We recently published Didi Wood’s charming “The Child Catcher in Retirement.”

Here, we ask her two questions about her story:

1) This story is inspired by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a movie I’ve never seen! Yet you don’t need the background of the movie to fall in love with this lovely piece. What was it like, imagining this character in his (how do they say it?) twilight years?

I don’t think you’re missing much … it’s rather a mess, with one good song (“Doll on a Music Box”) and one fascinating character. The Child Catcher, played by Australian ballet dancer Sir Robert Helpmann, is simultaneously tantalizing and terrifying, graceful and grotesque. He turns up regularly on lists of the scariest characters in children’s films. I wrote another story about him first but, concerned with his possibly problematic provenance (reportedly he was created for the screenplay by Roald Dahl and can be viewed as anti-Semitic, although director Ken Hughes claimed it was he and not Dahl who created the character), put it aside. He was still on my mind, though, and when the first phrases of this story came to me, I jumped at the chance to give him a properly ignoble ending.

2) I love the joy in this piece — there are so many moments that made me smile: the imagery, the use of language, the dialogue. Did you have a lot of fun writing this story?

Thank you! I had a blast writing this, and I’m so glad that comes through. I wanted it to be both playful and grim, like the Child Catcher himself. My writing style tends towards the spare and quiet and subtle. This story is deliberately ornate and lyrical, perhaps even over the top, which seems right for this larger-than-life character.