Good evening everyone.
It is with the greatest of pleasure to introduce to you the multi-talented author Christie Stratos who has kindly offered to talk to us today about her amazing work ethic, her engaging writing and useful creativity advice.
Take it away Christie!
Christie, lovely to have you here today on my blog.
Thanks so much! 😀
Firstly, let’s talk about your debut novel “Anatomy of a Darkened Heart (Dark Victoriana Collection Vol 1)”. What genre(s) would you classify your book as sitting in or spanning? Who is Victoriana? And who is our protagonist Abigail Delilah and what conflicts and challenges does she face in your novel?
AoDH, as I like to abbreviate it, is dark psychological historical fiction. You could break that down to dark fiction, psychological thriller, and historical fiction. It’s impossible to call my book just one of these, so I melded the genres together.
“Victoriana” is not so much a “who” as a “what”. The word Victoriana means anything from or about the Victorian era, and since this whole collection of books takes place in the Victorian time period with different characters and plots, I named the collection after its time period.
Abigail Delilah, the main character, is faced with an entire life of conflict. She’s born to parents who don’t want her and already have more than enough tension in their relationship. All their problems and resentments overflow onto her. Her struggles begin with trying to maintain her sense of self while being treated by her parents as if she’s a wretched child right from birth. As she grows older, things worsen and complications pile up until…well, it’s really something you have to read. The book is wrought with relationship and psychological problems in all the characters. As one reviewer said, there are no easy answers.
If your novel were to be made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
This is a question I don’t think about often as I tend not to like describing characters to a T. I like the reader to be able to use their imagination as much as possible, so I only describe looks when they really matter to the story.
That being said, I only have two specific people I would love to cast in a movie version, and they’re both British! (AoDH takes place in Victorian America.) Eddie Redmayne would be the perfect actor for the role of Conrad Scott, a kind, wealthy young man Abigail accidentally meets in the town gardens. Some of the character’s looks are actually exaggerations of Redmayne’s looks, and I think his manner would be absolutely perfect for the role.
The other person I’d love to play a role – any role – is Rob James-Collier (Thomas from Downton Abbey), whose versatility and brilliant darkness would fit perfectly with the book. He would be fantastic as Richard Whitestone, Abigail’s father, but I’d really let him have his pick of the male characters in AoDH.
You recently started a YouTube series where you combine writing insight and gaming walkthrough/playthrough with American McGee’s “Alice” and are already eight episodes in to the series. What inspired you to pick this particular game, are you a big fan of Alice In Wonderland? And what can we expect to see in the episodes, in a concept which is both fun to watch and educational to writers?
I did have a tough time deciding which game I should play first while I give writing advice and discuss my own experiences. I thought about a few but settled on Alice because it’s based on classic literature. There are just so many talking points about Alice herself, this dark video game version versus the original children’s story, etc. Alice is so well loved, I thought it was a great way to kick off the whole let’s play-writing discussion combination. I’m also fascinated by Alice in Wonderland and have never really been able to figure out what made it so popular and classic. I like to pick apart things I don’t understand, so that’s probably another reason I’ve decided to do a few things Alice related (there is more to come…).
These episodes range from book discussions to video game symbolism to writing advice, with a different topic every week. I wanted a different format through which I could casually discuss these things instead of always sitting in front of the camera. I think this format gives you something to look at, something to laugh at, and something to listen to.
Who are some of the authors in general that inspire you?
SHAKESPEARE! He’s my number one influence, the first author to get me interested in psychology in fiction and fine detail. I also love Gillian Flynn’s dark psychological perspectives, and I’ve recently discovered Brandon Sanderson’s genius. His level of detail and finesse is unparalleled. I read lots of books but rarely return to the same author again and again. These three are authors I study and love.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
The most valuable research is when I can get my hands on books from the time period (1840-1861). I have a few books from this time period including a dictionary, a cookbook, and household care books. I also use fashion prints from the time period to describe dresses and other clothing so that it’s totally accurate. Another thing I love to do is go to a particular auction that always has a lot of Victorian jewelry. I’ve based pieces in AoDH on real jewelry from the time period. I talk about this last research method in the video below.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I have ALWAYS loved writing ever since I was a child, and whenever I’ve stopped writing for a while, I ended up feeling lost and empty. I always go back to it. One day I suddenly realized that I, too, could do more than write poetry and short stories and occasionally submit them to lit mags. I could write novels and publish them myself instead of going through traditional publishers who would no doubt change my writing in ways I wouldn’t like. I could even publish my own poetry and short stories instead of submitting them, if I wanted. Why it took a few years after college before this occurred to me, I don’t know, but I’ve been doing it ever since. I already know this will be what I do for the rest of my life.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
The only creative slumps I get are caused by stress. During those times, I turn to writing things in a different format. I used to write only haikus when I was frustrated by the heavy stress I was under at work, but now I write them all the time, and they seem to keep me from totally losing touch with my creative side during these difficult (and sometimes lengthy) periods. It’s important to keep writing at all times, and it’s even more important to realize that even writing notes for a book, short story, etc. counts as writing.
Usually with writer’s block I skip around whatever section I’m having trouble with and move to a different section of the book. Sometimes moving forward regardless of my problems in one section can end up resolving the question by working on later sections. It solves itself that way. It’s not as easy with short stories though. My short stories are usually very short, so when I get stuck there, I have to walk away and wait for it to come to me. Once I waited a whole year!
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
I’m not sure what “free time” is, but if I find any, I’ll let you know.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I have a 15-year publishing plan. No joke. The Dark Victoriana Collection will be a total of 5 books with a couple of short stories in there as well. The next book in this collection is Locke and Keye, which will be released fall 2016. In 2017, the next book (Love’s Bloom) will be published along with a novella I’m contributing to the Happy Endings Resort Series. To summarize, I’m going to publish at least one book per year from the Dark Victoriana Collection, plus other projects. After the Victorian collection is finished, I’ll work on a medieval duology (at this point, I believe it will be a duology), followed by a film noir type book, a couple of fantasy-based books, and more and more. During all this I’ll still contribute to anthologies and lit mags. I have so many ideas, there won’t be a year that goes by without publications from me!
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
I always say this: write what you want to write, not what others have written. I know it’s very tempting to jump on the trend bandwagon and publish genres that are oversaturating the book market, but the most important thing that will satisfy both you and your readers is to write books you love, books you want to read. Readers can feel it when a book’s writer is in love with it. Don’t write anything just to put something out there, and don’t avoid writing something just because it doesn’t fit into a popular genre.
And that’s a wrap!
Thank you so much for having me!
Christie Stratos is an award-winning writer who holds a degree in English Literature. She is the author of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart, the first book of five in the Dark Victoriana Collection. Christie has had short stories and poetry published in Ginosko Literary 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.
You can contact Christie on the following Social Media platforms:-
Author website: The website of Christie Stratos
Editing website: Proof Positive Editing Services
Amazon Author page: Christie Stratos – Amazon Author Page
Twitter: Christie Stratos (Twitter)
Facebook: Christie Stratos Author (FB)
Instagram: christie_stratos (Instagram)
YouTube: Christie Stratos – YouTube Channel
Goodreads: Christie Stratos – Goodreads Author
Pinterest: Christie Stratos (Pinterest)
Google+: Christie Stratos (Google Plus)
You can buy Anatomy of a Darkened Heart at the following outlets:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
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