Friday, 29 September 2023

Micro-interview with Colleen Anderson

This week we welcome to the press page Colleen Anderson, author of the poem “The Fungal Force: A History” in The Future Fire #66.

Art © 2023 Melkorka
TFF: What does “The Fungal Force: A History” mean to you?

Colleen Anderson: We’ve learned so much about the mycelial network that links trees and root systems, an alien not-animal lifeform that is part of our world. And of course, there is the destructive controlling fungus that uses insects like zombies to meet its needs. My fiction story, “Sins of the Father” (in On Spec #105) explores that aspect. I work in Vancouver’s DTES (Downtown East Side) and see people being destroyed and physically altered by drugs every day. There is much dehumanization that starts with traumatic abuse in childhood and continues with othering in adulthood. We may see one city or country being particularly abusive of people, but in the end, we are all susceptible to our base natures if we choose to see groups of people as not human or less than.

TFF: You use the names of different mushrooms in a very evocative way. Were these scientific names part of your inspiration for this poem?

CA: No. I chose the names that work in rhythm and potency to the content of the poem.

TFF: What are you working on next?

CA: I’m writing a book of poems on Rapunzel. As is shown, most fairy tales have dark cores. I look at how a hostage in a tower grows and changes, and what happens after the not so happily ever after. Of the fairy tales, Rapunzel may not have died like Snow White but goes through extreme trials and tribulations, giving birth to twins when exiled to the desert.


It began with the men in blue
plus a few other people in government succumbed
when each breath they drew labored with hate

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Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Micro-interview with Toeken

We’re joined for a quick chat by Toeken, artist of “Between the Shadow and the Soul” and cover artist in TFF #66.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Between the Shadow and the Soul”?

Toeken: First off: beautiful writing by Davian Aw. There was heaps of evocative imagery to work from. I decided to put the two images together using collage type techniques and then messing around with old Nokia cameras, compositing 72 dpi blocky photographs of fauna, soil and mannequins, painting those separately and then scanning them. As ya do. It’s fiddly fun stuff. I think the whole process becomes what the artist Russell Mills refers to as ‘serious play.’

TFF: Tell us about an artist whose work you're particularly enjoying at the moment?

Toeken: As per usual, there’s a whole bunch of people out there whose work right now I find is a treat for the eyes and mind. Recently I’ve been sifting through and really enjoying stuff by Mark Smith, who does extraordinary work in ceramics, Gudrun Dorsch, Berenice Abbott, Olawale Moses, Mark Marinkovich and Sarah Jarrett.

TFF: What else are you working on now?

Toeken: Just finished work for Gavin Chappell, Gypsum Sound Tales, Shoreline of Infinity, a few spec pieces and I'm currently trying to get my head around another possible collaboration with my writer pal, Phil Emery (Android Press will hopefully be publishing the cyberpunk-themed graphic novel Razor’s Edge later this year).

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Friday, 22 September 2023

Micro-interview with Anna Ziegelhof

We’re joined today by Anna Ziegelhof, author of “Out of Bounds” in The Future Fire #66, for a brief chat about virtual worlds, aliens and exhibition spaces.

Art © 2023 Cécile Matthey
TFF: What does “Out of Bounds” mean to you?

Anna Ziegelhof: I wrote this story after watching speed-runs of my favorite game (Portal): if you know how, you can disregard the limits of the (game-)world, by-passing the traps meant to kill you. The thought that it might be possible to move independently from the constraints of the world was inspiring to me.

TFF: Would you like to meet aliens from another world?

AZ: Yes. I’d be particularly interested in language, communication, and their perspective on human cultures.

TFF: Tell us about a piece of art that came to life for you.

AZ: There’s an incredible exhibition-space, Gasometer Oberhausen in Germany, a decommissioned gas holder from the area's industrial past. It’s a sublime, completely dark space; you get creature-feeling. They had a video installation by Bill Viola (“Five Angels for the Millennium”) there years ago: that work plus the space in which it was presented is still with me.


I watched my hand, blurred by the turquoise ocean. I imagined a vast unseen world beneath. Nothing down there would deign to pay attention to me. I was unnoticed and insignificant. I moved my hand, palm up, back toward me and said goodbye to the ocean for today. I paddled the board back to the beach. It was nice to move my muscles against the resistance of the water. It felt good to carry the weight of the board and feel the sand under my feet. An evening breeze ruffled through my wet hair. Goosebumps rose on my skin. So real.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Micro-interview with Sebastian Timpe

We're joined by Sebastian Timpe, artist of “One Day” in TFF #66, for a quick chat about illustrating, technique and problem solving.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “One Day”?

Sebastian Timpe: The first step when working with text for me is to read it. I like to read at least once purely for pleasure and just to soak in the ambiance of the story. Then again focusing on what imagery it brings to mind. Then again scanning for specific visual details the author has set out. For this story I sketched out a number of different ideas from direct scenes in the text to more abstract representations of the character’s inner feelings. In the end I kind of went with one of each.

TFF: Your first illustration for this story shows many vibrant colours, while for the second you have chosen a mostly black and white approach. How did you pair these two moments in the story with such different styles?

ST: For the first illustration (above) it is a concrete moment in the story, when our main character steps into the room towards the end and sees the woman she loves. So I went with a very realistic approach in terms of colors and setting, I wanted it to feel warm and vibrant.

For the second illustration it is a more abstract representation of the arc of the story. These two women lives who have been entangled and finally they reach out to each other. I wanted to keep with the fantasy setting choosing a door to represent the new pathway they might take together. But keeping the color pallet black and white (with the exception of the red thread) to detach the image from the strict confines of reality.

TFF: Do you have a superstition or quirk you insist on while working?

ST: Any time something doesn’t feel right in the illustration process or isn’t turning out how I want it to I take a step back and go pet my elderly cat Scruffy. She can’t tell me the solution but it always helps to get my mind off the problem and into cat petting mode instead.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Friday, 15 September 2023

Micro-interview with Davian Aw

We welcome back Davian Aw, author of “Between the Shadow and the Soul” in TFF #66 for a brief chat about virtual worlds and escapism.

Art © 2023, Toeken
TFF: What does “Between the Shadow and the Soul” mean to you?

Davian Aw: The escapist allure of guilty pleasures that save us even as they destroy us, and how those two things can't always be separated. I think many of us—especially from marginalised communities—have secret dreams and aspirations (and favourite media) that may not always be the most aligned with our political beliefs and values, but where those may sometimes be among the few things that keep us going or bring us joy. So that was the tension I wanted to explore here, and the ways in which we disengage from reality when the world makes it unbearable for us to exist as ourselves. Separately, I started writing this story while homesick for New York City after working there a few months, and a lot of the scenes were snapshots of places that I wanted to remember.

TFF: Did you ever wish to be someone else?

DA: All the time. Part of it is that need for escapism, which faded as I grew older and things got better and I found my place in the world. But there's still that curiosity and a kind of grief that we can only ever experience such a limited part of all that this world has to offer. There are experiences and perspectives that are forever inaccessible just because of who each of us are, and I've always been sad about that. Stories are the next best thing we have to get those intimate glimpses into lives we will never live, in this world and beyond.

Personality modules spin into motion and transform Johanna into Ashley. She turns to the window and meets the sight of her beautiful face framed by sun-gilt hair. Crafted memories rush over her own until that face is no longer a stranger’s, but hers, drawing her deep into the soft embrace of Ashley’s perfect life. It’s her life, now; her memories, her body, and everything is all right.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Tuesday, 12 September 2023

Micro-interview with Melkorka

We're joined by Melkorka, artist of “The Fungal Force: A History” in The Future Fire #66, for a quick chat.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “The Fungal Force: A History”?

Melkorka: After studying the poem, I picked out some of the themes that resonated most with me. Having visited in Cambodia in 2003, I had a strong felt sense of the violence that took place during the Pol Pot regime so I began sourcing some images of people who had disappeared during that time and started there. I then sourced an image of police brutality and overlaid it onto the first image. Then I painted the mushrooms, contrasting work by hand with the digital imagery in the hope of illustrating the natural world taking over our one, as in the poem.

TFF: Into which animal or plant would you like to be able to morph?

Melkorka: A dolphin. They seem to have the best time!

TFF: Tell us about an artist whose work you're particularly enjoying at the moment?

Melkorka: Akira Kusaka—I love the dream-like quality of his work.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Friday, 8 September 2023

Micro-interview with Frances Koziar

This week we're joined by Frances Koziar, author of “One Day” in TFF #66, for a chat about day, night, and writing.

Art @2023 Sebastian Timpe
TFF: What does “One Day” mean to you?

Frances Koziar: For "One Day" I was thinking (a very condensed) Virginia Woolf meets high fantasy. 😋 Particularly Mrs. Dalloway, where the entire book happens over the course of one day. Representation is really important to me as a very multi-underprivileged author, and in this story I also wanted to lift up older women, because there are enough fantasy stories about 18-year-old boys saving the world to last a lifetime.

TFF: If you could shut down the power so we all just have to stare at the night, would you?

FK: Absolutely! (At least, sometimes. 😋) I think it's a collective loss how ignorant people have become about how the night sky actually looks without light pollution. I see it a lot in the writing of fantasy authors actually—they'll describe the moon as being the focus of the sky, when a partial moon is really not that remarkable when the sky is filled with a million stars and the Milky Way. They also tend to have no idea of when the moon rises and sets (it's not the same as the sun! It's out in the daytime just as much as the night).

TFF: What are you working on next?

FK: I'm always writing short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry while also working on a novel. "One Day" was my first foray into including poetry in my fiction, and I loved it so much that I decided to include some poetry in the novel I'm just finishing rewriting from scratch now—a literary high fantasy novel about trauma that I wrote ten years ago and haven't found an agent for yet. Wish me luck! ❤️


In the still calm of the palace gardens I stand, watching the sky change from navy to a pale blue streaked with gold. I am as still as only an ageing soldier well used to waiting can be, my grey hair tied tightly at the nape of my neck.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Tuesday, 5 September 2023

Micro-interview with Fluffgar

We welcome Fluffgar, artist of “Boxes Full of Memories” in The Future Fire #66, for another visit and short chat to celebrate the latest issue.

 TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Boxes Full of Memories”?

Fluffgar: I read the story and then let it steep/ferment in my mind. It's often best for me to go and do something unrelated for the time this takes. Get on with some other work, clean the house, play a video game. Subconscious likes to be left to do its first drafts.

TFF: Your first illustration for this story feels very intimate and truly "inhabited" by someone's personality. Did you find inspiration in an actual place?

Fluffgar: For the domestic chaos of the first illustration I need only to look up for inspiration. Creativity and messiness are often found in the same person, and in my household that is doubled. That said, the environment depicted isn't a real location.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Tuesday, 29 August 2023

Micro-interview with Devin Miller

We welcome Devin Miller, author of “Smells of Brine, Witching” in The Future Fire #66, for a mini-interview.

TFF: What does “Smells of Brine, Witching” mean to you?

Devin Miller: We tend to think of things that change and decay as sad, wasted things. What forests teach us is that decaying things are food, homes, an essential part of creation and regeneration. What beaches teach us is that when water wears a stone down, it does get smaller but it also gets smooth and beautiful. This is one of my favorite metaphors for writing: unwritten ideas and unfinished stories aren't wasted, they're just compost for future writing. And compost is a form of transformation, and therefore magical.

TFF: Is it the double nature of fungi that makes them such a suitable witchcraft ingredient, in your opinion?

DM: I think they're a suitable witchcraft ingredient because they are themselves witches. Saprobic fungi feed on dead organic matter, break it down and transform it, which is pretty much what a witch does stirring her cauldron.

TFF: What are you working on next?

DM: I've got lots of short fiction to revise; I've particularly been meaning to get to the one about a road trip with a sea-wife.


Quiet have I lived at the border between
woods and sea. Here where shorebirds scurry, forage,
where wrens, juncoes make busy life in tree homes,
here have I breathed salt.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Monday, 28 August 2023

CFS: Hopeful SF

Photo by Ádám Berkecz on Unsplash
We invite submissions of stories (flash to novelette) or poems for a themed issue of The Future Fire. We would like to see optimistic or hopeful—or even cuddly—futures and fantasy worlds, including (but not restricted to), solarpunk, hopepunk, spoopy horror, cozy, utopian, happy-ever-after/happy-for-now, stories that tease with the better-than-now rather than warn with the (even-)worse-than-now, golden age sense of wonder, radically inclusive and accessible futures or secondary worlds.

You know the drill: use the normal guidelines at Add “HOPEFUL” to the email subject line to help us with sorting, but we will consider subs from the general pool for this issue, and vice versa.

This call will be open until the end of 2023 or the issue is filled.

Tuesday, 22 August 2023

Micro-interview with Sean R. Robinson

We’re happy to have a chat with Sean R. Robinson, author of “Boxes Full of Memories” in The Future Fire #66, about fantastic fiction and nonfiction.

TFF: What does “Boxes Full of Memories” mean to you?

Art © 2023 Fluffgar
Sean R. Robinson: I started writing professionally when the fantasy punk second wave started, authors like Catherynne Valente, Theodora Goss, Kelly Link and others took the work that was done by folks like Terri Windling and reinvigorated the idea of using myth and legend and fairy tale to address modern life. I have always thought that this made a lot of sense, and over the years I've had the opportunity to publish stories from an ongoing series I've called ‘Laundromat Fairy Tales,’ that have looked at issues from life through the lens of fairy tales. “Boxes Full of Memories” is, maybe, a step or two from those, but what do you do when your mother was the sea witch and she dies, leaving all of her stuff behind? A family member passed away several years ago, and the family had to discuss the dispensation of every spoon and fork and frying pan. It was important to them that it was done correctly, as a final act of love. That stuck with me, and found its way into these stories.

For folks interested, one of the other ‘Laundomat Fairy Tales’ has appeared in TFF: “Spindle Talk.”

TFF: If a fantastic creature asked you to tell them a story, which one would you pick?

SRR: My grandfather used to re-tell me the Three Little Pigs as a bedtime story. But I got to pick what the houses were made out of, and there sometimes featured a guest appearance by SuperPig who came and saved the day. I'd go with that, because why mess with the classics?

TFF: What are you working on next?

SRR: I'm in the death throes of a doctorate program, so most of my gray matter is headed to that. I'm currently picking at a Narnia / Those Who Walk Away from Omelas novel that is still in the planning stages, but it's been fun so far. I have a fantasy story (that's maybe a reimagining of Theseus and the Minotaur if you squint and look at it wideways) coming out from Kaleidotrope at the end of the year.


A mattress on the floor under the window, a beaded screen hiding the bathroom. The hotplate I’d gotten her for Christmas, a microwave that looked like it was about to burst into flames. A few plants that seemed to be doing well, even after weeks without water.

And boxes.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Tuesday, 15 August 2023

Micro-interview with Lisa Timpf

We welcome Lisa Timpf, author of the poem “Mycelial” in The Future Fire #66, to talk to us about utopia, music and poetry.

TFF: What does “Mycelial” mean to you?

Lisa Timpf: Underlying “Mycelial” is the thought that Utopia may lie, not in space, but right here on Earth, if we can shrug off the pressure to surround ourselves with more and more things, and get back to taking satisfaction in what is available to us through nature and the outdoors. Mushrooms are a good metaphor for connectivity because of their apparent ability to communicate with one another, and the symbiotic nature some have with trees.

TFF: Does music play a role in your work? Do you have a writing soundtrack?

LT: I don't have a writing soundtrack, but I usually have music playing in the background when I write. It sets a mood and helps me concentrate, so much so that it often takes me a moment to remember where I am when I get interrupted.

TFF: What are you working on next?

LT: Right now I'm working on some ideas for collections (poetry, short stories) and possibly a non-fiction book using some of the research from my never-completed Master's thesis on women's field hockey in Canada's Maritime provinces.


At first, it seemed absurd,
mycelial motherboards in our computers.
But the notion grew on us, the way
shitakes take to oak.

Reminder: you can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at