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Small Press, Big Stories: Fox Spirit Books

Small Press, Big Stories is a monthly column focusing on small and independent presses from around the world. This month’s featured publisher is Fox Spirit Books.

This month on #smallpressbigstories we’re talking with Auntie Fox, aka Adele Wearing, who heads up one of the best known independent presses in the genre today – the award-winning Fox Spirit Books.

Fox Spirit won the British Fantasy Society’s Best Independent Press Award in 2015 – how awesome was that? Did it mark a validation or a step up for all the hard work you’ve put in?

Fox Spirit Books (logo)This was huge for us, and very unexpected. Everyone on the team is freelancing and has a day-job, but the dedication is incredible and we all want to produce something great every time. To have that recognition from our peers was great validation. It was also a reminder that small presses can make an impact and do something that matters, even if it is on a small scale. We continue to push, not just to put out great stories, but to put our limited reach and our endless passion where my big mouth is, and pull in a more diverse group of writers and artists.

I will jump on this opportunity again to thank everyone who has put their faith in us and been willing to work with this ridiculous upstart press over the years. We are always trying to live up to that faith.

You’ve called Fox Spirit “fearless genre warriors”, and all the authors are part of the “Skulk” – a sort of inclusive and enthusiastic gang mentality. Do you think this is a part of what has made Fox Spirit such a success? Was it intentional?

Fox Spirit started from a group of us thinking it would be fun to do a thing (Nun & Dragon) and then the thing actually happened. So I guess the sense of being a gang grew from that. Starting out I was working mostly with people I already knew, and then Sarah Anne Langton coined the nickname Auntie Fox and created the little fox in a top hat logo and there were comments about the skulk. I took it on and built on it, because the community is why I reviewed and how I ended up publishing so it made sense to me, but it was originally unintentional.

The sense of being part of a floofy gang/cult/militia is part of what makes it fun though, and we include our fans and readers in that. You don’t have to be published with us to be skulk, you just have to love reading and have a natural disregard for genre boundaries. Straighten your whiskers and floof your brush are pretty much our only rules for entry to the skulk.

Tales of the Nun & Dragon (cover)Speaking of The Nun & Dragon, what are the Bushy Tales?

The Bushy Tales are a set of three anthologies that collect stories from various genres, new and established authors on loose themes. Tales of the Nun & Dragon was what started it all and is loosely based around the concept of a pub or tavern, slightly out of normal time and space, where adventurers can tell tall tales. It features a wide range of stories featuring nuns, dragons or both. We followed up with Tales of the Fox & Fae and Tales of the Mouse & Minotaur, which both feature, humour, horror, anthropomorphised creatures and lots of other things. Basically we came up with some really good pub names and didn’t want to waste them, so anthologies were created. Mouse suffered a lot of delays and issues and has come out, umm, a bit late, but there is definitely no curse. We want to be clear on that, it is not cursed. *cough*

Fox Spirit also publishes another series of anthologies, the Monsters series. These look absolutely gorgeous – will there be more of them?

The Fox Spirit Books of Monsters is a world tour. We have done Europe, which leans heavily to western European myths. African Monsters, which features a Caine Prize shortlisted story (“Bush Baby” by Chikodili Emelumadu), and Asian Monsters, which was recently featured in Asian Lit Review are all out now. This year we are releasing Pacific Monsters, which leaves us with two volumes of American Monsters and finally heading to Eurasia which takes us to 2020. After that we have some thoughts about a nonfiction title looking at the origin stories of a lot of these monsters. In the meantime if people are interested we always run a blog series from some of the authors to accompany release, the links to those posts are on the site on the Monsters pages. So we will be busy producing monsters for a while yet!

These volumes are particularly gorgeous because of the artwork included, not least Daniele Serra’s covers.

Monster Books (covers banner)

Your latest release – out just in time for Edge-Lit, in fact – is the fantasy novel The Hobgoblin’s Herald by A. R. Aston – tell us more!

The Hobgoblin’s Herald (cover)Andrew is a fairly new writer, but he sent us a storming fantasy adventure novel. I am going to cheat a little and give you a blurb here because Andrew is a much better writer than I am.

There are monsters in the forests of Katahia, and not all of them are human…

When a poacher’s daughter saves one of their chieftains, she is drawn into the twisted world of the dreaded hobgoblins, where life is cheap and pity is weakness. Together, the girl and the malignant beasts must cross a realm on the cusp of dynastic civil war, in search of a land where they might thrive, or else be eradicated in the coming conflict.

As the road before her grows ever darker and her allies ever stranger, Mallory must choose which side she owes loyalty, and what she is willing to do in order to survive.

If that draws you in, then the full prologue of The Hobgoblin’s Herald can be read free on the Fox Spirit website, right about here. And Andrew will be at Edge-Lit too…

What’s next for the Skulk? Where can we find you this year?

I will be at Edge-Lit this year as usual and that is it as far as commitments at the moment. I changed day-job late last year and decided to take a year off from the events circuit to regroup a bit. Watch out for us in 2018 though, I plan to be everywhere!

Book wise, we still have a number of titles coming out this year, Sytown by K. C. Shaw which follows the sky pirates that featured in some of her earlier shorts, in their first full time outing is also due for the summer. Desperate Measures by Jonathan Ward and Got Ghosts by Fiona Glass are both slated for this year. It’s also looking good for nonfiction with another Vulpus title coming out, the ebook version of Neil Adams autobiography on our FoxGloves imprint, and a second Pseudopod Tapes volume from Alasdair Stuart.

In terms of teasers, we have our second Fennec title coming out by the fabulous Tracy Fahey and Jan Siegel has a sekrit project under way with us for a November release, more on that from Jan at Nine Worlds.

If I may take a moment, I would urge people to support the small presses they like, and the indie book stores, we always say what a shame it is when they close, but the only thing that can keep either alive is sales. Reviews help too of course.

Thanks again to Adele Wearing for taking the time to speak with us. If you’d like to learn more about Fox Spirit Books and what they have to offer you can check out their website or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

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