Exploring Dark Fantasy with Jason Gabriel

Jason Gabriel discusses crafting complex, broken characters and balancing fantasy with suspense in his Shards Trilogy. He highlights his writing process, character development, and hints at future plot developments.

Jason Gabriel calls the Midwestern United States his home. He began his journey with books many decades ago when he read “Lord of the Rings.” He was enthralled, captivated, and transformed by these classics. With each novel he has written, he has striven to create an equally rewarding experience for his readers.

Jason has always been fascinated by damaged characters with complex arcs. He uses them to create suspense, conflict, and tension inside his books. He merges these complex characters seamlessly into his novels, then paces the narrative for his readers. In his latest work, The Descendant, a group of protagonists must overcome the inner demons that torment them. If they cannot, they will be unable to confront the menacing threat to their world. Jason then surrounded the novel with a rich setting that feels real. This approach has generated a positive response from his readers.

When Jason is not writing, he can be found riding his bike through the woods that line a scenic river near his home. He also cherishes the time he spends with his family.

What inspired you to create the world and characters in the Shards Trilogy, particularly the protagonist, Brandt?

I wanted to write a three-book trilogy with complex character arcs that play out, slowly, over the course of the books. Additionally, I wanted to drive the central narrative using a “broken” protagonist who must find a way to overcome his personal demons. That became the central idea for the Brandt Character. The books have become a metaphor for the powerful transformation one can experience if you can overcome the darkness inside you. There are lots of “ups” and “downs” as the characters change. One reader described it as a “roller coaster ride.”

Can you describe your writing process for crafting the suspense and action in ‘The Hunt for the Descendant’?

For me, my writing process always begins and ends with the characters. To build them, I start with a series of “what if” conversations. For example, what if the main protagonist (Brandt), was a broken drunk? What if another protagonist has lost the desire to live?  After going through a series of “what if” questions, I have my characters and I start writing. The characters change as they move through their respective arcs. That change becomes the catalyst for the suspense in the story.

Another big part of my writing process is what I call “Character auditions.” I will write a couple of pages with a protagonist or antagonist. If I am not feeling good about the character, they go on the slush pile. Sometimes I bring them back and give them another chance, other times I do not.

How do you balance the elements of fantasy and suspense in your storytelling?

 I am very cautious about the fantasy elements in my books. I make certain that the fantasy setting makes sense and feels real. Hopefully, the readers will feel the same. I want it to be exciting, different, and interesting, but I try to maintain a balance so it feels real. I also strive to not be ‘Boring.’ That is where conflict and suspense come into play. I am very liberal with those elements, as I am not sure there can be too much conflict and suspense in a novel. 

What challenges did you face in developing Brandt’s character and his emotional journey throughout the book?

The biggest challenge for Brandt is his progress along his character Arc.  I need to maintain it over three books. It is a balancing act. I cannot have him progress too fast and run out of interesting stuff before the end of book three. On the other hand, it cannot be too slow and bore the readers.

How does ‘The Hunt for the Descendant’ set the stage for the rest of the Shards Trilogy? Can you give us a hint of what to expect in the next books?

Book one set the stage. Books two and three will escalate the tension and suspense considerably.  I am also introducing a new protagonist. I love this new female character. I tried desperately, but could not fit her into book one. In books two and three, the readers will get to follow this new protagonist along her character arc. She may be my favorite character. Don’t tell Brandt!

In your opinion, what makes a compelling dark fantasy novel, and how did you strive to achieve this in your work?

The stakes must be high, the suspense must be relentless, and the readers must care about the characters.  Combine these elements with a dangerous fantasy setting, and you have the ingredients for a dark fantasy. In the first book, I created two minor characters, who’s primary purpose was to die. I used them to raise the stakes and generate suspense.  I cared about those characters. It hurt me to kill them off. At that moment, I knew I was writing well!

Follow the Author

Verified by MonsterInsights