Andrew Pyper will share his new book, The Demonologist, at the Gladstone Hotel on March 4. He took a few minutes to tell us about demons, Venice and his childhood tales.
IFOA: Your latest book has been described as scary, terrifying and thrilling. What scares, terrifies and thrills you?
Pyper: I’m terrified by anything that might harm those closest to me, my children, specifically. I’m thrilled by doing what I do for a living: making up stories that surprise myself. And I’m still a little scared of the dark.
IFOA: Why did you decide to set The Demonologist in Italy?
Pyper: The section of the novel set in Venice had to be set in Venice for a number of reasons. First, without giving too much away, the canals and water were necessary to the staging of an important scene. Second, Venice’s beauty and art—as well as its history of corruption and violence—was precisely the thematic marriage the book required. Finally, Venice has a long relationship with the demonic. The devil literally made me do it.
IFOA: Did you write as a child, and if so, what did you write?
Pyper: I’ve written stories for as long as I’ve been able to spell. Back then, I favoured the action-packed, the suspenseful, the shocker ending. Not much has changed really.
IFOA: Tell us about one book you read that changed your life.
Pyper: Every book has left its mark, even the bad ones (especially the bad ones?). But likely the most influential book to my own writing was Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. It’s a literary ghost story where the reader is never quite sure if the ghosts are “real” or whether the narrator is unreliable to the point of psychosis. I loved walking that razor’s edge of undecidability, the uncertainty of perspective. It’s also deeply unsettling and ambiguous and nightmare-making—effects I like to have a go at pulling off.
IFOA: Finish this sentence: I always forget to…
Pyper: …get milk on the way home.