Thursday, May 19, 2022

Exploring Perception in Dark Fiction: Guest Blog byTori Eldridge


Exploring Perception in Dark Fiction

by Tori Eldridge

Every day, people make decisions that take them toward empowerment and righteousness or toward resentment, bitterness, and despair. Not all of these choices are clearly marked like forks in a road. Some creep up on us with insidious stealth, altering our perception and twisting the truth. The micro decisions we make every day can lead us to irrevocable actions that cause our own demise. They can also raise us from literal or emotional poverty and set us on a nobler path.

In Dance Among the Flames, we meet Serafina Olegario at a vulnerable time in her life. Born in the stilt-shack slums of São Salvador, Brazil, sixteen-year-old Serafina takes her newborn son to meet her married politician lover. When commanded to do the unthinkable, she finds her strength through a supernatural force that changes the course of her tragic life. From this moment forward, every choice she makes pushes her toward the light or the dark. How the readers perceive her evolution is up to them.

It’s these gray areas of human behavior fascinate me the most.

I have yet to meet a person who is a hundred percent in the right or in the wrong. Nor have I met anyone who always acts in the best interest of others or even themselves. Although we might aspire to the most noble course of action, our past experiences and beliefs can lead us astray. Everything we have seen, heard, thought, or been taught; every joy, heartache, failure, and success; every suffering, privilege, or injustice leaves its mark and alters how we perceive.

Dark fiction takes on on a journey of discovery without judgment and let’s us see the world and ourselves in a whole new way.

“Purity was a lie made up by weak people without the guts to face the truth. There was no good or bad: There was only context and conditions. View something as bad and it was. View someone as evil and they were. Spend your life bemoaning your fate and you suffered.”

 —Thoughts from Serafina Olegario in Dance Among the Flames

Could we spiral into the darkness like some of the characters we read about or write? Dark fiction gives us the privacy and context to ask: Where are the lines in the sand after the tide rises and ebbs out to sea?

Our perceptions about everything change slightly—or sometimes dramatically—from one moment to the next. This is one reason why I aspire to write every day. I never know what creative ideas my new perceptions will bring.


From the national bestselling author of the Lily Wong thriller series comes a “stunningly original novel” (F. Paul Wilson) about a desperate mother who rises from the slums of Brazil to become a powerful wielder of Quimbanda magic. Across forty years, three continents, and a past incident in 1560 France, Serafina Olegario tests the boundaries of love, power, and corruption as she fights to escape her life of poverty and abuse. Serafina’s quest begins in Brazil when she’s possessed by the warrior goddess Yansã, who emboldens her to fight yet threatens to consume her spirit. Fueled by power and enticed by Exú, an immortal trickster and intermediary to the gods, Serafina turns to the seductive magic of Quimbanda. Passion. Horror. Betrayal. It’s dangerous to dance in the fire. But when you come from nothing, you have nothing to lose.

“Eldridge masterfully navigates the nuances of Brazilian religious syncretism and takes a deep and daring look into the issues of colorism, class, generational trauma, and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Spanning decades and generations, this is both a page-turner and an emotional powerhouse.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Tori Eldridge is the national bestselling author of the Lily Wong mystery thriller series—THE NINJA DAUGHTER, THE NINJA’S BLADE, and THE NINJA BETRAYED—nominated for the Anthony, Lefty, and Macavity Awards and winner of Suspense Magazine’s Crimson Scribe Award for Best Book of 2021. Her shorter works appear in the inaugural reboot of Weird Tales Magazine and other horror, dystopian, and literary anthologies. Her short story, “Missing on Kaua‘i” appears in the 2022 Mystery Writers of America anthology, CRIME HITS HOME. Her horror screenplay THE GIFT, which inspired DANCE AMONG THE FLAMES, earned a semi-finalist spot for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship. Born and raised in Honolulu, Tori’s deep interest in world culture and religions has prompted her to visit nine countries, including Brazil.

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