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Review and Interview: “Running Wild” with Gemma L. Brook

Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Volume 3 by Cecile Sarruf (Editor)
Genre: Speculative Short Fiction
Age category: Adult
Release Date: September 15th 2019

Well, my post-2019 self has finally gotten into gear, and we’re back with another author interview and review. After diving into some short fiction with Ken Liu’s collection The Hidden Girl and Other Stories in January, I decided to pick up a short story anthology this time. Specifically, Running Wild Stories, Volume 3.

“Running wild” is actually a pretty accurate description of these stories as a whole. Each one took my imagination somewhere different and unique. The cool thing with anthologies is that stories of different genres or stories that don’t fit well into a single genre can comfortably find a home together. They can take you on a crazy tour through all different worlds and still leave you satisfied. Some of the stories in this anthology are strictly contemporary, others have a clear fantastic element, while others walk the thin paranormal line, leaving readers to decide which side they come down on. I loved that aspect of it, never knowing if something magical was about to happen. (One thing about reading a lot of urban fantasy; the protagonist might be shocked to learn magic exists, but the reader rarely is.)

There’s an air of mystery that ties all the stories together; the sense that something more is going on in the scene below the surface. And there’s quite a few gems here. Although some stories suited my tastes more than others, I can’t say I read any one in particular that didn’t feel like it belonged. I fell into the vibrant circus setting of Madam Ursa’s Performing Bears, a story where even after I had a hint where the plot might go, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it unfold. I had an immediate moment of “Yes, I’ve felt that!” when I started Running Man, a story which opens on a moment of regret for not helping a stranger in need. I sympathized deeply with Flora in Los Sueños, someone who’s always getting looked down on for being flighty at work. And I could almost smell the salty air as I listened to the fishermen’s tales in The One That Got Away.

As it happens, the author of this particular story, Gemma L. Brook, was able to chat with me for a short interview…

Urban Fantasy Magazine: First of all, congrats on your second inclusion in a Running Wild anthology! As the book was nearing publication, did it feel different than the first time around?

GEMMA L. BROOK: Thanks! It did feel different, honestly. The first time, I swayed between incredulity and euphoria, both basically about: ‘my stories are going to be in an actual printed BOOK!’ The second time was still exciting and a pleasure and a privilege – but I had learned a little about the necessity and realities of promotion. That sort of thing is just not as easy or natural to me.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: I’m sure you’re far from the only author who feels that way. One thing I enjoyed about this anthology is the variety of voices, settings, and genres. Many stories start off like contemporary fiction but soon reveal an element of the supernatural. What are some of your favorite supernatural creatures?

GEMMA L. BROOK: I’ve been in love with mythical beasts since childhood. In fact, I’ve invented (or discovered?) two supernatural creatures for the fantasy novel I’m writing. Some of my favorites are hippocampi and centaurs, and I am especially fond of flying horses. But for me, the paragon of all mythical beasts is the unicorn.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: He-he. There is at least one member of my household who couldn’t agree with you more. Now, your story, “The One That Got Away” centers around a group of fishers. Was this familiar territory or something new to you?

GEMMA L. BROOK: I have to humbly admit – it was not at all familiar! I feel like I owe an apology to all fishers out there. I did a tiny bit of online research, but I definitely don’t feel I did the art of fishing justice. In my defense, though, the fishers have gathered to swap tall tales, so I felt I had a little leeway for poetic license.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Sounds fair to me. So, when it comes to writing short stories, do you prefer flash fiction like this one or do you tend towards longer pieces?

GEMMA L. BROOK: The small amount of short fiction I’ve written is mostly flash fiction. An online flash fiction course from Lisa Diane Kastner (before she founded Running Wild Press) taught me I could actually write something shorter than hundreds of pages. Then just last fall, I wrote a Halloween-inspired short story a bit longer than flash fiction.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Oo! Sounds spooky! There are so many great speculative fiction books out there. What’s one you’ve enjoyed recently?

GEMMA L. BROOK: I am thoroughly hooked by The Great Library series by Rachel Caine. I think speculative fiction describes it perfectly – it speculates, “What if the Great Library of Alexandra was never destroyed?” Which should be a wonderful thing, but the Library keeps a stranglehold on all knowledge, and simply owning a book can get you hunted down by murderous automata. Which is a pretty terrifying concept for book lovers, including many of the characters, and me!

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Sounds like a great read! Thanks for sharing and here’s hoping for more of your stories going out to readers in the future!

You can find Volume 3 of the Running Wild Anthology of Stories on Goodreads

You can also buy the book on Amazon. (Affiliate link)

Gemma Brook’s website can be found at:

2 thoughts on “Review and Interview: “Running Wild” with Gemma L. Brook

  1. Thank you for featuring this Anthology, Katrina! I enjoyed reading your perspective on the book, and chatting with you. I look forward to reading more of your reviews!

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