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  • Writer's pictureCharles Harned

Dark Satisfaction: A Novel

It’s coming…I promise. Get excited (but not too excited because I don’t have a date to share).

I want to preface this before giving some description and behind the scenes insight into Dark Satisfaction’s creation by saying I feel very strongly about this novel.

That’s probably a good thing—an author who doesn’t feel strongly about their work would probably be a very bad sign.

But it goes beyond simply being attached to something I (though the name on the cover will not be my own) wrote. This project was uniquely personal and also tediously frustrating. Never before when writing a book have I been so tempted to give up, not because it was too difficult, but because I had become convinced the project was an utter waste of time.

How wrong I was. I’m eternally grateful that I saw it through to the end. Maybe Hemingway had similar doubts about what he was doing. Probably not, but anything is possible. (All jokes aside, I’m not seriously comparing myself to Ernest Hemingway and would never liken something I wrote to, say, Farewell to Arms, which happens to be one of my all-time favorites).

Dark Satisfaction is a Southern Gothic novel about a family (originally from New Orleans) that reestablishes itself in Greenville, South Carolina amid events that are threatening to pull it apart. The middle of three brothers is missing at the outset of the story. The eldest, Cole Ridge, is torn away from his newly minted life in New York City to rejoin the family. He initially has no desire to do so, but upon arriving in Greenville he discovers it isn’t such a bad place.

Trouble has always followed the Ridge family. From rumors of a latent curse running in their bloodline to assertions that there is simply a “darkness” that hangs over them. Despite significant wealth, they seem to be bad luck personified. Whether this is of their own doing or the direct cause of supernatural forces at work, no one is quite sure, least of all the Ridges themselves.

Greenville—cheerful and idyllic city on the rise situated between Charlotte and Atlanta—promises to be a fresh start. Cole quickly immerses himself in his new environs, meeting a group that dub themselves “the Greenville Club” and encountering an assortment of odd characters from all walks of life. From bars to baseball games to residences of the city’s most powerful, he gets a crash course in life in the new south wedged between progress and an ardent streak of traditionalism.

Even in seemingly innocent Greenville, there is no running from the demons that plague the Ridge family. They manifest in the form of a peculiar couple, Raven and Damien Adder, who are beloved the town over despite making it clear to Cole that they’ve taken an interest in his family and wish them copious harm. It all stems back to events that took place before the family left New Orleans, as well as a popular megachurch called First Light that beneath the surface might have very malevolent intentions.

It rapidly becomes Cole’s job to sift through all of this and decide what to do while dealing with the darkness and discord running amok in his own family. In the end his choice is anything but easy and has a lasting impact on not only the people closest to him but the city of Greenville as a whole.

I have lived most of my life in Greenville. Although it took me years to properly appreciate the place, it eventually became home. Writing about my hometown was both challenging and insightful in a way I couldn’t really have foreseen. While Dark Satisfaction rests firmly in the realm of fiction, I collected years of very real stories and characters to include in the manuscript before ever putting pen to paper.

Aside from the central premise—a family clouded by (either real or imagined) darkness relocating to the last place anyone would ever expect—the contents of this novel were forged entirely by the city of Greenville and its inhabitants, not the other way around.

I consider Dark Satisfaction a travelogue running parallel to a suspense story. It’s unconventional, I’ll be the first to admit it. But I think it works.

I got a ton of inspiration from books like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and The Rum Diary. The kind of stories where a narrator with journalistic leanings is thrust into a foreign place and uncovers its charm from the perspective of an outsider. The location in these kinds of books is a central character just as important, or more so, than any of its living, breathing counterparts. Almost akin to something pulled from the pages of a travel magazine. Like those books, this story is told from Cole Ridge’s perspective. That’s why his name is on the cover. It’s really his story, not mine.

I also pulled from filmmaker Guy Ritchie’s style of using several supposedly innocuous or unrelated story lines that all suddenly tie together in a way the viewer could have never foreseen. Dark Satisfaction eventually comes together to form a rather shocking big picture, but you have no idea what’s coming along the way.

From start to finish Dark Satisfaction is hard to peg. On one page it reads like a jaded socialite’s musings, and on the next Cole Ridge is struggling with ghosts from his past or fighting for his very life. At the heart of it all is Greenville, a blossoming city that is entirely worth visiting. I strived to do Greenville justice and paint it as a complex place that offers much more than meets the eye. In that respect, Dark Satisfaction is an offering of sorts. I sincerely hope that it has depth and a distinctive vibe that linger after the pages are finished turning.

If Dark Satisfaction sounds like the kind of novel you’re interested in let me know in the comments or email me at I’ll have more information about its release as it becomes available.

If you’re a fellow writer or have a connection to the industry and are interested in being interviewed on this blog shoot me an email.

As always, thanks for reading.

- Charles Harned

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