I didn't have a grand plan when I published my first dark fantasy novel over three years ago that I was going to be labeled “dark” anything.
Than I was.
I was the girl that didn't read romance books when I was a kid. I read Stephen King and Dean Koontz. When I tried to share how cool those books were with my friends they were like: huh. Guys dug them. And they also liked the science fiction books I read. Anyone remember the Dragonriders of Pern? Yeah. Did I like fantasy then? I did, but high fantasy got swampy for me with the World Build that Went On so it never became a fave.
At an early age I liked the Chronicles of Narnia (dark fantasy if there ever was), and read to all my kids when they were little. A Series of Unfortunate Events and Goosebumps were favorites they cut their metaphorical teeth on. Dark appealed. It still does. I've tried being light and it doesn't work. I can do comedic dialog but the Alice in Wonderland path always appears and I head right to the rabbit hole every time.
Dark fiction is anything where the themes are uncomfortable, creepy, non-traditional and push the boundaries of what humanity defines as normal. I consider it a form of “soft” horror. It doesn't have to be erotic to be dark, though erotica by its very nature tends to be “heavier” than say—romance. A solid literary erotica writer is Kitty Thomas, who I've mentioned before. She doesn't feel compelled to offer an HEA in her work. Thomas doesn't have to, her work is dark literary erotica and she only has to disturb us well, make us think and feel emotions. They don't even have to be good emotions. CJ Roberts is another author that commands dark erotic fiction very well. Their books have strong themes of ownership and abuse. Now there's a distinct market, thanks in large part to that work breaking the ceiling of what “acceptable” dark fiction was.
What about non-erotic? Well yes, let's talk about dark fantasy. My real name work shares a ton of space with vamp authors who don't let their vampires get away with sissy-sucking-titty behavior. No-oh. Their vampires are animals with brains. That flat-out does it for me. For me, as a reader, it's not great unless it has the gritty edge of dark as the underpinnings of the story.
If you're a rainbows and unicorn type of writer, then probably not. I'd encourage that author not to bother with the dark. But if you're drawn to those themes in the work you read, I'd say—sure, give it a shot. One cautionary note: books that are unique and disturbing are generally not mainstream fare. If you're looking to grab cash and run, dark fiction is probably not a good bet (hopefully, the goal is The Work and not cash). Go to Amazon's Top 100 and check out how romance clogs it. (I love a great romance book.) However, I like a great, dark and edgy fiction novel one hundred times more.
Write what you love, write what you know and be comfortable being niche in the dark.
Publication date: June 27th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal
Julia’s sworn enemies are safely sequestered in a prison of the fey and her forever mate has been chosen. Not by blood, but by a circumstance shaped from coincidence. However, it’s not enough to save Julia and the others who came from Alaska their fate by the hand of the Alaska den, whose reacquisition has come alarmingly full-circle to capture them.
Tharell of the fey aligns with the Singers, Were and remaining vampire to take back the one Queen who could stop the interspecies wars and establish a truce of genetics that would free all the groups from extinction and conflict.
Can they rescue Julia and her allies before it’s too late? Will the Red Were’s lineage prove to be the catalyst of victory against a corrupt pack that’s grown too debauched by greed and power to be overcome?