Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Guest Post: Writing Dark Fantasy by Cas Peace

When I began writing my Artesans of Albia series, I had no idea which fantasy genre would apply. Once all nine books were finished it was clear the main genre would be Epic Fantasy, with Sword and Sorcery and probably Heroic Fantasy as lesser categories. However, the final trilogy of the series can most certainly be classed as Dark Fantasy, and this came as quite a shock to me, even while I wrote it.

Fans of the series will know there are elements of dark fantasy throughout the six books published so far. My main female character, Sullyan, suffers rape in the first trilogy, and this terrible experience colors her life and drives her to defend and protect those weaker than herself. Her determination to survive, or at least find some meaning for what life she has left, is what enables her to work toward the destruction of her tormentor and eventually face him in person. Strength gained through adversity is a theme running through all nine books, and it applies not just to Sullyan but other characters as well.

When I came to write this third trilogy, Master of Malice, it quickly became apparent that the mood would change. My antagonist, Reen, has been horribly, terribly disfigured by an incident on his island prison, an experience that changes him fundamentally. Someone as pious as Reen might be expected to see his survival as a reason for thankfulness, maybe a sign he should forgive his enemies and learn to live in contentment. But Reen chooses to believe he has been empowered by his God to wreak a terrible vengeance, and this he sets out to do.

Given his nature and the nature of the vengeance he seeks, it was necessary for me to delve into the darkness of my own psyche in order to write authentic scenes. I expected this to be difficult but it was actually—and worryingly—easy. I guess we all have darkness in our souls, the potential for evil, and once I gave myself permission to explore it, it flowed onto the page with disturbing ease. 

I have always believed an author must have experienced emotional highs and lows in order to convey such emotions on paper. How can you write scenes of trauma and depression if you have never felt such emotions yourself? It is possible to gain insights from other people’s reactions to terrible events, but I would find it difficult to convey real depth and realism without having gone through such things myself. It is rare for a person to go through life untouched by disaster, death, loss, or rage, but it can also be hard reliving them. I have to say that I found the act of projecting my darkness onto a character to be cathartic; it gave me a greater understanding of how my emotions worked and how I could express them without damaging myself. I hope I have succeeded in writing Dark Fantasy, and that readers will feel my characters’ emotions as deeply as I did. 

Cas Peace

Author of the Artsans of Albia fantasy novels:
Artesans of Albia:
King's Envoy -- King's Champion -- King's Artesan

Circle of Conspiracy:
The Challenge
-- The Circle -- Full Circle

The Master of Malice:
The Scarecrow
(new release)

Author Website: www.caspeace.com
Author Amazon Page: Cas Peace on Amazon


  1. Many thanks, Terry, for hosting this post, I really appreciate it.