News and Interviews

Getting to Know Fantasy Author S.M. Beiko: Cancelling Plans, Smashing the Patriarchy, & Keeping it Weird

Beiko_SM_Hi Res_credit Teri Hofford

Creating an entire mythology from scratch is no small feat. But S.M. Beiko pulls it off with style in her epic fantasy novel Scion of the Fox (ECW Press), the first of a planned trilogy. Set in Winnipeg, the story follows Roan, who, when the novel opens, is an eye-patch sporting orphan whose remaining family is seems determined to keep secrets from her. And she soon finds out why, when she stumbles across a dead girl who looks just like her and begins to unravel the mystery of the fantastical world of animal spirits her family operates in - and from which her parents died to protect her.

If it sounds epic, that's because it is, and Beiko's already earning praise for it. Kelley Armstrong called Scion of the Fox "a thrilling tale underscored by excellent, deep, and unique world-building" and Charlene Challenger praised Beiko's ability to move "her story from hilarious to heartbreaking with true literary grace".

We're pleased to welcome Samantha to Open Book today to get to know her through our version of the famous personality-focused quiz, the Proust Questionnaire. She tells us about the kind of hammer every woman needs, gets us heading to Wikipedia to look up her favourite historical figure, and shares a great motto that we're happy to adopt. 


The Proust Questionnaire with S.M. Beiko

What is your dream of happiness?

An eternal Guillermo del Toro exhibit.

What is your idea of misery?

Being misjudged absolutely in a benign encounter.

Where would you like to live?

The Isle of Skye.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

A yen for disassembling toxic masculinity.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

A large hammer with which to smash the patriarchy.

What is your chief characteristic?

An unrelenting determination to prove everyone wrong.

What is your principal fault?

Impulsivity and extreme visions of grandeur.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Vintage clothes. Plane tickets. Limited edition/antique books.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

Their penchant to cancel plans at the last minute.

What do you value most about your friends?

Their uncanny ability to tolerate me.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

Unfounded prejudice.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?

Ceaseless paralyzing self-doubt.

What is your favourite virtue?

Pigheaded bravery.

What is your favourite occupation?


What would you like to be?

Better than I was yesterday.

What is your favourite colour?

Scarlet and gold.

What is your favourite flower?


What is your favourite bird?

The common crow.

What historical figure do you admire the most?

Queen Boudicca.

What character in history do you most dislike?

Whoever burned down the Library of Alexandria.

Who are your favourite prose authors?

Neil Gaiman. Marie Brennan. Alice Hoffman. Gemma Files. Ed Kurtz. David Demchuk.

Who are your favourite poets?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Robert Service. Rainer Maria Rilke. Maya Angelou.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?

The kind who meet their own bullshit head on.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Those that fight inequality and stand up for the marginalized every single day.

Who is your favourite painter?


Who is your favourite musician?

Danny Elfman.

What is your favourite food?


What is your favourite drink?


What are your favourite names?

Valentine. Scarlet. Cecily. Emmett. Hartley. Soren.

What is it you most dislike?

Systemic oppression.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?


How do you want to die?


What is your current state of mind?

Mischievously squinting at the future.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Adopting my rescue dog, Sophie.

What is your motto?

Fortune favours the strange.


S.M. Beiko has been writing and drawing strange, fantastical things since before she can remember. She currently works as a freelance editor, graphic designer, and consultant and is the co-publisher of ChiZine Publications and ChiGraphic. Her first novel, The Lake and the Library, was nominated for the Manitoba Book Award for Best First Book as well as the 2014 Aurora Award. Scion of the Fox is the first book of the Realms of Ancient trilogy. Samantha lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Buy the Book

Scion of the Fox

As the winter ice begins to thaw, the fury of a demon builds — all because one girl couldn’t stay dead . . .

Roan Harken considers herself a typical high school student — dead parents, an infected eyeball, and living in the house of her estranged, currently comatose grandmother (well, maybe not so typical) — but she’s uncovering the depth of the secrets her family left behind. Saved from the grasp of Death itself by a powerful fox spirit named Sil, Roan must harness mysterious ancient power . . . and quickly. A snake-monster called Zabor lies in wait in the bed of the frozen Assiniboine River, hungry for the sacrifice of spirit-blood in exchange for keeping the flood waters at bay. Thrust onto an ancient battlefield, Roan soon realizes that to maintain the balance of the world, she will have to sacrifice more than her life in order to take her place as Scion of the Fox.

American Gods meets Princess Mononoke in this powerful first installment of a trilogy sure to capture readers’ imaginations everywhere.