13 episodes

A creative writing podcast featuring stories, writing tips, and author interviews to help listeners write their own tales. Hosted by Catherine Austen. 45 minutes.

Cabin Tales: Spooky Stories for Young Writers Catherine Austen

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    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

A creative writing podcast featuring stories, writing tips, and author interviews to help listeners write their own tales. Hosted by Catherine Austen. 45 minutes.

    Picture a Story: Interviews with Illustrators

    Picture a Story: Interviews with Illustrators

    Interviews with five Canadian illustrators about creating narratives in words and pictures. Featuring guest author-illustrators Peggy Collins, Katherine Battersby, Farida Zaman, Christine Tripp, and Chris Jones. All ages.A full transcript of this episode is available at CabinTales.ca. Show Notes:[0:00] Intro[2:15] Commentary on how picture books are made Interviews about creating alone vs with another writer[5:15] Chris Jones on rewarding collaborations[7:40] Peggy Collins on responsibility[9:20] Katherine Battersby on unexpected freedom[11:45] Christine Tripp on having fun[13:10] Farida Zaman on having control [15:00] Developing characters in images[16:10] Peggy Collins loves designing characters[17:45] Chris Jones develops his characters in action[19:45] Christine Tripp has her characters in her head[21:20] Farida Zaman steps inside her characters[22:30] Katherine Battersby traps characters on paper [24:10] Commentary on the Fear of Drawing   [27:40] Interviews about traditional and digital art.[28:20] Christine Tripp likes the safety of digital art[29:20] Farida Zaman misses her pencils[30:40] Katherine Battersby finds freedom in digital imagery[32:25] Peggy Collins is happier with her tech[34:15] Chris Jones refines his sketches digitally [36:20] Illustrators’ advice to young writers and artists[36:30] Katherine Battersby: Read, play, be yourself[37:50] Peggy Collins: Your stories matter[38:50] Farida Zaman: Everyone has a story[40:10] Christine Tripp: Don’t be in a rush[41:20] Chris Jones: Don’t get discouraged [42:25] Story prompt: Picture a Halloween tale [43:40] Thanks and coming up on the podcastNext week it’s Episode XX: “The Halloween Special,” featuring spooky stories and weird tales from student writers, with no interviews at all. Thanks for listening. Music on the podcast is from “Stories of the Old Mansion” by Akashic Records, provided by Jamendo (Standard license for online use). Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at www.catherineausten.com.Art: The B&W image for this episode is from a wood engraving by Émile Bayard from Le général Dourakine, written by Sophie comtesse de Ségur, 1882.Guest Authors:     Katherine Battersby is the critically acclaimed author and illustrator of ten picture books, including Perfect Pigeons and the popular Squish Rabbit series. Her books have received glowing reviews in The New York Times, starred Kirkus reviews, and have been named CBC Children's Choice books. Her debut graphic novel series, Cranky Chicken, will be published in 2021. She is regularly booked to speak in schools, libraries and at festivals and she is a passionate advocate for literacy and the arts. Katherine currently divides her time between Brisbane, Australia, and Ottawa, Canada, with her husband, daughter, and their mischievous puppy. Find her online at www.KatherineBattersby.com, on Twitter @KathBatt, on Facebook at @KatherineBattersbyAuthor, on Instagram  @katherinebattersby/.     Peggy Collins is a mother, a storyteller, an artist, a teacher, and a lover of books, technology, and learning. She lives in Ontario, where she teaches concept art and character design development. She is the illustrator and author-illustrator of more than a dozen picture books. Find her online at www.PeggysIllustration.com, on Twitter @peggysbooks, on Facebook @ thelittlesproject, on Instagram @peggysillustration.      Chris Jones is an illustrator with a passion for visual storytelling. He illustrates for picture books, graphic novels, magazines and educational materials. Chris has illustrated over 20 books for young readers, including Scholastic's Take Me Out to The Ice Rink, and This is The Rink Where Jack Plays. When not illustrating for clients, Chris spends his time writing and illustrat

    • 45 min
    Author Interviews about Tension (Episode 5.5)

    Author Interviews about Tension (Episode 5.5)

    Interviews with Canadian children’s and YA authors on the subject of tension and how to make a reader turn the page. With guest authors Kate Inglis, Lisa Dalrymple, David McArthur, Jeff Szpirglas, and Marty Chan. Hosted by Catherine Austen. 40 minutes. All ages. A full transcript of this episode is available at CabinTales.ca.Shownotes:[0:00] Intro[1:15] Interviews on adding tension to fiction[2:10] Kate Inglis on showing characters[4:30] Jeff Szpirglas on creating a tense atmosphere[6:50] Lisa Dalrymple on asking your character questions[8:50] David McArthur on planting clues[10:55] Marty Chan on leaving answers hanging [13:10] Commentary on tension as a balancing actThink of a story as a character facing a problem that’s in the way of what they want. Envision a scale with the character on one side and the problem on the other. Increase tension by adding to the weight of the problem or reducing the weight of the character. Isolate or burden the protagonist. Move the danger closer in time or space. [16:20] Interviews on drafting and revising for tension[16:45] Marty Chan on revising multiple times[19:10] Jeff Szpirglas on drafting quickly[20:50] David McArthur on editing as he drafts[22:30] Kate Inglis on irresistible revision[25:15] Lisa Dalrymple on over-editing [27:30] Interviews on plot twist dos and don’ts[28:20] David McArthur doesn’t twist fully[29:45] Lisa Dalrymple sticks to the rules of a story[30:40] Jeff Szpirglas builds up the danger[32:35] Kate Inglis’s favourite plot twists from television[34:25] Marty Chan’s favourite plot twist from film [36:15] Write your own taleOutline or draft a scene, then ask how you might enhance the tension. [37:30] Thanks and coming up on the podcastThanks to today’s guests. Next week’s episode, “Picture a Story,” will feature interviews with great Canadian illustrators – Katherine Battersby, Farida Zaman, Peggy Collins, Christine Tripp, and Chris Jones. Then on October 30th, I’ll have a special Halloween episode of Cabin Tales featuring weird tales from student writers. (Submission guidelines on the website at https://CabinTales.ca.)Thanks for listening.Music on the podcast is from “Stories of the Old Mansion” by Akashic Records, provided by Jamendo (Standard license for online use). Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at www.catherineausten.com. Guest Authors:Marty Chan writes books for kids, plays for adults, and tweets for fun. He’s best known for Mystery of the Graffiti Ghoul, which won the 2007 Diamond Willow Award. His newest book, Haunted Hospital, launched October 29th. He works and lives in Edmonton with his wife Michelle and their cat Buddy. Find him online at MartyChan.com, on Twitter @Marty_Chan; on YouTube MartyChanAuthor; on Instagram @MartyChanWriter; and on Facebook @MartyChanAuthor. Lisa Dalrymple is a wandering, wondering, dabbling, babbling, addle-brained author and mind-muddled mum. She has written 11 books for young readers, including Fierce: Women who Shaped Canada, A Moose Goes A-Mummering and Skink on the Brink. Lisa has taught kindergarten in South Korea and Thailand, caught and eaten piranha in the Amazon jungle and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. She now lives in Fergus, Ontario with her husband and their 3 highly-energetic children. Find her online at lisadalrymple.com; on Facebook: @LisaDalrympleBooks; on Twitter: @DalrympleWrites; and on Instagram: @lisa_dalrymple. Kate Inglis is an award-winning author for adults and children. She writes about pirates and giants and mermaids and all the ways we love each other. Kate’s novels, non-fiction, and poetic picture books are infused with the salt, woodsmoke, and fresh air of the North Atlantic coast. Kate is also a photographer and a corporate writer. Find her online a

    • 39 min
    Squirm (Episode 5: Tension)

    Squirm (Episode 5: Tension)

    A "telling tales" episode about how to build tension in fiction, with stories, excerpts, and prompts. Featuring guest authors Lena Coakley, Sarah Raughley, and Don Cummer. 45 minutes. PG.A full transcript of this episode and  "fright-free" version with the opening story removed are available at CabinTales.ca. Show Notes[0:00] Introduction:[1:15] Story Intro: Today you’ll hear a story where a pair of sisters are alone on a swimming platform with their old blind dog and a container of worms. And everything starts to squirm.[1:35] Trigger warning: Fishing (animal cruelty); bullying; violence; accidental death. To skip the story, ahead 10 minutes when you hear the musical bar near the beginning. Or download the “fright-free” version from CabinTales.ca.[2:40] Story: “Sisters”[13:40] Commentary: Books worth rereadingWork hard on your prose so that your story is a pleasure to read.[14:55] Excerpt from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss[15:45] Copy the technique: write well. [17:05] Commentary: AnticipationYou create narrative tension by making the reader hope for things to resolve one way, and dread that they’ll turn out another way.[20:15] Excerpt from Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda[19:45] Copy the technique: Build dread with foreshadowing and dramatic irony. [22:40] Commentary: StakesMake your reader care about your character and their goals.[24:15] Excerpt from Lost Boy by Christina Henry[25:05] Copy the technique: Add more obstacles on your character’s path, and more need inside your character to overcome those obstacles. [26:05] Interviews with guest authors[27:05] Lena Coakley on planting questions[28:15] Sarah Raughley on raising stakes[30:00] Don Cummer on looking for trouble [31:30] Drafting and revising for tension.[31:45] Lena Coakley revises at every stage[32:45] Don Cummer revises to find the best pacing[34:00] Sarah Raughley adds tension to her outlines [35:15] Anecdotes [35:15] Don Cummer on vulnerable characters[37:55] Lena Coakley on her agent’s advice[37:15] Sarah Raughly on stakes in a series [39:00] Story Prompt: “Simon and Woolly” [41:35] Thanks and housekeepingTune in next week for Episode 5.5, “Author Interviews about Pacing” with guest authors Kate Inglis, Lisa Dalrymple, David McArthur, Jeff Szpirglas, and Marty Chan. [42:50] Monster Movie Quote:  “Why don’t we just wait here for a little while, see what happens.”Thanks for listening. Music on the podcast is from “Stories of the Old Mansion” by Akashic Records, provided by Jamendo (Standard license for online use). Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at www.catherineausten.com. Guest Authors:Lena Coakley was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In high school, creative writing was the only class she ever failed—nothing was ever good enough to hand in!—but undeterred, she went on to study writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She has published two YA novels, Worlds of Ink and Shadow and Witchlanders. Wicked Nix, her first book for middle-grade readers, was nominated for the Silver Birch Express Award, the MYRCA Sundogs Award, and the Rocky Mountain Book Award. She now lives in Toronto with her two cats, Bonbon and Pirate Jenny. Find her online at www.lenacoakley.com; @lenacoakley Don Cummer is the author of the “Jake and Eli” stories published by Scholastic – a series about two best friends growing up during the War of 1812. The first book, Brothers at War, was short-listed for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young Readers. Don was born in Calgary and grew up on a ranch. He moved to Ottawa, where he wrote speeches for a living, and now spends his time between Canada and Ireland – where he’s finding many more stories to tell. Find him online at www.doncummer.com and on

    • 43 min
    Author Interviews about Plotting (Episode 4.5)

    Author Interviews about Plotting (Episode 4.5)

    Featuring guest authors Cary Fagan, Philippa Dowding, Raquel Rivera, Ishta Mercurio, and Kari-Lynn Winters, talking about plotting—how and when they plot, how they feel about tormenting characters with obstacles, and what they recommend to those who want to improve their own plotting.A full transcript of this episode is available at https://CabinTales.ca. [1:15] When to plot your storyPlotting happens while coming up with ideas, drafting, and revising – activities that overlap through the entire creative process.[4:30] Author Interviews about Plotting[5:10] Cary Fagan on plotting before and while drafting[7:20] Philippa Dowding knows her ending[8:25] Raquel Rivera does not know the ending[10:35] Ishta Mercurio does not know the ending[12:55] Kari-Lynn Winters knows the end but not the path [14:20] Plotting as character challenged.Think of a story as a path a character is taking toward what they want, and plot is everything that gets in their way. If you want to be a writer, you’ll have to make your characters suffer.[16:05] Interviews about tormenting characters[16:15] Philippa Dowding is a tormentor[18:05] Raquel Rivera says torment is a sad necessity[19:00] Kari-Lynn Winters wants some kind of hope[20:20] Ishta Mercurio is an enthusiastic tormentor[22:40] Cary Fagan mitigates the torments with humour [25:10] Classic and experimental plotsPlotting is important even to quiet literary novels. Even experimental fiction is organized and intentional. So long as you fulfill the promises of the story that you set up when you invite a reader in, you’re plotting well.[28:15] Author Interviews about plotting advice[28:25] Philippa Dowding recommends keeping the end in sight[29:25] Cary Fagan makes the unlikely believable[31:30] Raquel Rivera talks it over with herself[32:25] Ishta Mercurio puts a story away[34:00] Kari-Lynn Winters layers her stories [35:40] The best plots are inside youIf your plot fails in a way you can’t articulate, dig in and ask what you’re trying to say about life. Test and resolve a big issue, offer some revelation about life, lift up your reader into this big important drama. Use the heartline of your story to frame its plot. [37:45] Write your own taleShow us what your character wants and make us fret and worry and cringe and weep when she doesn’t get it.[38:15] Thanks and coming up on the podcastNext week takes on the subject of creating tension on Episode 5: “Squirm,” with guest authors Lena Coakley, Sarah Raughley, and Don Cummer. If you enjoyed this episode, post a link to the podcast on your social media to recommend it to your friends. And write your own tale. Thanks for listening. Music on the podcast is from “Stories of the Old Mansion” by Akashic Records, provided by Jamendo (Standard license for online use). Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at www.catherineausten.com. Guest authors: Photo by Mark Reynes RobertsCary Fagan has written many books for children, including The Hollow Under the Tree, Mort Ziff is Not Dead, and Wolfie and Fly. His many awards include the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the IODE Jean Throop Award, the Betty Stuchner--Oy Vey!--Funniest Children's Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for his body of work. Cary lives in Toronto. Find him online at https://www.caryfagan.com.Philippa Dowding is an award-winning children's author, a poet, musician and marketing copywriter. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in many literary journals. Her children's books have been nominated for awards in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and her 2017 middle-grade novel, Myles and the Monster Outside, won the OLA Silver Birch Express Honour Book award. Philippa lives in Toronto with her family, where she reads, writes, plays guitar, and walks h

    • 40 min
    Bad Things Happen (Episode 4: Plotting)

    Bad Things Happen (Episode 4: Plotting)

    An episode about plotting stories, with guest authors Robin Stevenson, Wendy McLeod MacKnight, and Amelinda Bérubé. Featuring an original story, “The Critter Cam.” With excerpts from Harold and the Purple Crayon; “The Band-Aid;” and Holes. 45 minutes. PG-13. (A “fright-free” version is available at CabinTales.ca.) A full transcript of this episode is available at CabinTales.ca. [0:00] Intro and Story Intro[1:35] Trigger warning: Violence, terror, pets dying, people dying, mental illness, paranormal activity, prescription drug abuse, murder, suicide, stalking – if you don’t want any of those things in your mind, skip ahead 10 minutes. Or download the “fright-free” versions of episodes available on the website at CabinTales.ca. [2:55]  Story: “The Critter Cam” [19:15] Commentary on Classic Plot Strucuture[14:30] Excerpt from Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson[15:15] Copy the technique [17:45] Commentary on Simple Plots[15:50] Excerpt from “The Band-Aid” by Andy Griffiths[19:45] Copy the technique [21:40] Commentary on complicated plotlines[23:50] Excerpt from Holes by Louis Sacher[24:30] Copy the technique [26:45] Interviews on planning out plots[27:15] Robin Stevenson on finding character before plotting[28:50] Wendy McLeod MacKnight on messy middles[30:35] Amelinda Bérubé on crawling to the finish [32:15] Interviews about tormenting characters[33:15] Amelinda Bérubé loves tormenting characters[35:40] Wendy McLeod MacKnight finds torment cathartic[35:15] Robin Stevenson has reservations about tormenting [36:25] Advice for young writers on plotting[36:40] Wendy McLeod MacKnight on caring about characters[37:55] Amelinda Berube on the worst that could happen[39:00] Robin Stevenson on holding back [39:50] Story Prompt: “Crossing the Field” [43:15] Thanks and housekeeping [44:25] Monster Movie Quote Music on the podcast is from “Stories of the Old Mansion” by Akashic Records, provided by Jamendo (Standard license for online use). Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at www.catherineausten.com.Guest Authors:Amelinda Bérubé is a freelance writer and the author of YA novels The Dark Beneath the Ice (Sourcebooks Fire, 2018) and Here There Are Monsters (Sourcebooks Fire, 2019). A mother of two and a passionate gardener, she lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in a perpetual whirlwind of unfinished projects and cat hair. Find her on her website at www.metuiteme.com or on Twitter: @metuiteme. Wendy McLeod MacKnight grew up in a small town with a library card as her most prized possession. She worked for the Government of New Brunswick for twenty-five years until the siren call of writing became impossible to ignore. She is the author of three middle grade novels: It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! (Sky Pony Press), The Frame-Up and The Copycat (both from Greenwillow Books). In her spare time, she gardens, hangs with her family and friends, and feeds raccoons. Visit Wendy online at wendymcleodmacknight.com or on Twitter @wendymacknight or Instagram @wendymcleodmacknight. Robin Stevenson is the award winning author of 29 books, including board books, picture books, early chapter books, middle grade fiction and non-fiction, and young adult fiction and non-fiction. She lives on the west coast of Canada with her family: her partner, teenage son, a cat, and a very loving and slightly needy spaniel who is usually lying on her feet. Robin is launching three new books in 2021: a picture book, PRIDE PUPPY (Orca), a middle-grade non-fiction book, KID INNOVATORS (Quirk), and a young adult novel, WHEN YOU GET THE CHANCE (Running Press Kids). Find Robin online at https://robinstevenson.com or on Twitter @robin_stevenson, on Facebook at @RobinStevensonAuthor/, or on Instagr

    • 45 min
    Author Interviews about Inspiration (Episode 3.5)

    Author Interviews about Inspiration (Episode 3.5)

    A “talking tales” episode in which guest authors Cary Fagan, Wendy McLeod MacKnight, Raquel Rivera, Ishta Mercurio, and Robin Stevenson answer the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” 40 minutes. All ages. A full transcript of this episode is available at CabinTales.ca. [0:00] IntroductionWelcome to Cabin Tales: Spooky Stories for Young Writers. This is Episode 3.5: “Author Interviews about Inspiration.” I’m Catherine Austen. And my guests today are Cary Fagan, Wendy McLeod MacKnight, Raquel Rivera, Ishta Mercurio, and Robin Stevenson. They’ve written over 70 books—picture books, short story collections, non-fiction, and novels for children, teens, and adults – and their advice on where to find ideas for stories, where to keep them once you find them, and how to create fiction from your real-life fears, is coming up right now on Cabin Tales. [1:15] Interviews about finding inspiration for stories[2:10] Cary Fagan on finding inspiration from his own childhood[5:30] Robin Stevenson on finding inspiration in life and news[7:50]: Raquel Rivera on finding inspiration inside and out[10:10] Ishta Mercurio on walking into inspiration[13:25] Wendy McLeod MacKnight about being nosy[16:15] Quote from Jack Gantos on eavesdropping [17:00] Interviews about finding inspiration in real-life fears[17:10] Robin Stevenson on her apocalyptic fears[18:05] Raquel Rivera on writing from fear[19:45] Wendy McLeod MacKnight on giving characters her phobias[20:35] Cary Fagan on using fear directly and indirectly[22:05] Ishta Mercurio on needing distance from fear [23:20] Tapping into fear and other emotions to inspire stories[24:20] Quotes from S.E. Hinton and from Peter Sears’ student handbook [25:40] Interviews about journals[25:55] Wendy McLeod MacKnight’s embarrassing journals[27:35] Robin Stevenson on the need to write ideas down[28:55] Raquel Rivera on writing, drawing, and designing ideas[30:25] Ishta Mercurio’s many kinds of journal[32:55] Cary Fagan’s journal is called a notebook. [35:45] Things to do in journals[36:30] Find inspiration by reading[39:05] Start with a promptDownload an Object Study exercise template at CabinTales.ca. [40:10] Thanks and coming up on the podcastNext week it’s Plotting in Episode 4: “Bad Things Happen.” Thanks for listening Music on the podcast is from “Stories of the Old Mansion” by Akashic Records, provided by Jamendo (Standard license for online use). Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at www.catherineausten.com. Guest authors:  Photo by Mark Reynes RobertsCary Fagan has written many books for children, including The Hollow Under the Tree, Mort Ziff is Not Dead, and Wolfie and Fly. His many awards include the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the IODE Jean Throop Award, the Betty Stuchner--Oy Vey!--Funniest Children's Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for his body of work. Cary lives in Toronto. Find him online at https://www.caryfagan.com. Wendy McLeod MacKnight grew up in a small town with a library card as her most prized possession. She worked for the Government of New Brunswick for twenty-five years until the siren call of writing became impossible to ignore. She is the author of three middle grade novels: It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! (Sky Pony Press), The Frame-Up and The Copycat (both from Greenwillow Books). In her spare time, she gardens, hangs with her family and friends, and feeds raccoons. Visit Wendy online at wendymcleodmacknight.com or on Twitter @wendymacknight or Instagram @wendymcleodmacknight. Ishta Mercurio was born and raised in an interracial family in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she developed a love of reading and books and big ideas. After leaving for college at the exactly right age of 16, she went on to explore the w

    • 42 min

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