Badger’s Waddle (BW) isn’t a novel as such, more a collection of stories about some of the characters that live and die in the quaint and entirely mythical but quintessentially English village – or Hampton, to use the term suggested by my good friend Ian Watson! – of the same name. There is a linear progression of sorts in that each chapter introduces (by and large) at least one new character who then becomes the focus for a subsequent chapter. However, the story surrounding each character is not necessarily integral to the whole of the book, and this has upset some of the readers. Convention dictates that a book needs a theme, and that the activities of protagonists are intrinsic to that theme but, for good or ill, that’s not the case here. Certainly, the opening chapter ties in to the small collection of chapters at the end of the book, but in between there are stories that seem totally inconsequential to the gist of the work itself.
But, you see, that’s exactly what life in a real English village is like. Although the inhabitants are bound together by virtue of the fact that they live in the same place, although they may interact for village-centric events such as fetes, or serve on committees together, or support their local church, their individual lives don’t overlap all the time. Each has her or his own existence within the encompassing village environment. Behind the door of every cottage is a story that no neighbour in any other cottage will know about, even in the most intimate of Hamptons. This is why I decided to not observe the tradition of story structure in this case.
Another oddity of BW is that it crosses genre boundaries. Again, convention says that a book should be classifiable as science fiction, or fantasy, or horror or whatever; but BW doesn’t conform to that either. It’s a work of fiction so in the sense that all fiction is fantasy I suppose ‘fantasy’ is the most apposite term, but the tale does wander, crossing classification borders in the same way that Old Father Thames meanders across whatever counties happen to be around on his journey to the sea.
Then we come to the content and the debate that starts with chapter 3. This is where the word ‘unpleasant’ starts to get used by readers, and chapter 4 about which the term ‘queasy’ has been used. I’ll admit that these chapters (and one or two others) don’t make for easy reading by someone with easily offended sensibilities but they came from the same ether from where I plucked all the other mini-tales. I didn’t set out to shock or offend or upset, but sometimes writing does that and the author isn’t – honestly – aware that there could be a negative side to what is written. Stories write themselves, in my case. I don’t plan ahead to chart a course; I just sit at the keyboard (I can’t even read my own hand-writing!) and watch the words appear by themselves on the screen before me. It’s a kind of magic (the late, great Freddy) over which I have little control. Sometimes it works smoothly; other times it can be a bit controversial.
Let me finish with a quote from one of many provided by readers (all viewable at Amazon or Good Reads or wherever). This is from fibrochimp:
“Badger’s Waddle rocks, and rolls and sometimes makes you feel a bit queasy… but don’t let that put you off there are a lot of LOL moments!”
Badgers Waddle is published by Greyhart Press