Book Wordy podcast, Why characters are alone in scary stories (Wicked Wolves, part 3) transcript

Transcript for the Book Wordy podcast, Why characters are alone in scary stories (Wicked Wolves, part 3).

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, we’re back again talking about the Wicked Wolves of Windsor. That’s a short story that I have in my book collection that has just recently come out. This is the third podcast on that specific short story, and will be the final of the three that’s discussing that story. In this podcast, we’re going to be discussing more of the horror genre aspect of the story. How can you build tension in a story, even if you’re not a horror writer. We do need to do that in our stories. As well as the female characters in the Wicked Wolves. So I’m here with my partner crime as ever, M iles. And he’s hanging with me, like he usually does, like you do every day. And we’ll be discussing these ideas. So Wicked Wolves of Windsor is a story in the collection that is different than the others. The other five and the story, there’s six in the collection, but it’s different in that it has a horror aspect or a fear… I hate to use the word horror, because…

Miles
it’s not horror, but more than any of the others it has a real sense of creeping dread, creepiness and ratcheting tension.

Byrd Nash
Yes, I think the tension aspect is probably the one that if you read that story, you’re going to quite, you’re going to feel that. I mean, I really hope that you do from the writing standpoint, I hope you do. This is something that I’ve seen in my own writing that I thought I’d share. When you want to build tension in a story, we don’t just throw the protagonists into a battle right from the very beginning. We might do that for shock value, but you can’t do that over the long term. And you can’t do it in a novel. I mean, it just will confuse your reader. Though if you throw your protagonist into battles, into the deep end of the pool, chapter after chapter after chapter it’s going to get confusing. And there’s a story collection that you and I’ve read, I’m not going to mention the author. I really enjoyed his work. It’s written by someone who writes also gaming modules. And there’s definitely a sense in those stories of just being thrown in, all the time, every chapter’s a new adventure. There’s a lot of characters in that story, first of all. It just becomes too overwhelming. I actually have not been able to finish the second and third books in that series, because I has such a sense of I don’t know what’s happening. And this is too crazy.

Miles
In that story are you really feel like you never get a chance to catch a breath. Thrown in the middle of something exciting and amazing is happening like every other paragraph. Which is good for a little bit and you want to keep a pace going in your story. But if there’s no chance to take a breath and step back, then it’s tiring.

Byrd Nash
Yes. I actually really like his stories. And I really like the characters and stories. They’re very funny stories. But it’s a break neck pace from the very beginning to the end. I think one reason why authors are turning to this in their writing is because we want to catch the reader’s attention. And we feel like if we don’t catch you, the reader’s attention, we’ll lose you. You’ll put the book aside, you won’t finish our book. And that has escalated into this kind of frenetic ADD type of storytelling that I think in the long run can be destructive.

Miles
I think so. There’s a, there’s a reason why Shakespeare’s plays, especially the dark tragedies, have interludes where there’s a comic comedic character who’s doing something silly, or the innocent, young lovers are being silly. There’s, there’s a reason why, in the middle of the ratcheting tension, you want to take a break, relax.

Byrd Nash
Right.

Miles
And then be thrown back in, and that heightens actually the tension. If it’s always high, you get accustomed to it, and you get…

Byrd Nash
And you get exhausted.

Miles
You get exhausted.

Byrd Nash
Well, let’s think about this in terms of a roller coaster. So if you’re plotting a book, or plotting even a short story, and we are talking about the Wicked Wolves as the example, you want to ratchet up the tension gradually. This is like the roller coaster. When you start going up the roller coaster, they don’t put you at the very top of the roller coaster and then drop you. They’re bringing you up the slow incline. And of course, as they bring you up the slow incline, your heartbeat starts getting more rapid, knowing what’s going to happen, and you become a little bit more panicked even before the event has happened.

Miles
And once they give you the big drop, then they take you on a couple of gentle loops before giving you the next drop.

Byrd Nash
Right. If you think about your writing, and you’re plotting as a roller coaster, I think that will help you maybe build that tension. When we’re talking about the Wicked Wolves of Windsor, we start that sort story, I start the short story out with our protagonist, Doireann, meeting the wolves and we know that this is not a natural event, and we know that there’s something slightly threatening or that she feels threatened by the wolves presence. Them being supernatural should give you enough of a reason to be a little bit leery of them. But then the tension is continually ratcheted up when she meets three different characters who give her a gift. And this gift is from her dead mother. And there will be some mild spoilers in this. I’m going to try not to get into too big of a spoiler, we’re going to talk more about character development and tension development. But Doireann does get these three gifts, they’re all from her dead mother. And each one of the gifts lets the reader know there’s going to be a reason why she will need these gifts. So this is the part of the slow loops that we’re going around the roller coaster but we haven’t met the big drop yet.

Miles
The story starts off at a kind of gentle pace, where you’ve got a supernatural wolf that Doireann obviously is a little afraid of, and doesn’t like. But you don’t feel that she’s in active danger. And then you get the gifts, and you getting the intrusion of the magic, and something strange is coming. There’s definitely feeling of something strange, I don’t know what it is, is coming.

Byrd Nash
Right. There’s a storm on the horizon. That again, how does storms come? Usually you don’t get a storm that just immediately has thunder and lightning and drops a tornado on your head. Storms build up. Of course the tornado on the head usually happens at two o’clock in the morning when you’ve been asleep. So you never noticed the storm building. But we’re talking about real life. Take, from a writer standpoint, take a viewpoint from nature. How does tension build. And from roller coasters. Again, in the Wicked Wolves, the tension builds gradually, because there’s going to be a big drop. So you hit the big drop when you discover the person back at the house that she didn’t know would be there. And that’s the first drop off the roller coaster. And you know, immediately, Oh crap’s going to go bad here. That is something that even if you’re not a horror writer, you can learn from those things. You can learn from the oh my gosh, I’m watching this movie. And there, they’ve now playing the soundtrack that tells me that something bad is going to happen. And that person has entered the house and they haven’t turned on the lights. Why have they not turned on the lights? Because we know there’s a monster in the house that’s going to get him.

Miles
Yes. And you can see that in the Wicked Wolves story that it starts off almost playful. And there’s a developing sense, a kind of atmosphere of something on the horizon. Something coming. Like, like with a storm developing, you don’t start with thunder and lightning. You start with gathering clouds. Darkening sky. A sense of pressure and oppression, that builds gradually as your sunny day turns dark. Until suddenly, the skies open and the rain comes down.

Byrd Nash
Well, and part of this, on the writing viewpoint too, is the foreshadowing. We have a lot of foreshadowing in Wicked Wolves. When you’re building your own story you need to use foreshadowing with a light touch. It can become very heavy handed. You do not want a story where the girl gets handed a key, for example, and you’re like, “Here’s the key. Look, there’s the key, she has a key now. Oh my gosh, now here’s the key. Oh, does she still have the key?” That is a little bit overkill.

Miles
Right, right. Or very heavy foreshadowing in the sense of, “Here’s the key, something terrible is going to happen, you better have the key ready!”

Byrd Nash
Right.

Miles
“Watch out!” You don’t have to say that. If the key, if they get a strange key in an unusual way, that’s all the reader needs to know. The reader knows, she’s going to need that.

Byrd Nash
But there’s a flip side to that, because that’s called the Chekhov’s gun problem. If you talk about the key in chapter one, and you’ve made a big to do about it, and then we’re in chapter 20, at the end book and the key was never used and never been mentioned again, you left the reader hanging. That’s the plot hole. If you’re going to bring up foreshadowing, you need to deal with it. Unless of course you’re dealing with the series and then you’re going to deal with it in Book Two. Or you gotta go the other direction, and if you’re never going to deal with it, remove it from the story. I was actually reading a couple books this last month that could greatly have benefited from cleaning up the story and removing a lot of extraneous stuff. When we write a book, which I have written a book under a different pen name. But when you write a book, you do need more stuff, because you’re writing a lot more words. But I also see authors putting in too much stuff. They’re putting in the kitchen sink, the baby, the baby’s nappy, the baby’s pacifier. And we don’t need everything.

Miles
I’ve read a story, one of, a book just in the past month, where I got to the end and realized there was something that was brought up at the beginning that was never resolved and never used and never led anywhere. Which made me think, Oh, this was a secondary plot line, or another element the author had had used in an earlier draft. Or had planned to develop and never, had decided they didn’t need it. But never went back and removed it.

Byrd Nash
Miles now does a lot of my early proofing of my earliest drafts. He will look through him and give some insight as to what he understands what he doesn’t understand, what he likes and what he doesn’t like. He now knows a lot from the editing viewpoint of what happens when you write multiple drafts. As you evolve the story and you get the first draft to a second draft to a third draft or fourth draft, sometimes you do leave things in that really would be better trimmed out. And you miss it because you’ve read it so many times that it doesn’t even come across your radar anymore, that it’s still in there. As an author.

That’s where the beta readers can help you. I’ve mentioned beta readers before. But beta readers are a select group. It’s better if they’re not your friends. And it’s better it’s people that you don’t have a close relationship with, because you want them to really give you feedback. And if they’re a close friend or family person, those people will often not give you the feedback that you’re really looking for. So you’re looking for beta readers who read the type of genre that you write or are writing, and who would enjoy that kind of story. But who would also give you real feedback, giving you feedback that just says, “Oh, what a great story.” That’s not real feedback.

It’s hard from an author’s standpoint to deal with comments like, “I don’t understand why character did blank. I don’t understand why this happened the story.” And you’re like, damn it, why do they not understand that? Why do they not get that, it’s perfectly clear? Well, it’s not perfectly clear. And they’re trying to tell you that it’s not. I’ve actually had to take some steps back. I actually waited a couple days after I read initial feedback, and then go back and look at it again and see if it was justified or not. It’s a hard call because as a writer, you have your own vision. But you also have to deal with the reality of readers are confused, or you did something in the story that wasn’t clear to them, you need to make it more clear. Going from novel, writing a novel which I did of 100, I think it ended up being a 90,000 words, actually, to short stories. You can use short stories to help build your clarity as a writer. That is something that will greatly benefit your writing. You’ll learn through short stories, you just don’t have the room in a short story to write about the toothbrush. Throw out the toothbrush, you don’t need the toothbrush. And you’ll find that out when you write short stories. Back when, then when you go back to novel writing, hopefully you’re going to be more pertinent about what you put in and what you don’t put in.

So one of the things I wanted to talk about with` wicked Wolves was the characters. We’ve talked in the other two podcasts about the Wild Hunt, that was the first podcast about Wicked Wolves. And the second podcast, we talked about the male characters, and some of what they meant. The wolf character and then also Doireann’s father. But this podcast, I want to reserve the second half we’re talking about the female. There is several female characters in the book. Obviously the protagonist, Darren, is the young girl, and I realized going back, checking my notes, I didn’t put in her exact age. In my mindset, I had her between the ages of 14 and 16. She’s not an older teenager, she’s definitely a younger teenager. Doireann’s situation in the story as protagonist is, One, she’s a young girl. She’s between the ages of 14 and 16. She is orphaned even though she has a grandmother now that looks after her. And there’s a bigger aspect to her isolation.

Miles
Darren and her her mother are Irish Catholic, in a English Protestant community at a time when the Irish were looked down upon. This isolates Doireann. Doireann has no girlfriends.

Byrd Nash
Right.

Miles
She’s considered kind of outside of society.

Byrd Nash
She, due to the her situation and her religion, and then also where her country origin of where her mother came from. She’s, she actually I always saw her as being born in England. But her mother being Irish, she is very isolated in terms of living in this community where she’s probably not going to be accepted. And then you throw in red hair, and oh my god, it’s like… My mom has red hair, or she did. it’s kind of gray now. But the reality is, you have a lot of things coming together here that maybe the casual reader would not pick up on right away. But we’re talking about right after the turn of the century. This storie’s taking place in post World War One England, and the Irish are not going to be part of that community. I mean, I don’t want to get into stereotypes or, or really bad history. But the reality is they were not going to be accepted by the English in the community. This is part of what is putting pressure upon Doireann, but also her mother Kathleen. She’s in a community that she’s not going to be accepted in, because of her mother being Irish, and being Catholic. Also, because her mother is dead. That means that her biggest advocate is gone. She only has a grandmother whose mind is not all there anymore. That is part of what builds the tension in this story. What builds the tension is Doireann’s isolation. This is not only the environment, in terms of the socio economic environment, but also the physical environment.

Miles
Doireann lives in a tiny little cabin isolated in the middle of the Windsor woods.

Byrd Nash
Right.

Miles
A long way away from any other person and a long way outside of town.

Byrd Nash
This isn’t someone who has direct neighbors that they can walk across the yard and they’re talking to someone that they need help with. And when you talk about the horror genre, isolation is a big part of how they ratchet up tension. If you are writing about a protagonist, and you want to show that they’re afraid or that they are in a dire situation, or that they have no quote, other choice, then you need to show their isolation. And you can live in the middle of the city and still be isolated. So again, some of the things that isolates Doireann is her religion, her mother being dead, the fact that she has red hair, also the fact that she’s left school. She no longer has schoolmates that she can relate to, or tell her secrets to. And to a high schooler or young girl, that’s a biggie. You’re not going to tell your secrets to the adults in your life. You tell them to your friends of the same age as you.

How horror stories work, or how we can build that tension in our regular fantasy stories. is again, you want to show they have no choice. They are isolated, and that the choices that they have are quickly diminishing. When Doireann goes back to the cottage where her grandmother lives and she discovers that her father has arrived, we have three days where I use those three days of the weekend when she can’t, who she works for in town will not be open. Every day is going to build more and more tension. Will Doireann get away? How will she get away? And each day that goes by her choices for how she will escape lessen. And again, I’m not going to provide spoilers. But if you read the story, and we’re in, we’re going back and you’re thinking about “I see how Byrd did that.” You’ll see how I did that in terms of how I played with how can I increase the tension. You increase tension by reducing choices, by further isolation, by making sure that she has nowhere else to go.

I’d like to read a line from the story that will kind of help clarify some of this.

Before Doireann could ask any more questions, their discussion was interrupted by the door opening. It was Mrs. Babcock with a question for postage.

“How are you, Dory Ann?”

As the girl bristled at the mispronunciation of her name, the postmistress inserted diplomatically, “Dirren is about to go check my hens for the day. By the way, how are yours laying, Mrs. Babcock?”

That scene came about because I was talking to my son about the story and about how I could possibly show Darren’s isolation. Having your name mispronounced, or having someone use your name wrong, or they don’t know you, they don’t recognize you, is another way of just showing that you don’t belong. That you don’t have people that care about you. They don’t, you don’t have people that even see you.

One thing that I don’t like about short stories is the lack of room to put in back history. I wish that a short story allowed enough room to put in all the information that was in my head about the story. But I had a whole thought process about Darren and how she ended up in England, how her mother Kathleen ended up in England, that I just couldn’t put in there.

Miles
Yes, it’s clear that Kathleen did not marry her husband out of love. It was not a loving relationship.

Byrd Nash
Well we know once you meet the husband, the father of Doireann, you know that it wasn’t a loving relationship. And if you go back and you read, it’s very subtle in the story, because again I just didn’t have the room to put everything I wanted in there, that Kathleen was pregnant and needed to get married. And again, because she was Irish Catholic, in the 1900s, early 1900s. What choices do you have? I mean, there weren’t any.

Miles
Yes, having a child out of wedlock was not possible. Basically, she would have probably ended up on the street.

Byrd Nash
To talk about real life events. I mean, go and look in the news. And now it’s being discovered what happened to those poor girls in Ireland that were pregnant and then forced to go to these Catholic, and they’re not really nunneries they’re schools, but they call them schools, but then they haven’t ever taught them anything there. But they’re places where they would institutionalize pregnant unwed mothers. I don’t want to go into it on this on the podcast, but definitely go and do some research. And the information is just horrible, what happened to these girls. I mean, they, their children were, I would have to say murdered. I mean, I’m sorry, but they would have these children and the neglect that was deliberate, because of the way that they were born out of wedlock, ended up with many deaths of the children. And often many deaths of the mothers. Kathleen’s parents obviously were able to arrange a marriage for her.

Miles
What was apparently a reasonably prosperous family, her parents had some position.

Byrd Nash
Oh, yeah.

Miles
So the only thing that they could do, when her daughter came up pregnant would be to make sure she got married. If she was married, then she wouldn’t be basically dead on the street.

Byrd Nash
Be an outcast, she wouldn’t be an outcast. The reality is we’re living now in 2019. And we think that we women always had these rights. I think a lot of women, unfortunately, especially those that were born the last 30 years, make a lot of assumptions of their status in society that this is the way it’s been. Or that my mother’s were all full of baloney saying how tough it was. I can tell you that women had very little rights. And, and that wasn’t so long ago. To give you further perspective about this. My grandmother was born in the 1920s. And she married someone who was born at the turn of the century. Their relationship was one that I still remember, he died when I was 16. But I still remember a lot of strange parts of the relationship, where the man was in control of everything and in my grandmother’s life. And there’s a reason why my grandmother didn’t remarry. She didn’t want to have that in her life again, have a man controlling her.

But on the other hand, without a man figure, being married to one, in the early 1900s your position in society on what you could do, and everything, was very questionable. And that goes in, that’s actually gone into a little bit in the story. The position of women in society is gone into with the postmistress. She’s also Irish Catholic. But she’s been able to hold on to a position because her husband had the position. But when she gets the position, she only is able to keep it because she’s willing to take lower pay. These are some realities of women during these time periods. Grandmother there, Granny, she’s got a place to stay only because of the pity that has been given her due to the loss of her son during World War One.

Historically, this is also a period of great change. If you look at women’s dresses, shows this evolution of change. If you look at women’s dresses, from the 1890s to the early 1900s, suddenly the big huge, huge hoop skirt, which limits your mobility, starts to go away. Now we today may go “Oh, that’s just a cute thing.” That’s not really what that’s about. That’s an emancipation right there. If you’re a woman that has to move in a huge hoop skirt just to do your daily life that is going to limit your options on what you do. Definitely during the period of that the Victorians and the dressing that women were in, showed that they were being seen as dolls. They were supposed to be pretty. They’re supposed to be admired. They were supposed to be up on a pedestal.

And then you move into the Belle Epoch era. And then women’s dresses became looser, and the hoop disappeared, and the draping was long, probably more like what you think of in terms of Regency for those not familiar with the dresses that I’m talking about. But the Gibson girl stuff. Women started participating in sports. You start seeing pictures of women playing tennis, or women walking, or being on bicycles. This is starting to transition during a time of women can do things now, they don’t have to just be the doll, they don’t have to be the pretty woman staying at home raising the children. Then you get World War One happening, which forces this concept and speeds it up even more. So if you looked at the change of the dresses, the dress length from, let’s say 1910 to 1930. That is extremely dramatic. When you consider 40 years before women were in hoop skirts.

Miles
Yes. And this relates to also the jobs situation for women. This was a time of change when women were starting to get jobs independently, which was a radical change. Doireann’s mother, Kathleen, nowadays, we might think, oh, she’s going to have the baby, she can just move out, get a job, be independent. And maybe people will look down on her but that’ll be okay. But no, it was not like that.

Byrd Nash
That was not okay.

Miles
An unmarried woman with a baby, you couldn’t just go out and get a job because any respectable place would not, often wouldn’t employ an independent woman. And if they would, they certainly would not employ a “loose” woman or a woman with a bad reputation.

Byrd Nash
Oh exactly.

Miles
She would be considered basically a whore for being an unmarried woman with baby, and no respectable person would even talk to her. Anybody who helped her would then be cast in slur.

Byrd Nash
If you look at Victorian literature, of course Dickens being one of the big ones that everyone will recognize, you see that theme again and again and again. The pure good woman who is seduced by the bad guy, gets pregnant, is abandoned by the bad guy, has the child. The child has put in the work, into the orphanage, because the mom dies during childbirth. In literature, and this is how society saw women, if a woman was seduced or had a child out of wedlock, their only ending was to die. So in a way Wicked Wolves shows that. Kathleen dies. She didn’t die immediately after having our protagonist Darren, but she dies and she’s not in the story. That is a literary device of the time, that women who stepped outside of society’s norms had to die. They could not continue being quote, a loose woman. If they continued breathing and living in your story, they were a loose woman. And the only way that these authors could deal with it is they killed them.

Miles
And you see some of this change with Darren. That she can foresee a future for herself getting some education, getting a job, being independent.

Byrd Nash
That she wants to throw off the shackles.

Miles
She want to throw off the shackles. And that’s the thing that’s starting to happen now. It’s still…

Byrd Nash
In the story, In the time period of the story.

Miles
In the time period of the story. In the time period of the story, this is still a bit of a radical idea. But it’s something that’s starting to be done.

Byrd Nash
One reason why I wanted to put it in this World War One time period is it is a huge transition historically, for women in terms of their rights, in terms of what they can do, their education, what’s expected of them, and their place in society. And because Red Riding Hood is a story about a female protagonist who’s struggling against very dark things… I don’t know why that idea came to me, just kind of popped in my head that this, historically, this would be a great time period to put this story in. The time period that we’re talking about that this story takes place in a huge time of change. And the war really escalated that. When the war was done, World War One was finished, the number of men who actually returned home was not many. This again forced women more into a bread winning role, that they had to take their place in order for society to keep even moving.

And interesting enough, I mean, this is totally talking about history and everything. If you go back and look at medieval time periods, and you read stories about the historical aspect of it. And if you read about it, you’ll see that the Black Death actually escalated huge change in the socio economic lifestyle of the medieval time period. War, death, disease, that all makes changes in how the society operates. To give clarification, the medieval time period, what ended up happening was serfs ended up, or peasants ended up, having more ability to demand things from the lord. Why? Because the lord didn’t have very many peasants anymore. So if the lord wanted his fields done, he was going to have to offer more of an incentive, because there were fewer people to work. And there was more mobility, too. But…

Miles
Serfs were a infinite renewable resource that was, a lord probably had more of them than he wanted. And he could afford to throw them away on battles, or just refuse to feed them. And enough will, enough will survive to plow my field. I don’t have to worry about it. Yeah, but when 20% of them die, or 50%, or whatever, then suddenly, you don’t want to lose your serf.

Byrd Nash
You don’t want to lose the five that are still there. Yeah, so those are interesting things. If you’re interested in history, you can check that out. I’ll put some stuff in the show notes, there’s some books or things that you might want to you know, read up about it. Society changes because it must change. Forces that work against it include war, and that is one of the big factors and why the Red Riding Hood story is set when it does. Doireann is in a time of great change. Her family situation reflects that. She’s lost her mother, her father is crazy. And her grandmother has got one foot into the dementia. She is very isolated due to these family dynamics.

One thing I wanted to throw in there, though, about family and stuff. Kathleen dies because she had the influenza. The pandemic influenza that I mentioned in the book, that’s again, another world event that really happened, that changed probably many people’s lives at the time. Honestly, I’m not surprised that we had a huge disease epidemic right after we had a major war. If you think about it, you know, it exposes people. People being brought together that normally may not have been brought together. Living conditions were probably pretty crappy, especially on the battlefield. And then a few later years later, they had this huge influenza epidemic that swept across the world, and that decimated a lot of people.

But Kathleen is actually found dead at the clothesline. That is actually a family story. From my personal family. One of my, it probably would have been a great aunt of mine, who was such a perfectionist that when she got pneumonia, she continued doing all the chores, and she continued taking care of the family, and went out to do the laundry when it was really horrible weather I guess she was bringing in the laundry and she ended up dying. We have women at this time period, and unfortunately we still have, we still bring that to some of our beliefs today, that as a woman, we must continue even though we’re under great strain, either medically, physically, or just emotionally. And in this story, Kathleen’s under great strain. She’s married to a, married to a man who’s abusive. She has a child. She’s isolated herself, too. She passes away because she does too much. She feels like she has to do more. Kathleen is actually a very sad story, that could be the story of many women. And some other things about Kathleen that actually hearken back to the Milking Time story. And these two stories were written kind of close together. So that’s not a surprise. Is there some hints that Kathleen is not all who you think she is?

Miles
Yes. Of course, the wolves tease or accuse Doireann of being the child of a witch. But there’s some indications that maybe she was. Since apparently she chatted with one of the wolves regularly in the, in the woods.

Byrd Nash
And the wolf that is the main character was, obviously has some sort of relationship verbally, not physically, with Kathleen. That’s mentioned in a conversation between the wolf and Doireann. Doireann of course initially denies it, doesn’t believe it. Is worth lying then, or is he not lying? Not quite sure. I veer on the wolf is not lying side. But he could have just been jerking her chain. I don’t know.

Miles
He could have been but that doesn’t seem his style. My, my feeling is that she may not have been a witch, But she was also isolated.

Byrd Nash
Right.

Miles
And she, she didn’t even have a job to, to bicycle to. So it’s not surprising that maybe she got used to chatting with this friendly wolf in the forest.

Byrd Nash
Well, that’s how Red Riding Hood gets into trouble. So this is like Red Riding Hood, the pre-story I guess. I don’t know.

Miles
She obviously knew the rules well enough to never get taken by the hunt.

Byrd Nash
That’s true.

Miles
And passed them on to her daughter.

Byrd Nash
She might have been better off if she had been taken by the hunt.

Miles
Maybe.

Byrd Nash
She wouldn’t, but then she would have left her daughter. And true mothers don’t want to leave their children in danger. But there’s some other indications that Kathleen isn’t what you think. One, she has red hair. And that used to be an indication that you were a wanton woman, a loose woman. The red hair is supposed to be indicator of, you know, too much lust or too much passion.

Miles
A fiery, passionate temperament.

Byrd Nash
Right. So regardless, if you’re a redhead, and you hate that kind of crap, I understand. But it is something that people thought at the time. And even earlier than that times. That if you’re a red headed, and definitely if you were red headed in a group of people that weren’t predominantly red headed, it might be a problem. The fact that she is talking to a wolf. But also, of course, the fact that her spirit, her dead, her dead spirit can send gitfts back to her daughter to try to save her daughter. I mean, that’s pretty powerful.

Miles
That’s pretty powerful, and apparently had enough foreknowledge to know that her daughter would need these things.

Byrd Nash
Well, yeah, that’s true. Because of course, she is predicting why her daughter would need the gifts, the three gifts that she gives her. I’m not going to mention what those three gifts are. read the story. But yeah, her, that she has some sort of foreknowledge or fore, some sort of precognitive ability to know, Darren is going to need this. And this is why she’s going to need it.

Going back to short stories, you don’t have the time to put all this information into a short story. Source stories have to be streamlined, they have to be very clear. I actually had a review recently about the Wicked Wolves and they call them choppy. I don’t think they are choppy. I think every word in those stories is carefully chosen to be in there. They, each one of the paragraphs, each one of the communications, the conversations has to be a pearl on a strand that you’re carefully putting together. Because your strand is only so long. Versus when you write a novel you’re looking for more, “How many more pearls do I have to write before this thing is done?” So there’s a whole different aspect to the short story versus the novel. Where the short story can help you as an author is figure out how to be extremely clear. And to cut to the chase. But also to build tension, to build characters in a very short area, you know, very short period of time you must get your readers on board with who this character is, and what are they doing, and what their challenge is, and are we supposed to be scared for them? Are we supposed to be happy for them? Or is this a laughing story? Is this an adventure story? Whatever. You have a very short period of time to make all that happen.

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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