"Now, with soul-hungry geists flooding the city, the church scrambling for their prey, and her own mind at war with itself, Mirabel must decide what she's fighting for before she loses everything to the evils of Autumnfall."
Published: March 23rd, 2016
Cover Artist: Cora Graphics
In an overpopulated city-state where technology and magic are forbidden by the corrupt church, young witch, Mirabel Fairfax, plots the creation of a deadly plague to cull the burdensome rabble.
That is, until she falls in love with the very alchemist she has been deceiving.
Now, with soul-hungry geists flooding the city, the church scrambling for their prey, and her own mind at war with itself, Mirabel must decide what she's fighting for before she loses everything to the evils of Autumnfall.
Human Condition in Dark Fantasy
It has often been said that non-fiction may be more accurate, but fiction is more truthful. Indeed, fiction liberates the writer, granting them infinite paint and canvas through which to illustrate a truth, whether subtle or extreme. Creative writers, myself included, are motivated by this need to express the human condition.
When writing my novel, THE PART THAT DOESN’T BURN, I was desperate not only to convey what I knew about the human heart, but to discover more. I knew, deep down, that eventually my characters would take over and show something that I couldn’t. But in order for that to happen, I had to set the stage for it. In the end, only a dark stage allowed me to explore true desperation, and that infamous gray line between good and evil.
Dark Fantasy is difficult to define, even amongst professionals who swim in the genre. But simply put, it takes the wondrous elements of Fantasy and twists them into nightmares. I choose the word nightmare carefully. It entails the physical, monstrous horrors along with the horrors of the mind. It includes man’s worst fears, and possibly even his or her own descent into the demon they never wanted to become. Only here, hanging on the ledge of the cliff to oblivion, are all the little things that make us human mortally challenged.
Monsters are fun in fiction, but they shouldn’t merely lurk in swamps and around corners; they should lurk within minds and hearts as well. They should become the characters, and the characters become them: a disease impacting the heroes and the villains alike until you don’t know which is which anymore. Then the physical, literal monsters come at us again.
In this, Dark Fantasy becomes the most extreme genre when it comes to testing the human condition. It makes you wonder: why is it so fun to read? Why do I care about characters who struggle with right and wrong? And why do I want to see these characters fighting through so much pain? At what point do we all just give up? Those questions answer themselves. Writers and readers alike are attracted to the genre to see how far humans are willing to go to not give up. Even our fiction counterparts must carry on when confused, dejected, tortured, and betrayed. And if they can find some sort of purpose, it gives us all some sort of purpose.
But a great Dark Fantasy doesn’t completely dissolve into heartless, mindless chaos only to leave its readers with a meaningless mess at the end. In a well-told story there remains a constant: a part of the human condition that even the fires of hell cannot burn. Whether the novel ends in tragedy or salvation, or somewhere in between, that constant must be there. It must tether the reader (and the writer, for that matter) to the souls of the characters, and bring meaning to the pain and darkness. In the end, for better or worse, we are humans, not aberrant fantasy monsters. And the genre is about us, not them.
About the author:
Sam Poling has been writing fantasy and science fiction for the thrill of it his entire life, from short stories to screenplays. His love for each of the subgenres led to dedication to writing genre-skirting fiction with all the elements that make up the human condition. He holds a strong enthusiasm for medical studies and currently works as a medical assistant in a large clinic while taking classing for nursing. He also serves on a health and safety committee, including disaster preparedness and infection control. His interest in epidemiology and medical science tends to spill over into his writing endeavors.