Things hide in the Dark (Episode 1)

A "sea monster"

A 40-minute episode for young writers interested in developing a strong setting. With an original spooky story, “The Sacrifice”; setting examples from BeowulfThe Scorpio Races, and The Incredible Journey; interviews with Tim Wynne-JonesLori Weber, and Caroline Pignat; and a story prompt set in a creepy basement.

PG-13. A “fright-free” version for younger listeners is available below. 

Listen to the Original (Spooky) episode below, or through your favourite streaming platform.:

Things Hide in the Dark (Cabin Tales Episode One: Original Spooky version)

Read or download the full Original (Spooky) episode transcript here:

Listen to the Fright-free episode:

Fright-free version of “Things Hide in the Dark” (Cabin Tales Episode One)

Read or download the full Fright-Free episode transcript here:

Shownotes (for the Spooky Version):

[0:00] Intro: Welcome to Cabin Tales: Spooky Stories for Young Writers. This is Episode One: Things Hide in the Darkness. I’m Catherine Austen. And my guests today are Tim Wynne-Jones, Lori Weber, and Caroline Pignat.

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

[2:00] Trigger warning: Today’s tale is about a young teen left alone on a lake. If you have a special sensitivity to drownings, monsters, or creepy men, skip ahead 7 minutes when you hear the musical bar at the beginning of the story. If you want to share the podcast with very young listeners, please download the “fright-free” versions of episodes.

[3:20] Spooky Story: “The Sacrifice”

[12:50] Commentary on today’s story and how to show a setting that is hidden. (Commentary begins at about minute 5:00 on the Fright-free version.)

[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.”

(Read this story prompt and the fright-free prompt, “The House with Two Doors, on the Cabin Tales Write page.)

[38:15] Thanks, etc. You’ll hear more from today’s guest authors this fall.

Submit a story for October. See the Cabin Tales Submit page for details.

Next week’s episode will feature interviews with Karen KrossingJan CoatesRachel EugsterAmanda West Lewis; and Monique Polak.

Week 3, August 21st, I’ll be back with stories and excerpts and prompts in Episode Three, “Nasty People meet Nasty Ends,” an episode all about character.

In the meantime, stay safe and sane and keep your social distance because, as a Hollywood monster-killer once said, “If we break quarantine, we could all die.”

(Do you know what monster movie that line is from?)

Thanks for listening.

Guest Authors:

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

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. A native Montrealer, she lived for several years in Atlantic Canada where she taught English in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Upon returning to Montreal, she began teaching English at Vanier College in 1994 before moving to John Abbott College in 1996, a position she recently retired from. She has represented Quebec twice for TD Canadian Book Week and has been offering classroom workshops around Quebec as a member of the Culture in the Schools program since 2005. She currently 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)

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:

Music: Music on the podcast is from “Stories of the Old Mansion” by Akashic Records, provided by Jamendo (Standard license for online use). 

Art Credit: The image above 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.

Published by Catherine Austen

I am an award-winning Canadian author of books for all ages, including Walking Backward (Orca), My Cat Isis (Kids Can Press), 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 and 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 (Lorimer) and All Good Children (Orca). I live with my family in Gatineau, Quebec.

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