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

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.


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

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).


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

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.


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

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

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Noir Fire: Cover reveal

The observant and deductive among you will have noticed that 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.


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

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

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!


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

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.


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.