Sometimes I write. And it amused me to no end when my readers came to me a year or two into publishing and explained to me that I was a Dark Fantasy author. I had never supposed such a thing. So I had to step back and look at my stories, seeing them with new eyes.
I believe magic is ordinary, that it is found all around us. That little, insignificant things like houseflies and pizza can be full of wonder and power. But I also realized that my heroes find their power in pain, through the trials of the book, and in recognising something greater to fight for. Choosing action and defiance over depression, my characters seize on any bit of magic to think of real solutions to the story’s problems.
I guess that is what makes my stories dark: life.
Horror is one of those things I avoid at all costs. I cannot watch most horror movies. The images on the screen maybe funny to some viewers, but I find the silliest of film scenes haunt my dreams for months after I see even a snippet of a movie like Friday the 13th. I get that its silly, I do. But as an artist, the images leave me terrorized.
And yet, I write about vampire hunters and the horrible things that the monsters they fight do to humans. There’s gore. There’s appalling situations. There is no sweet glamorization of vampires as some sparkly, rich, young vegetarians, not in my chapters. Monsters are monsters.
And then this fall, I wrote a story for the Mrs. Dracula anthology, from the perspective of a very powerful, ancient vampire who awakes to the ashes of her ruined nest. What makes a monster? I asked myself in ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears.’ And then, I went one step further.
I wrote a story where things went bad. And then worse, and then horribly wrong. I wrote right to the point where the hero should step in and save the situation, solve the evil. But instead, I wrote into the darkness of fierce maternal love. And I refused to stop because magic should make everything better. I wrote about families being together forever, which is a noble ideal. But in my latest story, that concept goes terribly wrong.
So I have embraced the fact that I am a dark fantasy writer, and in so doing, I have realized that life is messy and heroes don’t always save the day. And sometimes, justice and vengeance are the cold comforts a hero can cling to as they wade through the ruinous conclusion of their story.
Horror. Yeah, I get it now.
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