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On Recommending Dark Fiction

So I recently received this letter from a “devout Christian” who is struggling with reading “dark fiction.” Here’s the gist of the letter:

I recently read your post concerning Lovecraft and since you seem to have a pretty good grip with Lovecraft-1Lovecraft, I was hoping you could answer a few questions for me? I was wondering if you’d heard anything about a writer named Thomas Ligotti. I have recently stumbled upon him through the HBO show “True Detective”. I’ve heard him lumped in with Lovecraft but there isn’t much on him online. I would like to read his stuff but the book covers look a little… evil? I guess would be the right word. I’m currently having a similar debate with the Lovecraft collection that has the all black cover with gold lettering. I’m a devout Christian and I just don’t want to stumble into something I shouldn’t.

In all candor, I don’t think I’ve been as sensitive to this issue as I should. I take it for granted that I can read Lovecraft and his more contemporary incarnations (like Ligotti and Laird Barron), and not be bothered. I’ve Barron-1researched their worldview and am able to appreciate the stories and the ethos they evoke without necessarily feeling tainted by evil or something. However, I’m willing to admit that’s not the case for everyone.

More than once, I’ve recommended Laird Barron’s books. The problem is — if you could call this a problem — that the majority of my social media friends are Christians. Usually, I’ll include a minor disclaimer like: “Contains disturbing, occult, R-rated imagery and language.” Nevertheless, I’ve learned that some readers who picked up a book on my recommendation have felt debauched by the author’s dark, disturbing worldview. So when I receive a letter like the one above, it makes me a little more cautious as to how to proceed.

I believe we Christians need to be able to interact with evil and darkness — which would include watching, reading, viewing, listening to “secular” fare — without feeling jerked around or debased, or pronouncing ad hoc condemnations on any artist, genre, or medium we view as “evil.” Nevertheless, I fully appreciate that the concerns raised by this writer are real. Frankly, it is a great sign of maturity that he would go so far as to write me a letter, express his concerns, and ask for advice! I’d be more concerned about the Christian reader who has no discernment and wades into reading anything without concern. Still, this makes me even more cautious about the advice I give to such a person.

In a way, it is strictly a matter of the heart — what a reader feels they can and can’t handle. It is not my job to convince someone that reading Laird Barron is a sign of maturity or literary appreciation. Perhaps, for them, it’s just the opposite. I totally respect that. On the other hand, growing in discernment and appreciation for art that is not completely sanitized seems like a necessary step in spiritual growth. Keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world” does not necessarily mean isolation from the things of the world, but the ability to discern and partition good from evil.

Anyway, I’d be interested in your perspective. What advice would you give to this reader?

 

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{ 79 comments… add one }
  • Heather Marsten March 4, 2014, 7:32 AM

    Unless it is obviously a satanic book, I think the individual reader needs to be guided by the Holy Spirit – if the Holy Spirit tells the reader not to read a certain book, don’t. The Holy Spirit knows what would be a temptation or not for that individual.

    That being said, it is also important to realize that once we read or see something we can’t go back to Un-see or Un-read something. I feel it is important, if a person is going to criticize a book’s occult content, that they should read the book, not just parrot what another author has said about the book.

    When I first walked into church, unsaved, there was a couple on the altar speaking against Harry Potter using a book that told all the occult aspects of the book. Sadly, the author of the critique of Harry Potter misconstrued some of the text of a book I had read, so I discounted what they were saying. The pastor asked me what I thought about their talk and I told him.

    He then told me why he didn’t like Harry Potter – he said it didn’t clearly delineate between good and evil in the same way that Lord of the Rings did, and it taught children disrespect – that if the outcome of a battle was successful, even though the kids disobeyed their teachers, they were lauded. And then he said that, coming from my occult background, I should appreciate that the book made the occult attractive. His response showed me he read the book and gave an informed opinion. Turned out I agreed with his points.

    His response made me curious about other things and led to two years of debate and discussion about God and ultimately my salvation. So, not only is it important to be careful what we read, but how we condemn books to others, because it could make the difference between salvation or not for a person.

  • Greg - Tiribulus March 4, 2014, 7:35 AM

    Mike Duran says: On the other hand, growing in discernment and appreciation for art that is not completely sanitized seems like a necessary step in spiritual growth. Keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world” does not necessarily mean isolation from the things of the world, but the ability to discern and partition good from evil.
    This is a subjective assertion Mike and one made by many people today. Could I ask you, as I have asked dozens of others, to make the case from the scriptures that a growing tolerance for and appreciation of sin is a Christan principle at all, to say nothing of “a necessary step in spiritual growth”. (you give away your condescension with this last bit btw)

    You said you’d answer my other question and then vanished when you saw what it was. This does not do much to build confidence in the positions you advance on this site for those of us who still demand a demonstrable biblical framework for taking EVERY thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Mere assertion should never satisfy the disciple of Christ. Do you not agree?

    Because you see, here’s the real issue for me. I see no evidence AT ALL that just about anybody before the 1960’s taught anything even close what you say here. In fact, I see a vast multitude of saints of old who explicitly warned NOT to believe exactly what you say here. Put yourself in my position. Is it so really outrageous to simply ask for a biblical justification for abandoning them in favor of you? Their warnings are pretty dire and the consequences for disregarding them immense. Like the decaying decomposing society we now live in brought about by a darkened low salt church that has bought almost wholesale into what they warned against and you are here preaching.

    What is one to think when the mere asking of this question brings a response of hands over ears and: “la la la!! WOOOP WOOOP!! Fundie alarm Fundie alarm!!!! Call security to remove the abhorrent pesky varmint from our midst!!”

    I appreciate the fact that you haven’t done that to me, (yet) but am grieved by the fact that you probably wish you had 🙂

    I’m jist askin a question brother. Is that not not allowed anymore?

    • Mike Duran March 4, 2014, 8:15 AM

      Greg, I’m going to have to ask you limit your comments here. Please. I’ve just been so busy and, frankly, I don’t have time or desire to get into a long, unending, unrelenting debate with you. I have an answer to your last questions on the Book of Eli post queued. I just need to edit them down. I’m at work now, so until then, can you please refrain from further commenting? Thanks!

      • Greg (Tiribulus) March 4, 2014, 8:39 AM

        Mike asks: “I’m at work now, so until then, can you please refrain from further commenting? Thanks!”
        I will do so sir. Aside from the fact that this is your place, you have been more gracious and indulgent with me than just about anybody else.

    • Jessica E. Thomas March 4, 2014, 9:28 AM

      “Could I ask you, as I have asked dozens of others, to make the case from the scriptures that a growing tolerance for and appreciation of sin is a Christan principle at all.”

      You misstated his position when you used the words ‘tolerance’ and ‘appreciation’. Mike is talking about developing the ability to discern good from evil. If a person is only looking at the good, there is nothing to discern. However, this world is under the control of satan who makes evil appear “good”. (This is his most effective trick.). Therefore, we cannot keep our children safe in this world by telling them simply to look only at “good”. We have to teach them discernment, and to do this, we must allow them to look at this world as it is, not only as we wish it were (was?), otherwise the devil will almost certainly snare them.

      It’s not about becoming tolerant and appreciative of sin. It’s about becoming more sensitive to it. Jesus looks sin in the face and it doesn’t tarnish him. As we become more like Christ, I think the grow in our ability to do the same.

      • Jessica E. Thomas March 4, 2014, 9:30 AM

        …*we* grow in our ability…

        • StuartB March 4, 2014, 9:56 AM

          Why should we need to grow in maturity if we already have a Biblical list of what we should and should not interact with? That just sounds like you wanting to justify your sin and not follow Christ.

          • Teddi Deppner March 4, 2014, 10:26 AM

            “We already have a biblical list…”

            That’s quite an assertion. The things the Bible says we should avoid might be put on a list, but then comes the interpretation of that list.

            2 Tim. 2:23 “…avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.”

            That’s on the list. But is this comment thread a foolish dispute? An ignorant one? You’re here, participating, so you must not think so.

            But others may step away, believing that to participate would only generate strife.

            So, saying that there’s a list we can gather from the Bible sounds nice, but is highly variable in practice. I recommend a closer look at the biblical examples where one apostle avoids what another apostle approves, or other such indications that some decisions are personal and not universal.

            • StuartB March 4, 2014, 10:35 AM

              Amen, Teddi. Full agreement. I was writing my post very tongue in cheek, as my other comments on here can attest. It demonstrates a type of thinking that is all too common in discussions like this. A very foolish type of thinking.

  • Rebekah Loper March 4, 2014, 7:50 AM

    I would say that in regards to this specific inquiry, they’ve already answered their own question.

    While I am a huge proponent of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, I’ve found more times than not that when I look at something (whether a book, a movie, or even a picture) and have that ‘check’ of ‘this feels/looks evil’, it’s something I’m better off avoiding, even if it isn’t necessarily evil in the strictest sense of the word. In situations like that, I would rather be safe than sorry, especially for my own peace of mind.

    Everyone has different temptations, and different triggers. I can read and watch some things that very much bother other people, and sometimes the most seemingly-innocent thing will bother me. (IE: I haven’t had any problem watching Sleepy Hollow, but The Great Mouse Detective has given me nightmares since I first saw it when I was 11. Unfortunately, in the case of the latter, I wasn’t in a situation where I could avoid watching it, since I was in someone else’s care and couldn’t leave the room even though I wanted to.)

  • Jill March 4, 2014, 8:25 AM

    I’m always trying to understand other people and how their brains or emotions work. In this case, I’m trying to understand the way the spirit works in others. And I haven’t come to a point where I understand. I DO understand that some people are weaker and/or more sensitive than others. But shouldn’t all Christians have a negative reaction to some things?

    Example: the first time I read Jim Butcher, which many of my Christian friends read, and whose book I picked up at a Christian friend’s house, I was immediately repulsed. Here’s why: in the first few pages a paranormal detective conducted a seance or some such on a person whose skill was to be demon possessed. During the demon possession, the person–as I remember it a young woman–simulated a snuff orgy of some sort, but it was all okay because she wasn’t actually having a snuff orgy. She was merely demon possessed. And those were the protagonists.

    I honestly can’t understand why this kind of book is okay with any Christian’s spirit. Please help me understand why it’s more spiritually mature to be okay with this. I’m asking an honest question. I wasn’t offended or “weakened” by the experience. I was utterly repelled and disgusted.

    • Jessica E. Thomas March 4, 2014, 9:34 AM

      What on earth is a snuff orgy. (Don’t answer that.)

      If it was advertised as “Christian” I would be offended. If not, I wouldn’t be surprised.

      • Jill March 4, 2014, 9:41 AM

        I think I made that term up to describe the scene. It was a simulated sexual-orgy-murder through demonic possession. Wait, you told me not to answer you!

    • StuartB March 4, 2014, 9:40 AM

      I confess I was mostly bored by Jim Butcher’s first Dresden book. I know others love the series, but I just couldn’t get into it.

      I think it’s important to keep in mind that this is fiction, depicting a fictional ritual that may have elements taken from real life…of which all our powerless over believers. In fact, other than one story in the Bible, I can’t say that a single seance conducted in real life has actually worked. Believing that real world seances hold some form of power in a way diminishes God and Christ, who is supposedly reigning right now, whether or not he has fully defeated Satan (debatable) and his minions.

      So what am I reading? Fiction. Something not real, and entirely compartmentalized in my mind. Plus it was just boring, lol.

      Now, spiritual maturity would be saying it’s ok for others to read it if their conscience before God is clean, but for you, you choose to not read it. I think we make a mistake when we assume every believer who is growing in sanctification will be a carbon copy of each other, which is somehow a carbon copy of Christ.

      But we all have our areas of life where we just can’t understand how some others function. I can’t comprehend anymore how some need an explicit bible verse to justify something, and can’t read from the whole of Scripture and think like a Paul or Peter. I also can’t comprehend how some think the excesses of charismaticism are “normal christianity”, things like “gold on the ceiling” and “financial angels” and “growing out legs”. It baffles me. Yet most of the time, I have to concede these are fellow believers, even if I can’t quite see how we’re following the same Christ.

      • Jill March 4, 2014, 9:44 AM

        Yes, “it’s fiction” is the reason every Christian gives me for why it’s okay. Fiction resonates with our human souls. I don’t see this as a valid reason for shrugging off these things so lightly.

        • StuartB March 4, 2014, 9:58 AM

          Is it the sexual element that’s disconcerting? Or the wording? Otherwise, the same argument could be made for CS Lewis having the Aslan being slain in a demonic ceremony.

          • Jill March 4, 2014, 3:25 PM

            It’s all a matter of context.

            • Jill March 4, 2014, 3:55 PM

              Also, Stuart, are you willing to concede that some things are just plain wrong? Or do you want to continue playing the game of creating strawmen through mockery, as you’ve done in multiple places in this thread–and specifically in the one with the olive oil. God is in charge. The occult world has no power over me; it specifically has no power over my salvation. But media DOES have the power of influence. If it didn’t, advertising would be a worthless expenditure. If it didn’t, the porn industry wouldn’t be so popular. You are being dishonest with yourself, or perhaps just unaware, if you don’t believe fiction and other media have the power to influence you.

              As for my part, I’m trying to understand the world, including other people better. I made that clear in my original comment, but I still have to ask if there aren’t things that should make all Christian people turn away in disgust.

    • Katherine Coble March 4, 2014, 2:47 PM

      I really have had the same reaction to what little of the Dresden Files I’ve read (one and a half short stories in anthologies).

      I guess my personal drawing of the line is different thank others. I have the same issues with _Buffy The Vampire Slayer_.

    • Katherine Coble March 4, 2014, 2:52 PM

      “I honestly can’t understand why this kind of book is okay with any Christian’s spirit. Please help me understand why it’s more spiritually mature to be okay with this. ”

      I don’t think it’s an issue of being “more spiritually mature”. I think it’s more of an issue of weak spots. I know some things are huge weak spots for me but aren’t an issue at all for somebody else. I don’t think they’re more mature for being able to tolerate a vicious political argument; I don’t think I’m more spiritually mature for being able to look at nude women without being tempted into sexual sin. Just as we all have different spiritual gifts I think we all have different spiritual alarms.

      What I have a problem with is nicely exemplified above in Tribulus’ comment. The idea that one person is more of a gold star Christian than another because of what he or she does or partakes of is a long-standing heresy in the Church. So much so that Paul wrote entire epistles about it.

      • Jill March 4, 2014, 4:07 PM

        Yes, but I’m asking a more general question. I understand that some people have weak spots. I’m not talking about weak spots. I’m wondering if there is material out there that should repulse any Christian–not frighten them or “disconcert” them as Stuart said. I’m not sure how he got “disconcert” from “disgust and repel”. I’m not talking about being a gold star Christian or being better than others, or even about trying to determine whether others are Christians by the media they consume. Rather, I’m asking a philosophical question about the nature of God and the nature of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us.

        • Kat Heckenbach March 4, 2014, 4:13 PM

          I don’t know if there is some universal limit for all Christians. I do know I found my limit with Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials. I can read books in which Christians are portrayed poorly, and books that have very dark themes, and books that delve into occultism. But the Pullman books made me physically ill. The idea that I was supposed to be rooting for characters whose ultimate goal was to kill God was repulsive to me.

        • Jessica Thomas March 4, 2014, 7:00 PM

          Yes, I do think there is material out there disgusts the Holy Spirit, and therefore ought to universally disgust Christians. Perhaps our level of disgust (or absence of disgust) reflects our current state of spiritual health.

  • Heather Marsten March 4, 2014, 8:41 AM

    Jill, I don’t know this author or his purpose in writing his book, so can’t answer your question about Jim Butcher. I can speak for the book I’m writing – my memoir. In this book I’m sharing the details of the incest, physical, and mental abuse I received, enough details to let a person who has been abused know that I know what I’m talking about. In the second part of my memoir (I’m Christian now), I had given up on God and went on an anything but God lifestyle which included many occult practices. I share some of what I did with that and why I was choosing those practices (had to do with looking for a father-figure, and also a God replacement) None of the occult practices worked for me, but I include enough of my time in that so that readers who were in the occult would know that I was writing from experience. I am careful not to include whole ceremonies or things that people could put into practice – even removed a section when one of my critique group members said, “Oh, I’m going to have to try it.” The reason I’m including all those things is I want the unsaved readers to accept where I was, so that when I go into how I was healed by God and how I was, in the past, searching for God in all the wrong places that they will maybe listen to the third part of my memoir. My goal is to reach non-saved readers.

    Not all Christians will want to read what I’m writing for it might be too graphic for the. My pastor’s wife is encouraging me to include more details because she grew up in a home with a pastor for a father and none of the abuse I received. She felt that, by reading my story, that she is better able to counsel others. A priest friend of mine told me that, when he received a phone call from a former client (he was a drug and alcohol rehab counselor) who told him about sexual abuse by her father, he knew the right things to say because of my book.

    Each person has to make up their own mind about what they read or don’t. I can understand Jill’s position and I can understand other’s. I think the measuring stick has to be – what is pleasing to God.

    • Jill March 5, 2014, 6:20 PM

      The testimony you give in your memoir is something that should give cause for universal praise to God from Christians, not disgust. Yes, there are those who will avoid reading it because they can’t emotionally cope with true, disturbing stories. But a story about a person leaving the darkness and coming into God’s light is certainly not what I meant by content that is disgusting or repulsive.

  • Tim George March 4, 2014, 9:01 AM

    I confess to being deeply affected by dark horror as a teenager to the point I avoided it far into my married adult life. Anyone who says there is no connection between what one reads or listens to and how one thinks is denying some basic realities of the human psyche. My teenage years began in darkness with the death of my father just before I entered 7th grade. Because I was basically an only child, a bit of a loner anyway, and a precocious reader – first of writer’s such as Hitchcock and then Lovecraft – what began as melancholy became a black pit of nothingness. Just as my reading habits found me in ever-darker places so did my musical ones. Grand Funk Railroad, turned to Blue Oyster Cult, and then to what my drug induced state of that time blocks to this day.

    Do I once again read and listen to such works from time to time? Yes I do. Do I recommend them on my blog or as a blanket sign of approval? No I do not! Part of my responsibility as a believer is to think more of my brother than myself. Therefore, unless I know you well and where you are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually I withhold my opinions on such things. Since this is turning into a blog post of my own and think it’s time to hush. Good things to think about Mike.

    • StuartB March 4, 2014, 9:49 AM

      This sounds a bit like the person who told my dad when I was 12 that him letting me have a Best of Steppenwolf cd would start me off on a path of hard drugs…because it had happened to him, and apparently a music band forced him to consume hard drugs or lead him into a lifestyle of sin.

      Needless to say, we both laughed, and I enjoyed that cd for many years.

      • Tim George March 4, 2014, 12:05 PM

        Just to be clear Stuart, I wasn’t saying anyone else would take the path I did if they listen to Blue Oyster Cult or read Lovecraft. I do, of course hope, that noone end up where the Cult or Lovecraft did (both very screwed up). What I offered was purely personal and individual to me.

        • StuartB March 4, 2014, 12:34 PM

          Amen. And I’m sorry you had to go through, and glad you’ve come out.

    • Kat Heckenbach March 4, 2014, 9:59 AM

      Tim, this is kind of off-topic, but I have to ask. I had similar teen years. I didn’t lose a parent, but my family was torn apart by a nasty divorce. I got caught up in the wrong crowd, got into drinking and doing drugs pretty heavily in high school. Turned to lots of dark music and such, as you did.

      So, what I’m asking: If there had been dark “Christian” fiction back then, easily accessible, would it have made a difference for you?

      I’ve wondered this about myself. If when I was teen it had been okay to be a Christian AND punk/goth/whatever–in other words, dark–my life would have been SO much easier. I probably wouldn’t have turned my back on the church the way I did.

      BTW, we can take this off-loop if you want (or if Mike wants).

      • Tim George March 4, 2014, 12:06 PM

        Sure Kat, why don’t you PM me on Facebook. I know you’re there.

  • Kat Heckenbach March 4, 2014, 9:08 AM

    I have a nearly 14 yr old son who is not bothered at all by dark images. His brain is wired such that there is just no connect with book or movie horror and real life. He is VERY empathetic in real life. He can NOT tolerate blood and guts in real life. But in a movie, book, or video game, no problem.

    His best friend, who is almost a whole year older, only just recently has been able to watch darker movies and such. Before, the images, even though he knew logically that they were not real, would sink into his brain and he still felt everything as if it were real.

    Two boys, best friends, similar upbringings, same basic values, totally different wiring.

    Now, add to that, different life experiences. Someone who has dabbled in the occult and seen things, real things, first-hand, may not be able to separate such while reading or watching movies. And, in my opinion, they should not be made to do so. I don’t see that as the person being weaker. Any more than I would call an alcoholic weak for refusing to go to a kegger. In many ways it’s the opposite of weakness because they are refusing to put themselves in a situation that will tempt them (or freak them out), and that can take great strength and willpower.

    I really think it has everything to do with the person and their life experience and the way they are wired and what they can handle. Of course, if you go into total hibernation from the world, you will never stretch and grow as a person. But does that HAVE to include dark fiction, much less horror? No, I don’t think so. I know plenty of people who have never read a horror story or watched a horror movie, and they are not walking around the world with their head in the sand.

    That said, some of us connect more fully with God through dark fiction. I happen to be one of those people. I find that what I need more than anything in this world is to know that God is there to be my light in the darkest, most dreadful times of my life. And reading dark fiction helps to reinforce that for me, like a muscle being exercised. My instinct becomes Turn To Him.

    Now…to what Heather mentioned above. As a YA fantasy writer and a HUGE Harry Potter fan, I have to say it drives me NUTS when people point fingers at fiction they have never read. When someone tells me that HP is evil and they don’t actually know the first thing about it, well…

    But, at the same time, I’ve had potential readers tell me they have issues with HP and novels like that, an I will tell them straight-up they may want to pass over mine. I will NOT push someone to read something they may actually find upsetting, particularly if that something is written by me. However, I’ve found that often those same people are willing to try fantasy (be it mine or HP or some other) and they discover that what they’ve been told was sorely exaggerated or completely untrue.

    • StuartB March 4, 2014, 10:00 AM

      Amen.

      And I’ve heard people say that they dabbled in the occult when really they had just read Harry Potter or played a game of D&D. I think we should question when people say they’ve “dabbled in the occult”. Unless you ritualistically slaughtered something, I call shenanigans.

      • Jessica E. Thomas March 4, 2014, 10:53 AM

        There are plenty of ways to dabble in the occult that are dangerous. Like trying to conjure gold dust at a “Christian” prayer meeting, or playing with a ouiji board. I’ve read of people who were lured into the occult by yoga. It’s not “shenanigans”. Like I said above, Christians need to develop discernment which requires a certain level of exposure to darkness. (exposure != dabbling)

  • Jill March 4, 2014, 9:28 AM

    I don’t want to take over this thread, but I want to add that, when I was younger and less mature as a Christian, I couldn’t understand why or how Christians could watch shows such as Friends–and even raise their children on it. Friends is tame nowadays, but I can see its effect on culture. Granted, culture was going this direction, anyway. But think about it: we now have a generation of kids who are tribally oriented toward their friends rather than families. Who needs strong families when you have friends to help raise your children? Who cares about the archetypal unit of grandparents-parents-children?

    Does media reflect or create culture? I suggest that it’s both. Now going back to works of Gothic and horror, let’s look at what the modern day version is. Back when Gothic was invented as a genre, there was a clear delineation between good and evil. Sure, the authors revelled in the dark and evil, but it was called what it was–evil. Now, of course, we have good witches, good vampires, good necromancers. How will this have an effect on culture? At the very least, the archetype of shadow is controlling the show. But on a psychological level, how is that going to affect our paths to internal health? Just as the very worldly and anti-Christian psychologist Carl Jung condemned feminism and homosexuality as signs of an imbalance of the anima and animus, or male and female archetypes, he would have looked at this phenomenon of shadow control as a sign of imbalance.

    Postmodernism has created a whole new topsy-turvy version of what humans are and what they need, and I’m afraid for our collective psychological health.

    • Kat Heckenbach March 4, 2014, 9:42 AM

      Jill–I wonder if some of what you’re talking about is actually the other way around. I loved the show Friends, and it was because I connected with it. I’d grown up closer to my friends than to my family. My parents split up when I was 14. My dad moved out, and got remarried. My mom was working and, well, living her own life.

      I do see what you mean, though. But look at the show: the characters in Friends all had really screwed up parents. They turned to each other because they *couldn’t* turn to their families. Maybe it gave hope to people that family doesn’t have to be the crazies you happen to be blood-related to.

      BTW–not saying my parents are screwed up. We have a great relationship now. But for a long time, because of the divorce and other things, many of them my personal issues, things were really strained. My friends were my family for a while there.

      Anyway, I think media and culture are sort of symbiotic. Or, reflective of each other, not a one-way street at all.

      • Jill March 4, 2014, 3:35 PM

        I believe it to be both, just as I suggested in my comment. Media reflects culture and creates it.

  • GinH March 4, 2014, 9:30 AM

    It depends on what someone’s definition of dark is, too. That stuff Jill was talking about ^ with the whole snuff orgy thing? Never come across it and I read what most people would call dark fiction. However, I wouldn’t want to read that either. Not because I thought it would be sinful or whatever but just because that’s not the kind of thing I’d want to read. Kind of like I choose not to read romance or porn. Boring to me and rarely a story that will keep my interest.
    But I like dark stories. Movies, books, short stories. Whatever. Like Kat ^, I like to see a story with right and wrong, dark and light, fighting it out. But one of my best friends thinks scary stuff is horrifying and chooses not to read or watch it. She doesn’t think it’s sinful that I DO but she just doesn’t like not being able to sleep at night. Me? I sleep better after a scary movie cuz I’m hoping it will give me a cool dream and a good idea for a book.
    All this to say, to me, you recommending dark stuff is great because it adds to my reading list. People should know the source of the recommendation and like the guy who wrote the letter, ask more if they need to discern whether a recommendation is going to be okay for THEM.

    • StuartB March 4, 2014, 10:03 AM

      Go watch Session 9. The only horror movie to mess me up, and it was entirely in my mind. The movie is not graphic in the least. But it is highly suggestive in a auditory way.

  • Mir March 4, 2014, 9:38 AM

    This person stumbled upon Ligotti via TRUE DETECTIVE. Um, TRUE DETECTIVE is pretty darn dark, one of the darker shows I’ve run across. This person is OK with TRUE DETECTIVE as a visual form, but concerned about it in written form? Interesting. I find stuff that’s visual–film and TV–harder to cope with than reading material, because I can easily filter reading material..or skim, whereas that isn’t the case with visual.

    I think if he’s in doubt, then just don’t read it. IF there’s already trepidation, then skip it.

    I find “real” crimes so much harder to handle than anything in fiction. I”ll spend days, weeks, months burdened and in pain over crimes I read about in the paper or magazine articles or memoirs or history books than anything in dark fiction. I suppose I always have that “it’s a story” distance, although I once spent a few weeks just weeping and weeping and distressed in my soul and prayers after a particular Ken Liu story; but the story basis was true, so that was why it affected me so. The deep darkness that we are capable of rips me up some days.

    But it’s the real human nature. I think we need to confront it sometimes.

    DArk fiction is like that to me: Confronting how very horrible we can be, and getting the catharsis when good overcomes. We don’t get that catharsis when we read about some of the real life darkness: the bad guys can get away or never be identified. The evil government continues to tyrannize. The sex slavery cabal continues to profit. In a book, we can get a sense of: this will end. This will be overcome. And I find that hopeful, in an odd way. The darker the dark, the greater the victory.

    I weep over stuff in Scripture that’s atrocious. I don’t tend to feel that sort of distress over fictional darkness. For me, that’s the difference. I can feel strong emotions from a dark fantasy; but I don’t feel the soul-ripping, sends me into fits of sobbing and weeping and nightmares the way REAL stuff does.

    So, for me, the question might be: How can a person stand true crime or painful biographies of abuse and suffering, not why can they not stand dark fiction?

    Our filters may differ, eh? I have known readers in my old romance group who’d go on and on about some pet being killed in fiction–in the very same novels where people got murdered. Human murder, no issue. Pet murder: all up in arms and want to never read that author again. Huh? See? I don’t get THAT.

    We have buttons, different buttons.

    I figure: Know thyself. That’s the answer.

    • Lelia Rose Foreman March 4, 2014, 2:08 PM

      Mir, I have a friend whose agent told her, “Kill Grandma if you must, but whatever you do, DON’T kill the dog!

      • Mir March 4, 2014, 2:44 PM

        I believe it. I think even Nora Roberts got grief over some dog thing. But I’m all like, “Oh, so the woman raped and beaten to death, that passes? Just not the dog?”

        • Katherine Coble March 4, 2014, 3:36 PM

          This I can explain, being a person who can stomach violence to humans but not to animals.

          Humans have their own agency, albeit to varying degrees.

          Animals do not. Animals are entrusted to us by God and placed in our care. Their innocence and their labour is a gift to us that we hold in a sacred trust. They are not fallen creatures. Humans are. Human death makes me sad; animal death makes me upset to the point of physical illness because it represents not only a death but the cruellest of humanity betraying the trust of God’s innocent creation. There’s a reason that until Christ we were forced to sacrifice lambs. God wanted the picture of pure innocence murdered in cold blood by our selfish evil. That does it.

          • Mir March 4, 2014, 5:06 PM

            All creation is fallen. Animals do some wretched stuff, too, if animal shows are anything to go by. Or that monkey orally raping a bullfrog. We are the stewards, but that which we are entrusted with is also broken by the fall and quite red in tooth and claw.

  • Heather Marsten March 4, 2014, 9:46 AM

    The Bible does include the good, the bad, and the ugly. God would rather us to learn by reading the Scriptures rather than by life-mistakes. Regarding Scriptures – God does not mince words, anything regarding the occult and a adulterous lifestyle is sinful – there are no shades of grey. Does God forgive our sins, yes. The problem with our lives today is we are becoming desensitized to sin. Look at the content of TV years ago – words that are commonplace on TV today would not have been used years ago. Scenarios and lifestyles that we accept as “normal” today would not be portrayed long ago. The same happens with what we read and take in. We need to answer to God for what we consume. As we are saved, the Holy Spirit works on us, and much that we were comfortable with before we were saved does not appeal to us after for we become new creations in Christ. But God works individually with people. A secular example is our church has a lot of people who were once drug addicts – many of them still smoke. As they grow in Christ, God often helps them break the smoking habit. Many new non-smokers get zealous and try to convince the smokers that they too could easily give up smoking. They forget that God is the one that helped them and God deals individually. A newly drug-free individual may need the comfort of smoking for a time being , while God works on other areas in their life. We just don’t know. All we can answer to is what God show us that we must do for our walk with Him.

    • StuartB March 4, 2014, 10:07 AM

      Not to go off on a tangent, but you are forcing unbiblical laws on believers when you convince them to give up smoking. The Bible does speak to this. Being a non-smoker is not a sign of maturity nor a sign of salvation/sanctification.

  • StuartB March 4, 2014, 9:54 AM

    When I’m at bookstores, I like to grab ouiji boards or tarot cards and put them on the Bible shelf. The resulting explosion normally sends everyone running. That or I pick up demonic energy and have nightmares every time I wander through the book store, and until I throw olive oil around the room and plead the blood of Jesus, they keep haunting me.

    On a more serious note…do you think a lot of this has ties to Gnosticism? Dark Fiction often has ties to real world events, murders, political intrigue, rough and tumble characters and the like. Have we as a church become so engrained in the idea of “physical = bad, spirtual = good” that we’ve forgotten what the scriptures actually teach and the reality of the world around us that God created and allegedly is sovereign over?

    • D.M. Dutcher March 4, 2014, 10:15 AM

      Those things are divination tools man, not fictional horror. I’m not a guy who sees spirits around every corner, but people can and do have valid reasons not to like those. Vicarious thrills through scary stories are different from devices people believe can contact real entities.

      I don’t think its gnosticism. I think it’s sort of a weird totemistic faith where objects themselves have the potential to affect the living. Like in my old church, just owning books was bad because they might “open a door.” Ironically Lovecraft’s fictional Necronomicon and The King in Yellow are the same things; items that can corrupt the soul just by their presence or reading. Not really sure of the genesis of this, but maybe sort of a folk religion that transcends creed.

      • StuartB March 4, 2014, 10:27 AM

        Arguably tarot cards are not a divination tool, although some foolish men in the past few hundred years took them and tried to pretend they were. But do they have any real power? I’m not convinced. God is still God.

        Agreed on the folk religion thing. Getting to a proper understanding of Christianity, filtering out that folk religion stuff, can help answer many of these questions we have about dark fiction or the occult and the like.

        It’s hard for our modern minds to comprehend such things as merely reading a book can corrupt a soul. Well, ideas are like viruses, words can be like poison, etc. But an actual demonic spiritual entity being transferred? I somehow doubt it.

        It’s also hard to understand the old “knowing someone’s name gives you power over them” things too.

        Did rune stones, for instance, use to have an actual effect? The part of me that loves fiction and fantasy hopes they used to. The Christian, modern part of me says…probably not, except as a written assurance to others who read them that “this house is protected…somehow”.

        • D.M. Dutcher March 4, 2014, 10:44 AM

          Tarot cards are used for fortune telling and readings quite often, even in these modern times. It’s not so much the efficacy though as the fact that people believe in them or that they are positioned as things which are actually useful. I mean fiction is fiction, but even if these are “gods made with their own hands,” I don’t give them a pass.

          Yeah, the folk religion stuff is a sore point with me. A lot of Word of Faith stuff was trying to put a weird folk religion in with Christianity. Things like confession made Bible verses almost like a talisman or spell; confess them over and over again to achieve your aim. I think they are slowly moving away from that, but still.

      • StuartB March 4, 2014, 10:29 AM

        Here’s some good info on tarot cards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarot_cards

        Then again, I knew some weird christians long ago who thought regular playing cards were demonic. Smile, nod, and don’t invite them over for games…and if they won’t listen to you explain why that’s simply not true, then make sure others around you hear the truth.

  • D.M. Dutcher March 4, 2014, 10:09 AM

    The problem with those dark shows is that you realize it’s just a pose. Ligotti probably sits in a well-lit room eating nutritious food while agonizing over which word to write. True Detective requires hundreds of people NOT to believe in the meaningless of life in order to get a single show filmed. Why people would believe in the bleakness there when that same bleakness had to be triumphed over just to get the work done I never get.

    I’ve read a fair amount of dark stuff, but I don’t think “engaging the world” means being open to frankly manipulative stuff done for effect. I also don’t think those things have the power over us people think they do; it’s more that you don’t want to watch something that’s disgusting or morbid rather than it opening a door to spiritual influence. We don’t have to read HP Lovecraft to have a well-rounded spiritual witness, but you don’t fall away from something just by reading a book.

    I think if the brother doesn’t want to read horror based on the cover, he’s perfectly fine with that. I’d just warn about giving too much spiritual power to a book, and just say “I don’t like gruesome or grotesque things.”

    • StuartB March 4, 2014, 10:54 AM

      Yeah, I agree. That concept of satan as an angel of light really got into my head a long time ago. The demonic is rarely something that looks dark or grotesque or gruesome, it’s more than likely something that looks wholesome and appealing. There’s probably more demonic influence you can find in the aisles of a Lifeway bookstore than you can find in some second hand wiccan bookstore.

      One of my favorite books of all time is The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. I get a lot of strange looks from people for saying that, and many have denied it’s even by Lewis, because of course how could the man who wrote Mere Christianity and The Chronicles of Narnia write a book about demons seeking to corrupt Christians and the Church, let alone the “Enemy Above”.

      I’d recommend that book to anyone. No one who’s read it after I recommended it didn’t like it. It’d make a great book club selection.

  • Heather Marsten March 4, 2014, 10:14 AM

    RE smoking – I don’t tell people anything re smoking. I don’t smoke, never have. It is an addiction (nicotine), and it is unhealthy. If people do it, I prefer they not smoke in my house or car. My pastor doesn’t preach from the pulpit about smoking except that it is unhealthy – and that the enemy will try and convince a person that they can stop any time they want, etc. I was just using it as an example of how God works individually with people.

    • StuartB March 4, 2014, 10:49 AM

      Fair enough, even if I disagree that the enemy is the one telling people they can stop anytime they want to. Just because something is addicting does not mean it is bad, or even controlling in the sense most readers of the Bible would think.

      Wise pastor you have!

  • Heather Marsten March 4, 2014, 11:02 AM

    This seems to have strayed far off topic. I spent over 40 years in the occult and some of the things mentioned here sadden me because I know that, while they might seem harmless at first, later they can change and pull one further away from God. We need to keep our focus on God, on what He says. Remember satan is a liar and the father of liars. He will not come up to someone and show them the whole of what will happen if they stray off path. To give a secular example. I quilt – if a seam is 1/16″ of an inch off size, it may not seem like a big deal. But you have many seams off and it adds up until the quilt is no longer square or rectangular. When we step over the line by a toe, we draw a new line in the sand and say, we won’t cross that. Then we do by a toe. Draw a new line. It isn’t long before things come cascading back to us. But regarding books and what we read – what we put in our minds affects our thoughts and actions.

    • Jessica E. Thomas March 4, 2014, 11:29 AM

      StuartB’s comments above, in which he is making light of Ouiji boards, Tarot cards, demonic energy, and such are the only comments that are bothering me. I don’t know StuartB (Hi StuartB), so maybe he doesn’t make light of such things in real life. If I only know him by the comments in this thread, I’m sensing a lack of discernment, which is exactly what I’m arguing *against* in my comments.

      I agree with you on the Harry Potter stuff. I’ve seen the movies, but never read the books. They’ve always given me an “iffy” vibe. I know some Christians point to the end and say Harry is a Christ figure, and maybe so, but that’s after an entire storyline that insufficiently demarcates the line between good and evil (imo).

      • StuartB March 4, 2014, 12:30 PM

        Hi Jessica!

        Actually, I probably would mock such things in real life, as that is where Scripture, the Holy Spirit, some wise elders, and discernment has lead me. Mock the devil and he will flee from you. I mock such things because I know they hold no power over me because Jesus is in control. Am I saying go out and slaughter a goat and bath in its entrails so you can divine the future? Absolutely not. But I mock the whole system because I know it can’t work.

        As I mentioned above, real demonic energy is something else entirely. It’s what leads to innocents being slaughtered. It’s what leads to families becoming destitute and starving. It’s what leads to people being enslaved. It’s what leads to trusted officials lying to us while padding their pockets.

        It’s not ink printed on cardboard. It’s not a fictional writing coming from a deeply depressed man. It’s not the sound coming out of wooden instruments from four boys in Liverpool. It’s not dolls coming named after your garden or favorite German vegetable. It’s what comes out of the heart when ink printed on paper becomes a god, amongst other things.

        I’m glad we have moved beyond the satanic scares of the 70s, 80s, 90s…but we’re still feeling the fruits. I’m confident the new generation rising up in the church will be able to see past those silly deceptions and move on.

        Regarding Harry Potter, I’d argue the series is deeply Christian start to finish, and not just some Christian stuff “tacked on” to the end. A reading of the series would reveal that, but you’d have to expose yourself to the books as they are (and not interpreted through another) to really see that. The movies are a pale shadow of the books.

        • Jessica E. Thomas March 4, 2014, 1:33 PM

          But then I’d have to devote a whole lotta time to Harry Potter and it just doesn’t seem worth it to me. So I don’t.

          Which translation says “mock” the devil? I’ve always heard “resist” the devil and he will flee.

          Mocking, to me, is making light of what satan can do. I think that is unwise, certainly for those who don’t believe in Christ (such as some who might be reading this post and comment thread.) When you, as a Christian) make light of satan and the occult world, I fear unbelievers will too…and that makes me mad.

          You don’t have to fear death or satan because you are with Christ. Unbelievers *should* fear death and satan, because without Christ, they are powerless against both.

          • StuartB March 4, 2014, 2:15 PM

            I would rather unbelievers be properly educated in the Scriptures than to be misinformed. Isn’t this one of the duties of Christians, to be honest, sharing truth, intelligent and reasonable? If an unbeliever sees a believer not be afraid of superstitions, isn’t that a powerful testimony and witness?

            • Jessica E. Thomas March 4, 2014, 2:55 PM

              The only time I (think) I mentioned fear was in regards to unbelievers thinking that satan and the occult are not to be feared. For the unbeliever, they are to be feared because that’s their fate if they don’t follow Christ. I’m not talking about Christians fearing satan. Christians have no reason to fear. I’m talking about being sober about the reality of this world. The reality is that God has allowed satan to rule over this world for a time; therefore, we all must repent and believe in Christ our savior who died and came back to life, thereby making a way for all who believe in Him to spend eternity with God. Being sober about the truth does not equal fearing satan.

        • Kat Heckenbach March 4, 2014, 2:36 PM

          Jessica, gonna back up Stuart B here on HP. The books….the books. The movies strip it all out.

          That is not a push to read them if you’re not interested, btw. Just stating that a book should never be judged by its movie :).

          • Katherine Coble March 4, 2014, 2:58 PM

            I’d also add that the movies were the Christian works of a Christian author re-interpreted for a secular audience by secular authors and at least 2 atheistic directors. So you not only have no idea what the books are like, you have a very mistaken representation of them on offer.

            • Jessica E. Thomas March 4, 2014, 3:24 PM

              I’ve read “scholarly” articles regarding the presentation of good and evil in Harry Potter versus Lord of the Rings, and I’ve felt bothered at times by the general culture surrounding the books, so I feel I have enough info to make a fair judgement about whether or not I want to read the books. I’ve decided not to read them, but I think it falls within the realm of Christian liberty.

          • Jessica E. Thomas March 4, 2014, 3:06 PM

            If there weren’t so many of them and they weren’t so darn long. And if there weren’t so many other books I want to read… I have to filter the to-read pile somehow. Maybe when I’m 80 (God-willing)?

        • Lyn Perry March 4, 2014, 2:38 PM

          I have to say I’m closer to Stuart on this than those who hold to a more ‘traditional’ understanding (read ’70s Hal Lindsay hogwash’) of the satan’s power and influence. The evil powers at work in this world – which we’ve blithely ignored and no longer rail against – are those powers that cause war, human-created famine/starvation, massacres of children/elderly, etc. We throw our arms up at ouija boards but don’t blink an eye when 2000 to 3000 preborn children lose their lives everyday. We have the ability to feed every mouth on planet earth but aren’t really concerned about doing that, and yet we’re worried about whether the magic in Harry Potter is demonic or mechanical.

          • Jessica E. Thomas March 4, 2014, 3:02 PM

            I (tearfully) blink my eyes at abortion, starvation, and needless killing too, so… Evil is both subtle and extreme. Most people these days miss the subtle, imo.

          • Jill March 4, 2014, 4:22 PM

            Okay, honestly, I’m not going to bash Harry Potter, but I find it absurd that you and Stuart are purporting that popular media doesn’t have an influence on us. We’re influenced by media all the time. We’re influenced to believe many of the evils you mention don’t exist or aren’t evil. We’re influenced by media to ignore the evils in the world! Of course we should be concerned with how books are influencing us, as well as how they are influencing our children. We need to equip ourselves and the future generation to fight the evil you mention.

  • Lelia Rose Foreman March 4, 2014, 2:19 PM

    I don’t worry about spiritual attacks from books so much as I worry about emotional impacts upon me. Some books (ie. books Mike Duran endorsed) make me feel heavy with dread and then I have nightmares. I’m weak. I’m also susceptible to a wicked thought life. So there are books other people love that I need to avoid.

  • StuartB March 4, 2014, 2:42 PM

    “The Lannisters send their regards.”

    Truly demonic and evil.

  • Becky Doughty March 5, 2014, 11:33 AM

    Hi Mike,
    From a slightly different angle, I’m also a narrator/audiobook producer, and although I have my own personal reading tastes, I had to draw a line in the sand on what I would narrate, because I don’t want to be the voice that creates an image in someone else’s head. This is a difficult topic, and I honestly don’t believe there are any clear answers – I’ve had personal friends recommend stuff to me, “Oh, Becky, you’ll LOVE this!” and when I read it, I wonder what on earth made that friend think I would???!!!, and I’ve had strangers recommend stuff generically, and become “book buddies” based on what they recommend. I think we need to step back and realize that an entertainment recommendation (and I consider most nonfiction just as much entertainment as fiction…) is just that. A recommendation. It isn’t a scarlet letter or a coat of arms, it isn’t a mark of the beast, or a tribal tattoo, it’s just a “I read this, thought it worked, you might enjoy it, too, IF you like this sort of thing.” But to shoot the messenger?

    Great discussion here.

  • Patrick OToole March 5, 2014, 8:53 PM

    I personally don’t have much of a stomach for dark stuff. But that’s a personal taste. I don’t avoid it because it’s “wrong”, just because it’s unappealing. I also know some people really enjoy it.

    Mike, I think it was very wise for this person to ask you what you thought. They knew you were close to the material and understood what was there and they could get a perspective on it without experiencing it first hand. I’ve done something similar by reading the “parental guide” section of IMDB. It will give me a sense of what’s in a movie. If I feel it’s too much for me, I skip it, and I’m very grateful for the person who did see the movie and was able to write that guide. Were they wrong for watching it? It was a great service to me so I say no.

    To relate this to film, which I have more experience with, there are two movie that were very dark and disturbing that both has strong Christian themes. “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and “The Conjuring”. (The Conjuring is, without a doubt, the scariest movie I’ve ever seen.) The Conjuring is about a Christian couple who deal with hauntings as demonic events and resolve them with the power of God and prayer.

  • Forest (D&DPreacher) Ray March 6, 2014, 6:09 AM

    My girlfriend and I are having this very conversation. She comes from a “everything without a Christian label is evil” background.

    • StuartB March 7, 2014, 10:53 AM

      Funny how later in life I’ve become the complete opposite, avoid the Christian label as much as possible when it comes to things like music, fiction, etc…

      Present authors excluded, of course. lol

  • Nathan March 6, 2014, 7:52 AM

    I’m coming into this discussion a little late, and hope I’m still able to contribute something meaningful.

    Anyhow, around the middle of last year, I felt a desire to better understand what it means to love God with all my mind. This journey led me to understand that, had the Fall never happened, the only world view we would have is that of the Bible. Unfortunately, the Fall did happen. In terms of living, however, both ancient Israel and the early church would have rejected the pagan religions–which became our mythologies–as worthless stories that glorify demons.

    When I was growing up, I loved all these stories, and I still consider Greek, Nordic, and Celtic mythologies to be extremely fascinating. Yet we are told to worship God in Spirit and Truth, and Philippians 4:8, which I call the “thinking” verse, tells us to think first and foremost about whatever is true. In light of this, my question has become: can we still claim to be worshiping God if we deliberately enjoy stories that “glorify” or make “OK” what God has called demonic lies? Would part of discernment be to evaluate these things by Scripture so that we can learn to avoid them entirely so that, as Psalm 101:3 says, “I will put nothing worthless before my eyes”? I know myself well enough to know I can veer into legalism if not careful, and I certainly don’t want to do that here. Yet I do find myself wondering: do we sometimes justify things we shouldn’t simply because we’ve grown up with them and therefore consider them “harmless” and don’t give them a second thought?

  • Samuel Choy March 6, 2014, 2:15 PM

    I haven’t read Lovecraft but I plan to. Why? Because as a writer, I feel that I need to be a student of writing, which means reading the greats, famous, and influential (not always the same thing). Even with an English degree, I feel like I haven’t read nearly as much literature as I should have. That means reading things I disagree with or even might find distasteful. That doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and grab a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey (the literary value of which is doubtful). Nor does it mean that I won’t put a book down if it starts to bother my conscience. However, I feel like there is still a lot I need to learn. Aren’t Christian authors I can learn from? Of course, but not nearly enough.

    • Patrick OToole March 6, 2014, 6:10 PM

      Samuel,

      As a writer, I’ve also challenged myself to read other things. I figured I give a romance novel a try since I don’t read romance and as a middle-aged, married, Christian male I’m about a far from the romance demographic as you can get. I picked “The Vampire With a Dragon Tattoo” and love it! Except for a couple of “intimate” scenes I could have done without. Out of the whole book there were only two brief sections, maybe about three to five pages in all, that had X rated material, the rest was PG-13.(with some innuendo thrown in.)

      But why I love it was the story, the characters and the writing.

      Kerrelyn Sparks is a great writer. She’ll never win a Nobel or any fancy literary awards, but she writes compelling characters involved in an interesting story. The main story is about good vampires fighting bad vampire who are in league with a demon. Angels show up at the end to deal with the demon. The main character has to make a critical sacrifice and love wins in the end. It certainly wasn’t a Christian novel, but it had Christian themes in it. In fact, the good vampire won’t kill humans who are working with the bad vampires because they know that doing so will send them to hell. The vampires don’t have souls, but they have a conscience, which I found very interesting. The are, in fact, good people fighting a good cause, who just happen to be vampires.

      This touches on Mike’s other posts about what supernatural elements can be used in “Christian” novels. But I digress.

      I’m not about to read romance on a regular basis, but I’m glad I read VWDT because I discovered a great writer who I can learn from. In the first few pages she sets up the main characters, the world, motivation, hints as the the growing conflict, fills in some back story and threw in a few laughs and it all seems effortless. Frankly, I was stunned. I downloaded the sample just to check it out and within a few pages I was hook. I devoured the whole book in a week.

      If I could write my stories as well as I feel Kerrelyn writes her’s, I’d be be a very happy man.

      (p.s. I read the first couple of pages of Fifty Shades of Gray and found it terrible in every way. The writing was bad, the characters stupid, the whole thing is a mess.)

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