FWG Pride Month Spotlight: Kayodé Lycaon

Welcome to the third and final Pride Month spotlight. This time we talked to Kayodé Lycaon (he/him), who has kindly answered our questions about his identity and his struggles. Please note that there is a content warning for some abusive subjects in some of these answers – Kayodé has highlighted them at the beginning of the relevant answers.

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

Kayodé: Hi! I’m Kayodé Lycaon, a gregarious painted wolf living in the questionable habitat of southwestern Ohio, and I like to talk. A lot. So, steal a seat, grab someone else’s drink, and get comfortable.

I’ve done and learned a lot of things in my life. To misquote a phrase, I’m a wolf of many trades, master of one. I’m a senior software engineer who has worked in insurance, education, and now online sales. I’ve run a furry convention. I’m excellent at logistics. I read scientific papers, court cases, and textbooks. I run and play tabletop rpgs with friends. I leave dishes piled up next to the sink until I’m out of forks, but the kitchen table is always clean.

It’s a bit of a crazy life. (More on that later.)

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

Kayodé: This is where I plug my wares, right? My story Dark Garden Lake in The Reclamation Project – Year One (Available in paperback from FurPlanet and ebook from Bad Dog Books.)

Shameless plugging aside, I really do love it. The setting of The Reclamation Project is full of moral and technological complexity. There’s a lot of room to explore ideas and characters. It’s a really good anthology that I was proud to contribute to.

The story itself is a huge milestone for me. It is the first story I consider to be “good”. Many of my previous dabbles at writing have had good concepts and ideas, but this was the first to have good execution. There are flaws, but for being so early in my writing career it’s better than it has any right to be.

When I finished writing Dark Garden Lake, I knew I had created something special. Every time I feel like a failure, I can look back at it and know that I’m both a writer and an author. Even if I never write again, I will still be those things.

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Kayodé: A good story engages with the reader’s imagination. All art has an audience, even if that is just the artist. Every reader has their own experiences to bring to the table. Every word the author doesn’t write, gets written by the reader.

In my own works, I’ll paint a scene with a few choice details and give the audience room to imagine. I drop a hint or two at a backstory that only exists in my notes. I slowly give the reader’s my characters’ thoughts, fears, and motivations so when the action hits, they know how the character feels without me having to say it.

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

Kayodé: I haven’t been around here all that long. I officially became a member December 2019 about a year after I had started hanging out in the Telegram channel. A few months later, I was asked to fill in the Vice President role due to my prior experience in similar positions. Then the fire nation attac…the pandemic happened.

People stepped up to help run Oxfurred Comma. The newsletter is going out regularly. The guild has a number of volunteers who have come on board. It’s all very exciting and I’m looking forward to the future.

FWG: Can you give us a little insight into your identity, and how you fit onto the lgbtq+ spectrum?

Kayodé: I’m asexual, panromantic, and very much interested in sex. That last part throws people. (More on that when I talk about discovering my identity.)

There is an assumption by many people that asexuality is about lack of interest in sex. This belief is so pervasive that asexuality is seen as “opting out” of the LGBTQ+ community. The truth is, for some people, they identify as asexual because they have “opted out”. Since these people may later change their identification, this adds weight to this idea.

This incorrect belief is compounded by what asexuality actually is. Asexuality is about a lack of sexual attraction, not lack of interest in sex. For allosexual (non-asexual) people, sexual attraction is a fundamental experience. It is difficult to imagine what something feels like when you lack equivalent or applicable experience.

When I try to explain what asexuality feels like, I describe it as being horny without a target, but this leads people to imagine being frustrated or thwarted. This could not be further from the truth. When it comes to sex, I have plenty of choices, some being multi-player. I don’t feel any special connection to sex, it simply is, and I can do whatever I want with it.

This last part has led to many misunderstandings as I am also panromantic. I crave deep, meaningful relationships regardless of a person’s sexuality or gender, but those relationships have nothing to do with sex. This becomes a bit of a problem, as I can’t tell when someone thinks I’m flirting with them. It’s been a source of some painful misunderstandings and the butt of insensitive jokes.

It would be easier to deal with by “opting out” and just being on the sidelines as an ally, but I shouldn’t have to opt out. My experience is fundamentally different from a heterosexual person’s, and I have to deal with the same societal prejudices. Sexual attraction is pervasive at every level of society and culture. I’m constantly reminded that “your kind doesn’t belong here.” Whether I want sex or not, that makes me part of the LGBTQ+ community.

FWG: What does Pride mean to you?

Kayodé: Honestly, very little. I’ve always felt excluded from it as Kayodé and my memories prior to changing my name in 2019 are extremely spotty.

The one thing I do remember is being in fursuit on a float in a pride parade. Seeing all of the people in the crowd made me feel like I was on the outside looking at something beautiful within.

FWG: Was there a bit of a journey or story to you uncovering your identity? If so, would you be comfortable sharing with us?

Kayodé: It’s a long story inseparably linked to being bipolar and growing up in an emotionally abusive home. I’ll do my best to keep my descriptions brief, but my answer is long and may be triggering to some readers. Feel free to skip to the next bolded question.

I grew up in a family that considered mental illness to be at best a lack of character and at worst demon possession. “Try harder,” “suck it up,” and “you have no right to feel that way” were the messages I grew up with. Sexual desire of any kind was an unforgivable sin.

My struggle with identity started when I was nine years old and started having hypersexual episodes. Hypersexuality is terrible. At worst, hypersexuality is an unrelenting, insatiable need for sex. There is no relief from it. At best, sex consumes hours of each day just to stay sane. As I write this, I haven’t gotten to bed on time in weeks. Doctors and psychiatrists like to treat this as an addiction even though it is a well-documented symptom of mania. My parents were less charitable.

When I was twelve and other children were starting to go through puberty, I learned about how boys desire girls. It was all around me. At one point I got punched in the face by a jealous boyfriend getting mad for me talking to the person they had claimed. I didn’t understand any of it. I was constantly accused of being gay (an unforgivable sin) by my classmates because I wasn’t lusting after girls like they were.

By the time I was an adult, I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I wanted to have sex, but there was no one I wanted to have sex with. I wanted to focus on my schoolwork, but I couldn’t. I wanted to write, but I couldn’t stick with it. I wanted to have self-control, but I didn’t. This was all my fault.

When I moved to Ohio, I attended my first furry convention and finally found a community where I belonged. The next year I was on staff. Slowly, through my first fursona, I started to explore who I was. The end result was depressing. I was a fatally flawed person condemned to fight the same struggles and make the same mistakes over and over again. My sexuality and gender were empty, null values that were assumed to be “straight” and “male” because that’s how everyone expected me to be.

Eventually, I started to discover my lack of sexual attraction had a label, but I was too busy with year-long cycles of depression and mania. In 2018, I made the mistake of letting someone talk me into being chairman of a convention. In August of that year, the accumulated stress of a lifetime caused something in my brain to snap and thus begin a four-month long descent into madness. Prior to this I’d long avoided engaging with the sexual side of the fandom. I embraced it fully and read everything furry and erotic I could get my paws on.

In Feburary 2019, I was diagnosed bipolar and started treatment. At the time, I described my brain, identity, and memories as a vase thrown against a wall and I was sitting on the floor looking at the pieces. My fursona was the only thing I could cling to remember who I was.

In June, he died. Slowly, medication gave me the self-control I had always lacked, and I began to realize it wasn’t me that was flawed. My previous fursona proved to be nothing more than a false mirror. And I broke. I became nothing.
In the aftermath, I had to build a new self. I sifted through the shattered pieces of who I used to be. I built a new fursona and gave him those pieces to carry. Slowly, Kayodé emerged. I read about asexuality and learned there was nothing wrong with my sexuality. I read about romantic and aromantic people and understood why I wanted the relationships I did.

I’m still grappling with who I’m becoming. My psychotic break severely damaged my long-term memory and I’m sure bipolar medication isn’t helping in that respect. I don’t have much to connect me to my past. My identity still has no gender. It is a complete blank that I have no strong feelings about. I’m used to being treated as male, so I use male pronouns. When I hear Kayodé or my legal name, I don’t recognize them as referring to me. When I hear my previous fursona’s name, it brings up a past I want nothing to do with.

But I know the important things. I know the things I want to do. I know why I feel the way I feel and I know there is nothing wrong with what I feel. That’s good enough for now.

FWG: How do you think being lgbtq+ has inspired or affected your stories? Have you written lgbtq+ characters into your works?

Kayodé: My own struggles with identity and relationships has more than inspired me—they are the entire purpose that drives my writing. Every one of my characters deliberately embodies a struggle or experience I have. It is somewhat unfortunate that I have an endless supply of source material.

Bipolar is defined by extremes. I have lived and experienced more in thirty years than a dozen neurotypical people would have in a lifetime. Mania fuels every extreme of emotion, from rage, to paranoia, to indescribable joy. Depression is an all-consuming emptiness. Psychosis is imagination unhinged, indistinguishable from reality. In four months, I lived an entire lifetime as an anthropomorphic wolf. Sadly, his experiences were worse than my own.

As a result, my (mostly male) characters span the entire rainbow: ace, bi, gay, trans, and more. I’ve found common experiences with all of them. With every story, I hope to give my audience a glimpse into a perspective they might not otherwise have seen.

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

Kayodé: I have limited experience with furry literature and none with any queer literature outside of the fandom. But since I’m here… I’ll embarrass the hell out of NightEyes, because that’s always fun! His short story A Moment of Darkness in Knotted (Available in paperback from FurPlanet and ebook from Bad Dog Books) was a story I really connected with. It’s taken me a while to notice, but reading it made me much more comfortable writing the stories I like to write. If he can write about cancer, I can write about mental health.

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

Kayodé: Without a doubt, Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I particularly like the audio book. It’s a book about the process of making art—“ordinary art”, as they call it. How many times do we sit down in front of a keyboard and get nothing done? This book won’t fix that, but it will explain, in depth, how art gets made (or not made). There are pitfalls everyone falls into. Insecurity about the things we create is the rule, not the exception.
If you want to have a better relationship with your writing, Art & Fear is a good book to read.

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

Kayodé: Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed reading my answers as much as I enjoyed writing them. (Also, buy the books!)

That is the last of the Pride Month spotlights for this year. We will be doing more spotlights throughout the year, of course.

The furry fandom is a special place because of (amongst other things) how open and welcoming it is to lgbtq+ people. It is a safe haven for many to explore and develop their identities, and this is something we need to cherish and embrace. This month and every month.

We at the Furry Writers’ Guild encourage everyone – our members, future members, and readers – to embrace and explore the myriad of identities that make us so special.

Stay Proud. Stay safe.
Happy reading.

FWG Pride Month Spotlight: George Squares

For the second Pride Spotlight of the month, we interviewed George Squares (he/him). Though George has had several short story credits to his name, he has recently been writing in a very different medium to most within the Furry Writers Guild.
This is what furry and queer writing means to him.

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

George: Sure. I go by George Squares. I’m a gay man, I tend to focus heavily on writing horror, romance and erotica, and I’ve been in the furry writer’s guild for a long time. I’ve had stories published in anthologies such as Arcana and Dissident Signals for various presses.

Though I started out selling my writing for short story anthologies (one of the first things I published in the furry scene was a story called Interchangeable Parts in Will of the Alpha 2), these days I make a living off of script writing for various games studios. One of the biggest projects I’ve ever undertaken is managing and writing a visual novel for Echo Project called The Smoke Room, which updates approximately every month and a half. 

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

George: Hard for me to say. I really enjoyed writing a highly risque transformation story that I put up on fur affinity called Something to Trade (it’s probably not a read for everybody), but I think my short story in Arcana, which was for The Sun’s Major Arcana, really stuck with me. But I think my strongest work is going into The Smoke Room at the moment.  

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

A lot of things can make for a good story, but at the end of the day, I think that the most important thing is emotional resonance. We remember how something made us feel the strongest, so if a story can make its audience feel, it will leave an impact. 

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

George: I think I’ve technically been in it for around six to seven years. My involvement with the Guild had generally been around the periphery as my interest in publishing print media diminished. But what’s exciting for me to see more of recently is visual novels and interactive games getting embraced as “writing” in writing communities. People are opening up to supporting accessible multimedia projects that have as much depth as many books do.
FWG: Can you give us a little insight into your identity, and how you fit onto the lgbtq+ spectrum?

George: I call myself a gay man out of convenience (and I still consider that to be fairly accurate in terms of my identity), but if I went into the nitty gritty, I’m a masculine nonbinary person with some agender-leaning identity.
FWG: What does Pride mean to you?

It means many things to me, but it mostly means a celebration of the perserverence of Queer (Or LGBTQIA+) identity over institutional hegemony and police brutality. I know we can trace most of the original celebration’s significance back to Marsha P. Johnson’s thrown brick at Stonewall. 

I’ve never had the chance to attend a pride event or celebration in person, but I know how important it is to people who are like me.
FWG: Was there a bit of a journey or story to you uncovering your identity? If so, would you be comfortable sharing with us?

George: A lot of it was pretty uncomfortable, as, no doubt, many folks in the same boat will tell you. My parents were devout baptists, so a lot of my adolescent and teen years had to be spent in secrecy and suppression. But a part of that was self-imposed due to religious indoctrination. 

It wasn’t until college, where I got to be on my own and explore who I was, until I felt ready to embrace something I already sort of knew from as early an age as 13. My parents were more accepting than I thought they would be at first. I still talk to them about this to this day, but our relationship is still rocky.

FWG: How do you think being lgbtq+ has inspired or affected your stories? Have you written lgbtq+ characters into your works?

George: Well, the graphic sex between men is impossible to miss, for starters. But when I’m writing without explicit sexual depictions, yeah, my sexual and gender identity always comes into factor. I think about what’s depicted as attractive or desirable to the PoV character. I think about what a touch is like between characters with chemistry vs. characters without it. And I think about what I would want to see in a work as a reader when I’m writing something, because even though we can’t always write only for ourselves, we can manage to write for people who are like us who are hungry for relatable stories.

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

George: Well I definitely have to mention Howly, who created Echo, which eventually led to the entirety of Echo Project. He’s very kind, he works hard, and he undervalues himself considerably, but I wouldn’t have been able to make games without him.

I also want to mention Redd the Shibe, who is my co-writer for The Smoke Room. We have banged our heads together on plenty of walls figuring out how to code and how to make a game but I really think we managed to get past our major hurdles, and I’m proud of us.   
I also need to mention some Devs in the MLM furry VN scene who I think are doing interesting work:
-Grizz (Password)
-Eddio (Killigan’s Treasure)
-Basket (Tennis Ace)
-Xarishro (Fuelled by Insanity)-Raus (Shelter)

My earlier influences in terms of MLM representation in furry stories were K.M. Hirosaki/Rikoshi, Kyell Gold, and Ryan Campbell, and I’m looking forward to reading God of Fire in the near future. 
Robert Baird, and Ian Madison Keller are also really lovely writers who are enthused about their craft.

I have never asked my good friend and fellow writer Jess E. Owen’s private thoughts on her identity, but I would not be as good of a writer today without her, and I needed to mention her. 
I also need to mention my husband Cafealopex, whose early work in the Redwall Online Community over a decade ago inspired me to write in the first place.

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

George: Tough question, considering I want everybody to read widely, and I think everybody reading the same single book could lead to pop cultural problems (what’s that saying I keep hearing again and again about…. ‘read another book’), 
But… I think “Into the Wild” is a pretty solid nonfiction book that almost feels like it’s written like fiction, and I think anybody could get into it. It’s entertaining, it’s shocking, it paints a really good picture with scenes, and I think it has an important lesson.

IT is another book that I think would benefit a lot of people probably but it is very dark and very upsetting. 
If I had to choose a narrative game for everybody to play, it would be “Night in the Woods.”
If I had to pick a book for pride month for everybody to read? How about Wolfsong by T.J. Klune. Can’t go wrong with gay werewolf men. 

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

George: Remember that lots of things can be considered writing and that there’s lots of ways that you can make a living as a writer inside and out of this fandom. Don’t let anybody who tells you otherwise keep you in their shadow.

Celebrate pride month in your own way. 

George is one of the writers with visual novel company The Echo Project. Updates for all the visual novels can be found at The Echo Project’s Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/EchoGame
You can follow George on Twitter @georgesquares

We have one more Pride Spotlight to come before the end of the month. In the meantime, please do check out George’s work. You will not be disappointed.

FWG Pride Month Spotlight: Ian Madison Keller

Pride is a very important month for so many reasons, especially amongst the furry community. Furries, as a whole, are significantly more queer than the rest of the population. Many identify with the lgbtq+ spectrum, and all efforts should be made to preserve the furry fandom as a space that is safe for everyone. The furry writing community is no different. This Pride Month, we will shine the spotlight on a few of the writers who give the furry community its wonderful diversity.

The first spotlight for this year’s Pride Month is Ian Madison Keller (he/him).

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

Ian: I grew up in Utah and southern Idaho, and escaped to the Pacific Northwest as soon as I could. Although I wanted to be a writer since High school I ended up majoring in Accounting and not writing for many years.  But in 2012 I picked writing back up again and released my first book in 2014 and my first short stories were published in 2015. I also went back to school to get a certificate in editing, and have been editing stories and novels since 2018.

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

Ian: Short stories, my favorite would be “Don’t Cry” one of the flash fictions I wrote for Flower’s Fang about the queen. I wrote it while figuring out the motivations for the queen and I just really love everything about it. Novels would be one of my latest, “Ritual of the Ancients.” I had a lot of fun writing the thriller elements and figuring out how the vampires and shifters of my world interact with each other.  

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Ian: A strong emotional core. No matter how action packed a book or movie, if I don’t care about the characters then I probably won’t finish it. 

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

Ian: I’ve been with the guild since 2016. I’ve seen a lot more encouragement to new writers lately and more inclusivity, like with the online writing convention put on by the guild and the multiple ways to communicate, with the Discord, the forums, and the telegram channel.

FWG: Can you give us a little insight into your identity, and how you fit onto the lgbtq+ spectrum?

I am trans-masculine and bisexual.

FWG: What does Pride mean to you?

Ian: Being proud, not ashamed, about my identity. Something I’ve struggled with a lot from growing up in the mormon church/church of latter-day saints. That’s why Pride looks like a big party, a celebration, because for so many of us we were told that our identities were wrong, something to hide, and even repress.

FWG: Was there a bit of a journey or story to you uncovering your identity? If so, would you be comfortable sharing with us?

A very long one. I didn’t even know transgender was a thing until I was in college. I actually found out about it by typing “I wish I was a boy” into google and stumbling on LGBT and trans positive websites. Surprisingly the college I went to in Utah had an LGBT center, but there weren’t any trans-masc folks there. Even at the local Salt Lake City trans support group, I was usually the only guy there, and I got a lot of pushback from both that group and the women I dated to not transition. I ended up going back into the closet for more than a decade before actively pursuing transitioning again. 

FWG: How do you think being lgbtq+ has inspired or affected your stories? Have you written lgbtq+ characters into your works?

Ian: It affects all of my works, and almost everything I write has LGBTQ characters in it. Flower’s Fang has a lesbian couple, in The Dragon Tax you find out that one of the characters is bi, as well there is a non-binary elf character. And in my urban fantasy Changing Bodies story, the main character is a gay trans-man in the middle of transition. As well, I’ve written many short stories with a spectrum of characters of varying identities. 

As far as inspiration, some of my stories have been me wondering how a certain species might approach transitioning. Or how a vampire might deal with being transgender and unable to take hormones. Or about how dragons might feel about gender identities.

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

Ian: I honestly have not read a lot of books by queer authors. However, that is something I am currently working on by actively seeking out works by out queers. The way this has affected my writing is leading me to put lots of queer characters in my stories, so that others can read about the kinds of characters I wished I’d been reading about my whole life. 

Recently I did find a nonbinary author, Dorian Graves, who writes queer urban fantasy stories that I’ve greatly been enjoying.

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

Ian: I would go with House of Shards by Walter Jon Williams. This book is probably the biggest influence on my writing. Lots of humor wrapped in a serious story, and a whole host of alien races. 

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

Ian: Don’t forget the outside world exists! Be sure to put down books sometimes to venture out of the house. You’d be surprised by the things that can jump-start your creativity. Try to have hobbies outside reading and writing

Ian Madison Keller is a fantasy writer currently living in Oregon. Originally from Utah, he moved up to the Pacific Northwest on a whim a decade ago and never plans on leaving. Ian has been writing since 2013 with nine novels and more than a dozen published short stories out so far. Ian has also written under the name Madison Keller before transitioning in 2019 to Ian. His most recent series is Changing Bodies, a vampire & shifter urban fantasy published with Goal Publications. You can find more at his website, http://madisonkeller.net.

FWG Member Spotlight: Madison Keller

Tell us about yourself and a recent published project of yours.

I have been writing since 2012 and published my first novel near the end of 2014. My newest project is The Dragon Tax Book One, which came out in June 2016. This originally was published in 2015 as a short story in the anthology A Menagerie of Heroes, which went out of print just a few months later.

I’d had so much fun with the characters I’d already written several more stories of their continuing adventures. I’d planned on perhaps doing a series of linked short stories, but with the very first one out of print and hard to find, I scrapped that idea. However, I’d had to cut some scenes to fit in the word count limit and I had the idea to add back in those missing scenes and tighten up the story, making it a novella length work and republishing it as a stand alone first in the series.

The Dragon Tax Book One

Why do you like using “furry” characters in stories?

I enjoying figuring out how furry features and characteristics would change a society’s fundamental values. I also like using it to explore aspects of human behavior that wouldn’t come up in non-furry fiction.

What made you want to become a writer? Are there authors or books that strongly influenced you?

I was a huge bookworm and devoured the entire science fiction/fantasy section of the local library as I was growing up. I wanted to be a writer to tell the stories that filled my own head. However, I let others talk me out of pursing a career in writing and threw away everything I’d been writing in junior high and high school. With the advent of the Kindle I began reading many self-published works and was re-inspired to again put pen to page.

In high school I was inspired by the likes of Piers Anthony, Tracy Hickman, Walter Jon Williams, and Barbara Hambly. Lately I’ve been devouring A.E. Marling’s Enchantress series, Charles Stross’s Laundry files, and Jonathan Howard’s Necromancer series as well as many other books.

Tell us a bit about your writing process. Do you see yourself as a “pantser,” an outliner, or somewhere in between?

I’m an outliner all the way. Before I write a single sentence of my manuscript I’ll outline the plot, define all the major characters, and do high-level worldbuilding. As I write I will expand character profiles, add world-building details, and tweak the outline.

Do you have any advice you’d give other writers?

Don’t let other people discourage you and never stop writing. Read a lot, everything you can find, but especially books in your chosen genre.

What’s a project you’re working on now, or that may be coming out soon?

I’m currently juggling three projects—working on the next books in the Dragon Tax series, finishing up the final planned book in my Flower’s Fang universe, and outlining a new werewolf urban fantasy trilogy set in central Washington state that is as of yet un-named.

Where can people find you and your work?

All of my work can be found on Amazon or on my website, flowersfang.com.

Member Spotlight: Rob Baird

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

I’ve been working on a short story cycle that follows the residents of a fictional small town on the Oregon coast. Cannon Shoals is typical of such towns, intimate but clannish, full of people who are trying to balance their dreams against the reality of economic depression and the sense that the world is passing them by. I was inspired by my summers spent in the Santiam Valley, and all the little towns you drive through on winding, lonely highways — places where the water dried up or the railroad left or the mill closed and things just, as the poem goes, “fell apart.” Yeats was talking about the cataclysm of the Great War, but I think that for many places the apocalypse is more subtle and more drab. There are a lot of interesting stories to tell there.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

I believe in outlines. I say “believe” because it is something like faith! Generally when I start I try to know roughly where I’m going, even if I don’t end up getting there. I find it hard to begin writing with an empty page.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

My favorite kind of story is the kind where world-curious, upbeat animal-folk learn that there are few problems one cannot solve through the twin powers of good-natured optimism and clever banter. A lot of my stories are ones where I count it as a success if my readers come away with a smile, a lifted mood, and knowing some obscure bit of trivia that they didn’t know before.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

Teobas Franklyn starts my story An Iron Road Running as a starry-eyed, irrepressible kid on his first day of his dream job working on a railroad. Over the course of the novel, the work becomes more trying and he finds himself well out of his depth, but by keeping his wits about him he matures into someone people look to for help, guidance, and solutions to difficult problems. Teo, who ends the story still excited and optimistic, but with his optimism guided by world-wisdom, is the kind of person I’d like to grow up and become.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

Robert Heinlein and Rudyard Kipling, for the knack they have at celebrating and lauding individuals with indomitable spirits. Other golden-age SF writers, too: Leiber and Asimov and Cordwainer Smith. I know they seem archaic and even naïve now but I feel like that sense of optimism and grand adventure needs to be recaptured. That we should look with wonder and excitement to every new horizon; that frontiers still await us, be they physical or technological or scientific or philosophical — and that, moreover, through ingenuity and dedication and willpower and intellect, such frontiers are our birthright. Furry is such a singularity of great writers that it’s hard to name specific ones in fandom, but pretty much every time I sit down at a keyboard I wish I could write like Huskyteer and Cinnamon, or that I had the same honed gift for ideas as Rechan and Kyell Gold. Those are really the furry authors I look up to and who influence me.

Continue reading “Member Spotlight: Rob Baird”

Member Spotlight: Amy Fontaine

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

I have a novel, Mist, forthcoming from Thurston Howl Publications. It’s not recently written, as I first wrote it a few years ago – back when I was in high school! But it’s a “recent” or more accurately a current project because I’m going to be working on it over the coming year as we prepare it for publication.

I never really knew what inspired Mist until I dug through an old journal and realized that before I started writing or even outlining the book I had a dream about five animals made of mist in this gray, veiled, mysterious place:  a wolf, a stag, a hare, a lynx, and a snake. Those animals ended up representing the five main characters of Mist, though the hare later morphed into a mongoose. The wonders of the subconscious mind!

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

Amy Fontaine - wolphicornIt really depends on the project. With short stories, I tend to get an idea and then just run with it and see what happens. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m going and sometimes I don’t, and sometimes I think I do and then the story has its own plan. With novels, I like to have more of an outline and a sense of the overarching structure before I begin. But it’s still somewhat fluid, and I am often surprised.

Poems usually come in sporadic bursts, like desert monsoons, and get refined later.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

I like to write speculative fiction – stories that ask questions, pose “What if?” scenarios, take the reader on a journey to a place where strange and wondrous things can happen.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

Hmm. This is a hard one. They are all their own people/creatures, but they all have little pieces of me inside them I suppose.

I can relate to the dragon narrator of “The Monster’s Story”, published in A Menagerie of Heroes (the RainFurrest 2015 Charity Anthology). He has such a wealth of love in his heart and just wants to be generous and kind. In the end the world uses that against him, though, in a sense, his love helps him to transcend it.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

Growing up, I loved the Harry Potter series, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the Animorphs series, and The Last Unicorn. I also loved fiction and nonfiction about animals, including works by Jean Craighead George, Gary Paulsen, and Jack London. I think this amalgamation caused me to want to write stories involving magic and animals. A lot of my writing thus far has involved those two elements.

The Last Unicorn, The Lord of the Rings, and Animorphs also gave me an interest in stories with bittersweet, ambiguous endings. I don’t usually favor neatly tied-up happy endings. Such stories don’t haunt me. They don’t continue to live and breathe in my brain. And they aren’t consistent with reality.

Poetry-wise, Mary Oliver, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Stafford, and Naomi Shihab Nye are a few of my biggest influences.

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

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It’s a surreal, beautiful, richly detailed fantasy love story.

7. Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?amy fontaine

I am a wildlife biologist, so I spend a lot of my time chasing animals around. I also like to draw and play musical instruments, neither well. I enjoy reading about anything from astronomy to comparative mythology. I love traveling and exploring and seeing the world.

And I pray, because I am continually astounded and humbled by the universe and I’m grateful to be one small part of it.

8. Advice for other writers?

Don’t give up. If you love to write, make time for that passion in your life. If you want to be published, don’t let rejection stop you. Listen with an open mind to suggestions, refine and improve your craft, and keep trying.

Most importantly, daydream and have fun.

9. Where can readers find your work?

My author website is in the works, but for now, you can find a few samples of my work through my page on Goodreads. Contact me there if you’re interested in reading more!

10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?

I am a relative newcomer to the furry fandom, so I have never been to any conventions, nor am I a member of any furry websites other than the FWG forum. But I would love to attend a convention someday and meet others who share my interest in anthropomorphic animal characters.

What I like so far about this fun, dynamic place is its vibrant creativity, its diversity, its inclusiveness and friendliness, and its wonderful ways of combining two of my favorite things – fantasy and animals.


Check out Amy Fontaine’s member bio here!

Member Spotlight: Renee Carter Hall

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

Huntress smallMy most recent published work is Huntress, the story of a young anthro lioness’ journey to become one of her people’s elite female hunters. Some of the character names and deities were taken from an old notion I’d had many years before to write a Watership Down-style novel about regular lions, but the story of Huntress was inspired by an episode of the National Geographic Channel’s show Taboo. It focused on the practice of “breast ironing,” where young women have to either painfully flatten their breasts so they can stay “girls” and keep going to school, or let their bodies develop, officially becoming women, and then be forced into marriage. The conflict of that choice stayed with me, and a more extreme version of it became part of the book.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

The process can vary from project to project, but for longer works I usually make a few pages of notes brainstorming possible scenes, characters, elements, and so forth, which then turns into a list of key scenes. It’s a pretty flexible, organic type of outline, though, and things often get added, changed, or moved as I get into the writing. The other part of my process is that I try to work longhand for first drafts whenever I can, especially for short pieces; for a lot of different reasons, it feels better to me than composing with a keyboard.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

I’ve always felt most at home in fantasy, whereas science fiction is more a place I visit the suburbs of but don’t feel comfortable venturing into the heart of the city. I like adding a touch of humor where I can. And of course, I like writing anything with an animal or animal-like character involved, or I wouldn’t be here!

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?realdragonscover

There’s a lot of me in Leya from Huntress — her longing, her drive, her perfectionism, and her questioning. I admit, though, sometimes I do feel like Dinkums from Real Dragons Don’t Wear Sweaters, wanting to be taken seriously as a fearsome creature of legend despite being pink, fuzzy, and cute. Whenever I feel like I should be writing some kind of gritty, edgy, epic trilogy that will win prestigious awards; whenever I feel like I’m just writing these silly, shallow little stories that will never really matter — yeah, that’s Dinkums.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

A lot of my influences aren’t technically (or primarily) authors, but when it comes to my furry fiction, it’s pretty easy to pick out the notable turning points on the timeline. I read Bambi around age 10 because I was curious how it compared to the movie — and found that in many ways I liked the book better. As I’ve read it again and again over the years, I’ve come to appreciate its reverence for the natural world and its adult sensibility that doesn’t resort to easy, sentimental answers. Later, books like Ratha’s Creature and Watership Down opened up the possibility of writing animal fantasy in a way that included culture and change (with or without humans being part of the mix). In late high school, I fell hard for the Redwall books, and though the formula eventually wore thin, that initial enchantment became a big influence on my first published novel, By Sword and Star (I wrote a whole blog post about that here).

Later on, around the time that I was getting into the furry fandom, I read S. Andrew Swann’s Forests of the Night and started to see possible ways to write the bipedal type of “furry” fiction, in addition to the more feral style of animal fantasy that I was already familiar with. Without question, my biggest influence among fandom works was a short story I discovered online, “Wings” by Todd G. Sutherland. That inspired my own story “Dog Days,” which then became my first story published within the fandom.

Continue reading “Member Spotlight: Renee Carter Hall”

Member Spotlight: George Squares

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

I think I’ve become known as a person interested in nonfiction writing just as much as fiction in the furry fandom. I publish things whenever I can at [adjective][species] (a team I’ve had so much pleasure working with), and I have a piece coming up about analyzing some of the sociological aspects of post-con depression.

But my biggest project, which I have been working on for well over a year now, is my novel The Bad in the Briar, which is about a fox with psychic powers who lives in an insular mountain community with a family who doesn’t have electricity. It’s a coming of age story with a splash of horror and adult content. I wanted to write a fantasy that felt very human and very earnest despite taking on an epic fantasy model. This might be a story about somebody from your home town who dropped off of the face of the earth as opposed to a crown prince discovering their heritage.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

george squaresThe best metaphor I have for my process is something akin to clay relief sculpting. You have a planning stage where you draw out a rough idea of what you want your sculpture to look like. You add large chunks of clay to the piece, which look ugly and gormless as first, but once the big chunk is on the slate, you go through a subtractive process to redefine elements of your sculpture. You carve in small details and remove a lot of the raw product to make a beautiful piece, and then you add more rough shapes into the artwork to slowly shape it, repeating your process.

So for writing, I’ll do a very non-detailed skeleton outline. It will be simple and sparse but it will have a clear beginning, middle and end. I’ll leave myself a lot of wiggle room for the in-betweens to grow organically, but knowing what is going to happen with big decisions in the plot helps me ahead of time. It also allows me to work on something like the end before I write the beginning, or vice versa. Sometimes your finished product is going to veer away from your original plan, but that’s the nature of art, and sometimes it works out for the better.

Keeping a plan very simple is helpful for me, because I know that as you write and continue to add prose, you’ll introduce complications of your own, and the story will develop like a weed that’s getting out of control. You don’t have to add more complications to the planning stage.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

A lot of the pieces I tend to work on draw inspiration from living around poverty for most of my life. I like thinking about the places in America (and not just America) that often don’t get their stories told. Really bizarre, niche things like the inexplicable phenomenon that is roadside dinosaurs, or towns in the deep South that still exist to this day which only have one federal building in their town–that building being the post office.

We have places in America like the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina which is this grand, majestic castle showing off the wealth and opulence of the Vanderbilts that exists within driving distance of some of the most ridiculous tourist traps you’ve ever seen; things like gemstone mines with egregious pictures of cartoon prospectors where tiny children pan for uncut gems and go wild about owning a “real-life” emerald. That kind of juxtaposition is amazing to me.

I also feel like for a community that spends so much of its time talking to long distance friends over the internet, surprisingly few stories incorporate aspects of online life. Little things like sending a text or showing off a character’s typing habits, or one person’s tendency to make typos versus another person. I try to incorporate how social dynamics have evolved a bit when it comes to things like instant messengers, texts and twitter.

Something that’s interesting to me is also how I feel like I’ve become this inadvertent liaison between writers who write and love erotica and writers who strictly write for a general audience. I write both of these things, and I care a heck of a lot about both. Furry is an interesting space that I think desperately needs stuff like smutty gay fiction as well as something you may read and say “oh hey, I can easily see this getting The John Newbery Medal.” All I can say is that art comes in many different forms, and I have high standards for all of it, no matter the content or the purpose of the writing.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

I think a lot of things that have irked me about adventure or fantasy novels is that the main character is stressed as an “every man.” They’re supposed to be our windows into fantastic worlds and they aren’t supposed to have the strongest personalities because it’s believed that these types of characters can be easier to relate to. That’s always bothered me, so I wanted to spend extra time on making sure I really liked the protagonist of The Bad in the Briar, Keene. He’s this quiet, observant guy with decent intentions. He hasn’t been dealt the best cards in life, but he copes with them in the best ways that he can, and I try to make those coping mechanisms fun. Continue reading “Member Spotlight: George Squares”

Member Spotlight: Tarl “Voice” Hoch

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

My most recent project is what I have come to call ASfHA. (Which stands for: Anthropomorphic Science Fiction Horror Anthology, which is quite a mouthful as you can see.) It’s largely inspired by a number of science fiction horror films I watched while growing up. Chief among these being Alien, Aliens, and Event Horizon. There is something to be said for the terrors that the future will bring to humans as we take each step forwards, and that intrigues me.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

VoiceSpiderI’m a total pantser. Maybe it had to do with all the essays I had to write in University, but my stories only seem to flow when I am keyboard composing. I’ve tried doing the whole outline thing, and when it worked it worked beautifully, but ultimately I work better on the fly. The characters take on a life of their own and the story they tell is theirs. I’m just there to put it into words.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

The members of my local writer group would say ‘Female Betrayal’.

Really though, I enjoy writing stories with complex characters and the interactions between them. Take my Raven and Holly stories (featured in Taboo and Will of the Alpha 2 & 3, all published by FurPlanet). I’m not a huge fan of setting stories in our current timeline, yet here are a couple I can’t seem to get enough writing about. Sure, the stories are erotic, but the more you look into Raven and Holly’s lives, the more you realize just how complex it is and how much juggling it takes to maintain their polyamorous relationship. It’s something I enjoy exploring and more importantly, want to keep exploring.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

Kaden Stockheimer from Wild Night in Trick or Treat, published by Rabbit Valley.

I spent my twenties as a goth and even now still dip into the culture every so often since hanging up my lucky PVC pants. Kaden represents a lot of my own attitudes from that time in my life, and his experiences with his friends and his girlfriend share a lot of echoes with my own life. He’s not a self inserted character by a long shot, but is the closest I have ever come to putting a part of me into a character.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?abandonedplaces cover

Lovecraft is easily my primary influence. Yes, he was a terribly xenophobe and racist, but he wrote weird fiction that changed the face of horror and influenced many of today’s contemporary horror masters. The scope of his horrors, the inclusion of multi-generational sin, and the idea that mankind is insignificant and unimportance in the scope of the universe are themes that still resonate today and are interesting to explore while writing.

C.L.Werner is another one. Despite writing primarily in the preexisting Warhammer setting, Werner manages to bring his own flavour and personal preferences to his writing. His fantasy stories always seem to have a touch of Lovecraft to them without smacking of it, and that’s always a win for me.

Lastly, Andrzej Sapkowski has recently become a large influence to me. His fantasy novels are easily the most realistic ones I have read when it comes to his characters and their interactions. Much like real life, his characters wear different masks for different situations or people, and often the dueling dialogues between them are as engaging as his fight scenes.

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

She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror, edited by Tim Lieder and published by Dybbuk Press. The concept captured my attention due to my degree in religious studies and my love of horror anthologies. The stories within were amazing and extremely creative. Not only did the writers who submitted capture various themes found within the Bible, but did it in such ways as to make your skin crawl and breath quicken over a variety of timelines.

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

tarl oceanI work with Ocean, Roland and Yannarra on the writing podcast Fangs and Fonts, which has been going for over two years now. I also read a lot, go for hikes, tend to my two feline overlords and fursuit for charities when time permits.

8. Advice for other writers?

When your inner voice says you can’t write, ignore it.

Keep writing, never stop, and continue to practice your craft. You will always continue to improve as long as you write. No matter how bad a rejection may sting or linger in your mind, always remember that you can either run from it, or learn from it. And trust me, learning from it is always the better option. Less repetition of painful lessons that way.

9. Where can readers find your work?

Primarily my works can be found through FurPlanet while my non-furry works can be found on Amazon. For a full list of what I have done, readers can check out my Goodreads page:


10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?

It’s where I met my wife.

Also, the sheer creative force in the fandom is amazing to watch. We have people from every walk of the creative arts who are constantly creating, be it stories, artwork, dance routines, music, you name it, furries create it. We’ve come a long way from when I first got into the fandom, and that was only 20 years ago. I am excited to see where this all goes, what works we create and how we will continue to change mainstream culture. It’s an exciting time for the fandom and I love it.


Check out Tarl “Voice” Hoch’s member bio here!

Member Spotlight: Sorin Kat

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

My most recent published pieces as a short story in FANG.  Exploring themes of betrayal and especially betrayal of friends or loved ones, the action piece followed an agent for a covert intelligence agency that gets tricked into romance and betrayed by the secret object of his affections.  I was really thrilled to explore some of the aspects of betrayal in love.  While in a limited scope because of the length limits and requirements of the piece, I was most excited about digging in the surface of the concept of love by trickery and if it really can ever be a one-sided exercise.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

I am definitely more of a pantser when I write.  While I like to have an idea in my head when it comes to the direction the story will go, I often enjoy the organic joy of discovering the twists and turns with my characters.  I feel this adds a sense of life and energy to the story that the characters are taking the reader on as well.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

I enjoy writing urban paranormal/fantasy, romance and science fiction.  Often i find the most compelling stories include a mix of these genres.  As for the types of stories, I like stories with a dark side, betrayal, loss and elements of hopelessness go a long way to craft a story that the characters can overcome… or fall to, depending on the overall mood of the tale.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

While there is not a specific character in my work that I relate to whole cloth, I tend to relate more to the characters that express a strong sense of self and often find themselves the underdog of my stories.  I find that characters that start the story strong have the furthest to fall and the most compelling build back up again which I enjoy.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

I take influence from a lot of authors both furry and non.  In the mainstream, Orson Scott Card, Jim Butcher, David Eddings, Ursula K. Le Guin, Alan Dean Foster and Anne McCaffrey are my tops!  Within the fandom I often find inspiration in the writings of Kyell Gold, Kevin Frane and Ryan Campbell.

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

A book by Alan Dean Foster called Quozl about a lapine-like race of aliens that come to earth on a generation ship to colonize it only to find that humans are already there!  The story is compelling, following a few generations of the colonists and looking into their unique culture shaped by their ultra-violent past.  A very interesting read!

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

Truth be told, I’m a geek.  Most of my free time is taken up with tabletop board games and RPGs, Live Action Role Playing (and the crafting and costume work that goes with it), computer games, movies and socializing with friends!

8. Advice for other writers?

So cliche, but write!  In the end it doesn’t matter what, but write often and keep everything you write, even if you hide it in a shoe box and pull it out to marvel at your improvement, just do it!  Computer, pen and paper, anything, just write!

9. Where can readers find your work?

I post stories on SoFurry under Sorinkat, or you can check out some of my published works in the RainFurrest charity anthologies, FANG 7 and a few scattered convention books.

10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?

I love the general sense of acceptance that the fandom has.  It’s so refreshing to be part of a group of people that are willing to let people be who they are and are generally friendly about it!


Check out Sorin Kat’s member bio here!