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February 7 question: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

So what is Dark Fantasy?

So, to me, a work is dark fantasy if it deals with any elements of fantasy and/or the paranormal in a way that studies the dark and frightening side of our nature, psychology and the weird, sublime and uncanny. If it doesn’t shy away from the gore and horror of its own darkness, yet doesn’t primarily aim to spook. If it has heroes that are not knights in shining armour, but people that sometimes have to do unsavoury things. If it has villains that aren’t necessarily all bad as well as villains that really are all bad. If it’s dark and twisted and delves into the depths of speculative fiction, without primarily aiming to scare or gross out its readers, then it’s dark fantasy.

Guest post by Alan Baxter on the Creative Penn

Of course, elements of other genres bleed in. The ones I usually use are:

Low fantasy obviously contrasts with high fantasy (think Lord of the Rings). It can sometimes feel less real than the world it is set in (ours. The lines between the psychological, the supernatural, the fantasy elements (usually monsters and a bit of magic) and what is real, blurs constantly to keep readers on edge.

The “low” in the genre depiction has nothing to do with the quality, only with the elements of the fantastical.


The way I conceptualize urban fantasy is magic and weird stuff creeping in at the edges of a world in which magic is not the norm. Everything appears normal until you walk down a particular alleyway after midnight on the third Tuesday of the month. The person sitting opposite you on the underground train looks normal but is in fact looking for a particular flavour of grief to steal and bottle up to take back to his master. The majority of the people who live there will have normal lives, oblivious to the magical all around them, hidden in plain sight.

Emma Newman Writing Fiction. What Is Urban Fantasy Anyway? on the Creative Penn.

Those two definitely blur together for me. When I started writing, I had no idea that I would like dark fantasy. I definitely liked low fantasy/urban fantasy (think Harry Potter), but I didn’t really read (or watch) dark stories.

Until my dogs died in 2010.

I started reading and enjoying darker stories (think Holly Black and Vampire Diaries).

Another one died in 2012, another in 2013, and yet another in 2016.

I found my escape in writing. I allowed the monsters in my head to live on the page. I became a better writer.

There’s always another Holly Black book to read (I can’t wait to read “The Cruel Prince”), but now “The Vampire Diaries” are finished and I find myself missing them (especially Damon – I have a playlist with the best Vampire Diaries songs that were in key scenes Damon featured in playing when I miss the idea of new episodes of the show). And no: there isn’t any time for re-watching the show, not when I want to keep to this year’s publishing schedule.

I hope readers enjoy – and bond with my characters – as much as I have with the books and shows I devour.

Sometimes writing is scary – especially when I let the monsters out to play. But it’s a good thing. Don’t you agree?

What is your favourite genre? Do you read dark fantasy/low fantasy/urban fantasy? What drives you to write?

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