Monday, 14 November 2022

Micro-interview with Annika Barranti Klein

We had a brief chat with Annika Barranti Klein, author of “AITA for throwing away my wife’s haunted dolls?” in The Future Fire #63.


TFF: What does “AITA for throwing away my wife’s haunted dolls?” mean to you?

Annika Barranti Klein: I love dolls, the more haunted-looking, the better, which seems to bother a lot of people. Like, a lot of people are really anti-doll! I wanted to write a story about haunted dolls, and this story was what happened when I sat down to try. I love it, and I know all of the dolls’ names, even though they didn't make it into the story. Their leader, Eleanor, is based on a doll of mine.

TFF: What famous work of art would you like to hang over your bed?

ABK: Flaming June, the painting by Sir Frederic Leighton, which belongs to Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, who bought it for something like $120 when it went on auction in 1960 and was considered largely worthless; I find this little piece of art history absolutely outrageous. (The painting is currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, on loan while repairs are made to Museo de Arte de Ponce, which sustained damages in the 2020 earthquake. If you are nearby, go see it for me!)

TFF: What are you working on next?

ABK: I'm writing a contemporary romance novel! It contains zero dolls, but does have an adorable Pomeranian.


Extract:
My wife (f42) and I (f43) have been married for 15 years. We have two kids (f13, f11) and live in a very small apartment. She is a painter and keeps a small studio space about ten minutes away by car. These two rents are the absolute maximum our budget allows, so the girls share a bedroom and we all generally live on top of one another. Prior to the pandemic everyone’s schedules overlapped in such a way that it wasn’t too crowded most of the time, but this last year has been very challenging. I don’t think we’re special in this regard and I know it’s been difficult for everyone, but there is one issue I am having that I believe is unique, and that’s what I need your help with.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/10/new-issue-202263.html

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Micro-interview with Adriana C. Grigore

We invited Adriana C. Grigore, author of “Seams of Iron” in The Future Fire #63, to answer a few short questions.


Illustration © 2022 Katharine A. Viola

TFF: What does “Seams of Iron” mean to you?

Adriana C. Grigore: I have some distinct memories of my grandmother reading H.C. Andersen’s The Wild Swans to me when I was little and of me being a little too enthralled by all the nettles in it each time. Lately I’ve become aware I have this fascination with curses; not just with their nature, and certainly not with how they’re broken, but with how characters manage to live in spite of them and how their lives change to accommodate them. I could make a joke and say this is me projecting my chronic pain on every character I touch, but I wouldn’t really be joking that much. Erin’s story was many things, but at the end of the day it was a way of showing that no matter how many things you carry with you, you can eventually find a place that is just the right shape for you.

TFF: Is there one of your ancestors that you would particularly like to meet? What would you ask them?

ACG: Infrequent record-keeping in rural areas around here means that once I look back more than three or so generations, it’s hard to find out much about my family, so I am not particularly picky about which ancestor I’d like to meet, as long as I would meet one. I would probably ask them something like, So what stories did your parents scare you with when you were little?

TFF: What are you working on next?

ACG: I’m currently drafting a fantasy novel about curses (as I was saying), bone magic, and various tidbits of Romanian folklore, but I have also been nursing a few darker short story ideas that I’d like to delve into very soon.


Extract:
When Erin first found the witch’s hut, it was past dusk, and birds were slicing the last spill of sunlight from the horizon, letting it fall like ribbons into the wild, rippling sea. The wind was so strong that the wood of the walls creaked, as if the hut was of half a mind to just let itself be taken away, broken and splashed into the air, like a dry image of a shipwreck. The thistle and chamomile and hyssop that lay around the garden fence were blown back from the cliffside, nearly doubled down to the earth, then shaken around, when the wind turned.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/10/new-issue-202263.html

Monday, 7 November 2022

Micro-interview with Shelly Jones

We welcome Shelly Jones, author of “A Sea Change” in The Future Fire #63, to join us for a few words.


TFF: What does “A Sea Change” mean to you?

Shelly Jones: I originally wrote “A Sea Change” for the Boundaries themed issue of Myriad. I liked the concept of Boundaries and, because my spouse is a math professor, I wanted to incorporate the mathematical notion of boundaries in the piece. After some initial research and many after-dinner conversations about math, I knew I wanted to write about hyperbolic crochet. I love to knit and crochet and I was drawn to the idea of interweaving math and fiber arts and climate change. In “A Sea Change” I hoped to explore how relationships evolve, how love is not always picture perfect, and how we hold on to one another, even if we don't always understand what we need.

TFF: Do you ever switch off, step away from the machine?

SJ: I do, but I should do so more. I try to hike or take long walks in my small town, and these allow me to unplug, give myself permission to not answer an email that just landed in my inbox. These walks also let my brain think in a different way, stepping into a different rhythm of birdsong and wind instead of keyboard clacking and discord dinging. I usually bring a tiny notebook and pen in case a phrase or idea sprouts and I want to capture it right away, afraid I'll lose it by the time I've returned home.

TFF: What are you working on next?

SJ: I always have a few different works in progress that I'm poking at, some with more fervor than others. At the moment, one of the (many) tabs I have open is a sci-fi short story set during the Cold War. Like many of my stories, it deals with loss and a woman making her own path (in this case: to the moon).


Extract:
Like many obsessions, yours started as a distraction, a way to keep your mind off the pain. The doctor said crocheting would be good for your arthritis, the gentle movement keeping your fingers limber. As we drove home from the appointment, we stopped at a craft store, despite our lingering doubts.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/10/new-issue-202263.html

Thursday, 3 November 2022

Micro-interview with Katharine A. Viola

We’re delighted to have Katharine A. Viola, illustrator of “Seams of Iron” in the Future Fire #63, over to answer a few questions.

Illustration © 2022 Katharine A. Viola

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Seams of Iron”?

Katharine A. Viola: There are many beautifully written descriptions in this story, but what really stood out to me was the magic involving the plants, such as nettle, being spun into a thread. Immediately I had ideas about how I wanted to create this image. Additionally, at the end, the snapping of the feather, was really special and I felt it was necessary to include.

TFF: Who or what is your favourite monster?

KV: I love a monster whose back story wasn't always evil; a creature so sad and desperate they felt they had to resort to evil, even though life always presented a choice. Kind of like Darth Vader… so sad, and often relatable.

TFF: Is there a difference for you between creating artwork to order, and composing purely from your own imagination?

KV: Absolutely! I can't stress that enough. While I love to create for other people; something different happens when you create for yourself; a piece of you goes into the work and it will forever be an extension of who you are.


Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/10/new-issue-202263.html

Monday, 31 October 2022

Micro-interview with Jennifer Hudak

We welcome Jennifer Hudak, author of “Spindle House” in The Future Fire #63, for this tiny interview.


Illustration © 2022 Eric Asaris
TFF: What does “Spindle House” mean to you?

Jennifer Hudak: As women age, we often lose societal power, but that doesn't mean our power is gone; it’s just hidden. In “Spindle House,” I explore what power might look like as we age, and how we might wield that power as a community.

TFF: Who is your favourite kick-ass woman from history?

JH: I have a real soft spot for Susan B. Anthony, who lived in my town. She devoted her life to the Women’s Suffrage movement and, alongside Frederick Douglass, became an abolition activist. While she died before women got the right to vote, it’s a local tradition for women to make a pilgrimage to her grave on voting day, and put their “I voted” sticker on her headstone.

TFF: What are you working on next?

JH: I’m currently revising my first novel. It’s a portal fantasy in which a 45-year old woman, her 13-year old daughter, and her 70-year old mother all travel to a portal universe together.


Extract:
Only the crones can hear Spindle House’s call. They alone recognize the whispering of its windows and the keening of its attic, and the ones who follow the call all the way to the front door are allowed admittance. Once ushered inside, the crones do not impose their will on the House, don’t tear down the sagging porch or reupholster the sitting room chairs. They know enough to leave the cobwebs intact, and the House loves them for it. For the crones are no mere inhabitants, and the House is no object to be owned. They are, all of them, peers. They are confidants. They are a coven.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/10/new-issue-202263.html

Thursday, 27 October 2022

How to Break a Curse

How To Break A Curse

Guest post by Tenacity Plys

If you’ve ever tweeted about feeling like a changeling, you’re probably neurodivergent. That was one of the signs for me: that ugly duckling feeling of being so fundamentally different from the other kids in your grade you could be a separate species. Basically, if the popular kids treated you like you weren’t human in middle school, you might have been considered inhuman in the Middle Ages as well—you would have been a changeling.

While changelings were babies disowned by their parents as too strange to be human, that narrative is complicated by the fact that neurodivergence is genetic. While some members of a family might be noticeably different enough to be diagnosed, some people fly under the radar their whole lives. Thinking back on family stories I’ve heard over the years, I realized I’d never know how many people in my family were like me. They didn’t even know it themselves!

With that in mind, when I sat down to write about neurodivergence and the changeling myth, I didn’t just want to write about one changeling. I wanted to write about generations of them. The book that resulted is called Family Curse, but neurodivergence isn’t the curse—curses work better as a metaphor for generational trauma. The neurodivergence of the characters isn’t a metaphor for anything, actually; I just think it’s cool.

Like every story, Family Curse is about what people in the present will do with what they inherit from the past. The autobiographical level of my work is usually an exegesis of some aspect of my personal past that can illuminate my way forward (even if it takes me years to see what my subconscious was trying to tell me when I wrote it, lol). In a larger sense, the past can mean our inheritance from the last generation, our society’s institutions, or something else, depending on who’s telling the story and who’s listening. Curses trouble the passage from past to future.

In curse narratives, the past makes war on the present, dragging characters back in time to repeat cycles of violence. The Oresteia visualizes a curse as a flock of Furies stalking the palace at Mycenae; these bird-women represent lust for revenge, which is the fatal flaw of Atreus, then Agamemnon, then Clytemnestra, then Orestes and Electra. It’s like the House of Atreus has a vendetta against itself, and tellingly, no revenge killing can resolve it. Orestes finally breaks it by… *checks notes* …inventing Athenian democracy? As an ending it sounds weird, but this abrupt left turn is a lesson: turning to justice rather than revenge is what quiets the Furies and their endless clamoring for more blood. In other words, that’s how a curse can be broken.

Since the Atreus curse always appears in the form of one family member killing another because they believe it will give them justice for past wrongs, I would argue that’s literally all their curse is—no bird-women needed. A classics professor in The Secret History speculates that what the ancients called fate is actually another word for what we call psychology; characters in Greek drama have free will despite the fact that their “fatal” flaws make their actions look deterministic. In this way, one act of violence centuries ago can echo down the generations, even when memory of the actual event is lost.

When we don’t even remember the origin of a family curse, how do we make sense of ourselves, let alone find a path to healing? If a missing piece of my familial puzzle came to me at 28, how many more are left to find? I wrote my book as a replacement for the fragments of history I can never get back—not just for my biological family, but the people like me through the centuries whose stories will never be told. If I’m lucky, this (and therapy) will get the Furies to leave me alone.


You can pick up Tenacity Plys’s novella Family Curse - Field Notebooks 1880–2020 as a print chapbook or e-book from Bottlecap Press at https://bottlecap.press/collections/on-sale-now/products/curse.

Monday, 24 October 2022

Micro-interview with Joyce Chng

We invited over Joyce Chng, author of “Treacle Blood” in The Future Fire #63, to answer a few questions.


Illustration © 2022, L.E. Badillo
TFF: What does “Treacle Blood” mean to you?

Joyce Chng: I wrote "Treacle Blood" in year one (or two?) of the pandemic, I think—and writing it brought out all the emotions I'd felt about viruses, performativity, and baring one's soul to an audience who may or may not care. As writers and artists, why do we keep baring our souls (and our metaphorical veins) to audiences who only take and have never given back. In the story, the protagonist/MC keeps on performing even though it saps her physical and mental strength, simply because there is a need. She needs to perform.

TFF: If you had to invite the protagonist of your current work-in-progress to dinner, what would you cook for them?

JC: My current work-in-progress (amongst many) is a YA cosy murder mystery set in the same world of Fire Heart, a YA novel about coming-of-age, swords and swordmaking. The protagonist in this WIP is a young woman apprentice priestess. So, the meal will be simple: home-made rye bread and morani stew (which roughly translates to chicken stew in our world).

TFF: What is your favourite library?

JC: I might sound biased here, but the Singapore National Library (main branch) is my favourite. It's a huge modern building housing more than four levels of books as well as space for performance arts. It has its own cafe as well.


Extract:

“You don’t have to cut open your veins,” the old woman warned me, “just to let them feed on you.”

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/10/new-issue-202263.html

Thursday, 20 October 2022

Micro-interview with Josep Lledó

Josep Lledó, illustrator of “Bridge” in The Future Fire #63 came by to answer a few short questions:


illustration © 2022 Josep Lledó

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Bridge”?

Josep Lledó: I have seen many trolls under bridges and I want to give my vision of that subject so I decided that this would be my drawing. I tried to make a different troll since the bridges are usually all the same

TFF: What is the spookiest corner of the city you live in?

JL: My whole city is a terrifying place, it's built on a wet and unhealthy swamp.

TFF: If you could teleport to any place in the world, where would you go right now?

JL: To the bathroom.


Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/10/new-issue-202263.html.

Monday, 17 October 2022

Micro-inteview with Marisca Pichette

Micro-interview with Marisca Pichette, author of the poem “Charybdis” in The Future Fire #63.


Illustration ©2022 Fluffgar
TFF: What does “Charybdis” mean to you?

Marisca Pichette: To me, "charybdis" is a poem about looking back at your past and seeing both growth and loss. It is tinged with nostalgia as much as gratitude, recalling the magic of childhood and using it to enhance the present.

 

TFF: What is the oldest memory you have?

MP: My oldest memory is of a dream. I woke from sleep and walked down the dark hallway, finding my mother in the kitchen getting ready for work. Seeing her dress, I knew at once I'd worn it-—owned it—in a life before. This is one of two instances when I've felt keenly the memory of a past existence, before I grew old enough for my current life to displace the others.

TFF: If you could "enter" a famous painting or illustration, which one would you choose?

MP: I've always loved the paintings of Lawrence Alma-Tadema. As a child I dreamed of stepping into them, sitting on Grecian benches and looking out across Mediterranean water. My parents' bedroom had a tapestry of "Under the Roof of Blue Ionian Weather." This work sticks with me the most.

TFF: What are you working on next?

MP: What am I not working on? I have new stories and poems coming out all the time, which I announce on my Twitter and through my monthly newsletter, which you can subscribe to through my website. My biggest project right now is a collection of 50 speculative poems, Rivers in Your Skin, Sirens in Your Hair, which is coming out in April 2023 from Android Press. Visit the Android Press bookstore to preorder a copy!


      see her:
dancing at the bottom
—whirlpool kisses—
streams of bubbles
i forgot to taste as i swam
      gasping
in circles.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/10/new-issue-202263.html

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

New Issue: 2022.63

“Progressive art can assist people to learn not only about the objective forces at work in the society in which they live, but also about the intensely social character of their interior lives. Ultimately, it can propel people toward social emancipation.”

—Angela Davis

[ Issue 2022.63; Cover art © 2022 L.E. Badillo ]Issue 2022.63

Flash fiction

Short stories

Poetry

Download e-book version: PDF | EPUB | Mobi

Editorial by Djibril al-Ayad

Friday, 12 August 2022

Micro-interview with Sarah Day

We ran a micro-interview with Sarah Day, author of “The Heart of the Party” in The Future Fire #62.


TFF: What does “The Heart of the Party” mean to you?

Illustration © 2022 Miguel Santos

Sarah Day: “The Heart of the Party” is an exploration of the consensuality of inclusion, basically—that we opt in to communities as much as we may perceive ourselves to be validated or included by a community's inclusion of us. Clear self-expression is a key value that contributes to how I practice my various identities, whether that means which ones I choose to express in a given moment, or the ones that are applied to me by social mores or stereotypes. Consciously choosing your community is way more empowering than accepting the defaults assigned to you, and I think that comes through pretty clearly in the text.

TFF: If a device enabled to share thought and emotions with other people, would you connect to it?

SD: No. I feel enough of people's emotions already without additional wetware. I also work in tech—it's impossible for me to imagine new technology without imagining its commercial or society-wide applications. The idea of normalizing shared emotions among the general populace sounds like a bit of a gender and racial nightmare. Even with all my privilege, I still experience the expectations around silent emotional labor applied to most women, and I definitely wouldn't want to give people more of a reason to expect that I would be doing more of that because I could perceive their feelings and thoughts. And like most power structures, the farther you get from being a straight able-bodied cis white man, the worse I imagine this would go: feeling the barista's racism as you queue up for your morning coffee, hearing a passerby's ableist thought as they navigate around your wheelchair. That's a hard no from me.

TFF: What are you working on next?

SD: I just sold my debut novella, Greyhowler, to Mark Teppo of Underland Press!


Extract:

Staring at the Patrollers across the street, I worried at my crippled implant the way I would work my tongue in an empty tooth socket, trying for the millionth time to activate it. No joy. The frizz of feedback in my hand told me they were still communicating, but the hardware was too damaged for me to hear them. I could guess their conversation, though; they were trying to understand why I’d flash an implant scar at them in broad daylight. Use of networking technology by civilians was illegal, and I was clearly a civilian.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/07/new-issue-202262.html

Monday, 8 August 2022

Micro-interview with Jordan Hirsch

Micro-interview with Jordan Hirsch, author of the poem “We Don't Always Have to Toss Her in the Deep End” in The Future Fire #62.


Illustration © 2022 Cécile Matthey

TFF: What does “We Don't Always Have to Toss Her in the Deep End” mean to you?

Jordan Hirsch: Society in the US relies heavily on the unpaid labor of women and femme-presenting people—particularly BIPOC. We are run ragged and are not adequately supported but are then praised (but not compensated) for our resilience, reliability, and large capacities. How much more would we thrive if we weren't so bogged and beaten down?

TFF: What lost-at-sea thing would you like to find while snorkeling?

JH: A message in a bottle from someone whose story and history I could learn more about.

TFF: What are you working on next?

JH: My main focus right now is revising my adult fantasy novel, though I also have a horror novella that won't stop pestering me to be written. Hopefully you'll get to read both someday soon!


Extract:

What if when she drowns
she grows gills
sprouting out of her hands
because keeping them busy
has always been
what’s allowed her
to breathe?

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/07/new-issue-202262.html