Sunday, 3 April 2022

New Issue: 2022.61

“With a genre like film noir, everyone has these assumptions and expectations. And once all of those things are in place, that's when you can really start to twist it about and mess around with it.”

—Lana Wachowski

[ TFF Noir; Cover art © 2022 Saleha Chowdhury ]Issue 2022.61: TFF Noir

Short stories

Novelettes

Cover art by Saleha Chowdhury

Guest editorial by Valeria Vitale

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Micro-interview with Cécile Matthey

We welcome back Cécile Matthey, illustrator of “Make of Me a Comet” and cover artist of The Future Fire #60.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Make of Me a Comet”?

CM: In the first illustration, Elsa is full at work on something we can’t really see—to avoid spoiling the end of the story. There are some hints at her final sculpture in the second illustration, a collage showing her desk. Among various things, like a shopping list, newspaper clippings and a sandpaper sheet, all stained by the bottom of a coffee mug, there are several research sketches. The newspaper clippings were included afterwards, when I fell upon a small article mentioning the… passing of a comet! In the same issue, there was also an article about Georgia O’Keeffe, a famous woman artist whom Elsa might admire, so I added it too.

Illustration © 2022 Cécile Matthey

TFF: With whom, alive or dead, would you most like to collaborate, and on what?

CM: With a friend of mine, a Swiss musician and music producer called Cat’s eye. I made a live illustration on one of his songs ten years ago… already. I’d love to illustrate the cover of one of his next albums, for instance. Usually he designs them himself, because he is also a talented photographer. Anyway, I have been too shy to ask him so far 😉.

TFF: What is more fun, to build or destroy a sand castle?

CM: To build it… and to destroy it right away ! Living rather far from the sea and sand beaches in Switzerland, I didn’t have many occasions to do so when I was a child. But I remember having done something similar with a few medieval castle models made of cardboard.

TFF: What one lesson would you offer to a budding artist?

CM: A lesson in three parts, which appear very simple, but that took me almost a lifetime to understand and practice:

  • Try, do not be afraid to fail: that’s the way you learn and get better.
  • Be curious, keep your eyes open: inspiration can be found anywhere, anytime.
  • Have fun!
Illustration © 2022 Cécile Matthey

TFF: What else are you working on now?

CM: As you already know, I’m also a scientific illustrator in archaeology. I’m currently working on an antique treasure discovered in a Roman villa (Yvonand, Switzerland). It is mostly composed of silver spoons and bracelets, some of which are elaborately decorated, looking very modern. Clearly, this treasure has been hidden, but we don’t know why, nor by whom. It’s moving to think these objects have been used and worn by people, more than 2000 years ago.


Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Friday, 1 April 2022

Micro-interview with Marianne Connolly

Welcome Marianne Connolly, author of “Mrs. Daedalus” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: What does “Mrs. Daedalus” mean to you?

MC: “Mrs. Daedalus” began as a prompt in the Wordos critique group, “How My Mother Became A Drone.” It developed into a story about my own mother, but with more magic and less nagging.

Illustration © 2022 Joyce Chng

TFF: Would you like to be or to own a robot?

MC: I wouldn’t choose to be a robot, but I would appreciate a few enhancements, like super-sharp vision or the power of flight. As for owning a robot, I’d be cautious. I think any robot worth its salt is likely to organize its own liberation. Think about Murderbot (Martha Wells), the Cylons (Battlestar Galactica), and Phillip K Dick’s androids (with or without electric sheep). Maybe it’s better to have a robot roommate and share the chores.

TFF: What are you working on next?

MC: I’m working on two short stories about were-creatures, and an urban fantasy novel set in Boston in 1983.

Extract:

My mother had a knack for appliances. She liked machinery, the way some women like cats or houseplants, and machinery liked her. When I was a kid, she would embarrass me at the department store, talking to the toasters, purring over an avocado green Osterizer, clucking her tongue as though they were puppies whining in a store window, crying to come home. When she did take one home, she would tinker, and the transformation would begin. In my mother’s kitchen, machinery began a second life.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Micro-interview with Katharine A. Viola

Katharine A. Viola, illustrator of “Before We Drown” in The Future Fire #60 came by to chat briefly about her work.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Before We Drown”?

KAV: This was easy. The words painted such a vivid description both physically and on an emotional level; it was more difficult on what not to try and paint.

Illustration © 2022 Katharine A. Viola

TFF: What do you dream?

KAV: I, unfortunately like many, have anxiety dreams… I waited tables more than 10 years ago and still have dreams that I get too many tables and can't serve them all. Also, I often am back in school, forget to take class all year, and show up to the final exam unprepared. I’m over it!

You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Micro-interview with Jennifer R. Donohue

Welcome, Jennifer R. Donohue, author of “Every Quivering Fold of Flesh” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: What does “Every Quivering Fold of Flesh” mean to you?

JRD: For me, “Every Quivering Fold of Flesh” is a 'what if?' story. The washed-up blob that I describe is far larger than the mystery blobs that tend to wash up on beaches in the real world, maybe more whale-sized, and I'm not really sure of the typical method of their disposal (though I'm sure we've all seen or heard of the 'dynamite whale' video.) So I thought "well what if a Thing washed up, and nobody really knew what it was, but other than that, it somehow wasn't really remarkable enough either? So it just sat there." And then I thought, well what if somebody ate it? And what if, by eating it, they were transformed? So this is the somewhat alarming (according to my readers) result.

Illustration © 2022 L.E. Badillo

TFF: Is there something you would definitely never, ever eat?

JRD: First of all, I would definitely never eat a blob that washed up on a beach. I'm actually not really a big fan of seafood; when I was little, my palate was very easily overwhelmed by stronger tastes, and since I'm from the Jersey shore, seafood was something I was presented with again and again, and have consistently not liked. There was a time when Orange Roughy was a really popular fish, and I could tolerate that, and my dad (not unreasonably!) thought "well if we tell her the fish we give her is Orange Roughy, she'll eat it and won't know the difference" and that did work...until it didn't! So then I was unwilling to try fish at all for literally years. So now, my very limited fish palate includes things like fried calamari, mahi mahi, canned tuna, and the spicy salmon that's often in/on sushi. I will absolutely not eat octopus, though, I won't even try it. Their intelligence makes me feel really bad about the idea of eating them.

Extract:

When it washed up on the beach, the news said these things tend to be giant squid, or whales, or blobfish. To the locals, it didn’t look like it was the right color for any of those things, gray-green and vaguely warted like a cucumber, but it’s what they said on the news. Whales had bones, though, and so did fish. And squid, at least one big long flat bone, and a beak. This vast mound of flesh, inclined to quiver, had none of those things.

You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Thursday, 24 March 2022

Micro-interview with Avra Margariti

Welcome to Avra Margariti author of the poem “Degenerate” in The Future Fire #60:

TFF: What does “Degenerate” mean to you?

AM: Looking at the definitions for "degeneration", one is about the alleged moral corruption inherent in any queer state and person, the other about a disease that causes the cells of the body to deteriorate and lose function. When it comes to horror, I am fascinated by concepts such as atavism (the tendency to revert to the body's ancestral state; for example, growing vestigial tails), and teratomata (fully developed tumors of mixed tissue and organs in unsuitable places; for example, an amalgamation of hair, muscle, and bone all growing from the same spot). Body horror and queerness are, for me, inextricably bound as a way to achieve desired metamorphosis.

Illustration © 2022 Josep Lledó

TFF: If you could acquire the ability to speak with one type of animal or monster, which would you choose?

AM: The Lamia, which is also my current favorite creature from Greek mythology. She is a night-prowling serpentine daemon with the gift of prophesy (and the ability to remove and reinsert her eyes in their sockets at will). Originally regarded as beautiful and desirable by gods and mortals, she was later transformed into something ugly and monstrous yet is still a master of seduction (which often ends in anthropophagy).

Extract:

Vestigial wings
Atrophying pseudopodia
& motley degeneration
Of mixed metaphors

You can comment on “Degenerate” or any of the stories, poems and illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Micro-interview with Kit Harding

We welcome Kit Harding, author of “Make of Me a Comet” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: What does “Make of Me a Comet” mean to you?

…really asking the easy ones, aren't you? Y'all may have noticed I'm a relatively new writer, hovering about the semipro magazines and anthologies with a few successful rounds of pro. The questions Elsa is asking herself are ones I imagine a lot of new creative professionals ask themselves: will anyone look at my work? Will anyone like it? Will anyone care about it? Will anyone remember me? Certainly they're questions I ask, frequently. And as with most writers, I put a story into it.

Illustration ©2022 Cécile Matthey

TFF: What are you working on next?

As if I could ever have only one thing that I'm working on next! I'm a very exciting mix of several short stories and worldbuilding a novel.

Extract:

I was always glad, in the watching, that I was not Elsa.
Don’t get me wrong, she was one of my closest friends, but she was also the most demon-ridden person I had ever been close to. She wanted things, and wanted them ferociously. There were times when I envied her knowledge of what she wanted—not knowing my own desires had certainly caused me pain in the past—but then I looked at the price she paid for that certainty and the envy always vanished.

Reminder: You can comment on “Make of Me a Comet” or any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Micro-interview with Fluffgar

We are joined by Fluffgar, illustrator of “Ten Degrees of Freedom” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Ten Degrees of Freedom”?

Fluffgar: After taking in the story, I looked at real life. The story was fantastical, the imagery was going to be confusing. It needed to be grounded in things that were visually familiar.

illustration © 2022 Fluffgar

TFF: What else are you working on now?

Fluffgar: I’ve been working on a 1950s travel poster inspired piece, with some 60s sci-fi for good measure. It’s an exercise in getting back into my work, and also stretching myself.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Noir Fire: Cover reveal

The observant and deductive among you will have noticed that Futurefire.net Publishing have been plotting a noir-themed speculative fiction anthology for a while. The print and e-book anthology of 14 stories will appear in a few weeks time, and there will be a sneak preview of a few of the pieces in the next issue of TFF magazine at the beginning of April. Watch this space for announcement of the table of contents. In the meantime, we are excited to share with you the fabulous cover image, which was painted for us by the stunningly talented Saleha Chowdhury.

We wanted a cover image that captured the Noir aesthetic, but with a bit more of a progressive, cosmopolitan, inclusive feel to it; an image ambiguous enough to evoke science fiction or fantasy, but with an explicit cyberpunk ambience; perhaps a female or gender-nonconforming character who was not just a victim or motivator for a mourning male protag.

Saleha gave us all of this in spades, and so beautiful and with layers of creativity to boot! We couldn’t be more chuffed! As excited as we are to share the lovely stories with you, this is just the icing on the cake.

Just wait til you see the glossy high-res version on the cover of the book itself.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Micro-interview with Marie Vibbert

We invited Marie Vibbert, author of the poem “Return to the Cities” in The Future Fire #60, over for a short chat.

illustration © 2022 Eric Asaris
TFF: What does “Return to the Cities” mean to you?

MV: When I was a kid, one of the most magical experiences for me was going to downtown Cleveland. I was struck dumb by the majesty of the buildings and couldn't help but feel insiginificant, like I wasn't the same species as the high-heeled women briskly striding across the streets. Cities are powerful, and I can't help but feel that once the age of the car ends, we'll draw close together again.

Extract:

At the end of the end,
We return to the cities,
Leading our cows.
Ancestor-made canyons
Make us crumbs
Awaiting a monstrous hand.

TFF: One hundred years in the future, one of your descendants finds something that used to belong to you. What would you like that to be?

MV: What an awesome question! My father carved a face and feet on an interesting piece of grape vine, painted it, shellacked it, mounted it, and hung a tag on it that says "The One and Only Hydra DeVine Si Fi Award." (Spelling isn't his strong suit.) Dad's weirdness deserves immortality.

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

MV: I'd make up something with the fantastic creature as a character. People always appreciate stories about themselves.

TFF: What are you working on next?

MV: I am struggling to write my first novelette, which is about window washers going on strike on Venus. (I swear it makes sense in the story.)

Also, some lovely news: Marie has both a short story and her debut novel on the British Science Fiction Association's long-list for 2021.  “The Plus One” appeared in F&SF last year and is about homelessness on Mars. The novel,  Galactic Hellcats (pictured), is about a gang of young women uniting to rescue a gay prince, and has been called “A rip-roaring space heist” by Publisher’s Weekly

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Micro-interview with L.E. Badillo

We are joined by L.E. Badillo, illustrator of “Every Quivering Fold of Flesh” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Every Quivering Fold of Flesh”?

LEB: The two images were really important to me as I thought about the story. Having the characters sitting on the beach with the fire and some of the other items really fleshed out the scene such as the hotdog roasting stick, the beer bottles and pack. The second image was also important as the girls were more and more affected by bright light. Having the porch light as strong as it was and the strong silhouette helped show she is no longer welcome in the light.

Illustration © 2022, L.E. Badillo

TFF: What is your favourite library?

LEB: I love my own library because it is full of great art-of, how-to books, manga, comics, non-fiction, and of course fiction. I’d love my house to essentially be a library – six bookcases so far and counting!

TFF: What one lesson would you offer to a budding artist?

LEB: I would tell budding artists when they are getting tired or burnt out to ask themselves, “Would you rather do this (think of day job) or this (think of art project)?” That’s helped me push through every time. Also, don’t be afraid of having your work critiqued, just be sure to learn something from it and discard anything mean or nasty.

You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Micro-interview with Vanessa Fogg

Interview with Vanessa Fogg, author of “Before We Drown” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: What does “Before We Drown” mean to you?

VF: To me, “Before We Drown” is about memory—specifically about the memories of those seemingly small moments that would seem of no importance at all to any outsider, to any transcriber of history or biography. But as I say in the story, those little moments can be searing; they can “flash within us like lightning, lighting up the inner landscapes of our lives.” This story was also inspired by real life, by a small vacation getaway my family and I took to Chicago in August 2021. It was a time after COVID-19 vaccines had rolled out in the United States, and before the spread of the delta variant had yet caused new restrictions and fear. It felt like a moment of freedom. It felt, in retrospect, like a breath between storms.

Illustration © 2022, Katharine A. Viola

TFF: What are you working on next?

VF: I’m trying to write a story about human tourists in Faerieland. It started as a satire on modern-day adventure travel and tourism, but other themes have gotten mixed in now. Hopefully I can pull this off!

Extract:

Yes, I know, we have to go. You’re packing our things, and still trying to get a cell phone signal. We have to evacuate. Again.

But first, my love: listen to me. Do you remember that moment between storms? Between the plagues and floods and flame? That moment when we were free?

You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Micro-interview with Josep Lledò

Josep Lledó, illustrator of “Degenerate” in The Future Fire #60 answers a few micro-questions:

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

JL: The text was very metaphoric and bizarre. When I read it there immediately came to my mind the image of a figure who is self human, self “degenerated” human. The half-human image corresponds to a picture mounted on the Pioneer probes; that was because the text also suggested me something cosmic.


TFF: What is under your bed?

JL: Actually there are tons of fluff under my bed.

TFF: What else are you working on now?

JL: Despite what I really want, I'm a graphic designer more than an illustrator. I work on book covers, logos and posters, but I always make some time to draw weird stuff.

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

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Micro-interview with Sean Chua

We asked a few questions of Sean Chua, author of “Ten Degrees of Freedom” in The Future Fire #60.

What does “Ten Degrees of Freedom” mean to you?

SC: “Ten Degrees of Freedom" is, I guess, me trying to grapple with the contortions one has to take to survive in these Interesting Times of late-stage capitalism. It can be wishful for us to imagine a frame of reference where queer and/or neurodivergent existences feel normal - wishful, or even utopian. But we're already exploring ways to express ourselves and talk to each other without the need for fantasy: the times I've shared meaningful looks with my friends, the soft silences and tender hugs, even how we occupy a room, all form this really nuanced language of love that I don't think is articulated enough as a way of world-forming in itself. I wanted to bring that kind of world-forming into the light and say, "hey, we're already here!" Emancipation doesn't always have to come from some promise about liberatory new technologies or the conquering of new space. It can also come from realising the existing dimensions between and within us. I wrote this story to feel closer to those dimensions, and in the process, bring joy to myself.

Illustration ©2022 Fluffgar

TFF: What are you working on next?

SC: Something post-apocalyptic, something really sweet. P.H. Low’s story The Loneliness of Former Constellations swept me off my feet last year when I read it—there was a powerful tenderness to how her world worked, which had to do with how elemental it was… I think there's something to learn about using elemental things as they are (the flowers, the swords, the spaceships, the heroes) to tell a freshly futuristic story. Less pretension and more conviction. I want to do something like that.

Extract:

Fascinating, I think, the way fingers bend in four. I take the rings apart and it hurts a little less. I take a deep breath and put the rings together. My fingers break again. Snap.

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

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Micro-interview with Joyce Chng

Welcome to Joyce Chng, illustrator of “Mrs. Daedalus” in The Future Fre #60

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Mrs. Daedalus”?

JC: I gave the story a once-through, allowing images to rise in my mind. “Mrs Daedalus” has a lot of lovely visuals (and I love the story!). So the moment I had the images in my head, I began sketching them before inking them (with my stylus).

Illustration © 2022, Joyce Chng

TFF: What one lesson would you offer to a budding artist?

JC: To me, I am still budding. I don’t really see myself as pro and my art style is as raw as they come. Something I tell myself constantly, regularly, frequently: don't be afraid to try and fail. And never never never never let age be a stumbling block. (Heh, that's two lessons into one.)

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

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Micro-interview with P.L. Salerno

We are joined by P.L. Salerno, author of “I’m Fine” in The Future Fire #60

TFF: What does “I’m Fine” mean to you?

PLS: “I’m Fine” is important to me, especially because it was the first short story I had completed after starting stories and then not being happy with how they progressed. I started “I’m Fine” with a half-formed idea about a person coughing up random objects, but it took shape as I continued to write, and I’m very satisfied with the finished product.

TFF: What are you working on next?

PLS: Right now, I'm working on writing more short stories and submitting those already written. I'm trying to write more horror, so that's something to look out for in the future! I also want to write more flash fiction, because I've veered away from that recently in favor of longer stories.

Illustration © 2022 Sarah Salcedo

A fierce cough tears its way out of my throat; my fingers clench up, spasming, then go slack, and the bag falls from my grasp. I bend down to pick it up, but another cough grips me, and I almost fall to the gum-speckled, tiled ground. I manage to right myself, but then I feel something snagging in my throat. As a third cough wracks my body, I throw a hand in front of my mouth; hot, wet drops greet it. I pull my hand back, unsurprised at what I see.

You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue beneath this post.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Cécile Matthey: Pop, Pastiche and Play

Cécile Matthey (portfolio) is the artist who has been with The Future Fire for the longest; her first illustration for us was in issue #6 (2006), and she has been featured as cover artist ten times. She is now also an assistant editor of the magazine, and was co-editor of the anthology TFF-X: Ten years of The Future Fire. So let's find out more about her work, her influences, and the woman behind those sometimes fiendish, sometimes playful, always delightful illustrations!


Cécile, can you show us and talk us through a few of your illustrations for TFF of the last few years?

All three illustrations I have chosen show the protagonists of the stories: a mermaid, Gennesee, and Shuuran/Kuroba Ren. They look very different, but in the end, all of them are strong, unusual, gifted or cursed, and often lonely. The first two are closely inspired by artworks of the 19th /early 20th century.

The Mermaid
The mermaid (Illustration for « Mermaid’s Comb » by Colleen Anderson TFF 2018.45)

This siren combing her hair is based on a famous painting by John William Waterhouse (1900). It is the archetype of the siren to me, so it was quite natural to take it as a reference here. To match the dark and evocative atmosphere of Colleen’s poem, I represented her as a sinister, vampire-like creature, surrounded by the bones of the sailors she lured. The whole atmosphere is grey and stormy, and we can see wrecked ships in the distance. The only colours are the glittering gold she has gathered and her bright red hair. Waterhouse, whom I discovered during a summer English course in Oxford, is one of my favourite artists, especially for his works depicting legends and classical myths. Funny enough, his painting was also inspired by a poem: “The Mermaid” by A.L. Tennyson.

Gennesee (Illustration for « A Subtle Fire Beneath the Skin » by Hayley Stone, TFF 2021.57)

The portrait of Gennesee comes from another archetype: the red-haired poetess illustrated by Eugène Grasset on an advertising for the ink brand Marquet (1894). It was fun reinterpreting this classic Art Nouveau figure as a black woman with piercings and long flowing braids, keeping the antique dress, the quill, and the ink bottle. Something in this lovely story by Hayley Stone reminded me of Edgar Poe, so I copied a few verses from The Raven on Gennesee’s arms, to show the deathly poetry literally flowing under her skin. But you must look very closely at the illustration to see it!

Shuuran/Kuroba Ren (illustration for « The Boy from the War » by Perrin Lu, TFF 2019.48)

“The Boy from the War” by Perrin Lu is an eventful, almost cinematic, story. Actually, it was difficult for me to decide which moment to illustrate. So, I chose to show something happening “between the lines”: Shuuran/Kuroba Ren in a moment of calm, meditating before her fight against Gohei. In the background, we can see the demon mask she will use to (once again) hide her identity. Preparing the illustration, I looked for visual references on the web and was surprised to find 19th century photos of real Japanese samurai women. They didn’t inspire me directly, but they probably influenced what I imagined the protagonist could look like.


Les trois brigands

Trois sœurcièresLet's talk about you for a bit, then. What is your favourite illustration from the last ten years?

I have a soft spot for the witches on the poster of the play Trois soeurcières (“Wyrd sisters”) by Terry Pratchett (Théâtre de la Cité, Fribourg/Switzerland, 2018). My inspiration came from a children’s book called Les trois brigands, illustrated by Tomi Ungerer. I loved it then but dreaded it too, because the cover was very impressive to me. I enjoyed reinterpreting it here, about 40 years later.

How has your work matured or evolved in the eight years since you last visited us here at the Press Blog?

It’s always difficult to analyze one’s own work. On the whole, I’d say the illustrations are a bit more elaborate. The colours are richer and stronger, I tend to use more mixed media, the themes and points of view are more varied. I always enjoy exploring my personal references (books, paintings, films…) and twisting them to produce something original. The woman illustrating the poem « Daughter » by Eva Papasoulioti (TFF 2019.51), for instance, is inspired by a 19th century brooch; the dark siren of “The mermaid’s comb” (discussed above) is a parody of the painting by J.W. Waterhouse, etc.

Is there a painting or illustration in which you have always dreamed to enter? What would it be like in there?

When I was a child, I used to spend the summer holidays in a chalet in the Swiss Alps. Above my bed there was a reproduction of “La route aux cyprès” by Van Gogh. I was fascinated by it, wondering if it was a kind of dream: there seemed to be a moon and a sun together, and the whole picture seemed to undulate and palpitate. I would have liked to go to the cypress to have a better look. Surely I would have felt dizzy in there, like after watching too much static on a TV screen… or drunk too much wine.

Could you imagine challenging yourself by illustrating something in a completely different medium from usual?

I like etching and its various techniques, that can create stunning visual effects. But it demands a lot of practice to achieve something good. Collage, combined (or not) with drawing or painting, could be another option. I discovered this technique last summer and loved it. It’s more spontaneous than “classic” illustration, and the graphic possibilities are numerous. I think I’ll give it a try in a future TFF assignment.

Who is the artist who has surprised you the most? (By using an unexpected technique or medium, for example, or by creating work outside of the style you associate with them.)

At secondary school, I gave a presentation about Pop Art. It was a small revolution to me: art was not just academic and “boring” but could be colourful, inventive and fun. I have vivid memories of an exhibition I saw in Geneva at the time, showing works by Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein and Jeff Koons. His “inflatable” metal rabbit is still a favourite of mine today. And more recently, I discovered Christoph Niemann, who makes everyday objects (an ink bottle, a sock, a hammer…) part of his illustrations. It’s very inventive and fun too!

Is there a story you would always have liked to illustrate?

Illustrating Treasure island by R.L. Stevenson has always been a dream of mine. It’s a big and challenging task… I’ll get down to it when I’m retired, maybe ! In the meantime, I’d love to explore classical mythology, for instance, or illustrate a “Victorian” story, like The picture of Dorian Gray or a book by Jules Verne. It could also be interesting to work on something darker : a vampire story, for example.

Is there a painting or illustration (by another artist) that you think really represents you, or some aspects of your personality?

I like this illustration by W. Siudmak, showing a paper-winged angel seated on the edge of a rock floating in space, holding a small revolving planet. It could represent my constant search for balance and beauty in this unstable world, with a feeling of fragility, a kind of innocence, and a fertile, creative imagination, of course.



Finally, can you give us a taste of a few of your artworks that won’t be found in the pages of TFF? What sort of thing have you been illustrating elsewhere?

Lord of the bees

I made this portrait for Belinda Draper (author of “The Bright Hunters” – TFF 2015.33), who bought a custom illustration from me in the TFF-X fundraiser in 2015. She asked me to illustrate her story “The honey tree,” a lovely reinterpretation of the fairy tale “Bluebeard”. I was given “carte blanche,” so I chose to represent the protagonist Beebeard as a styled dandy, with a top hat. Drawing each bee individually demanded some patience! I was planning to take the illustration to Belinda in person in Australia, but this project had to be postponed because of the burns and then the Covid pandemic.

Hiding in the tree

This illustration was made for a friend of long standing, Gaëlle Vadi, who wrote a great fantasy epic called Le retour d’Achal Kaalum (“The return of Achal Kaalum”) in the early 2000s. I have been illustrating it since 2004, very irregularly. It’s a real long-term task! But we hope to publish it one day, somehow… Here, we can see Anders, one of the protagonists, hiding in a tree from dire assassins. Their arms are a mix of Viking, medieval and fantasy elements. This illustration is the frontispiece of the chapter, which explains its unusual oblong format.

The fish tree

Another collaboration, and… another mermaid! The photo was taken by my friend Rachel Rumo, a nature-lover and long-distance tripper. She asked me to let my imagination wander around it on the passe-partout. In 2007, we held a whole exhibition together with such “hybrid” works in Romont (Switzerland), which was an unexpected success. This one, a siren watching a naked tree growing fish, was made in 2018 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the exhibition hall, located in a medieval tower called “la Tour du Sauvage.”


Thank you so much for stopping by, Cécile. See you again soon in the pages of the magazine!

Sunday, 30 January 2022

New Issue: 2022.60

“I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place. I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.”

—His Grace, Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu

[ Issue 2022.60; Cover art © 2022 Cécile Matthey ]Issue 2022.60

Flash fiction

Short stories

Poetry

Full issue and editorial

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