Sadie’s Cabin in the Woods: An Interview with Madeline Pettet

Both behind the scenes and on the page, Madeline Pettet is an important part or NiTH. An accomplished writer in her own right, Madeleine frequently donates her time to help keep NiTH ticking over. Madeline has a 3 part story were publishing over three books, so we’re keen for everyone to get to know the author a little bit better. Hi Madeline!


Tell us about yourself

I’m Madeline Pettet: a young-ish creative writer working full-time as an editor for a parenting training organisation. In the spare time I have, I also draw (my work is often featured in puppet-comedian Randy’s magazine) and crochet amigurumi.

I grew up in the western suburbs of Brisbane where nothing happens and everyone knows everyone. The need to have adventures, real or imagined, was strong.

Did that play a part in wanting to write?

I write for the same reasons I do anything else creative. Sometimes I have a story or image that drives me to get it down on paper, sometimes it’s because I need an escape from the stresses of everyday life. Whatever the reason, writing has been something I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember (before I actually knew how to write, I would ‘write’ stories with images. I won’t say comics, that would imply a consistent art style!)

Your story for Wolves is certainly consistent. Tell us what it’s about?

Amazing Grace is about Sadie, who was a character from the Burn Thrive Burn collaboration who, at a moment when she was truly over her adolescent life, was turned into a werewolf. I always wanted to follow Sadie as she discovered the possibilities of werewolf life, and this story is that.

Is there any particular inspiration or place this story came from?

I’ve completed an Honours degree in paranormal romance, as well as a separate year of research, and I wanted to tell a paranormal story that ignored so many of those conventions and spoke to Amazon feminism (the idea that female bodies have been trained to be weak and a lot of females can get empowerment from learning and using their bodies as strong weapons).

Amazing Grace isn’t the perfect story I wanted to tell, but I am proud of how it resists tropes like the supernatural bond (which I allude to between Sadie and Jack) and Sadie is also rewarded for becoming as bestial as possible.

I don’t believe she is a villain at the end. She is a fantastic hero who rescues the other werewolves because she is able to find the perfect combination of human and wolf, which is a metaphor for the idea that females are required to act a certain way in society, but, at least for me, they feel a definite feral element, teeth and claws that are hidden to the naked eye.

It’s a standout story in a great Collab. Speaking of which, what was it like working on a collaboration again?

I really enjoyed getting back into collaborating. It can be nerve-wracking to have someone else read through your work when it’s not finished but the end result is always so much better. Plus, you get to help out everyone else and see how a story grows.

A little birdie told me you’re a fan of the 2012 film Cabin in the Woods

It’s a fantastic film (and the novelisation is actually quite good too) and I love it for a number of reasons. Firstly, it plays with genre tropes like Scream but with a supernatural element and the slight difference in age of the characters gives it a bit more space to play in.

Secondly, I am nuts for any sort of paranormal creature that goes beyond your standard werewolf (although I do love them to bits), vampires (blech, so 90s), zombies or generic demon.

I actually own a few reference books that list paranormal creatures from around the world and their traditional tales and one day I would like to write a story with each of them. Cultural myths, and the monsters in them, can just be so inventive and beautiful. I loved that Cabin in the Woods played with that idea and I often wish the chosen monster differed with each viewing!

Finally, and very nerdily, I love that it feels like Joss Whedon went back and had another crack at season 4 of Buffy with this movie. The idea of the government collecting monsters for nefarious means is so fantastic!

You clearly love this movie. How has it influenced you?

It’s definitely reminded me that genres are meant to be exploited, pulled apart and stitched back together again. If you follow a certain theory of storytelling, there really only are a handful of story elements and characters and every story just puts them together in a different order. Stories like Cabin in the Woods remind me, at least, that this doesn’t stop you from getting inventive.

Who do you think would enjoy Cabin in the Woods?

Definitely fans of horror-comedy. If you’ve ever enjoyed Joss Whedon’s work, particularly Buffy, or you also just like staring at Chris Hemsworth, you’d enjoy it too.

Thanks Madeline, it’s always a pleasure to talk with you. 

If you’re interested in grabbing a copy of Wolves, you can find it here.