I think that I may one day rewrite Frogger Says. Fiction serves as a sort of unintentional journal for a writer. Rereading your older stories, you see differences in style, things you would do differently today. When I read some of my stories, I feel finished with them. That is, I feel as though I said what I needed to, followed the story to the end, and am ready to move on. They feel complete.
But other stories entice me to return, and that is the way I feel with Frogger Says. I feel like there’s more to be told, and that this short story was written by a somewhat different author. It was published in 2012, but written before that year. I confess that I knew little to nothing about Little culture, and the story may come off as somewhat disrespectful to that group. I don’t know whether I would incorporate some of that culture into the story or not. Maybe the relevance is superficial, in that Hannah is a different type of person, and Andy’s relationship with her exists outside of any kind of recognizable culture. The main question, for me, is, who is Hannah?
I would like to explore more of Hannah’s story, who and what she is, and her history. I fear that sounds like an “origins” story. But I’m beginning to feel the need to have that sort of thing for my characters, even if that information never enters the story, even if it’s just to help me better understand a character. In real life, if we wish to gain a deep understanding, we need to look at people and events within the context of culture, history, and that great tangled web of connections with other people and events. With Hannah, I wanted to create a glimpse into another world, one that pulled Andy into it.
I wanted to play with the idea of a slippery slope, of temptation and attraction, if not compulsion, towards what we know is a bad idea. Hannah both baffles and fascinates Andy, offering him something that isolates him from the outside world. Maybe sometimes we progress deeper in our indulgences when the experience exists separate from society, when interactions within the relationship don’t have to interface with society and peer groups.
Most of Hannah’s peer group do not interact with the outside world. In writing this story, I thought a bit about how we sometimes put a bit of ourselves into external constructs. And in which direction does the energy flow? Once we create something, a character, say, how much of it actively influences us? Writers’ feelings of vulnerability may stem from the sense that the characters they write exist as visible extensions of the writer, a character manifesting the hidden or open aspects of the writer’s personality, thoughts, obsessions, and so forth. The writer creates and energizes the character. But as the trope goes, to what extant does the character take on a life of its own, influencing its own creator? Many horror stories have been written about ventriloquists and their dummies, or about possessed dolls. But fetishes (as in constructed figurines and dolls with magico-religious significance) seem to hold a very primal place in our minds, and we may imagine them quite easily as a sort of conduit of energy, a mask for someone or something to wear when speaking with us. And here things become very tangled, when we aren’t able to tell who is speaking for whom, what influences what, and where we stand in that great sticky mess of a cultural web.