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Cabin Tales is a podcast of original stories for young people, followed by creative writing commentary, author interviews, and story prompts to help listeners tell their own tales. Hosted by Catherine Austen, with 45-minute episodes posted on Fridays.

Season One launched August 7, 2020 and will continue through December 2020; a second season of author interviews will continue through the 2020-21 school year.

Listen to the Cabin Tales trailer:

You can listen to original or “fright-free” versions of each episode right here, or subscribe to Cabin Tales from your favourite streaming platform.

The Format

Each episode of Cabin Tales focuses on one aspect of creative writing (e.g., setting, character, dialogue). Episodes alternate between two formats: “Telling Tales” (Episodes 1,2,3, etc.) and “Talking Tales” (Episodes 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, etc.).

“Telling Tales” episodes open with an original story, followed by excerpts from classics that exemplify the week’s theme, and a final story prompt that listeners are invited to finish. In between readings, you’ll hear writing tips, commentary, and advice from some of Canada’s finest authors for children and teens.

“Talking Tales” episodes feature additional interviews with more guest authors on the previous week’s theme. So you get two weeks of advice and entertainment devoted to each creative writing subject.

We’ll alternate between these two formats, “Telling Tales” and “Talking Tales,” all fall.

The Audience

There are plenty of podcasts out there featuring scary stories for mature audiences. This is not one of them

All stories featured on Cabin Tales are the sort that young people might tell around a campfire to spook their friends. Some are serious; some are silly; some are a little scary. Consider them PG

There is no explicit or mature content on the podcast, but the stories and prompts are not for little kids. People die. Critters turn monstrous. Creepy things abound.

If you’d like to share the podcast with very young listeners, please download the “fright-free” versions of each “Telling Tales” episode. These include all the same excerpts and interview snippets, but only the first few paragraphs of the week’s opening story — just enough to understand the commentary — and a final writing prompt that isn’t scary.

The “Talking Tales” episodes — and all the author interviews and creative writing commentary — are appropriate for all ages.

The Interviews

All episodes of Cabin Tales feature excerpts from interviews with great Canadian authors for young people. Guest authors this fall include Tim Wynne-Jones, Caroline Pignat, Lori Weber, Karen Krossing, Cary Fagan, Jan Coates, Kate Inglis, Marty Chan, Kari-Lynn Winters, Sarah Raughley, Monique Polak, Frieda Wishinsky, Karen Bass, and many more. Together they’ve published hundreds of books for children and teens, and they have great advice for young writers.

Consult the Episode Shownotes on the Cabin Tales Blog for guest author bios and links to more information on the authors and their books.

Complete interviews with all featured authors will be podcasted in Winter 2021.

As to the excerpts from classic and contemporary fiction used in the podcast, we follow guidelines of Fair Dealing with this copyrighted material. Episode shownotes link to the sources.

The Origin

Catherine Austen developed the Cabin Tales Podcast during COVID-19 to replace author visits and writing workshops in 2020.

The podcast is like getting an author visit from Catherine every week, only it’s free and she brings talented friends.

Catherine doesn’t typically write spooky stories, but she recently wrote Cabin Tales, a novel in which four young teens tell scary stories around a campfire (while their mothers disappear one by one). Season One of the podcast includes stories adapted from that novel, as told by their fictional authors. So the stories are made up by Catherine’s characters and the prompts are made up by Catherine herself. (There’s a difference.)

The Outcome

Telling stories is like writing graffiti on the walls of time. Dare to say, “I was here.” Write your own tale. 

The Cabin Tales Podcast encourages listeners to write their own stories. Every episode includes writing advice, suggested exercises, and story starters. Check out the Write page for weekly prompts. Some episode shownotes connect to writing exercises and mini-lessons for listeners who want to learn more.

Most authors interviewed on the podcast do virtual school and library visits, so get in touch with them if you want to learn even more.

The Host

Catherine Austen writes short stories for adults, novels for children, and reports for corporate clients. She has given writing workshops at festivals, schools, and libraries across Canada. She lives in Gatineau, Quebec. Learn more at www.catherineausten.com.

The Music

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

The Artwork

The black-and-white images throughout the site are from illustrated books in the public domain. You’ll find art credits on every page. Many of the illos — like the one in the header and on this page — are by Arthur Rackham. They recently made a tarot deck with Rackham’s art. It’s that cool.

Cabin Tales Podcast logo

The Cabin Tales Podcast logo was designed by Catherine Austen, cribbing from clip art, with a couple of Sharpies.

Thanks for listening. 

Art Credit: The image at the top of this page is a cropped unsaturated version of an Arthur Rackham illo from the 1919 edition of Washington Irving’s Rip van Winkle.

Write your own tale.

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