Yesterday, a friend asked me if my book were appropriate for her eight-year-old daughter, even though I have repeatedly and consistently described the book as a dark urban fantasy for adult readers. Her counterargument was that her daughter is “mature for her age.” That is true, but even a mature eight-year-old is still an eight-year-old.
The terms I use to describe my novel are not chosen at random. The novel is dark, which suggests that it will deal with darker themes like death and possibly suicide, that there may be occult elements, and that there is likely to be graphic depictions of violence. While “urban fantasy” is a blanket term that denotes a setting where elements of fantasy are brought into a contemporary world, which suggests any number of things from fairy tale creatures to dragons, to magical systems, to vampires, to werewolves, etc. Finally, the designation “for adults” clearly states that the intended audience is 18+.
And I will admit that I read Stephen King novels in the 8th grade. I was a “mature for my age” child too, but I learned that I had to be careful. Cujo gave me nightmares that recurred for two years. Is that Stephen King’s fault? No, because I was too young – and still developing mentally and emotionally – to read the books that I was reading.
I appreciate the desire to read books that are “older” than one is. As stated, I was that kid. However, I’ve seen too many people who get angry about books, movies, music, and video games that have content “inappropriate” for their children – even when those media clearly provide warning labels.
Art can be shocking. I personally have no desire to trigger my audience, but I write dark novels so that I can explore and engage with dark subjects – violence, death, suicide, bigotry, conversion therapy, etc. My hope is to raise awareness through a thoughtful presentation and to potentially help someone reach emotional catharsis. Could the content be triggering? Yes.
And that brings us full circle to the topic of this blog post. By labeling my work as “dark urban fantasy for adult audiences,” I am warning the reader of the presence of content that might upset or trigger them. I hope that won’t be the case, but I cannot guarantee the outcome. So, consider this a warning: I write books that deal with dark, mature themes.
If this has intrigued you, Liam’s Doom goes on sale 9 March 2021 at all major and minor retail outlets from Amazon to Barnes & Noble to Bookshop.org. I request that you support Bookshop.org, as their site supports local and independent bookstores. The eBook version is, at present, an Amazon exclusive.