Using Folklore In Writing, Learn With Me! (To Write and Have Written)

Ceallaigh S. MacCath-Moran joins me for this month’s Learn With Me, sharing an academic discussion of folklore, fiction, responsibility in using story, the universality of motif, and conspiracy theories!

The Longest Road In The Universe by C.S. MacCath
What Happens Next? Contemporary Urban Legends and Popular Culture by Gail de Vos

Video (from Twitch and YouTube):

To Write and Have Written: A Writer's Guide To The Business Side
To Write and Have Written: A Writer's Guide To The Business Side
Laura VanArendonk Baugh

<p>Writing is only part of a writing career -- no one warned us that we would need business acumen and entrepreneurship to be an author. Whether you're traditionally published or an independent self-publisher, it's good to have a leg up on accounting, marketing, time management, and other key skills.</p><br><p>These recordings of live discussion on craft and development, on business best practices, on explorations of fascinating and inspiring real life cool stuff, and more will help you along your writing journey and career development. Join Laura VanArendonk Baugh as she shares what she's learned and what she's learning. (Or join the weekly live discussion with your own questions!)</p><br /><hr><p style='color:grey; font-size:0.75em;'> See <a style='color:grey;' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' href=''></a> for privacy and opt-out information.</p>


Learn With Me! About Folklore and Fiction – powered by Happy Scribe

Happy Tuesday!Unless it’s not Tuesday when you’re

hearing this, in which case,welcome to today.

So we are here tonight for our very firstLearn with Me, the first one since I

announced our new themes,which I’m really excited about.

Right before we start that,I want to throw out a massive thank you.

I just got the word from YouTube today.

They sent me the official email

with confetti and everything thatwe’ve hit a hundred subscribers.

So, yay.Thank you.

YouTubers,I appreciate that.

And if you’re catching this on YouTube or

the podcast or Twitch or wherever you are,I really appreciate you.

Just a quick reminder,if you would like to support this

in the easiest possible way withoutspending a penny,

if you have an Amazon Prime membership,you can use your free included Amazon

Prime Twitch subscription to subscribeto this Twitch channel and then

that supports it without youhaving to pay anything additional.

So I would very much appreciate that.

And if that’s not a possibility,then just hang out.

That’s great, too.So.

Oh, hello.From Wednesday.


Grace is in New Zealandcheating a day ahead.

It’s good to know that the world will make

it another day, which is what I alwaysfeel when I get a heads up from Grace.

So that’s awesome.So I’m going to bring in our–

Oh, I’m sorry.

I wanted to mention oneother thing really quickly.

We are working our way slowlytoward November and NaNoWriMo.

So if you have any related NaNoWriMo

questions, send them my way and I’llbe happy to throw them into the queue.

So let’s do that.

OK, and then today it’s going to be ourLearn with Me, our first Learn With Me,

And I’m very excited because I have

a distinguished Learn With Meguest to educate me tonight.

So this is, lemme see,

Hold on, magical.

Where’s my button?There’s my button.

OK, Ceallaigh, hi, welcome.

Ceallaigh is now on screen with me.

All right.

So, Ceallaigh , Ceallaigh S. MacCath-Moran

is a Ph.D. candidateat the Memorial University of Newfoundland

and in the folklore department, and herparticular areas of academic interest —

hold on, I’m checking my notes because thisis like wordy, wordy academic language.

It makes me feel, like,my IQ is going up two points

just saying this.

Her particular areas of academic interestare narrative constructions of power

and performance theory of activismin the animal rights movement.

And the way I know Ceallaigh,the way how we first met is,

she is also a writer of fictionand then also of nonfiction and poetry.

And we were in some anthologies together,which is how we first met.

But in her fiction, nonfiction and poetrycareer, Ceallaigh has been a Washington

Science Fiction Associationsmall press award

short listee.Is that the right word?

She has been shortlisted for that

and she has also been nominated for theRhysling Award and the Pushcart Prize.

So, yay.

Thank you for joining me, Kelly.

I’m thrilled to have you asmy first Learn With Me guest

and the concept herebehind the Learn With Me.


So and we have a ton of helloscoming in in the chat.

So there’s lots of.

Yeah, lots of lots of hellos coming in.


guys, as we go feel free

feel free to throw any questions for Ceallaigh intothe chat and I will be happy to use those.

But we’re just going to have a great

time because we get to talk about folkloretonight and I am thrilled to do this.


let’s start with the reallykind of hanging in the air question.

Ceallaigh, what is a folklorist?

How do you do–

do you get paid for telling stories?You know, how does this work?

So tell us this.

We might study performance,we might study narrative.

Hang on.

Ceallaigh, I’m going to interruptyou for one second.

Sounds like we’re not getting your voice,your voice coming through.

Hey, guys, I am OK playing with some.Oh, OK.

Do we have Ceallaigh say something?

We’re going to double check.

OK, can you hear me now?

It looks like chat says fixed now.Hurray!

OK, great.Yeah.

So sorry I — took me a second to get thatorganized, but now we’ve got you back.

So I was hearing you,but no one else was appreciating.

So can I rewind you, please tell us again.

Well, I had a chance to practiceand I have it right.

It sounded really good and I liked it.

I was like, oh, I didn’t know that.

OK, so.

So folklore is the study of expressive

culture and folklore scholar Stan very famously offered the definition and

that folklore is artisticcommunication in small groups.

And so what we study isthe way people make culture.

And I’m going to start in a different

place than I did whennobody could hear me.

For instance, I’m on Cape Breton Islandin Nova Scotia, and a perfectly legitimate

study of folklore in Cape Breton might bethe steel mills in Sydney or coal mining

culture or processes around coalmining culture or the steel mills.

And we wouldn’t necessarily be looking at.

OK, from a technical perspective,how was this done?

We’re looking from a human perspective.

What is the work culturearound this process?

You know, how do people talk about it?

Is there any vernacularlanguage that people use?

If we have smelters?

Are there any colloquialisms?

Do smelters have names?

It has the equipment,the name, that kind of thing.

So we’re looking at the culturalcomponent of work life in that situation.

We can also study religious beliefs,whether they be major world religions or

vernacular religious movementor beliefs, that kind of thing.

Superstition,although the word superstition is fairly

loaded, you know,we might study vernacular architecture.

Why was this buildingbuilt the way it was?

What why was it important to put

these stations in this circlefor people to go and pray?

Why was this

this Buddhist temple put up?

You know, what is the function of thisand and how do people interact with it?

We might study music and be the particular

branch of folklore associated with thestudy of music is called ethnomusicology.

We might study performance as

in theatrical performance orperformances of everyday life.

And and that’s something that I’m very

interested in, the averageeveryday performances of.

You know, when you’re performing as

a person in an office, what’s that likewhen you’re performing as a mom?

What’s that?

What’s that likewhen you’re performing as a pastor?

What’s that like?These are all different kinds

of performances from aperformance perspective.

And of course, we study narrative,

which has really close connectionswith the writing community.

And it’s the reason I’ve been writing

a newsletter for the last coupleof years to connect folklore to fiction.

So that’s sort of in a in a very sort

of broad strokes,what folklore is and what we study just

think artistic communication in smallgroups and think expressive culture.

And that’s really cool.

I was listening to you talking about this.

And, you know, when you said,do they name the equipment,

the smelters, I’m thinking like,no, this is the kind of thing that we

think of is so minorand so inconsequential.

And, you know, I’m not even going to tellpeople if I name my car or my chair.

Right.But but from a cultural perspective

that says a lot about a societythat names their chairs.


Or the individual who does that

in a society that generallydoesn’t, or that kind of thing.

And so, yeah, it’s really and and so I’m

listening and I’m I’m just curious, likea lot of the things you mentioned,

I intrinsically associate with the wordfolklore, some of them I don’t.

So when you’re talking about, you know,folklore versus I’m going to pull out

anthropology, you know, is therea dotted line somewhere in the middle?

Like what

is it more that,you know, is it do we consider it more

an artistic thing or what?What’s where’s the line there?


Well, when whenwhen we’re looking at anthropology,

like I’ve heard folklore describedas sort of a subset of anthropology.

So and I had a minorin anthropology many moons ago.

So there’s cultural anthropology,which studies culture.

There’s linguistic anthropology,which studies language.

There’s physical anthropology,

which studies, you know, which isvery closely related to archaeology.

And so so we’re notnecessarily interested in.

In interpretive work in archaeology,

but we’d be very interested in finding outwhat can be understood culturally

from from what archaeologists talk about,how they narrow divides, what they find

cultural anthropology, I think,is very closely related to folklore.

But we’ll move into as folkloristsinto things like performance theory,

we’ll move into ethnomusicologyand we’ll look for nuance.

We tend not to be very broad strokesresearchers.

We tend to look at small groups,sometimes individuals.

One of the things that I looked

at in my own research is, you know,you have 10 animal rights activists

and they’re all going to have 10 differentideas about their performances of activism

and what they think ethicallyand that sort of thing.

So so I’m not necessarily looking

to generalize and draw a broaderconclusion, although I will do that.

I’m always very careful to say, OK, thisis what I see, as I understand up here.

But these are the nuances and theseare the individual voices.

So nuanced.

An individual voice isextremely important to a court.

Does that help a little bit?

I don’t think that’s the best answer I

could possibly give you,but that’s —

Well, I didn’t tell you the question was coming, so foroff the cuff it was pretty good.

But but no, I think you’re you’redescribing something that you know what

I’m sitting here listening to and I’mthinking about when I write, you know,

I’ve done some historical fiction and Ican easily look up, you know,

what was the map of this city 2000 yearsago that we’ve excavated today? Or I can

things. But then I gotinto a point where I’m like, OK,

what were the various viewson breastfeeding in that particular….

Archaeologists haven’t written that down?

Nobody has, you know,like how many people were

breastfeeding or versus using wetnursesversus whatever and like,

how would we know this and allof these kinds of things.

And that was a pretty odd exampleto pull out, but it’s one that I,

I personally struggledwith in the back in the past.

And so I really like what you’re sayingabout finding, you know,

it’s not in no culture is a monolithof everybody believes one certain thing.

Everybody practices one certainthing, you know, saying,

you know how you know.

Yes, this was the general gist of this.

But you’re always going to have, you know,

a bell curve always hastwo ends, you know, so.

Yeah, well, and one of the other things,

too, you were talking about archaeologyand one of the things that that that

gosh, how do I phrase this?

Archaeologists haveto interpret what they find.

And that process of interpretationis a process of narrativization.

They create a narrative.

And that narrative certainly isrooted in the science they practice.

But it is still a narrative.

And sort of I had a leapfrog moment when

you were talking about narrativizationin the process of your citation.

And one of the things folklore do iswe study that process of .

And for instance, if I may be a bitpolitical and talk about Q-anon

when we’re talking about some

of the underpinnings of thisconspiracy movement,

there is there’s a narrative,a narrative process that’s happening.

And folklorists understand that there isa narrative process happening here.

We can identify, OK,this is what’s happening here.

OK, I know this is happening next.

And and I wrote a special editionon Conspiracy Theory a couple of

a couple of months ago for the Folkloreand Fiction newsletter.

And I think

Philip Stevens Jr.

when he was writing about the SatanicPanic in the 1990s,

which is the Satanic Panic itself,is a moral panic rooted in legend.

So he said folkloristshave an obligation to bring

what they understand about narrativeto contemporary events

and help people understandthat what’s happening is a pattern.

And this is what the pattern lookslike and how you identify the pattern.

And so that’s another way I think folkloreare different from anthropologists,

especially as it comes throughfellowship of narrative.

Does that make sense?Yeah, yeah.

And again, like listening to what you’resaying and I’m connecting it with things

in my head, you know, so my day job,when I’m not playing with my imaginary

friends and making them fight each other,is in behavior, mostly animal behavior.

But there’s a lot of human behavior that’sconnected with that,

and they’re not as dissimilar aspeople would like to believe.

But one of the things we’re constantlybattling is the idea of the explanatory

fiction of, you know, oh,my dog barked at this child

on a bike because he must have beenscared by a bike in the past or.

This dog is shy, therefore he wasabused or, you know, whatever, because.

The human brain,for very good reason,

is designed to connect thingsand to extrapolate between them

and project between them, and that’sa really useful trait in a lot of areas.

It’s less useful when we’re trying to makeup data that doesn’t actually exist.

And so knowing how that works, I mean,

just knowing myself,knowing that my inclination is going to be

to find a connection where there may ormay not be one allows me to be more

skeptical of connections that Ihave not actually observed.


So, yeah, that is somethingthat is constantly

what am I doing?Which just something we need to be aware

of and something that we’re tryingto stay on top of as we are playing with.

These concepts and just, you know,

I don’t know,I don’t really have a point to make.

I’m just taking what you’re saying

and going, oh, yes, this makes sense because!It does.

And I’m hearing you talk about narrativization

and the behavior,the animal behavior community and how

in your work, what you’re trying to do is,is understand the narrative that your

clients are creating aroundthe animals in your life.

And you understand thatthere are patterns here.

You understand that,

for instance, my cat, Salem,

and this is true, my cat, Salem, werescued him after he was struck by a car.

And,you know, now I have a narrative

in my head that says he hates to travelbecause he was struck by a car.

And that’s a narrative that I’ve created.

And I don’t know whether or not it’s true,but I certainly give him I certainly give

him a little something to calm him down ifI have to take him in the car, you know,

but that’s that’s a that’sa process of narrativization.

That’s a process of creating a storyin our minds about our lives.

And it’s it’s human, as you say.Yeah.

And Natalie’s pointing out in the chat,Natalie also works in animal behavior.

And,you know, she’s talking about sticky

narratives like dominance,which is something that was introduced

culturally about six,seven decades ago now and was disproved

four or five decades ago now,

but has stuck in the culture so muchthat no matter how much the scientific

community says, like this isn’t a thing,it’s a narrative that feels so good

to the average layperson, you know, “Oh, no,I am owed respect” and

all of these kinds of things, that it’sjust so hard to get those roots out,

you know, that that’s a weedthat won’t let go, you know.

And yeah, it’sand it’s one of those things where it’s

like I can look at it and I can say, “OK,I see why this is working for you,

but at the same time,it’s really not working for you.”

It’s right.Yeah, right.

So and and that’s that’s a really

a really interesting thingthat folklore can do


There have been folklore,contemporary folklore to have studied

narratives around ageand narratives around illness.

And in understanding these narratives,we come to understand how they’re

culturally derived and how theirpast and how they’re transmitted.

And in you know, it’s not my place to make

a judgment about, you know,these narratives.

But I do think that it is my place asa scholar of narrative to say, OK,

this is what this looks like.

This is what this pattern looks like.

And this pattern hasvarious and sundry hallmarks.

And if you’re looking at this pattern,

you’re probably lookingat this sort of phenomenon.

And if you’re looking at this pattern over

here, you might be looking at thissort of phenomenon over here.

And I’m specifically thinking, again,about about conspiracy narratives.

As I say, the.

Yeah, yeah, and I think, you know, sayingthis is part of a pattern does not.

That’s notI don’t think any rational person would

automatically dismiss somethingjust because of a pattern.

But it’s also good to say, OK,let’s look at this in context.

Is this something we can graspadditional about this?

So, yeah, and you’ve used an incrediblyimportant word right there.

You’ve used the word context.

You said, “let’s look at this in context.”

And that’s what we’re alwaysdoing is folklorists.

We’re always taking whatever we’re lookingat and we’re looking at it in its context.

So it’s nuance and context.

We’ll look down at the individual.

We’ll look at the context there in.

And that’s where the ethnography happens.

That’s where we learnabout about the culture.

So we just got a question in the chat

that’s a great question.

And I’m going to…

OK, because


we are in a delicate period pre-election

in the US and I reallydon’t want to turn — my chat

people are always fantastically well

behaved and we’re just goingto continue that here.

But I totally trust you’re going

to address this from a completelyacademic perspective.

I’m just throwing a warning out therebecause of paranoia, because social media.

But the question it’s a really fantastic

question, which is, “is Q-anon uniquefrom a folklorist perspective?

Was there a version of Q-anon

for existence, for instance, in theMiddle Ages or other times in history?

It seems like it’s uniquely dangerousfrom a contemporary perspective.

It maybe this isn’t the casefrom a historical perspective.”

So I’m thinking of somethings when I read that.

But please give us a

informed take on that or juston conspiracy in general.

Thank youquestioner! Yes.

Thank you so muchfor asking that question.

OK, so this is a bit of a long answer.

I’m going to I’m going to look backa little bit at a paper that I wrote

for one of my teaching classes.

And I don’t, you know,

we’re all of different differentage ranges and so forth.

For the sake of the audience.

I’m in my early 50s,

so I was in my twenties in the 90sand I was growing up in the 1980s.

And I don’t know if your audience isfamiliar with a phenomenon called

the Satanic Panic, but I’m goingto describe it just in broad strokes.


So the satanic panic was a movementin that began in the 1980s whereby

sort of the zeitgeist, in the ether,

people began to believe that childrenwere being abused by Satanists.

And it became a major source

of grief around the world,especially in North America.

There were instances of satanic panic,motivated behavior in England, in Norway.

And what basically happened wasthat that even

even mental health professionals beganto believe that these children had

repressed memories and they would be takeninto to therapy and they’d be led down

a garden path with these leading questionsdesigned to produce answers like, yes,

I was you know, I was abused by a Satanistor yes, I was in a ritual or whatever.

And Geraldo Rivera hadshows on on Satanism.

There was there was a belief backin the day that D&D was

satanic, and it caused innocentpeople to go to prison for years.

It caused parents to lose their children.

It damaged the mental health of peoplewho were given into the care of mental

health professionals who weresort of trying to root out

Satanism or evidence of Satanism.

And it was a conspiracy theorythat built upon itself.

And one of the things that conspiracytheory scholarship says is

that the narratives don’t have any sortof real grounded place to go

because they’re not groundedin anything that’s actually happening.

They’re only grounded in thestories that are being told.

So this is this was

this was a conspiracy theory that was

widespread, that was buildingon other people’s stories.

And it was so successful that mentalhealth professionals became involved,

law enforcement became involved,government became involved.

And we know that this sort of

conspiracy theory, this sortof moral panic is rooted in legend.

And what I mean by that is that legends

are narratives that thathave the aura of truth.

They might be true.

And one of the things that we look at when

we look at narratives, legend narratives,is, oh, yeah, you know, my best friend,

hairdresser Sally, her sister,it happened to her sister.

And that means.

And we call that a friendof a friend or foe.

And the reason why it lends veracityto the narrative is because, you know,

you just might know somebodywho knows somebody it happened to.

And there’s all sortsof scholarship around legend.

But when you when you blend into this sortof into the same kind of panic narrative,

what you have are people saying, oh, yeah,I knew that school where that happened.

And that probably happened because I knewsomebody that knew somebody it happened

to and because the media was often used asa means of creating their verisimilitude.

That’s the wrong word.

Validation for these narratives.

We had the media coming in and wehad Geraldo Rivera coming in.

We had law enforcement coming

in and they’re all sayingit and it must be true.

And so we have these legends being built

upon sort of sort of castles in the air,being built upon castles in the air.

And a lot of people were hurt.

And when I look at Q-anon and I look

at sort of the satanic underpinningsof Q-anon, and I know some of your your

viewers have probablyheard this this this part of the narrative

that there are children,again, being abused by Satanists.

It’s the same thing all over again.

It’s exactly, what, 30 years later,30 or 40 years later.

And here we are again thinking asyou’re talking, children being abused.


One of the things that first cameto my mind when this question came up,

you know, from a historical perspective,I mean, you just jumped back 30 years.

I’m going to jump back to the 1930s whenwe had the same stories about the Jews

doing things to childrento justify a social movement.

And then let’s jump back a few morecenturies to the the late fourteen hundreds

when we had the, again,the Jews sacrificing children in rituals

and all of that like this is not –you know, one of the great ways to get,

you know, moral outrage goingis to threaten children.

Right.So, you know, you’ve got

all all of those four that are just off

the top of our heads here are all aboutusing children in rituals and in

at least a couple of them,consuming children in rituals,

because I think Q-anon also has themdrinking blood occasionally and whatnot.

Anyway, all of that to say that,

you know, that’s one of your classicpatterns on grabbing people’s outrage. As–

let’s be honest, if people are murdering

children for rituals and consuming them,we should be outraged.

Look like that’s but that’s people get so

outraged that they don’tstop to fact check.

And so that’s where it’sreally easy to grab things.


And I would add I would addthat real conspiracies are sloppy.

It’s hard to keep conspiracies quiet.

The old adage goes, if three people

know a secret,it’s not a secret anymore.

You know, if you have a real honestto goodness conspiracy going on,

this is, it’s gonna leak, and you’regoing to have, you know,

you’re going to have things that aresloppily kept in one place.

And people are you know,

your good investigative reporter isgoing to get in there and start digging

and unearth this little bit of informationor that little bit of information.

But what we find in these conspiracy

theories or thesesort of conspiracy theories is

that there’s this vast group of peoplewho are all keeping a secret.

And that that just isn’tsomething we do with humans.

Very well, you know,

and I love that you took the narrativeback further than than just the 1990s,

that you took it back to the 30s and youtook it back to the 14th century.

So this is a recurring moral panic.

These kinds of narrativescome up over and over again.

They’re built upon themselves.

They’re not built upon anythingthat’s actually happening.

So tell your question or I’m tellingyour questioner, great question.

Thanks very much.It was a fantastic question.

OK, so while we’re talkingabout these patterns and these.

You know, let’s just just go aheadand call them real life tropes.

So the you know,we have the sacrificing children

in an evil ritual trope that,you know, we can pull out anytime.

I need some more outrage.

You know, what are these?

These tropes are obviouslyas fiction writers.

We talk about tropes a lot and that weuse them well or we use them poorly.

And obviously, if I wanted to write a good

conspiracy, I know somegood ones to pull out.

I kind of think, what canhow do we how do we evaluate these tropes,

you know, when they’re happeningin the wild, so to speak,

like when we’re the ones we just talkedabout or when we are pulling them

in and trying to harnessthem for use in fiction?

You know, is there are there areways we should approach these.

Are there ways that we shoulduse these for for better or for worse?

And so.OK.

Yeah, well, I was thinking

as you were talking about that, that itrather depends on what you mean by trope.

In narrative study.We talk about motif

or small chunks of narrative that showup in many different kinds of stories.

Like the number three is a motifor the handsome prince is a motif.


And they can we can insertthose into our stories.

And in fact, I’m working on

a climate change fable rightnow that uses the number three.

And I put it in there deliberately becauseI wanted for my readers to get that sort

of idea that the number that threethings are going to happen.


And it sets the reader upfor a particular kind of experience.


for instance, these these conspiracytheories, if you’re writing a piece

of fiction about conspiracy theoriesand you know how they’re constructed,

then you can set the reader upfor a particular kind of experience,

because we we internalize narrativeconstantly, especially in the digital age,

because we’re lookingat the Internet all the time.

We’re reading all the time,even if it’s in small chunks.


when when we are using a trope or a motif,

we we can set a reader upfor a particular kind of experience.

But we need to do that intelligently.

We need to know that that’swhat we’re doing.

And one of the things that I was thinking

about as you were talkingis the truth of the badass heroine.

You know, the female warrior who goes out

and she wields a sword and she looksreally great and she’s super sexy.

And, you know, she goes out and fights thebattle day after day after day after day.

And that that trope isall very well and good.

But it doesn’t it doesn’t addresssort of the the the idea of what it means

to hold a literal or metaphoricalsword all day, every day for years.

So so when we’re working with tropes,we’re working with motifs.

They do stand in work for it.

So the number three will do standand work for me, the badass heroine.

Might you stand and work for a writer,

somebody who’s writing about conspiracytheories if they know how they’re

constructed, you know,they can set the pattern up and then work

with a pattern and it sets up sortof a resonance in the reader’s mind.

What we need to make surewhen we’re doing that —

I did have some notes on this becauseyou prepped me for this question.

So let me just take a quick look.

Let’s see.

Yeah.A stand in for deeper narrative work.

So don’t let your tropes or your motif

take the place of deeper narrativework when deeper narrative work

wants to happen.

Going back to the badass heroine.

Yeah, it’s great to have a badass heroine.

Let’s have strong womenin in a piece of fiction.

But if you’re holding a sword for a reason

all day, every day for years,what toll does it take on you as a person?

That’s the story I want to read.

So that’s what I would sayto you about tropes and motifs.

What do you think?I know.

I think that’s great.And one of the things that, again,

like I think we’re justbouncing off each other here.

When you talk about motifs,while this is not remotely my field,

I’ve always kind of secretly hada guilty pleasure in urban legends.


So, you know, “and then the hookwas dangling from the car.”

And I know all these great things.


one of the ones that I did use in a story

was the classic storyof the choking Doberman.

So they come home and thethe extremely condensed version,

if you guys have not sat around the propercampfire, is they come home,

the dog is choking,they rush the dog to the vet,

they go back home while the dog’sin surgery, and the vet calls him get out

of the house because the dogwas choking on fingers.

So there’s an intruder in the house.Right.

And so I played with that.

But that can be traced back to…

I should have done my research because I’m not

going to remember the dog’s name,but an ancient ancient Celtic legend

about a dog that is coveredin blood on the king’s baby’s crib.

And so he kills the dog that,

you know, because it was clearlytrying to murder his his infant son.

But then he finds the body of the wolf

that the dog had killedunderneath the crib.

And, you know, all this stuff.

And it’s all the same kind of thing aboutthe dog and the intruder and whatnot.

But it’s,you know, what you’re doing when you use

one of those tropes or motifs is you’retapping into that.

Yes.Heavy, heavy baggage of lore.

So, yeah, it’s it’s a shortcut.

And it doesn’t have to be a cheap orlazy shortcut, but it is a shortcut.

So, yeah.

Sorry, that was just me going off there.

In fact, I want to recommend a book.

I’m going to pull up my bibliography here.

Gail de Vos.

Lemme see,

maybe I can pull it up quicklyso that we can move right on

the.I’m trying to remember what it’s called.

Yes.”What happens next?

Contemporary urban legend and popularculture,” written in 2012, is a really good

bit of scholarship on urban legends,if anybody’s interested.

Awesome.Thanks for sharing that.

Yeah, it’s absolutelyit’s an urban legends are so fun because,

you know, new ones arecoming up all the time.

And, you know, it’s it’s so easyto miss that it’s an urban legend.

So I’m going to since we’ve already danced

along the edge of the political heretoday, I’m going to I’m going to spiral

and twirl a little bitmore right on the edge.

But the one that I keep seeing inall of my social media,

it is amazing how every single person,you know, has a friend who went to get

a COVID test but left beforethe test was performed.

And three days later,

they got a letter that they were positive,you know, and, you know, I’m just like —

Nobody’s thinking about the fact that,

you know, this is an area of the countrywhere it’s taking 10 days to get results,

but they’re getting a letter by mail, whilethe mail is slowed down, in three days.

And, you know, and all of these thingsthat are tells that obviously

this can’t be happening in all 50 statessimultaneously, you know, like this is.

And that is absolutelya legend pattern, too.

Yeah.And, you know, my friend’s friend went

to get a test and thenthree days later, you know.

Right.Right, right, right.

And what you were saying about, you know,the number three, it has to be the number

three and it’s arriving by mailand then all these things.

And and it was just like, you know,

the first time I heard that,I was like, oh, that’s interesting.

And the second time.

And then I realized, wait a minute,I have just heard this from people in ten

different states,all in the identical story.

All in the — heeeeyyyy.Right, exactly.

And that’s not to say that something like

that could not have happened,because lots of times this stuff is rooted

in something that, you know,has has truth to it.

But then it very quickly gets morphedinto the urban legend format.

And, you know, so what was there?

Was there a mix upthat prompted all of this?

You know, who knows what actually kicked this off.

Was it purely waspurely engineered for effect?

You know, who knows? But but yeah,that’s one that I look at and I’m like,

OK, this is going to be,you know, our future generations’ hook

hand, you know,like the too silly for words.

Right.You know, and you know.

So anyway, I’m justappreciating things as they go by.


so as I tell you,that’s a really great one.


So since I just talked about, like,

how future generations aregoing to interpret this story,

you know, as somebody who

studies exactly the process of story

coming down throughgenerations, do we learn?

About story itself, you know,

what makes narrative more resilientor more durable in order to descend,

whereas is there some types of narrative

that is more subject to modification orbeing forgotten or something like that?

That’s that’s like several different

questions, so I’m going to kindof pick it apart in pieces.


I want to talk a little bitabout story transmission.

And so let’s take a look at justfor the sake of argument, the Child,

the English traditionwritten down by Francis James Child.

And he collected versions of these theseballads and he would collect one from over

here and then collect onefrom over here and over here.

Sort of this verse would be differentto that verse would be different

and he would collect themfrom different parts of the country.

And the same thing happened with sort

of German fairy tales,German wonder tales and that sort

of thing, because they were beingtransmitted the oral tradition.

And so basically what that means in terms

of what looks like a ballad for a second,you have somebody in one village who knew

the air of a ballad and sort of knewthe story and had a set number of stock

phrases that she had access to that reallyresonated with her audience.

And she would know the storyand know the air.

And because she was perhaps not literate,

she would essentially composethe piece while she was singing it.

Which is a phenomenalthing to think about,

but if you go one hundred miles away,that ballad might be sung by a man

who had a different set of stock prices,but the same general air.

So if he composed the same ballad or

the same story, he would composedit slightly differently.

So you would have because people didn’thave YouTube,

they would they would have a versionof a ballad in this village and a version

of the ballad in that village and a versionof the ballad in this village over here.

And the same thing happened with Wonderand that sort of thing.

And so when you have oral transmissionof a tale, you have many versions.

And I want to really,

because I believe strongly in this asa scholar,

I want to talk about the processof contextualization and I want

to problematizeit just a little bit.

When you pick one of those versionsand you write it down and you’re the first

person to write that down,because we as sort of a global culture,

Western culture, what have you, becausewe have and do favor the written word.

Anything that is contextualised,anything that is written down becomes

the canonical version orthe official version.

And that privileges

that particular version of the taleover other versions of the tale that John

saying over here in the north and Marysaying over here in the West and Sally

saying in the South,just because you got Diane

to sit down and sing the song for you sothat you could write it down doesn’t mean

that Diane’s version isthe official version.

And so I think that that’s one

of the benefitsof having a ballad tradition like

the Child ballad tradition, thenhaving Francis James child go out

and collect various versions,is it we we don’t have just one official

version, so we have manyand those are still being created.

So those ballots are still being adopted.

They’re still being sung.

There are new versionshappening all the time.

And the neat thing about that is that onceyou have you’ve written something down.

Let’s say you have five versions.

And even if you don’t want to call them

the contextualised canonical versions,you’ve got your five versions.

Right.OK, you’ve got somebody who comes along

and says, all right,I see these five versions.

They’re all ballads,

but I’m a new singer songwriterand I want to write a new version.

And then you take those and you write

a new version and yousing that new version.

And then somebody in the audience listensto you and has a really good memory,

sings the song on the way homeand teaches their grandmother.

You’ve got a piece of oral tradition

that’s become contextualised,that’s become oralized again.

Yeah, so the story is reallycool that way, especially

when we’re talking about sort of the early

or oral tales or orallytransmitted tales that get written down.

And and so I personally,especially because I’m terribly fond

of the Child ballads, and I just recentlyrewrote one because I was mad at it

and I decided that something else needed

to happen in that ballad that happenedin that ballad traditionally.

Did you fanfic a ballad,Ceallaigh? Did you fanfic a ballad?

I totally!

No, I totally fanfic’d a ballad.


The Twa Sisters.

And it’s also been calledThe Wind and the Rain.

And in this ballad,

which, Loreena McKennit’s done it as The Bonny Swans.


OK, so in this ballad there are two

sisters and this dude comes along and he’seither a prince or he’s like just a dude

and he comes along and he’s datingthem both, which is crappy.

And so what do the sisters decide they’regoing to do, is they decide that they’re

going to fight over this dude.The only possible solution!


right.And it makes me so mad.

And so I decided that what should really

happen in the story is that when oneof the sisters pushes the other off

a cliff, the sisters shouldpush Johnny off the cliff.

And so that’s how I rewrote it.



you know, it’s a murder ballad, anyway,

somebody has got to die,so it might as well be the jerk. Right?

Yeah, yeah.

And I think that’s why,and I’m going to say this then jump

back to the chat,but I want to say that there was an actual

story like like for real, really happeneda couple of years ago where,

you know, the the Uber,Uber driver, Lyft driver, whatever.

The ride share driver

was driving a woman to an address and it

turned out they were both the girlfriendof the guy at this address.

I’m skipping over a lot of details,but they discovered, you know, that.

And so and so they had the conversationin the car en route there.

And then they went up and rangthe doorbell and greeted him together.

And I think why that story got,you know, it happened.

But then it got shared.It’s because we all found so much.


And there were, it’s not a “oh, guy is a jerk.

So the girl has to die” because that’s

the only logical, you know,results from that.

And I think that one just, you know,

hit onto a lot of us and as a as an answerto that kind of again,

whether or not we’re consciously thinkingof that, those stories are culturally

embedded in things we’veheard just in the background.

You know, they’re deep in there somewhere.So.

Well, and I loved what you said about thewritten word automatically getting

priority in our culture,because Natalie pointed out in the chat,

this is jumping back when we’retalking about urban legends.

The urban legends can move faster and morewidely and with less, you know,

tracing ability todaybecause we have copy paste and “quick share

before Facebook blocks it!”And all of that going on.

And what I was thinking, you know,about my my COVID urban legend

was that that gets more credibilitybecause it’s shared in a written form.

You know, where if I told you arounda campfire, “a friend of mine knows

a person who got…” you know,that would be automatically skeptical.

But because, you know,we put it in text, it must be real.

And then Natalie’s talking it being sharedand then, you know, so much more quickly.

And then you’re talking aboutand we give priority to text.

And I’m like, this is exactly why,

you know, I was reading some fascinating

studies just on disinformationon the Internet in general and how it

moves 4.5 or whatever the exact number is,times faster than truth.

And it’s like, yeah,truth doesn’t stand a chance, you know,

not when we have all this juicy,juicy, outraged conspiracy ready to go.

And yeah, I think it’s,

you know, just looking at those thosemotifs and how we tap into them,

it’s a great way to to get us to buyinto a story, whether it’s real or not.

You know, we want we want to tapinto those things that are familiar and

especially if it addresses somethingwe consider is a little bit of a gap.


yeah, well, and when we’re talking about,

you know, you were talking about the Uberdriver and and the culturally embedded

story that got turnedon its head in that moment.

And I think that’s what happened to youknow, there are a lot of people who are

doing to bring this intosort of a more literary


A lot of writers will retella fairy tale, and that’s OK.

You know, that’s interesting.

But what’s more interesting, I think,

is to understand what’s happeningin the tale and then subvert it,

bring it into a contemporary context

turn the narrative on its head.

you know, there there are so manyinstances of widows and wicked queens

and so forth and wonderwhere the widows and the wicked queens

and the stepmother are evil,but perhaps they’re not evil.

And this takes us right to sortof Broadway and Wicked and so forth.

But but perhaps they’re not evil.

Perhaps they’re women in the middle

of their lives who comeinto their power and have to be.

And so I think it’s worth looking

at what’s happening in a wonderfulwhatever it may be,

or a ballad or a legend and finding outwhere, what are we being asked to take

on board and if it’s something thatthat we want to take on board, you know,

critiquing the narrative and finding outwhether or not we want to internalize it.

And as writers, if we don’t,what can we do to change it?

Yeah, and and sometimes just being aware

of and here we’re going to venture into,I guess, a responsibility topic,

I don’t know, but just being aware of whatour what is in that cultural baggage

of those those, you know,motifs that we’re bringing in.

And, you know, not that using any proper

motif is is going to beinherently wrong, but are we?

It is everything we want to say… Is

everything that’s beingsaid in that motif

something I want to say in my story.


you know, that’s not you know,sometimes the answer to that question is,

yes, you know,it’s not it’s not that inherently that,

you know, all of this stuff is bad becauseit is a trope or because it is old or

because it is, you know,from a particular culture or whatever.

It is just something that I guess justlet’s let’s just think about and be aware

of, you know, am I making am I using thiswithout thinking or am I making a choice?

And am I expressing internalized narrative

that I took on boardbecause of my skin color?

You know, it’s worth mentioning,

of course, that we’re two white women andhaving a conversation about narrative.

And and if we’re going to talk aboutissues of responsibility,

then we have to talk aboutinternal interrogation as well.

You know,

what were we raised to believe about otherkinds of people,

other people who leave other like peoplewhose skin color is different, people who

gender is not our gender or peoplewhose sexual preferences are not ours?

Have we taken anything on board that isunhelpful? Have we taken a trope on board?

Have we taken a stereotypeon board? So when we’re writing

as writers, as writers,when we begin to write a piece of fiction,

what are we bringing to it ourselvesand what do we need to deconstruct

internally in order to beable to tell a story?

Right.Absolutely, yeah.

All of that just you know,it’s it’s so easy to

to, you know, just put out what we have

taken in without pausingin the middle to sort.

And I was invited to speakat a university class a year or two ago.

I don’t know.It’s twenty twenty.

I have no sense of time, but

twenty eighteen maybe.

And one of the things I talked aboutwith them was like,

don’t try to change culture by going outand saying we need to change culture.

Like you want to change culture?

You write the better storiesand that grabs. You know, people

internalize narrative so muchmore than they internalize lecture.


I am one of the things I’m working

on right now to more or less successis my Japanese language skill.

But one of the things that I think isawesome is the word culture is written

with the charactersfor writing and change.

So like like writing is inherent to,you know, the culture.

And I just I find that that mademe happy as a writer to see that.

So, yeah, that’s really cool.It’s yeah.

It’s just so inherent that, you know,

if you if you control the story,I can tell you something,

but if I tell you a story,that’s what you’ll act on more than

whatever I told you in a youshould do this format.

And it’s just that’s that’salways going to be how it is

that applies to, I mean,

any story that’s been powerful for us,anything we’ve read that really resonated

with us, it may not have resonated withanother person in exactly the same way.

Once I once I’ve written a story and I put

it out into the world,it’s not just mine anymore.

Belongs to every person who reads it

and every person who reads it is goingto have a different interpretation.

So sorry.

Sorry, hit sideways.

You know, it’s not it isn’t that sortof linear lecturing that you spoke of.

It is more.

It’s more subtle, it’s more nuanced.

Yeah, absolutely, and and that’s why itis used so broadly for social education.


you know, everything from Aesop’s Fablesto parables to, you know,

my grandmother telling me “one timea little boy ran away from his grandmother

in the mall and he was kidnappedand they never found him again.

So make sure you stay close to me.”

You know, those kinds of of of things that

you know, that then the story isused to make the point.

And there we still have a fables,

however many millennia later, because theywere good at their job, you know, so.

Yeah, yeah.And the interesting thing about fables is

that sometimesthey were viewed as sort of speaking truth

to power and sometimes theywere the tool of the oppressor.

And if you look at Aesop’s Fables,some of them I mean,

they’re so contradictory in theirmessages, even

the the morals often written belowthe tales themselves

are, you know,you’ll get a moral that says this

is a and then you’ll get another moralthat says, you know, A is actually B,

you know, I can’t think of two goodexamples right now or give them to you.

But in in going to your point aboutnarrative as a tool of many different

kinds of people,even if you thought they were true of many

different kinds of people, they spoketruth to power and they were also true.

Yeah, absolutely.Yeah.


and I think jumping back in the statementhas been made, you know, already.

But just to bring that back in here is

there’s not one monolithic opinion,you know, in a oh,

this is what the ancient Greeks believed,because look at this fable.

You know, that would be a

very naive and disingenuousinterpretation of that, too.

And it would be intellectually dishonestassertion to make because, you know,

we know that everything ismuch more nuanced than that.

And so I guess knowing how

to bring this back into a practical,

OK, we’re a bunch of writers and we’refaced with all of this now where we are

now burdened with the weightof this responsibility.

You know, what are things that we can do

as fiction writers to be morehonest with using these motifs or history

in general or, you know,that sort of thing.

OK, well, I’ve got some thoughts on that.

And again, I’m just goingto kind of divide them up.

The first thing that I want to talk about

is the resilience of the storiesthat we’re talking about, adaptation here,

how resilience is the story youwant to retell to a retelling.

Is it something like,

well, the Marvel retellings of the Thorstory and the Loki story, the Odin story.


You get a freeze?

to retelling, we call them,and they make Thor a superhero and they

make Loki sort of thisambiguous character or whatever.

It’s fairly easy to go back to the source

material and read the source materialand the culture itself,

Nordic, the various northern Europeancultures from whence these stories came.

They’re fairly resilientto having these stories retold.

And so when you’re lookingat telling a story that’s been told

by another culture or has its rootsin another culture, one thing that’s good

to look at is how resilientis this story to retelling?

And there are lots of differentfactors that come into play.

And one of them, and this ismy second point, is power,

where if you tell the story,who has the power?

And now I’m going to talk a littlebit about sort of indigenous stories.

And I’m not talking about indigeneityin a sort of a broad strokes sense.

But I am going to talk about I’m thinking

about one of the professorsin my department, Sarah Gordon,

who’s done quite a bit of workin indigenous mining narratives.

And then I believe it was.

But don’t quote me on that because it’sbeen a while since I’ve read her work.

But anyway,

in some cases,stories are more than story.

Stories are ways that peopleremember who they are and when,

for instance, various indigenous cultureshave been marginalized over and over

and over again over the courseof hundreds of years.

Reclaiming ownership of a story

means reclaiming ownershipof a piece of culture.

And so even if, let’s say,for instance and I was trying to think

about this, this isthe question you gave me.

We were talking about this beforebefore we got together this evening.

Let’s say, for instance,that a native storyteller

tells a story from her culture

and the CBC picks it up and playsit widely all over Canada.

And she wins the Canadianaward for this story.

And the story is adapted into a film.

Is it OK then, because the story has been

resilient, for a person from anotherculture to pick that up and use it?

That’s a big gray area because what doesthat story mean to her and what does

that story mean to the culturethat it comes from?

We may think of stories as having one setof meanings,

but other people, other cultureshave different meaning to stories.

And when a when a culture has beenmarginalized, as many,

many indigenous cultures have been allover the world,

as I said previously,reclaiming that story,

holding on to those storyis a part of holding on to identity

and as a part of holdingon to and transmitting culture.

And there’s I I’m very, very careful,even like I’m working on an indigenous

character for a novel seriesthat I’m putting together.

And I’ve done a ton of research.

She’s Métis, by the way,

and I’ve got a ton of research and I’m

trying very hard to make sure that while Idon’t believe there is an accurate way

to represent any culture,just like you said, you know,

we’re not we’re not going to essentiallyas a culture and say this person is

a representation of all peopleof this particular background.

We’re sensitive and we know where

the power lies and we know whether or notthe story we want to tell is ours to tell.

And I don’t think I explainedthat as well as I could have.

But I hope you get the gist.

Yeah, because it’s something, you know,

again, as somebody who’s writtena story set in and using other cultures,

folklore is something I’ve triedto spend some time thinking about.

And, you know, one of the things I look islike I personally am not wholly

in with the whole Death of the Authorconcept that, you know,

once we produce a story,the author’s intent no longer matters.

It’s 100 percent in the mindof the audience and that sort of thing.

I don’t, I’m not fully into that.

But because I don’t fall into that,then I have to say, OK,

then any story I want tointerpret and use,

I still has to carry the original intentand all of that in there as well.

And I think,

you know, it’s it’s somethingthat we have to be aware of.

We have to be

considerate of and we have to think about

what we’re doing with that story,what we’re doing with

with that culture.

You know, if I.

A friend of mine who I’m not going to name

because I didn’t get her permission,didn’t want to put her on the spot quoting

her here, but she is a she is a writerof color of I’m going to say,

an extremely marginalized group in theU.S. And as she said, you know, go ahead.

And, you know, we’re talkingabout a particular situation.

So please don’t take this as universaladvice, you know, from for all situations,

from, you know,from this particular person.

But she her her guidelinefor something was,

you know, if you were trying to sell thisto a traditional publisher who was going

to pick up three books this this quarter,and one of them was going to be

from a writer of color and a you know or,you know, a cultural story or something.

And and and you come in and take this,then you’re taking

your space away from them, she says.

But if you’re self publishing it,there’s that’s not a Zero-Sum game.

There’s all kinds of room,you know, go ahead.

So, you know,

it’s it’s really one of those thingswhere, you know,

there’s a lot of considerationand gray area that has to be,

you know, considered just to be.

Responsible, I would say,

and I would I would also say to and as Iwas thinking about what you were saying,

I had a way to refine what what I wantedto say just a little bit further,

whereas I will write a Métis character.

I’m not sure I feel comfortabletelling a story out of Métis culture.

Those are two very different things.

I think it’s extremely important that allof us as writers

are writing very diversely,I am very comfortable writing people

of other nationalities,people of various abilities,

people of other people whoseexperiences are not like mine.

And I think we all need to do that.

I think we need to be willing to do that.

I think we need to be willing to dothe work necessary to do well.

But Métis stories come from a small group

of people who are classically marginalized

in Canada and those stories,owning those stories and owning what those

stories saymay well and I cannot say are because I

don’t know may well be an important partof the preservation of Métis identity.

So there we have a narrative constructionpower, if I take that story, let’s

say I take a narrative outof that culture and I retell it.

Even if I’m telling it faithfully,

it’s really it may not be mine to tellbecause I’m not part of that culture.

So and and I don’t thinkthis applies broadly.

I don’t think it applies everywhere.

I don’t think that I only get to write

stories about 51 yearold bisexual pagan scholars.

But I do think that we need to becarefully aware of where the power is.

When we tell a story, as you say,

if we’re going to get a three book dealand we’ve taken a story out of Métis

culture and inserted it into that bookand it was a non faithful representation

or it was a faithful representation,but we’re not Métis people.

Is that OK?

I would say probably not.

But I would say that because I know thatthese these narratives mean something

different to cultures that are not my own,and I don’t know exactly what a story

means or a given story means to a Métis person.

So I wouldn’t know whether ornot I should tell, you know.

Yeah.So any better.

I feel like I’m struggling with this.No, no.

I think I think because I thinkyou and I are on the same page.

So we’re not you know, I’m following youbecause it’s not that far a leap for me.

But I’m thinking about on the one hand,

you want to be reallyrespectful of an identity.


And I’m just going to throw out, you know,an example of what I don’t actually think

is the other side, but would beperceived by that, maybe by some people

in Overwatch, you know,massively successful video game.

And one of the characters has skins thatuse Pacific Northwest tribal imagery.

And there was outcry when these when theselaunched because, you know,

are you taking these these symbolsin these this art and whatnot

and appropriating it, you know, for thisfor this game, for this character.

And there was a post that went around.

And I’m going to be honest, I don’t Ican’t verify the origin of this post.

The the writer saysshe’s of the Eyak tribe.

I have no way to verify that.Right.

But I’m going to believe her.

But she said it was incredibly meaningful

for her to see stuffthat she has not seen, she doesn’t get

gotten to live in since she was young,to see imagery from her childhood, to see

clothing from her childhoodincorporated.

And in this post, she says, “there arefewer than five hundred of us left.

We’re not centralized.

You know, for me, it was very meaningfulto see this in something that was so huge.”

you know, that was using somethingthat is normally so minimalized.”

And so I think that just goes back to you

can’t assign an opinionto an entire demographic.

But also, I would not in any way take

that as blanket permission to dowhat I wanted with things.


Like, that’s that’s notreally what that means.

And I think my personal rule of thumb,which is not necessarily the right one

just the one that I’m using at thistime, is I will write diverse characters.

I will write things that Ifeel that I can represent.

Well, I will write

I’m going to say a black femaleprotagonist, but I’m not going to write

the black female protagonistexperiencing racism in America because I

that’s not something that — somebody elsecan say that way better than I can write.

What I can say is,

as a black female protagonist,being pursued by carnivorous mermaids or

late running dinosaurs orwhatever, that I got that.

OK, I, I don’t think that’s right.

That’s not a demographic specific

experience, but something that is very,very, you know, going to be very specific

to that demographic, to that culturethat I don’t have a personal insight on.

I’m going to let somebody who cando that better do that so well.

And that’s my personal..

There’s shoring up identity.Yeah, exactly.

And there’s a shoring up identity thing

that goes on to you know, it’s a storythat you’re trying to tell is another

person’s way of shoringup their own identity.

And again, I’m going backto various indigenous stories.

It’s these are waysthat people know who they are.

That’s very, very sensitive material,you know?


And that’s not something that thatthose of us who who don’t share

that experience can ever reallyknow completely, you know,

but, you know, again, you know, and I’mthinking now of the Own Voices movement.

People who are are writingin their own voices.

You know, people who have particular

backgrounds or abilities or gendersexuality is writing within that context.

And I think that’s very good.

But I also think it reaches into sortof the lived experience,

ethnographic territory that I occupy asa scholar,

because, you know,if I’m going to come to you and interview

you about your experience in animalbehavior and as a writer and as a person

who loves to travel,because I know you do,

I’m going to get your lived experience.

And that’s what I’m always looking for.

I’m not going to go to somebodyelse and ask that person about you.

And when writers are working in their own

voices movement, I think that’swhat they’re getting at.

They’re they’re getting out of here.

This is my experience.

And I’m writing fictionfrom my experience.

Right.So they’re.

A real strong ethnographic quality

to that kind of fiction,but I don’t and I think it occupies

an important place in our contemporaryconversation about what literature is.

But I also don’t think it’s the only place

and I don’t think itoccupies a superior place.

I think that it occupiesan ethnographic place.

And I recognize it

as sort of a sister experience, I guess,in a very loose sort of way, again,

to what I do when I go outinto the field and interview people.

And I think I’m just going to throw in,

like just me as a reader,I think it’s important to remember

that people are more thantheir demographic, too.

So one of the things that it took me

a while to identify, you know,what was frustrating me

and you know why I didn’t like why I

thought I didn’t like fictionwith a certain type of protagonist.

And all of that, well what worked out was,when I was in school.

Every story I read with a black

protagonist was a civil war messagenarrative kind of thing.

And, you know, believe it ornot, black people exist today and they do

other things other thantalk about slavery, you know,

and so letting people bepeople is,

you know, not not not just let it not justassigning all cultures to their own little

boxes and, you know, lettingyou know it’s a — it’s I don’t know.

I don’t want to, I don’t wantto just go off on my soapbox here.

But I think, you know, diversity doesnot mean having more checkboxes.

It means more people.

Well, and we’re going to get there.

You know, we’re having somedifficult conversations.

And we have been for some time about whatit means to represent people who don’t

look like us or think like orbelieve like us, you know?

And I think that we are there when we whenwe bring the nuance to the conversation.

And we we accept that, as you say,you know, no person is a representation

of their entire culture,that that differential

power differential in in literature,that some literatures are more resilient

to adaptation than othersare for tons of reasons.

And some of them have to do withthe way stories are are

held in various cultures that you know,that while I have a particular lived

experience because of the book,the checkboxes that I check off other

people with experience is goingto be completely different.

And when we’re better,

that I think as a culture,maybe we will be able to take that nuance

on board once we’ve done some internalinterrogation individually and

we know that we’re scrubbing outthe junk that we were taught.

You know, those those narrativesthat aren’t real, that aren’t healthy,

then we can we can startto see greater individuality.

I think I’m rambling at this point,but but I think what I hope we go I think

toward greater nuance.


I think you and I just gotthe bit in our collective teeth and just

like, yeah, this is the thing we feelstrongly about and have thought about.



And and Natalie said a couple of thingsin the chat that,

you know, it’s, you know, the issue isagreeing with me on my personal rule.

So thank you.

I was totally something Ijust made up for myself.

But that’s that’s where I’m,you know, sitting at this moment.


you know, I think it’s just it’s justsomething that we you know,

it can be summed up as, you know,think about what you’re writing.

Are youthrough-putting without pausing

to evaluate in the middle and, you know,taking what you’ve brought in and putting

it back out withoutpausing to to evaluate.

And I think we just need to bethoughtful writers.

And I think that’sa universal statement anyway.


There’s my there’s my nifty little wrap up

there, so I want to make sure, though,that we talk about because like

we will happily, I know you and Iwill talk about this forever.

This is one of the things I actually.

Hey, chat guys.

One of the things I really like about

about Ceallaigh is Ceallaigh and I are actuallyfrom incredibly different places.

You know, she just described herself.

It’s very different from a lotof you know,

Ceallaigh is vegan! I eat steak!

You know, we’re very different

people, but we have so many,you know, respectful, I think,

respectful and productive conversationseven about our our differences.

And so it’s one of the reasons I really

appreciate you and thank youfor coming and talking to me today.

So I’m delighted.

I was so happy that youthat you are so thank you.

I love getting my nerd on.

So OK, so yeah, they can,

but I want to make sure that

that we do mention that you have a newbook that I want to throw out there

to the to the world, which isThe Longest Road In The Universe.

And do you want to give us a quick,quick one or two sentences on?

Oh, look at the shiny picture right there.

All right.

Tell us about that.

This is The Longest Road In The Universe,it’s a collection of fantastical tales.

All but one of them hasbeen previously published.

One of them was shortlisted

for the Washington Science FictionAssociation Small Press Award.

It isn’t new.

It is a second edition.

I put out a first edition in 2016.

So all the stories except for one,were professionally published.

But I had been asked to speak at cons

and so forth and I wanted somethingwith my own name on the cover rather than

having it, you know, taking this armloadof anthologies that I’ve written.


So it’s very difficult.

As you well know, Laura,for people who published in small presses

to sell collections,collections don’t sell super well.

And so what I did was I published itmyself, but I was just getting ready

to head back into universityfor my doctorate.

And there were errors in the text.

And so I put out a second edition.

And the second edition is this one.

It has an extra story in it.

And it came out at thebeginning of this year.

So you can buy whateverfine books are sold.

There is you can buy paperbackfor Kindle or Kobo or whatever.

There are links on my website,if you’re interested at all.

It’s right there on the my website is setup so that you have like a left of our

middle and the rightand the left bar has a little a little

blurb about the book and the variousstories that are in it.

There are all science fiction and fantasyand then there are links at the bottom.

And speaking of your website,

floating underneath you rightat this moment is your URL.

And I want to mention that youhave a newsletter with regular,

I am going to callthe Cliff Notes on folklore.

And you hinted to me your new

you’re going to you’re goingto start doing the index, the…

Oh, my gosh, there’s a word…

Yes, the ATU tale type.Yes.


And so if you want to give usjust a little bit on that.


Over the last nearly two years,I’ve been putting out monthly on the first

Thursday of the month,a folklore and fiction newsletter.

And I’ve covered topics like myths,

legends, tall tales, charms,cursed conspiracy theories,

conspiracy theories.

This last one with language and verbal,or the next one will be on childhood

lullabies, children’s stories,that kind of thing.

At the end of this year,after two years of living with what we

would call folklore genre, I’m switchingmy topic and I’m moving

into an exploration of theATU Tale Type Index, which is the

Aarne–Thompson–Uther tale type index,

which is an index of various kindsof folk tales and their motifs.

And what I want to do

with that is to give writersa look at a folk tale,

a look at some of the motifs in the hotel,look at ways it might be subverted.

I know that various authors I’m trying

to think Seanan McGuire, I think,has done a whole series of stories.

So I’m hoping that by sort of takinga part of folktales and taking a part

where it is in the index and talking aboutsome of the various iterations

and variations, as we mentionedearlier in the program.

Writers who are interested in working

with folkloric material like this,more traditional folkloric material,

might find ways into writing theirown stories from the newsletter.

So that’s going to be at least two years.

I’m toying with making it three, but Idon’t want to commit that far ahead.

And if it if it totally flopped aftera year and people aren’t going to move

on to something else, but it’s goingto be at least a year of ATU Index.


And I know that sometimes when I’m talkingabout folklore and because I, you know,

do some panels and presentations,seminars, whatever on that,

and a lot of times peoplewill ask me about that index.

So I’m personally following it so I can

sound smarter whenpeople ask me questions.

So that’s why I’m in.

But I think yeah, especially for if you’re

into fairy tale retellings or whatnot,that’s going to be a useful tool.

So, OK, and I had something else Iwanted to mention and it’s gone.

I got nothing.It’s it was there,

I was thinking about it, and then Igot distracted by something shiny and…

You’re a crow at heart.

I really am! Just happy,happy little…

You know, shiny thingsdistract me, when I get mad I screech.

That’s really, that’s it.

You’ve got me so, so.

Well, we have been going a nice long time,which I don’t regret at all.

But I probably need to wrap this becauseI’m running a little bit longer.

Oh, and.Oh, thank you.

Natalie just threw yourbook up in the chat.

Everybody’s got a link to it.

Thank you, Natalie.Some of you.

Yeah.So that is The Longest Road

In The Universe in paperbackand e-book and all the things.

So yeah.

And I had a great time.

Thank you for doingmy first learn with me.

With me.

I think, I think this wasfun and we were in it.

We’re going to have to domore things like this.

But yeah I, I, we haven’t had any,any new answered questions show up.

So I think we can safelywrap at this point.

But I’m just.Thank you.

Thank you again for comingout and thank you.

Thank you for having me.This was

fun.We could have.


You know we’d be here tillmidnight if we just kept talking.

We absolutely.But I know we, we’ve done that so.

Oh and guys, I appreciatethe opportunity to share with you.

Oh yeah.Absolutely.

And guys, thank you for greatquestions and commentary.

Those those are good.

And then yeah, everything will be upfor replay, usually about forty eight

hours gives me a chance to get it up afterour official Twitch expiration and get

the subtitles up or the closedcaptioning I guess technically.

So you can look for thereplay then and yeah.

So I’m going to officially call it.


this was a blast and Ceallaigh,I hope you have an awesome..

I’m actually talking to someone in my sametime zone, which is,

I think the first time that I’vedone this here on the show.

So we’re no, you know, so.Yeah.


I’m on Atlantic time

What, no.


By the mid Atlantic Canadian time,

I thought you were, OK.

So so what time is it where you are?


Bother I completely

and now I feel like a jerk for not only

using Eastern Times when I wascommunicating with you see look at look

at my look at my culturalcentrism right here.

Everybody’s on Eastern.

So, OK, I am a grown woman with agrasp of time zones.

I’m very proud.

Well, apparently I missedat the time zone thing.


All right.

Well, now that I’ve embarrassedmyself publicly, I will.

No, thank you for working with me.

All right, everybody,have an awesome night.

Oh, we got to thank you from the chat.Thank you.

And I’m so sorry.I don’t.


I’m sure you have a less unwieldyhandle, but I don’t know it.

But thank you for for being hereand asking fantastic questions.

And everybody take care.Wash your hands.

Be safe.Love you guys.

Bye bye.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *