I love fairy tales. And I really like well-done new takes on old tales. So I was delighted when Kelseigh N. shared a very different version of “Red Riding Hood” with Cuil Press for our Fantasy Twists anthology.
When Desy starting putting together a Fantasy Twists blog tour, I immediately knew what I wanted to do. I offered to host a stop on the tour and said I’d do a character interview. Kelseigh was good enough to let me “sit down” with Grandmother and learn a bit HER perspective on things. Some of our discussion doesn’t sound much like Red Riding Hood, but that’s because there is a lot more to the story than you ever heard.
I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
Hi Grandmother, thanks for joining me today.
Why hello, Jess. How nice of you to take time out of your day to keep an old woman company. Or perhaps not so old as all that, eh?
So, one thing I can’t stop wondering—what’s with the red and blue cloaks? Is there a special meaning there, or are they just for convenience with the villagers?
A good question, that. Indeed there is, although the current villagers don’t know anything about it. Culture changes over time, you understand, and what once had a particular meaning shifts to mean something different. And we three, our cycle, we have been rolling along for a quite a long time.
But not to put too fine a point on it, from what I understand from the records of Grandmothers past and my own feelings that confirm it to be true, red was once considered the colour of youth, where blue was for those who had come of age. For the Girl and I, the division between those two roles isn’t so much dictated by age of course. But it fits well enough don’t you think?
When did you first notice the Girl? Was it something you gradually became aware of or just an instant realization that she was the one you were waiting for?
I would say the former, although it’s a much less clear-cut feeling than you may think. The three of us who make up the cycle, we are essentially the same people as we always are, but in many ways we are entirely new people every time. Memories don’t really carry well from our Wolf stage to the new Girl, but feelings and instinct…those are a much different matter. I had no idea when my Girl would come, only that she would and there were signs to look for. But in the end it was more a feeling that grew, until one day it dawned on me that this Girl out of all girls was the one I’d been waiting for.
Let me tell you, it was a relief!
Without giving too much away, can you tell us about the Wolf?
What can one say about their first love that doesn’t sound foolish to others? That she is a goddess? Perhaps she always was, in my eyes, even in her original form. Certainly she was as beautiful then as she is now, albeit in a different way. One hell of a kisser, too.
But I suppose you’re looking for something a little more objective. She is, at the heart of it, the embodiment and protecter of her entire realm. Both the things we humans would see as good and natural, or frightening and arcane, make her up and she does not judge either. She is the unseen danger that puts an edge on the villagers’ lives, and that too is a thing of value. She, that is the part of the cycle she occupies, has watched over the forest as long as there has been a forest to watch, or perhaps longer. I’ve thought long about it and discussed the matter with her, and neither of us are sure there ever was a beginning to what she is, although we each have our theories. Suffice to say she has effectively always been and always shall be, and so will the forest she guards.
How did you feel when you first became Grandmother?
Sad and happy, all at once. Excited. Terrified. Change is like that.
You must remember what I saw happen to the woman I’d loved for years. The two of us had more chance to be together before that day and I had a better idea what to expect, but it was still shocking. But now, so many years later what sticks with me are the happier thoughts. The sight of her, radiant in power, continuing the noble work of ages. Years of being together after that. Her wise counsel when it truly struck home that I was now responsible, alone, for the safety and welfare of the whole village, and for teaching my own Girl when I finally found her. She guided me through those early fears that I would not do as well as she.
I think it would have been a much harder transition without her there.
Okay. That’s all the questions I have. Thanks again for joining us.
Thank you as well. I’ve quite enjoyed our chat.
If you want to learn more about Kelseigh’s work, check out her Patreon.