Dark Divinations: Broken Crystal

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Before the Crystal Broke: The Inspiration Behind “Broken Crystal.”

By Rie Sheridan Rose

I have been a fan of Victoriana since I was old enough to know it existed, and that was far too many years ago. I fell in love with the fashion, the architecture, the society in general. So, when I saw the call for Dark Divinations, I wanted desperately to earn a spot in it.

I had written a story about the spiritualism of the period before, but it was humorous, and that wasn’t the sort of story I wanted to tell this time. When it came time to choose a focal point for the divination type I wished to feature, the crystal ball was really the only option that resonated.

Crystal balls have been associated with divination as far back as the first century CE, when Pliny the Elder wrote of “crystallum orbis” used by soothsayers. What gypsy fortuneteller worth their salt is without one? For my story, I wanted the spiritualist to be the real thing—able to see the future and communicate with the dead. She doesn’t like to monetize her gifts, but her mother insists.

Researching the story was fascinating. A brief history of Victorian spiritualism in general (Turning the Table by Bekah June) came my way several years ago by way of a convention panel. It provides an interesting, if brief, overview of the spiritualism scene in the period.

But it wasn’t until I found an article titled “How to Use a Crystal Ball” on themoonlightshop.com that several key elements of the story came together. Using the information in that article, I was able to give some “verisimilitude” to what Madame Rose saw in her crystal ball.

One final thing of interest to the reader, perhaps, is the story was originally written in third person. One of my beta readers asked me if I had considered putting it in first person, and the rest—as they say—is history. I feel what makes it most haunting is that it is told by Molly herself.

Mysterious Rie RoseRie Sheridan Rose multitasks. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including On Fire, Hides the Dark Tower,  and Killing It Softly Vol. 1 and 2. She has authored twelve novels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Rie Sheridan Rose

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Rie Sheridan Rose multitasks. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including On Fire, Hides the Dark Tower, and Killing It Softly Vol. 1 and 2. She has authored twelve Mysterious Rie Rosenovels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

I don’t remember ever NOT being interested in it. Ever since I was a young girl…half a century ago—yikes!…I have been fascinated by all things Victorian. I’m an Anglophile in general, but the Victorian era had it all…

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

It isn’t a particularly “scary” story, but I’ve always been fond of Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost” – I even adapted it for the stage as a kid. And if we broaden the scope of Victoriana to here across the pond, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is one of my absolute favorite horror stories. It was written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, so it just squeaks in under the 1901 wire.

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

Does Dracula Has Risen from the Grave count? It is set in 1905, but it does have Dracula… What attracted me to the film was that I saw it when it was fairly new, and it was the first time I knew how erotic vampires could be. Go figure—Christopher Lee gave me chills.

I am also very fond of Mary Reilly, because it was a fascinating re-invention of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Are your characters based on real people?

No.

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

No, not usually. I am a pantser. I sometimes have a vague idea of where I want the story to go, and then I start writing and let it tell itself.

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

Oh, I have had some CRAZY things happen which I did not expect. I wrote one story where a character had decided to give up some of his remaining years to his ill grandmother. When she refused, he was supposed to go out in the hall and pour it out. Instead, he gave the potion to a little girl he met in the hallway because she was also ill, and maybe that extra time could find her a cure.

In another case, I have written five books in my Steampunk series from the point of view of my main character. I wrote the first book in a new series set in the same world, and my main character in that one told me some major character points I had never known before…

What are you most afraid of?

I think probably dying alone. 

What is your favorite form of divination?

I would love to be able to read Tarot cards. I think they are fascinating, but I haven’t the gift for it. I’ve been to some truly frightening seances… I think when it comes down to it, the Ouija Board is the only form I feel I can participate in myself.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Stephen King. Since I read my first King, I’ve been hooked.

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

I am currently editing my next Horrified Press anthology. I have the previously mentioned novel Bond and Reilly Investigations: The Case of the Counterfeit Confederate almost ready to go to an editor, and I have The Beauty and the Bard out to beta readers. Hopefully at least one of them will be out by the end of the year. There are others in the wings waiting their turn.

For Horror Addicts, I recommend snagging a copy of Skellyman while it is still in print.

Addicts, you can find Rie on Amazon and on her website.