STORYFOX: a Database of Vulpine Science Fiction and Fantasy

I’ve been foxbitten. For the past year, I’ve had a vulpine literary foreshadow. I keep finding science fiction and fantasy that’s paw-printed and lushly tailed. I’m not complaining. Quite the opposite. But these glimpses are making me obsessive (foxfoxfox), and as a grad student of Folklore already thinking about thesis ideas, I want to make this into an ongoing project, known simply as this:

 Storyfox: a Database of Vulpine Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The obvious question, of course, is this: why foxes? At the moment, I honestly don’t have a well-defined answer (one of many reasons for this project)–thus far, it’s mostly because I’ve got this gut-deep attraction to the creatures. But I’m also drawn to the intersections that seem to be rising to the surface as I explore these fox-laden stories: a meeting of folktales, foxes, gender, sexuality, and the feral/becoming feral.

In time, and with help of the community, I hope to make Storyfox into a sort of database of SF/F works that feature the fleet-footed creatures. Short stories, comics, poetry, novels, films, video games–any kind of media, really, as long as foxes play more than a passing role in the tale. In its present state, this idea of mine is admittedly self-serving, but my intent is for it to evolve into a resource, a reading list, a study of foxes and the reasons they’ve nosed into our media. I know I’m not the only one who’s been breathing vulpine aphrodisiacs, so hopefully this collection will be of interest to others, as well, and help us all find new, fox-boned narratives.

If you want to help gather an endless reading supply foxful of goodness, send on your recommendations and send out the word. Any and all contributions are welcome! THAT SAID. While I’m interested in material from any/all sources–because whatever form it is, whatever state it’s in, it exists and I am thusly curious–I’m especially interested in making this list diverse. Diverse media from a diverse cosmos.

So. Spread the word. Submit links, book/film/etc titles, and I’ll expand the list, which can be found in its current kit-like form, here. If you have anything to add to the list (whether of your own creation, or otherwise), please let me know! You can contact me here, or on twitter.

Thanks much! Now send on the foxes.

How to Ass-Kick Writer’s Terror (plus something about prairie chickens)

Once upon a time (an era that ended just yesterday), I thought writer’s block (for me) was as real as a vat full of squabbling, cosmic prairie chickens.

Of course, now that I’ve given digital birth to the Squabbling Cosmic Prairie Chicken, it is inevitable that it has burst into sudden existence on some (very, very) distant plane that is the physical actualization of our ephemeral internets. And thus, the existence of the Squabbling Cosmic Prairie Chicken proves that there is, after all, some validity to writer’s block. Even I, burbling font of crooked ideas, can come down with the writer’s block.

By the way–have you ever SEEN a prairie chicken? They’re actually pretty fantastical. (First image yanked from Wikipedia. The second wriggled through the fabric of space and placed itself there totally of its own volition).

prairie chicken

(I swear this entry isn’t about chickens.)

I misinterpreted writer’s block. (Again, this is my own personal writer’s block. Writer’s block comes in many sizes and flavors, all depending on the quilldriver.) I used to think of it as a lack of ideas, or a fizzling will/determination–and because these problems weren’t mine, I didn’t believe in writer’s block. If I have one idea, I have many; maybe it’s because my mind is tangential and ekphrastic, but art spawns art which spawns art. My neck is broken from the stew of ideas constantly pounding down on my poor skull. Also, have I mentioned my obsessive single-mindedness? It, too, is spawn: a wicked child born of the drunken, midnight frolicking of a mule, a glacier, and an angry swarm of yellow jackets. My writer’s block is not made of idea-bones and spineless grit. It’s got more to do with fear.

A re-naming, then, is in order. I’ll call my own personal writer’s block (or the one I briefly experienced yesterday, at least) Writer’s Terror.

At the beginning of March, I started a new novel. It has a full title, but for now we’ll just call it Magpie. Quick pitch?

SWORD AND SORCERY…IN SPACE!

I wrote two chapters, then had to set it aside because starting this summer, my book Skyglass is being serialized in Sparkler Monthly, which means hel-tons of writing and editing. But I had time yesterday, and a workshop I needed material for, so I opened up Magpie and prepared to write.

I sat. I distracted myself with tumblr. I ate a banana and peanut butter.

And then I began to doubt the story. Where did this nasty sludge of story-pretense come from? Why the hel had I ever thought I could fill a whole book with this piss about blue skyfire and wyrm/holes and twisted reincarnations of Norse Mythology (only, uh, glittery-er?)? I typed a single word: THREE. Because I was starting chapter three. But my leaden fingers refused to jab-out anything more. They were cowering on the keyboard because they knew and I knew continuing Magpie would be a waste of time.

But fearfully is no way to write a story. You have to be reckless and stupid and bombastic. I knew this, and yet I still couldn’t write.

Briefly, I considered another round of banana and peanut butter distraction, but instead, I forced myself to think about Magpie’s characters–the reasons I wanted to write the book in the first place. And once the characters and I spent a little bit of quality skull-time together, I realized that YES, I still had to tell the tale of my deported magic-wielder/prank-puller of slipstream gender, and that foul-tempered axe-wielder who really just wants to chop off everyone’s head. Plus that bit about a God who falls in love with a trickster mortal.

They’re a trio of mayhem and world-annihilation. How could I not want to write about them? So I gut-punched my fear, chose the beginning of chapter three (aka, the dénouement of the trickster’s celestial sexy-times) and started putting pixel-ink on the page.

In fewer words, HOW TO ASS-KICK WRITER’S TERROR:

    1. tumblr.
    2. Banana. Peanut butter. Eat. (If chocolate is available, skip the banana.)
    3. Remind yourself why the hel the story exists.
    4. If step 3 succeeds, put words on the page. Real. Made up. JUST PUT THEM THERE.
    5. Smother the fear in peanut butter, and eventually, the words will be sentences. Will be story.

Honestly? This is useless advise. But it worked for me, and if you have a process like mine, you might find it helpful. If you don’t, ignore all of it except the peanut butter. Peanut butter is sticky. It is the universal adherent. The solution to everything.

…honey dripped in Loki’s gaze

TODAY is the last day to vote for my poem on eating and horse-boiling (Tattertongue), published last year by Strange Horizons.  There are a number of different categories to vote in, and lots of excellent writing to explore, if you feel so inclined.  If you happened to enjoy my poem, and feel it deserves ranking, please vote!  It’s under ‘poetry,’ then ‘Tattertongue, by Jenn Grunigen.’  Many thanks!

Cast your vote here.

My Books are Cannibals

Each time I finish writing a book, I look up, wondering why the sound of battle has yet to fade.  Why I haven’t transcended, why my brain doesn’t suddenly feel fat with wisdom, why I haven’t sprouted myself a lovely pair of goat horns that spew story like Loki shoves out baby Sleipnirs.  Actually, that’s exactly what my process is like, already–minus the horns and the eight-legged horses.

But I really would like a pair of goat horns.  How useful they’d be, for ramming into things when I’m lacking catharsis even after writing THE END on the last page (which , by the way, is something I never do.  Nothing’s ever done.).

I don’t have goat horns, though.  (Cavan has a giant cow’s horn, but there’s only the one, and it’s not growing out of my skull–how useless.)   So instead of smashing things, I go out and buy myself a book.  It’s helpful to remind myself I’m not alone in this bloody cycle.  More importantly, it’s good to know that some people make the rounds with gore-stained swords and oily guns–I might not be to that point yet myself  (I’m still using my canines and ragged nails), but it’s good to see that advanced weaponry exists.

There’s another reason I  buy myself a book after I’ve finished writing one, though.  The real reason.  I buy these books to forget; somehow plunging headfirst into the toothy baby some wretched author birthed makes me forget that the baby (the, uh, process–the writing) exists in the first place.  I mean, hel.  After I finished The Dream Tree, I bought myself A Dance with DragonsProblematic, but entertaining.

A week ago, I finished another book (it has a name: FABLE).  This time, I’m choosing to climb inside the baby’s mouth.  I will stay awake to the cycle of teeth, but I’ll do it from the comfort of a well-cushioned baby’s-tongue.  (What have I DONE to this analogy?)  Which begs the question, of course–just what sweet, hungry book have I chosen this time ’round?

Since you’ve kept on reading past the bit about the baby’s tongue, I’ll reward you with an answer:

At the Mouth of the River of Bees, by Kij Johnson.

When I’ve finished reading it, I’ll let you know if I feel gnawed, replete, or just slimy with milkblood baby spit.