FWG Monthly Newsetter: May 2020

Hello there FWG members! For those of you that have been with us for a long time, you will be excited to hear that we are bringing back the monthly newsletters! For those newer to the guild, we once produced monthly newsletters to tell people about things like new open markets and guild news. We’re hoping to bring this back to give all our members information to help them thrive while writing anthropomorphic fiction!

First it’s been a very busy month for the guild. We updated our website, got a new logo, opened up a new Discord channel, updated our membership listings, and voted on new by-laws and a new code of conduct. With all of our listing updates, we are showing 114 active members! We’ll keep accepting any updates as they come in, but we’re happy so many of you got the form filled out fast.

The vote to implement our new by-laws and code of conduct passed with over a 90% majority of members, so these will now be put into place. You can now see them on our website. With this in mind, this opens up several new officer positions within the guild. If you might be interested in becoming our Public Relations Officer, Markets Manager, or potentially the Cóyotl Awards Chair, please get in contact with a guild officer so we can talk to you!

Speaking of the Cóyotl Awards, where are they? We did hold our vote for the 2019 awards and have the results tallied. Issues with the current Covid 19 pandemic have made getting our normal supplies for our special coyote trophies a bit difficult as well as makes sending them out to winners tough. We are considering a special awards stream for the winners hopefully very soon and we promise to keep you posted.

If you haven’t joined the new official FWG Discord, you’re missing out on a lot of fun. One of the new features on the Discord is our special beta reading program, so we would like to spotlight Rockie Thiger (@Thiger on Discord) for providing the most beta reads for fellow authors this month! If you’d like to learn more about this new program or simply jump into the conversation come join us on Discord.

We would also like to welcome the newest members of our guild: Rockie Thiger, David “Ryft Sarri” Yenser, Resolute, Stacy Bender / P.C. Hatter, Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, Jensyn Grayves, Metassus, and Herr Wozzeck! We are very excited to have these wonderful writers join our ranks.

In honor of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, we interviewed FWG member Allison Thai! You can find that full interview here. We’ll also be featuring some authors during Pride Month on the blog, so keep an eye out!

One last bit of guild business, we would like to remind our members 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.


Several new books have been released over the last couple of months including:

Goal Publications also has two novels available for pre-order now including:

We want to express some particular excitement for Awoo, Who’s This? Coming from Bound Tales, this special anthology features members of the Furry Writers’ Guild trying to write in the style of other members. Funds from this anthology go to help the guild so consider giving it a look!


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!


We know there’s been a lot going on lately, but we hope the guild can keep working together to keep making this an awesome space for all of our members. If you have any ideas for special programs we could work on, be sure to let us know! We have more projects around the corner that we’re very excited to show off when they are ready. Stay safe all of you wonderful furry writers!

– FWG President Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Spotlight: Allison Thai

It’s May, and in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month we wanted to feature one of our authors with Asian heritage within the Furry Writers’ Guild. We interviewed Allison Thai who has been featured in publications such as Zooscape, Infurno: The Nine Circles of Hell, and ROAR Volume 8. Without further ado, let’s get to the interview.


 

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

Allison: I am the oldest daughter of Vietnam War refugees. My first taste in animal stories came from the Redwall and Warriors series. Though my fursona is a husky, according to Vietnamese myth I’m actually a fairy-dragon hybrid. No, I didn’t make that up. The Vietnamese creation story claims that the Vietnamese people are descended from a dragon lord and a fairy queen—con rồng cháu tiên: children of the dragon, grandchildren of gods. Pretty rad, huh?

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

Allison: “In the Name of Science,” featured in Thurston Howl Publication’s Infurno anthology. It’s historical fiction set in WWII Japan, based on Unit 731 and written in the form of logs from a young ermine surgeon, who gradually becomes disillusioned and disgusted by the work she’s doing. Writing this story let me grapple with the horrifying reality that Japan had conducted covert human experiments upon other Asian groups. Giving this dark piece of our history an anthro twist doesn’t make the inhumanity of it any less.

On a lighter note, I absolutely love how THP went all out with the presentation of this hellish-themed anthology: black pages, white font, interludes to show the fates of characters who’ve committed sins. THP took a step further with my story: using cursive and courier fonts to reflect the alternation between my protagonist’s personal writings and her more objective, detached recordings of atrocities she took part in.

This was certainly no joy ride to write, and I came out disturbed by this story that I had pulled from the darkest, deepest recess of my mind. Still, I’m proud and grateful to have written it. What I hope to achieve with “In the Name of Science” is to raise awareness of an event sometimes known as the Asian Holocaust—not talked about as much as its Western counterpart—and share with the reader what scares me the most: not fictional monstrosities, but how man is capable of being the cruelest creature.

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Allison: I need to have characters who are grounded in reality, and a character arc I can resonate with and root for. Readers can suspend their disbelief and accept fantastical things like sentient spaceships, schools of wizardry, superhero societies, talking animals, etc., but if there are no believable, relatable characters, that’s when a reader like me puts down the book. The protagonist doesn’t have to be necessarily likeable, but plausibility and authenticity in the voice, personality, and drive is a must for me. I’m also a sucker for beautiful style, poetic prose, and poignant, succinct turns of phrase.

FWG: How long have you been in the guild, and what changes have you seen with regards to how writing is handled since joining?

Allison: I have been in the guild since 2016. Since then, I’ve learned a lot from being among other furry writers on how to approach worldbuilding and characterization specifically for furry stories. I appreciate that aspect of the guild and the furry writing community very much. Though I’m not entrenched in guild management, nor have I been at the helm of any anthro project, I’ve seen attempts to advocate the recognition and merit of furry literature, from the existence of things like Furry Book Review to the much-needed arrival of Zooscape, a new anthro magazine created and run by Mary E. Lowd. (I have a story there, by the way, a novelette on Arctic foxes in Iceland, and had the most fun writing it!)

As someone who has one foot in the furry writing community, and the other in the genre/SFF/speculative fiction community, I’m seeing the gap between them grow smaller and smaller as, for example, my fellow writers who normally stay behind the spec fic circle begin submitting and publishing their work in Zooscape. I look forward to a future of more overlap among the writing communities, and building enough readership and resources to get furry literature sold and published at professional paying rates.

FWG: What does your Asian Heritage mean to you?

Allison: It’s an important part of me, and will always be a part of me, but my awareness and acknowledgement of it comes and goes like a tidal wave. Sometimes, like when I go about my Americanized daily life, or I’m too occupied with studying or working, I don’t think much of it. Other times, though, thrust it from the periphery to the forefront. Those other times have been, among other things, Lunar New Year, or attending Vietnamese church with my parents, or the surge in anti-Asian sentiment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Being born and raised in Houston, I take it for granted that I had grown up in the largest Vietnamese-American population outside of California. Only when I travel outside of Texas, outside of Houston even, do I become very aware of how scarce Asians are in many other areas. I’m comfortable with my identity and wouldn’t want to trade it for anything else. While my Asian heritage is an important part of me, that’s not all there is to me.

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

Allison: COVID-19 is the prevailing issue I’m sure that’s on everyone’s minds lately! So far I haven’t written anything in response to the pandemic. I did, however, write a (non-furry) Russian plague doctor story 2 years before this COVID-19 mess came down. As someone studying to join the medical profession, this issue is close to my heart. The clinical setting, the people who work there, and the kind of work they do are familiar elements that I often return to in my stories. Given my experience of working in the ER, sometimes I wonder what an ER run by animals for animals would look like. Currently I have my sights set on writing a long-ish furry ER story this summer.

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

Allison: Ken Liu, who’s Chinese-American, and Aliette de Bodard, who’s Vietnamese-French. What I admire most about their work is the incredible range they explore. Ken Liu is a versatile writer whose prose shines in whatever genre and topic he dabbles in. In addition to stories inspired by Vietnamese and Chinese culture, Aliette de Bodard has written Aztec alternative history.

All of that gives me inspiration and courage not to pigeon-hole myself into writing only Asian stories. I know that choice to write only from your background or not is a very, intensely personal and meaningful one for POCs, and there’s no right or wrong in going about it. Again, it’s a choice. But for me? I’d find writing only what I know to be restrictive, and quite frankly, boring. I don’t want to write about Vietnam and Vietnamese characters ALL the time. I wouldn’t enjoy that. I’m a highly curious creature and fascinated by all sorts of things. Norse mythology and Russian history are among those interests. I like that writing gives me the freedom to explore lands, cultures, and stories beyond my own experience. 

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

Allison: I’d probably have to point to the book that most recently made me cry: The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra. No, it’s not furry, not even speculative fiction, but I recommend that writers should have a wide range and balance in their reading, and I recommend this book nonetheless. Lifting words from a review I had written for it a while ago: “Anthony Marra has a way with words and storytelling that frames and captures a vivid, bleak landscape of northern industrial Russia, and paints in a cast of characters whose triumphs and tragedies I resonated with as if they were my own. A myriad of relationships are explored, strengthened, and broken. Brotherhood transcends time, space, and the ruthless oppression of the Soviet Union. Romances spark, ignite, flicker, and fade.

Regardless of your preference for novels or short stories, I believe The Tsar of Love and Techno is the best of both worlds by delivering the poignant snapshots of short stories while interconnecting them to impart the satisfaction of a full-fledged novel. Characters come back in ways you don’t expect and their arcs come in full circle, all revolving around a mysterious, obscure Russian painting. This is definitely a book you’d want to revisit to connect the dots and pick up details you had missed before.”

Tell the guild where it can find you, to follow you and read your works!

I had dug out a neat little den for myself on Twitter as @ThaiSibir. As for my list of published short fiction (many of them in furry anthologies), you can find that on my website: 

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

Hold on to your love and passion for writing. When the payments and publications have great chances of not coming your way (because, let’s be real here, rejection’s the name of the writing game), what else do you have? To keep at this writing business, remember to have fun and write for yourself first. Everything else comes second.


 

You can find a list of Allison’s published short fiction on her website as well as follow her on Twitter @ThaiSibir. We hope you found this interview exciting and informative! If you have suggestions for future highlights and interviews, please contact our public relations officer here. Until next time: may your words flow like water.

FWG By-laws and Code of Conduct Official Vote

Hello again Furry Writers’ Guild members! We have allowed discussions to take place surrounding our previously suggested by-laws and code of conduct on the forums as planned and taken time after to formulate our newly suggested changes based on member feedback. With this in mind, it’s time to bring this to a vote! A link to the voting form will be included at the end of this blog post. Let’s get to it shall we?


We wish to bring to a vote an update to our by-laws. You can view our current by-laws >here. We discussed why they needed updating in our previous post. The amended by-laws being brought up for vote can be found >here. All changes are highlighted in red.

We also wish to strengthen our Code of Conduct. Our current Code of Conduct can be found >here. Based on suggestions from our members we have made the following changes:

  • Made an Unacceptable Conduct section with specific wording to protect subjects discussed in works of fiction
  • Removed specific language that looked to be policing kinks
  • Better detailed the process for filing complaints

We would like to offer a general content warning as some of these things listed in the Unacceptable Conduct section might be triggers for some within our community. >The full listing, alongside the changes we wish to make to the Code of Conduct can be found here. Changes to the Code of Conduct are highlighted in red.


We would now like to bring these amendments up for a vote! Voting will remain open for two weeks, from May 16th through May 30th. The link below will take you to the official voting form.

>FWG By-Laws And Code of Conduct Voting Form

Thank you again so much to all the FWG members that provided feedback and to everyone voting on these proposals. We’ll have an announcement on the results out to you all once the voting period is over.

Regarding Proposals And Discussion

Today, May 3rd, the FWG administration announced a series of proposed changes for which the membership was to hold a vote. It was soon made apparent that we had overlooked some significant details and that discussion and restructuring of the proposals would have to take place.

In accordance with this realization, we hereby announce a discussion period during which the finer points of the proposals may be analyzed with the care they deserve. This period will extend through May 9th, during which time all FWG members are invited to share their thoughts and concerns. A new vote will be held thereafter. Official discussion will be taking place >in this thread on our forums.

We apologize for the hasty rollout and thank you for your understanding. We look forward to hearing from you.

FWG Vote: By-Laws and Code of Conduct

Hello once again FWG Members! We know there’s been a lot of guild news going on lately, but we want to get a few big things done so we can focus on more fun projects. As mentioned in a previous announcement, while we did not need votes for our guild officers this year we will still be holding a very important vote.

First we intend to explain the changes being made. A link to a form for FWG members to vote will be included at the end of this blog post so be sure to go vote if you can!


We wish to bring to a vote an update to our by-laws. You can view our current by-laws >here. While these are well written, we noticed some things needed updating such as:

  • A general update to remove services we no longer offer (like a Shoutbox) and update to services we currently use
  • The addition of officer positions made by the previous administration that have been excellent and effective
  • A more detailed procedure for removing members of the guild if necessary
  • The ability for the Cóyotl Awards Chair to be voted for (we had no actual method for choosing our chairperson previously)
  • Actually have a procedure for if and when guild officers may not be able to perform their duties for how they could be replaced
  • Modernize voting procedures for the future

The amended by-laws being brought up for vote can be found >here. All changes are highlighted in red.


We also wish to strengthen our Code of Conduct. Our current Code of Conduct can be found >here. We wish to make minor changes like with the by-laws to update services, but also would like to make one other large change.

We would like to add a section on unacceptable content to the Code of Conduct. We believe there are certain subjects that should never be presented within a positive light. This is in line with what we have seen from publishers within the fandom and we want our guild to reflect this as a part of our core values.

We would like to offer a general content warning as some of these things might be triggers for some within our community. >The full listing, alongside the changes we wish to make to the Code of Conduct can be found here. Changes to the Code of Conduct are highlighted in red.


Edit: Due to fantastic feedback from guild members, we have realized the previous wording for the Code of Conduct may have created problems for many members of the guild. We have changed the language within the amended Code of Conduct to reflect this. We will be accepting any re-votes from members that would like to change their vote due to these changes.

We have also now created a forum thread for discussion that you can find >here.


We would now like to bring these amendments to a vote! Voting will remain open for two weeks, from May 3rd through May 16th. The link below will take you to the official voting form.

>FWG By-Laws And Code of Conduct Voting Form

 

We want to once again thank our members for being so awesome while we get a lot of work done within the guild. We hope these changes will be able to make the guild bigger and better than ever before!

 

Membership Directory Update Announcement

Hello there Furry Writers’ Guild Members, this announcement is especially for you! We have over 200 members in our guild listings including those with associate memberships. That’s an incredibly impressive number we should be proud of!

The truth of the matter is though, these numbers do not accurately reflect guild activity. We have run into specific issues while trying to do more work to support our members. Some of these things include:

  • Authors changing the handle they go by online
  • Authors changing fursonas in general
  • Authors transitioning in some way (we don’t want to use the wrong pronouns for members)
  • Links now going to dead websites
  • Links going to wrong accounts (having moved accounts on sites like FurAffinity)
  • The email registered with us is no longer accurate (we need this for confirming votes in things like the Cóyotl Awards)
  • Some writers have left the fandom entirely, have stopped writing, or are unable to be found with any information we have.
  • Without an accurate number of membership, running votes for things like changing membership criteria, which require 30% of guild members voting to make changes, is essentially impossible

With these things in mind we intend to do a full update of the guild listings beginning now and ending May 31st. We are asking all members of the guild to fill out this form to remain in our public listings.

>FWG Directory Listing Update Form

When we update our website we will be populating our membership listings to only show those that have updated their information to have a more accurate look at current guild membership. We want to stress no one is losing their guild membership through this. Any member will be free to rejoin our listings even after the deadline.

We sorely need updated information on members to promote them. We also want to show writers that are reasonably active for those that visit our website. Readers of anthropomorphic literature can use these listings to find authors to read and potentially commission, so we want this tool to be strong to help support our members.

To ensure we get the word out on this change we plan to do several things:

  • We intend to reach out to members on all available platforms we have available: email, social media, etc. to inform them of this update.
  • We will keep our previous list so that if any members miss the deadline they will only need to update information to be put up on the website
  • We will be respectful towards members of the guild who may have passed away since their listing was added. We’re hoping to research any names we can and maintain their membership in memoriam. If any guild members know other members specifically to mention, please let us know.

We understand this is a big shake up for the guild but it is important for our continued functioning to do this. We’ve needed to make these updates for a long time so it’s time to bite the bullet and make it happen. Thank you for your continued support! 

 

New Guild Presidency And Announcements

Hello everyone! I’m incredibly thankful to be the new president of the Furry Writers’ Guild. We have a lot of things to get to in this big update so let’s get started! As my reign of terror begins (wait perhaps I should have worded that better) I want to first personally thank our previous administration for all the work they have done to keep the guild running. It takes a lot of behind the scenes effort to keep things running smoothly and they all deserve to be applauded for it! 

I outlined a lot of plans within my platform and intend to hit the ground running on getting them going. There is a lot coming down the pipeline, so for now we’re going to give a brief update and give some specific details in the coming days. I’ll try to keep things as brief as possible. So no more preamble, let’s get to it!

Modernization And Updates To The Guild

First we would like to announce our brand new official discord channel! This channel has some fun features including a special beta reading program that you can find details on by joining up. We also have specific discussion channels and plan to host fun events using this new platform. 

We’ll be transitioning from using the Slack channel to using our Discord in full over the next week, so be sure to join if you enjoy our Coffee House Chats. Remember: our discord channel is open to the public, not just members of the FWG so we hope you will all join us there!

logoFWG
Our New Logo!

We will also be updating the website in the coming days; in fact you may have noticed we’ve already made some changes! We have needed A fresh new look will bring some excitement to the guild, and with that comes our brand new logo. I know our lovely fox typing away has been a mainstay of the guild for a long time, but it’s time to give the guild a more modern look. 

Full Update Of Guild Member Listings

Alongside the visual overhaul of the website, we would like to make sure our guild listings are also up to date. We’ve been taking greater efforts to help promote members of the guild and have noticed a lot of listings aren’t up to date, people have changed handles, fursonas, and some links to websites are entirely dead. 

As we have to update the website theme to something currently supported by wordpress, it may involve serious site maintenance as is. There is no better time than now to get this done. Hopefully we can tackle this one and have it done before the end of May. We will be giving a full update on this project tomorrow, but any FWG members wanting to get ahead of the game and submit their updated info can do so here.

A Vote To Amend The By-laws and Code of Conduct

While I was able to win the presidency unopposed, we will still need to hold a vote about updates to the Code of Conduct as well as the Guild By-laws. Some updates are needed in general, like to have a process to decide the Cóyotl Awards Chair as well as add other processes we have needed for some time. We also hope to reorganize officer positions to better define each role as well as officially add roles that were temporarily made during the previous administration. 

Through this, we hope to also make it so volunteering for positions in the future won’t be too large a workload to discourage people from helping. Speaking of, we will likely being reaching out for volunteers to help with things soon so keep an eye out!

We also intend to bring up for discussion and potentially a vote, changes to our Code of Conduct. We would like to consider strengthening it to reflect the values of the guild as well as be in line with what the majority of publishers within the furry fandom expect when receiving submissions. We will have an update with details and a call for a vote coming to you this Sunday.


I understand that this looks like a lot and I cannot lie: the guild is going to be busier than usual as we try to make these important changes. One of my major goals as president is to bring in more active members and have many fun activities for those looking to join our ranks. I hope that by getting us organized proper, we will have a better ability to do this going forward. Here’s to the exciting future of the Furry Writers’ Guild!

Regarding The Recent Ban

Recently, a (now former) FWG member made a series of controversial posts on Twitter. While we should point out that the FWG staff does not police members’ social media, there are certain positions so intensely radioactive that we cannot abide their presence in our ranks. The guild would not stand for it. The fandom at large would not stand for it. Thus, our hand was forced.

It should also be noted that this did not occur in a vacuum, and the aforementioned posts represent only the latest in a series of questionable and ill-advised public statements, many of which resulted in complaints.

The FWG has always preferred that members self-regulate their behavior. Even when lines are crossed, we would sooner exercise patience and magnanimity than we would punitive measures. The number of persons who have received such marked disciplinary action is small indeed, and each of those occasions remain regrettable to us. Nevertheless, our commitment to the FWG and its mission sometimes make it necessary. We hope you all understand.

Best wishes,

The FWG staff

Furry Writers’ Guild Election Reminder

Just a reminder that April is the FWG election season. Anyone who wishes to run for any of the guild officer positions (president, vice president, treasurer) should feel free to put together a platform and make a post on the forums in accordance with guild by-laws, as detailed here: https://furrywritersguild.com/guild-by-laws/

Our election protocol is the product of a different era, when the forums were the hub of FWG activity. However, since election season is already upon us, the current administration will not attempt to update the process. The election subforum can be found here: https://fwg.makyo.io/c/fwg-ideas-and-feedback/guild-election/25

Thank you, and best of luck to the candidates.

Black History Month Spotlight: Jakebe T. Lope

It’s February, and in honor of Black History Month we have been featuring some of the black authors that are members of the Furry Writers’ Guild. Today will be our last feature for the month, and we will be sharing an interview done with Jakebe T. Lope! He has had stories featured in Breaking the Ice: Stories from New Tibet, Historimorphs, and New Fables. Without further ado, let’s get to the interview.

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

Jakebe: My name is Jakebe T. Lope, though I’ve gone by others in my day. I’ve been in the furry fandom since 1996, so I’m pretty sure that makes me a greymuzzle! I’m a long-time writer and blogger — my blog “From the Writing Desk” is a collection of personal essays about the writing process, my journey with mental health, the furry fandom, Afrofuturism, Buddhism, and politics. Currently, I’m writing serialized erotic fiction through Patreon under The Jackalope Serial Company.

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

Jakebe: I’m really happy with “Nightswimming”, the short story I wrote for Breaking The Ice. It was my first published short story, and I really tried to stretch myself to capture the feeling of isolation within New Tibet and what would make anyone want to stay on that frozen hellhole.

I think the writing that means the most to me, though, are the essays I’ve written about mental health on From The Writing Desk. I come from a background with a serious stigma attached to mental health issues, and it means a lot to me to be open and honest about it, and help others who might be struggling with similar issues.

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Jakebe: I think any good story has to end with its reader feeling better about the world they’re living in. Even the stories designed to make us uncomfortable are guides for us to pay attention and work with that discomfort so we’re better able to deal with it on the other side. That doesn’t mean a story can’t just be dumb fun, but even light entertainment needs to leave us with the feeling that the world is a rad place, or it could be if we worked for what we believe in. 

It’s really hard to do this without browbeating an audience with some message. I think you need to be honest, fearless, and compassionate in order to achieve it. The best writing fosters that sense of instant, empathetic connection.

FWG: How long have you been in the guild, and what changes have you seen with regards to how writing is handled since joining?

Jakebe: Oh man, I’ve been in the guild for a while — so long I can’t remember when I’ve joined. I think writing has been largely democratized since I’ve joined, and it’s wonderful to see so many new perspectives popping up across the fandom, with so many interesting expressions of what brings us to it. It’s been really encouraging to see.

At the same time, I worry that there’s been a breakdown of the writing community because we’ve stopped listening to each other and become much more ego-driven. In my experience, there’s been less of a willingness to help one another with our craft and the realities of the market. I’d really like to see us return to a spirit of collaboration, guidance, and respect for the craft.

FWG: What does Black History mean to you?

Jakebe: Black history is American history. What my ancestors went through is the shadow side of the version of America we see in our history books and civics classes. A lot of us are shocked about what we’re seeing rising out of our fellow Americans in the current political landscape, but if we pay attention to the history of black Americans and the experiences of other Americans of color, we’d know that these attitudes have been around as long as the Constitution. This IS who we are; we’re just being forced to reckon with it.

At the same time, Black history helps me realize that resilience, perseverance, joy, and a commitment to working for my ideals are all a part of my story. My ancestors passed down amazing values and lessons to me, and it’s a privilege to get to be able to carry those stories and spread them as well as I can.

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

Jakaebe: Absolutely. As a black man in America, you have to make peace with the fact that almost nothing you see is going to be from your perspective. The heroes we grow up watching and wanting to be like don’t necessarily look like us. I grew up queer and nerdy in the inner-city, so I’ve had a really difficult relationship with my Blackness because I’ve never felt accepted by my community. That feeling of being rejected by the dominant culture and my birth culture, of feeling alone and forced to make your own way, it’s always going to be a part of my work. I’m always reacting to that weird tension, of needing to belong but also realizing I never really have, and it shows in my writing. I’m still looking for my tribe.

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

Jakebe: They absolutely do. Since I’ve become more politically active I consider it a pretty core part of my job as a writer to find ways to express my perspective to a fandom audience that is largely white. It’s tough, when everyone in the community feels like they’re the underdogs in some way, to have a discussion about privilege or the blind spots they create. Furry literature can be a great way of exploring these sensitive topics in ways that folks are more likely to engage with.

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

Jakebe: YES. Ta-Nehesi Coates is my jam right now; he’s a fellow Baltimore native, and his personal essays have been a North Star for me in so many ways. He’s been killing it on Black Panther, too. 

Octavia Butler has been writing amazing sci-fi and fantasy from a racial lens, and I hope to be able to achieve her level of insight and sensitivity some day. Kindred is such an amazing book. It really shakes your image of American slavery, what it would be like to endure that, and what you would do to combat the forces that shaped it.

There’s three-time Hugo Award winner N.K. Jemisin; there’s Nnedi Okorafor, who also won the Hugo Award for her novella Binti; there’s Daniel Jose Older, who is killing it with urban fantasy through an Afro-Latino lens; there’s Samuel “Chip” Delaney, the great old sci-fi Grandmaster who paved the way for all of us in the game right now. 

It’s a really great time for Afrofuturist writers, and there are so many exciting stories being told that really break out of the traditional sci-fi and fantasy tropes.

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

Jakebe: I feel weird hyping this book after talking about so many excellent black writers, but if you haven’t read The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle it is really a singular work. It’s both an homage to really great epic fantasy and a deconstruction of it; at the end of the novel, even though everyone has achieved what they set out to do each character is fundamentally changed in a way that makes them — and the world — so much more complicated. It’s a staggering, heartbreaking novel, and I love it so much. Most people only know the movie, but the book is better by an order of magnitude and Beagle deserves so much more recognition than he’s gotten.

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

Jakebe: In order to be an excellent writer, we have to spend so much more time listening and observing others. Listening and absorbing other people without judgement is an overlooked skill, and I think the time is ripe for writers who can present an honest understanding of others without dehumanizing or dismissing them. In so many ways, our separation between each other is an illusion. Our reality is connection. 

You can find Jakebe’s writing on his blog From The Writing Desk and on his Patreon for serialized erotic fiction. You can also find him on Twitter both at @jakebe and @serialjackalope; as well as on Mastodon @jakebe@awoo.space. We hope you found this interview exciting and informative. We hope to continue these features next February for Black History Month as well as find other ways to feature black authors in the guild. If you have suggestions for how this might be done, please contact our public relations officer here. Until next time, may your words flow like water.