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Friday, March 8, 2013

Exorcising Demons with Author Andrew Pyper

I am pleased to welcome fellow Canadian (and former Stratford boy) +Andrew Pyper as my blog guest. Andrew is the bestselling author of Lost Girls, The Trade Mission, The Wildfire Season, The Killing Circle and The Guardians, as well as a collection of short fiction, Kiss Me. This week saw the release of Andrew's latest novel from Simon & Schuster, The Demonologist. Amid the swirl of  glowing reviews and amazing buzz, I'm grateful to Andrew for finding some time in the middle of it all to answer questions here on Spirited Words.

Canadian Gothic Master -- Andrew Pyper

Welcome, Andrew-- and thanks for agreeing to an interview.

Thanks so much for thinking of me for it!

Q: Did you set out to be a writer, or did you accidentally morph into life as an author-- as happens to so many of us!

A: I always loved writing stories, but I never thought I could make a living out of it.  It was just something I did, without strategy or game plan or purpose beyond the pleasure of doing it.  So after I graduated from law school and was called to the bar, I rewarded myself by running away from Real Life, moved out of the city and wrote a novel.  Once again, there was no thought that "Yes, I'll write this and this will become my job," it was done just to maintain my sanity.  And then, when I was done, and the manuscript was submitted, publishers wanted to publish it.  It's enabled me to do nothing else since.  And nobody was more surprised than I was.

Q: You grew up in small town Stratford, Ontario. How has that influenced your writing? (Is there something in the water here, because I write creepy stuff too!)

A: I don't think the water is extra-creepy in Stratford (though it is full of flouride, isn't it?)  But it is a perfect place to grow up if you're interested in developing gothic tendencies:  snowbound in winter, Victorian facades, the red brick houses, each with their own secret history.  At least, this is how my imagination saw it.

Q: There has been a tremendous amount of pre-publication media excitement building up to the release of your sixth novel-- The Demonologist. How does this book compare with your previous work?

A: I think of The Demonologist as a graduation from the novels before it in the sense that it is higher concept, more distilled, a more fully realized mythical world built within its story.  It's also more deeply involved in elements of horror than the other books (though they too have their share of scares).  

Q: You are a father of young children-- that makes for a busy household. How do you strike a healthy balance between work and family life?

A: It's not easy.  I feel like both realms - the Writing, the Family - must be fiercely guarded.  To give both the attention they deserve requires saying no to more things, many of which being things you'd like to say yes to, but there simply isn't the space.

Q: What's your writing schedule? Do you strive to write a certain amount every day, or do you 'binge' write in fits and starts?

A: In a typical work week (though nothing is typical right now!) it's Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.  My office is up on the third floor of the house, and after the kids are fed and bundled up and teeth brushed, I head up there, coffee in hand, and get started.  When I'm working on a draft, I like to set myself word count quotas.  If I don't hit my number (which fluctuates, depending on what stage the project is at) I'm not allowed out of the room.  No lunch, no walk in the sun.  It's a great motivator!

Q: What's the best piece of writing advice you got along the way? Would you care to offer any words of wisdom to all the aspiring authors out there?

A: My one big piece of advice (in addition to all the other writerly advice out there) would be to hold on to your work as long as you can before submitting it.  Read and re-read it.  Get others to read it and ask them to be brutally honest about it (then pay them lavishly with thanks and food and wine).  Read the whole thing out loud.  Be able to say to yourself that this is the absolute best you can do before you hit SEND.  Because there are no second chances.

Q: What does the future hold for you? Is there a new novel in the works? And I've heard buzz about screen adaptations...

A: I'm ready to get started on the new novel, but these days I'm talking about The Demonologist full time (which is a pleasure of a different kind).  And yes, there are a couple of movie projects based on the novels, percolating away.  Who knows?  The movie business is even more unpredictable than publishing!

Good luck, Andrew!

Here's a look at the splendid cover of The Demonologist:

You can find more information and links to all of Andrew's fabulous work at his official website: