Monday, September 22, 2014

Author Interview: D. Emery Bunn

50 years ago, the dawn did not come. Again. Everyone in Telthan knew it would happen. Monsters roamed the land, killing virtually everyone in their path, laying waste to anything in their way. Only a precious few survived to rebuild the wreckage of civilization, just like last time. No one questions the Darkening. Not even the children.

That is, until four strangers set off in search of answers, braving a forbidden city, a forgotten library, and foreboding mountains for the truth that has to exist. But the past does not give up its secrets easily, and the truth is far darker than the blackest night.

The teaser from my friend, the talented D. Emery Bunn, whose debut novel Darkness Concealed launches in a few short days. He was kind enough to stop by my blog for a visit. Enjoy!

Welcome to my blog. Thrilled to have you. Before we introduce your book, let’s introduce you—who is D. Emery Bunn?

I could steal my official bio, but that's boring. My day job is engineering, ironically civil despite my degree being in electrical. I love it anyway. In my free time I play video games, read, play tabletop, and of course, write. I also do editing for folks on occasion. My current domicile is Clovis, New Mexico.

Writing a book is a monumental undertaking—congrats on completing yours. Why did you write it?

Thank you! Originally, I wrote it because I had come up with a cool setting for D&D...that ended up not being very well-suited for actually playing through. There was an awesome story, a very long arc, but I was too specific about what I wanted to happen with the overall plot. For those who don't play D&D or similar, that's very bad, because it means the players have no agency for deciding the movement of the plot.

Thus was the first draft. But with the second draft, I realized that a lot of things about my base assumptions on the world were wrong; they didn't jibe with the overall arc. So I threw them out and went with a more philosophical angle instead of a "let me tell you the horror." For sake of spoilers, I won't say what they are, but suffice to say that it's all across the trilogy and not just this first book.

Why about dark fantasy grips you? 

Classic epic fantasy is somewhat boring to me. It's good, sure, but the guarantee that the characters will go through hell but still end up triumphant just by genre association is a turn-off. Dark fantasy throws that presumption out the door, and layers on extra amounts of hell as well. On top of that, epic fantasy is almost always black vs. white morality. Dark fantasy has more play for gray morality to come into the picture.

What is going to keep folks turning the pages of Darkness Concealed?

Several things:

- Each of the characters has their own motivation for being in the group, and very often those motivations clash. There will be fights, both amongst each other and within themselves. This becomes clearer as what they find out starts making them question everything they ever believed.
- The mystery of the Darkening and Telthan gets deeper as the story unfolds. Every answer will raise more questions, making the truth seem further and further away. Everything they discover fits into the bigger picture, and it is possible (though very difficult) to deduce the truth ahead of time.
 Darkness Concealed is more properly a dark epic fantasy. I twist a gargantuan pile of stock fantasy tropes, or call them out for laughs. Where before the guy from a small town just knows he's meant to be a hero, my story has him unable to wield a weapon (or magic) and so socially awkward he stutters constantly. Oh, and he has zero self-confidence.

I think the Quotables Campaign is pretty damn cool—tell us about that.

I love writing dialogue, and my characters all have very clear voices. As a result, Darkness Concealed is positively overflowing with quotables. Either cases where the characters are arguing with each other (which happens often), or bold declarations of character, or witty observations about the absurdity of what they're encountering.

“Which is to say, no one ever named it. Dibs! It’s called Tealbride.”


“It sounds cool.”


Knowing all of that, I found it a no-brainer to dig through my text and pull out several quotes that grab the reader and make them ask questions. I ended up with a set of 8 that don't spoil anything and yet give a good picture of every major character and some of the things they do.

Creeps know no mercy. I won’t show any in return.”


What aspects of your story were smoothest for you to write, and what were most challenging? For example, I usually get on a pretty good roll with dialogue, but can stumble with description a bit.

My smoothest was dialogue. If I had the characters going at it, or working through the explanation of what they're seeing, the word count flew. Even in the second draft, where I didn't have a full grasp on their character, they still made it easy to know what to say.

I dodge the description difficulty by deliberately being description-light. I give enough to have a sense of the scene or appearance, and leave it at that. I let the reader fill it in as much as they desire to.

My roughest was internal dialogue. A large amount of the impact of the story is measured by what the characters think to themselves, and I made a style choice to show that dialogue directly in
 italics instead of nestled within description. Since I have dialogue, internal dialogue, and description interleaving through the vast majority of the book, I needed to keep them all clear. It takes some adjusting on the reader's part, but it makes perfect sense after a chapter or two.

I admire dark fantasy scribes; one thing I’ve often wondered is whether I could find that elusive balance of penning those great fantastical and dark elements, but still building the tale on the strength of story and character. How do you navigate that balance, or perhaps you view the whole premise a bit differently?

I avoid that balance problem with Darkness Concealed. Essentially, the dark is so obvious, so ever-present, that if the characters do anything at all it's an act of heroism. Add in that the dark seems to get deeper the more they shine a light on it, and their willingness to keep going anyway speaks volumes.

But in the sequel, I'll have my work cut out for me. I'm not calling it
 Darkness Revealed for nothing. I'll have to strike several different balances to have the characters' arcs believable, the philosophy impactful without browbeating, and to pull off the absolute horror at the center of all the secrets.

OK, although you are welcome to share what authors have inspired you, I fear the entire readerly universe may have tired of that maudlin inquiry; instead, what do you hope for most as a reader? What do you feel is your most compelling offering as a writer?

What I hope for, and what I hope to offer are one and the same. I love defying the existing convention, taking stories in directions previously unexpected. A great example for me is The Hunger Games. Whether or not one likes the end of the series, she knew what the expected end was, and didn't do that.

And that's what I've aimed for with
 Darkness Concealed. I know the expected ends, the stock successes and failures. I avoid those, and in some cases point out specifically that I'm avoiding them. I want things to be fresh and unexpected, not just in the plotline, but in what is being told.

What’s next for you? Is there a sequel in the offing? Other projects?

Immediately next up is the second draft of a novella entitled Nikolay I penned at the start of the year, set in a cyberpunk dystopia/utopia where everyone is mandated to be "normal" according to a computer algorithm and deliberate deviations are punished. Nikolay is a teenager who decides that being normal, even with all the supposed advantages (do whatever you want not against the law, and have all your needs provided for), is not for him. He starts seeking for a way to break out of the norm before his negative self-esteem destroys him.

Darkness Concealed launches September 23. Very exciting: tell us how to get the book, whether you are looking for reviewers, how they may learn more and connect with you, and anything else you’d like folks to know.

I'm releasing the book on Amazon [], Google Books [], and Kobo []. I will also be releasing a PDF of the text on my site, for free, on release day. I believe in free culture, and want to make it an option to people whether they pay me for the story or not.

As for reviewers, I'm more than happy to keep on sending out ARCs (or as of
 tomorrow review copies), though I ask that when you do review that you tell me where it is so I can link to it in some way or another. I also ask that if you can put the review on one of the retailers I'm using that you please do so.

I'm available most directly at, where I blog about writing, editing, and whatever else comes to mind. I also maintain an active Twitter presence as @DEmeryBunn.

Thanks for having me on your blog!

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