Book Wordy podcast 9 Society of Heartless Women transcript

Transcript for the Book Wordy podcast 9 Society of Heartless Women.

Byrd Nash
Welcome to Book Wordy, a podcast about fantasy and science fiction books, authors, and the art of writing. I’m your host, Byrd Nash, former journalist and author of the Wicked Wolves of Windsor and other fairytales.

I’m here with my fellow partner in crime, Miles. And we’re going to be discussing the short story The Society of Heartless Women found in my book, The Wicked Wolves of Windsor. I’m doing a series of podcasts that discusses each one of the short stories. And then afterwards, the podcast will be interviewing writers of fantasy and science fiction. Discussing their work, their themes, how they do it, what they find out. But today, we’re going to be discussing a Society of Heartless Women. And it is a short story that I think is probably kind of controversial in my collection. I actually had a lot of fun writing it, I really liked it. It was just a fun parody spoof to do, that I wanted to do. So to give you some sort of idea about the story. And there will be no spoilers in this podcast. However, if you read the story, you’ll know what I’m talking about probably more so than someone that does not. You don’t have to have read the story to enjoy this podcast, because we’re going to be discussing also the unreliable narrator and points of view used in fiction, and how that works in developing your story. And how the point of view actually becomes a character in itself. A Society of Heartless Women is a short story that takes place in the early 1800s. The narrator is a woman of society, who is telling the story…

Miles
It reads kind of like someone telling a story from their past.

Byrd Nash
Right. It’s like a memoir that she’s relating of something that had happened in her past that was very famous at the time. The person that she’s telling the story to, we don’t know who that person is. So I’m going to read a passage of the story and then we’ll discuss unreliable narrators.

In October of 1816, I found myself standing in the Upper Rooms of Bath feeling distinctly annoyed. The service had run out of lemon and using it was the only way, my dear, to make tolerable the weak black tea for which the place was so well known.

I was wearing my favorite Spencer jacket. I recall that with special fondness as it was particular shade of green that so perfectly brought out the color of my eyes, I have never been able to match it since.

When I began writing the story of Heartless, I knew that the narrator would be unreliable. I also knew I did not want to trick or fool the reader into thinking that this person was someone to be trusted. So within the first page or two, there are some strong hints. I mean, I would call them strong hints.

Miles
I think there’s some pretty clear indicators.

Byrd Nash
That the narrator, who remains unnamed, is not to be trusted. That the narrator has a certain prejudice, the narrator has a certain world viewpoint. And in the passage I just read, she’s reminiscing about these two girls that died horribly in a way we don’t know as of yet, because it’s the beginning of the story. And all she can think about is her clothes. I hope that would be a tip off to people reading it that this is just not someone you can rely upon. This is not someone who’s trustworthy, this is not going to be a heroine or a main character or protagonist that you’re going to go, root for unless she changes. I mean, if it was a novel, you could hope that the person would change.

Miles
But it’s definitely an indicator that this is someone that maybe you shouldn’t take everything that they say at face value.

Byrd Nash
Well, obviously the unreliable narrator is a first person point of view. This is the only first person point of view in the collection. I’m not a very huge fan of first person point of view, maybe because of my own personality. That’s why I made it an unreliable narrator. Because I just really, I just can’t stand first person point of views. I rarely ever read them.

Miles
It’s very difficult, I think, to write a book from first person point of view and have it work. Maybe it’s easier in a short story where you don’t have to maintain it over long period of time.

Byrd Nash
Let’s talk about point of views and unreliable narrators. To me, one of the problems with the first person point of view is that you only learn everything from that person’s viewpoint. One reason I dislike the first person point of view, and I was reading actually a story last night about this, it was in first person point of view, is if you’re writing a young adult book, or a story with a young person in it, and the young person behaves foolishly, or they’re kind of naive, because you’re writing from first person point of view you’re seeing, you know, all the writing kind of comes across as childish.

Miles
In a first person narrative the reader has to kind of inhabit the character of the narrator.

Byrd Nash
You’re right, you’re in the narrator’s mind.

Miles
You’re seeing through their eyes, in some sense. If the character is being stupid, it almost feels like an insult to the reader.

Byrd Nash
Yeah, I think you’re hitting that right. Because to me, I start getting bored with dealing with this silly character that I’m reading first person, and then I get frustrated. And I’m tired of listening to them. And I hate to say this, but usually it’s girls that’s the first person point of view that is used by authors. And it’s usually a girl who comes across as all giggly and foolish and not really someone that I would want to know.

Miles
And I think part of it is for me, it jars me out of the story. If I’m reading a third person story, where I’m watching characters, and a character acts stupid, and I can say, oh, that characters acting stupid and I, but it doesn’t jar me out of suspension of disbelief. I still believe in the story. But if I’m, if it’s the narrator describing something or relaying a mental experience, and it’s stupid, then my immediate reaction is, I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t think that. And so it kind of jars me out of the enraptment of the story.

Byrd Nash
I wonder, though, because you read a lot of ghost stories, and I bet a lot of those are first person.

Miles
There are a lot.

Byrd Nash
I’m wondering with the first person if that doesn’t help the author build atmosphere better. If you’re clever as a writer, you can use the first person to distort everything that people are seeing. And that is part of what the unreliable narrator is. The unreliable narrator is, of course, someone who’s telling the story. There’s been a popular classification system that’s been proposed by William Riggan, back in 1981, that goes into what type of unreliable narrators exist in literature. We’re going to talk about some of that. though it’ll be detailed also in the show notes. You can go to the website, ByrdNash. And I will have that in the show notes, so you can see it more in an outline.

We have one, which is the Pícaro. And this is the character that he exaggerates and he’s a braggart. He’s swaggering around and he, and he’s acting like he knows everything. And this kind of character you probably are very familiar with in terms of plays, you know, that the one that the man talks to the audience and is usually a very pompous, arrogant person about to tell you what’s going to happen.

Miles
I agree. You see that I think in plays. The character is someone who’s always building themselves up saying they’ve done all kinds of things, that you know they really didn’t do if you think about it.

Byrd Nash
Another unreliable narrator is the Madman. And probably one of the most famous ones that comes to my mind immediately is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. If you’ve only seen the movie you may not be aware, but the book itself is told from one of the characters that’s residing in the madhouse, Chief, and his mental abilities can’t be relied upon.

Miles
There are scenes reported by the narrator in the book as actually happening where like walls melt, or where the orderlies capture Santa Claus and try to cure his mental illness, and other kinds of things that probably did not happen.

Byrd Nash
But you know they didn’t happen this way. Because the person that is narrating the story, you know, or you quickly suspect is not sane.

Miles
And actually the, seeing these things reinforces in your mind, oh, this, the person telling this story is not sane.

Byrd Nash
Well, and of course that throws the reader into a tailspin because they don’t know what is truth and what isn’t truth. So from the author’s standpoint, you’re playing with what is truth? Because when does the madman see the truth? Does he ever see the truth? And how does he relate that to the people who are reading the story?

Miles
Yeah, that’s actually one of the things you can do with an unreliable narrator, that’s hard to do else, in any other way. Which is to get the reader to question reality, and question the truth of events and the meaning of truth.

Byrd Nash
Again, something that I think would be very interesting, in a ghost story format.

Miles
Yes.

Byrd Nash
Because of course, ghost stories are relying upon putting the reader on edge and also upside down where they don’t really understand the world. It would be harder to do that in a fantasy story, especially book length. Anything that goes book length is, in my opinion, it can wear you down as the reader where you don’t know what’s happening. But in a short story, and you want to turn everything upside down, and you want them to be on an uneven surface and kind of a, you know, oh my gosh, what’s happening, the madman would be a great unreliable narrator.

Another couple of unreliable narrators is the Clown. That’s the one who does not take narration seriously. Again, probably breaking the wall to talk to the audience, I would imagine, but is also not seeing the story that he’s relating as anything really important. So in that way, he’s going to play with truth and play with what he’s saying to you.

There’s also the naive person. The Naïf would be like Huckleberry Finn. Forrest Gump is probably one of the more, more most recent and well known examples of that. So this is the character that’s pretty much, can be a fool character, or like Huckleberry Finn, because of his youth and inexperience is naive to the racism, the slavery issues that’s happening around him. In Mark Twain’s story.

Miles
The Naïf is not intentionally trying to distort the truth, or hide anything, or tell lies, but it’s their own inexperience or innocence that causes them to not perceive things truthfully.

Byrd Nash
Well, I’m thinking right now that you see that a lot in these memoirs where someone begins a story and a child is telling the story.

Miles
Yeah.

Byrd Nash
Or the adult is telling events that happened to them when they were a child. And of course if they’re accurately narrating what happened when they were a child, children often don’t understand adult events that are happening around them. They don’t understand, for example, why parents are divorcing, why dad had the affair, that mom is suicidal, or whatever is happening. They may not understand things from the adult viewpoint. So then you get the naive narration that’s unreliable because they don’t know everything. It’s not that they don’t want to tell you, the reader. It’s just they don’t, they don’t understand what’s happening.

Miles
Right. And again, it’s, in this kind of situation this isn’t the author trying to fool the reader, or it shouldn’t be. This is the author showing you something and with an invitation for you to look twice. The author is, this is an invitation from the author to look back at what has been said and what is happening

Byrd Nash
Maybe, Miles. But as an author myself, I can see where an author can use it to fool you. They want to play with your perception of the story.

The last example of the classification system is the Liar. So this is someone who the narrator is definitely misrepresenting. He’s misrepresenting what he’s saying, in order to fool whoever he’s telling it to. The stories that we’re going to mention actually will have spoilers, so I’m going to try to warn you about that before I say the spoiler. So if you don’t want that spoiler, you can skip ahead, but not only for my story, but also for the stories that we’re going to talk about. Some of the stories you may be familiar with, or you may not be.

We talked about the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but the book narrator, Chief Bromden, he sees hallucinations, he has delusions. So this is the madman narrator. In today’s popular culture, you could use that as an author, or you might see that in books that deal with post traumatic stress disorder. I could definitely see that being utilized. If you’re following a soldier who’s now come back home, his mind is under stress. He’s not going to see things as clearly as perhaps if he wasn’t under stress,

Miles
Or someone who’s battling drug addiction, perhaps.

Byrd Nash
Oh, yeah.

Miles
Where you can’t trust their perceptions.

Byrd Nash
So yeah, so, or a person who’s gone through other trauma like sexual abuse or whatever. So those would be, where someone, you could play with that. Where the person might seem to be relatively normal and sane, but then they aren’t, because they’re seeing things through this lens.

Some books that you might not be as familiar with is, there’s a story called Vanity Fair that was published back in 1847 by William Makepeace Thackeray, and Vanity Fair was actually published in installments, I believe, in a magazine at the time. I know of it because I did read it back in the days of college and English Lit. It’s a very interesting story, and it mainly is about the protagonist, Becky Sharp, who is very vain and a social climber. But the narrator kind of glosses over Becky’s worse personality traits, shall we say. Becky in that story is stabbing people in the back right and left and using her feminine wiles to rise. But then the narrator is kind of like, Oh, well, just a sweet little girl, now we’ll go look elsewhere.

Another book we want to talk about is by Agatha Christie, but there will be a spoiler for this one. So if you don’t want to know the spoiler for the Murder of Roger Ackroyd, you might want to skip ahead.

Miles
The story is told as a narrative by Dr. James Sheppard, who’s written up an account of this murder and all the events. He’s actually given it to Hercule Poirot, and the spoiler is at the end, Dr. Shepherd himself is the murderer.

Byrd Nash
Right. But you don’t know that while you’re reading the story. You’re thinking he’s just…

Miles
He’s just a helpful doctor who was on the sidelines and watching these things happen. And is just helping out Poirot to solve the mystery.

Byrd Nash
Well, and he’s obviously the example of the Liar because he, during the narration, he quite explicitly skips or misguides you during key scenes when he’s talking about the murder. That obviously would tell you that he was the murderer if he was being totally honest. Now, what I want to talk about with the Agatha Christie story is that when she wrote that story, she received a lot of criticism.

Miles
Many people received it with great acclaim as a triumph and as one of her greatest mysteries ever. But many readers also were, felt cheated or offended, felt that by hiding that information from the reader, she was breaking the rules.

Byrd Nash
And I think this is one of the problems with the unreliable narrator. If the reader feels betrayed, they’re going to be very angry at the end of the story. That, maybe that’s one reason you don’t see a lot of unreliable narrators nowadays. One, it’s a hard trick to pull off right. You want to give the reader enjoyment, but in a story about unreliable narrator generally you don’t like an unreliable narrator. The unreliable narrator is hiding information either on purpose or because they’re naive or they’re the fool. And I guess people like Forrest Gump himself. But the reality is, is if you had a story where your narrator was the murderer or the killer or the whatever, it can disturb your reader to the point that they become furious and they don’t want to ever read anything by you again, or they don’t want to leave you a nice review. they leave you a bad review. So, and I just think unreliable narrators as a whole can come off as very unlikable.

Miles
One of the ingredients to that is whether the reader is expected to figure out early on or not, whether the narrator’s unreliable. In a murder mystery where the the unreliableness of the narrator is the key to the mystery., hopefully the reader doesn’t figure it out until the very end. The author’s trying to play fair but keep the reader from guessing.

Byrd Nash
But this is a genre, mystery. And I think that’s why Agatha Christie got such a big ragging about it, is because there’s people that read mystery books that their whole reason for reading the mystery book is to figure out the puzzle. And that’s not the reason I read mystery books. I personally like to read mystery books just to immerse myself in the atmosphere, and to be told the story and then to applaud at the end about how clever the writer was. But I do think there’s a segment of people who their main purpose is to try to decipher the mystery. And when you do an unreliable narrator, they don’t feel like you’re playing fair with them.

Miles
I will say that with the murder of Roger Ackroyd, the narrator never says anything that is not true. He never actually lies.

Byrd Nash
He lies by omission.

Miles
He lies by omission. He just doesn’t, doesn’t relate some things. And there’s clues that an astute reader could figure out.

Byrd Nash
I have to say i don’t think unreliable narrators are very popular nowadays. I know when I was writing A Society of Heartless Women that I wanted to do a narrator first person point of view. None of the other stories are first person point of view. I knew that the narrator would be unreliable and will be part of the problem of the story.

The main purpose of writing those stories was that I grew up reading Georgette Heyer, who was a huge writer of Regency romances. They’re actually very well written. Georgette Heyer also wrote mysteries, which I also enjoy. I actually enjoy her mysteries almost better than I enjoy her romances now years later. She focused on the Regency time period. And then she was the main big thrust in my opinion of the Regency genre that we know today. Now, the Regency genre today has become very sexual. And I’m not a big fan of that. Her books are not. But she was very much about how do I portray the Society of the time. And her books were all about all the aristocracy, usually revolved around some sort of misunderstanding. And you could pretty much say it was a comedy, like Shakespeare’s comedies are. People running around misunderstanding each other, doing silly things, not knowing what the other person’s doing, misconstruing their intent. And then of course, everyone gets together at the end.

The other person that influenced me writing this, in terms of authors, was Jane Austen. Jane Austen, of course, wrote about her time as contemporary. And of course, you know who Jane Austen is and what she wrote. Again, her stories dealt with relationships of people and society, and women trying to jockey their position around to move up in that society. I’ve been heavily influenced by those two authors in the writing of Society of Heartless Women, Heartless was supposed to be not a romance, just the exact opposite. And I think it fulfilled that mandate, but is not a story that I generally get a lot of feedback about. I generally don’t hear back from people that they love this story, although I did have one review that they did. Thank you. Because I think it’s a very unsettling story.

Miles
It is unsettling. To me that’s part of the pleasure of the story, is that it starts out feeling like it’s going to be a light, frothy, almost silly story, because that’s what Regency romances are nowadays. No big emotional investment. Lots of women in elaborate gowns, going to balls and fun.

Byrd Nash
Right.

Miles
And it starts out that way. But then you very quickly discover, oh, there’s horrible murders involved here.

Byrd Nash
Well, there’s horrible something.

Miles
There’s horrible somethings. There’s, there’s death. And taking that light, fluffy genre and turning it on its head, while still keeping the Regency feel and the authenticity and the fun of the comedy of matters, but also weaving in this very dark thread.

Byrd Nash
Well, I did have a private review sent to me that I’d like to address. Probably shouldn’t, I don’t think authors should address reviews. But I’ll give you an idea of the the responses this story kind of draws. The person, who was a guy, seemed very horrified by this story and was talking about the blood and the mayhem from the story. And honestly, from an author viewpoint, I just didn’t see where he was coming from. There is no blood in terms of someone’s head being chopped off. There is no fresh butchering of anyone. There is no disembowelment of characters. It’s really a society and a horror story about manners. I think he missed the whole Jane Austen parody thing. Maybe because he doesn’t read Jane Austen. I don’t know. I was kind of befuddled by that when he sent it to me, because I was like, I don’t know. I don’t get it.

Miles
That befuddled me too somewhat. I enjoyed the story a lot even though I’ve only read one or two Regency stories. But I enjoy watching Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth, because of all the…

Byrd Nash
Because of me forcing you to.

Miles
I’ve gotten very fond of it. I love the, the Regency flavor. My impression from other things he said in the review is that this was someone who really prefers dark horror fantasy, and he was kind of looking for dark horror.

Byrd Nash
I actually got the exact opposite. So you guys listening to this, you can send me emails about what you think about the story. Once you read it. I got the feeling that he was very horrified by this story. I wonder if that was because the story is mainly about young women. Most of the characters in the book are women in their late teens and early 20s. And I don’t know if that horrified him or perhaps it was that he was expecting it to be a comedy of manners, and then it just kind of, you know, it basically pulled the rug out from underneath him that this story is completely not that.

And I do think there’s a bit of that in terms of a shock thing, of a shock value, that I had hoped through the first couple of pages of explaining that, you know that, you know, as a reader, this is an unreliable narrator. I can’t trust what they’re going to say. Coupled with the title of the short story, which is a Society of Heartless Women. I mean, these aren’t women who are nice women. That isn’t what this books about. Maybe the horror aspect, and that’s what I wanted to strive for as from an author, was the idea that you have a very polite society framework where people use each other’s last name. They bow and they curtsy when they meet people. There is restraints upon which you can say to people. You have to put a nice smile on your face and not say something nasty to someone’s face. Now what you say behind their back maybe is something different. But, and it’s also a story that takes place in the spa rooms of Bath. ballrooms, people’s homes. It’s not a story that takes place in prisons or on the heath. And you know, or you’re in the circle of Stonehenge at night with a full moon. It’s not that kind of atmosphere.

Miles
Yeah. And the contrast is to me part of the pleasure of the story, is this is a story about well bred and well brought up young ladies in society going to tea parties and dances and and gossiping.

Byrd Nash
and knifing each other in the back.

Miles
knifing each other in the back and plotting each other’s destruction.

Byrd Nash
Right. With their words.

Miles
With their words and…

Byrd Nash
So to me, I mean, not to cut you off. But to me, this is why the stories is just so simple to understand. It is about women who are going to destroy another woman. Not by pulling out their sword and cutting their head off, which you find in so much fantasy. It’s about women, using gossip and innuendo and what they’re doing in society that actually destroys people. It destroys two the characters in the book.

You know, I was talking to Dirk about this book, our second son, he said, Oh, this is basically Jane Austen with I Know What You Did Last Summer? And I was like, yeah, pretty much. So I don’t know. I don’t know, I probably will always be confused by people who don’t get my stories. And that’s okay. There’s people, these stories aren’t for everybody, I completely understand that. I’m not going to bash you if you don’t like my work. Or if you didn’t understand it, or you just didn’t like it. That’s cool, too. I’m always going to defend stories that I feel like someone misunderstood my story. If you didn’t like my story, that’s cool. That’s cool. If you misunderstood my story, I would like a chance to help you understand it. And if you still don’t understand it, maybe it’s just not the story for you. But The Society of Heartless Women was written for a specific reason. And I think it fulfilled the brief. I think it fulfilled the brief of being a horror story coupled with the Jane Austen environment, or Georgette Heyer Regency period, with ladies dancing and holding hands and gossiping. And but they’re all cutthroat pitches.

Miles
And to me that short story is one of the most fun stories to read.

Byrd Nash
I do think that if you don’t… With unreliable narrators, and that’s why they’re so difficult to write. And you have to be very careful with it. If people don’t get it pretty quickly, they’re going to feel betrayed. So if you ever want to write an unreliable narrator story, just be aware of these problems. I do think an unreliable narrator, though, is a great fit for horror stories. Because of course, it puts the whole mystery part of it and what’s going to happen completely on its end.

One aspect of the unreliable narrator, which we discussed, but I wanted to go into more depth about, is when you have an unreliable narrator, you really cannot trust them. You cannot trust what they are relating in the story. It’s a first person point of view story. So the person is saying I did this, I saw this, I observed whatever. And because they’re unreliable narrators, for whatever reason, because they’re liars. Maybe because they’re naive they don’t understand what they’re seeing. Maybe they don’t know the whole truth of what they’re seeing. You cannot trust their story.

Miles
Yes, this requires the reader to be more actively engaged. The reader needs to…

Byrd Nash
What do you mean by that?

Miles
You can’t just read an unreliable narrator story, once you realize it’s got an unreliable narrator. You can’t just read it passively and just take the narrative, the narrative as truth.

Byrd Nash
I’m not saying this is true for everything. But let’s say you’re reading, you’re reading your little beach summer read. The only reason you’re reading that is to have a good time, to be along for the ride. You don’t want to sit there and think a lot about the story. This would be a story that you could pick up, put down, come back to. You’re enjoying because it has a fun narration or something fun is happening. It’s light hearted, maybe it’s romance, it’s why you’re liking it. Versus, Okay, now you’re reading a mystery story. It’s kind of got a lot of elements of horror in it. That is probably going to challenge you more of getting involved emotionally into the story, but also wondering what is happening in the story. Will the victim survive the serial killer? Will they escape? Or will they not escape? Is that kind of what you’re talking about here?

Miles
Kind of. But I think you have to even do more than that. When you’re reading, for example, an ordinary murder mystery you may be thinking about, okay, what does this clue mean? Did I, what, can I figure out what’s going on? Can I see which of the interviewees were lying and what they were lying about. But I think that an unreliable narrator takes it even to a higher level where you can’t even trust what is presented as fact.

Byrd Nash
Okay, so for example. I f you’re reading the mystery, and it’s told by the detective, and he’s saying he found the smoking gun, and he found the dead body, we’re as the reader, we have to, we believe that. The detective found the smoking gun, he found the dead body. Versus the unreliable narrator, they might say they came upon a dead body. And we don’t know if they were the ones that made the dead body.

Miles
Exactly, exactly. It goes beyond just saying, john said he didn’t do it. Well, maybe he’s lying.

Byrd Nash
I think this is one reason why you have to use the unreliable narrator very, very carefully. Because it does put the reader into a state of confusion. And if you haven’t presented your genre and what the story is about to them very clearly, within the first page or two, they’re going to grow resentful. You were saying something about that, where the contract between writer and reader is you have to let the reader know very early on that this person’s unreliable.

Miles
Unless you’re writing an actual mystery where the unreliability of the of the narrator is the solution to the mystery.

Byrd Nash
Okay.

Miles
Unless you’re actually doing that, the writer should really be dropping clues, should be giving some kind of hints to the reader. So the reader can figure it out.

Byrd Nash
You have to understand that as a writer, you don’t want to trick your readers. Unless, of course, you’re making some sort of subterfuge statement like in a mystery. But on the other hand, you’re demanding a lot from the reader. So you have to let the reader know something, or they’re going to become very resentful about the story. It might be one of the stories that they throw their book across the room, because they become so frustrated. I don’t know. It’s a delicate balance. And I think that’s why you don’t see a lot of unreliable narrator stories.

Miles
As a reader, there’s some clues that you can look for. Or as a writer, things that you can sow into your story. If the narrator’s response to what’s happening doesn’t seem quite right. Or if the narrator says or does something in the story, and the other characters don’t seem to be responding in a way that you would think.

Byrd Nash
Well, I know…

Miles
That’s a clue there’s something hidden or something not said.

Byrd Nash
But you can put that into the unreliable narrator, where the unreliable narrator learns that their son got arrested by the police. And instead of asking why he got arrested or where he is, or how can she get him out of jail, she’s like, oh, have this piece of cake. You know, it’s like, that doesn’t match up. Why are you not concerned? What, Your your reactions aren’t reliable, hence, unreliable narrator.

Miles
Or things that would lead you to suspect that something has been left out. Like if they say at at four o’clock, I went to the kitchen, and at 5:30 I went back to read my book in the library. Okay, there’s, they wouldn’t say it that obviously. But there’s a big chunk of time missing.

Byrd Nash
Getting back to Heartless Women, The Society of Heartless Women, the book that I wrote, is our unreliable narrator. You should be wondering when… Especially when you go back and read it a second time. How much is she actually saying is true? There is spoilers in this next section. So if you don’t want spoilers, you might want to end the podcast.

We have a lot of accusations towards two of the characters in the Society of Heartless Women, the two fae debutantes, who end up ticking off all the society of heartless women, so they end up being attacked. They’re attacked, not only physically but also their reputations are attacked. And a lot of that is because of the unreliable narrator. She sets up certain situations to make all this happen. She moves all the chess pieces into place. So who she views as her foe is taken down. But how the person is taken down is all through gossip and innuendo. You actually don’t see any of this happen on the stage.

I had someone give me some feedback on the story. And again, I don’t want to be one of these authors who constantly brings up the reviewers and say you are wrong, because I want reviews obviously. But this person I don’t think they got the story, because they saw it really as a horror story. And they saw it as a very bloody, horrific story that in reality, the story is about a comedy of manners that has a lot of black humor. And how that comes out is through the gossip between the women and what is inferred, but it’s never shown. It’s inferred. Again, spoilers so here they come. That the two fae debutantes is using blood and bone from humans to feed their plants. The rosebushes that keeps them in turn healthy. This is just a rumor. We never see anything that would say that that’s what these families are doing. And we also, at the end when the event happens in the courtroom, we know later at the end of the epilogue that the unreliable narrator actually planted that evidence. So again, you should really, that whole story is kind of kind of turned upside down when you realize that the narrator cannot be relied upon. You need to go back and reread and see is this person reliable? No, they’re not reliable. So in turn, what had they told you the reader, that you should go Hmm, is this true or not true?

You can find me at ByrdNash.com, Byrd spelled with a BYRD. On my website you can read the show notes to today’s podcast, as well as find a list of all the episodes. I also do book reviews and have resources for authors on the website. Frost Waltz is the music and it’s by Kevin MacLeod at incompitech.com.

Transcribed by Otter.ai
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