Monday, June 20, 2011

Writing in the Dark...

I once heard that all comedy comes from a dark place. Is it the same with writing? Sure, some people write for the love of it. Some write because they have that compulsion. They can’t live without the creative release valve. Much of what is on the market now is dark paranormal romance and romantic suspense. What compels writers to write such dark material? And what makes readers come back for more? Is it simple escapism or something deeper?

I didn’t ponder this question overmuch until I began writing my second historical romance last spring. In March 2010, my life was going through some changes and it seemed that none of them were good. My family was in turmoil, I was unhealthier than I had ever been in my life, and it seemed like my mental stability was hanging by a thread. On top of it all, I lost my daytime job and my trusty computer kicked the bucket and nearly took a year’s worth of writing files with it. While a computer specialist was recovering all that work off the old hard drive, my parents leant me an old desktop that I could work on in the meantime. Despite the fact that I was in the midst of another manuscript when my computer crashed, I started fresh with a new document and unloaded the only way I knew how.

The Regency historical was unplanned, as were its angst-ridden characters who I grew to care for more strongly than any other character I’d created before. The heroine in particular, with her devastating bouts of anxiety, I felt akin to. The story itself, though not paranormal or suspenseful, explored a dark place I hadn’t known was there to delve. Until that point, I thought I wrote for simple escapism. This Regency proved that sometimes writing comes from a place much more personal than that. It almost seemed like the manuscript was validation; a way for me to put the darkness inside me into perspective and to use it in a constructive way.

This manuscript is only half completed, but I still feel the importance of giving the story, the characters and even that part of my life closure despite the fact that my reality has improved much in fifteen months. Whether it ever hits the shelves or not, it will always serve as somewhat of a talisman. In fact, I’m as proud of it as I am of my first manuscript, Forever Amore!

Readers, it’s your turn to sound off. How much of what you read is dark material and why are you drawn to it? (Plus, fans of dark paranormal romance or dark romantic suspense, feel free to shout out your favorite titles!)

7 comments:

marybelle said...

Dark material draws you in close. I can't read it all the time, but it paints a picture sometimes of great depth.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Joanne Stewart said...

Well, I don't read too many paranormals. But I read dark stuff because I personally like stories that feel realistic to me. And let's face it, people often have to deal with some ugly stuff. I myself have been through some dark stuff, so yeah, for me, some of it bleeds off into my writing. My latest WIP, the hero and the heroine both have dark pasts they have to deal with and I know exactly what part of me this comes from.

Great post. :)

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Hi Marybelle! I can't read it all the time either, but there are sometimes I'm drawn to it when buying books. Not sure why that is from a reading standpoint....

Joanne, hi - thanks for visiting! Writing dark material does feel much more realistic, particularly my historical ms. That's probably why I feel so much more strongly for those characters....

Calisa Rhose said...

I don't read lot of dark material but I do read it. I think, for me, it depends on life at that moment what I'll read. If life is dark I radiate toward lighter reads and visa versa. I'm glad life is better for you now.

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Thank you very much, Calisa!

Julianne said...

I read depending on my mood. If I'm not having a happy day, I'll tug out the light stuff. If I'm in for something a little heavier, or if I'm needing a vampire fix, I'll tug out the Anne Rice or Edgar Allan Poe inspired tomes. These days I'm reading a lot of cozy mysteries, and I've found it's a nice mix of nice and dark. I think I like the darker stuff because of the mystery that ends up involving itself in these stories--whether it's a mystery or not. And let's face it, the payoff for the characters in the darker tales, if they can make it through, even if it's just to get the villain and solve the crime is much more satisifying if you had to fight for it, than just a fluffy happy ending. Dark Paranormal recommendation... um, Karen Chance, Maggie Shayne, and Julianna Sage

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Wow, thank you for the recs, Julianne! I have one Maggie Shayne book I've been dying to read and I've comtemplated buying a Karen Chance book, too. And you're definitely right; the pay-off for characters who've been through dark circumstances together does seem bigger!