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