Uncaged welcomes Christie Stratos
Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about the Dark Victoriana Collection?
Originally I was going to write just one book: Anatomy of a Darkened Heart, which focuses on the Whitestone family and the eldest daughter, Abigail Whitestone. The question that defines this novel is: what is stronger, a person’s true self or other people’s assumptions about them? Abigail must struggle through this concept. It takes place in Victorian America, and I ended up loving writing it so much that I decided to make it into a collection. There’s already a second novel, Brotherhood of Secrets, and the idea behind the collection is that all the books and short stories are intertwined but don’t necessarily follow in date order. I planned to write two novels and three novellas or novelettes in the collection, but I always let my creativity dictate, so I now have a third novel that I’m writing, and the length of these books is a little unruly—characters keep wanting to tell their full stories, so novel length seems to be the only option right now!
Uncaged: How much do you edit out of your books?
I usually end up adding to my books to make sure they’re fleshed out and developed properly more so than editing things out, but I have had occasion to cut scenes. That’s relatively rare for me since I tend to be on the succinct side as a fiction writer. I have plenty of ideas and scenes that never make it into my books, they’re just part of my notes, and I post those on my Patreon page.
Uncaged: What do you have coming up next that you can tell us about?
I’m currently writing the third book in the Dark Victoriana Collection, which is an unplanned addition to the original five books. It picks up from a particular place in the second book, Brotherhood of Secrets, with the character Timothy Kiddson, a locksmith apprentice who’s badly injured from a daring…actually, I’m giving away a little too much about the second book! You’ll have to read it to find out what’s going on with Timothy, but what I can tell you is that there will be a ten year jump in book three, so the majority of it will take place during the Civil War era. This is what I’m working on during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).
Read the rest of this interview in the issue below
Christie Stratos is an award-winning writer who holds a degree in English Literature. She is the author of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart and Brotherhood of Secrets, the first two books in the Dark Victoriana Collection. Christie has had short stories and poetry published in Ginosko Literary Journal, Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal, Andromedae Review, 99Fiction, and various anthologies.
An avid reader of all genres and world literature, Christie reads everything from bestsellers to classics to indies.
Abigail Delilah is the firstborn of three Whitestone children – and she is the most regretted.
But is it really her fault?
She can’t help that the revelation of Father’s wretched secret coincides with her birth. She can’t help the fear she feels during Mother’s psychological – and physical – assaults. As the shadows grow stronger over her soul and the noose of pain tightens around her neck, Abigail will find out which is stronger: her family’s wicked assumptions about her or her true self.
How could Mrs. Hinsley’s husband let her give something like that to a baby, especially in front of all those people? How could either husband let it happen?
Elizabeth was humiliated, outraged. That barely controlled sort of outrage that showed on her face through a mask of wide, black-hole eyes, eyes that could chew up their victim, mouth in a stiff sort of smile like a bracket on its side, like half a square—the bottom half.
Elizabeth’s fingers had gripped the brooch tightly, pinching it between her forefinger and thumb, the small bit of skin it touched completely white from the pressure. When she put it down on the table hard enough to scratch the surface, blood was left on her finger; the sharp end of the lover’s eye pin had stabbed her.
She’d had to say thank you. Graciously. Among whispers and stares, following a vicious act, she’d had to show genuine appreciation.
She wanted to break it. She wanted to force it into Mrs. Hinsley’s Cheshire cat mouth, force her jaw closed, make her choke on it as it scraped its way down her toxic throat and got stuck.
She hadn’t known this was going on. But now… The lover’s eye in Mrs. Hinsley’s eye color was bad enough, but the pearls represented tears—everyone knew that.
A realization pressed at her mind. There was one particular thing that had bothered her for quite some time. Elizabeth had always done the bookkeeping for their family. It was something Richard had once commented on as a particularly “moral” skill of hers, perhaps because it required pure honesty and so few people dealing with money had that quality.
Read the rest of this excerpt in the issue below