A nine-tailed fox spirit, a detail copied from Hokusai’s Great Picture Book of Everything and painted in colour (within my limitations)*. These Kitsune or fox spirits feature in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean mythology under different names. The more tails they have, the wiser and more powerful they get. They are able to turn themselves into foxy young human ladies in order to devour unsuspecting young men, but they may also be beneficent and bring good fortune.

In Hokusai’s original, this one is being conjured up by Fumei Chōja, aka the virtuous Indian King Sutasoma.

*In fact it appears that when they get nine tails they turn white: but I’m not repainting!

August 2022 competitions

A selection of writing competitions with deadlines in August that I might enter.

  • First, I got the deadline for the Reader Berlin contest wrong last time (unless they changed it surreptitiously…) it doesn’t close until 15 August.
  • Gival want longer stories of 5,000 to 15,000 words: entry is $25 and first prize $1,000: deadline 8 August
  • If you write SF, the NextGen Science competition offers a $200 prize, entry fee $20. Maximum length is 15 pages (I assume you’re not allowed to write in unspaced 8-point font on A3) and the competition closes on 15 August
  • The Masters Review (which always sounds a bit sinister to me) offers $3,000 for a story up to 6,000 words: entry is $20, deadline 28 August
  • Those nice people at Exisle Academy are offering a prize of training and resources valued at $2,000. The competition is free to enter and they want pieces up to 1,500 words on ‘the story I needed to have read’. Get your entry in by 28 August.
  • Etched Onyx are back, looking for stories up to 5,000 words with a prize of $500. The entry fee is $7.50 if you’re early, or $12.50 later, and the deadline is 28 August

All the rest have a deadline of 31 August

  • Aesthetica offers a prize of £2,500, for an entry fee of £12. The maximum word count is 3,000.
  • NAWG wants stories up to 2,000 words: entry is £5 and first prize is £200
  • The Willesden Herald, that august but largely imaginary newspaper, offers £300 for up to 7,000 words: entry is £5.
  • Anthology are looking for a brief 1,500 words at most, and offer a €500 prize. The theme is ‘courage’. Entry is €15
  • Hysteria have the theme ‘peace’. The top prize is £300 and entry £3: the maximum word count is a mere 1,000

Good luck if you enter any of these – if you get anywhere with them, do let me know.

Stonehenge in Bloomsbury

I caught the British Museum’s ‘World of Stonehenge’ before it closes. There are always new theories about Stonehenge, but this is something different: an attempt to explore the context. Of course there isn’t exactly a wealth of contemporary artefacts, so that does involve drawing in some stuff from rather remote locations and times. The relevance of Seahenge, a wooden circle which they have been able to bring into the museum, is obvious: some of the other things are really from different cultures. There are some extraordinary artefacts, though. The stone in the picture here (from Switzerland) is a sculpture of a human figure (!) You can see a very rough face at the top with a nose. The diagonal bit is a bow and arrows and the horizontal lines are arms and a belt. Other items – the high gold hats, the carefully carved chalk drums – are almost completely inscrutable. There’s a curator’s tour on video here if you’re interested.