The Future Fire X

So the Future Fire is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a special anthology. As many of you are aware, I’ve had the pleasure and the honor of working with the Future Fire for a number of years now. It’s been an honor working with some great folks to create a more inclusive speculative fiction genre.

The following is an interview with TFF’s in-house artist and co-editor, Cecille Matthey. Check it out.


How did you first get involved with The Future Fire? What is the first story you remember illustrating, and what did you love about it?

Cécile Matthey: I first heard of TFF in 2006, through a friend who worked with Djibril. She told me he was looking for illustrators for his webzine. Working as a scientific illustrator, I was eager to try my hand at narrative illustrations as well. As I like science-fiction and fantastic literature in general, it seemed a good opportunity. So I got in touch with Djibril, who sent me a first story to illustrate. It was « Half-light house » by J.W. Bennett. I remember being puzzled, because I expected a more typical SF or fantasy story. Besides, it was among my first “serious” illustration assignments, and I didn’t really know how to handle it – all the more since I was given “carte blanche”! I read the story several times, and the ideas came easily thanks to the author’s evocative and poetic style: the eye with the reflected silhouette looking like a demonic pupil, and the handwritten message in an old cigarette box (borrowed from my grandfather), set in a soft, dusty and nostalgic atmosphere conveyed by grey and white. I was a bit nervous when I sent the illustrations to Djibril, wondering if I had done a good job! My work was well-received, and I have been illustrating TFF stories regularly ever since—and it’s always a pleasure.

Tell us a bit about your own work. What’s the next big thing for you?

CM: Scientific illustration is another side of my work. I’m currently illustrating the next issue of a review published by the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), that will focus on bio-inspired materials (synthetic materials that mimic the structure, properties or function of natural materials or living matter. For instance, adhesives inspired by geckos’ feet, able to cling to any surface). I was asked to make scientific illustrations of some animals that inspired such materials (sea cucumber, snail, octopus, butterfly…).

What sort of stories would you like to see more of in TFF in the future?

CM: Short, especially very short texts (like « Bright hunters » by Belinda Draper in the latest TFF issue), that create an atmosphere, characters, and tell a whole story in only a few lines. Texts for theatre plays and radio dramas (remember the famous War of the Worlds radio drama, inspired by H.G. Wells). And maybe some humorous or absurd texts, and poems.

Which is, in your opinion, the most striking illustration TFF published and what does it add to the story?

CM: The first illustration by Martin Hanford for « Digital ligatures » by Lauren C. Teffeau (2014). This dark image with the the woman lying in a bold perspective, her haunted face turned to us, and the character crouching next to her, who looks like a strange ape with his mask, impressed me and actually made me eager to read the story.

What is your favorite short story ever (or at the moment)?

CM: Odette Renaud-Vernet : « Ce jour-là ». A quite ironic short story from 1979 by a Swiss author, telling what Judgement Day could look like for an ordinary family on an ordinary week day in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Otherwise : « The sentry » by Fredric Brown. A universal tale that reminds us that « the other » is not always the one we think.

What TFF story would you like to see adapted for the big screen?

CM: « Until the pit is dug for the wicked » by John Kratman. Its well-rounded plot based on alternative history would make a good scenario for a film, full of interesting visual elements (costumes, machines,…).

Tell us more about the TFF anniversary anthology and fundraiser?

CM: To celebrate its 10th birthday this year, TFF plans to publish a special anniversary issue. It will include not only a selection of the best short stories published in TFF so far, but also as a lot of new material like stories, sequels, interviews, artwork, etc. To be able to publish this anthology, we are currently raising money through a fundraiser, which offers exciting perks to the contributors: beside the anthology itself, you can get TFF issues, books, artwork prints, hand knitted zombie dolls, etc. There is also “custom art”: I’ll do a custom illustration for a short story, and the receiver will get the original illustration, not an electronic version (I’m using classical techniques, such as watercolour, not computer art). Which is a real treat, because I usually keep the originals.

More information on Matthey, the anthology and the magazine can be found at The Future Fire.