Guild, we’re not afraid of adult writing. Erotica can sell well anywhere, especially within the fandom, with some of our biggest anthologies produced every year being erotic in nature. However, not everyone is experienced in writing such spicy stories and might not know where to start or if they should at all.

While writing adult stories isn’t for everyone, we have some wonderful insights from those who may want to try from FWG member Gre7g Luterman. Gre7g recently won a 2019 Cóyotl Award for “Fair Trade” which is a safe for work novel set in the Hayven Celestia Universe. Today however, we sat down with Gre7g to discuss writing his debut erotic novel “Long Way Home” to discuss his adventures in the adult writing space.

Enough introductions, let’s get to the interview!


FWG: Let’s start at the beginning, tell the guild a little about yourself in case readers don’t know you.

Gre7g: All right. My name is Gre7g Luterman. I started writing in the late 70s. For a little while in the 90’s I was known for running a website called “The Temple of Luna” (I was huge into werewolves back then!) and then I made a chat site called “Wolfhome” which was popular in the early 2000s. Back in the 90’s, I wrote a novella that was moderately popular called “Ley Lines” and I wrote my first novel, “Monstrous Motives”. It was awful. I ran a couple writing contests out of the Temple.

Then in the mid-2000s, I wrote a serial novel called “Brick and Mortar” for the World of Warcraft fandom. In ’09, I moved to Alabama and wrote a trilogy of books based on Rick Griffin’s short story, “Ten Thousand Miles Up”.

The trilogy was really well received in the fandom and just recently, the third book in the trilogy, “Fair Trade”, was the first story to win all three of the fandom’s awards, the Ursa Major, the Coyotl, and the Leo Literary Award. I also wrote a SciFi murder mystery and an erotica in the same universe, and I helped Rick edit an anthology of short stories from various authors in the same universe.

FWG: Long Way Home was your first erotic novel correct? What inspired you to take the leap into writing erotic fiction when your previous works were all safe for work?

Gre7g: Well, I have written some erotic short stories previously. “Long Way Home” was just the first novel-length story.

So, anyhow, a couple years ago, my wife and I went out drinking in Chattanooga. I got very drunk and—those who have seen me drink at cons can verify—I’m a really loud drunk. So there I am, in this restaurant, boohoo-ing at the top of my lungs about how much effort I put into my stories, but no one ever gives them a chance because they’re not porn.

And Ky—who is eternally unphased by anything—just says, “So, write a porno.”

Then I spent like the next hour shouting about, “Okay, I will!” But I really didn’t want to do one of the “You’re not the usual pizza delivery guy!” Pornos that are so common in the fandom. I wanted the story to come first, to write a real adventure… that just happens to have a lot of graphic sex in it.

FWG: We’ve all heard “sex sells”. It’s a common message especially across the furry fandom that you ‘need’ to write erotica to get noticed. Seeing as how this was partially your motivation to write the novel be honest, has it sold better than your other books?

Gre7g: Yup. It has proven to be my best-seller. Not a real shocker, but a confirmation. But even before I wrote it, I had always told people that my evil plan to get a readership was to write a bunch of non-porn stories that I was super proud of, and THEN to write an erotica.

My thinking was that readers would be all, “Ooh, furry porn!” pick it up, love it, and then say, “What else has he written?” and then without even realizing that the others weren’t porn, they’d scoop them up and I’d sucker them into reading something more substantial.

FWG: In general has that been an effective strategy you might suggest to other authors who normally might not want to write erotic fiction?

Gre7g: It’s still a little early to say if that plan has worked out. Like I said, “Long Way Home” continues to be my best seller. But it can’t hurt, right?

What I do feel confident in saying is that there’s an old adage that everyone has a million bad words in them. Until you get those out of the way, you can’t get to all the good words to follow. So keep writing no matter what. Even if everyone hates the stories you’re writing now, it may just be that you’re still working through the bad words to get to the good ones.

FWG: So onto marketing the book itself, you’ve said Long Way Home is “too hot for amazon”. Is this just a marketing ploy or is there a story behind this? In general, what changes in marketing do you have to make when promoting Long Way Home instead of your other works?

Gre7g: Well, so there’s a funny thing about illustrations in erotic novels—they all tend to show what happens RIGHT BEFORE you get to the good stuff. You might see a furry undressing, or a butt, maybe the back of a boob, but certainly not the main event. Though, if you look at what gets posted on Twitter feeds and popular furry sites, it’s obvious what the fans really want to see.

So, when it came time for the illustrations, I asked Ky for the good stuff, the best moment of each erotic scene. Well, long story short, it turns out there’s a reason why erotica is illustrated the way it is. The text can be incredibly graphic, but as soon as the illustrations are too dirty, Amazon won’t sell it.

They, actually, sounded quite pissed in their e-mails. They locked my account, made me promise to never do it again, threatened to watch anything else I submitted to them with ADDITIONAL SCRUTINY.

Anyhow, I definitely didn’t want to waste all of Ky’s amazing artwork, so I decided not to change the art, not to add censor bars or anything, to have the books printed privately, and sell them through my website (https://gre7g.com/). True, I’m now missing out on Amazon’s amazing reach and how they cross-promote books, but oh well, the book remains intact and available for people to buy.

FWG: Independently selling your books isn’t a new thing for you by any means. Before the pandemic, you used to attend a lot of southeastern conventions. With so many publishers and distributors at those conventions, why did you choose to sell at your own booth? Are there advantages to doing so authors should be aware of?

Gre7g: Well, what I’ve found is that it’s nightmarishly hard to break into writing! It seems like there’s only a handful of authors with name recognition whose books will sell whether people have heard good things about them or not. The rest of us are left to squabble over the few readers who are willing to try an unknown. And INSIDE the fandom, instead of a handful of authors, it’s more like two.

If a book says “Ursula Vernon” or “Kyell Gold” on the cover for example, then it’s sure to sell great, but for anyone else, the book has to be actively promoted before it will sell.

Like you said, there’s a lot of publishers and book distributors going to cons that you can sell your books through, but if a dealer’s got books from two dozen different authors, how much is he going to promote yours? Will he even have read it?

Besides, conventions are one of the few times I EVER get to talk to readers and other aspiring authors. I love giving talks on the craft and blathering on to anyone who stops by my table. And I love getting feedback from fans. I want to know what worked and what didn’t so I can make my next story perfect.

Sadly, you don’t get a lot of feedback as a published author. Readers are moderately quick to leave comments on stories posted online, but as soon as it’s a printed book or an e-book, a lot more people read them than actually tell you what they thought!

FWG: So this is a way to get some reviews in a specific way, things like if your cover design is doing well, your sales pitch is solid, things like that?

Gre7g: No, it’s not anything quite so formal. The biggest thing about writing is finding a way to keep motivated. Writing a novel is a little like being a radio DJ. You’re out there, giving it your best shot, but your audience is way far away. You can’t hear them laugh, no matter how hilarious a joke you tell.

Same thing. I can write a book that brings the audience to tears, brings them to their feet and they cheer, but will I hear it? No. So, I’m just sitting there in my basement, typing away. I get a royalty check from Amazon every month, but does anyone actually like the stories? Why am I even doing this?

But you go to a con and there’s one single fan who runs up to the table all tongue-tied that wants to tell me about how much they love the story, and NOW I want to run home and write more. Yeah, sure, sometimes people will put that love out in an Amazon review, but it’s not even nearly the same as talking to someone in person. That recharges your batteries and makes you want to do it again.

FWG: You recently started a Patreon, how has that been going? Has it had a similar effect of allowing you to connect more directly with fans?

Gre7g: Yes! I love Patreon! You can find me at https://www.patreon.com/gre7g and I get that same feedback high there in spades! Initially, I was afraid to try it because I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I owed the subscribers stuff, but now that I’ve taken the plunge, instead of waiting to finish an entire novel, got it edited, illustrated, and published, I can just dash together a crazy idea for a scene and toss it up.

It can even be in a totally different universe or something strictly NON-canon, and that’s okay. I’m not breaking a rule of our universe because it’s just for fun and not published. Sometimes the readers love it and sometimes they don’t, but I get that feedback right away. I even let them suggest things that they’d like to see happen and I write that.

Oh sure, now I’m writing on a dozen different storylines and it could be ages before one turns into a completed book, but I’m having fun and I think my Patrons are too.

FWG: Especially as we’re discussing erotica a bit today, are you worried about how Patreon has been locking certain accounts of adult content posted not only on Patreon, but on other websites?

Gre7g: Yeah, that is frustrating! It doesn’t directly impact me since there’s often ways around it. If I, for example, write an erotic scene that I want to share with my readers, I can still make a Patreon post and include a link to my own website where I can host whatever I like. Then Patreon is still faultless and I’m taking responsibility for my own content.

But I’m not just a producer. I’m a consumer too. I love seeing things that creative make, regardless of whether it is G rated or X. I don’t want to see some politician or some investor impose an agenda that dries up the content I would have otherwise enjoyed.

FWG: So for our readers, especially as many are authors themselves, do you have any tips for any that want to try writing something on the erotic side for the first time? Anything to offer from your own experiences trying this as something newer?

Gre7g: Well, I suppose my advice would be to find an avenue where you can get that instant feedback, like I have on Patreon or that other authors are getting by posting their stuff on AO3, SoFurry, or the like. Whenever you’re going to try something new, get that feedback nice and early. Don’t worry about hiding it away so that people will have to buy it when it’s ready.

The worst thing that could happen is that you invest the zillion hours to write a whole novel and then for it to not sell because you’ve gone off in a direction that the readers aren’t into.

That was always a huge fear of mine when I first started writing, that someone would steal my story, or that they wouldn’t buy it because they’ve already read it for free on the internet. But money isn’t the end-all-be-all and there’s always more readers out there. Your priority as a writer is to keep that motivation going so that you enjoy creating and so that you keep creating.

FWG: That about wraps up the general discussion, do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell folks about? Anything in general you want to promote?

Gre7g: I don’t actually know what my next book will be at this point! I’ve got about a third of a murder mystery written and a chunk of a new Kanti book and various chapters of other stories.

I’m excited about all of them and I love how readers seem excited but I’m still kinda poking at each to see which will catch fire. You know that wonderful sensation when a book catches fire and you can’t wait to finish work each day so you can spend a few hours giving it some love?

None of them are quite there just yet, but when one does, I’ll be on it. For those that want to keep an eye on my progress, Patreon is 100% the best way to do it. Not only can you see what I’m messing with for a measly $1/month, but you can suggest and give me feedback on what you think too. I love talking about it and anything that helps me connect to the readers (or other authors) is great.

We want to thank Gre7g once again for sitting down to talk with us. You can find him on Twitter and his works on his website. We hope this interview helped provide some insights on writing and marketing your erotic works. Until next time, may your words flow like water.

Interview: Thurston Howl on Multimedia Fiction and Sensory De-Tails

Welcome to another interview with a member of the Furry Writers’ Guild! Recently, Bound Tales released an anthology called Sensory De-Tails. Before we go any further this is an adult anthology that is most certainly NSFW that we will be discussing today. However, it’s not simply the adult nature that makes this anthology one worth exploring.

Bound Tales offers a deluxe edition of the anthology which includes things like cologne samples, faux fur, and a music CD. The idea is to allow readers to interact with the stories presented in the anthology. Today we’ll be talking to the editor of Sensory De-Tails, Thurston Howl, to discuss multimedia fiction ad how the anthology came to be. He has edited works like The Electric Sewer, Infurno, and more. He’s also made several anthology appearances including some in ROAR, FANG, and HEAT.

Enough with the introductions, let’s get to the interview!

First for the folks that might not know you, tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing.

Howl: Sure! So, I’m Thurston Howl. I’m an editor for Sinister Stoat Publications and the lead anthology editor for Thurston Howl Publications. I founded the Furry Book Review program and have received both Leo Literary Awards and Ursa Major Awards for my writing. I typically work in erotic horror, both inside and outside the fandom. I’ve been a judge for the Silver Falchion Award and the Claymore Award, both horror awards in the Killer Nashville program. Personally, I am a bigender person living with HIV and work with a lot of activism regarding that.

FWG: What inspired you to make an anthology like Sensory DeTails?

Howl: So, before Sensory De-Tails, I’d edited a lot of furry anthologies. What bothered me very often, even with big-name furry writers, was that canines couldn’t hear someone turning the corner up ahead. A feline couldn’t smell musk until they were right up against a body. A snake didn’t have any taste buds different from the canine or feline. And for me, it wasn’t a matter of “accurate” biological representation. It was about untapped potential.

In non-furry erotica, sensory details are great for immersion in sex scenes. In furry erotica, usually not much had changed despite heightened senses. So, I started the anthology as an exercise for furry writers and readers. Show off furry senses in unique and erotic ways.

FWG: So when was it that you came up with the idea to add an interactive element to the anthology? Where did the idea come from?

Howl: Well, it’s not the first time I’ve gone for something interactive. 12 Days of Yiffmas had an erotic holiday music album to accompany it, for example. The stories in Sensory De-Tails begged for an interactive component. When Al Song describes how erotic a classical piece of music is, you kind of have to hear it to believe it. When Linnea describes why you’d want to rim a beaver, well, we need to taste that, too. It just seemed totally natural to do.

FWG: Since you obviously have a well storied writing career, pun somewhat intended, you’ve edited quite a few anthologies over the years. From what you have seen, have multimedia anthologies, or multimedia fiction in general, gotten more interest from audiences? Sold more? Generated more interest?

Howl: It’s a hard question to answer. About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about how anthologies generally don’t do well. Period. Talking with other publishers, that seems to be the standard (though each of our definitions of “well” might vary). I can’t say that multimedia anthologies have done any better sales-wise. But when they are read and reviewed, people always comment on how enjoyable those components are and how they really make the reading a full experience.

FWG: So in general, the audience benefits, and that gets more people possibly interested in furry lit?

Howl: Perhaps. I don’t think I went about the anthology explicitly trying to get more people interested in furry lit. But I think that’s part of the drive for producing anthologies in general.

FWG: Let’s take a look then at how making a multimedia anthology works then. Other than picking the stories, formatting, and things seen in typical anthologies, what kinds of challenges were there in getting the deluxe edition out there?

Howl: For scents, I worked with Shoji Tiger. They work with making colognes already as a small hobby business. I had them read the stories, and they crafted scents based on the way that smell appears in those stories. One was easy, a very sweet smell. The other was a bit tougher, “muskier.” That one took a lot of trial and error.

For sounds, I just had to make a CD featuring classical songs related to the stories. Not as bad.

For sight, an artist read the stories and focused on the ways colors mattered in them, making colored art prints based on them.

For touch, I went to a hobby store to pick up textured fabrics, faux furs, and leathers in order to match the featured species of those stories. A bit tough to get it just right, but I think it’s at a good point now.

For taste, I actually had a barista turn flavor profiles from those stories into latte recipes! They taste great.

FWG: So if another editor, publisher, maybe even a self publisher, wanted to add interactive elements to their book, what suggestions might you have for them?

Howl: For starters, I’d say only do it if you want to for non-financial reasons. I’ve seen too often people pay for exquisite art, bookmarks, posters, etc. for their book, and it sell under ten copies, and they’ve been devastated. If you want to do interactive stuff, do it because it’s just fun for you. And because you want those ten people to have a good time.

FWG: Do you think there’s any smaller ways individual authors might be able to make their own stories interactive? Like a playlist to go with their story or something similar?

Howl: For sure! Playlists are one easy way (we did that with Electric Sewer). Little recipes, too. If your story has a world-building element, throw in a “Which Nation Would You Be From?” quiz. If you ship your own works, add little things like stickers, textures, Valentine’s Day cards from the characters, etc. There are so many options, and they largely depend on what kind of story you’re telling. But by all means, go for it. A little goes a long way!

FWG: Before we wrap up on things, any last bits of general advice to writers, editors, and publishers out there?

Howl: Be safe. Be well. Keep fighting against oppression. Keep being creative.

We hope you enjoyed our interview with Thurston Howl and learned a bit about multimedia fiction in the process! In lieu of our usual social media promotion for those interviewed, Thurston requested that we ask readers to check out Difursity.  It’s an anthology that features stories written only by furries of color, many of which are FWG members. That’s all we have for you today so until next time, may your words flow like water.

2019 Cóyotl Awards Ceremony LIVE Tonight!

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for, the winners of the 2019 Cóyotl Awards will be announced TONIGHT via Periscope on our Twitter account! It will be hosted by guild president and Cóyotl Awards chair Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps alongside a miniature fuzzy co-host in fur suit. In case you have forgotten, here are the works up for the awards this year:

Best Short Story:

“Dirty Rats” by Jan Seigal (The Jackal Who Came In From The Cold)

“Night’s Dawn” by Jaden Drakus (FANG 10)

“Pack” by Sparf (Patterns in Frost: Stories from New Tibet)

Best Novella:

“Minor Mage” by T. Kingfisher

“Love Me To Death” by Frances Pauli

Best Novel:

“Titles” by Kyell Gold

“Symphony of Shifting Tides” by Leilani Wilson

“Fair Trade” by Gre7g Luterman

“Nexus Nine” by Mary E. Lowd

“The Student – Volume Three” by Joe H. Sherman

Best Anthology:

“Patterns in Frost: Stories from New Tibet” edited by Tim Susman

“Fang 9” edited by Ashe Valisca

“Fang 10” Edited by Kyell Gold & Sparf

So don’t forget to tune in tonight and see the winners. We wish all these writers and editors the best of luck and we hope to see you all there!

FWG Monthly Newsletter: June 2020

Hello there FWG members, it’s time for another monthly newsletter! We’ve got a good bit of news for you this month, so let’s hop right into it!

First we’ll be streaming the Cóyotl Awards Ceremony on July 8th at 8 PM CST! We know you’ve all been waiting, but we’ve finally managed to get all of our things together for our trophies and managed to get safe shipping set up. We’ll be streaming live from our Twitter account via Periscope, so keep an eye out there for the stream. 

Second, we would like to give a warm welcome to our newest guild officer: Moonraiser! They will be taking over as Markets Manager. If you know of a furry market that should be listed in our Furry Writers’ Market contact them and we’ll get it added.

Don’t forget we have a wonderful beta reading program taking place on our Discord. This month @KILL!Roy beta read the most stories! We had 15+ reads officially documented through the program this month and we hope next month we can have even more.

Last month was Pride Month so we featured several FWG members all across the LGBT+ community. We encourage you to check these out to not only learn more about your fellow guild members, but to learn a bit about how various identities can affect writing.

We would like to remind everyone once more about our Microfiction Monday initiative. Any writer, non-members included, that can write a Tweet sized story has the opportunity to have it featured on our Twitter! You can learn more about the program and how to submit here. We almost ran out of submissions this month, so any stories that get sent in will almost certainly be featured! Take this opportunity to try a writing challenge and get a shoutout.

Last month we accidentally missed a few titles that was released and wanted to fix that! Anyone publishers or writers, with books going out should email us at furwritersguild@gmail.com with any books that are coming out to help us not miss any titles. This includes any self published work! With this in mind, the books we missed include:

We also have some other new releases from this month! Be sure to check these out:

Part of our website update was making our Furry Writers’ Market better than ever before! You can find all of open markets for furry writing we can track down here: https://furrywritersguild.com/furry-writers-market/

Currently, these anthology markets are open:

Consider checking out our page for details and writing up a story for one of these awesome anthologies!

One last thing before I sign off for the month. We said it on Twitter but I’ll say it here once more: Black Lives Matter. The Furry Writers’ Guild stands in support of all of our Black members as well as any other members of marginalized groups within our ranks. We always want our members to feel safe and to do our best to uplift their voices. If there’s anything the guild could be doing better in this regard, please get in contact with me right away: it’s a top priority. Until next month, may your words flow like water.

– FWG President Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps

FWG Pride Month Spotlight: Herr Wozzeck

Welcome to our final FWG spotlight for Pride Month! We’ve featured a lot of awesome guild members this month, and we’re certain this last interview won’t disappoint. Today we’ll sharing our interview with Herr Wozzeck who’s pronouns are he/him. Enough with our introductions however, let’s let him introduce himself!


FWG: Tell the guild and our readers a bit about yourself.

Herr: So my name is Herr Wozzeck, and despite the fact that I have a German pen name I’m actually fully-blooded Cuban, born in Miami and now trying to spice it up in Boston. I got my start in writing and snarking fanfiction, before I found furry through the Furry Basketball Association, and I eventually made the shift from fanfiction over to here. I’m also a musician and composer: I play with Trio Menagerie, write opera criticism on the side, and hope to add to the operatic repertory at some point (quite possibly with some furry-inflected opera, if things go my way!) And that, is in addition to my fictional writing!

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

Herr: Oof, isn’t that the question of the century? I find myself coming back to my Agundio Atti-Morales stories that I wrote while still with the FBA: there are definitely things I would change about them, but I feel like it was the first time I actually found comfort in my own literary voice, in a strange way.

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Herr: I feel like most great stories really have to start with having good characters: as I’ve said sometimes in the past, you can get away with a surprising amount of implausibility if your story is populated with characters people are interested in, whether they’re repulsed or they relate to them.

FWG: You’re new to the guild right? How has your time with us been so far?

Herr: It’s insane, actually, and it’s provided some validation that I never knew I needed. As a self-taught writer (and someone who used to do fanfic snarks), the impostor syndrome can get very strong. The fact I’m in the guild at all just motivates me to go further than I have before, and it’s awesome to chat with a bunch of like-minded authors and feel like you’re good enough to be part of the big boys, y’know? I mean, Christ’s sake, Kyell Gold is right there!

FWG: What does Pride mean to you?

Herr: Honestly, a part of me is still figuring that out, considering how late in my life I’ve blossomed on this front, but at this moment in time Pride is very much a time of year where I find I can celebrate my gayness just a little more than usual, and for me it includes celebrating how I view my sexuality in more than just the “I like guys” sense. But it’s also a time where I think we need to look back and remember those that paved the way for the rest of us to feel comfortable in our own skins. And it’s also a month to galvanize, because for as much progress as we’ve made, we still have a long way to go!

FWG: You’re not only gay but also a part of the pup and leather communities, right? What is it that you enjoy about these communities?

Herr: Both helped me grow to accept myself in my sexual liberation. However, there are other things that I enjoy about them.

So first, I think I’ll go ahead and use the term “pet play” to refer to “puppy play” throughout the rest: in addition to puppies, some people also will do similar things with cats and even horses, and as my titleholder friend would say we don’t want to exclude anyone! But me, pet play is very much a way to step back and not worry so much about the complexities of the world. Whenever I get one of my pup hoods on (yes, I have two), there’s just something about the way you physically perceive the world that shifts how you interact with it: all sound is muffled inside those things, and you have to speak extra loud to be heard, and something about that forces me to take things more instinctively, more gesturally, to just go with the flow a little more. There’s something about that which is incredibly freeing, and it can induce your stress to melt like nobody’s business. (Note that this does not speak for everybody’s experience: you don’t need gear to be into pet play. This only reflects my experience.)

As for leather, my interest in leather is due to something deeper, far less primal. Men in leather exist in a strange oxymoron: they project a rugged, strong, sometimes violent image of masculinity, but perhaps because of the violence inherent in some of the fetishes related to leather they’re also often the most tender, understanding men on the planet. The best people in the leather community exude a masculinity that portrays caring, nurturing behaviors as a kind of strength, and it’s kept my interest alive because it has helped me rethink what masculinity should be.

FWG: There are leather and pup pride flags out there. What place do you think these kinks and communities have within the LGBT+ community at large? Are these things a part of your gay identity or just another facet of yourself as a gay person?

Herr: I think leather and pet play stand as facets of myself as a gay man, but it is an important facet to celebrate during Pride. One thing that I think is lost in the corporatization of Pride is that, in its origins, Pride never shied away from more open expressions of sexuality beyond the standard “I like the same sex” or “I am not the gender I was assigned at birth”: some would call this a reason people didn’t take us seriously, but considering how part of my journey was breaking past my own sexual repression I say it is an absolutely necessary part of Pride. Leather and pup pride flags are an extension of this, and in my eyes it is an extension worth celebrating.

At the same time, as well, it’s important not to claim leather and pet play as exclusively part of my gay identity: to do so would be to discount women in both, as well as to discount the experiences of my trans brothers and sisters in both communities. Leather and pet play communities have a very predominant gay male lean, but as my titleholder friend would put it, both are for everyone within the LGBTQ+ community, and it should be celebrated as such.

FWG: Was there a bit of a journey or story to you uncovering your identity? If so, would you be comfortable sharing with us? (If not it’s totally understandable!)

Herr: I actually already shared part of my journey in a semi-fictionalized form on my FurAffinity account, so sure, let’s fill in some blanks!

So growing up Cuban Catholic, I found myself having a lot of negative reinforcement thrown my way about the gayness from two angles: the angle of Catholicism, and the angle of how the family used to perceive it.

The first thing: something a lot of people don’t really get about Hispanic cultures is that Catholicism reigns very supreme in all of them, and in my particular case it should say something about how strong a vein it runs in the culture that even Fidel Castro couldn’t kill Cuban Catholicism despite his best efforts. Because of that, I was born into an environment where any kind of sexual expression outside of the norm is frowned upon and considered universally dirty and unsafe, even when it’s heterosexual sexual expression.

Within my family, the first exposure to queer cultures mostly came from the disapproving whispers and eye rolls, including those told to my face: I remember one time when my family and I went to see the touring production of The Producers when it came to Miami that mom pointed out the two men in the row in front of me and pointing them out being like “look at that”. Incidents like that peppered in there over a long period of time, and there was one particular incident when I was 16 that sticks in my mind forever.

These things really set me up for a rocky start for my journey: I was one of those “bi now, gay later” kids in my journey, and in hindsight a big part of the “bi now” was a side effect of the repression that comes with most Catholic upbringings. And that sexual repression was reflected in a lot of what I wrote: I won’t shy away from it, my fanfiction prior to when I finally grew comfortable with my sexuality broached some very messed up territory sexually, and while some of that can be chalked up to ‘dark and edgy’ I also think it was a symptom of how I looked at sex as being inherently bad since I kind of didn’t like my own relationship to sex and my sexuality.

It took until I was 23 and living in Cleveland, just after I’d first encountered the furries and met the man I eventually lost my virginity to. I won’t disclose his name here, but he was a rather older gentleman who was extraordinarily good to me. What I remember most about him, however, was the last time we met: when we were cuddling on my bed, he began talking about his love life. And when he did, part of me got the sense that a reason the relationship he was talking about failed was because he was very deeply entrenched in the closet in some ways: even today, I have no doubt he has never mentioned his trysts with men to anyone else in his life. And I remember asking myself ‘do I want to be like that the rest of my life’; that was the moment I sort of came to terms with myself, and resolved to come out of the closet. It ended up happening in Thanksgiving to my parents (technically before I was ready, but dad popped a question about it and the rest was history), and ever since I’ve started to learn how to be confident in myself as a gay man.

And that has been a slow process, but being part of furry fandom has definitely helped me learn how to express myself considering it is a space that doesn’t simply crush the conversation about sexuality the way Catholicism does. It helped really break me out of the sexually repressive mindset I was born into. What remained of my self-repression finally melted away after I encountered the Boston leather community when I did: I moved back in February of 2018, and encountered the bar party Fascination run by Michael Flowers, back when it was still in the basement of Jacques’ Cabaret. I’d never really had a group of in-person gay friends before, and the leather community provided exactly that. And then through that I met a puppy, got introduced to that circle, and the rest is history!

It hasn’t always been super easy afterwards, though: my family, while ultimately well-meaning, still kind of doesn’t completely get everything about how it is to be gay in that environment. I will also say, there is one thing that happened behind the scenes in November that really rattled me to my core and threatened to reverse all the fandom did to help me grow in that regard.

But on both of those things, there are also aspects that keep me going. I will say my family is a damned sight better about the gay thing now than they were in my teenage years! Part of it is that I’m not the only one in the family to fit under the queer spectrum (one of my cousins is a lesbian), but physical distance also doesn’t hurt that either. And as for the fandom, well, my support system in the fandom and the leather community has been so supportive that it overrode that incident significantly.

So now, I’m much more confident about my sexuality, and am proud to call myself a gay Latino furry. Still, as the old song goes, “don’t tell momma what you saw”…

FWG: How do you think being gay has inspired your stories?

Herr: A lot of times, I think of storytelling as being very therapeutic for me: Agundio Atti-Morales came when I was figuring out my relationship to God, family, and sexuality, my Colton and Darren stories are expressions of my joys and fears surrounding sexuality, Whip and Boot was very much a celebration of what I love about the leather community and what it did for my own identity…

…When you put it that way, I think it’s inspired quite a bit of my storytelling, really! And not in the least because of what protagonists I commonly write these days!

FWG: Do any of your stories feature leather or pup play?

Herr: My novel Whip and Boot is all about leather, and does include some of the kink involved with it! I haven’t written any fiction featuring pup play yet, and right now I don’t really have anything in the cards for that. I do have a chap book of poetry on the backburner about my friends in the Boston pet play scene, but I think I need to edit that a little more and try to add a couple more poems to it before I’m comfortable releasing it to the world. 

FWG: Do you feel like the issues that affect the outside world involving your identity affect your writing or publishing within the fandom or not?

Herr: My Agundio Atti-Morales stories were my therapy involving my identity as a gay Latino with a complicated relationship with his Catholicism, actually: the character and his family were conceived around the time I left Cleveland, and he ended up being the way I sorted out a lot of my feelings on sexuality, religion, and family. Outside of my sexuality, too, I have felt my writing affected by politics related to being a second-generation immigrant. One of my other FBA characters touched on this aspect of myself in the wake of Donald Trump’s election and what it would mean from an immigrant perspective.

FWG: Do you have favorite queer authors and has their literature affected your writing in the fandom?

Herr: I’m going to go with two answers, because I actually have very different answers to this.

For queer writers in general, I would say I’ve always loved the poetry of Federico García Lorca, because how do you have that kind of relationship with Salvador Dali and not find yourself on the queer spectrum somehow? His use of poetic image has been a pretty big influence on my poetry, but I haven’t graced the fandom with that yet so I can’t say it influenced my writing within it. My puppy chapbook idea that might fix that, though…

For queer writers specifically in the fandom, I have to go with Kyell Gold. It may sound like a standard answer, but he’s one of the most venerated furry authors working now for a reason! While I can’t say it’s affected my fiction in the fandom, I will say that one of my current backburner projects is an operatic adaptation of his novel Green Fairy, and it is one that I am hopeful I will have in a state to be workshopped by the end of the year!

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

Herr: This is going to stray so far away from queer writing that some folks will probably balk at it, but I would highly, highly recommend anyone interested in writing to pick up the Lexicon of Musical Invective, by Nicholas Slonimsky. It’s a collection of reviews of all the major composers, primarily the scathing reviews: if you need a dose of reality on how harsh some critics can be even to the greats, well, it’s a great book to have on your shelf! Also, old-timey critics have a gift with words that’s just indelible to witness.

FWG: Any last words for our readers and guild members?

Herr: Just wanted to take this moment to give a quick shout-out to queer opera, which is finding a foothold in the operatic repertory as of late. With operas like As One and Fellow Travellers finding a place in the modern operatic repertory, as well as companies commissioning operas like Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain and the Stonewall opera that premiered in last year’s New York City Opera season, it’s never a bad time to start looking into the world of how queer storytelling has started to permeate one of the oldest forms of theater in the world!

We would like to once again thank Herr Wozzeck for this fantastic interview! He can be found on FurAffinity, SoFurry, and Twitter @HerrWozzeck. You can also support him and his writing and musical works on Patreon. For more on his musical pursuits follow @TrioMenagerie on Twitter, or visit their Facebook page at Trio Menagerie. His newest book Whip and Boot from Bound Tales is currently available here.

We hope you enjoyed this spotlight as well as all of our other spotlights for Pride Month! We hope to keep featuring our members in the future. If you have ideas for a member spotlight, please contact our guild president Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps. Until next time, may your words flow like water.