A thing about feminism.

I asked my youngest brother, Ninja-Bob, to write something about his feminism. He is a straight white dude and the father of a young daughter. He’s a martial artist and a science communicator who works with children. He’s also the sort of guy who will go to the pub wearing the tiara his daughter bought him for Father’s Day because he really doesn’t care what people think of him.

So, My sister asked me to write a thing about why I’m a feminist. Which I was really chuffed by as I don’t call myself a feminist.

I want equality, especially for my child, and if that makes me a feminist, that’s great.

I’m not afraid of anything, by and large, I walk down the street and I don’t give a fuck. If someone speaks to me I’ll listen, but if they piss me off, I will tell them exactly what I think in the sure and certain knowledge that they won’t attack me or harass me or follow me.

I know, from experience, that if I stop to confront someone being objectionable, then they will continue berating me, but they will do it as they back away very-fucking-quickly. I know they won’t follow me home, I know that I’m too scary to fuck with. I’m enough of an unknown quantity that even – to use a Central-Beltism – a “hard-cunt” won’t fuck with me and I’m respectful enough to avoid the animosity of actually dangerous people.

I want that level of confidence for all. Yes, men get attacked and women that get attacked don’t get attacked by all men. But far more women live in fear whenever they have any kind of dealing with men.

I want my daughter to grow up to be whatever kind of person that she wants. I know that for that to happen, she will have to know that she is loved and be confident enough to take chances.

Nowhere in her future do I wan’t to see her putting headphones on without music in order to avoid harassment.

So yes, I am willing to sacrifice some of my freedoms so that she can have an equal chance with her peers of becoming the best Space Volcanologist that there ever will be. However, those are freedoms that I don’t fucking want anyway.

I can live without the freedom to be paid more than someone doing the same job. The freedom to get away with brutal, heinous crimes with a slap on my wrist because my future is considered more important than my victim. I don’t need the freedom to make demeaning comments to those that I work with based on their gender. Oh you, you don’t like what I said? Well give us a smile, sugar tits, it was only a joke.

I witness, on a regular basis, parents engage in casual sexism that they probably don’t even recognise as such. Telling their boys that “You don’t want to wear that, that’s for girls”, or asking at my work as a science communicator for “more girly” science experiments.

I know that I’ve got far to go, that I’m not yet free of patriarchal indoctrination, but at least I know it’s there. I’m sure that, as a martial artist, I’ll probably never feel as exposed as most women. I don’t get it, but at least I know that I don’t get it.

And there you have it. Proof that I am not the only foul-mouthed, opinionated feminist in my family.


Storybuilder’s Toolbox: Leah Chiasson’s Marked For The Hunt

Welcome to our very first guest post. Let me introduce you to Leah Chiasson.

Leah has been dreaming stories for as long as she can remember. It started with a cute parable written in the back of a school note book and now she’s the author of MARKED FOR THE HUNT, available on Amazon.com as well as a ghostwriter on Upwork.com.

More importantly, she is small town born and raised. She grew up on the bank of the St. Lawrence River, the place where you can find castles with tragic love stories and pirate treasure coves. Where else would a fantasy author want to live? Since then, married life has taken her across more than 17 states, but now she’s mostly settled upon the shores of snowy Lake Ontario where she’s sure there are more fantastic stories to be dug up.

Diana Warren left her Clan behind when one of their own betrayed her and killed her father. She vowed to live her life as a Faoladh, a wolf, apart from those who betrayed her, even if it means a dangerous, solitary life. But, there are those who have other ideas about her life.

When her grandfather, the Clan’s most recent Alpha, passes away, Diana reluctantly agrees to pay her respects in person. Upon arriving in her childhood home of Wolf’s Head she finds herself in the middle of a civil war.

On one side is the man who killed her father and on the other side is his son, a man she cannot trust anymore. Counting down the days until she can leave, the body of an old friend spurs not only Diana into action.

Their Goddess has returned and he has chosen to mark Diana with her favor. All Diana has to do is put her faith in a man who broke her heart years ago and try not to die in the process.

CD: I’m interested in how you went about creating the werewolves. There’s so many different werewolves and other shape-changers in fiction and folklore and they all have different rules. How did you choose which features to use in yours? How did you build your werewolves?

LC: In my book, I wanted a magical creature that most certainly wasn’t a vampire. Of course, this led me right to werewolves. Looking back now I realize that I am really attracted to shape shifter stories, especially werewolves. It was no wonder why I went with that route. Knowing that there are a plethora of werewolf books out there, I wanted to make them at least a little different. I didn’t know in the beginning exactly where I would end up going with them, but I’m happy with the result.

Instead of the half man/half wolf trope, I wanted a creature that was more natural and wild. I went with the transformation from human to wolf, doing away with the painful shifting process that many other books have used. Instead, I imagine that nerves would be out of commission during a process in which the body entirely changes. The body would be a mess of the tingling sensation you get when your foot falls asleep with the added feeling of joints popping. Loving magic as much as I do, I figured that the more magic in a shifter’s body, the faster the change could take place.

It wasn’t until much later in the drafting process that I came across the myth of the Faoladh (FOW-LUH, because I understand that’s one weird word). In Irish mythology, a Faoladh was a type of werewolf similar to the berserker of Nordic mythology, except for one key change. The Faoladh was seen as a protector. The Irish werewolf wasn’t a senseless killer or something to be afraid of. It protected children and the weak. I liked that idea for my werewolves, especially while I play with a theme that questions what makes a monster. It helped me steer away from calling their group a Pack. Instead, I use the term Clan to denote a sense of family among the wolves.

CD: Once you found the Faoladh did you stop there and just decide to go with your own interpretation of the myth or did you do more research?

LC: There was little out there to easily find on the Faoladh myth. Instead of devoting too much time to the research, I figured that it’s myth and therefore malleable. I took the premise that I loved and molded it into what I wanted it to be for my story, subsequently adding more features to the myth. There are many things that Diana will come across in the book that I’ve added myself! The idea that there are few female Faoladh is one of them.

And there you have it. Just one way to build a werewolf. I know a couple of other writers with their own take on werewolves. Perhaps I’ll be able to persuade them to tell us how they built them. For the next few posts I expect I shall be back to complaining about stuff but keep an eye out for future opportunities to rummage in the toolbox.

Coming Soon: Storybuilder’s toolbox

I’m trying out a new thing. Guest posts on the subject of building stories and story worlds and the tools needed to do that.

Any story needs a world to happen in and that world has to be built. Even if the world of the story looks just like the real world it still has to be conjured on a page. It has to be mapped out in some way. It has to be edited. When the story world is the past or the future or a place that doesn’t look like the real world there’s a lot more work to be done.

Every story is built on millions of decisions made by storytellers. Most of those decisions are invisible to the people reading or watching or listening to the finished thing. But they don’t just happen. Dracula is a vampire because Bram Stoker decided he should be. Had he been some other kind of monster it would have been a different novel. In a Batman film the director can make the Joker a thief in make-up and a colourful suit, or he can be a permanently disfigured anarchist, or a tattooed psychopath. Those choices result in radically different films.

Anyway. Enough waffling from me. Later this week I’ll post the first Storybuilder’s Toolbox. I’ll be talking to Leah Chiasson about her novel Marked For The Hunt and how she built her werewolves.