My Favorite Bit: C. Robert Cargill talks about QUEEN OF THE DARK THINGS

My Favorite BitC. Robert Cargill is joining us today with his novel Queen of the Dark Things. Here’s the publisher’s description.

Screenwriter and noted film critic C. Robert Cargill continues the story begun in his acclaimed debut Dreams and Shadows in this bold and brilliantly crafted tale involving fairies and humans, magic and monsters—a vivid phantasmagoria that combines the imaginative wonders of Neil Gaiman, the visual inventiveness of Guillermo del Toro, and the shocking miasma of William S. Burroughs.

Six months have passed since the wizard Colby lost his best friend to an army of fairies from the Limestone Kingdom, a realm of mystery and darkness beyond our own. But in vanquishing these creatures and banning them from Austin, Colby sacrificed the anonymity that protected him. Now word of his deeds has spread, and powerful enemies from the past—including one Colby considered a friend—have resurfaced to exact their revenge.

As darkness gathers around the city and time runs out, Colby has to turn to forces even darker than those he once battled for aid.

Following such masters as Lev Grossman, Erin Morgenstern, and Kim Harrison, C. Robert Cargill takes us deeper into an extraordinary universe of darkness and wonder, despair and hope to reveal the magic and monsters around us . . . and inside us.

What’s Cargill’s favorite bit?



There are two very important moments in the development of a character that ultimately defines who they are to an audience. The first is as important in storytelling as it is in life. You never really know who a person is until the chips are down, when they have nowhere left to turn –when they can choose to sacrifice who they are and what they believe in to stave off some suffering or an unfortunate end, or they can suffer, and maybe even die, with dignity. Think of Han Solo at the end of STAR WARS or Ned Stark in A SONG OF FIRE AND ICE or Rick at the end of CASABLANCA or Mr. Darcy throughout PRIDE AND PREDJUDICE. There was an easy way out for all of them, but they took the hard road, which made us forgive oh so much baggage beforehand. They defined themselves not through their cunning or trickery or arrogance or position, but by their sacrifice.

But there’s a second kind of moment, one in which a character surprises you by doing something so unexpected that it changes them in your eyes and makes you fall in love with them. Sometimes it’s a simple choice – a moment of kindness from someone brutish or a ribald joke from someone who is otherwise at all times the wearer of a stiff upper lip. Then there’s the kind when a character flings themselves headlong into something dangerous and stupid, but does so in a manner from which you can’t look away.

My favorite bit from QUEEN OF THE DARK THINGS is just such a moment.

Each of my Colby Stevens books details not only Colby’s adventures, but those of the children he grew up with, touched deeply and, ultimately, helped damn. In this, the second book, we meet Kaycee, a young Aboriginal girl who possesses the ability to Dreamwalk – loosing her soul from her body to walk freely among the spirits of Dreamtime. Early on we discover that she’s searching for the mythical Bunyip, a terrifying creature of legend, a misshapen monster with eyes as big as saucers and teeth as long as a man’s arm. She’s been told that once she sees it she’ll never be the same again.

And it’s true, she isn’t. She just doesn’t understand how.

When she finally does find it and she stands on the shore of a small billabong, gaping out at it as it slinks in from the dark waters, she doesn’t run, she doesn’t fret. Instead, she decides she’s going to ride it.

The moment I realized that was what she was going to do, I knew exactly who she was. That one moment informed every other decision she makes throughout the rest of the book. I won’t tell you what happens when she does, but what comes next, and the adventure that follows after that, all blossoms out of that one, crazy, impetuous moment, when a little girl, all of eleven and clad her yellow-star-speckled purple pajamas, tries to mount, and break, one of the most horrifying things to haunt the Australian Outback.

It’s the kind of moment you’re always searching for as a writer. The sacrifices seem self-evident; it’s the surprises that are hard. This one made me quite proud.



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C. Robert Cargill began his career with Ain’t it Cool News under the pseudonym Massawyrm, writing there for over a decade, subsequently becoming a staff writer for, and co-founding the animated movie review site In the meantime he has appeared on countless podcasts, webshows and in the occasional local film. During a fateful drunken night in Vegas, Cargill pitched the idea for the film SINISTER to friend and director Scott Derrickson, resulting in both the film and a screenwriting partnership between the two. When not writing films like SINISTER 2 and DEUS EX with Derrickson, Cargill spends his time writing novels and painting miniatures. QUEEN OF THE DARK THINGS is his second novel.

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