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, Andromedae Review, 99Fiction, and various anthologies. An avid reader of all genres and world literature, Christie reads everything from bestsellers to classics to indies.
Christie, thank you for agreeing to this interview. This past year you left your full-time project management job to run your editing business and write. Many would say that you are living the dream, having the ability to do what you love. What was the tipping point that allowed you to take the leap into a new lifestyle?
Thanks for having me on The Book Tavern! I had my editing business for five years before I took the leap, so I’d been gaining direct information on my target market, highs and lows in my income stream, and developing a good reputation. I wanted to leave my job long before I did, but I couldn’t justify it in terms of steady income. It was when I reached a point of having too much editing work to balance with my full-time job, and I had to make a decision: my project management job was about to put me through a period of having literally no extra time for months on end (which meant I’d have to pause or close my editing business), and my editing business was booming (which meant I’d have to drop the full-time job or risk losing clients). It’s a nice problem to have, although at the time it was just overwhelming! That’s when I knew it was the right time to move on to being a full-time entrepreneur.
Many entrepreneurs are challenged with time management or task orientation maintaining a single business. I suspect balancing the time between writing your own novels and editing the works of clients can be challenging. Do you perceive these as two different businesses? How to you balance your time and stay focused?
Authorship and editing are definitely two different businesses. Editing is my full-time job now, so that always has to come first. Writing still has to come second, just like it did when I worked for a corporation, but I do now see it as part of my income stream, so I focus on it more than I did in the corporate world. So I’d say (and this is not an exaggeration) 99% of my time is spent editing and only 1% is spent writing. But believe it or not, that 1% is more time than I had before. It’s a generous 1%.
Before we dive into your published works, please tell us a bit about your editing company, Proof Positive Pro. What are the guidelines for submission and what should readers expect from the editor?
I first opened my editing business when I saw an issue with indie authors not getting their books edited because it was too expensive to hire a professional editor. I don’t talk about that aspect much, but it was what pushed me to finally open my business. I wanted to create a balance between high-quality editing and something affordable.
To hire my company to edit a manuscript, newsletters, websites, blog posts—any and all writing—authors can contact us through our website, http://www.proofpositivepro.com/contact/. We accept submissions in Word, Pages, Google Docs, and in cases of the visually impaired, Scrivener for Mac. For shorter works, we can also work in PDFs or in PDFs via Dropbox. Submissions should ideally be double-spaced, but we do accept single-spaced work as well.
Authors can also send us a five-page, double-spaced sample of their work, which we’ll edit for free and return in one business day unless otherwise specified.
You have two books written in the Dark Victoriana Collection: Anatomy of a Darkened Heart and Brotherhood of Secrets. To my knowledge, these two stories are known for their psychological intrigue and are written in the Victorian era. How would you classify these stories for readers? What should they expect?
My books are historical fiction for their accuracy to the Victorian time period in America, but they’re mainly psychological suspense with different psychological issues and situations as their focus. Anatomy of a Darkened Heart takes on the question of whether a person’s character is created by their environment or whether it’s inherent in them from birth. The main character, Abigail, must struggle with whether her family’s wicked assumptions about her are stronger than her true self. Brotherhood of Secrets is about a locksmith shop owner cleverly employing cult mentality with his unsuspecting, carefully chosen employees to accomplish his own disturbing goals. And of course, there are other related psychological twists. Both books are entirely character driven, so if you love deep character development and feeling really involved in characters’ lives, these books are for you. They aren’t happy ending books either—no one goes unscathed.
Should we expect another book in your Dark Victorian Collection?
Yes! I’m writing the third book as we speak, and I’ve been working on short stories and more books as well. I really love spending time in this collection, and I’ll be publishing books and short stories in it for a long time.
The next book will still be dark and psychologically driven, but it will include a bit more mystery as well. It will also include Allan Pinkerton, America’s first-ever private detective.
I used to try to do all of my research before writing, but that ended up stopping me from writing—you can never truly do all the research you need to do beforehand. There are many situations that write themselves that I wouldn’t even think to research ahead of time. So I balance it by researching anything that could actually change the course of the story ahead of time, and then I write creatively the rest of the time and avoid “rabbit hole” research as much as possible until after I finish writing. Each book involves totally different research into the Victorian era, but it all accrues and is usable for the next book.
What can we expect from you in 2019? Anything else you would like to add?
I’m going to publish a horror anthology in 2019 along with at least one short story as an audiobook, and I should be able to publish the third book in the Dark Victoriana Collection this year too, most likely around September if all goes as planned. This year I’ll also publish my short story “Focal Point” about a girl who’s slashed on the streets of a city and the way it affects her from all psychological angles—and her difficult but inspiring recovery. I’m working on a positivity book that my $1 patrons on Patreon get to see the ideas for before they’re published.
So many exciting things to look forward to!
It has been a pleasure, Christie! Please tell us where fans can find you online or in the upcoming year at events.
Thanks so much for the great opportunity! My events are almost always online, so keep your eye on my Facebook page, where I always post my events. I’m also on Instagram, Twitter, of course my Patreon, The Writer’s Edge, Creative Edge Writer’s Showcase (hear it anywhere you can listen to podcasts), and my website has all info on other publications of mine.