Cabin Tales Episodes 1 and 1.5: Setting

Things hide in the Dark (Episode 1)

A 40-minute episode with an original story, “The Sacrifice”; excerpts from BeowulfThe Scorpio Races, and The Incredible Journey; interviews with Tim Wynne-JonesLori Weber, and Caroline Pignat; and a writing prompt set in a creepy basement

Read or download the full episode transcript here: Cabin Tales Episode 001 Transcript Download

Episode One Shownotes:

[0:00] Intro

[1:10] Introduction to today’s story, “The Sacrifice”

[3:20] Spooky Story: “The Sacrifice”

[12:50] Commentary on the story and how to show a setting that is hidden.

[15:20] Excerpt from E. Talbot Donaldson’s translation of Beowulf, the monster’s lair (and how to copy the technique)

[17:05] Excerpt from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races (and how to copy the technique)

[18:45] Excerpt from Sheila Burnford’s The Incredible Journey (and how to open with a setting)

Try this “Start-your-Setting” mini-lesson and template from Catherine Austen. 


[22:10] Tim Wynne-Jones on the setting of The Emperor of Any Place.

[23:50] Lori Weber on Newfoundland and Montreal.

[25:20] Caroline Pignat on writing Ireland.

Advice for young writers

[26:20] Caroline Pignat on setting exercises for young writers.

[28:15] Lori Weber on the importance of setting for young writers.

[30:25] Tim Wynne-Jones on immersing yourself in a setting .

Scary settings

[31:40] Tim Wynne-Jones fears the woods at night.

[32:50] Lori Weber fears insects and animals.

[33:55] Caroline Pignat fears camping and heights.

[35:00] Catherine tells a creepy story, “The Drummer in the Basement.”

[38:15] Thanks, etc. .

Author Interviews about Setting (Episode 1.5)

Interviews with authors Karen Krossing, Jan Coates, Rachel Eugster, Amanda West Lewis, and Monique Polak about their favourite fictional settings, feared real-life settings, and exercises they recommend to young writers who want to develop effective fictional settings.

Read the full transcipt: author-interviews-about-setting-transcript Download

Episode 1.5 Show Notes

[1:10] Welcome

[1:15] Interviews

[2:00] Karen Krossing talks about her favourite fictional setting and exercises she does when building a setting.

[4:10] Jan Coates talks about researching the real settings in her own books.

[6:10] Rachel Eugster talks about her favourite fictional setting and researching the historical setting of her play.

[9:20] Amanda West Lewis talks about her favourite setting and researching the settings of historical fiction.

[13:25] Monique Polak talks about her favourite settings and how little setting planning she does before drafting.

[16:35] Catherine’s approach to setting

[18:20] Scary settings:

[18:55] Karen Krossing’s fear of closets.

[19:50] Jan Coates’ fear of water.

[21:30] Rachel Eugster’s fear of heights.

[23:10] Amanda West Lewis’s fear of elevators.

[24:20] Monique Polak’s claustrophobia.

[26:00] Setting exercises for young writers

[26:45] Monique Polak’s setting advice

[28:05] Amanda West Lewis’s setting collages

[30:35] Rachel Eugster’s setting immersion

[31:05] Karen Krossing’s sensory details

[31:55] Basement prompt (All guests from episode 1 and 1.5 respond to the prompt word: Basement)

Story prompt: Take a setting that most people think of as scary, and make it the most wonderful place.

[36:30] Thanks etc.


Music: 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

Art: The tentacle image is a cropped version of a wood engraving by Alphonse de Neuville from the 1871 edition of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.The conversation image is a cropped version of a wood engraving by Paul Gavarni from Oeuvres choisies de Gavarni, volume 4, 1848.

Guest Authors:

Jan Coates

Jan Coates grew up in Truro, Nova Scotia where her parents owned a bookshop and a music store. A teacher by trade, she’s been writing for young readers for close to 20 years, and she has published six picture books, six middle grade novels, and 18 levelled chapter books for emergent readers. Her first novel, A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk, was a finalist for the 2011 Governor General’s Literary Awards. She has two adult children and one of her goals is to life within an hour’s drive of her kids. She lives with her husband Don, and her dog Charlie, in Wolfville, NS. She loves bike riding, learning to illustrate, second-hand shopping, being outside and travelling. Read her blog: or find her on Twitter @JanCoates13.

Rachel Eugster

Rachel Eugster keeps her fingers in a whole rack of pies. She is the author of the picture book The Pocket Mommy (Tunda/Penguin Random House)*, and the Ingredients of a Balanced Diet series (Franklin Watts). Rachel is a theatre artist, singer, choral conductor, and co-founder and core artist of Bear & Co., an indie theatre company. In 2015, Rachel premiered in her original play Whose Æmilia? at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. Rachel is also an active member of Democrats Abroad, for whom she co-hosts The Blue Vote Café podcast with David Schellenberg. Visit here at

Karen Krossing

Karen Krossing wrote poetry and rants as a teen and dreamed of becoming a published writer. Now, she’s the author of seven award-winning novels for kids and teens, including Punch Like a GirlBog, and Cut the Lights, with two picture books on the way.

Karen encourages new writers through workshops for kids, teens, and adults. She lives in Toronto, and you can find her on Instagram and Twitter or at

Caroline Pignat is the two-time Governor Generalʼs Literary Award-winning author of novels, non-fiction, and poetry. At age 16, she wrote a short story that years later became Greener Grass, winner the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Award. The Gospel Truth, a novel in free verse poetry, won her a second Governor General’s Award in 2015. With over 20 years’ experience teaching in schools, workshops, and at conferences, Caroline loves helping young writers find and share their unique voices. Website:; Twitter: @CarolinePignat

Monique Polak is the Montreal-based author of 29 books for young people. She is a two-time winner of the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children’s and YA Literature. She has been teaching English and Humanities at Marianopolis College in Montreal for over 30 years. She is also a columnist for ICI-Radio Canada’s Plus on est de fous, plus on lit! As you can imagine, Monique operates at high speed to get all these things done. But she brakes whenever she hears (or smells) a good story. To learn more about Monique, visit her website at

Lori Weber is the author of eight young adult novels, including Yellow Mini, a novel in verse, and Deep Girls, a short-story collection; one historical middle grade novel, Lightning Lou; and one picture book, My Granny Loves Hockey. She has also published short fiction, poetry and non-fiction in several Canadian literary journals. She taught English in CEGEP for years and is recently retired. She lives in Dorval, Quebec, where she hopes to do more writing, taking inspiration from her cat, Bogey, and the beautiful Lac Saint Louis which is at her doorstep, and which she loves to photograph daily. Website:; #lacsaintlouis (Instagram)

Amanda Lewis

Amanda West Lewis has built a life filled with words on the page and on the stage, combining careers as a writer, theatre director and calligrapher. Her writing for children and youth ranges from historical YA fiction to craft books on the art of writing. Amanda holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, with a specialist certificate in writing picture books. She is also the Artistic Director and Founder of The Ottawa Children’s Theatre. She has dedicated her career to arts education for all ages. Website:;   Twitter: @AmandaWestLewis; Facebook:

Tim Wynne-Jones has written 35 books for adults and children of all sorts of ages. He has won the Governor General’s Award twice and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award twice, most recently for the thriller, Blink & Caution. He has twice won the Arthur Ellis Award of the Crime Writers of Canada, as well as the Edgar Award of the Mystery Writers of America. His books have been translated into a dozen languages. Tim was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012. His latest novel, The Starlight Claim, came out in 2019. Website:; Blog:; Twitter: @tim_wj; Facebook:

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