Welcome to Beth W. Patterson and Thérèse Naquin. Hope everyone enjoys the questions and check out this new release.
Who are you?
My name is Thérèse Naquin, but they call me Pichou. (That means “wildcat” in Creole.)
Where are you from? (Tell us about it).
I am from St. Landry Parish in Louisiana, not too far from a little town called Grand Prairie. It’s not a big city, but there’s lots of stuff to do. Hunting, fishing, playing Cajun music, going to dances and to the bingo games are what the grownups like to do. Some of the old people still speak French. I like it because ther are other children to play with, but if you want to be by yourself, it’s safe. And there are plenty of snakes, turtles, frogs, and lizards.
Tell us about dragons in your world.
There was only one that I ever heard of, and everyone thought he was just a scary story. He didn’t come after no people, he just gave them nightmares and they fell down dead, or they get real sick. He didn’t look like the dragons I read about. He was more like an alligator, but the size of a dinosaur.
What is the political system of your world?
I never bothered with politics none. I’m only eleven, me. My friend and neighbour Mister Broussard said they was all crooked, them politicians. He said you gotta vote for the lesser of two evils. I would vote for whoever said it was okay to keep snakes. Our president right now is George Bush. My aunt and uncle like him okay.
Do you have a family?
I live with my aunt and uncle, Nonc Ulysse and Tante Rosalie. My mama died in childbirth, and I never knew my daddy. I don’t think my aunt and uncle like me too much. But old Mister Broussard was like my real family.
Please share some lore/myths from your world.
Everyone knows that there are the feux-follets, the spirits of unbaptized babies. Now people say that it’s just swamp gas, but I know better…my little brother is one. There’s Madame Gran’ Dents, “Mrs. Big Teeth,” who will come into children’s rooms if they don’t behave, and there’s the loup-garou, or werewolf. But the one that worried me was Couchemal, “Sleep Badly.” Legend says he used to steal the breath of newborn babies. But he turned out to be worse, he was that dragon called Couchemare, or “Nightmare.” He could have destroyed our whole town with his bad thoughts.
What is the best way to kill a dragon?
I don’t know, because I don’t like killing reptiles. I just did what I had to do, which was to cut off its tail. That didn’t work, but I put some powder into the wound. It was made by Mister Broussard, who was a traîteur, a folk healer. I wish I knew what was in it, but I’ll never know, because the dragon killed him.
Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero?
I don’t think I’m a hero. A hero is someone who can fly through the air and pick up cars and stuff. Me, I’m just glad I got away with driving a truck without a license. I didn’t want to get in trouble.
What is the technology level of your world?
We got cars and TV and electricity and stuff. I hear that some people in the big cities have phones in their cars, but I think that would be dangerous.
Are there other such monsters in your world?
If there are, I hope they’re nicer than the last one. I want to discover a new reptile someday, as long as he doesn’t kill my best friend.
Who are you?
Beth W. Patterson. I am a full-time musician who wants to be a full-time writer, but it looks like I’ll need my music to fall back on for a while! I didn’t have serious ambitions for writing until I was nearly forty. I think I’m relishing the process now that I’m older, enjoying the way my skills are slowly beginning to unfold, unlike the instant gratification of accomplishment I craved in my twenties. Plus, I enjoy the fact that I can be creative in solitude. My gigs have taken me to some far-off places, so using my travels and experiences as a foundation helps me to preserve the memories.
Why did you choose this world/era to write in?
There is already so much strangeness in the real world that I feel the need to play up on it. Janet Morris refers to my style as “magical realism,” which just about sums it up. I’ve tried to write in other historical time periods, but as a neophyte writer, I think my strong point is writing what I already know. And my native Louisiana is rich in lore. Most people see the bald cypress trees growing out of the swamps and the Spanish moss hanging from the branches and find it spooky. But to me, it’s home! I have to really pretend to be an outsider if I’m going to add a chilling touch.
What drew you to this story?
I’ve always loved dragons, and was up to the challenge of taking the concept out of my comfort zone and trying to really vilify them this time. Once I heard that one of the criteria was that they had to be eaten, I knew I had to make mine about my native Cajun Louisiana – they say that Cajuns will eat anything that doesn’t eat them first. The joke I always heard was that in the Zoo of Acadiana, the facts by the cages include scientific name, habitat, and a recipe.
How much research did you need for your story?
I didn’t need much research, but I sure needed my memory jogged! I drove out to the places I used to visit in my youth: Eunice, Ville Platte, Mamou, and Second Lake, which was a lot harder to find than I’d remembered! I’d grown up hearing all the Cajun folktales and singing the songs, but when I was in high school, my boyfriend and I would cut class and drive out to the country to visit some of the old musicians. We had hand-held cassette recorders back then and we would tape them telling jokes and stories, playing music, and speaking Cajun French, which is very different from the French you hear in France. It’s closer to what’s spoken in the Maritime Provinces, but it still has its own identity. Mister Broussard is modelled after an old fiddle maker named Adner Ortego – we were extremely close to him. We each made a fiddle under his tuition. There’s also a trace of my “third grandmother,” in his character, my childhood babysitter Éditha Broussard.
Have you written for anthologies before? How does it differ from writing a novel?
I’ve had about ten stories published in anthologies so far. It’s a great way to build up my chops as a writer – and a great way to procrastinate from my own novel!
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A little bit of both, I suppose. The premises of a story will often sneak up and grab me when I’m not trying. I’m a pantser in that little snatches of ideas will come – usually when I’m trying to get some sleep – and I text them to myself. Then I have to figure out how to string them along and have them make sense in relation to each other. Sometimes I write a beginning and an end, and then try to figure out how I’m going to fill this literary sandwich.
How does writing for an anthology differ to planning/writing a novel?
I’m still working on my novel! Obviously, the process is longer for a novel, which is daunting. But I have to make a huge impression in fewer words in a short story, so I have to choose them carefully. With an anthology, I am given a deadline, which means I have to let it go after a certain point. I suppose I eventually need to do the same with my novel…it’s very close to completion!
Pichou’s Dragon Étoufée
1 lb. dragon meat (alligator will suffice if you can’t find any), chopped and marinated in white wine for no more that 4 hours
2 sticks butter
½ cup green onions, chopped
¼ cup parsley, minced
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (use Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning if you can find it)
(Optional) Generous pinch of tarragon, if you don’t expect your guests to have allergies
Add salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to the marinating meat.
Sauté onions, garlic, parsley, and celery in butter until soft in a large iron pot or gumbo pot. Stir the mixture 21 times counterclockwise, saying these words:
Loup garou and feu follet! Help me keep Couchemare away!
Add tomatoes, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add dragon meat and stir 21 times clockwise, saying these words:
Free from envy, free from pride! Help me light a fire inside!
Cook over low heat until tender (roughly an hour). Add a little hot water if the gravy is too thick. Serve over rice, and don’t forget to thank the powers-that-be for protection. You may experience good fortune or an increased aptitude in a skill.
Author website/blog: http://www.bethpattersonmusic.com
Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/author/bethwpatterson