I write all the darkness now, because at one point, I was living it.
That’s what I’ve come to understand about myself as an international bestselling author of Dark Fantasy, Grimdark Fantasy, Dystopian Sci-Fi, and LGBT Speculative Fiction. I started writing when I was ten years old, right at the cusp of what I thought would be the darkest part of my life. What introverted, emotionally intelligent, stuck-in-her-head kid with an overactive imagination wouldn’t think that feeling far older than everyone treated her was “the worst”? I remember writing, and I remember wanting to escape from my own life and the turmoil around me through bringing new stories to life. As it turned out, even the very first book I attempted to write (a whopping 120 pages of single-spaced story that will never see the light of day) was injected with that same turmoil. And it was about fairies. I also remember thinking that if only I were an adult, with my own house and my own job and the freedom to make my own decisions, my life would be perfect.
Funny how much and how little a ten-year-old knows about growing up, isn’t it?
When I graduated high school and went off to college, I’d been shoving myself inside a box of what everyone else wanted me to be for so long, it felt like what I wanted was way too far out of reach. I was still “too old for my age”. I still couldn’t connect with my peers in a way that they understood me. And I just wanted to get out of that box and stop feeling like I would never be free.
The freedom didn’t come until much, much later—after college, after a harrowing drug addiction that lasted for two years, after hospitalizations and rehab and Twelve-Step programs, after being on Food Stamps and working odd jobs and learning how to be an adult without a car or a career or a purpose. Even after I started to pull my life back together to look like something relatively sane,
I still felt trapped. Because for four years, I also hadn’t written a single word of fiction, and that was the thing now locking me behind the bars I’d made for myself.
Even when I started writing again, I hadn’t fully given myself permission to do what I wanted with it, to step into my own shoes that were now just the right size and wear them to the life I always dreamed of living. I still hadn’t forgiven myself for letting the world and my own head lock me away. That took a lot of self-reflection, a lot of practice, a lot of intentional shedding away of something that was never really me to begin with. It still does.
When I finally made the commitment to write again—as a steady practice and not just something I “earned” whenever I managed to steal a bit of time away from what I considered more important obligations—I had a whole new understanding of what it meant for me to write. Of why I craft the stories I do, tell the tales the way I tell them, and bring my characters to the edge of that pit that is their own darkest, deepest place. Sometimes, I even push them over the edge and sit back to see how far they’re willing to go to claw themselves back out again.
I know there are a lot of people who can’t handle reading about the dark places, whether it’s in Fantasy or Dystopian Sci-Fi. I also know that many people love it just as much as I do and perhaps for the same reasons. The light doesn’t mean anything without the dark. When we delve into the deepest void, it clears a space for ascending, for reclaiming, for transformation and purpose and that “ultimate decision”—which, most of the time, seems impossible to make. None of my fiction has particularly happy endings, but there is always hope. If it’s not for a better future, than it’s the hope that things will just keep going. The world continues to turn, and everyone in it does what they must to be who they are. It’s a hope that we haven’t yet reached the end and some things may still turn out for the better despite having come to it on an entirely unexpected path.
And always, always, that the mistakes we make, even those that feel irredeemable, do not define us.
That’s the message I want people to see when they read my fiction, fall in love with my characters, explore the worlds, and experience the exquisite darkness. It’s also the message I aim to keep alive and flaring brightly right in front of me every day.
Life is good now. I have a family and a full-time writing career with books that people are reading and appreciating for whatever messages they receive. And in all honesty, I am a buoyant, optimistic person who laughs at pretty much everything—because I know what it’s like to be the opposite. Most people are surprised when they read my books first and meet me later. And that is, I suppose, because I’ve left the darkness behind in a box that I hope to never open again in my life. The only difference is that this box is one I made myself out of words and phrases, characters and worlds, action, deceit, revenge, perseverance, and yes, sometimes violence. I get to choose what goes into that box now.
And then I share it with the world.
Sleepwater Beat, Book 1 in the Blue Helix series:
Leo could always make people believe anything she says—really believe. When her chest burns and the words come from her mouth, her targets’ eyes glaze over, they forget their own thoughts, and they’ll do anything she says. It’s what keeps her alive after being on the run and living on the streets for years. But after using it on her girlfriend and her dad’s drug dealer, it’s also what got her here on the streets in the first place.
Daughter of the Drackan, Book 1 in the Gyenona’s Children duology:
Keelin is the only human fledgling, weaned by the drackans of the High Hills and given their instincts, ferocious strength, and fierce hatred for humankind. But even the drackans closest to her cannot explain why she has violent blackouts from which she wakens covered in blood.
International Bestselling Author Kathrin Hutson has been writing Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and LGBTQ Speculative Fiction since 2000. With her wildly messed-up heroes, excruciating circumstances, impossible decisions, and Happily Never Afters, she’s a firm believer in piling on the intense action, showing a little character skin, and never skimping on violent means to bloody ends.
In addition to writing her own dark and enchanting fiction, Kathrin spends the other half of her time as a fiction ghostwriter of almost every genre, as Fiction Co-Editor for Burlington’s Mud Season Review, and as Director of TopShelf Interviews for TopShelf Magazine. Kathrin lives in Vermont with her husband, their young daughter, and their two dogs, Sadie and Brucewillis.
For updates on new releases, exclusive deals, and dark surprises you won’t find anywhere else, sign up to Kathrin’s newsletter at https://www.kathrinhutsonfiction.com/subscribe. You can also find her at facebook.com/kathrinhutsonfiction, @kathrinhutsonfiction (Instagram), @exquisitelydark (Twitter), or by email: author-@-kathrinhustonfiction.com.