The Story Within the Story
Women’s rights and the injustice of the patriarchy
Guest Post by Kim Krisco
What makes a “good read”? This question and quest bring you to Crime Thriller Hound. You are not simply seeking the next mystery-thriller, but a FANTASTIC reading experience. Naturally, fiction writers share your quest.
The answer to “what makes a good read” appears simple: An enthralling story. However, this quickly sends us down a rabbit hole because we’re left to wonder: What kinds of stories captivate readers?
I believe that a primary characteristic that gives a story richness and depth is relevant subthemes. Consider great authors. Charles Dickens’ themes were the misery of the proletarian classes, the exploitation of child labour, and the repressive education system. Jane Austen’s works consistently revolved around the theme of self-improvement through courageous self-examination and education. Let me propose that relevant subthemes woven within the core story are one of the things that engage and enthrall readers. So, in addition to an intriguing plot, memorable characters, and solid story structure, I give equal attention to the subthemes of my stories, asking: “What is the most relevant sub-theme today?”
My answer: Gender equality, particularly women’s rights, and environmental sustainability.
These two subthemes are related because it is clear that women like Anne Hidalgo, Petra Kelly, and Greta Thunberg are leading efforts to address climate change around the world. Beyond this existential issue, it is often women in leadership roles who are improving the lives of all marginalized people – men and women. Women’s propensity to be inclusive, compassionate, and holistic in their decision-making is precisely what is needed at this point in our evolution.
We have profound economic, political, and environmental issues that must be addressed now. Reformist efforts stand little chance of yielding solutions. Replacing worn-out parts does not make a new engine; it just prolongs the time before the final breakdown occurs. Revolution is called for, but fundamental changes in social structures will not succeed unless there is an accompanying change in mental attitudes. The first, most impactful, and most crucial step is to ensure the women of the world are finally embraced as entirely equal to men.
Contemporary society is based upon a colossal swindle that began with the dawn of civilization: The assumption that man is superior to woman is the fundamental cornerstone of our society and is reflected in our laws, religions, politics, economy, and (sadly) in most fiction.
Celtic Insights into Equal Rights
My commitment to incorporate the subthemes of women’s rights and environmental sustainability within my novels led me to Celtic history. The Celtic culture dominated most of central and western Europe between 600 B.C. and 50 A.D. Within this confederation of Indo-European tribes, women blossomed in ways inconsistent with the patriarchal tenets that dominated surrounding societies.
Celtic women enjoyed privileges and powers that made Roman women of the same age green with envy. The Celts enjoyed a harmony between the roles and rights or men and women that was not based upon the superiority of one sex over another. For example, while men dominated as Celtic tribal leaders, women like Boudicca and Cartimandua ruled small kingdoms. And, aside from kings and chiefs, Celtic women, in general, enjoyed rights and freedoms unheard of in those times. Take Celtic marriage, which was viewed as a partnership between men and women. Women chose their husbands and never married against their will. A wife was allowed to leave her husband if he committed adultery or abused her and take any property she had brought into the marriage and acquired during it.
In the world of the Celts, women were warriors, poets, and even Druids, the latter being more powerful than any monarch. A king or chieftain would not make any important decision without the counsel of a Druid. And, interestingly enough, Druid rituals and wisdom were inspired by Nature. Druids and Celts saw themselves as part of the larger Natural world and treated it with reverence and respect. This in contrast to the Graeco-Roman notion that man is superior to Nature. Yes, the Celts were the perfect vehicle through which I could incorporate both my chosen subthemes.
Melding Subtheme and Story
While I might have written stories set in the time of the Celts, it was more fun and fascinating to bring the Celtic ethics and beliefs into the modern era to draw a sharper contrast. But, to do this required that I break from the genre that launched my writing career, Sherlock Holmes pastiches, to introduce a young Irish lass named Tessa Wiggins.
The three novels following Sherlock Holmes – The Golden Years are set just before and after the First World War in Britain. Irregular Lives, The Celtic Phoenix, and The Magnificent Madness of Tessa Wiggins role out chronologically as Tessa grows from a six-year-old London street urchin into a powerful Celtic woman and Druid priestess. Within these three stories, readers are introduced to the Celtic ethos, and using a little magical realism, readers meet a diverse cadre of other formidable women. Not all of these ladies are good or perfect, but all are powerful in their own way.
I plan to continue writing in the mystery-suspense genre, with Tessa being a lady detective with a psychic vibe – a Druid priestess detective. Maybe Tessa says it best in her journal:
The world is full of crime that is not evil people doing evil deeds. The line between good and evil is drawn within each human heart and shifts with awareness, circumstances, and compassion. Countless crimes go unnoticed, minimized, or disregarded: assault on the human heart, abuse of privilege, the robbing of self-respect, emotional as well as physical rape, and desecration of the earth.
As a handmaiden of The Mother, I recognize that Nature has no favorites, nor anything resembling a childlike conception of good and evil. Nonetheless, at the heart of Nature are powerfully persistent forces that seek balance and offer healing. I wed myself to those energies.
I hope that my stories will shed more light upon women’s rights in the twenty-first century. Contrasting a much-neglected historical period with ours may help make way for a broader, more inclusive human society where men and women no longer need to indulge in an unwholesome gender rivalry that has undermined all of us for centuries.
About the author:
KIM KRISCO is the author of four mystery-suspense novels: Sherlock Holmes — The Golden Years, Irregular Lives: The Untold Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars, and The Celtic Phoenix and now The Magnificent Madness of Tessa Wiggins. His latest protagonist is a formidable Irish woman who becomes the unlikely protégé of Sherlock Holmes.
Meticulously researched, Krisco’s stories read as mini historical novels. His attention to detail, which includes on-location research, adds a welcome richness to the tales. His fascination with ancient Celtic culture brings a mythic dimension as well.
Prior to writing full-time, Kim served as a consultant, trainer, and coach for business and non-profit organizations and their leaders. You can find out more about Kim and his books at: www. MysteryBookAuthor.com.
He and his wife, Sararose Ferguson, live high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in tiny homes that they built themselves on the North Fork of the Purgatory River. Kim reports that “living in isolation on the Purgatory River is not everyone’s heaven, but it’s a writer’s paradise.”
1920 - Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales: Tessa Wiggins’s “madness” is provoked by the adopted spirit of a two-thousand-year-old Druid priestess mentoring her to be the servant of The Earth Mother. When Tessa defies treatment, her lover asks a childhood friend, Sherlock Holmes, to intervene. But despite everyone’s best intentions, Tessa finds herself in Hellingford Asylum, where she is driven toward her final breaking point on All-Halloween.