Book Wordy podcast, The secrets in Granny Starseed transcript

Transcript for the Book Wordy podcast, The secrets in Granny Startseed.

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.

Welcome to Book Wordy. This is the last podcast in this series of season one which dealt with my book that Wicked Wolves of Windsor and other fairytales. You did not have to read the book to enjoy the podcasts. They dealt with some universal themes found in fairy tales and in literature in general. However, they provide background material for people who have read the book and who want to enjoy more information.

Today’s podcast will be dealing with Granny Starseed that is the last story in the collection of short stories the Wicked Wolves of Windsor. It will be spoilers, spoilers and more spoilers! So if you have not read the story, do not proceed. Unless of course you love spoilers and then Okay, fine. You’re staying here and you’re going to find out the secret information that I don’t really want you to know before you read the story.

If you don’t have the book, there is some information here that you can enjoy. Obviously, it would be more enjoyable if you went and bought my book. It is on Amazon please go buy the book. And better yet review it! However, I still would like you to hang out with me even if you are not a book buyer, and you’re just here for some other reason as long as it’s not a nefarious one.

I’m here today with my partner Miles and we’ll be discussing who is Granny Starseed, the grandmother character in the same story entitled Granny Starseed. What has interested me, now that the book has been out for several months, is it seems that I made my easter egg in that story too well hidden. I always worry as an author that I’m going to give away too much! You guys are going to figure it out. One reason is because now that we live in a society that as soon as we hear the words, “trick ending, surprise ending” we go oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I am totally open to surprises, but I’m gonna be guessing every moment what the surprise is. So it rather has surprised me that no one has figured out who Granny Starseed is. And that’s why this episode is definitely a spoiler. So let’s read a passage from the book that was my easter egg to let readers know that Granny Starseed is not exactly the woman who you think she is.

Miles
“Just calm down, Arthur,” his mother said soothingly causing her son to roar.

“I want my wife and son here now!” He shook his head back and forth, opening his jaws with a snarl.

“Badb Catha bring them back!”

I”‘m constrained,” the goddess said, narrowing her eyes at Arthur. “I cannot interfere with their destinies.”

Byrd Nash
That was my easter egg. It’s near the end of the story, where Arthur confronts his mother because she’s kind of up to her usual chaotic behavior. The story of Granny Starseed I addressed in the podcast before this one it is based upon the original Goldilocks and the Three Bears story version, which did not have a Goldilocks it had a Silverlocks. It had an old lady who came into the three bachelor bear’s pad and wrecked it. So when I started out writing this story based upon the fairy tale, I thought oh, okay, so if I went with an old woman who would be an old cantankerous woman that would cause a lot of trouble. And it immediately sprang to my mind that I wanted her to be a goddess. Because there’s no one that’s going to cause more problems than a goddess. So the thing is, Granny Starseed is a goddess. So which goddess? She is the Morrigan. the Morrigan may be more familiar to you because she has gained in popularity, especially in pagan circles, and in popular fantasy literature. She’s usually seen as a war goddess, which was one of her three aspects. But there is more to the story about the Morrigan and that is profiled in the story Granny Starseed. If you are watching, you will see the hints being dropped about who she is. There is a conversation between Logan and Granny that gives away one of the tips.

Miles
He condescendingly explained to her the dire consequences of getting a failed grade, ending his oratory with the less pompous statement, “Mom is going to have a cow.”

“For once she would be useful,” judged his grandmother who had a fondness for cattle.

Byrd Nash
That’s one of several clues dropped about who Granny Starseed really is. If you’re familiar with the more again, she is a Celtic goddess. And one of the things that she was in charge of was land ownership, also kingship and wealth. And at the time, wealth was in cattle. The, one of the most famous stories that she’s involved in is the Cattle Raid of Cooley. Exactly. And that also involves one of the very famous heroes of the time.

Miles
Cúchulainn

Byrd Nash
Miles is doing all my Gaelic pronunciations, we’re going to try our best, but we’re Americans, and we’re just using the pronunciations we know sound the most similar to what they’re supposed to be.

Miles
Yes, apologies to everyone who knows what they’re supposed to sound like.

Byrd Nash
Well, we’re going to do our best today. The clues in the Granny Starseed story are there. One of them is, of course, her liking cattle. I’m not sure what grannies of today, unless you were raised on a farm, really are into cows.

One of the things that I had in the story that I felt like was a clue but I think might have misled people was when (spoiler again, this is gonna be full spoilers, people) Granny turns into a wolf. The second portion when she’s dealing with her second son, and she’s going to help him, which it’s kind of doubtful that she ever helps anybody. But she changes into a wolf. It’s a very natural transformation, and the son accepts her immediately in her wolf form. In the famous stories about the Morrigan, one of them deals with the hero Cúchulainn. And in that story, the Morrigan changes into three different animals. One of them is a heifer, another one is wolf, and the third one is an eel. She gets hurt in each one of her transformations.

But the fact that she could transform into the wolf was one of the clues in the story that she wasn’t quite the granny lady that may be thought she was when he began the story. I think, though, from dealing with readers who have read the story now, and the story has been out for a while, that clue might have misled people. We are now too familiar in fantasy about reading about wolf shape shifters or werewolves or people that… Probably people thought immediately “Oh, that’s a paranormal story. And this is a wolf shapeshifter.”

Miles
Yeah, I bet people thought that she was a werewolf or a wolf shifter.

Byrd Nash
Right. And that’s exactly not what she is. So she’s a goddess. So she can transform into many of her favorite forms. And a wolf is one of the forms that she took. And, of course, we don’t know because these stories were from hundreds of years ago, and they were oral traditions. They changed a lot as they were being passed down. I would suspect that wolf was one of her favorite forms because, again, it’s a… It can be associated with death and battlefields. And they also have a relationship with ravens. Nature documentaries, even today, have shown that ravens and wolves actually have a. I don’t know if I call it symbiotic relationship, but they do have a partnership, and they will lead each other to food sources. The ravens will lead the wolves to herds of deer or carry caribou in order for them to feed off the carcasses once the wolves get done. So there is a documented relationship between ravens and wolves. And I suspect it was even more well known at that time, when people were watching the natural world more. So I’m not sure if that’s why she changes into a wolf in those stories, I don’t really know. But,

Miles
Another factor is probably the purely practical reason, that she changes at that time in the cattle raid, which is to stampede the cattle.

Byrd Nash
Okay, well, what would stampede cattle other than a wolf. So but she didn’t turn into a doggy, she turned into a wolf. Yeah, there’s definitely more savage forms that she’s going to turn into.

Miles
And there’s definitely a lot of symbolic significance and mythological significance to a wolf.

Byrd Nash
That was another clue that I dropped in there, that she was not exactly the nice little grandma lady baking cookies for grandchildren. The story of Granny Starseed really made me think about family a lot. And if we had a goddess who was your grandmother, or your mother in law, or your mother, would it be a very comfortable relationship? Definitely, I do not think it would be. It’s really a story about family relationships. It’s about how do you deal with a parent who is not a comfortable parent, and whose children probably disappoint the parent.

Interesting enough, about stories about the Morrigan, like many stories about Gods and Goddesses of ancient times, they participated in human activities. They appeared as human, they often were fallible beings making mistakes, they didn’t quite make everything happen perfectly and nicely. There usually was a lot of gaping holes, maybe. And what they did, that confused humans, or it wasn’t perfect for humans. And she’s definitely one of these goddesses that you think, oh, she’s a goddess of war. So she’s perfect. And she’s up in the clouds. And she’s looking down the battlefield. And that really isn’t the type of goddess the Morrigan is.

Many of the stories that are about her have her dealing with humans almost in a way that another human would be dealing with them. If you didn’t know any better, you would think that she’s just kind of an elevated witch. For example, there’s the story, where she’s ordered by the king that she’s serving to go… We were discussing this, I couldn’t remember exactly if she was supposed to go chase some horses or catch some horses. But she was sent off while she was pregnant, to run this race. And she goes into labor. And the kings that are watching her do all this start laughing and think that is very funny, That this very heavily pregnant woman has gone into labor. She asked for their help, and they all refuse to help her. As punishment, she tells them that in their direst need, they will be punished with her own labor pains. And then of course, what happens, because they should have helped her, is much, much later there’s a massive battle. And each one of these kings is suddenly paralyzed with the pain of labor and cannot come to the assistance and the whole field of battle changes, and who wins changes and, and everything.

So there’s a lot of stories about her that you think well, if she was a goddess, why was she pregnant? And if she’s a goddess, why did she experience labor pains? Why were they paralyzing? If she was a goddess, Why did she let this king order her around? So the aspect of the Morgan to me is a very interesting goddess because of these things. She lives in a human world and she she has powers but she’s also subject sometimes to human frailties. And definitely due to the frailties of the humans around her. For those that have read Greek mythology, these things might not come as a big surprise to you, because there’s a lot of similarities here.

For example, in another story, she goes to Cúchulainn, and she tells him that she would love for him to, for her to become his patron goddess. And he says, “No, not interested, not for me.” And this pisses are off. And she decides “Well, fine, I’m going to I’m going to make sure that this big battle that you’re trying to succeed at will fail.” And she appears in the three different forms. She shapeshifts into three different forms. And that’s the, what you and I were talking about. Each time that she transforms into one of these animal shapes Cúchulainn actually injures her. And at the end, she appears as an old woman milking a cow, and she gives him three drinks. And each time he takes a drink, she becomes healed. Till the end where she’s totally healed.

So there’s these things where there’s these stories that involve her, that to me personally, she becomes a very much more real being. Like I said, she has frailty, she makes mistakes. She’s demanding. She also can foretell the future, or she can bring a curse down on people who don’t provide her assistance.

So let’s talk about the three different names that this goddess goes under. What is kind of confusing about her is that she has different aspects, usually in threes. But these aspects change as they move through different cultures. She started as a Celt goddess, but then the legends about her and the stories about her moved to Europe, through the Celts that become the Gauls. In the beginning, we’re dealing with these three goddesses

Miles
that’s Badb, Macha, and Anann.

Byrd Nash
and Badb, that is the name that I used in the story. That was kind of the clue. I did not want to name Granny Starseed the Morrigan, that’s just too much of a giveaway. People are familiar with that name, it wasn’t going to be different enough, it wasn’t going to be secret enough to conceal who she really was. So I took the name and it’s spelled BADB, but it has an unusual pronunciation because of the Gaelic. I changed that name to be the shortened form of Bab, BAB. Which in the story, Sarah, the daughter in law, at one point calls her Barbara thinking that Bab is a shortened form of Barbara, but it’s not. It’s the shortened form of one of these three aspects.

So these three aspects all are dealing with different powers that she the Morrigan is in charge of. So for example, the Morgan herself means Queen of Phantoms.

Miles
Queen of Phantoms, Queen of Terrors, or Queen of the Dead depending on exactly how to pronounce it.

Byrd Nash
Or the Great Queen

Miles
Right.

Byrd Nash
But what people don’t understand is that these type of goddesses of death are often goddesses that are often in charge of life. So there’s another aspect of her where she also is linked to fertility and wealth and rulership and horses. Which of course, again, horses and cattle they’re another sign of wealth. And that is the Macha. And Macha means “plain” or “land”, and it’s very tied to horse worship. If you’re into a Epona, you’ll come across this name. And then the third aspect again is going back to the character’s name that I picked for the story.

Miles
Badb Catha, the Battle Crow.

Byrd Nash
And this one is linked to the battle itself. Bloodshed and prophecy.

Miles
And choosing who will die and who will not die.

Byrd Nash
Right. One of the stories about the Morrigan, if you saw Badb Catha washing your armor in the stream or the river the day before the battle, then you’re going to die. She is marked with prophecy. And again, this is another clue in Granny Starseed that if you’re paying attention, you realize that she’s not a normal human being. She clues in rather quickly, when Mara, the raven, in the story tells her, well, he just comes and speaks. We don’t know what he says because he’s talking raven language. But she tells her son to turn on the television and they realize that Gabby’s in trouble and that they need to go help her. But when you see the prophecy the most is in her grandchild. She has two grandchildren in the story. One of them is Logan, and one of them is Evelyn. And Evelyn has the gift of prophecy. And Evelyn is dealing with knowing ahead of time that things are going to happen. And we kind of have some hints of that in the story. But where she gets that talent from, is the fact of who her grandmother is. So the children and the grandchildren have powers, and it’s blessed from who she is. And they are elements of the Morrigan. There’s a scene in Granny Starseed where Evie shows her powers of prophecy.

Miles
Before they could argue further, Evie said in a voice so odd, so strange, that even Sarah (who couldn’t be bothered because she was dead) turned to stare at her.

“Without him your journey’s wandering will have no end.”

“See”, said Bab smugly. “A bard is always useful on jobs like this.”

Byrd Nash
Another thing is that Logan, her grandson, has the powers of being a bard. And this is powers that his father Arthur refused. And there’s hints about that too. Bards are very connected with power, especially in the Celtic legends. They could be so powerful and influential that they could cause kingships to rise or to fall. They could also speak prophecy, predict things before they were going to happen. And of course, they were the recorders of history. So extremely powerful individuals, but also those who had a hint of something mystical to them.

Miles
And the Morrigan is also a patron of poets. She is credited with inspiring poets.

Byrd Nash
Right. So there’s a lot of hints in the story with Granny Starseed that she is someone that is not just grandma. And I want to get into another aspect about this. Because I think as a writer, when we write things, they seem so clear to us. And it’s, I’ve talked about this before in another podcast, it’s one reason why we need beta readers. It’s the thing with Granny Starseed. I don’t think Granny had beta readership. It was the last story I wrote in the collection. And I wanted to get the collection done on a certain date. And the other stories had been beta read. And this one had been read by an editor but it didn’t go through my beta readership. It was one of those things I really didn’t want to spoil a story for them, because I wanted them to read the book in its entirety. And I wanted to provide them pleasure with the surprise. But then I hid the surprise too well. And I i’ve been rather surprised myself, or shocked, that no one has figured out that she is something odd and different.

One of the ways that this has surprised or shocked me or taking me aback is, I did have someone read the stories that emailed me some information they thought about the stories. And they called this story Granny Starseed a magical realism story. And we had discussed in the last podcast that we were going to discuss magical realism. Was Goldilocks magical realism story? Was it a fairy tale story? Was it a beast tale? What the hell was it? So I’m not sure that I know what the hell it was. It’s a story.

But I’m going to discuss magical realism briefly, and explain why I do not think this is a magical realism story. There are several reasons why. And the way to it is, what is magical realism. And magical realism, one, has to meet certain criteria. So one: it has to be contemporary story, usually something that happened within the last 50 or odd so years. So it’s not going to be a story that took place in medieval times, for example, or Victorian times, or something that took place during the Civil War. Generally, it’s a story about something that’s happened in the last hundred years. Wouldn’t you agree? Miles?

Miles
Yes. It’s it’s supposed to be something that you could imagine happening to you, in some sense.

Byrd Nash
Right. And because the second thing, which is the big tip off on why Granny Starseed is not a magical realism story, is it usually has to have some sort of political social commentary in relation to whatever magic is happening. So usually, magical realism stories have some sort of political or social commentary. Maybe it’s about how women are being treated in this society. Maybe it’s about the corruption of the government. Maybe it’s about how much freedom citizens should have in their country, to express themselves and to break free from how society conforms them. But regardless, it would have some sort of relationship to a overarching statement that is bigger than the story itself. Don’t you agree?

Miles
Yes, exactly. And the purpose of the magic is to showcase or illuminate the injustice or the hidden truth about the power structure that the author is commenting on. The magic doesn’t just happen to make something magical happen. It’s designed to bring forward what is hidden in the power structures the author is commenting on.

Byrd Nash
Well, like, for example, if you’re dealing with government, and no I’m not thinking any particular story, but if you were dealing with government, and then suddenly, the magic had someone who was supposed to be dead, come back to life, or they just show up and they start running the country. But in reality, they’re dead. We have magic who’s making the person be alive. But because he’s running the government, and let’s say in this fictitious story, no one even notices he’s dead, the government just keeps on ticking along. So that makes a statement about the society and the government. And but it uses magic.

Miles
Or you’re, say, set in a war in the Mideast and when the soldiers die, they’re bleeding gold coins and government officials are gathering the coins up and taking them away.

Byrd Nash
Wow that was a good one, Miles. You’re just pulling this shit out of your head. Pull more, pull more! Or let’s just open a vein. Yeah, so there’s some sort of, you know, you can think of it’s like a political cartoon, there’s some sort of symbolic meaning here. But it comes back to the social political statement that the author is trying to make. So with magical realism, you have to have that element. And that is definitely not an element found in Granny Starseed. There is no political statement to make. And while it is a story about family, it’s not really about society, and how society needs to change, or should be changed, or is restrictive, or… There’s no overarching theme of that.

Miles
It’s not even saying that any particular thing about the family relationships is wrong or needs to be corrected.

Byrd Nash
Right.

Miles
It’s just exploring the different ways that parents and children relate.

Byrd Nash
Exactly. So the other things with magical realism, which Miles and I were discussing, when this came up about “Is Granny Starseed magic realism?” is the way the magic is actually presented in these stories also is different. The magic has to manifest itself in a way that’s almost, I want to use the word sensual, but it’s kind of, I mean, how would you describe this? We were talking about this, because if you read all the stories in the book, and you were near the end of Wicked Wolves right now. If you go way back to the Queen’s Favorite, it actually is probably the most magical realism, except it doesn’t fit into a contemporary storyline. So, ergo, is not magical realism. But there’s an aspect to it where the queen’s favorite, the queen, Queen Elaine, who is changing in the story, because she’s learning she’s learning to speak her truth, she’s coming into her wisdom. What she feels inside of herself is being manifested, manifested with the magic to change the horse into a unicorn. So there’s a manifestation that the magic uses to make what is happening inwardly, appear outwardly.

Miles
Exactly. The magic is acting to reveal the hidden emotional truths of what’s happening.

Byrd Nash
Yeah, and if you go back again to Like Water For Chocolate, there’s a scene in the movie. I’m sure it’s still in the book. But I didn’t read the book. I’ve only seen the movie. Where one of the characters is making this, I think it’s a dessert, out of roses that were full of love and lust and yearning and, you know, sensuality. And after she makes this and everyone eats it, everyone kind of goes a bit bonkers and the sister character runs off with the bandito, and it brings down the bandito from the hills to romance the sister and cart her, to elope off with her. So again, you had the inward emotions, that she was feeling all this this love and yearning towards her beloved, and then they manifests out and reaches out and changes all these characters who become touched by the magic. That just doesn’t happen in Granny Starseed.

So I don’t want to go on and on about this. I just want to explain to you the listener, what is magical realism. Because honestly, when I got that email, I was kind of like, I don’t know, maybe they’re right. I didn’t, emotionally I didn’t feel like they were right. But I really couldn’t explain why I didn’t think they were right. So I went and did some more research to make sure. Like, okay, innately, intuitively, I do not think Granny Starseed is a story about magical realism. However, it is a contemporary setting. Magic happens and is never explained. It doesn’t, it’s not really explained why this magic happens and why the these events are happening. However, it doesn’t fit the other requirements for a magical realism story. It does not fit the political, you know, social constraints. It doesn’t explain anything about society. It doesn’t explain anything about government. We don’t have magic that is manifesting into something from inside to outside. There aren’t these other parts of the wheel.

I think the biggest reason that it probably would be called magical realism is because it’s a contemporary story. And the magic is not explained. If you know Granny Starseed is a goddess then all the magic is explained. So you know what I mean?

Miles
If you’re paying attention to the clues, she’s called a goddess, specifically. So you know, at that point, oh, that explains how everything weird has happened.

Byrd Nash
Right. Well, and if you, well, and honestly, the fact that she is the goddess that she is, is the key to unlock everything in the story. We have a goddess who is the patron of bards and poets. That’s why Logan is what, is transforming into what he is. He’s the grandson of the goddess who’s that patron of bards. And then we also have the fact that Logan’s father has refused that gift. He has refused the gift and the talent at being able to see or write about the truth of the world.

Then we have the youngest son, who is the father of Evelyn, and he has the ability to cross over to the other world, the underworld. Which again, Macha which is one of her aspects, actually is one of the ones that would be able to go to the underworld. Generally that’s associated with horses. Horses are the travelers. You get on a horse, and that will take you to the underworld, the land that you go to after death. In the story itself, then we have more descendants. We have Barney who can do this. He has the ability to talk to people that are near the threshold of death, and he either helps them and guide them over to death, or he can bring them back. That is a direct result of him being a descendant of the goddess who’s in charge of the battlefield. Who’s in charge of life and death.

Miles
Yes, who is the Queen of the Dead. The Queen of Phantoms.

Byrd Nash
Right. So he’s basically the son of the queen, and then Evelyn is the granddaughter of the queen of death. So when people go, “the magic’s not explained, the magic’s not explained.” Well, the magic is explained. But you have to have really been paying attention. And I, I think, on my end of the matter, I guess I just didn’t explain it enough. I needed to have it more clearly defined, maybe for readers not to miss that.

Miles
I don’t know how big an issue it is whether the magic is explained. We’ve had this discussion before. In fairy tales magic is almost never explained, it just happens.

Byrd Nash
Well, that had another… Again, I can only go by reviews, and what you guys send me in email or what you comment on my social media. I did say, tell people that if you submit questions to me, I would answer them. But I haven’t had anyone submit any questions to me. So I’m going to go off on my own way and try to explain things from what I see people don’t understand, either in reviews, or by posting on social media or whatever. So it’s not that I’m trying to bash anyone or that I don’t agree with somebody. I just like trying to help everyone understand the stories from my viewpoint as the author.

So one review did say, you know, “The magic’s not explained. I don’t know why it’s not explained more, there should be more world building. Why isn’t there more world building and more background as to the magic and how the world operates?”

That was actually a specific point that I was trying to make by writing the fairy tales. I’ve actually written another book and has a whole background and a whole big world building. I have another series that’s coming out this year that will have a bunch of world building in it also. But what I liked about the fairy tales, especially after reading the fairy tales was, these fairy tales are very timeless. If you read fairy tales that were even written 100 to 200 years ago, they don’t explain settings. They don’t give you world building. They’re an oral tale that someone was saying around the fire. They were giving stories because it was a celebration, or they wanted to entertain. And these people in the community were just sharing these stories. Obviously, if you’re living there in the community, and someone says, “Oh, and once upon a time there was a kingdom.” You know what kind of story is going to be. It’s going to be some sort of fairy tale. Wisewoman, prince, princess, or something about fairies helping and blessing and cursing or whatever.

Miles
And, and you’re not going to ask which king? What was his father? What were the boundaries of his kingdom? What year was he born?

Byrd Nash
Right. Was he a European king? Or was he a British king? Or was he an Indian king? You don’t, you don’t ask that. Because it’s not important. Because it’s an oral tale that you’re listening to. One of the things I will be doing in the future is I’m going to be reading some fairy tales in their original form, and discussing them too. And it’s just very fascinating because they… they’re, they don’t, they’re not structured like our fantasy stories are today. And like the fantasy stories we expect to read.

Nowadays, we want a map and we want to, you know, we want to know what kind of creatures live there. And what time frame are we talking about? And do they have airships? Or do they ride horses? Or do they have carriages. This is the nature of fantasy today. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Trust me, there’s nothing wrong with it. I read those stories all time I enjoy it. But those are not fairy tales. They’re not fairy tales. Fairy tales, they have a certain flavor, they have a certain flavor of how they’re written, how you read them, how they’re developed, what information they give, and what information they don’t give. And what’s very fascinating about then, and when I read you some you’re going to see this, is they’re very timeless, and that’s probably why they’ve stuck around as long as they have. I mean, occasionally, I mean, you’ll hear a mention of a horse. The prince rides a horse. Or someone’s riding a carriage. Carriages are very much in fairy tales. But there’s not a lot of discussion of, oh, King so and so was in the northern part of France when he came across this fairy, and the fairy was wearing a green dress and a headdress of feathers and her face had blue eyes. That’s not the way fairy tales are written. They’re very much if they do describe anyone’s dress there’s always some sort of reason why is being described. It’s part of the magic. The old story which is the one that’s Donkey Skin, she has to have the three dresses. What are the three dresses that she has to have? The sun, and the moon, she has to have one dress of the sun and one of the moon, and the stars, and they have to, you know. So if there’s something that’s being described in terms of carriages or castles or dresses, there’s somehow some part of the magic Don’t you think?

Miles
Yeah, things are usually described in order to show something is magical or impossible.

Byrd Nash
Right

Miles
You don’t you don’t go in details describing a castle. You might say it’s a castle of gold and crystal.

Byrd Nash
Right because then, people at that time, they knew what a castle look like. They didn’t need to know, oh, the castle was made of stone. Oh, the castle had four turrets. Unless course it deals with the magic. If it’s essential that the castle has four turrets because each turret has some sort of magical challenge in it then fine, you’re going to find out that yes it has four turrets. Otherwise, they’re never going to mention that. It’ll just be a castle.

Miles
That’s why it’s timeless and in a sense, placeless. Because it can be any castle.

Byrd Nash
Right.

Miles
It could be the castle next door, or it could be the castle I dreamed of last night in my dreams.

Byrd Nash
I know. But I think, you know, I hate to say it. But I think that is part of the, what confused people about some of the Wicked Wolves of Windsor fairy tales. And I don’t want you guys to be confused. I want you to enjoy the stories. So and I don’t want to sound like you know, you guys are idiots. You’re not, you’re smart people. The thing is fairy tales, if you read them close to the original form, almost have no relationship to current fantasy. They just don’t. There is not the… You don’t open it up, and suddenly you see the map. Like in so many fantasy books, including Tolkien, you’re not going to see a map. There is no map. This is the map of the imagination. There’s not going to be names of kingdoms. They’re not going to discuss political events. It won’t be “Oh, when King Henry sat on the throne.” They don’t discuss that. Why is because, if they start discussing King Henry, this puts it into a reality. And fairy tales were not about reality.

Miles
When you’re reading a traditional fairy tale, and also the Wicked Wolves of Windsor, you have to put your mind in a slightly different place than when you read a modern fantasy. Byrd, I love modern fantasy with rich world building. But fairy tales are different. The question of exactly where something happens or when something happens is not important and how magic works or why magic works,

Byrd Nash
Not important

Miles
It’s not important. The complex, subtle emotional development of the characters is not important. The things that are important are the emotional truths and the rhythms and patterns that you see, that shape the story, and guide you through it.

Byrd Nash
And we’ve talked about that in another podcast. So I don’t want to go into too much detail. If you go back to the earlier podcast about what is a fairy tale ,what makes a fairy tale. In one of the more recent podcast we talked about, Tolkien said the only thing that was a fairy tale was if it puts you in a different place, usually something that’s Fairie or un, not human like. You’re in an alien landscape place. That could become a fairy tale. I’m not sure that I go by the law of Tolkien as some of the stories in Wicked Wolves don’t fit. Probably one of those is Granny Starseed. There is no fairyland, there’s no place that they go to, other than the, well, I have to take that back. They go to the, they go to the land of death, basically, they cross over the bridge. So there is an other place. Let’s just called it other place that they go to. That’s not our human place. So the human reality that we know of, in Granny Starseed, they do go to the transitional place where people’s souls go before they die, and they have to cross over whichever direction they’re going to go.

When you look at the whole all the stories together, some of the stories don’t have anything to do with fairies at all. Milking Time does not deal with fairies, they don’t go into another world. There is magic in the story. Wicked Wolves of Windsor does have supernatural beasts, and there’s an element of supernatural to the story. And it’s connected to Herne the Hunter, which again has gone into in another podcast.

But what makes fairy tales to me, as we wind down this first season, is really about the style of how the story is written. That was more important to me as the writer than anything else. And it was the style. I think several of the readers who have reviewed the book so far has seen that, in that they have said that it reads like an old fashioned book of fairy tales, but with modern twist. I think that probably is what I wanted to get to and I am so happy that person saw it. Not everyone will, or maybe I didn’t achieve it for everybody.

To me the stories themselves of the Wicked Wolves of Windsor and other fairytales, where the fairy tale aspects are, it’s kind of what we discussed in that very first or second podcast where we said what is a fairy tale. It is about challenges that someone’s given. They have to use magic to vanquish or to achieve the challenge or to succeed and win the hand of the person. The magic is generally not explained. Or if it is explained, it’s almost in a way that, oh, yeah, hey, I’m talking to an audience that they’re going to know why you can pack all your clothes in an acorn. That people are just gonna accept that, and that’s fairy magic. That’s fairy magic. That’s what fairies do. So there’s no real surprises like, wow, how did that magic work and give me 200 pages explain the world building and how your magic works. That’s not that’s just simply not the way fairy tales work.

Another way that fairy tales do, is just what we just said, is there’s not really a time or a place. That’s probably why they have such longevity. They, these stories travel all over the world. There’s so many similar Cinderella stories, it’s one of the oldest fairy tales out there. But there’s so many different variations of it. There’s Cinderella stories in Russia, and there’s Cinderella stories in China. There’s Cinderella stories, of course, in Britain and France. And these stories never ever explained the kingdom that it’s happening in, who their rulers are at the time that things are happening. And they don’t. And that’s just the way fairy tales are. So I do think that rightfully or wrongfully in our day today, we’re used to fantasy books that give a very rich, detailed world building backdrop that explain the magic systems, and why people do the things they do, and where the mountain ranges are, and who’s in charge of what kingdom, and how long they ruled there, and if they have airships or do they just have carriages, or do they run on coal or do they run on electricity? And those are all interesting things to read about in your fantasy books, but you’re just not going to find it in fairy tales.

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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