Kaaron Warren‘s intriguing third novel Mistification is out in the UK and as an eBook this week, and coming to US stores at the end of the month. As is sometimes our wont, to accompany the launch we asked her for a few short notes on a book to, you know, give readers a little more insight into its origins, inspirations and the delights it promises. Well… this is what she sent us…

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The working title for Mistification was “A Rationale of Stories”, which is one meaning of the word mythology. Marvo learns everything he knows from the stories people tell him. He learns about human behaviour, food, science and death. I was meticulous in my record-keeping in making sure that the lessons he learnt were used after he heard the story and not before. Sadly, these records, along with my early writing, were destroyed when a rat died in a box of papers in my shed while we were in Fiji. Look at his little paws!

One of the first stories Marvo hears is this one; the story of the cane he steals as his magic wand. I recently learned that the word “lady” means loaf kneader, from the Old English hlaf (loaf) and dige (kneader). It is strangely appropriate to this story.

The Cane

This came from a man who didn’t need it any more. Used it for years to beat his wife. He could see all right; everything working okay there. It was the downstairs department, the old one-two. Cos he wanted to, his wife being not bad to look at, but he couldn’t. He’d been okay with sluts and scrags, although he was often drunk then. So either the booze propped his prick up or it stole away the memory of his flops.

He’d try away and fail, and there under the bed sat the cane. He’d reach it out and give her a belt, swipe her with it, and pretend he hated her.

The wife got tired of this after a while. It wasn’t like she deserved it, talked back or whatever. So she got some outside help.

I don’t know if it was magic, or watching what she was doing, but it worked. First, she laid out two large rubber sheets on the lounge room floor. She poured jars of honey over one; wheat on the other.

Then she slowly removed her clothes. She bathed, soaping each crevice and nook, cleaning each strand of hair. She rinsed until her skin squeaked.

She walked naked to the room of honey and wheat, where her husband sat waiting and watching. She rolled over and over in the honey till her whole body was covered with it. Then she rolled in the wheat.

With his help, she removed the grains, rolling them off her skin and into a bowl. They ground the grains in a mill, four hands turning the handle anti-clockwise. The flour she mixed into a dough which she kneaded and kneaded and kneaded. Then she baked it into bread.

The man ate the bread and was very pleased with the results. So pleased he gave away his wife-beating cane and swore never to use it again.


In Mistification you’ll also find a recipe for Bouillabaisse, a list of historical suicides, and four cures for epilepsy, including one involving the flesh of a white hound.