Darkness BrutalI devoured the first two books of the Dark Cycle trilogy, by Rachel A. Marks, getting lost in the world she created to an extent that was unusual, even for a book fanatic like myself. So naturally, I was thrilled to get the chance to interview her, regarding her inspiration as an author, and thoughts on Aiden O’Linn and the gang from Darkness Brutal, and Darkness Fair. If you haven’t read them yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for!

Q: Rachel, how did you get into writing in general?
A. I’ve always been an avid reader. In high school I would devour a book in a day—sometimes two books on a Saturday. I tried my hand at writing stories back then, but I was discouraged by most of my English teachers, so I thought I wasn’t any good. I went to a very conservative private school and my imagination came up with some pretty weird stuff. Needless to say, they weren’t sure what to do with me. No one did, really…lol. I didn’t try writing again until I was in my twenties with four kids. I’d had a quilting design business but we were moving out of state and I had nothing to do with myself during the transition (which was driving me crazy). So on the many many twenty hour drives we had to take I took my laptop and wrote. I wrote and wrote between packing and unpacking and finished my very first novel in two months. It just poured out of me. It was horrible, of course, but I was hooked. And now I’m taking what I wrote all those years ago and reworking it for my new series—a lesson on nothing is ever a waste.
Q. Now, more specifically, what appealed to you about writing books about, and for, young adults?
A. I think the fact that I never grew up was the biggest factor. 😉 And the fact that I felt so misunderstood as a teen. I felt like an outcast. I wanted to reach back in time and write something for my struggling teen self, and maybe something that would speak to other teens that felt like I did. Or even adults that have been through trauma, and understand that struggle of learning who you are, wondering why you don’t feel “normal”.
Q. If you could offer aspiring writers any tips on writing, what would they be?
A. Don’t give up and don’t stop learning. It took me exactly thirteen years from the moment I started writing seriously until I was actually signing that contract with a publisher. So, in the words of Commander Peter Taggart of Galaxy Quest: “Never give up, never surrender!” Darkness Fair
Q. How did the character of Aidan O’Linn come to you? I really enjoyed the novelty of a male protagonist, since usually in this genre the main character is a sassy female!
A. Thanks, Meghan! 🙂 Aidan was very vivid to me from the beginning. I always get a picture of a character before anything else. They’re usually in a situation and it’s like my mind is asking the questions, What are they feeling? What happens next? The first time I saw Aidan he was only nine, walking down a dark hallway, about to witness the death of his mother. My heart broke for this boy and I felt the weight of everything he was about to have to carry. I wanted to write his story, even though all I knew about him in that moment was that he was going to have to save his sister from the same demons that killed his mother.
Q. Did you always know how the relationships between Kara and Aidan, and Rebecca and Aidan would play out? Or did it come as a surprise to you as you were writing the books?
A. The relationships in the book were surprising, because in the beginning I thought it would always end in a certain way with the romantic element, but once I was done with the first book I knew it had taken on a life of its own. Which is how I got the idea for the twist in Darkness Fair.
Q. That being said, were you/are you Team Kara or Team Rebecca?
A. LOL! Well, I have to say, I’ve always been #TeamKara but now that I’ve been in Rebecca’s head too, it’s a super tough call. I’ve come to love that sweet girl. But I also really enjoyed how Kara’s character grows over the books, especially in Book Three, and that solidified in my mind that she was my favorite character, I think. But I see things about her the readers won’t see, and I can definitely understand how Rebecca could be the favorite. And by the end of the series, my guess is, that’ll be pretty solidified.
Q. Some of the material in Darkness Brutal, and Darkness Fair, is pretty dark; do you ever give yourself nightmares coming up with it?
A. Hahaha…no, but my kids have interrupted me while I was super focused on a demon scene and nearly killed me with the shock…lol. To be truthful, it’s hard for me to see the depth of the darkness in what I’m writing and I haven’t figured out if it’s because I’m too close to it, or if all the reading of the words over and over, separates me out of it a bit. But I was surprised that people were considering it horror. Must be all the Stephen King I read in high school subliminally leaking out. 😉
Q. Working with the Jewish religion, and storylines involving actual biblical characters like Daniel, is different since most authors focus just on angels and demons or Christian symbolism. What made you decide to detour from that?
A. I felt like the old tropes of how demons were dealt with in literature, in tales like Dracula or movies like Constantine, weren’t getting to root of it all, and I wanted to go further back in history to see how it was dealt with before Western Christianity. So, instead I drew from theories in the Torah, the Kabbalah, as well as some Mesopotamian traditions (like the spirit bowl, which most Chaldean/Hebrew houses would place in the corner of a main room to catch evil spirits). I tried to think what it would be like if there was no Western influence in the spiritual world, and make that my jumping off point. I’m not sure I totally succeeded, and I didn’t get to use all my ideas, but it was sure fun to try and make it all work. 🙂Character artwork based on the The Dark Cycle Books (DARKNESS BRUTAL, DARKNESS FAIR, & DARKNESS SAVAGE)
Q. I saw on Goodreads that the third book in the Dark Cycle series, Darkness Savage, is set to be released in October of this year. Will it be the final book in the series?
A. So far, that’s the final book in Aidan and Ava’s story. I may still write in that world in the future. I know I’m going to miss those rascals at LA Paranormal. 😉 I’ll know better once I see how readers react to Book Three.
Q. Can you give us any hints about what might happen in Darkness Savage? (without giving too much away of course!)
A. *Wicked Grin* Weeeeeell…I think I can say that Rebecca takes on a much larger role in Savage, where we really get to see why she’s still unable to walk away from Aidan’s world. And Ava isn’t making life on Aidan very easy. He experiences a huge inner struggle as Ava pushes him to do things, and he’s basically deciding if he’s going to be manipulated by darkness or fight—which might seem to have a simple answer, but in Aidan’s world nothing is simple.
I hope you all enjoyed the interview with Rachel! She is one of my new favorite authors, and I can’t say enough about the Dark Cycle! To help us celebrate our Honeyversary Week, Rachel has offered a paperback copy of Darkness Brutal and $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader! Click below for details, and to enter!


Honeyversary Giveaway of Darkness Brutal paperback (by Rachel A. Marks) and a $10 Amazon Giftcard!