Book Extract: Passageways: Short Speculative Fiction by Lisa Fox

I’m excited to be welcoming Lisa Fox to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for Passageways: Short Speculative Fiction.

Twenty-seven speculative short stories celebrating the value of the journey: how lessons learned traveling the path between two points often transcend the goal of reaching the destination. These tales—including science fiction, fantasy, and horror—introduce characters who traverse unusual and often unsettling routes toward their desired objectives.

A man ventures through the depths of his beloved’s subconscious to save her, only to discover a deep-rooted secret that could destroy everything. A young girl and a newly found friend travel to the Middle of Nowhere, desperate to find a way Out. A teenager struggles to escape the clutches of a demonic blanket inherited from a deceased family member. An “ugly” vampire goes through hell on earth to find his true self and his one true love. A woman revisits her past to determine whether it’s time to pull the plug on a scientific experiment that’s sustained—and devastated—her family for decades.

Passageways is the second short story collection from author Lisa Fox, following her acclaimed debut Core Truths. In these pages, readers voyage through darkness and light, fear and faith; toward understanding and peace. Sanctuary. Self-awareness. Being heard. Being loved. As speculative literary fiction, the stories in this anthology harmonize the excitement and otherworldly escapism that genre-based tales offer with the lyrical poeticism of language that makes storytelling sing.

Lisa has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 


*****beginning of extract*****


An excerpt from “Her Memory Uncloaked”

“Her Memory Uncloaked” is the lead story in Passageways: Short Speculative Fiction. It’s a genre-blend that brings Science Fiction, Romance, and a bit of Mystery together into a short piece that focuses on a man’s love for his wife and his desperation to save her from her own subconscious.

Clouds cast a gray pall over our wedding day; pinpricks of winter numb with a biting chill. Cassie’s world lies still, tense as a held breath that fears escape, as if the slightest sigh could crack the icy veneer that lacquers her mindscape.

Cassie’s construct of this day—our happiest—misaligns with my own. I recall the majestic windows of the judge’s chambers, a warm hearth, soft snow glistening through a filter of pillowed sunlight.

But as I’ve learned, the landscape—the feeling—can never be the Anomaly; the discrepancy lies in some twisted nuance. And this new moment presented in my wife’s mindscape is foreign to my experience—that first precious connection shared between my mother and Cassie as her new daughter-in-law. It’s a favorite story Mother has relayed countless times—one that makes Cassie smile.

I pray I can find the glitch.

Sixty seconds, the vitalBot reminds me, and I enter the scene.

Cassie clutches wildflowers tied with a white ribbon, the ornate bouquet selected by Mother tossed aside, much to her chagrin.

“A Caste-Alpha bride should be regal. A queen among peasants!” Mother says. Her lithe form towers over Cassie, nose and chin chiseled sharp and precise as an ice carving. The room shrinks as Mother fusses over my wife’s simple cotton dress. “This most certainly will not do. Malcom deserves… more.”

Gooseflesh rises defiantly on Cassie’s bare arms.

“Is there anything more than true love?“ Cassie challenges.

“Nonsense.” Mother tsks. “As a little girl, did you not dream of this day? Flowing tulle trailing your steps, your body lost in a sea of white satin? Didn’t your mother—” She stops, her crimson fingernails clicking as her fingertips steeple. “Oh. I understand.”

“Oh, do you?” Cassie straightens. The air crackles with her glare.

“The grandfather who raised you, he never did teach you the societal value of proper fashion. How could he? Old men, from New Maine, no less, know nothing of style.” Leaning in, Mother whispers, “Malcom told me of your unfortunate family predicament, dear.”

The room shivers with rage.

Reaching inside her gold-studded handbag, Mother retrieves a diamond brooch. Cassie steps back; Mother moves forward and clutches the neckline of Cassie’s wedding dress, securing the oversized pin. It pulls the soft fabric, like a frown.

“There. Now you almost look like a proper bride,” Mother says.

“Proper?” Cassie says. “You Caste-Alpha matriarchs are all the same, thinking you know what is proper. What is just.”

“Feisty. Irreverent.” Mother scowls. “Malcom never mentioned this side of you. Rushing into marriage, love at first sight. Nonsense.”

I watch Groom-Me enter the room, my gray topcoat shining and stiff. A suit of armor.

Melting ice drips from the ceiling, like the tear cascading down Cassie’s cheek. Her features soften as she sees me; her world breathes again in my presence. Mother’s form dissipates in an irrelevant cloud of smoke.

I hear my voice through Cassie’s mind, deep and melodious as a saxophone solo.

“My love.”

Mother’s brooch burns red on Cassie’s chest, an enraged serpent. It slithers, hissing and fighting for release from the dress.

“Mother’s gift to Cassie,” I whisper. “The pin was a peacock, not a serpent.”

Anomaly confirmed.

I long to kiss my bride, to thaw the frost that embellishes her vision of this day, and retreat from Cassie’s mindscape, relieved yet unnerved by the additional “glitch” I’ve discovered. This moment, it’s not the story Mother told.


*****end of extract*****



About Lisa Fox –

Lisa Fox is a pharmaceutical market researcher by day and fiction writer by night. She survives—and sometimes even thrives—in the chaos of suburban New Jersey life with her husband, two teenage sons, and quirky Double-Doodle dog. Her debut short story collection, Core Truths, was published in April 2023.

Lisa’s work has been featured in Amazing Stories, Uncharted Magazine, Dark Matter, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Metaphorosis, New Myths, and Brilliant Flash Fiction among others. Lisa has had work nominated for the Pushcart Prize and for Best Small Fictions and is a previous winner of the NYC Midnight Short Screenplay competition.

Say hello to Lisa via her website, X, Facebook and Instagram.  

Passageways: Short Speculative Fiction was released on 1st July 2024. Click to buy on Amazon UK and Waterstones


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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