Archive for the ‘Frankenstein’ Category

This is the final report from the local writers’ festival I attended in August. It took me a while to get through them all. The last session I attended at the festival was called Frankenstein’s Children. Acclaimed Kiwi Speculative Fiction writers, Elizabeth Knox & Lee Murray debated the influence of Frankenstein on modern literature. Knox is one of my favourite Kiwi authors. I’m a big fan of her Dreamhunter series, which I found transformative and compelling reading (reviewed long ago when I was a member of Goodreads). Knox has an ONZM, is an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate, and won the Prime Minister’s Award of Fiction in 2019. She teaches at Victoria University and lives in Wellington, New Zealand with her family.

Lee Murray is a New Zealand science fiction, fantasy, and horror writer and editor. She is a multiple winner of the Bram Stoker Award and a twelve-time winner of the Sir Julius Vogel Award. She is a well-respected rising star.

It felt like a privilege to sit in on their live-streamed interview. I love hearing how other writers think and how they approach their craft.

Both authors were asked the same question about why they had chosen the spec. fiction genre. “From childhood, the things that most excited me had dragons and ghosts. My imagination went in that direction very early.” Elizabeth Knox said, “You have a reaction to the world, and you want to push against appearances and say, what if? How much do we live in the present; how much do we live in imagination? It’s a penetrating, all-time approach to the state of the human being.”
Lee Murray had done her research. “It was a term coined in the 1960s. It was called Speculative, and it’s developed over time. Ursula le Guin said, ‘It’s about possibilities.’ It’s also about myths and legends, asking what if, and looking at the human condition. It’s new perspectives. It’s changing all the time.”
What a great way of looking at it. Why did the two authors consider their work to be “Frankenstein’s Children”?

“Mary Shelley is considered the mother of spec fiction,” Murray explained. “She wrote Frankenstein at the age of 17 in the 1800s, writing about the resurrection of life with electricity before it was invented. It’s a book about othering. The monster wanted to belong. Shelley couldn’t be published because she was a woman. Spec Fiction is a place for women’s narratives. She was able to show she is intelligent.”
I found this thought-provoking.
Murray went on. “I wanted to write about what mattered to me and things that frighten me. It allowed me to write about things safely. Spec fiction is not this world. It’s not pointing at this person or thing. It gives us a little bit of distance.”
The author neatly skewered one of the reasons this genre drew me to it. I can tell my stories without having to worry about treading on any toes because it’s all make-believe. The genre is a forgiving umbrella. I’m fascinated to hear it is popular. Since the age of seventeen, I’ve been writing spec fiction, but whereas in the 80s publishers told me, ‘No one is interested in fantasy,’ now, suddenly, it’s cool. Or, as Murray said, “It’s the place to be.”

This reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s interview. When asked at a previous festival, did he expect to be where he is today in terms of career, Neil said he never expected to be famous. When he started, he worked in niche areas where no one in those days ever got famous. ‘You didn’t get famous in comic books, fantasy, or children’s writing—I thought I’d be out here with the weird kids. Then it spread out, and now we’re all the weird kids.’ That’s it exactly. Our strange little frowned-upon fantasy corner of the world is becoming more mainstream. Hey, it’s nice to have company.

I am also drawn to writing middle fiction, and maybe there’s a reason for that. Knox said, “There’s a period when young people are entering the world, and they’re refusing it.” I liked that. There’s an inherent kind of rebellion that comes naturally with being young or young-at-heart and trying things out, questioning the status quo. “I think we need fiction more than ever.”

Murray said, “Spec. fiction has a role in social change. It has real value. It’s the new black. It’s the place where the young people are.”
I agree. But you have to write with a lightness of touch. “As soon as you start hitting readers over the head with your message, they don’t want to read it.” Knox said, “I’m an avid reader. But I’m resistant to being told I have to do anything. You can’t step outside reality. Spec fiction is the world outside the consensual reality.”
That’s what makes it so exhilarating.
“I love fairies and Arthurian legends. Even a tragic ending can bring joy because of the shapeliness,” said Knox. “I’m changing my mind about hope. I think it belongs to the things that console us like fiction.”

Do you see why Elizabeth Knox is one of my current writing heroes?
I’m proud to write Speculative Fiction or Frankenstein’s Children. It’s fun! How about you? Do you read it or write it?

Talk to you later.
Keep creating!
Yvette Carol


Good stories are dangerous. Dangerous, anarchic, seductive. They change you, often forever…they challenge our vocabularies and our history. Sometimes they challenge our comfortable morality. And sometimes…they challenge our most basic assumptions. ~ Jane Yolen


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I’ve committed the big “no-no” – multiple viewpoints in junior fiction.

I didn’t start out wanting to break the rules, it just happened. I’ve always written stories for children. I’ve always written them from the traditional single point of view. No dreaded head-hopping for the younger reader here.

Everyone’s heard the horror stories of authors who wrote books for young readers with dual points of view, being cited for their foolishness in the media. I remember reading an article in a children’s literature magazine a couple of years ago, where the critic said it was a pity the story was written from two different viewpoints, because this had “alienated potential readers.”


The general attitude towards head hopping junior fiction is roundly and rightly frowned upon.

I had no intention of deviating from this rule. Why risk dividing the small number of readers I might be fortunate enough to attract?

Then, in 2005, after attending a couple of weekend workshops with Kate de Goldi I started writing an epic-length story, the Chronicles of Aden Weaver,


A few years after this, I went to a writer’s class led by the wonderful author and columnist, Lindsey Dawson. One afternoon, I stayed behind after the session. I told Lindsey the essential elements of my story and asked her opinion on how to improve it.

Lindsey went up to the whiteboard. She drew an image which she said had “just come to her.” There were three different strands of helix spiralling up around a central column. Lindsey said that the central column was the plot and the strands circling it were the different characters’ story threads. And she encouraged me to think about the lives of the secondary characters.

Wako, pen&ink illustration0002

I went home that night, I picked up my pen and started writing. To my surprise, the stories rushed out. Almost as if the other characters had been bursting to tell their sides of the tale.

Then, I wove the new story threads in and out of the old story thread, and it came together in a unique and interesting way. Did I dare show this mutant baby to the rest of the world? I knew they would come out and beat it to death with sticks and clubs.


When I worked on the first book in the series, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ my critique partners made it clear they did not believe head-hopping worked in junior fiction. I agreed, but what could I do?

Hoping for reprieve, I asked another friend who is an author for his opinion. He said, ‘Shifting POV is generally frowned upon, since the last thing we want is a confused reader.’

Although I wished to be able to adhere to the principle of single pov, I simply felt compelled to stick to at least two ‘heads’ for Book one. I couldn’t make the complex tale work otherwise. I knew I was treading on dangerous ground. Yet, I published my book anyway. And I expect to be lambasted for it at some stage if anyone beyond the circle of my friends ever reads it.

Currently, I’m writing the follow up in the series, ‘The Sasori Empire.’


At the outset, one of my critique friends suggested that I try writing the sequel from Aden’s point of view. ‘It’s much better because you allow the reader to have the experience of reading the story through Aden’s eyes. There will be more tension and surprises this way especially for your younger target audience.’

I agreed a hundred percent. So with the rough, raw material for book two, I went through the entire manuscript and changed it to a single ‘head.’ Only problem was, I felt as if all the life had been sucked out of the material.

Donna Blaber

Deflated, I went to my friend, kiwi author, Donna Blaber, to ask her opinion. Donna is a traditionally published author with 30 books to her credit. She knows her stuff. And she’s familiar with this series, having helped me out by being a beta reader with book one. I told her what I had done with changing everything in book two over to Aden’s pov. And I sent her (on her request) two chapters illustrating the changes.

I waited anxiously for her response.

Two days later, Donna emailed. ‘My thoughts are that the second book should follow in the same vein as the first book, otherwise I think it will be confusing. Save the different style for your next story/series. I (sometimes) give little regard for the so-called ‘rules’ because I believe they are there to be broken. However, in saying that, I think consistency in a series is important.’

I cannot even tell you the relief! This is what my gut instinct was trying to tell me. And don’t you love that freeing type of thinking? I was inspired.

It’s hard to explain. Even though I personally would prefer not to be the author of this Frankenstein: this multiple pov, anthropomorphic, fantasy fiction for ‘tweens, I am. It’s what the story wants. I shall have to take my lashings as they come.

What story wants, it gets. The dreaded, hoary-breathed, two-headed gargoyle of multiple viewpoints is what this story demands. That’s all I can tell you!

Has your story ever taken you where you didn’t want to go? Ever taken a risk and gone against conventions?

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Keep on creating!

See you in the funny papers,

Yvette K. Carol


Your intuition knows what to write so get out of the way. ~ Ray Bradbury

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write, and draw, and build and play and dance and live as only you can. ~ Neil Gaiman

Ultimately, you have to be your own North Star. – James Preller