Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Behind the Scenes: Howl of the Werewolf - The Water Wyrd

I can't really give today's 'Behind the Scenes' too much of a context, otherwise it would rather give the game away for anyone who is still to read Howl of the Werewolf, so I'm just going to tell you about my inspiration for the encounter.

BUT BE WARNED, the following would still count as a SPOILER in my book.

Got that?

Still want to read more?
Well, you have been warned...
For anyone who has encountered the slippery, fish-eyed old Water Wyrd and the Daughters of the Drowned in Howl of the Werewolf, one source of inspiration may be pretty clear - Jenny Greenteeth. For those not already in the know, Jenny Greenteeth is a character from English folklore. She was essentially a river hag, and would pull children, or even the elderly into rivers and quiet pools to drown them, before consuming their flesh.

She was often described as green-skinned, with long, unkempt hair, and sharp pike-like teeth. She was known as Jinny Greenteeth in Lancashire, whereas in Cheshire and Shropshire she was called Ginny Greenteeth, Wicked Jenny, or even Peg o' Nell.

In reality, if you like, she was the folkloric personification of a very real danger for people who couldn't swim. The name Jenny Greenteeth is also sometimes used to describe pond weed or duckweed, which can form a continuous mat over the surface of a small body of water, making it misleading and potentially treacherous, especially to unwary children.

However, there was another source of inspiration behind the encounter as it appears in Howl of the Werewolf, especially in relation to the eeriely alluring Daughters of the Drowned. It was an episode of Jim Henson's The Storyteller (starring John Hurt), first broadcast in the late 80s, called Fearnot. In this story, a young man goes on an expedition to explore the source of fear, accompanied by a devious tinker. The young man overcomes various obstacles without learning what fear is, and one of these is a run-in with a Terrible Thing that lives at the bottom of a still, green pool along with the Sisters of the Deep.
Coincidentally, at about the time that I was writing Howl of the Werewolf, the character of Jenny Greenteeth appeared in the 2000AD comic strip London Falling, by Si Spurrier and Lee Garbett (as seen in the illustration below).

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