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Rhiannon Wood - Editor in Chief

To say the forest has been full of song this issue is an understatement – it’s more like a cacophony of voices clamouring to be heard. How lucky we are to hear them! Choosing the stories for this issue has been tough, and we love that; we don’t like it when it’s easy. Our forest has been filled with such a variety of voices, such whimsical darkness that we are grinning maniacally at all of you. Readers – you have so much to enjoy!

The stories in this issue got me thinking about one of my favourite subjects – mythical beasts. Dragons, for one, have always been an absolute favourite of mine; in fact, I’m reading a book about them at the moment. Did you know they would often fall asleep in the hollow space between the roots of old trees? If you cut one down, you might disturb the slumbering beast… and dragons do not wake up well as a general rule (something I can relate to!). Still, I love the idea of chopping down a tree and finding a dragon. The unexpected is always welcome in stories (and in life); it’s what makes them so engaging. 

I especially love dragons because they knew how to stand out better than most. They were big, fire-breathing, bad-in-the-morning non-conformists known to be solitary creatures, feared and misunderstood by the mortals they hunted. They were also depicted in different ways in different cultures: in the west, they were often lizard-like; in the east, they were aquatic or snake-like. Other depictions show them as more like lions or really big dogs. Yet, when we look at them, we unerringly know what they are. A dragon is always recognisable as a dragon. Granted, the fire breathing is a clue, but it’s their presence, magic, and unmistakable otherness that make them iconic.

The stories in this issue resonated with us for a few reasons. They all deal with nonconformity, gender, and journeys both inward and outward, and they all offer to transport us somewhere else when we need to escape our lives for just a moment. Maybe you want to avoid the monster in your own home, the one that crunches bones and loves the taste of flesh. Or you once were the hunter and are now the hunted. Maybe you went searching for a dragon and ended up finding way more than you bargained for. Or your journey might be inward after your outside has changed, and you need a moment (or two or three) to catch up to your new physicality. Or perhaps your journey is through grief, loss and memory, letting go through unexpected means. Whatever your need for escape, our cover’s gleaming golden moons, rising above the darkness, will transport you to the other, the fantastical. After all, nightie is often when the magic happens, even more so under three golden moons.

One of the many reasons we started this anthology was to hear from and about those voices that stand away from the mainstream, dragon-like. The message I want to leave you with is no matter how you might feel, how you might not fit in, or how outside of ‘normal’ you may be, remember the dragons. Be like the dragons. Embrace your otherness. After all, that’s where the power lies. That’s where the magic vibrates. So, as you traverse through our forest, watch out for the larger trees with spacious, gnarled roots. There might be a dragon in there already. And if not, feel free to make yourself at home…

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