It’s no great secret that I love writing short stories, both the kind set in the world of my novels and original stand-alones. Since I am introducing a very different world with this book, I wanted to give readers an early glimpse in the form of a short story. I tossed around plenty of ideas, but one was undoubtedly a favorite.
For Darkness… is in many ways two stories: the story of what happened to Elliot and Kai growing up, and the story of what happens to them once they are reunited. But the part in between, the part that tells of what Kai went through during their separation is a big question mark, for Elliot as much as for the reader. Elliot’s world is very small — she has spent all her life on the remote, rural North Estate. She’s heard about Channel City, she’s heard about “other estates” — but she hasn’t seen it.
I wanted to give the reader a chance to see that, to see a glimpse of this greater world that doesn’t fit into the Jane Austen pastoral setting of farms and drawing rooms. Looming large over Jane Austen’s books was the greater world that Jane didn’t know much about — in Persuasion, it was the Napoleonic Wars where Wentworth made his fortune, Admiral Croft made his career, and Harville sustained his injuries. In Mansfield Park, it was the enslaved sugar plantation that formed the rotten core of the Bertram’s fortune. As I was writing this story, I described it as “If For Darkness Shows the Stars is Austen, then ‘Among the Nameless Stars’ is Dickens.” In this story, you see the gritty underbelly of the society that Elliot only knows stories about, the one she fears and hints about, but has little experience with herself.