Fox Spirit Books are an award-winning UK indie publisher. I’ve had the great privileged to work with or alongside them for as long as they’ve been around. Chloë Yates is a fellow benevolent conspirator, whose incredible stories, not to mention voice work and other assorted acts of creative badassery, never fail to inspire. We talked about her latest anthology, The Book of Love, the stories they’re looking for and the love stories they’ve enjoyed recently.
Tell us a little about The Book of Love
The trouble with love, if you’ll excuse me throwing out that cliché rightoff the bat, is too often there’s a ‘What fools it makes of us’ attitude around it. People can be pretty coy when it comes to love and loving, like it’s a weakness, and it’s all too often a cheapened eye-roller of an emotion folks are casual about, or walk all over, dismiss, belittle, whatever, but the truth is it’s one of the things that drives us all and is a vital source of hope. Even if it doesn’t work out, even if it’s hard, or if you sacrifice yourself for it – maybe especially that – love can change the fucking world; it can channel fear into strength, make champions out of cowards, make the unseen seen and the lost found, whether that’s for the briefest of moments or until the very end of time. That’s pretty cool and I want our anthology to reflect that. I’m also going to be reading all submissions blind, partly because that’s what Love is, tapping up the clichés again, but also because I want to sit down with no preconceived anythings, read the stories and feel the punch.
Is it intended as a standalone or part of a series?
Hopefully we can build something that is solid and that people like so we can make more The Fox Spirit Book Ofs, whether that’s with me at the helm or someone else, but that’s all pie in the sky stuff so for now we’ll just see how this goes. Fingers crossed! SEND ME YOUR STORIES!
What drew you to the project?
The idea I originally had has evolved since the call went out – which I am really happy about – but my initial intention was spurred by the callousness we’re all seeing around us more and more these days. I’m not trying to create some blue-skying, skippity hoppity “Love will save the day” manifesto, what I want is to highlight that there is good reason for us to keep going, to show why we do keep going, that it’s not all in vain. Right now I think we could all do with a bit of a reminder that not everything is on fire or has to stay on fire forever, that we can make it through all *this* and, call me naive if you like, I think love is how we’re going to defeat the darkness *cough, cliché, cough*. Have I slain you right in the face with my saccharine oomphities? Good. Onwards!
Is it purely romantic love or other sorts too?
Hands up! I am a total sucker for a romance and I started out with a proposal that was focused around romantic love. However, it was pointed out that the call for submissions dismissed people who do not experience love in that way. So, did I want to create something that was simply about romantic love and dismiss an already misunderstood and blithely ignored group or did I want to not only widen the scope of the anthology but also my mind? OF COURSE I FRICKING DID! It took a single heartbeat to realise it could only make the purpose of the anthology stronger, better. That’s what love is about, after all. I should say we are not looking for stories about familial love – we want stories where the connection between people is purely the bond of love, not blood or obligation, et cetera. Please read the submission guidelines!
What are some of your favourite love stories?
I’ll be straight up with you; I have an enormous hard on for Del Toro’s frankly magnificent and oft maligned Crimson Peak. I’ve written a piece about this before which you can read here if you’re interested. I guess it’s along the same lines as my lifelong affection for Jane Eyre. That novel is not simply a LOOKIT THE ROMANCE MAN! ISN’T HE THE DREAMY! SHE WILL FALL INTO LOVE WITH HIMS! story, it’s an honest to goodness Horror novel for a start and I will fight you on that dang hill, son. Fact is, Horror and Love are both transformative, or at least should be in my humble, and in both these stories, although the outcomes are quite different, love changes the protagonists into something better and stronger… even if I do think Jane should kick Mr Rochester in the ever-loving nuts every time I read it.
For her part, Edith experiences the rush and power of the old romantical love squeezings in pretty customary fashion at first and falls hook line and sinker (a terrible pun considering what happens to her poor old Pa) for Thomas of the Darkened Loki Locks. And here’s what makes it a real Love story for me, not simply a romantic one – what love does for Edith is give her an absolute understanding of her worth, that the things she wants, the stuff she is truly passionate about – most significantly her writing – are all valid and of value. I mean, at one point her pen literally fucking saves her! And poor old (yes, you are correct, I am a sucker) Thomas really does love her, I think, and without him she might not become the person she is supposed to be. And that’s what love can do. It can make us better. Even if it turns out not to be what we thought it was, or in Edith’s case tainted with corruption and incest and bleeding old buildings that positively drip all over you…
Something else I totally fell for recently was the TV adaptation of Good Omens. What made it for me was the love, whether or not it was friendship or romantic, between Crowley and Aziraphale. I liked the book well enough but didn’t love it like a lot of folks do (DO NOT @ ME), but their relationship in the show kicked it up a-whole-nother level for me. The assurance that they can rely on each other when the chips are down, whether they acknowledge it or not, and their reluctant but loving kindness to each other, whether they like it or not, is wonderful. Love makes you better, somehow. It doesn’t have to be saccharine or gushing or demonstrative. Love is many things, takes many forms, and it can move mountains. SO WRITE US A STORY, THANK YOU!