Badger’s Waddle is intended to be a novella around the 40 to 50,000 word mark. It’s a collection of chapters where each chapter is a story in its own right but is linked associatively to the chapters next to it. The backdrop for the book is Badger’s Waddle, a village nestling somewhere in the heart of an England that probably never really existed (though most of wish it had). Chapter 2 (Growl) offers an introductory description:
“…a rural idyll featuring a few dozen dwellings, Truckle’s General Store & Post Office, St. Silas’s Church of the Lately Dead Saints, Cupid’s Bank, Molly McCoddle’s School for Minors, and The Waddling Badger, the village’s public house…”
The first chapter is the story of Lettuce, resident of Little Twee cottage. Lettuce started out as an exercise in whimsy, a short story of the absurd. I wanted to try my hand at deliberately writing something that was comic, something that couldn’t be taken too seriously but would still leave the reader feeling their leisure time had been well spent. As always it was a learning exercise. I wanted to combine elements of understated comedy with explosive action and leave the reader asking questions: what kind of a place is Lettuce’s garden such that there are different geographies on either side of it’s borders? Why can’t you reach the end of the garden? Why is a woman of advancing years wearing a pink dressing gown and fighting a giant rabbit? Just who are the Modults and Curserippers anyway?
I should say at this point that those names were the result of a short email conversation with the wonderful Ian Watson (screen credits for A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, The Beloved of My Beloved to name but a very few). I was struggling with my Latin (a subject I never had a chance to study while at school as it wasn’t on the curriculum) and he brilliantly suggested that I shouldn’t be overly concerned with grammar or literal translations but instead think about derivation. His examples were Modults and Curserippers, and they fitted perfectly – so I nabbed ’em!
When I presented Lettuce to the writer’s workshop I attend each month in Northampton the tale was well received. Much encouraged I decided I wouldn’t rest on my proverbials and immediately began to write a second, related story: Growl. Once that was complete I wrote a third, then a fourth and so on.
Badger’s Waddle currently stands at six completed chapters plus the beginnings of two more, around 20,000 words all told. If you’d like to read a little of it for yourself I’ve published the whole of the first chapter, Lettuce, here. Have a look and tell me what you think.