A while ago I had the pleasure of reviewing a book by K. Caffee from her ‘Followers of Torments’ series. Since reading that book, her work has come to define for me the epitome of ‘dark fantasy’. So it was a real pleasure to have the chance to hear from K.Caffee herself how she sees that sub-genre:
How do you define ‘dark fantasy’ as opposed to other kinds?
For me, dark fantasy examines the underbelly of society – crime, vice, abuse, and the other “hidden” horrors no one wants to talk about. Not only do these create the central themes for the work, they are also thoroughly examined. (I’ve had a few say that my own work should be shelved in paranormal horror, rather than dark fantasy – at least until the truth of the story sinks in. Then I’m told I don’t have enough gore for a good thriller or horror. ::Grins:: Makes ’em thinks I does!)
Do you think dark fantasy is a separate genre or can any fantasy have ‘dark aspects’?
My answer would be both. Just because there are elements of dark fantasy woven into a tale does not mean the tale itself is dark fantasy. Same as having elements of erotica woven into a fantasy does not mean THAT story is erotica. It is the central theme of the story that initially defines if the story is dark, urban, high, or any other sub-genre of fantasy.
Which authors would you say exemplify dark fantasy, both mainstream and indie?
(Shameless self plug) My main books tend to wander around on the dark side of fantasy. I wind up exploring the plight of feral children, slavery, mental illness, and personality/spiritual crisis, all of which are often swept under the rug and never exposed to sunlight.
Another indie that I feel hits the genre’s description squarely is Tanya Simmons. Her debut fiction book “Mystery’s Choice” has a way of really making you think about the dark side of Christianity and what that all entails.
Traditional… I’m not sure if it’s really dark fantasy, but it definitely covers the right themes: Gail Baudino’s “Strands of Starlight”. This one makes you really think about just what happened during the Crusades, and how a personality crisis can really mess with someone’s future.
You write dark fantasy, what draws you to that particular expression of the fantasy genre?
Self-therapy, pure and simple. I can’t do to people what I do to my characters. When I have a bad day, or have a particular person whose managed to REALLY get under my skin and tick me off, dark fantasy is a safety valve. I get to write in the bits and pieces of the events, or the perception concept of the person, and gruesomely, painfully, lovingly demolish it/them. Very, VERY cathartic experience! (Not sure the people would appreciate what I do to them, however. Something about being turned into spider soup and slurped up seems to make folks distraught when they are the victim.)
If you would like to check out the Followers of Torments series, you can find the first book ‘Out of the Darkness’ HERE .
My review of ‘Into The Sunlits’, the third book in the series, is HERE.
And you can connect with K. Caffee herself HERE.