As with everything I write, I set out with very specific goals when I sat down with Forever Dark, my story in Tales from the Lake, Vol. 2.
To begin with, I wanted to create an immediate experience. A continuous unfolding with the reader actively discovering the narrative landscape alongside the Main Character. Trapped in the unfamiliar, I wanted there to be a sense of displacement or occasional confusion (as there is in life) while waiting for “the next realization” to occur or “the next thing” to present itself. I wanted the Main Character and the reader to discover this new, frightening world together.
Second, I wanted the prose to veer between lyrically poetic and abruptly visceral. In Forever Dark, my goal was to weave together a shifting narrative with an unpredictable prose, keeping the reader engaged but off-balance enough to encourage them to barrel forward, paragraph after paragraph, in search of a Safe Space.
A Safe Space that might not exist.
I also wanted — and the writing of Forever Dark predated Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast as well as any knowledge there was a thing called Crystal Lake Publishing — to try my hand at something with a bit more gore. To move away from the Martuk the Holy-type of terror that lives in the dishonest safety of the imagination for the Forever Dark-type of fear that pivots around the obvious wounding of the body.
But it couldn’t be an active gore. It had to be the aftermath of an unseen event. A silent something that shadows everything, that has given birth to everything, but is never spoken of. I wanted the mysterious Hows and Whys of a mangled hand or a bleeding mouth to engage the reader’s imagination and their sense of curiosity, but not give them any answers.
At least not right away.
Finally, my goal was to move out of my comfort zone as a writer. Stretch my wings a bit and see if I could do all of the above at the high level I demand of myself.
Hopefully I did so. That Forever Dark had the great honor of placing 2nd in Crystal Lake’s contest — and thus earning a coveted spot in the Table of Contents — indicates I came closer to my goals than not.
And I hope, should you take a look (and do so knowing the process behind my writing it), that you enjoy it.
(artwork for Forever Dark by Aaron Dries)