Today I am interviewing Ty Arthur, author of the new grimdark, fantasy, and horror novel, Light Dawning.
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DJ: Hey Ty! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Ty Arthur: It’s my pleasure DJ, appreciate you taking the time to chat with me. I live in the perpetually-freezing Montana and have been working as a freelancer writer and editor for nearly a decade now. I mostly covered entertainment news and didn’t get serious about fiction until a few years back when I picked a horror anthology at my local library for my family’s annual horror fest. We like to mostly read chilling tales or watch scary movies throughout October while building up to Halloween. This particular set of short tales left me incredibly dissatisfied, with several of the stories barely even qualifying as horror in any sense of the word. That prompted me to give short story writing a shot, drawing on past experiences to come up with a few topics that could be twisted and viewed through a fictional supernatural horror lens. Those first few stories were pretty rough, but after a few tries I felt like I had something worth reading and started submitting to various open calls for fiction, which anyone who has ever endured that landmine of rejections will know is quite the exhausting experience. Eventually I had two shorts published in anthologies, which led to my longer sci-fi novella Empty getting noticed by a publisher. Now here we are with my full-length novel Light Dawning finally coming out as I get started on several other projects in the horror genre to follow.
DJ: What is Light Dawning about?
Ty: The basic surface story follows a group of people dealing with living every day life while their city is occupied by an invading army. The city is on lockdown, so they can’t leave, and it examines how these characters deal with the harsh realities of their current situations in different ways. One wants to hide and survive as long as possible without drawing attention for instance, while another sees the occupation as grand testing of faith and an opportunity to turn the city towards his religion’s teachings. Eventually the main characters are forced out of hiding when they come into contact with cosmic forces that aren’t particularly interested in whether mankind lives or dies.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Light Dawning?
Ty: On the literary front, I wanted to take the traditional tropes of some of my favorite fantasy authors as a kid like Goodkind, Brooks, Greenwood etc. but turn them completely on their heads. I left the elves and dwarves behind. There isn’t a chosen one here certain to rise above adversity and save the world. A humble farm boy doesn’t go on an epic journey to become a sword master or arch wizard. Magic is by and large a very bad thing here, because if anyone in this particular universe finds themselves with supernatural powers, it probably means they drew the attention of some insane cosmic being far beyond human comprehension. On the story front, Light Dawning follows the pattern of all my releases so far and translates a personal experience into a fictional setting. Writing is my cathartic outlet, and I started penning this story after my wife and I experienced two devastating miscarriages that had me in the grips of an extreme depression. My way out was to write a story as unrelentingly bleak as my world had become.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Ty: There are four main characters in Light Dawning, who all show a different facet of what life is like in occupied Cestia. Myrr is a survivor who is teetering on the edge of madness, unsure of who to trust and not wanting to allow anyone else to get close to him as the occupying soldiers are directly hunting him. Tala is a stoic woman who has accepted the reality of her situation, having already endured extreme hardship before the invading army arrived, but she holds some hope that escaping Cestia is a possibility. Erret is a missionary who was essentially kicked out of his own religious order for being too extreme in his beliefs, and willingly came to Cestia specifically to try to stir up rebellion. Finally, Casterly is now terribly disfigured after standing up to the soldiers and is desperately trying to keep what remains of his family together and alive. After witnessing supernatural events he can’t explain, he’s torn between supporting Myrr or Erret and wants to see the invading army defeated and thrown out of his city.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Light Dawning like?
Ty: Light Dawning very purposefully leaves the reader in the dark about many of the world aspects. Its viewpoint for the majority of the novel is restricted to people trapped behind the city’s walls who haven’t heard news from the outside world in years. Only certain elements are revealed here, like that an empress has unified the southern end of the continent and is leading her army north to invade the kingdoms there that follow a different religious doctrine. A sequel is already the works however, which expands the view quite a bit after leaving Cestia behind and explores a larger segment of the world.
DJ: Grimdark is a genre that I love. I’ve read a number of grimdark stories by many grimdark authors. However, I have no idea what “grimdark” or how to define it 😄 Almost none of those stories I’ve read are the same, and each author’s work feels very different to me!
My question to you is: what is your definition of “grimdark” and what makes Light Dawning grimdark?
Ty: Grimdark really can cover a wide range of styles, and it isn’t always just fantasy. For me, grimdark implies a world where the protagonists aren’t certain to win, and in fact where there might not be any true heroes at all. The Warhammer 40,000 universe for instance is frequently cited as grimdark, with the “good guys” being racist, xenophobic war mongers actively trying to commit genocide against anything non-human. Although totally different in style and tone, George R. R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series likely also fits, since bad things consistently happen to good people and those who most deserve to rule are the least likely to be in a position of authority for long. Light Dawning doesn’t really have any clear cut good guys, and in fact the worst atrocities committed by the world’s various factions might be for the benefit of all. Everyone is in the dark, there’s no easy answers, and no one should expect to be dealt a fair hand in life. The story revolves around how the characters deal with an uncaring world. Will they give up, crumbling under the weight of despair, or will they go on, and if so, why?
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Light Dawning?
Ty: Finishing it. Being in the proper head space to do this story justice wasn’t pleasant.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Ty: I’m consistently surprised by what readers take away from stories, and I find they typically hone in on elements or come up with theories I hadn’t even considered. The second chapter features a particularly disturbing scene that I was expecting people to be upset about, but I’ve found instead that’s not what advance reviewers have mentioned the most. So far those who have read have all come away with a claustrophobic feeling of being trapped, with several citing a visceral almost WWII feel, and oddly enough, several discussed the relationship between Myrr and Tala. This isn’t even remotely a romance story, but that aspect of how they lean on one another while dealing with forces outside their control seems to resonate with readers.
DJ: What was your goal when you began writing Light Dawning? Is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Ty: The themes of duality – light and dark, freedom and slavery, male and female, believer and skeptic – are front and center across the book, as is the notion of inevitability: you can’t escape your fate, but you can sure spin your wheels trying. At its most basic though, this book is my anguish and hate splattered across the page, and now I finally get to let it out and share it with the world.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Light Dawning that you can share with us?
Ty: “When you burn an angel’s wings, it forces her to learn to walk on her own.” Father Erret is full of twisted wisdom as he proselytizes to his various acolytes throughout the book.
DJ: Now that Light Dawning is released, what is next for you?
Ty: This manuscript has been done for more than a year now, so I’ve actually had several different projects cooking. There is a sequel outlined, as well as a sequel to my previous sci-fi story Empty being written. I like to cross genres frequently, so I’ve also been working on a neo-noir style story that takes the typical hardboiled detective in a different direction, mashing in hyper stylized anime action. All that is on the backburner for the moment however as I do a sort of “palette cleanser” way outside my comfort zone and a totally different direction from this book: an anthology collection of Cthulhu mythos-themed erotica! Its a pretty wild ride, and a real test of my writing abilities to make it all work.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Ty-Arthur/e/B0727MRVF8
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Light Dawning that we haven’t talked about yet?
Ty: While writing, I always spend a significant amount of time putting together the perfect playlist for music that fits whatever scene I’m currently working on. This book owes a lot to the music that kept me going when I wanted to smash my keyboard against the wall. Bands like Code, One-Eyed Doll, Solstafir, Ihsahn, The House Of Capricorn, Tiamat, Bauda, and Shining all deserve a shout out for the role they played in Light Dawning finally seeing release.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add? (Or add your own question).
Ty: It’s blogs like these that are keeping the writing world – and especially the indie writing world – going strong, so thanks for your part in spreading the word about new stories.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Light Dawning is will be available May 26, 2017!!! ***
Buy (Pre-Order) the Book:
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Once known as the City on the Hill and revered far and wide for its independence and boundless opportunity, Cestia has become home only to the damned. Surviving under the brutal occupation of a southern empire for three long years, the oppressed populace has lost hope of liberation, turning instead towards an increasingly desperate rebellion willing to commit any atrocity for a chance at freedom.
As total war approaches, four lost souls trapped behind Cestia’s walls are on a collision course with fate, destined to either save the city or see it utterly destroyed while calling on forces beyond mankind’s comprehension. For good or ill, the light of a new day is about to dawn.
Author of sci-fi / horror novella “Empty” and full-length grimdark novel “Light Dawning,” Ty Arthur gets to meld his passions with his work while freelancing for the likes of Metalunderground and GameSkinny. Arthur writes to exorcise his demons and lives in the cold, dark north with his amazing wife Megan and infant son Gannicus Picard. Many more dark tales are still to come soon, exploring every facet of the bleaker aspects of human existence.