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 http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html

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 http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html

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 http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html

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 http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html

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 http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html

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: http://press.futurefire.net/2022/06/noir-fire-microfic-contest-giveaway.html

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 http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html

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 http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html

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 http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html

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 http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Noir Fire contest and giveaway

To celebrate Noir Fire, a gritty speculative fiction anthology that combines the spirit of Noir with the fantastical, futuristic and progressive genres that we love, we are running a micro-fiction writing contest and book giveaway.

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The rules:

To enter the writing contest, write a micro-fiction in the Noir genre, as inspired by the aesthetic and tropes of Noir crime and thriller, from black & white Hollywood classics to cyberpunk novels, which should be both complete and short enough to include in a single tweet with the addition of the hashtag #firenoir. Bonus points if the story has speculative and progressive elements, in addition to traditional noir.

Eligible stories must be tweeted to the hashtag by midnight (any time zone) on Sunday June 19, 2022.

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The prizes:

All entries will be read by the contest judges, Valeria Vitale and Fábio Fernandes, who will pick one winner to receive paperback and e-book copies of the Noir Fire anthology, any one other Futurefire.net Publishing paperback of their choice, and e-book of Dan Grace’s mythical dystopian novella Winter, and up to two runners-up to receive e-books of the Noir Fire anthology, two other FFN anthologies of their choice, and Dan Grace’s Winter.

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(Editors and authors of the anthology, and staff of Futurefire.net Publishing, may post micro-fiction to the hashtag, but will not be entered into the giveaway.)

Friday, 3 June 2022

Micro-interview with Saleha Chowdhury

Micro-interview with Saleha Chowdhury, Cover artist of the Noir Fire anthology.


TFF: How did you go about designing and illustrating the cover for this noir-themed volume?

Saleha Chowdhury: I started by studying imagery surrounding noir-themed works paying attention to common motifs. Traditional imagery like rain, fog, and a cityscape were things I decided to include. Instead of a traditionally male character I chose to have someone more feminine with a sense of style all their own.


TFF: Have you ever seen a statue or a piece of art that you wished was alive?

SC: I wish some pieces of Jean Giraud's fantasy art were real. It would be really interesting to walk around in them and learn more about those worlds.

TFF: What magical power would you like to possess?

SC: I would love the ability to teleport and visit faraway places. Especially natural places that are really out of the way.


You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Mini-interview with Lorraine Wilson

Mini-interview with Lorraine Wilson, author of “The Bone Children and the Darkness” in the Noir Fire anthology.


TFF: What does “The Bone Children and the Darkness” mean to you?

Lorraine Wilson: This story was my exploration of the grey area between villain and victim, looking at apparent monstrousness and apparent justice and seeing whether either of those things were 100% true. I also wanted to take characters who have been made monstrous by others and give them back their agency!

TFF: How rich is the connection between ancient Greek mythology and the modern cultures of the Mediterranean?

LW: I’d go further—Greek mythology is deeply connected to most of Western European culture. It’s taught in schools, used constantly in fiction, the names and idioms have entered our languages. It also contributes to idiotic things like western/British exceptionalism, which is ironic, but there we go.

TFF: Have you ever found or left a message in a bottle? Would you like to?

LW: Marine littering! No!

TFF: What is your favourite museum or art gallery?

LW: The ‘bones’ museum! Aka the Natural History Museum in London. For its contents, for the sheer beauty of the building, and for all my childhood memories of wonder.

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

LW: I was recently part of an audio flash-fiction anthology Ghostlore created by the Alternative Stories Podcast—a ghost story/folklore mash up and it worked so well! I’d love to see that theme in longer form. Also noir/folklore… basically anything blending folklore into other genres is a win for me!

TFF: What are you working on next?

LW: I’m currently editing a ghostie novella set in Iceland, and about to return to editing my third novel, which is coming out next year.


You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html