A short story of mine gets a reading on Radio 4 this Friday. Possibly this post will only make sense once you have heard it (thanks for reading! thanks for listening!). The Poison Frog is about possible courses of action open to us when we have been dealt an ugly hand – by family, perhaps, or by others. The character in my ‘curious tale’ suffers because of a parent’s dysfunction but instead of translating this suffering into anger or self-harm she converts it into something loving. Instead of turning her back, she takes what is most hurtful and poisonous and tends to it. Instinctively she knows that in doing so, it might turn into something more benign. It’s a lesson for us all in these difficult post-Brexit times no? If someone expresses sexist, racist, homophobic and/or xenophobic views there is likely to be a reason they hold such ugly views and if we can bear to listen, we might find ourselves in a position where we are able to transform such poisonous views into something more constructive.
When I am writing short stories I find my material often tends towards fable, as if storytelling ancestors are dictating shape and tone. Ancestors are wise and we can learn from our histories/herstories. Certainly some fairytale endings are easier to achieve in fiction but it’s worth remembering that from our earliest age, stories are how we learn to be and how we learn to be in the world.
The Poison Frog is on BBC Radio 4 at 3.45pm Friday 8th July