The NoSleep Diaries: Entry 2 -“The Woman Made of Glass”

Please welcome guest contributor Lindsay Moore. Lindsay has written for us before, sharing her experience putting together an all women horror anthology. In this series, she'll share her experience writing horror stories that were adapted for the NoSleep Podcast. 

One of my all-time favorite horror tropes is ‘the piece of art that drives the viewer to madness.’ The most famous example of this trope is the 1998 Japanese film Ringu (and its American remake, The Ring). Characters encounter a haunted video tape, and before being killed by the ghost, they start to slide slowly into madness. It’s a criminally under-utilized trope, as you can do so much with it because art is subjective. It covers a wide variety of mediums, including (but not limited to) music, literature, paintings, sculptures, films -- regardless of medium, art is a feast for the senses. And when it comes to inducing madness, there’s just so much potential.

(Coincidentally, the NoSleep Podcast has featured several stories about this trope, including “The Artist” from Season 3, “Beacon House” from Season 5, “The Thing in the Rust” from Season 7, and “The Earworm” from Season 12.)

The Woman Made of Glass” was my second story featured on the NoSleep Podcast. As with “The Thing in the Yard,” I’ll try not to spoil it, as I firmly believe it should be listened to. In fact, it’s part of the free episode.

Unlike “The Thing in the Yard,” it came from a more creative place than ‘I wonder if I can get on this podcast.’ In 2016, when I first began writing for the NoSleep Podcast, I was working at a dreadfully boring job. The one plus-side was that I was able to listen to podcasts while I worked. I was alternating between keeping up with NoSleep and exploring Pseudopod’s extensive back catalogue when I came upon a short story called “Final Girl Theory” by A.C. Wise. The story was featured on Pseudopod (episode 287) and told the tale of a bizarre cult film and its equally bizarre and overly obsessed fanbase. I won’t spoil it, because I think it’s a fantastic story that everyone should read or listen to. The Pseudopod adaptation of “Final Girl Theory” was nominated for a Parsec Award in 2013 -- that’s how good it is.

“Final Girl Theory” begins with a graphic description of a scene from a grindhouse film. A woman is strapped to a gigantic roulette wheel. She is covered with shards of multicolored glass. Someone off-camera spins the wheel. As the woman spins around and around, it creates a kaleidoscopic effect of swirling colors. The image stuck in my head for the rest of the day and eventually began to mutate.

In my head, I saw a woman made entirely out of multicolored stained glass. She twirled through my head, a dazzling, dancing rainbow. I needed to write a story about her.

While pirouetting through my subconscious, the woman made of glass found a half-baked idea I had had for a short story. This story was about a college student making a short film that would drive whoever viewed it to madness. The core concept for this story was to make it a dark comedy; it would be told from the point of view of a poor college student who’d been roped into production and was stuck holding the boom mic. The story would consist of his journal entries as he complained about aspects of the film and the increasingly weird behavior of the actors and crew members.

I decided that the narrator of this story would be the titular woman made of glass; she’d be a ballerina recruited to star in the short film and would be completely ignorant to the filmmaker’s true intent to spread madness. During the screening of the short film (which the ballerina would be unable to attend due to a recital), the audience would collectively lose their minds.

I submitted “The Woman Made of Glass” to the NoSleep Podcast and was excited when they approved it. I was even more excited when I heard Nikolle Doolin’s voice narrating it. Nikolle Doolin is one of NoSleep’s regular narrators and her unique voice has made her one of the fan favorites. Nikolle’s the one you call when you need a woman who sounds suave and sophisticated, just on the verge of snobby but not quite there, authoritative and in-charge, or elegant and refined. She does a phenomenal job playing a talented ballet student in “The Woman Made of Glass.”

David Cummings, the podcast’s creator, also performed in “The Woman Made of Glass.” He portrays Adam, the enigmatic student filmmaker whose creation drives everyone who watches it to madness. He brought a great deal of warmth to the role that gave it more depth than what I had originally written. Adam could have easily been portrayed as a stone-cold psychopath or a pretentious student filmmaker, but David plays him as a sensitive artsy type who is genuinely excited and passionate about his project. It adds a layer of mystery to the character that’s missing from the prose, as it casts the smallest shadow of doubt onto Adam and made me ask, did he really know his film would drive people insane if they watched it?

In 2017, the NoSleep Podcast went on tour. The roster included David Cummings (the show’s founder), Brandon Boone (the show’s composer), and narrators Peter Lewis, Nichole Goodnight, Jessica McEvoy, and David Ault. I was ecstatic. I was going to meet the people who brought my work to life. I was over the moon hyped. I worked through lunch so I could leave work early. I sat in my cubicle, practically bouncing off the walls until it was time to leave, then rushed home and printed off one of my stories for Nichole Goodnight and Jessica McEvoy to autograph (more on that next time).

What I didn’t know was the Nikolle Doolin would be at the Boston show. When her name was announced, my excitement was through the roof, although I was a bit disappointed when I realized that I didn’t have a copy of “The Woman Made of Glass” for her to sign.

When the NoSleep Podcast went on tour in 2018, I was better prepared. I had a copy of the “Woman Made of Glass,” and when the show was over and the cast was doing their meet and greet, you can bet I awkwardly shoved it in Nikolle Doolin’s face and said, “HI I WROTE THIS AND YOU NARRATED IT CAN I HAVE YOUR AUTOGRAPH I LOVE YOUR VOICE.” Or something like that. I was like an overexcited puppy, and everyone was very gracious about it. If there’s another tour, maybe I’ll learn how to behave myself (no promises).

Nikolle Doolin is hands-down one of the nicest people I have ever met. In spite of my awkward fangirling, she gave me a big hug and told me that she was a fan of my work. She told me that she had fun with the story; I was surprised that she remembered it. Nikolle joined the NoSleep crew in Season 2 and has (to date) narrated over 40 stories; this isn’t including stories where she had a secondary role or other podcasts that she’s appeared in. I was absolutely floored that she remembered my contribution to the NoSleep Podcast.

At the NoSleep liveshows, I also got to meet the show’s composer, Brandon Boone. I love Brandon’s music. I think it’s probably my favorite aspect of “The Woman Made of Glass.” Even though I had written a story that was about music and dancing, I hadn’t described either one of those in great detail. I played clarinet in high school, but I was never very good at it, and I’m not very musical. I can’t dance, I can’t sing, and I can’t read music. So, naturally, when it came time to describe the music featured in “The Woman Made of Glass,” I was intentionally vague.

When I met Brandon, the first thing I did was tell him how much I loved the music he wrote for “The Woman Made of Glass.”

“Oh yeah, I remember that,” he said. He didn’t seem to notice that I had to pick my jaw up off the floor; he’s been with the podcast since season four and has composed hundreds of pieces of music for it.

“I had a lot of fun doing the scene where everyone goes crazy and starts attacking each other,” he continued. I honestly hadn’t expected him to remember anything specific about my work. He’s been with the podcast since Season 4 and has composed hundreds of pieces for it. The fact that my story stuck out is still mind-boggling, especially because there are better ones out there.

Hearing “The Woman Made of Glass” on the NoSleep podcast proved to me that I wasn’t just a flash-in-the-pan or a one-hit-wonder. I could do this. So, naturally, I decided I had to do it again.

If you’re curious about the NoSleep Podcast, please check out their website:

Classic Nikolle Doolin episodes:

  • “Forget Me Not” (Season 2, episode 22)

  • “Her Name Was Emma” (Season 4, episode 6)

  • “The Donacrann” (Season 5, episode 14)

  • “Magic Marty” (Season 8, episode 10)

  • “Gehenna” (Season 10, episode 2)

  • “Containing Secrets” (Season 11, episode 5)

  • “After the Lifeboat” (Season 11, episode 23)