Friday, November 14, 2008

One demon can ruin your whole week

Have any readers out there (and I believe in your numbers, you are infinite, I can feel it) actually met a demon? Short of that, have you considered what it would be like to confront one? Even a small one? Even briefly?

Well I hadn't, until I sat down to write the scene I finished tonight. Holy cats, what an experience! I mean, there's a heirarchy of traditional monsters, and demons are way up there on the nastiness scale. Demonic: what is that supposed to mean, exactly? Something a lot worse than horns and scarlet skin and bad fingernails. A real Dantesque demon. Not a flickering FPS game presence to be dispatched with the twitch of a gamer's thumb. Not a little dancing imp. Not a smirking reptilian hominid who flits around a wizard's lab on Tinkerbell wings, sporting a cocktail pitchfork and the nose of a proboscis monkey. Oh no. What I imagined was a DEMON. Something that's an outrage to creation every second it exists. And I had to go and let it lose in Chapter 8.

What a terrible mess. Suddenly there's blood and fire and scalded hands and old men getting their beards scorched off. Dead people. Gouts of burning blood. And the demon itself: it is very unpleasant, I declare, to try to image what it feels, how it thinks of itself, the torture its own consciousness must be.

I tried to think back on how it started, in the early draft. Was there a moment when I said to myself, "You know what you need right here, Rob? A demon, that's what. A shrieking, psychotic, mass-murdering little fluffball from the black beyond! Go to!"?

Getting rid of the thing was significantly harder than shooing the blackbird out of my house last winter, after it came down the woodstove pipe.

Please, gentlefolk: don't invite a demon into your book unless you're prepared to entertain it.

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