Welcome to one of the March 10th stops on the blog tour for Legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar, organized by Storytellers on Tour. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, other author guest/interview spots, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Author Guest Post
Question: What Draws You To Grimdark?
Coming to grimdark was a slow process for me. Until the last few years, most of my book buying was very straight forward—wander into a bookstore, look at a million books, read a dozen first pages, look for some maps, and then buy more books than I could possibly read before the next time I went to a bookstore. Since I wasn’t online back then, I didn’t know many of the subgenre terms. I knew I liked certain authors, but I didn’t realize there was more ways to define the books I loved other than just “Fantasy”.
And then I came to Twitter.
That was a crash course, let me tell you! High fantasy, low fantasy, grimdark, grimheart, noblebright, hopepunk, manorpunk, splatterpunk, gaslamp, sword & sorcery, and more and more and more. The shorthand that fans use to describe their favourite books is a great tool for efficiency, but it takes some adjustment! Somewhere along the way, I got the wrong impression about grimdark—I thought it was books that were just violence for the sake of violence, over the top, like horror movies in a fantasy setting. And sure, some grimdark books are like that (and power to them!) but that’s not what I was writing, so I didn’t think I was grimdark, end of story.
But… what was I writing?
My characters aren’t Chosen. They aren’t innocent. They’re trying their best, sure, but they have deep flaws and burdens that affect their decisions. There isn’t going to be a neat, easy ending. Sacrifices will have to be made. There will be a price. As I revised the core of the story, the theme of flaws and hard choices became more and more relevant. And I was trying to figure out how I would pitch it to people when the time came to publish.
Enter the crash course in subgenres.
Eliminating the genres that wouldn’t fit was the easy part. Noblebright, hopepunk, this is not. Not really swords & sorcery either, even though magic plays a big part in its own way. Not steampunk really.
The more I learnt, the more I heard about the nuances that exist in the grimdark subgenre. It isn’t only violence for the sake of violence. Some writers are doing exactly that, and they’re doing it brilliantly, but the subgenre is a broader net than I first thought. Books that exist in the grimdark subgenre are tackling big thoughts. What makes one person right and another person wrong? How do we measure morality, really? What makes a hero? What makes a villain?
Humans are complicated and messy and flawed. We make mistakes. Our intentions may be one thing, but our actions can become something else entirely if we aren’t careful. Even if we are careful!
I came to grimdark finally and enthusiastically when I realized that it would let me write those kinds of deep flaws into my core characters. The world they are trying to navigate is cold and hard and brutal, and my characters are forced to make choices when no one answer is easy, when the right thing to do isn’t obvious. Grimdark lets me build characters who are flawed, sometimes tragically so, and let them come together in chaos instead of trying to make me decide who is the hero and who is the villain. Maybe that ability to choose isn’t used quite yet in Legacy of the Brightwash, but more characters are waiting for their turn to have a say. And I can understand every single one of them, and what motivated them to make these choices, and how their intentions maybe haven’t matched their actions.
The more I read in grimdark, the more I came to love how many different ways other writers are existing under that umbrella. Want to paint your mind in gore? Grimdark’s got you. Want a deep think about morality? Grimdark’s got you. Want characters with questionable motivations? Grimdark’s got you! But in discussing and examining these heavy themes, there is also room for humanity to shine. Hope in spite of the darkness is something special. Characters who manage to do the right thing even though that right thing was the hardest thing they ever did? That’s some magic, I’ll tell you. You have to earn your hope in grimdark. You have to fight for your joy. And even if you won, if you stood tall against the rising tide of brutality, you haven’t walked away with clean hands. And I think a lot of us can relate to that. No one is perfect—but that lack of perfection doesn’t make us villains. It just makes us people, trying our best, when the world is dark and hard to navigate.
So, I’m honoured to exist with so many other stunningly talented writers, under this grimdark umbrella.
What drew me to grimdark?
About the Book
Legacy of the Brightwash
Tainted Dominion Book One
by Krystle Matar
Published 18 February 2021
Imburleigh Book Company
Genre: Grimdark Fantasy, Gaslamp Fantasy
Page Count: 662
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
CW: Miscarriage, Addiction, Substance abuse, Prisoner abuse, Body horror, Gore, Violence, Police brutality, Racism, Torture
Follow the law and you’ll stay safe. But what if the law is wrong?
Tashué’s faith in the law is beginning to crack.
Three years ago, he stood by when the Authority condemned Jason to the brutality of the Rift for non-compliance. When Tashué’s son refused to register as tainted, the laws had to be upheld. He’d never doubted his job as a Regulation Officer before, but three years of watching your son wither away can break down even the strongest convictions.
Then a dead girl washed up on the bank of the Brightwash, tattooed and mutilated. Where had she come from? Who would tattoo a child? Was it the same person who killed her?
Why was he the only one who cared?
Will Tashué be able to stand against everything he thought he believed in to get the answers he’s looking for?
About the Author
Krystle Matar has been writing for a long time, but things got serious when Tashué Blackwood walked into her life, an amber-eyed whirlwind.
When she isn’t arguing with him or any of his friends, she parents and farms. She has a lot of children and even more animals and one very excellent husband.
She is currently working on lots of stories set in the Dominion. She expects to exist in this universe for a while.
Enter the giveaway for this tour on the tour schedule post for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Legacy fo Brightwash (open internationally.)
|Mar 7||Whispers & Wonder|
|Mar 8||Beneath A Thousand Skies|
|Mar 8||Out of This World SFF Reviews|
|Mar 8||Sadie’s Spotlight|
|Mar 9||The Book in Hand|
|Mar 10||Westveil Publishing|
|Mar 10||I Can Has Books?|
|Mar 11||Fantasy Book Nerd|
|Mar 11||Luke Tarzian|
|Mar 12||The Bookwyrm’s Guide to the Galaxy|
|Mar 13||Queen’s Book Asylum|
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