kINKED is going to be available next week. Before it comes out we wanted to give you a chance to hear directly from some of the contributors.
Embracing the Dark
by Renee Dominick
At some point in my late teens I decided to own my love of dark entertainment. Up until then I put it down to an addiction to Stephen King novels and growing up in the often-dreary Pacific Northwest. But when I moved onto my university campus—with its requisite art-house movie theater filled with psychologically dark and complex films—it didn’t take long to understand my preference wasn’t rain-related, but brain-related.
I’m not talking about gore-movie kind of dark (although I do love me some Walking Dead). My favorite King books were always the ones exploring the dark side of the human psyche. The Stand, Misery, the early Dark Tower books (and here may I just say, OMG Idris Elba as The Gunslinger! *drools*). I got hooked on movies like Blue Velvet, Blood Simple and Sid and Nancy. I revel in stories that delve into the shadowy corners of the mind and soul, not necessarily to wallow there, but to offer a contrast to the slivers of light.
It makes having wandered into writing romance seem like a contradiction, but I don’t see it that way. Love, whether romantic, spiritual, or platonic, is often a powerful source of light in the dark. The human condition is filled with incongruity and dissonance, a ripe set-up for deep, emotional storytelling. Love-hate. Pain-pleasure. Wounds and healing. Scar tissue. Within the context of a love story, the darker elements carry extra gravity, and reaching the light at the end of the tunnel can feel like a true triumph for the characters, not just having made it out, but having made it out as more than they went in.
Of course, dark stories are not everyone’s cup of tea. Many romance readers want an escape from the world of bleak concerns. I do appreciate that, but here is the beauty of the world of Romance: there is something for everyone, from sweet rom-com to dark, erotic psychological suspense. Many of us read at along at least part of the spectrum, not just in one zone. And sometimes, stepping out of one’s comfort zone as a reader can provide surprising emotional satisfaction, whether it’s from dark paranormal to rollicking contemporary comedy, or vice versa.
I find writing, and reading, about damaged people inching toward love—two steps forward, one step back—infinitely compelling. To explore how (as our kINKED editor Cori Vidae once described my characters in Through Glass A Stranger) “two broken people rubbing their jagged edges against one another” manage to fall together without inflicting mortal wounds can be challenging. The conflicts and struggle are weighty, the tension high, and often we can’t understand how it can possibly come to a happy ending. And yet, in Romance, it always does.
So, give me dark. Dark protagonists, shadowy settings, twisty plots that make me, and the characters, work for the HEA. I enjoy the challenge of reading (and writing) flawed, even unlikeable characters, only to end up rooting for them hard. And if I fall in love with them a little—or more than a little—along the way, that’s even better.
Renee Dominick is the spicy-side alter ego of a Seattle area writer who loves both the quiet of the woods and the energy of a vibrant, big city. She adores everything about Italy (except maybe squid-ink), and gets her thrills skiing moguls when the snow calls. Her travels, both real and imaginary, inspire all of her stories.
Follow her on Twitter @Renee_Dominick or her website at ReneeDominick.com