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.

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

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.

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

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).

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

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

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.

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

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

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.


“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

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

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
in circles.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at

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


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!


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

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!


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

Friday 5 August 2022

Micro-interview with Nicole Lungerhausen

We had a chat with Nicole Lungerhausen, author of “Song of Your Life” in The Future Fire #62, who was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Illustration © 2022 Fluffgar

TFF: What does “Song of Your Life” mean to you?

Nicole Lungerhausen: I admire people who are unafraid to speak up and let their voices be heard, especially when it comes to speaking truth to power. There are more ways to speak up and be seen and heard right now than at any other time in history, yet in America so many of us are lonely, isolated and disconnected. As important as it is to speak up, listening—to others and to ourselves—is a revolutionary act of generosity and defiance that more of us need to practice right now.

TFF: Who is your favourite mythological heroine?

NL: I love rusalkas. They are my favorite of the vengeful female tropes in mythology, although, as with most things, whether they are heroines or villains is all in the eye of the beholder. In some Slavic traditions, rusalkas are protectors of pregnant women and children, while in others they are shape-shifting sirens luring young men to their death. Should I meet a rusalka someday, I'm not sure if I would ask her for help or run and hide and I love that!

TFF: What are you working on next?

NL: I'm working on a sci-fi short story that involves time travel, epigenetics, and mental health. And it's a comedy… just kidding! I'm aiming for a hopeful story, though, which I think is an even more difficult needle to thread than writing a comedic story.

You make two attempts to sing the song of your life as the keepers herd you and the other recruits from the holding cell to the arena. Unfortunately, neither attempt results in your death.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at

Wednesday 3 August 2022

Mini-interview with Nicole J. LeBoeuf

We have a mini-interview with Nicole J. LeBoeuf, author of the poem “Reasonable Accommodations” in The Future Fire #62.

Illustration © 2022 Cécile Matthey
TFF: What does “Reasonable Accommodations” mean to you?

Nicole J. LeBoeuf: “What would a were-deer have to do to hold down a corporate job?” began as a light-hearted poetry prompt, but workplace accommodations are in no way a light-hearted subject. It's infuriating that so many of us have to contort ourselves to some arbitrary standard of professionalism, a standard that excludes disabilities and pregnancy and breast-feeding and non-white bodies and trans bodies and queer bodies and gender-nonconforming bodies—there are so many “wrong” ways to have a body! And those who deviate from that strict norm can only expect accommodations from their employer after jumping through an enormous set of hoops to adapt ourselves to a workplace that is hostile to their very existence. And then you're supposed to be so grateful for what scraps of consideration get tossed your way, and if your needs are still unmet, well, that's not your employer's responsibility, is it? So many people have it worse than you, and it's not like we're asking you to do anything your co-workers aren't, so suck it up, stop rocking the boat, stop complaining, stop acting like your situation is unique. That the "disability" being half-heartedly accommodated in the poem is unique speaks to how isolating the experience can be, how we're discouraged from making common cause with each other.

What is the most “punk” thing you've ever done or made?

NJL: Oh, that's easy. In 2012 I joined a roller derby league, and, ten years plus a pandemic later, I'm still at it. Flying around the rink on quad skates and slamming my body into my opponents is about as punk as anything in my life gets. For a female-presenting person in a misogynist world, it's revolutionary to be an athlete, to insist on valuing my body for what I can do with it rather than what it looks like. To wear a tank top and shorts without feeling obligated to shave, for goodness's sake! It's revolutionary to be part of a gender-inclusive sport, to share the track with other women, cis and trans, with non-binary individuals, with people of all identities and backgrounds and body types who just want to get together and play this absurd and bad-ass sport we've all come to love.

What are you working on next?

NJL: Mainly I've been scrambling to get my Patreon project, "Friday Fictionettes," caught up to its intended schedule. Otherwise, I'm working on--well, a lot of things, each of them at a different progress point and all of them giving me trouble. I bounce back and forth between them, which I'm told you're not supposed to do, but it's the only way I function. I've got to have somewhere to go when I get stuck. If the mermaid story is refusing to budge, I can jump to the superhero-who-sees-ghosts story, or the oak dryad poem, or the sentient architecture story cycle, see whether one of those other worlds has come together a little more while it was on the back-burner. I'm a big believer in back-burner time for recalcitrant stories.


Long before it rises in the evening,
the moon’s already full, has been for hours.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at

Monday 1 August 2022

Micro-interview with Sarah Salcedo

Interview with Sarah Salcedo, illustrator of “We Were Ghostless before Her” in TFF #62.

Illustration © 2022 Sarah Salcedo

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “We Were Ghostless before Her”?

Sarah Salcedo: I've been trying to develop a style when it comes to my The Future Fire pieces lately. I don't know how far it will extend, but the stories you've sent me have all felt resonant with each other. I want my drawings to compliment the work without pulling away or spoiling anything. I love beautiful genre art, but the really descriptive ones for me always take away a little bit of my enjoyment of the story. I don't want to be distracted wondering how the art correlates to the story, but I love suggestive art when it accompanies a story. Where it gives you little in terms of a spoiler, but makes sense after it's been read. Ioanna's piece, to be careful not to spoil it for anyone who still needs to read it, inspired me with this image.

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

SS: I live out in the woods, and I don't know that I find much spooky these days. Whenever I feel that haunted feeling, it usually feels more sad or curious than anything.

TFF: To which famous wedding (in any period of history) would have you liked to be invited?

SS: Hmmm… I'd love to get to Anne Boleyn before Henry the VIII and tell her that I'll make a distraction while she escapes on some horses I've hidden out back…

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

SS: I am constantly returning to the work of Anselm Keifer. I was just working on a story inspired by his Brunhilde Sleeps that floors me to this day.

TFF: What else are you working on now?

SS: I am finishing up a short story collection, as well as a fantasy novel, and a rewrite of a literary novel I wrote about an autistic family of women in a small town. I am trying to finish these projects before the fall when I have to dive back into my documentary film projects.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at

Friday 29 July 2022

Mini-interview with Louise Hughes

Louise Hughes, author of “Unspoilt” in The Future Fire #62, joined us for a few questions.

Illustration © 2022 Eric Asaris

TFF: What does “Unspoilt” mean to you?

Louise Hughes: Not everyone can go out there and join a mass protest, whether because they have a disability or some other circumstance prevents them. The world is complicated and it can be frustrating. Sometimes you're so busy focussed on your own thing that you don't even notice what is happening. “Unspoilt” is intended to show that there are other ways of taking part in a rebellion, even one you've only just learnt exists.

TFF: If you could choose only one book to take on a long space journey, which one would it be?

LH: Like the characters in my story, I’m going to pick an audiobook: Hild by Nicola Griffith, narrated by Pearl Hewitt.

TFF: Which natural or geographical feature do you feel most affinity for?

LH: Hills or mountains (definition variable depending on location). I like to be at the top, looking down on everything below. There’s a reassuring solitude about it when you can see all the paths up and know exactly who and what is around you, and all the sounds of the world are there but far away.


The cockpit shutters slid upwards and the planet below us swept into view. Blue, for the most part. The kind of sapphire blue travel corps were so fond of using on holoboards. A series of archipelagos clung to the equator like dead ants.

There was nothing I couldn’t already see in the portfolio. Nothing the drones weren’t streaming up to us as they hovered merrily through their scan pattern. Nothing that wasn’t plotted on Karin’s maps.

Reminder: you can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at this post.

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Micro-interview with Toeken

Micro-interview with Toeken, illustrator of “New Day Dawning” and cover artist in The Future Fire #62.

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

Toeken: Extraordinary tale by Francesca Forrest, truly remarkable. I began sketching several elements—for example the Cacicus cela, the “bloom” and the branches that fire off the choker. Then it was messing around with gouache washes in magnolia and various blues on water color paper before scanning them and arranging the roughs for the two illustrations digitally.

Illustration © 2022 Toeken

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

Toeken: I’ll be frank, when I got the chance to read this I initially thought “I can't do this,” and when that happens I usually just jump in and hope I don’t make a mess of it. With my own stuff, it’s actually a very similar reaction when an image starts to suggest itself. If it’s too easy? F**k it. What's the point of wasting your time doing that?

TFF: Who would you most like to meet, living or dead, for a drink tonight?

Toeken: Right now—Harlan Ellison. Mostly just for the incandescent rage convo.

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

Toeken: As always, there's a bunch: Saelan Wangsa, Julie Dillon, Fan Ho, Leslie Ragan.

TFF: What else are you working on now?

Toeken: Paintings/illustrations for Shoreline of Infinity, Bag of Bones Press, Archive of the Odd and personal stuff, but the monster that’s chewing up the bulk of my creative time right now is the graphic novel for Android Press, written by the ridiculously talented Phil Emery—that’s Razor’s Edge and it is due out early 2023.

Reminder: you can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at

Monday 25 July 2022

Micro-interview with Tim Pratt

Tim Pratt, author of the novelette “A Door of My Own” in TFF #62, joins us for a short interview.

Illustration © 2022 Carmen Moran

TFF: What does “A Door of My Own” mean to you?

Tim Pratt: I often think of the importance of having a place of refuge, where you can relax and control your environment and truly let your guard down; a lot of people don't have a place like that, but once you do, it changes your life, and gives you the confidence to try new things and take risks, because you know there's a place you can retreat and regroup. But, of course, having a place of refuge means that place can be a point of vulnerability… Also, I just really love stories about magic doors, and thought it would be fun to make every door a magic door.

TFF: Tell us about one of your favourite underrated authors?

TP: My favorite modern fantasy novel is The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. It's the only novel he's published (so far) but I hope desperately for another. It's a glorious puzzle box of a book and I re-read it every year or two. Not enough people have read it, but when I mention it to someone else who has, their eyes invariably light up and we spend a little time raving about its wonders.

TFF: What are you working on next?

TP: I’m currently writing a novel called Conquest of Nigh-Space, which should be out late next year. It’s multiverse and space opera, romance and action, espionage and philosophy, jokes and terror. Basically everything I love in one book, set in the world of “A Champion of Nigh-Space” and “A Princess of Nigh-Space”—in fact, the novel is about the unavoidable conflict between the protagonists of those stories.


I found my room when I was eight years old, running from my foster mother when she was drunk, screaming, and flicking cigarette ash at my temporary siblings. I ran to the closet, thinking I should hide, but mostly thinking I wish I could go somewhere safe. For some reason I reached out with my left hand, the one with the key-shaped birthmark on the palm. The door opened, but instead of hanging coats and a tumble of smelly shoes I found a bare room, the floor beautiful blonde hardwood, the walls paneled in oak. The room looked huge (I shared a smaller one with three other kids), and when I was older, I measured it: fifteen feet by twenty feet, three hundred square feet all my own. I looked behind me, down the dark hall, toward the screaming. I stepped through and shut the door.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at this post.

Friday 22 July 2022

Mini-interview with Francesca Forrest

We are joined for a chat by Francesca Forrest, author of “New Day Dawning” in The Future Fire #62.

Illustration © 2022 Toeken

TFF: What does “New Day Dawning” mean to you?

Francesca Forrest: SF generally imagines collective consciousness either as a horrifying erasure of self (as with the Borg in the Star Trek franchise or ancillaries in Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch books) or as some kind of groovy spiritual opt-in experience. I wanted to consider it from a more organic perspective, something more connected to collective organisms that exist already. And I didn’t want to push a viewpoint: I wanted there to be room for a variety of feelings about such a being. Unrelatedly, I also wanted to posit a highly successful non-Eurasian indigenous nation-state.

TFF: What posthuman augmentation would you like to receive?

FF: Not gonna lie: I’d be interested in having Winna’s experience.

TFF: What is the most rebellious thing that you did as a child?

FF: I’m a painfully compliant person, so my rebellions were more along the lines of “This isn’t expressly forbidden, so it must be permitted—right?” When I was seven, a friend and I climbed out a window onto the roof of our back porch in order to launch a flying carpet we’d created. (My parents had never thought to state that climbing onto the roof was forbidden.) Some kind of prudence got us to test the carpet sans riders first. We’d just thrown it off the roof when my mom got home and found us there.

TFF: What are you working on next?

FF: I’m making revisions to a story about a swarm of bees that impersonate a beekeeper’s wife, and I’m also working on a novel to follow on the two shorter-length Tales of the Polity I’ve written.


“There it is,” exclaimed Winna. “There’s the Santa Marta bloom!” Thirty-five thousand feet down, a pinkish-brown smear drifted on blue waters of the Caribbean: Trichodesmium terrens, the novel cyanobacterium poisoning oceans worldwide and bringing hunger and economic chaos in its wake. Next to Winna, Tomás looked up from his tablet and out the window. Across the aisle their boss, Dr. Sengupta, was pointing out the bloom to the half-dozen assistant and associate researchers on his team.

“So that’s Terrible T, the enemy bringing us all together,” Tomás said. “Little does it realize it’s about to meet its doom.” He punctuated his prediction with a half-smile.

Reminder: you can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at

Wednesday 20 July 2022

Micro-interview with Ioanna Papadopoulou

We had a chat with Ioanna Papadopoulou, author of “We Were Ghostless before Her” in The Future Fire #62, who kindly answers a few questions for us here.

Illustration ©2022 Sarah Salcedo

TFF: What does “We Were Ghostless before Her” mean to you?

Ioanna Papadopoulou: It is one of the most precious pieces I have written. It is a mixture of my family history (my paternal grandmother's parents were part of the people forced away from their homes in Pontus) but also my own personal history and experience as an immigrant.

TFF: If you were a ghost, what place or person would you like to haunt or visit?

IP: I think I would like to be a ghost in an art Gallery. I love art and would ideally like to work in museums and art galleries again, so I also love the idea of being a ghost curator as well.

TFF: Who is your favourite mythological heroine?

IP: Growing up it was Artemis but as an adult it is Demeter, because I see her as a female deity that is independent in a way no other one in the dodecatheon was. Neither married and tied to one man nor a virgin, who doesn't have a sexuality, and this allows her to be dangerous.

TFF: What are you working on next?

IP: I am currently working on a fairy story, inspired by Greek Folklore from Thrace. It’s about a young girl finding an ill fairy, who is slowly turning into a leech because of nitrogen pollution and how the two of them save the fairies from extinction.


We told ourselves we were going home. The home of many, many generations ago. Our forever home. Nobody told us that the ones who never left would see us as foreigners, ostracising us from their communities. Nobody thought this land of never-ending sun, which burnt our flesh as we worked its fields, was also the ancestral home of another people, and when they left, their ghosts stayed here and hated us for coming to replace them. And we were defenceless as our own ghosts stayed in our old homeland, near the Black Sea. Maybe our ghosts, those poor lost souls without family and culture, tormented the ones who went there to replace us as theirs did to us.

Reminder: you can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in TFF issue #62 over at this post.

Sunday 3 July 2022

New Issue: 2022.62

“La révolution et la libération des femmes vont de pair. Et ce n’est pas un acte de charité ou un élan d’humanisme que de parler de l’émancipation des femmes. C’est une nécessité fondamentale pour le triomphe de la révolution. Les femmes portent sur elles l’autre moitié du ciel.”

—Thomas Sankara (le 8 mars 1987)

 [ Issue 2022.62; Cover art © 2022 Toeken ] Issue 2022.62

Short stories



Download e-book version: PDF | EPUB | Mobi

Editorial by Djibril al-Ayad

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Winners of the #NoirFire microfic writing contest and giveaway

Our lovely judges Valeria and Fábio have picked the winners of the speculative noir micro-fiction contest. Here to shock us, thrill us and chill us, are the prize-winning stories.

The Winner

The winning story is this lovely, paranormal crime vignette from @Sarah_I_Jackson, who receive two FFN anthologies in paperback plus an e-book of Dan Grace’s Winter from Unsung Stories:

“What'll it be, Vi?” She looked awful. / “The good stuff.” / “You can't afford the good stuff.” / “C’mon Ruby. It's been a night.” / I poured a shot of holy water, watched her knock it back and wince, fangs bared. Saw the bullet holes in her shirt. / “Tough case?” / “Tough case.”

The Runners-up:

In no particular order, the two runners up, who each win e-books of three FFN anthologies plus Winter, are…

This horror-noir with a funebrous twist from @cj_dots:

“You don't look happy to see me.” / “Under the circumstances—” / “My case ended a little too messy for you, hm?” / “Guess you could say that.” / “And after I paid your frankly outlandish fee.” / “Looking for a refund? Sorry to break it to ya, I spent your fee on your funeral.”

And this fierce cyber-rebellion moment from @snowysil:

Her red silicone nails trailed the deep neckline of her dress. “They made me so beautiful. But I've been bad.” She smiled, voltage crackling over her glossy lips, lasers heating her gaze. “Stole my own root code. Now I control my body, and it makes them very, very afraid.”

All these micro-stories are worthy of the Noir Fire title, and we loved reading them and all the other entries! If this has whetted your appetite for more of this sort of thing, why not pick up the anthology…?

Monday 27 June 2022

Micro-interview with editor Djibril al-Ayad

Micro-interview with Djibril al-Ayad, co-editor of the the Noir Fire anthology.

TFF: Where did the idea from this anthology come from?

Djibril al-Ayad: Not gonna lie, my fabulous co-editor is the brains behind this operation (I’m at best the muscle; at worst a sleazy, corrupt freeloader running contraband through his barely-breaking-even dive bar…). When she walked into my office with an offer I couldn't refuse—backed up by a secret investor—I could see the smart move from the start. Takes a better man than me (or at least a soberer one) to say no to a dame like that. And hey: I didn't live to regret it, did I?

TFF: If you were a private eye, how would you call your agency?

DA: Private Ayad? I’m terrible at this…

TFF: Which is the most “noir” city you ever visited and why?

DA: I’m going to say Long Beach, LA County, California. Lovely place, great art galleries, even a dog beach, but approaching or leaving or even just driving past at dusk, the skyline just says Cyberpunk. Maybe Private Ayad should open their office there.

TFF: Do you think it's possible to reconcile noir bleackness and positive, progressive narratives?

DA: Always. I think some of the most beautiful, positive and progressive stories are set against the backdrop of having to survive pretty bleak surroundings. Even if the noir protagonist is their own worst enemy and not going to get a happy ending, just seeing “the helpers,” and people living their passionate, diverse, messy lives despite it all is a hugely optimistic thing to see.

TFF: What are you working on next?

DA: No concrete plans yet, but after the next few regular issues of The Future Fire, I’m sure we’ll have another themed, special or collaborative project to share with you. We’re always happy to meet new friends, so chuck ideas our way if you have any!

You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at

Friday 24 June 2022

Mini-interview with Dan Grace

Mini-interview with Dan Grace, author of “Immaterial” in the Noir Fire anthology.

TFF: What does “Immaterial” mean to you?

Dan Grace: A question that was troubling me when I wrote this story was the idea of immaterial labour and its place in my own, materialist understanding of the world. I'm a library worker by day so the question of immaterial production, knowledge production and so on is something I think about a lot. For me this story is part of a wider critique of certain strains of utopianism (left and right) that see us as able to leave the material world behind somehow, to ascend to some fully automated paradise, when what often happens is that in our rush to embrace ‘automated’ processes we obfuscate the existence of a global working class upon whose labour any ‘immaterial’ world must be built.

TFF: Is there a happy medium between living in a decadent, virtual world while the body sits in its own filth, and disconnecting completely to live with nature?

DG: There has to be! There is no going back to anything, to any state of nature etc., short of some hideous catastrophe that forces it upon us. Yet to allow ourselves to believe that we all can live in some decadent virtual world is disconnected from the material reality of the majority of the worlds population, and is therefore not, in my opinion, an option either. It is the hope of a new world beyond this binary that really drives me forward—that this seeming contradiction, the material and the immaterial, can and will be resolved. How, when and by who are, of course, the big questions, and ones that I think can be usefully and creatively explored through speculative fiction.

TFF: What are you working on next?

DG: I’ve had a few years out from writing so I’m trying to fire my engines up again. I have a longer piece in the very, very early stages that’s attempting to tackle some of the stuff outlined above.

You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Micro-interview with Benjanun Sriduangkaew

We interviewed Benjanun Sriduangkaew author of “We Are All Wasteland on the Inside” in the Noir Fire anthology.

TFF: What does “We Are All Wasteland on the Inside” mean to you?

Benjanun Sriduangkaew: I really enjoyed writing the bleakness in it—it’s a pretty grim story all around, with nods to a kind of “Spirited Away but really, really dark and lesbian.” A lot of my fiction has a happy ending, but this one has a conclusion that refuses to absolve or soothe the protagonist. She will always be rejected by the magic forest.

TFF: Which elements of your writing (this story or others) are directly inspired by mythology and folk tale: settings, characters/creatures, tropes, storylines…?

BS: A lot are! In my Machine Mandate books, a lot of characters—AIs in particular—have names derived from Buddhist or Taoist concepts, or deities (Samsara, Klesa, Benzaiten in Autumn). And sometimes my story beats are influenced by Asian epics, with a lot of disguises and hidden identities.

TFF: Other than Noir and SF, what two (or more) genres would you like to see smashed together in a future anthology?

BS: Psychological thriller and SF, or giant mecha and magic.

TFF: What are you working on next?

BS: A new series after the Machine Mandate finishes in July, and collaborations with my co-author that’s turning out to be a really fun lesbian urban fantasy!

You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at

Monday 20 June 2022

Mini-interview with Timothy Yeo

We interviewed Timothy Yeo, author of “The Fox and the Snake” in the Noir Fire anthology

TFF: What does “The Fox and the Snake” mean to you?

Timothy Yeo: Foxes are portrayed as cunning, and snakes as monstrous, and the commonality between the two is that they are both predators. The fox and the snake(s) in the story both fight to get the best of one another, and in the end only one will remain.

TFF: How obvious and how appropriate is it to combine the trickster (god? spirit?) character with the con or heist plot type?

TY: Fun fact: this story is based off a Japanese anime that resonated with me, and anime fans would know which one I am talking about. Anyhow, the melding of the supernatural and the mundane has always been something anime does well, and I hope it translates well to the page. These are fantastical events, made believable by very relatable concerns that occur in our daily lives.

TFF: What is the new year’s resolution that you most epically failed to keep?

TY: This is question is precisely why I don't make new year's resolutions. I note down tiny weekly goals instead.

TFF: What is the lost thing that you dream of re-finding?

TY: My childhood innocence. Somewhere in the bottom of the sea, I hope by now it hasn't whittled down to nothing.

TFF: Other than Noir and SF, what two (or more) genres would you like to see smashed together in a future anthology?

TY: Speculative and Mystery. A normally mundane puzzle can become so much more interesting when the supernatural is sprinkled on top of it.

TFF: What are you working on next?

TY: Short stories are a ton of work to craft, so I'm taking a break for now. Hopefully I'll soon be back, probably with a genre not too far off from noir.

You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at

Friday 17 June 2022

Micro-interview with Laura Gregory

Micro-interview with Laura Gregory, author of “Nightingale’s Lament” in the Noir Fire anthology.

TFF: What does “Nightingale’s Lament” mean to you?

Laura Gregory: Noir with a speculative twist gave me the freedom to re-examine expectations—why do we impose gender norms on mythological creatures? What if my femme fatale was nonbinary? How does that interact in a noir genre that traditionally leans a bit misogynistic? It was very meaningful to create an inclusive story in this new mashed up noir world.

TFF: Other than Noir and SF, what two (or more) genres would you like to see smashed together in a future anthology?

LG: Steampunk and Crime. I always enjoy the steampunk aesthetic and crime allows you to examine the spaces where society has failed its people.

TFF: What are you working on next?

LG: A portal fantasy novel full of nostalgic escapism and sarcastic unicorns.

You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at

Wednesday 15 June 2022

Mini-interview with Thomas Ha

We interview Thomas Ha, author of “Horangi” in the Noir Fire anthology.

TFF: What does “Horangi” mean to you?

Thomas Ha: There are several themes that drew me to write “Horangi,” but I think the core of the story is about the tension between how others view us and how we view ourselves. As someone who’s mixed race, I think there’s something unsettling that you learn from a very young age: who you are can feel like it depends on the perception of the person looking at you. I think I’ve heard someone compare it to living like an optical illusion, like the Rubin’s vase. When someone looks at me, do they see a vessel? Or do they focus on the surrounding space and see two faces? Am I Asian when I navigate certain contexts and situations? Or am I something else? I don’t always know, even now, as an adult. And as multicultural families and individuals have grown more common over recent generations, I think that’s something you hear or read about more often—a shared experience, that inability to control one’s own identity.

As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve also become more interested in how that tension generalizes to others’ experiences too, beyond race. The grandfather in this story, for example, the Horangi, who is (very, very loosely) based on my grandfather—he experiences this kind of identity disconnect in his own way. The grandfather is the ultimate liminal being (and yes I know writers overuse the word “liminal” but I think it truly applies here). He bridges a world of folklore and the mundane; the culture of his home country and the states; the high class he once served and the low class he lives in afterward. So while the grandson character is going through a sort of childish, simplistic identity crisis—trying to prove his “Koreanness” to strangers at every turn, hyper sensitive to whether he “fits” in with his Korean family—the grandfather is navigating a similar, if not more complex challenge with multiple dimensions to it.

And in that context, what I like about the grandfather, and what I think the heart of the story is about, is his certainty of self. Despite what others see in him, he says with his words and his actions: “I am not an animal. I am not a criminal. I am a man who loves his family, and that is what I will be, your expectations be damned.” And I admire that in him.

TFF: Korean folklore obviously plays a large role in “Horangi.” What was your thought process in using that folklore here?

TH: I really wanted to use the Tiger, Horangi, for this particular story, because he’s a fascinating figure in Korean myth. Most often, he’s a violent threat or a temperamental fool, the villain really of numerous fables. On the flipside, there are also smaller stories and folktales where the Tiger is regarded as a powerful protector, someone who rewards humans for their loyalty, filial piety, and adherence to Confucian values. Likewise, in certain forms of art (minhwa), he’s simultaneously powerful and associated with aristocracy, but he’s also depicted as dumb and kind of goofy. He’s a complicated character and varies in his role depending on the tale and the context.

The Tiger’s also unique in that there are both themes of failure and striving for humanity in his stories that you don’t necessarily see with other characters. Whether in the founding myth of Korea (Dangun) or smaller fables (Horangi Hyungnim), there’s an element of the Tiger striving to emulate human characteristics and often coming up short. I have a soft spot for characters like these. The ones that try and don’t succeed. Part of why I wrote this story was to wonder a little, what would a character like that be like if he managed to become human in some form? How would he look back on his misdeeds, his mistakes, and how would he try to live his life if given more freedom in a new life?

TFF: In what ways do you view “Horangi” as a noir story?

TH: It’s funny. Even before the call for this anthology, when this piece was originally printed, I very much thought of this as a noir. I very consciously molded the Horangi in the vein of someone like a Philip Marlowe. Someone who’s lived a complicated life and navigates numerous worlds because of his experiences. There are echoes of other noir archetypes in the other characters as well—the Yongs are very much the guarded, high-class clients with secrets to hide. Kkachi and Tokki are like the info brokers and underworld characters who guide the detectives through different societal layers. And Mr. Kim is a combination of the hench-threat and victim—someone who is both a danger to others but vulnerable himself.

But most of all, I think of this as a noir because of the Hawai’i setting. Noir has a complicated history, but in cinema and literature, arguably has heavy, foundational ties with Los Angeles. And in noir fiction, LA is very much a city of contrasts. Much like the light and dark noir is famous for, early LA noir showcases a lot of glamour and opulence, as well as a parallel world of exploitation, economic extraction, and racial violence.

I think much of that is true of where I grew up in Honolulu as well. Yes, it’s a beautiful tourist destination with pristine nature, a melting pot of cultures, and a unique place to have called home. But it’s also the site of an illegal overthrow of a kingdom, foreign occupation, colonization, and militarization. I think there’s a whole category of Hawai’i noir that has yet to be explored about what lies beneath the surface that visitors perceive. The poisoning of resources (quite literally in the case of leakages of military storage tanks in Red Hill, most recently), the islands’ place as a node in the trans-Pacific crystal meth trade, the class and labor struggles that stretch back to the days of the sugar plantations. It’s a different gloss maybe, but at its core, that, to me, is noir.

One strain of “Horangi” that I didn’t manage to fit into this story, for example, is how Koreans themselves only recently freed themselves from Japanese occupation in the early 20th century, only to emigrate to Hawai’i and participate in the colonization of another society. I’m not sure that’s something my grandparents’ generation fully appreciated in the 70s and 80s. They thought of themselves as just moving to America. But it’s a complicated issue that I think more Koreans are coming to terms with in subsequent decades. That kind of dynamic between minority groups, cultures, economic classes, again, I think of that all as a driving force in noir fiction. I may not be the right writer to tell some of those stories, but I do hope that’s something future writers explore.

TFF: What are you working on now?

TH: I most recently had a science-fantasy story in Beneath Ceaseless Skies about a mother and son hunting alien con men, “To People Who’d Never Known Good.” Oddly enough, it might be that my most personal “diaspora” story besides “Horangi,” despite not having anything to do with my Korean background. I also have reprints coming out later this year: “Balloon Season” (originally in Fusion Fragment) coming out in PseudoPod and “The Liminal Men” (originally in Dark Matter Magazine) coming out in Fusion Fragment. After that, who knows what the future holds, but hopefully more short fiction soon!

You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at

Monday 13 June 2022

Mini-inteview with Valeria Vitale

Mini-interview with Valeria Vitale, editor of the Noir Fire anthology

TFF: Where did the idea from this anthology come from?

Valeria Vitale: I have always been attracted to the Noir genre, starting with the movies from the golden age of Hollywood. I liked the witty dialogue and, in general, the heavy literary influence many of these stories had. But what I look for in a story has changed a lot over the years, and some of those beloved classics now feel hard to watch or read: rampant misogyny, not-so-veiled racism, homophobia, ableism, exoticism and, really, any of the worst “isms” you can think of. And yet I still felt a deep connection to the genre, to its ability to look  the abyss in the eye and still re-emerge with the will to fight one more time. So I joined forces with Djibril and we decided that the world deserves better noir! That we can have stories that are bleak but beautiful and that don’t thrive on demeaning stereotypes but, on the contrary, show that progressive noir is not only possible but truly blossoming.

TFF: Is noir a natural partner of speculative and other “genre” fiction, or is this a deliberately discordant marriage of themes?

VV: A bit of both, maybe. There are some obvious matches, like noir and cyberpunk, that have so much in common that is sometimes hard to really apply labels. But I tend to like more experimental contaminations. Some are quite entertaining especially as noir, being so full of clichés, is also one of the most parodied genres. But other cross-genre stories are simply so graceful and they just… work so well that reading them becomes a special treat. You can surely find some neat examples in our anthology, if you’re curious!

TFF: If you could enter a film or novel, which one would you choose?

VV: I tend to like noir, horror and gothic stories but, honestly, I wouldn't really want to live in any of those settings! What I have sometimes dreamed of was entering in a fantasy world, where I can learn to fight with magic, build animated maps and have a talking animal companion that is clearly smarter than me. I would like to do something heroic, something that can, literally, save the world. Or die trying!

TFF: What is the shortest story you like to retell?

VV: I haven’t read it yet! But it will be the micro story that will win our tweet fic contest! Do you want to know more about it? Find all you need to know here:

TFF: What fascinates you?

VV: I will borrow the words of one of my favourite directors, François Truffaut, who was also a very insightful critic and an avid reader: “When the same things are funny and melancholic at the same time, it's just wonderful.” I guess I find fascinating the kind of art that achives that, that makes you a little sad, but leaves your heart warm nonetheless.

TFF: What is the new year’s resolution that you most epically failed to keep?

VV: To adopt fewer dinosaur toys

TFF: What are you working on next?

VV: To get to know the city where I’m moving to in a few months! I’ll look for books by local authors, ideally set in the city itself. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll find a couple of noirs!

You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at

Friday 10 June 2022

Mini-interview with M.L. Clark

We interview M.L. Clark, author of “The Stars, Their Faces Uplifted in Song” in the Noir Fire anthology.

TFF: What does “The Stars, Their Faces Uplifted in Song” mean to you?

M.L. Clark: In my earlier fiction, I was trying to figure out how to manifest characters who better represented my own sense of a subject-position, as an enby who really hates labels. I wanted to capture the feeling of being someone who carries many different performances of self who moves through a world where oppression comes in the form of many stringent hierarchies. All of this is background for me, though. Readers should still be able to enjoy it as is, as the story of a world-weary AI detective on an interplanetary case.

TFF: You have achieved an unusual take on (near) immortality in this story, managing to avoid both cliché and pathos. Do you think it is possibly to be both deathless and human?

MLC: I think we humans often go through periods when life feels endless, which—while obviously inaccurate—is a point of view contained within the human condition. I feel the endlessness of our struggles sometimes, the acute grief and weariness of knowing that we won't fix all the crises that need fixing in our lifespans. Being fleeting in a world of oppression that will outlive us is a delicate but important tension to explore.

TFF: Would you like to visit another planet?

MLC: Oh good grief, no. I haven't even explored enough of this one. I love the photography from all our wonderful, fearless bots, though!

TFF: If you could give life to an inanimate object, what would you choose?

MLC: I think I have to go with a house, since I live in Colombia, a land with a pretty famous depiction of a magical house (care of García Márquez). But it would have to be the right house, one that seems like it would have a good personality if it came to life. And not too much self-awareness, not enough to resent being conscious but unable to uproot itself. That would be hell for the poor thing. In fact, let's not give me animation-powers. I'd probably Monkey's-Paw it, and add to worldly suffering.

TFF: Other than Noir and SF, what two (or more) genres would you like to see smashed together in a future anthology?

MLC: We've had solarpunk, but I think we really need more solar nihilism, because solarpunk can fall into this idea that having cool new gadgets is enough. I want to see more worlds focussed on the deeper complexities of building sustainable future societies, but with our expectations of long-term change made much more realistic. We can't "stop" climate change, but we can mitigate its effects and ease its impact on the survivors. What will that look like in the stories we tell?

TFF: What are you working on next?

MLC: Currently trying to finish editing on another AI detective story, this one a novel that tackles neoliberalism through a future in which a highly market-driven alien species paves (Earthly) paradise and puts up an amusement park. One of the attractions is an AI character generated from a near-future movie series with a Bond-esque man-of-mystery. As he starts to realize what he is, and what's happened to humankind, he also has a mystery to solve for his employer. Ideally the first in a series, but we'll see if the markets are favourable to a story critical of markets themselves!

You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at

Wednesday 8 June 2022

Micro-interview with Damien Krsteski

Micro-interview with Damien Krsteski, author of “Siv Delfin” in the Noir Fire anthology.

TFF: What does “Siv Delfin” mean to you?

Damien Krsteski: “Siv Delfin” is an exploration of the fear of death, and a reminder that no matter how unpleasant that fear is, we owe it to ourselves and to others to face it and learn to live with it.

TFF: Other than Noir and SF, what two (or more) genres would you like to see smashed together in a future anthology?

DK: I'd love to see Hard SF and Horror mixed together.

TFF:What are you working on next?

DK: I'm working on a couple of longer stories set in the very near-future, centered on AI. It's an interesting experience, constantly trying not to be scooped by reality and actual progress in Machine Learning.

You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at

Monday 6 June 2022

Micro-interview with H. Pueyo

Micro-interview with H. Pueyo, author of “I Will Make You Remember Me” in the Noir Fire anthology.

Illustration © 2019 Dante Ruiz
TFF: What does “I Will Make You Remember Me” mean to you?

H. Pueyo: This story explores many themes that are important to me, like memories, exploitation and pain. More specifically, the desire to erase your own memories or keep them, and how the ghost of violence can keep haunting you in either case.

TFF: Other than Noir and SF, what two (or more) genres would you like to see smashed together in a future anthology?

HP: I would love to see unusual combinations with horror, especially those that add a certain tenderness to it, like erotic sci horror or horror/romance.

TFF: What are you working on next?

HP: Besides finishing the revisions of my novel and writing a couple of novellas, my bilingual collection A Study in Ugliness (Lethe Press) will come out by the end of 2022! And short stories, of course—always some short stories here and there.

You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at