Fractured Friday: Sara Cleto

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂

Interview With Sara Cleto

What Letter Were You Assigned: D

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

When the sun sets, the Snow Queen rises from her bed and slips a diaphanous robe over her glinting skin. Taffeta, brocade, and leather crowd restlessly in her closet and ease past the doors, spilling in drifts of color onto the marbled floor. The King brings her new boxes, brimming with crisp tissue and crisper clothes, bound cheerfully with a bow, nearly every day. 

“For the gala,” he says, or “for dinner with the executive board.” 

He smiles at her, all teeth, and suggests with exquisite politeness that she might dress and come downstairs. 

She smiles, or the nearest approximation that her stiff, heavy lips can manage, and strokes her newest garment with a single fingertip. 

The fabric tears cleanly under her light caress, parting with the casual brutality of a broom on a spider web. 

The King sighs gently. “Darling, do remember to wear your gloves. And let your ladies help you dress.” 

She looks at the complicated undergarments, plates of metal twined with industrial straps, the screws and bolts that hold the pieces together, and then at the women who never quite leave the shadow of the door. They wear sturdy gloves, the kind that gardeners who tend particularly recalcitrant rose bushes favor, and sturdy lines around their mouths. 

“Tomorrow, perhaps,” she says quietly. Her lips clatter against each other, and her words are echoed by the tap of jewels striking the floor. She watches impassively as one of her ladies edges towards her. The woman collects the sparkling gems from where they lay around her feet and places them in one of the many glass caskets lining the room, arranged to catch the light. Her ruined gown is whisked away to be repaired, stitched back into a semblance of wholeness, and laid to rest, unworn, in her closet. The King inclines his head over her hand, lips scraped and lightly bleeding, and withdraws. 

Sliding on her gloves, she arranges her robe around her, concealing as much of her glittering skin as possible. 

She never goes downstairs.

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? My umbrella, the year I lived in England. I was so surly about it that I refused to buy a new one, and I was rewarded for my sensible behavior by getting drenched at least twice a week-it rains rather a lot there.

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it? Can you tell us about that? I’ve been thinking and thinking about this, and, honestly, I can’t think of anything. I’m pretty much always consumed by guilt or nostalgia when I break things, even if they are ugly or useless or toxic. Even if they need to be broken.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? Trespassing laws, especially when I’m traveling. Half the interesting buildings have no trespassing signs all over them, which vexes me to no end.

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? My strongest code is against harming animals, especially cats and dogs. I would never harm one on purpose.

Never ever? Probably not. I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years for a reason.

Really? Isn’t there something which could make you break it? If the critter was trying to kill me or a loved one and seemed to have a good shot at succeeding, I might have to reconsider.

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? I knew exactly what I wanted to write, but actually writing it was like pulling teeth. Not because of the story- which was sitting there, very cooperatively, in my head-but because I was stretched especially thin when I was writing it.

What was your favourite idea you didn’t use? I considered dolls rather than diamonds for all of five minutes, but the moment I thought of diamonds, the story began to fall into place.

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story? Two fairy tales: Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” and Charles Perrault’s “Diamonds and Toads.” My story is a merging of the two, given a modern spin.



SaraSara Cleto is a PhD student at the Ohio State University where she studies folklore, literature, disability, and the places where they intersect. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Goblin Fruit, Cabinet des Fees: Scheherazade’s Bequest, Ideomancer, Niteblade, The Golden Key, and others. Her work has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.

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