Andrew Pyper dares to
probe the monster within
By Dana Tye Rally
American literature professor plunged into a
terrifying quest through Italy—and the
underworld—to rescue his 12-year-old
daughter, Tess, from demonic
takeover. The Demonologist is no
dime-store thriller; it refers to
Milton’s epic 17th-century poem,
Paradise Lost, for hidden clues.
The novel, Pyper says, is his
creepiest but most sophisticated
yet. He compares this evolution in
his writing to his own coming of
age and consequent grappling
with mortality. “In a way,” he
acknowledges, “I was only flirting with the
SCARY THINGS CAN happen on
the way to daycare. Scarier still if
your dad is Andrew Pyper,
acclaimed Canadian horror-fiction
writer and a guy paid to take minds
down shadowy roads in broad day-
light, who won’t hesitate to weave
suspenseful tales to a captive audi-
ence—including his children in the
back seat of his car.
HEIDI P YPER
For 2-year-old Ford, those
excursions usually involve Toby, a boy seeking
manly adventures in far-off lands. For Maude,
Pyper may spin terrific tales for his kids,
but his previous five novels are anything but
children’s fare—darkly funny yet disturbing
journeys across abandoned landscapes and
into battered human psyches that escape easy
classification. His eclectic appeal might
explain why Hollywood has come calling.
Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis and
Universal Studios are set to transform The
Demonologist into a major feature film.
6, the plot traverses darker but eerily familiar
terrain, with a school-age heroine fending off
mean girls or boys begging for kisses.
“I hope it’s good,” Pyper says, though he’ll
happily waive artistic control. “I love movies,
but I don’t pretend to know better than the
“I love it and they demand it,” Pyper, 44,
says of his two imagination-driven kids,
who’ve come to expect a story to and from
their Toronto school or daycare daily. “None
of my stories are allowed to be ‘off the rack’;
they must be fresh creations.”
“The Gothic is best
experienced in that lonely
cottage, or the frozen lake—
somewhere between the
The best part about being a storyteller, he
says, is command over age-appropriate endings: Toby always lands on his feet, and kiss-seeking boys never come within an inch of his
daughter’s alter ego.
safe city and the completely
Literary achievement is another matter.
Pyper routinely earns high praise from novelists worldwide. But he’s most taken with one
reviewer’s claim that he’s the secret love child
of Stephen King and Alice Munro. Like King,
he can’t resist a good old-fashioned ghost
story. Munro, he says, represents his essential
Canadian-ness, that sense of displacement at
the edge of the wilderness.
If only it were it so easy to be the father of
a growing girl, Pyper tells The Connection,
with a knowing laugh.
“The Gothic,” he says, “is best experi-
enced in the lonely cottage, or the frozen
lake—somewhere between the safe city and
the completely uninitiated landscape. Canada
occupies that in-between, the place where my
Maude, in fact, provided the inspiration
for Pyper’s new book, The Demonologist. It
chronicles the story of David Ullman, an
Pyper says. “It reflects the changes that come
with fatherhood, with my daughter beginning
to move out of the orbit of my protection and
into the real world’s inherent dangers.”
Pyper was still single when he wrote his
first novel and runaway best-seller, Lost Girls.
Back then, it seemed OK to allow two teenage
girls to fall prey to a stranger’s vengeful fanta-
sies. In The Demonologist, the central charac-
ter must conquer his own demons to save the
girl—both body and soul.
As a boy who grew up trembling over
campfire tales, Pyper figures every kid could
use a stiff fright—even his daughter, deemed
too young to experience Dad in print.
“This is probably my most personal novel,”
“Yes, the world is a joyous place. But you
can’t take the horror out of it,” he says. “It
reminds us that, even on sunshiny days, the
unexpected lies in waiting.” C
The Costco Connection
The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper is now
available in most Costco locations.
Dana Tye Rally is a freelance writer and editor based in Richmond, British Columbia.