One man of many mediums, Brenden Dean, the runner of Darkness Prevails, provides hours of community submitted allegedly true stories, creepypastas, and original short fiction in the style of folkloric horror. The titles and author names of the submitted are always provided, and unlike many TTS robot-narrated curated content, he provides his own extremely relaxing narration to each story. His intonations and sense of dynamic timing make each episode something you could listen to to scare yourself, as background noise when you work from home, or as a sonic sedative as you drift off to sleep in the dark of the night. If you’re more of a streaming-YouTube-videos-on-TV kind of person, his dynamic backgrounds that share the theme of the batch of stories being told also provide pleasing visuals for your spooky needs.
Of course, some prefer to read scary stories instead. If you’re one of these people, you can also find all of the stories on his website, Darknessprevails.org, the same website where the community, and you too, may submit their own stories for consideration. (See also his newest site, darkstories.org!)
In particular, I would recommend the cryptid sighting stories. The sounds he’s able to make to bring the creatures to life are the icing on the cake of an already massive roster of spoken performances.
And now, our interview:
Daily Grindhouse: How did you get into storytelling and folklore?
Darkness Prevails: I’ve always had a fascination [with] monsters. First, it was a fear of the dark, and imagining multitudes of untold horrors slithering their way from underneath my bed as a child. I was that kid who would see a hamper of laundry in his room in the dark and find every possible way it might resemble a ghost or ghoul of some sort.
My passion for monsters diverged around middle school and junior high, in which free time in our computer processing classes allowed me to Google ghost stories, UFO sightings, alien encounters, run-ins with Bigfoot and the like.
Around that same age, I got into writing scary stories of my own, partially inspired by my brother’s first-hand account of a werewolf he had seen. It stuck with me at that point, and there was no stopping my interest then.
Daily Grindhouse: What made you decide when to start telling stories in a digital format?
Darkness Prevails: After finishing several stories of my own (I can’t say they were well-written stories in the slightest), I tried my hand at narrating one of them. I posted it on YouTube. This must’ve been a decade ago, I think. It received decent viewership, which I never capitalized on. But I reveled in the reception and the idea that I could make people happy with scary stories.
It saddens me now – I look back and see that I could’ve made it so far, had I started my narrations back then. It took me another half-decade to officially start my channel, and I didn’t actually start off narrating scary stories. Rather, I tried my hand at lists.
Daily Grindhouse: How did you learn your reading voice, or have you always had one?
Darkness Prevails: I don’t think I have a good reading voice (it is bearable at most, in my opinion), but I’ve always enjoyed the act of narration and voice acting. In school, when we’d take part in openly reading our roles in different Shakespeare works, I’d always excitedly portray my character’s lines. Once again, seeing my classmates entertained by my silly performances made me happy.
Daily Grindhouse: What’s been the most surprising thing about starting Darkness Prevails?
Darkness Prevails: I’m surprised my channel took off in any significant way. To be honest, I did start out with the thought “I really don’t wanna work my day job forever”, so being able to narrate full time has been a dream for me.
Most importantly, I didn’t expect the frequent messages from people who stated that they not only enjoyed my narrations, but my narrations apparently helped them in life. Folks who suffer from anxiety or stress or depression found solace in my narrations.
I don’t blame them. For the longest time, paranormal and supernatural tales had always relaxed me. The idea of something beyond our normal possibly being real gave me hope, even if the thing that was possibly real was a shapeshifting maneater. Even then, that could mean there’s more to this life and adventures yet to be had.
Daily Grindhouse: What is the scariest story you have EVER been submitted? (Feel free to link to the episode in which you read it we love to help promote 🙂 )
Darkness Prevails: A story called “The Lantern, The Boatmen, and the Laughing Children” comes to mind. It was a very popular story among my fans and one of the first stories that made it easy for me to answer that very question!
Daily Grindhouse: Is this something you’d like to expand in any way? Akin to how LORE acquired an Amazon series, etc.? Or are you more comfortable narrating strictly in a podcast and video capacity?
Darkness Prevails: I would love to expand it, though I’m not sure I’d ever want it to be a TV series or movie. Rather, I’d love to expand on certain themes through different podcasts (such as folklore from cultures all over the world or even a mini series based on my own short fictional stories). I’ve also attempted to make horror games for years, but neither have the time nor resources to complete them.
Daily Grindhouse: What are some of your experiences?
Darkness Prevails: I went “ghost hunting” with my cousin a few years ago. Not actually looking for ghosts, it was more an excuse to just hang out. We rode around in her Jeep that night, going from creepy place to creepy place until we made it to an old graveyard. Before pulling in past the gate, my cousin’s boyfriend had a bad feeling and decided against going in. We decided it might be best to go with his gut instinct, so we went home.
The following morning, I was awakened by a message from that same cousin. She sent me pictures of her Jeep – The exterior was covered in dozens of child-sized handprints.
On a different occasion, I was coming home from work to my parents’ house in the woods on a hill. I got out to open a gate (which keeps in the cattle the neighbors own). Upon pulling the car forward and closing the gate, I glanced towards a nearby tree and saw a pale form outstretched from behind it similar in shape to the front half of a man bent over with one hand on the ground as if ready to sprint. I sped up the hill in a panic and wondered whether I’d seen a man, a white tailed deer’s rear-end, or something else.
Those are all of my experiences that could be paranormal. But they can also easily be explained away.
Daily Grindhouse: Have you always been a storyteller? What draws you to it?
Darkness Prevails: I’ve been a storyteller since I discovered my love for writing. The greatest draw, besides seeing fans enjoy what you create, is that writing or speaking words allows you to bring your own shape to it. Writing allows you to build a world of your own, while narrating someone else’s writing allows you to bring it to life in a way only you can.
Daily Grindhouse: Do you consider yourself part of the oral tradition of folklore? Historically, macro level? Why or why not?
Darkness Prevails: I do consider myself part of the storytelling and folklore culture of our time. I’m sure one day you might be able to find at least a passing reference to online storytellers who gave a voice to those who have experienced strange and unexplainable things. I’m happy to be a part of that.
Daily Grindhouse: What do you hope for in the future?
Darkness Prevails: Obviously, I want more and more stories to read! Personally, I hope to see more physical evidence of the strange things people claim to encounter. I hope I live long enough to perhaps see the declassification of alien contact if it is real or the expansion of the human race beyond the stars.
Also, I would very much like to finish a game, start new podcasts, and perhaps even publish a book of my own.
Daily Grindhouse: May I submit to you and if it works may I record it ;p
Daily Grindhouse: Freddy or Jason?
Darkness Prevails: Freddy! His character seemingly has rules. You can beat him. Whereas Jason hardly reacts to being damaged. I prefer my horror antagonists to have clearer rules. That being said, both are awesome horror characters.
Plus, Freddy’s ability to invade dreams is pretty darn scary.
Daily Grindhouse: Does having anxiety does reading stories help or act as an outlet?
Darkness Prevails: Yes, it certainly does. Especially when a story engrosses me and allows me to escape into it. I’d rather be a bit creeped out than stressed out.
Daily Grindhouse: Do you find storytelling, both yourself and the people who submit to you, to be cathartic in some way?
Darkness Prevails: Very much, yes. Doing what you love, keeping folklore alive, hearing back from listeners that you are helping them, and actually being able to make a living from it – all of this reminds me that what I do isn’t just entertainment.