Feast your peeper on this glorious thing. The colours, the shading, the piercing gaze. The strange holes in the tree, the claws, the speckled crest and the flamey crest. The pointy beaks all this way and that. I adore it, which is helpful since its the front cover of my next short story collection, Fauna. Coming at you from the brilliant Fly on the Wall Press on September 10th and stuffed to the gills with weird stories about animals. You might have grabbed a copy of Pigskin from Fly on the Wall earlier in the year - my standalone single story chapbook that re-imagines Animal Farm for the age of veganism (if you missed it, pick it up here before it runs out!). Fauna follows in the same vein. The stories are intensely bothered about the things we do to animals, and the stories we tell to justify our actions. There's a rabbit stuck in a state-of-the-art hutch, there's an urban fox stalking a middle-Englander, there's a bag of guinea pigs abandoned in the underworld. Many of the stories have made appearances in various publications over the past eight or so years and I've written about many of them on this blog in the past (dig out any blogpost titled 'Writing Animals' to read more).
I'm so very excited to be bringing this collection out. The stories inside were written during a phase in my life when I tussled with the eating of meat & dairy, and the keeping of pets. I no longer do the former, still partake in the latter, and continue to cultivate an evolving understanding of our relationship to our fellow creatures. I haven't gone full Extinction Rebellion (and, to be honest, don't always agree with their vibe), but instead maintain a short of daily check-in with the animal kingdom. Have a read through my Animals of October blog from last year for a better sense of what I mean. Hopefully the tales of Fauna will speak for themselves.
Before we get to September, however, I'll be giving you all a few sneak previews of the tales within the pages. Next Saturday, the 3rd July, I'll be the opening act for Fly on the Wall's online summer festival where I plan to give a particularly theatrical performance of one of the cozier stories. Stick around for the rest of the day for similar readings from a whole menagerie of Fly on the Wall authors and poets.
And then on the 20th August, I will actually be reading from the book in the flesh (virus willing), at a former haunt of mine; Blackwells Bookshop in Manchester. It's another Fly on the Wall event where I'll be reading alongside the wonderful Louise Finnigan and the fabulous Tina Tamsho-Thomas, and no doubt we'll be regaling the fact that we're in a physical bookshop with some fancy drinks and everything. Tickets for the soiree are available now on the Blackwells website. Get on it!
I imagine there will be one or two other bits and pieces popping up in the promotional run-up to Fauna so just, you know, follow me on Twitter or whatever. And if you're not already sick of me, check out an interview on Sci-Fi Pulse Radio which dropped last week (hint: this was an absolutely delightful conversation):
We're thinking Fauna will go up for pre-orders after the Summer Festival event next week. Will no doubt crow, roar and cockadoodle do about it as soon as it does.