This weeks Dear Claerie features a good friend of mine, Tanner Childs!
Intro: What’s your name, what do you write, where can readers find you on social media? And just for fun, if you could be any mythological being, what or who would you be?
Well, my name is Tanner Childs, I write fantasy of all kinds, and I am most active on twitter @tanner_childs. Please feel free to PM me any time. I am always looking for a good conversation. As for the mythical creature, I would be dragon, no phoenix, no, hydra, no wraith, no… this is too hard.
- You have a passion for dark fantasy. What makes dark fantasy different from regular fantasy and why are you drawn to the genre?
That’s actually a really good question. So, let’s dig into it…
Dark Fantasy is obviously fantasy, so there is magic and monsters and dragons and such. What makes it dark is the elements. There are splashes of horror and grit that are lacking in other, more epic style fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing a good epic fantasy, but there is something about that dark grittiness that speaks to me. I’m able to connected with the grittier characters. It probably comes from my extended family that lived like that. (i.e. drug deals, prostitutes, thugs, etc)
- Fantasy is such a wide-open genre where anything can happen. Do you find there are central themes or elements that are unique to your dark fantasy books? (For example, are you drawn to anti-heroes, antagonists, certain settings etc.) Why do those things stand out to you?
I’m often drawn to antiheros. I like redemption stories, and, well, bad-asses. Pardon my French lol. I just really like making my protagonists as brutal as my antagonists.
- I know from chatting with you on social media that you’re a hard-core pantser (almost my polar opposite ha ha). Have you ever pantsed a novel or story and had it make no sense by the end? How did you go about fixing it?
According to betas and my sister (who is my first beta) I have yet to write a story that makes no sense, by itself. I do have some sequels that, as sequels, make no sense, but as standalone stories, they work. But those came from my early days, and thankfully I haven’t had one of those for some time now.
- Anything that a writer wanting to be a pantser should NOT do when they’re writing their first draft?
Take their time and edit as they go. That’s pantser suicide. As a pantser, you have to write fast and dirty. The magic happens in the rewrites. A pantsers first draft should basically just be one long outline that outlines almost every inch of the book. Take that for what it’s worth.
- What are some often used dark fantasy tropes that you advise new writers to avoid? Why?
Dark fantasy is not an overly saturated market, so the tropes specific to it are few and far between. Most of them are either universal tropes or horror tropes. The big one is watch your gore. Lot’s of the dark fantasy writers I’ve had experience with think that lots of gore equals dark grit. That’s not the case. Most of my darkness and grit comes from the characters actions, descriptions of the monsters and setting, and of course brutal (and bloody, it is needed, just not overused) combat.
- Which character type is the hardest for you to write (villain, hero, sidekick, love interest etc.) How do you overcome that hump?
Love interest is by far the most difficult. I’ve never had any kind of relationship, and I come from such a large family that I don’t feel any kind of over affection to anyone I’m related too. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, but I imagine there is a different feel to parent-child love than the regular kind of love. See, I can’t even write about love without being awkward. So, I just do my best and keep it vague. There, but vague.
- What was the first dark fantasy book you read and what made it great?
The first dark fantasy book I read was one by Joseph Delaney called, The Last Apprentice: Curse of the Bane. It was the second in the series, and I just had to get them all. It had the perfect amount of monsters, fighting, grit/gore, and the characters were great!
- You have one main work in progress and two finished manuscripts that I have beta’d. What is the biggest lesson you learned from writing each of those manuscripts?
Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve written so many and learned so much that it all blurs together. Certainly patience and persistence are in there, so is not taking anything too personally and learning from peoples criticisms. The big one though is just keep going. If you believe in yourself, then just keep going, you’ll make it.
- This is random but fun one, if you could pick any time period to live in, when would you live and why?
I would pick early Renaissance. The world was starting to look up, but there was still enough space that if I wanted too I could just wander off into the woods and live off the land. I’m just that kind of person!
- What is one book you think every dark fantasy writer should read at least once?
Honestly, I think every dark fantasy writer (on top of reading fantasy, that’s a given) should actually read Stephen Kings Pet Cemetery. I know, odd choice right, but hear me out. The reason I chose that one is because of its makeup. That particular book isn’t saturated with gore or monsters or really anything that you would think would make it horror, yet it is. You’ll have to read it to understand, but it has the perfect balance of everything to make it great. Not to mention the story is King (no pun intended!) in that book.
Thanks Tanner! Don’t forget to say hi to him on Twitter! As always, keep making magic, word weavers