- How did the DarkOnes and the Darkfic Collective come to be?
I think DarkOnes grew out of the need for a dedicated darkfic community on livejournal that encompassed the genre, and all its subgenres. At the time of its inception, there wasn’t one specifically dark fiction-oriented community. Sure, graverobbers was around if you needed a necro fix, and hp_afterdark was available, if not very active, and of course, if you wanted vampire fic there was no lack of it at hpvamp, but the real kicker for us started with the fact that to get what you were after, there was a lot of bouncing around involved. In short, we wanted one centralized location for all nastiness, horror, depression, and character death. We wanted pure gothic-inspired melancholia alongside splatterpunk – the somewhat “sad” to the really gut-wrenching.
That’s where it started; Livejournal.
The Darkfic Collective is the big-sister to the community. It’s our website, and the intellectual hangout of the writers and readers within the genre. The Staff does its best to pluck out new talent, both artists and writers who dabble in dark themes, and address certain stylistic tendencies through articles and discussions while trying to keep things light hearted, or at least as light hearted as you can be while dealing with potentially upsetting subject matter.
We’re not morbid. There is an element of humor to everything we endeavor to set in motion… especially since you get the odd angst-lover who insists on parading about, bellowing about heads mounted on spears or some such, or roasting in the proverbial pit of eternity for being the lover of a dissident genre.
At the site, we enforce the, “Thou shalt not take things too seriously” rule.
That’s part of the mission, actually. If you can recognize the vast playing field of emotion within the Potterverse, you eventually begin to see the recurring trend that everything is doom and gloom has got a counterbalance of some sort, no matter how obscure. There’s a sense of equilibrium between both the happier and darker themes in the books; we like reminding everyone that you can’t have one without the other.
- There is always a bit of confusion about what exactly a dark fic is. What are the essential elements of a dark fic?
Dark Fiction, I think, is probably the most indefinable terms in the Harry Potter fandom right now. In theory, it’s supposed to refer to horror writing; gothic literature, Victorian-inspired, macabre, sinister, add-you-own-adjective for unhappy endings, bad beginnings, and miserable middles. In short, darkfic is not meant to be happy. It’s not a feel-good, cozy genre. Or at least, it’s not supposed to be. After a time, you come to realize the lines that keep it caged in definable terms aren’t as precise as we’d like them to be.
The definition for the genre found at the Fanfiction Glossary states that it usually refers to works where the characters suffer an inordinate amount. A surface evaluation would suggest that it refers to pain, emotional and psychological trauma, suffering, mental battery and physical injury, sometimes ending in the death of one or more or all of the characters involved.
Personally, I think that’s a bit rough around the edges, but for our purposes, it will suffice for this interview.
What it should be is very much dependant on the person reading, or expressing themselves through writing it. The salient point of this mention is that to be successful, you have to be willing to look at the worst possible scenarios, disengage yourself for a little while with morality and engage fully in the fantasy headspace. If it sickens you that you’ve written something particularly nasty without censorship, all the better. You’re tapping into something with real depth… without a bottom, even.
There are absolutely no limits to how far down you can go.
(Rabbit holes excepted.)
Concerning “essential elements” of dark fiction, there aren’t any in particular, and that only fuels my argument that defining the genre is next to impossible. I’ve seen pretty much everything from real-world themes, like abuse, violence, and psychological trauma, to gratuitous gore, bondage, humiliation, and snuff. Mind, these tend to reflect the heavier side of dark fiction. Lighter themes are sometimes wistful, melancholic, or tragic – sometimes mournful and sometimes comedic. Let’s face it, you can twist just about anything around and make it morbid. Romance and Humour are particularly susceptible to dark themes, and I hope we’ll see more of both genres turning to “The Dark Side” in the future.
- Tell us a bit about how the site works
At the present time, we’ve got a handful of staff contributing as writers for the site, providing recommendations in both fanfiction and fanart, and working on developing our backend. The major part of the site at the present time is the webzine (Domus) and the Message Forums (Confero).
Due to some serious technical issues with our server since our inception in the summer of 2005, the Fiction Archive and Art Gallery haven’t been released to the public. We want to be sure that we’re providing the best possible service for those using the site, and to avoid any future issues, we’re taking measures now to assure that once both the Archive and Gallery are up, there won’t be any technical hassles.
You can expect to see both the Gallery (or the Crypta, as we like to call it) and the Archive (Scriptum) in Summer of 2006.
- What are your future plans for The Darkfic Collective?
Apart from the major releases of the Archive and Gallery, we hope to assemble the Beta Exchange, specifically for writers and editors who don’t “squick” (gross-out) too easily. We hope to have that live sometime in early 2007.
- What has been the most satisfying thing you've taken away from your experience managing the DarkOnes and The Dark-Fic Collective
We’re fairly new still, so in regards to managing the site, I’m not sure I have quite the answer you’re looking for other than to say that through the organizational process I’ve managed to meet a whole bunch of seriously talented, seriously underappreciated writers, readers and artists who are nursing the site into maturity.
On a completely selfish level, it’s also given me the opportunity to read a lot of great fic I probably wouldn’t have come across otherwise. For me, that’s the driving principle of this entire project – have some fun by gorging on fanfic and fanart.