Guest post – Donna Hanson: Why grim dark?

IMG_0916Today’s post is brought to you by fellow Australian writer Donna Hanson.

Thank you Patty for hosting me on your blog today to talk about my new dark, epic fantasy series, Dragon Wine.

A reviewer I respect called Shatterwing, the first in the Dragon Wine series, grim dark. I knew the Dragon Wine series was dark but I hadn’t actually thought about it as being grim dark. I know that’s a new buzz word. Apparently it originated with Warhammer 40 K and yes, I read some of the fiction from the Black Library and it is pretty grim. The character though can give a lift to such a dismal setting.

Some would say George RR Martins Game of Thrones is grim dark, and it’s pretty gritty and unrelenting so that probably qualifies. There’s Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself, which was dark, gritty and well yeah grim. Richard Morgan’s the Steel Remains is dark and gritty but I’m not convinced it’s grim.

Another novel, which I haven’t read yet is The Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence, which is rumoured to be grim dark.

So grim could mean that a story is dark, nasty, gritty and with little optimism or hope. I think my Dragon Wine series certainly skirts the border of grim, but there is always a tiny thread of hope. It’s nasty and gritty for sure, but there are some people fighting for good. There is some hope that humans will recover some of their goodness, provided their world doesn’t cease to exist. Cough!

We’ve seen more and more grit in our fiction, including movies. I use James Bond for an example. The Daniel Craig versions are very dark, gritty and pull no punches. It’s a realism that is imbued in the story that both draws and repels.

Is there room for realism then in fantasy? Certainly, Shatterwing is not for the reader who wants to escape into a lovely world filled with unicorns and elves and nice fairy witches. I make no excuses for the darkness in the story. It’s the story that I wrote that maybe reflects some of the horrible things going on in the world. The things that shock me. That make me despair for the future.

My theme for the series is: How low and humankind go and what is it that is worth saving? Not a bright, shining topic is it? But deep down, I do have hope as much as I despair. I want people to stop killing each other. I have hope we can get to that point where we all live in peace.

Here is the blurb for Shatterwing. I’d love to see what you guys think of the story and whether you think it’s dark or grim dark.

Dragon wine could save them. Or bring about their destruction.

Since the moon shattered, the once peaceful and plentiful world has become a desolate wasteland. Factions fight for ownership of the remaining resources as pieces of the broken moon rain down, bringing chaos, destruction and death.

The most precious of these resources is dragon wine a life-giving drink made from the essence of dragons. But the making of the wine is perilous and so is undertaken by prisoners. Perhaps even more dangerous than the wine production is the Inspector, the sadistic ruler of the prison vineyard who plans to use the precious drink to rule the world.

There are only two people that stand in his way. Brill, a young royal rebel who seeks to bring about revolution, and Salinda, the prison’s best vintner and possessor of a powerful and ancient gift that she is only beginning to understand. To stop the Inspector, Salinda must learn to harness her power so that she and Brill can escape, and stop the dragon wine from falling into the wrong hands.

You can find Donna on her blog






Guest post – Donna Hanson: Why grim dark? was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

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