Dark Fantasy Novel Debuting Earlier Than Expected

Hey All! Just a quick update. My debut novel, The Shaded, has been available for preorder on Amazon for several weeks now. Well, I am happy to announce I am ahead of schedule on the final edit, so it should be going live within the next two to three weeks, so keep an eye out. For those of you that have subscribed to my newsletter, I will send out an email when it goes live.


Epic Horror Vs. Dark Fantasy

So if you are like me and love the world building, and the hero’s journey/quest story that epic fantasy offers, but are tired of elves, dwarves, and orcs and would like to see epic fantasy with darker horror themes where do you go? That question not rhetorical, because I am genuinely asking. I am not quire sure.

So from what I have found, you are stuck with two major genres: dark fantasy and epic horror. Both, I believe, are lacking. So we’ll first examine dark fantasy.

Dark Fantasy is a genre of fiction that most readers have head of and is defined by wikipedia as: subgenre of fantasy literary, artistic, and cinematic works that incorporate darker and frightening themes of fantasy. It also often combines fantasy with elements of horror or has a gloomy, dark (or grimdark) atmosphere, or a sense of horror and dread.

I would argue that definition is somewhat lacking. While some dark fantasy does incorportate horror themes, it seems now that it has become synonymous with grimdark fantasy, which (in a nutshell) speaks to the violent, dystopian, or amoral tone of the story. Think Game of Thrones or the novels of Joe Abercrombie.  Why is that significant? Well if you are looking for horror themes in a fantasy book, or the epic hero’s journey style story with with monsters, demons, etc., searching dark fantasy on amazon will not be specific enough to get you there. So search epic horror? Maybe…

So what is epic horror? Well it’s an even less defined sub genre of horror that doesn’t even have its on amazon subcategory, but does have one on Goodreads. Think The Strain, or Stephen King’s The Stand. It’s basically a story set in a horror world, usually multiple books. That still leans a little heavy to the horror side, and makes the fantasy story elements ride shotgun.

Both of these genres are very broad and I don’t believe they will help you find a fantasy story in a horror world, which is what I have been looking for for a while. Stephen king’s The Dark Tower series is probably the closest to what I like to read, and in amazon it’s listed under several different categories, one of which is horror/dark fantasy.

So what do you search for on Amazon to find the type of book I describe above? So until amazon creates a niched down category of Dark Fantasy, or a new category entirely (I vote Epic Gothic Horror) search horror/dark fantasy. While it is broad, it seems to be the best Amazon category so far.  Searching fantasy/dark fantasy seems to reveal more Grimdark novels.

My Book Cover Journey

So there is a lot of information online on what to look for in a perfect book cover. After reading what felt like all of it, I saw a common theme that kept repeating. A cover should ultimately express the overall feel of your genre and make a potential reader want to read the blurb. Simple enough, I thought. Then I looked at a lot dark fantasy covers. What I discovered there was the really successful ones had amazing art, not thrown together stock images but illustrated fantasy settings that sucked you in… I was like, Okay, that’s what I want.

So, now I knew what I wanted my cover to accomplish (read the blurb) and I knew I wanted an amazing illustration capturing the feel and the conflict of the story. That would be starting at around $400.

My next step was to find an artist for the ebook and paperback cover. But where? So after more research and reading the rest of the inter-webs, I decided to go with 99designs.  I feel like it was a great decision. For right at $400 I created a competition where artists on the site compete for your gig. The best part is you don’t have to pay if you can’t find an artist you like in the first round, which is three days. You create a brief, which is a vision of what you want. I felt like the more specific your vision is the better here. You will get a lot artists submitting crap designs, but stay strong. You only need 1 good entry.

So a few hours into the competition I had an artist contact me and politely request that I make the competition blind, meaning artists can’t see other artists designs. I said sure? why not? He was a mid level artist on the site with 1 or 2 covers in his portfolio that were pretty good, another lucky great decision. Turns out this is the artist that won the competition, and illustrated the cover on my debut novel, The Shaded.

Vilenko1985 is his profile and he can be found there. He was great to work with and his art style is retro in the best way possible. I felt like he really captured the feel of my novel. More of his art can be found at Artstation

The Shaded Available For Preorder Now at Amazon

What if darkness is your greatest enemy, the light your weapon and your prison? Can a prison save you?…

The Shade is darkness incarnate, the apotheosis of all nightmares. It’s true threat forgotten by the town’s people of Fervence, forgotten by all but their constable Enoch Clay who was orphaned by an evil from its dark realm. A sphere of light as powerful and enigmatic as the darkness itself is the only thing keeping it at bay.

Now, over a decade after his parents tragic murder, The Shade invades again, taking from Enoch the only love he has left: his wife Esther. Convinced by a vision and a relic from a powerful entity, Enoch knows that what killed Esther may be the only thing that can save her.

But first, he must escape his town and its holy laws before facing the terrors of the deadly darkness. Only outside the Light can he find the truth that will release his wife from death’s hold, But at what cost?

Discover this debut Dark Fantasy Thriller, the fist in an epic series.

The Darkness claimed her, only The Darkness can release her…

Find it on Amazon Here…