Excerpt: ‘The Star Ball’ by Amy Fontaine


The second story I’d like to share tonight from Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts is by a new contributor, Amy Fontaine.

Amy’s story is a fun adventure about a Japanese boy who meets a mischievous kitsune (fox-shifter).


‘The Star Ball’ by Amy Fontaine


Koki’s mother had been tired when she came home from work earlier tonight. Tired, and distracted. After feeding Koki, she had slouched off to bed and forgotten to lock the inside lock on the back door. Koki noticed. Koki notices things.

Now Koki puts on his slippers, slips on a jacket over his pajamas, and tiptoes out of his room and down the stairs. He opens the back door of his apartment and sneaks off into the night.

The apartment is in a very modest neighborhood in the Northern Higashiyama area of Kyoto, but only a few blocks away is a beautiful park. A cobbled path lined with cherry trees and paper lanterns leads through lush ornamental plants to a red, arched bridge across a stream. The bridge leads to a tea house and a pagoda that stands beside it. During the day, Koki loves to come to this park with his mother, but he has never been here at night.

Koki starts crawling under bushes, turning over rock after rock and catching beetle after beetle. He squeals, a sound that seems more fitting of a five-year-old or a puppy than a ten-year-old. As he crawls under the last bush on the left before the red bridge, Koki’s eyes are suddenly met by a bright, piercing white-gold light. Koki yelps and scrambles backwards out of the bush, hearing a corresponding yelp of surprise and terror as he does so. When his vision clears, he sees a four-tailed golden fox standing before him, growling. Beetle legs hang from her mouth.

“What are you doing here, little runt?” hisses the fox, in a voice that isn’t quite real. “This is my territory, and these are my beetles! You have no right to hunt here, human!”

Koki bows to the fox. “I am sorry, honorable fox.”

The vixen bursts into peals of laughter that sound like tinkling bells.

“Honorable?” the fox scoffs. “You know nothing of kitsune, do you?”

In response, Koki begins to recite the natural history of the red fox. He sounds like an encyclopedia. The fox growls and shakes her head.

“You believe everything they tell you in science books, don’t you? Foolish boy. The things those books have told you to be false are the ones that are most important.”


Author Photo(2)

Amy Fontaine is a wildlife biologist who writes wild speculative fiction and poetry. Her first novel, Mist, is a young adult fantasy about shapeshifters, elemental magic, and being the change you wish to see in the world. She is currently writing an interactive novel inspired by Japanese kitsune folklore for Choice of Games. You can find her published work at https://amyfontaine.wordpress.com.



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BOTW: ‘The Tree of Life’ Lisa M. Collins

Today’s Book of the Week is a Japanese short story by Lisa M. Collins.

The Tree of Life by Lisa M. Collins


The starfaring Ryukyuan clans have lived under a single guiding philosophy for nine millennia. Will one tragic mistake, one secret, destroy them?

*16 pages*

| Amazon US | Goodreads |


Excerpt: ‘Megumi’s Quest’ by Joyce Chng


Joyce Chng’s story, Megumi’s Quest is the second story in Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories. I met Joyce through Visibility Fiction and really love her edgy, Asian, urban-fantasy short stories. She’s a great YA writer and I’m thrilled to have her work in this anthology 😀

Here’s the opening scene:

Megumi’s Quest

Megumi heaved herself up the cliff, her fingers raw and tender from gripping the sharp-edged nooks and crevices. Her thighs felt as if they were on fire. Beside her, the wolf, Tetsu, tackled the ledges with surefootedness, his tongue lolling out of his mouth as he panted.

Once over this cliff, we will be done with the challenge, she told herself.

She pushed up, up, up, and finally reached the top, panting. At least, her spiritual body was far healthier and agile than her physical body, connected via a tenuous silver cord. Megumi glanced at Tetsu who joined her, his tail wagging slowly. His ears flicked upright, twitching at the slightest of sounds.

We find the eggs now, the white-blue wolf said in her mind.

“Yes, the eggs that bred the monster.” Megumi placed her hand on Tetsu’s plush, soft fur. “Let’s go. Time is running out.”

Already the lumps on her body were spreading. She looked at them with disgust and focused wholly on her journey.


 Singaporean, but with a global outlook, Joyce Chng write science fiction and fantasy, YA and urban fantasy. Her fiction has appeared in the Apex Book of World SF II, We See A Different Frontier, Visibility Fiction, Crossed Genres and Bards & Sages, to name a few. Her urban fantasy novels are written under her pseudonym, J. Damask (which she will tell you are a play on her Chinese name). The Rider trilogy, a YA SF, will be published by Math Paper Press, an imprint of Books Actually, an independent bookstore in Singapore.

She can be contacted at A Wolf’s Tale: (http://awolfstale.wordpress.com)

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories is now available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP


Barnes & Noble


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Read More Excerpts

Restoration by Chris Ward

Towards the Light by Aislinn Batstone

The Bakeneko by Holly Kench

Sanctuary by Chris White

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Kitsune by Heather Jensen