Authors Answer 54 – Torturing Our Characters


Anyone who’s read my work can probably guess my answer to the question below.  Heck, anyone who just kinda knows me in passing can likely imagine the maniacal laughter this spawned when it popped up in the question list.

Question 54 – It’s Friday the 13th. Horror is a popular genre. Could you torture one of your characters?

To put it briefly: Yes.  Yes I can.

To be more in-depth:

H. Anthe Davis:

Absolutely.  I’ve tortured many of them already — if not in body, then certainly in mind.  Nightmares are my joy.  I particularly like tormenting my leader-type characters by having horrible things happen to their subordinates; one or two instances of that and they begin neatly torturing themselves.  But then, I -am- writing what I would consider fantasy/horror, so it’s a necessity.  There’s some gore but I’ve always preferred the psychological angle.

Others’ answers: Authors Answer 54 – Torturing Our Characters

I do want to note that I’ve been easing into it throughout the series.  It was never my intention to be grimdark — I don’t read that stuff.  I like to consider Book 1 to be about 5-10% horror and the rest fantasy (with a touch of SF), with the level ramping up slowly.  Right now, at Book 4, I am regularly traumatizing the characters — but they’re getting used to it.  They carry on.  (Most of them.)  I’d say the horror level is about…25%?  It will rise a bit higher yet, but it won’t eclipse the fantasy aspect, and I think the worst thing I’ll ever do in this series has already been done circa Book 3.

It’s an interesting topic though, and one of my fellow authors brings up the point that horror pushes characters into a more emotional place…a raw place, and ideally a true place.  Somewhere beyond whatever facade they’ve constructed.

About H. Anthe Davis

Worldbuilder. Self-published writer.
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6 Responses to Authors Answer 54 – Torturing Our Characters

  1. This makes me even more interested in your books, knowing “the worst thing in the series” happens three books in.

    • I think it makes a good cutoff point — if the reader can’t get over this, they don’t want to pass into the land beyond it. Never worse (maybe), but certainly more regular with the nastiness.

  2. Erica Dakin says:

    Interesting, since I’m re-reading Robin Hobb’s Assassin trilogy at the moment. I still find it absolutely harrowing what she puts Fitz through in all these books, and I doubt I’d ever be able to do anything like that myself… Which likely means that my books will never reach the same lofty heights, but I’m pretty much resigned to that.

  3. Jay Dee says:

    Remind me to read your books.
    While I do have death planned for Journey to Ariadne, that’s not exactly going to be a major book for me. My real first book will be after colonisation, and the second book is the one that contains the torture.
    I also have a sci-fi novella series in development that will involve psychological torture of oneself. Well, it’s more of a neurological disease that results in some nasty side effects when not treated, but it’s kind of torture.

    • My books involve a handful of reluctant adventuring types, a bunch of soldiers, and some serious lunatics, so mayhem and death is kind of inevitable. But I do like the psychological angle more than the physical. Interested to see how it works out in yours.

      • Jay Dee says:

        Mine will include some “can I trust you?” and some betrayal, as well as some “wtf is that?” Also, the lunatics will eventually come.

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