Today we are excited to host an guest post from R. S. Belcher, author of The Night Dahlia. Sub genres can feel somewhat nebulous at times, so we are very grateful and happy to help get this clearer explanation on what differentiates Noir Fantasy.
And as an added bonus, we also have a GIVEAWAY, so be sure to scroll to the bottom and enter.
Noir Fantasy: Cynicism in a World of Magic
by R.S. Belcher
Before we get our knuckles bloody, I wanted to thank the wonderful folks at the Speculative Herald for the privilege of allowing me time and space to talk about the genre of Noir Fantasy and about my new book, The Night Dahlia, coming out April 3rd from Tor Books. The Night Dahlia is the second novel in my “Nightwise” series.
The Nightwise books are Noir Fantasy (with some Hardboiled genre thrown in too, but that’s a post for another day). But what exactly distinguishes Noir Fantasy from say Urban Fantasy? In one word, one of my favorite words: cynicism.
Noir’s origin references back to a 1945 french pulp magazine and to crime movies of the 1940s and 50s. I think the noir atheistic may have come about after the mind-reeling violence of World War 2, a subconscious bruise on the collective psyche as mankind tried to make sense of the global violence and inhumanity.
The heroes of noir are typically not detectives or agents of law and order, but victims, innocent bystanders thrown into dangerous and illegal situations (Ala Hitchcock), or criminals. My protagonist, Laytham Ballard, was once a cop of sorts, a member of the Nightwise, a mystic order sworn to protect humanity, but has fallen from the faith. He resides squarely as a criminal more than anything else now.
Noir fiction resides in a world where the characters are alone in a morally vacuous universe, a hostile one to boot. If there is a god (or in fantasy, gods) they play no favorites. Personal, temporal power is the god of the Noir universe—wealth and influence. In the case of the Noir Fantasy universe, Like the Nightwise series, magical power is the icing on the cake. Gangsters, crime lords, and politicians all play with the lives of “little people” using occult power and hidden sympathetic ritual.
Noir Fantasy is a very different animal from traditional Urban Fantasy, which often has the trappings of epic fantasy spot-wielded onto our world. UF many times has scruffy heroes with a heart of gold, and often there’s a happy ending. Noir fantasy makes no such promises of a happy-ever-after, or of the genuine good intentions of the protagonist. If it does, it’s most likely lying to you about them.
If Noir sounds like a genre you might enjoy, there are numerous great authors of the genre to discover and explore. If you think you might like to give Noir Fantasy a try, please check out my novels, Nightwise, out now in a new edition with bonus content, and The Night Dahlia, available on April 3rd from Tor Books. Enjoy your walk on the wild side, just watch your back.
Published by Tom Doherty Associates on April 3rd 2018
Our reviews of this author: Nightwise, The Brotherhood of the Wheel
Laytham Ballard once protected humanity as part of the Nightwise, a secret order of modern-day mages dedicating to holding hellish supernatural forces at bay, but that was before a string of sadistic ritual murders shook everything he believed in--and sent him down a much darker path. One that has already cost him most of his soul, as well as everything he once held dear.
Now a powerful faerie mob boss has hired Ballard to find his lost-lost daughter, who went missing several years ago. The long-cold trail leads him across the globe, from the luxurious playgrounds of the rich and famous to the seedy occult underbelly of Los Angeles, where creatures of myth and legend mingle with street gangs and sex clubs, and where Ballard finds his own guilty past waiting for him around every shadowy corner. To find Caern Ankou, he will have to confront old enemies, former friends and allies, and a grisly cold case that has haunted him for years.
But is Caern still alive? And, perhaps more importantly, does she even want to be found?
R.S. (Rod) Belcher is an award-winning newspaper and magazine editor and reporter.
Rod has been a private investigator, a DJ, a comic book store owner and has degrees in criminal law, psychology and justice and risk administration, from Virginia Commonwealth University. He’s done Masters work in Forensic Science at The George Washington University, and worked with the Occult Crime Taskforce for the Virginia General Assembly.
He lives in Roanoke Virginia with his children: Jonathan and Emily.