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

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.


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.


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 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.


(Editors and authors of the anthology, and staff of 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

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

Monday, 30 May 2022

Mini-interview with Storm Blakley

Mini interview with Storm Blakley, author of “Salt and Smoke” in the Noir Fire anthology.

TFF: What does “Salt and Smoke” mean to you?

SB: It’s the first story I’ve ever gotten published, so It will always be special to me. I was honestly unsure my weird little ghost love story would ever find a home, and I’ll forever be grateful to the wonderful folks at Future Fire who took a chance on me.

TFF: Have you ever seen (or otherwise experienced) a ghost?

SB: My childhood best friend grew up in an old farmhouse that made strange, inexplicable sounds, and the family swore it was haunted. We would often hear what sounded like footsteps running up and down the stairs, but maybe it was just the old house settling. Maybe.

TFF: Have you ever tried to write or paint one of your own dreams?

SB: I wish I could! I don’t really remember my dreams; in my whole life, there’s only been a handful. I don’t think in pictures, so that kind of art is difficult for me, but I keep trying to learn how to paint and draw, and maybe one day I’ll improve.

TFF: What is the most terrifying thing about the sea?

SB: All of it! The ocean is absolutely terrifying, in every way; it’s so big, so unknown, unfathomable and indifferent, just chock-full of monsters that could eat me! We’ve mapped more of Mars than we have our own oceans; we know so little about our waters, and that’s a little scary.

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

SB: Oh, that’s a good one. I think the lines between genres are rather blurry, and there’s fun to be had with any pair or more of genres. I’d honestly be excited for any mash-up, because it will make interesting reading, and it’d be fun to try new things.

TFF: What are you working on next?

SB: Everything! F and SF are my first loves, they’re what got me into reading, so I’m going to keep working on my projects there, but I also want to reach out past my comfort zone, and try new things, because trying new things is what life’s all about!

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

Friday, 27 May 2022

Micro-interview with Lam Ning

Micro-interview with Lam Ning, author of “avenging the sorrow” in the Noir Fire anthology.

TFF: What does “avenging the sorrow” mean to you?

Lam Ning: It’s a snapshot of the world I know, and it’s a confrontation with the harsh truths of crime and conflict. In fiction it’s tempting to line up an acceptable target for elimination to create the illusion of justice served. In reality, I’m not sure justice exists.

TFF: There is a surprising amount of human goodness in this bloodthirsty story; do you think there’s something about desperation and shared suffering that also brings out sympathy and collaboration?

LN: Those who have been through it already know. Husbands have abandoned their wives when mortars fell; mothers have abandoned their children. But after the first exposure to a crisis, the mind begins to adapt, and we learn to breathe through the panic and shelter each other.

TFF: Who is your favourite kick-ass woman from history?

LN: “I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say—I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” (Harriet Tubman)

TFF: What are you working on next?

LN: Something about a one-armed swordsman.

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

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Mini-interview with Frances Rowat

Mini-interview with Frances Rowat, author of “Late Night at the Low Road Diner” in the Noir Fire anthology.

Photo credit: Chelle Parker
TFF: What does “Late Night at the Low Road Diner” mean to you?

Frances Rowat: I find it really hopeful. I tend to miss the darker aspects in my own work, but really—it’s a chance encounter that starts out confrontationally and ends up with pretty much everyone involved better off once a few details about the magic of the world come out.

TFF: Do you use the ghost mythology/ritual in this story in other works? Or did you draw it from somewhere?

FR: I've got another WIP with two of the characters, and the rules of making something “real” show up there as well, but not in my other finished works. I don’t think I drew specifically from anywhere, but the idea of important things coming with a cost isn’t exactly uncommon.

TFF: If you had to invite the protagonist of your current work-in-progress to dinner, what would you cook for them?

FR: Awkward! The protagonist in question is a cook who is interested in mouthfeel and flavour profiles, but I don’t know how he tastes things. And I am really not a cook. I’d probably fall back on chicken with lemon-garlic noodles, and he’d probably be gracious about it not being remarkable.

TFF: What is your favourite optimistic science fiction work?

FR: I am terrible at narrowing things down to a favourite. But for graphic novels I’m going to say Mulligan and Ostertag’s Strong Female Protagonist, and for written work I will say Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace. They’re not light, but the drive and hope in the characters are lovely.

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

FR: My reflex is “horror and crime!”, but those are a little broad. So I’ll say stories of roads—road trips, travel, getting lost, or just Linda Wojtowick’s excellent “Byway” from The Ghosts on This Road podcast—melded with the dark fantastic.

TFF: What are you working on next?

FR: Honestly, it’s been hard to write lately—there’s a lot going on. I seem to be recouping a little, though, and I’m extremely grateful for that. Mostly I’m revising existing drafts, but I’d also like to revisit “Small-Town Spirit” and see what they do on Hallowe’en.

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

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


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

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.


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

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