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Journey into Darkness: The Darker Side of Magic

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

This week’s #AuthorNook question, examined the darker side of magic: if it existed and if so how it manifested in our worlds. And if not, that's okay too, but what does that look like. Answers were varied and expansive, brilliant and fascinating. I wish I had room to invite everyone here. Clearly, at the very least, the darker side of magic is a compelling force.

It was a delight to read everyone's thoughts this week. Here are a few expanded responses by Spyder Collins, K.R. Wieland, and Ryan Replogle.

I hope you enjoy! Join the conversation in the comments if you wish. Feel free to ask the authors any questions you may have, or discuss the darker side of magic in your story.

Spyder Collins

We know by now that magic can be whimsical, enigmatic, peculiar, but also lethal. It can be quite obvious, too. Right there in front of us; through traditional garb, sigils, incantations and such things as potions boiling about in a black cauldron. Okay, maybe not in real life (but?). Magic, however, can also be hidden, tucked away and unspoken. Sometimes invoked in dark corners, cloaked by black magic in otherwise obvious locations, or even buried in history. This unspoken magic conjured in invisible spaces, incantations chanted beneath whispered tones, and cauldrons shrouded by inky darkness. Magic has an appeal all its own and it’s embedded in much that we do, think about and more importantly, write about.

In my story “The Last Orc,” magic holds a dark (lethal) appeal. It is hushed and hidden behind the anger of creatures and the insecurities of mankind. Magic has fostered a battle ready, blood thirsty brood, waiting to destroy the Orc nation. With magic stirred in dark, damp caverns deep in the underbelly of the Graylands. Here where black magic is spun like webs and let loose into the wind. This unspoken magic runs deep in foul traditions and brings back the days of old. This magic of man is blackened by his envious soul and lust for power and exploration. A greed the Orc will learn far too much of, but no spoilers.

I’ve played with magic in much of my writing. Whether novel length, short story or even poetry I may pop-off onto Twitter from time to time. Magic you find, more often than not, makes an appearance. For certain magic is a tale unto itself. Generational and it will continue far into our future. Spun in glorious tales of fantasy and horror (I prefer the horrific), for all to read and explore. Magic is there, whether you see it or not. In both the pages you write or read. Let it in, to warm your hearts or deaden your soul.

Magic is the way.

A man of many faces, Spyder Collins haunts the caves of Colorado, where he weaves disturbing tales of horror and suffering. When he’s not agitating the minds of unsuspecting readers, he pens soul-shattering poetry.

You can find Spyder on Twitter @Spyder_Collins and at

K.R. Wieland

When it comes to magic, so often it seems that there is good magic and bad magic. As I started to write my own story, I didn’t want there to be a distinction. I felt that magic, like anything, could be used for good or with the intent of evil. One character in particular in The Raven Song, uses it for both purposes. The reader sees his internal struggle as the story progresses and I hope that as his character continues to develop they may get to see his fight to use it more for good.

I believe that anything can be twisted one way or the other, whether it is magic or power in a story, or simply the words we say in everyday life. We can use what have to destroy someone or to encourage them.

K.R. Wieland has always had an over abundant love of creating. Whether it is with a paintbrush, a pen, or typing away at her computer, she is always trying to make something. When she is not writing or painting, she can be found at home dancing in the kitchen with her daughters or talking about all things nerdy or foodie with her husband.

Ryan Replogle

We’ve all known and loved stories featuring magic with a dark side, consequences, or the potential for corrupting influence. It’s a staple in the tradition of storytelling, from ancient lore to manuscripts being written at this very moment. I think the concept has had such staying power because, no matter how fantastic the story, this dichotomy of light and dark is deeply relatable—it mirrors the duality in human nature.

For the elemental magic system in my upcoming novel, To Drown A Phoenix, the main character arc I wanted to explore called for a different perspective: magic that has no dark side, but can be hindered by a certain kind of darkness in the person wielding it. My protagonist, Dane, doesn’t know that magic exists, and he certainly doesn’t anticipate encountering it in present-day Montana. What he does know is that fear has utterly ruled his life for years—and it is arguably the darkest side of human nature. Fear is often the driving force behind hate, abandonment of dreams, and mistrust.

That mistrust leads to Dane’s primary internal conflict, causing him to fear the very source of this power: the natural world. Years prior, Dane became hopelessly lost in a vast expanse of wilderness, culminating in a near-death experience from drowning. Now, we meet him on the Continental Divide Trail, hoping to mitigate his PTSD by facing his fear of the wilderness; particularly water.

And while the magic itself has no intrinsic dark side, nature sometimes does. Large, bloodthirsty creatures begin slaughtering their way across Montana, plunging Dane and some fellow hikers into a nightmarish fight for survival. One hiker has a powerful connection to the elemental forces that can be used to fight back—but learning and using this power will force Dane into an agonizingly intimate bond with his greatest fear. He will rationalize it as sleeping with the enemy for his own survival, but soon he’ll have to fight for more than just his own life. As he busies himself shining a light in a very dark place, a trapped community sees that light from afar and pleads for his help—and that community comes with its own latent darkness.

So long as he regards it as a frightening force, Dane cannot wield its full potential. Being semi-sentient, it responds most powerfully to those who trust it. But how can he trust what he fears most? His newfound family will need him to fumble around for it in his inner darkness, so that the wild’s light has a chance to burn brightly. When darkness truly falls, can Dane find enough trust to rise against it?

Ryan Replogle is a writer focused on horror and fantasy. Teachers gushed over his writing from elementary school on, but society tricked him into thinking writing can’t pay bills. He’s decided to listen to himself instead—his debut novel, To Drown A Phoenix, will be out in 2022. A security supervisor by day, he also designs inspiring quotes for one of his Etsy shops, and sells jewelry on another. When he’s not writing or selling, he’s probably planning his escape from Florida to western Montana.

He can be found perhaps too often on Twitter @RyanReplogle and sometimes on Instagram @author_ryan_replogle .

I do hope you've enjoyed this week's Author Nook! Please remember to join the #AuthorNook discussion on Twitter every Tuesday and the blog post here every Sunday to read more from featured #WritingCommunity authors and artists. - Laken 🌹

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