Of February and Frogs in the Throat

I have a cough! I am 95% sure it’s not covid, but, hooboy. That was not a nice headcold – I was theoretically only down for a half-week or so, but the cough lingers. It turns out that a cough can hang on for weeks and weeks and WEEKS, even while the rest of the illness goes away.

I must sadly report that occasional fits of absurd coughing are not great for concentration, really something that derails the ol’ trains of thought, but I’ve been making progress on Quicker than Blood’s outlines.

Outlines, plural.

I had some interesting ideas on how I might structure the book, but then those didn’t quite work out, and THEN I had some other ideas so I rewrote the outline from scratch to see how those would work out, and… well. I think the issue is the hind-end of the storyline. I may wind up excising the entire rump half of my novel and try transplanting in a new ass – an exotic surgical technique, but one that may well work for me.

Part of me wants to go for a very weird structure, with interlocking frame stories – in the past, present, future. All very timey-wimey and spaghetti-ish, a really extreme version of getting into the past via the Roman numeral past chapters in Dog Country and Troy’s nightmares in Mouse Cage, but… I am not sure it fits.

In lieu of flashbacks, and possibly more useful for a crime/heist story, I may go with multiple POVs stretched between Bobby Winch (one of the younger generation of foxes, derived from the same geneline as Uncle Fred from Mouse Cage), a Dixon sister, (as from Jennifer and Janine’s geneline), an Estian, a Kyles (as-yet unmet ferrets), and, MAYBE, a human investigator chasing them.

We’ll see. I am still playing around with it, and things may change if I find a more attractive rear end for this thing.

One of my real problems is that while the book is theoretically about Bobby, I start thinking about his co-criminals and start making notes about them for pages and pages. There is the severe risk one of them tries to steal the show.

Otherwise, I am very privileged to have recently been getting some positive reviews.

If you haven’t seen them, they are:


(From a SPSFC reviewer!)



(From a furry fandom reviewer, unrelated to the SPSFC!)

Also, Mouse Cage was just nominated for best novel in the Ursa Major Award.


(Also nominated – A Furry Faux Paw by Jessica Kara – which I suspect is going to do well, it’s mainstream published YA about the furry fandom and con culture itself, which I think we’ve all been waiting to see; Brothers at Arms by R.A. Meenan, which like Toledot by Madison Scott-Clary is a book two in a series, so both of those definitely have appreciative audiences; and Scars of the Golden Dancer, by NightEyes Dayspring, has lots of people saying good things about it.)

With all of this recognition, you’d be right in thinking I’m pleased with myself. Pleased, very thankful, feeling incredibly lucky.

And at the same time – oh, this is why you love us paradoxical authors with our impostor syndrome – I’m terrified I’ll never write anything as good as Mouse Cage again in my life, I’m looking at Aconite Braid which still hasn’t gotten any closer to an agent or publisher, I’m doing the math on Mouse Cage’s sales and fretting (it has sold about 50-60 copies, so is about 12.5% of the way to earning out what it cost me to self publish – without you guys, I would NOT be able to do it), I’m looking at this potential ass-ectomy and ass-plant for the current novel and being like, ‘Whoah’…

… Let’s just say my frequent divergences into various coping strategies and talking about the tricky parts of actively engaging with creativity are part of a continual, practical wrestling with the difficulties of this career.


I am still very lucky. I am incredibly privileged. I’ve recently had people tell me I wrote their favourite book, and, like. People who write ‘favourite books’ are mysterious, legendary figures. They are names on book spines that are muzzily attached to the most wonderful experiences in our lives. That I am someone’s ‘favourite book’ writer is… an almost indescribably good feeling.

I am lucky. I very much appreciate you, and your support and interest in my work, too. I appreciate these things every day. Thank you.

So, in the meanwhile, please wish me luck as I go after my story structure with a scalpel and a laissez faire attitude to anatomy, and I will wish you luck with all your endeavours this month.

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By foozzzball

Malcolm Cross, otherwise known as 'foozzzball', lives in London and enjoys the personal space and privacy that the city is known for. When not misdirecting tourists to nonexistant landmarks and lurking at bus stops, Malcolm enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy with a furry twist.