I was very intrigued with Darkness Concealed and, when D. Emery Bunn suggested doing an interview, I leapt at the idea. He was kind enough to agree and gave me some fascinating answers to my questions. Here’s a more in depth look at the creation of the book and what we can expect in the next instalment.
1. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In the story itself, there’s a couple of messages that I’m trying to communicate:
- Hope endures until one loses it. Hope in a better world, hope in survival, hope in triumph. There are dozens of reasons why the characters in the story should give up hope, but they don’t. And it strengthens them enough to keep going, even in the midst of despair.
- Heroes aren’t the people who charge into the midst of the fight, weapon swinging. Heroes are the people who realize that they’re in over their heads, and refuse to quit. Heroes are the people who don’t abandon their friends even when things are grim. Heroes are those who have deep flaws, and don’t let that stop them at any point.
As somewhat of a sequel hook, there are other messages that are built into the trilogy itself, and isn’t visible in Darkness Concealed itself.
2. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. It’s a better story than I thought I’d ever write, and I will not look back and say “well, I could have done this better”.
3. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the story of Darkness Concealed to life?
Research-wise, it wasn’t too much of a challenge. The story and setting had been sitting in my head for years before I wrote the first draft of it, and intricate reasons and logic for everything that goes on came into being without me having to work that hard.
Likewise, my only literary insistence was maintaining a unique vocal style for each of my characters. I might have speech tagged to prevent any and all confusion, but after a point their dialogue alone should hold them distinct.
Psychological aspects were the hardest part. Darkness Concealed is not a happy story, and there is more than one scene which if I read it and fully comprehend what I’m saying, fills me with tears.
Logistically, the only snag I had was when I threw out the first draft as unsalvageable garbage (it was, trust me). I wrote the second draft from scratch, and as I was writing it I kept on skewing off the rails of what had previously been written. Where I’d had action and mind-bending scenarios, subtlety reigned. The thematic whiplash, as someone who’s read both versions, was pretty big.
4. Which authors have influenced you the most?
When it comes to having an answer for absolutely everything in my world, and being able to trace its timeline back thousands of years, I have to credit J. R. R. Tolkien. I have a bookshelf full of the stuff he’s written.
When it comes to having meta plot twists that were there the entire time, only invisible until the moment, I’ll credit Isaac Asimov. I’ve read the Foundation Trilogy twice, which is a very rare thing for me to do.
Beyond that, I can’t name my influences. My writing is an amalgamation of everything I’ve ever read.
5. Who was the hardest character to write? Why?
Alexandra. She started out as a very put-together sort of person who got thrown off her life path by unexpected tragedy. But when I wrote the third draft, the tragedy consumed her. Her pain and loss drove her very character, and I had to rewrite almost every single thing she said and thought. I hadn’t been expecting such a transformation, but when I read it afterwards, it made sense.
6. What started the idea/concept of Darkness Concealed?
A play-by-post campaign where to apply you needed to present a fully-formed land with adventure hooks and other juicy bits the dungeon master could use. I thought “hey, I can do that, and that sounds cool, too!” I took a shower while thinking about it, and one sentence formed: “idyllic, peaceful pastureland…except for when the apocalypse comes.” Everything built from there.
7. What are you reading right now?
I’m presently doing two beta reads for two different authors, and reading for pleasure another book. I won’t say much about the beta reads because I don’t know when the books will release, nor the author’s preferences.
- Family Ties by Debi Smith (Beta).
- Kidnapped by William Twentyman (Beta).
- Breadcrumb Trail by Adam Dreece. Emergent steampunk YA, with tons of allusions to fairy tale characters and mythology. I’m really digging the darker tone of the story, though the worst is likely still yet to come.
8. Darkness Concealed is the beginning of a trilogy, what can we look forward to in the next book? Do you have a title for it yet? When can readers can expect it?
I’ll be honest and say that Darkness Concealed leaves a lot of questions unanswered, a lot of plot threads dangling. The sequel, Darkness Revealed, is exactly what it says on the tin. That pile of questions will be answered, but the answers are very, very dark.
As for when it will release, I plan to write its first draft in November, and hopefully its second between January and February. I’m aiming for a 9 month release schedule from the start of the story to when I get it out there.
9. Does being an editor make writing easier or harder? Why?
Easier, but mostly because I’ve come to terms with it. I don’t write at top speed, ignoring the typos and grammatical gaffs. I also don’t write without considering whether it works. As a result, I don’t write as much in a given period of time as someone who’s pushing through the draft and worrying about it later.
When drafting, I will outright delete a “bad direction” with the story, where it doesn’t appear to be going where it should. I performed that sacrilege during NaNoWriMo, deleting entire scenes because I realized they weren’t what I was supposed to write. I refuse to let terrible material sit when I can replace it just as fast with something that’s good.
It also means that when I come back to a story to spruce it up, I’m comfortable throwing entire sections out. Darkness Concealed was written once, rewritten from scratch once, and reworded completely scene by scene a third time. I don’t mind this, because what got put in place is head and shoulders above what got removed.
10. How can readers discover more about you and your work?
I maintain a blog at www.demerybunn.com, as well as an email address (emery at the same domain). Blog topics can be anything from advice about writing and editing, to stories of what’s going on in my life, to reviews, interviews, and rants in defense of independent publishing. Oh, and posts about how what I write is coming along.
I also have a very active Twitter presence (@DEmeryBunn), and looking to add Goodreads to my list of places I frequent.
A huge thanks to D. Emery Bunn for this interview! As a little bonus, here’s a teaser quote from Darkness Concealed.