Today I am interviewing Theodora Goss, author of the new fantasy novel, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter.
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DJ: Hey Theodora! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Theodora Goss: I have red hair, a cat named Cordelia, and a PhD in English literature. I found the cat as a stray kitten, wandering around the streets of Boston. The PhD I actually had to work for, but that’s where the idea for my novel came from. What else? I was born in Budapest, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl writing fantasy stories in a unicorn notebook, and I now teach writing at Boston University and in the Stonecoast MFA Program. This is my first novel, but I’ve been publishing short stories, essays, and poems for about ten years.
DJ: What is The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter about?
Theodora: It’s about the adventures of Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein in late 19th- century London. Mary is of course the daughter of the respectable Dr. Jekyll, who had a disreputable assistant, Mr. Hyde. She helps Sherlock Holmes solve a series of gruesome murders, and in the process she finds the other girls, who have all been created by mad scientists in some way—including Diana, who claims to be her sister. As the girls talk, they start to put together their own histories and realize that there is a bigger story for them to uncover . . .
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter?
Theodora: My doctoral dissertation was on late Victorian gothic fiction, so I was researching and writing about texts such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Island of Dr. Moreau. My influences were really those 19th-century gothic texts, as well as the stories of Sherlock Holmes. I love all that material—technically, I’m a Victorianist, which means I’m supposed to be an expert in 19th-century literature, although I find that the more I learn, the more there is to learn. Those stories about monsters and mad scientists were my main influences. I wanted to explore them further, but from the point of view of the female characters who were destroyed or killed in the originals. Continue reading