Fox & Raven is described as an upstart Indie Press, ready to make waves in the South African publishing industry. Of course, every speculative fiction author from Cape Point to Pretoria will be chomping at the bit to get work ready to send in. Why? Because unlike a lot of publishers in South Africa, this start-up is willing to take risks. I’m pretty sure Fox & Raven already has a large following… read on to find out why.
Who is Fox & Raven?
Fox & Raven is a lifetime of storytelling, reading, imagining and dreaming manifested. Fox is the creative; the enchanter – the wily trickster leading readers into mystical forests, haunted mansions and interstellar spacecrafts. Raven is the serious, studious narrative; providing readers with relevant, powerful non-fiction. And both Fox & Raven, right now, are one and the same person – me! (Marius du Plessis)
Describe the conversation which sparked the idea to start a publishing company…
All roads lead to Rome. The same is true for Fox & Raven. I don’t think there was ever a time when I was not going to be the owner of an indie press; it’s always bean the end-goal. With an academic background in publishing (I studied Publishing at the University of Pretoria, and lectured in the same field while I was doing my postgraduate qualification) and a serious dash of practical experience (after my studies I moved to Cape Town to pursue a career in publishing; I’ve published around 50 titles in about two years), I simply decided that the time is now.
I guess that’s a very roundabout way to answer your question. Let me try again: I want to do what I love, what I breathe. So, simply, I’m doing it.
I love the name. Is there a story behind that?
Thank you! And, there most certainly is. The Fox and the Raven is a fable by Aesop, which goes something like this:
A raven is sitting in a tree with a piece of cheese in her mouth. A fox walks by, spots the cheese, and concocts a plan.
The fox lavishes the raven with compliments, and finishes off with: “You have such a beautiful voice, sing for me!”(or something to that effect – my ancient Greek isn’t up to scratch)
To raven, enamoured, opens her beak and caws loudly, dropping the cheese. The fox gulps it up, and upon leaving, turns to give the raven a piece of advice:
“O raven, you do have a voice, but no brains to go with it! Never believe a flatterer.”
So, the fox is the storyteller, the talesmith. The raven, now disillusioned with fairytales, has become serious and stern. Each animal represents one side of the publishing house: the fox is the master of fiction, and the raven of non-fiction.
There are very few publishers in South Africa willing to risk with the genres you are open to. Why are you willing to take the risk?
Speculative fiction is such an important part of literature, and for some reason South African publishers aren’t that dedicated to it. I believe there are many local voices waiting to tell powerful stories. I need to give them the platform to do that. In the end, it’s all about risks. One does not simply walk into Mordor, but in the end one little hobbit managed to beat the odds and overthrow all evil! Not that I’m comparing big publishers to Sauron, or anything.
As the publishing industry continues to change and evolve, how vital is the need for small press and independent publishers like Fox & Raven?
We are entering the age of the small press, if you ask me. The world has evolved into one of niches; people are becoming more specific about what they want. The independent publisher has the liberty to provide smaller groups of readers with their needs without having to play to the tune of a mother company; they can take risks, publish more avant garde material, and be more defined. I want people to know exactly what they are going to get when they pick up a Fox & Raven book – and then be blown away by it.
Explain the reasoning behind opening submissions up to Short Stories first.
The Short Story submissions is a very practical one. It gets writers involved, it makes people aware of a new presence, and it’s something that we can publish more quickly. So the short stories are the firebrands for what is to come.
If you could be handed the ‘perfect story’ to publish, what would it look like?
Wow, this is a rough question! I don’t believe in an objectively perfect story – it depends on the reader, of course. But for me, it would be high fantasy, with elves and magic and dragons and epic battles! That’s where my heart lies – in those beautiful other-realms like Middle-Earth, Earthsea, or Inderiar (you won’t recognize this one yet. But you will soon!).
Any advice to first timers?
Read as much as you can. And write even more. Let other people read your work, and listen to what they have to say. Don’t conform your writing to what it ‘should be’. And don’t stop dreaming.
Want to see their website? All Fox & Raven awesomeness can be found here.
Want to submit a short story? Right here.
Want to follow them on Twitter? Fly here.
Want to get updates from Facebook? Get info here.
Seriously… let’s support innovative local acts like this one!