V.A. Christie is an author and artist whose debut fiction collection, The Devil’s In The Details, was published by Atmosphere Press in 2019. V.A. Christie’s short story “Heartless” was selected as a finalist by Pen 2 Paper in 2019, and won the Audience Choice award in 2020.
Forthcoming publications include the Konstellation Press Anthology to be titled Modern Metamorphosis.
Follow VA Christie on Twitter.
I hope what is meant in the review by pushing borderlines is that it is in the in-between where things get interesting. The Celtic people have always said that the most powerful places were borderlands and crossroads, and the most powerful times of day were the time between the times AKA Dusk and Dawn. I recently watched a TV Series called Taken Down (which was, fair warning, an exceedingly dark series), and a character in it says of Dusk that it is the time the French call the hour in which it is impossible to tell wolves from dogs. Now, I do not speak French and when I Googled the term I was not able to find anything that resembled it, so perhaps it was merely an artistic turn of phrase the series employed.
I believe that short fiction has license to be experimental in narrative, style, and content in ways other fiction can’t afford to be.
This is as good a time as any to state that some of the stories in the collection are connected. “Complex” Part 1, 2, and 3 are linked and tell the same plot line but from different points of view. This is the most obvious example of a story told from more than one point of view. “Complex” was actually inspired by a famous and frequently referenced film, but I take a very different tack with truth in the tale. My editor wanted to know if the initial lead in “Complex” was the grown-up version of a child in one of the stories, but I’m not going to give a specific answer because I like people to come up with their own questions. As for other links between the stories, “The Barton Boy” and “The Missing Girl” are both linked to my novel Strangers You Know.
Sometimes I think of stories a bit like they are films—I prefer to “cut” to the essential rather than continue once a point has been made. I also prefer to leave a certain amount up to the reader, including how to interpret some of what unfolds in a story such as who is telling the story, and why, and if they are to be trusted. I would rather see multiple interpretations and some of what the reader perceives as a reflection of himself or herself instead of pursuing a dogmatic vision in which there is only one “right” path. Stories are not right or wrong, they are well or badly written; and I reserve the right to hope that mine are well written.
Noir is my preferred mystery type, because I enjoy the ambiguity which good noir should contain. If there was one style which influences every story in some way, it is probably noir. However, I should say that I am not a noir expert. There are many noirs I have not read and many noir films I have not seen—it is the style I like, when it is done well.
Several of the stories use theoretical technology or technology not yet in existence. “Copy That” is one of those, with the science-fiction element based on the theory that it will be possible in essence to 3D Print humans at some point in the near future. It is either currently possible to 3D print meat and organs, or is about to be possible, which means that it should be theoretically possible to 3D print entire organisms. This may never actually become possible, and even if it becomes possible would be unethical, but it is an interesting concept for a science-fiction story.
I consider “The Dark Book” to be a surrealist story told from the perspective of madness or of a world so warped that anyone who was sane was mad. Something like a fun-house mirror of our reality minus the fun. That is one of the shortest stories in the collection because I was not able to maintain the perspective for very long unaided. That was also the story that has inspired the most nasty and personal negative commentary and feedback from potential publishers prior to being published in The Devil’s In The Detail, so perhaps I was on the right track with it.
I consider myself to be a visual person, and I have been told that there are visual elements in the way in which I write. But as much as I have always enjoyed reading, I have always been very influenced by film and by visual art not just by the way in which great writers write but also by the way great film and art moves you to think and feel in different ways.
I am reworking a paranormal mystery novel because the first time I wrote it too quickly and it lost the nuance. It is about a psychic gambler (because if I had psychic powers that is how I would make money) and a ghost. I have read stories with gamblers, and stories with psychics, and stories with ghosts, but I am hoping a story with all three will add up to a work that is interesting and entertaining. In part it is a story about how luck, chance, and ability can take on a force majeure role in the lives of individuals. The thing about luck is that good or bad luck represents two sides of the same coin and luck can always change for better or for worse.
My other novel is a noir style mystery titled Strangers You Know, and is about a damaged Detective, and a cop accused of murder. Though I set it in a fictional East Coast city, it is also somewhat of a western, which is perhaps to be expected from someone who was born in California. So it has most of what you expect in a noir including murder, betrayal, cops, criminals, and a bit of romance; it also has an underlying quest for retribution that comes into conflict with ordinary reality. And in the end exactly who has gained revenge and why it is somewhat open to interpretation.