Transcript: Andrew Pyper: Horror Show | Jul 24, 2015

Piya sits in the studio. She's in her forties, and has dark brown, slightly wavy hair in a bob cut. She wears a red blouse and a cream blazer. Behind her, a wall screen reads “The Agenda with Steve Paikin.”

Piya says IT'S SUMMER AND MANY OF US KNOW
ALL TOO WELL ABOUT THE SCARY
TALES SHARED AROUND THE
CAMPFIRE, STORIES THAT CHILL YOU
TO THE CORE AND MAKE YOU LOOK
UNDER THE BED BEFORE YOU GO TO SLEEP.
AUTHOR ANDREW PYPER KNOWS A
THING OR TWO ABOUT THINGS THAT
GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT AND WHAT IT
IS THAT IS SO APPEALING ABOUT
THESE SCARY STORIES.
AND THE AUTHOR OF THE DAMNED
JOINS US NOW.

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover is black and features a picture of the bottom part of a young woman’s face.
Then, Andrew appears on screen. He’s in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short salt and pepper hair. He’s wearing a blue gingham shirt and glasses.

Piya says WELCOME TO THE AGENDA IN THE
SUMMER.

Andrew says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Piya says DAMNED.
UM, WHAT'S GENERALLY THE PREMISE
OF THE NEW NOVEL?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Andrew Pyper. Author ‘The damned.’"

Andrew says WELL, IT'S A BOOK ABOUT
NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE.
AND I TELL THE STORY USING A SET
OF FRATERNAL TWINS, DANNY AND
ASHLEY ORCHARD, BOY AND A GIRL,
WHO BOTH DIE ON THEIR 16TH
BIRTHDAYS IN A HOUSE FIRE IN
CENTRAL DETROIT, A PLACE THAT
THEY'RE NOT REALLY SUPPOSED TO
GO BECAUSE THEY LIVE IN THE
SUBURBS OF DETROIT.

The caption changes to "Horror show. A sojourn through hell."

Andrew continues UH, THEY BOTH DIE, BUT DANNY
RETURNS TO LIFE AFTER BRIEFLY
BEING DEAD, BUT HIS SISTER
ASHLEY DOES NOT.
SHE REMAINS DEAD AND SHE'S NOT
REMOTELY HAPPY ABOUT THIS
BECAUSE SHE'S A VERY, VERY BAD
GIRL, AND SO SHE HAUNTS DANNY
FOR HIS ADULT LIFE UNTIL HE
FALLS IN LOVE WITH A SINGLE MOM
AND HER SON, AND HE ATTEMPTS TO
HAVE A FAMILY AGAIN, WHICH ONLY
MAKES HER ALL THE ANGRIER.
SHE COMES BACK INTO THEIR LIVES
AND DANNY HAS TO DIE A SECOND
TIME TO PROTECT THOSE THAT HE LOVES.

Piya says SHE BASICALLY TORMENTS HIM.

Andrew says TOTALLY TORMENTS HIM, YES.

Piya says OK, THIS IS SET IN DETROIT,
WHICH I'M VERY CURIOUS ABOUT.
WHY IS THIS SET IN DETROIT?
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT DETROIT?

Andrew says WELL, I WANTED A PLACE THAT HAD,
UM, A GROUNDED SENSE OF ITS OWN,
UH, FAILURE, YOU KNOW?
I WANTED SOMETHING THAT LOOKS
LIKE THE UNDERWORLD, BUT IN THE
WORLD THAT WE LIVE IN TODAY.
AND SO I CONSIDERED A NUMBER OF
PLACES, BUT DETROIT, JUST THE
MAGNITUDE OF ITS, UH, ABANDONMENT.
UM, IT'S A VERY HAUNTING PLACE.
IN ITS OWN WAY, IT'S QUITE A
BEAUTIFUL PLACE, IN ITS, IN ITS
KIND OF SCARCITY.
AND, ALSO, UM, BECAUSE DANTE'S INFERNO
WAS ONE OF THE TEXTS I
WAS CALLING UPON, GIVEN THE
UNDERWORLD, 8 MILE ROAD IS THE
ROAD THAT KIND OF IS THE
NORTHERN BORDER OF DETROIT, AND
THERE'S NICE SUBSEQUENT CIRCLES.

Piya says AH.

Andrew says COMING TO DOWNTOWN.
THE CENTRE OF THE, OF THE
UNDERWORLD IN DANTE IS A PIT OF
ICE, AND THEN, OF COURSE, IN THE
CASE OF DETROIT, WE HAVE THE
DETROIT RIVER, WHICH FREEZES IN WINTER.
SO IT LINED UP MYTHICALLY WITH
THE INFERNO
IN THE REAL WORLD.

Piya says AND REALISTICALLY IN TERMS
OF THIS, SORT OF, FEELING
THAT YOU WANNA CREATE.

Andrew says EXACTLY, YEAH.

Piya says OK, SO THIS IS SOMEWHAT OF A
DEPARTURE FROM YOUR PREVIOUS BOOKS.
AND YOU REALLY DELVE INTO THE
SUPERNATURAL IN THIS BOOK.
AND, SORT OF AS A CAUTION, I
MEAN, THIS IS--PEOPLE MIGHT BE
PUT OFF BY THAT TERM, IN A SENSE.
THIS BOOK IS ABOUT MORE THAN THAT.
BUT WHY THE SUPERNATURAL, WHAT
INTRIGUES YOU SO MUCH ABOUT THAT?

Andrew says I THINK THE SUPERNATURAL IS
USEFUL, AS A WRITER, BECAUSE IT
TAKES YOU TO PLACES WHERE, IF
YOU WERE CONSTRAINED STRICTLY BY
REALISM, YOU COULDN'T GO.
UH, SO THERE'S THAT, THAT THE
FANTASTICAL OPENS UP THE WORLD
FOR YOU AND, AND ALLOWS YOU TO
CREATE NEW WORLDS.
I THINK, AS WELL, IN THE MATTER
OF CHARACTER, I THINK STORIES
THAT INVOKE FEAR IN BOTH THE
CHARACTERS AND, HOPEFULLY, ALSO
IN THE READER, I THINK IT SHOWS
YOU ASPECTS OF CHARACTER THAT,
AGAIN, A MORE CONVENTIONAL
NARRATIVE CAN'T REACH.

Piya says MMM.
PEOPLE RESPOND DIFFERENTLY TO
FEAR THAN THEY DO TO THE OTHER
HUMAN EMOTIONS, TO GRIEF, TO THE
KIND OF MUSINGS, THE EVERYDAY
MUSINGS THAT WE ALL GO THROUGH.
FEAR, IN ITS ABRUPTNESS AND IN,
SOMETIMES, ITS VIOLENCE, UM,
PROVIDES REVELATION OF
CHARACTER.

Piya says YEAH, THIS IS A SCARY READ.

Andrew says OH, YEAH.
ON ONE LEVEL.

Piya says LIKE, YOU'RE FREAKED OUT FROM
PAGE 1 TO THE END, BASICALLY.

Andrew says I HOPE SO!

Piya says UM, AND, AND, AND ASHLEY WHO'S,
WHO'S A PSYCHOPATH IN THE
REAL--AND THEN COMES BACK TO
TORMENT HER BROTHER ON AND ON
AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
DO YOU SEE HER AS--BECAUSE WHEN
I THINK OF THE SUPERNATURAL, I
THINK LIKE GHOULS, GHOSTS,
DEMONS.
HOW DO YOU SEE HER?

Andrew says I SEE HER AS A, SORT OF, UM, A
HUMAN EMBODIMENT OF, OF EVIL, OF
THE DEMONIC.
I MEAN, UM, YES, SHE--YOU KNOW,
SCIENCE WOULD SAY THAT SHE'S, I
SUPPOSE, A PSYCHOPATH.
UH, THAT SHE LACKS CERTAIN
PROTEINS IN THE BRAIN.
SCIENCE ATTEMPTS--AND PSYCHIATRY
AND PSYCHOLOGY WOULD HAVE THEIR
OWN EXPLANATIONS.
BUT FOR ME, AND I THINK FOR MOST
PEOPLE, THOSE EXPLANATIONS WHEN
YOU'RE DEALING WITH PEOPLE WHO
ARE TRULY CAPABLE OF AWFUL, UM,
ACTIONS, UH, YOU KNOW, SANDY
HOOK, UH, THE BERNARDO CASE,
ETC., THERE'S SOMETHING, THERE'S
SOMETHING MISSING FROM THAT
EXPLANATION.
I THINK THERE'S, THAT EVIL AND
THE IDEA OF THE SUPERNATURAL
OFFERS, UM, A BRIDGE BETWEEN
WHERE SCIENCE ENDS AND WHERE
HUMAN UNDERSTANDING IS LEFT, UH,
WONDERING WHAT'S, WHAT'S MISSING.
IT FEELS, IT FEELS LIKE THE
EXPLANATION OF SCIENCE IS
INSUFFICIENT.

Piya says I'M GLAD YOU BROUGHT UP SANDY HOOK.
BECAUSE WE HAVE A CLIP, THIS IS
AN INTERVIEW THAT, UH, STEVE
PAIKIN DID.
IT'S WITH, UH, FATHER THOMAS ROSICA.
AND THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT, UM,
THE NATURE OF EVIL IN THE
CONTEXT OF THE SANDY HOOK
SHOOTING, WHERE 26 PEOPLE WERE KILLED.
TAKE A LOOK.

A clip plays on screen with the title "Thomas Rosica. December 21, 2012."
In the clip, a priest in his fifties speaks in The Agenda studio.

He says I THINK THE POLITICAL
CORRECTNESS OF OUR RECENT TIMES
HAS DISTORTED TRUTH, IMAGES,
VOCABULARY AND BEHAVIOUR, AND
THAT'S REALLY A GREAT PART OF THIS.
I ENCOUNTER IT EVERY DAY IN THE
WORK THAT I DO.
“OH NO, WE CAN'T SAY THAT, YOU
CAN'T NAME THIS, OR DON'T YOU
USE THE WORD 'EVIL' AND PLEASE
DON'T SPEAK ABOUT THE DEVIL IF
IT'S SOME LITTLE GUY DRESSED UP
WITH A RED SUIT AND HORNS AND A
PITCHFORK.”
I'M TALKING ABOUT THE BLATANT,
UGLY FACE OF EVIL THAT REARS ITS
HEAD NOW AND THEN.
AND WHAT IT DOES IS MAKE US
REFLECT ON OUR MOTIVES, ON OUR
BEHAVIOUR, ON OUR ACTIONS, AND
TO REALLY GO TO THE HEART OF
WHAT WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO, AND
HOW MUCH REVILING AND HATRED AND
DESTRUCTION IS AT WORK WITHIN US.
AND UNLESS WE ADDRESS THOSE
SITUATIONS, WE DO NO GOOD FOR HUMANITY.

The clip ends.

Piya says OK, ANDREW, WHERE ARE YOU ON THIS?
I MEAN, ARE WE TOO RELUCTANT TO
CALL THINGS EVIL?

The caption changes to "Watch past episodes of The Agenda. Theagenda.tvo.org"

Andrew says I THINK WE ARE, I MEAN, I THINK
WE--AND YET WE ALL, MOST OF US,
I THINK, INTUIT ITS EXISTENCE.
WE CAN SEE ITS CONFIRMATIONS IN
HUMAN ACTIONS, SADLY, UH, EVERY DAY.
AND, SO I THINK WE TRY TO SHIELD
OURSELVES FROM THE POSSIBILITY
OF SOMETHING LARGER, UH, OR
INEXPLICABLE, THROUGH THE SHAWL
AND COMFORTS THAT--”OH, THIS CAN
ALL BE EXPLAINED AWAY, THOUGH,
UH, IF WE JUST, SORT OF, OPEN UP
THE HEAD AND LOOK AT THE BRAIN.
OH, THERE IT IS.
THAT'S, THAT'S WHERE EVIL LIVES.”
I, I THINK THAT WE'VE, WE STILL
HAVE MYTHOLOGY, WE STILL HAVE FICTIONS.
WE LOOK TO THOSE SOURCES,
BECAUSE WE NEED HELP.
WE NEED HELP TO UNDERSTAND SOME
ASPECTS OF HUMAN BEHAVIOUR THAT
SCIENCE, AGAIN, HAS EITHER
NEGLECTED TO ANSWER, OR CANNOT ANSWER.

Piya says IS EVIL, THEN, UM, A WAY TO
EXPLAIN IT?
I TAKE YOUR POINT, BUT IS IT TOO
SIMPLISTIC OF A WAY TO EXPLAIN
THINGS THAT WE DON'T UNDERSTAND
THROUGH THINGS LIKE SCIENCE?

Andrew says I WOULD SAY THAT EVIL IS A VERY
COMPLEX ANSWER.
UM, I THINK IT'S ONE THAT, YOU
KNOW, MY PREVIOUS NOVEL,
THE DEMONOLOGIST,
I WAS RESEARCHING DEMONOLOGY IN
DIFFERENT RELIGIONS AND WHAT
I LEARNED IS THAT IN ALL THE
MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS, THEY HAVE
DIFFERENT, UM, UM, HEADS
OF STATE, AS IT WERE, THEY
HAVE DIFFERENT PRACTICES.
UH, BUT WHAT ONE COMMONALITY
RUNNING THROUGH THEM ALL IS THE
EXISTENCE OF THE DEMONIC.
AND I THOUGHT, WELL, MAYBE THE
REASON THAT THEY HAVE THIS
FEATURE IS THAT DEMONS ARE REAL,
IN SOME SENSE.
THAT THEY'VE ALWAYS WALKED WITH US.
THAT THEY ARE ALWAYS NUDGING OR
TAKING THE VULNERABLE AND
PUSHING THEM IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.
THAT, THAT IT IS, IN FACT, A
REAL OCCURRENCE IN HUMAN
EXISTENCE TO HEAR THAT VOICE IN
YOUR HEAD, AND THAT VOICE IS NOT
YOURSELF, NOR IS IT A SIDE
EFFECT OF, UH, OF A DISEASE.

Piya says AND AS YOU WRITE HORROR AND IN
THAT GENRE, THERE IS AN ALMOST,
IN THE CANON OF HORROR, AN
OBSESSION WITH EVIL.
TIE THAT TOGETHER FOR ME.

Andrew says WELL, I THINK WE NEED, WE--EVIL
IS AN OBSESSION BECAUSE WE, WE
ENCOUNTER IT.
UH, AND WE CAN'T CONTROL IT.
AND WE FEAR IT.
YOU KNOW, I HAVE TWO YOUNG KIDS
AND, AND I WAS WALKING THEM TO
SCHOOL THE OTHER DAY AND THIS
GUY SORT OF PASSED BY TWICE.
HE WENT AROUND THE BLOCK TWICE
AND KIND OF LOOKED, I THOUGHT, I
LOOKED AT MY KIDS IN A, IN A,
SORT OF, WRONG WAY.
AND THERE IT WAS, A BLOCK AWAY
FROM MY HOME.
AND I FELT THAT THERE, IN THAT
RUMBLING FORD F-150 WAS AN
EMBODIMENT OF EVIL, LOOKING AT
MY CHILDREN.
AND, I THINK WE ALL HAVE
VERSIONS OF THAT, RIGHT?
WE LIVE, WE LIVE IN LARGE CITIES
FOR THE MOST PART, WHERE WE
DON'T KNOW EVEN OUR OWN
NEIGHBOURS.
AND SO THAT, THOSE ANXIETIES, I
THINK, GIVE RISE TO, AND
FREQUENTLY, WE SEE ENACTED, UM,
EVENTS THAT ARE, CAN ONLY BE
EXPLAINED, OR AT LEAST, WE'RE
TEMPTED TO EXPLAIN THEM THROUGH,
UH, SOMETHING THAT'S, AGAIN,
GOES BEYOND JUST LIKE, “WELL,
THIS HAPPENS SOMETIMES, SHE
MUST'VE HAD A DISEASE.”

Piya says RIGHT.
OK, WHERE DOES YOUR INTEREST IN
ALL THIS STEM?
'CAUSE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT YOUR
KIDS AND THERE YOU ARE, AS AN
ADULT, SAYING, YOU KNOW, “IS
THAT EVIL WHAT I'M SEEING,” OR,
“THAT'S WHAT LEAPS INTO MY HEAD.”
FOR YOU, WHERE DID THIS BEGIN?
WHERE DOES YOUR INTEREST IN EVIL
GO BACK TO?

Andrew says WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I LOVE
WRITING STORIES, AND SCARY
STORIES ARE SOMETHING THAT I'VE
ALWAYS ENJOYED READING, AND SO
I'VE ALWAYS ASPIRED TO WRITE THEM.
SO, THAT, THAT--I SHOULD ADMIT
FIRST THAT THEY'RE FUN TO WRITE.

Piya says YEAH.

Andrew says BUT I THINK, AS WELL, IT'S A
VERY PERSONAL, UM, IT'S A
PERSONAL JOURNEY FOR ME TO TRY
TO COME TO, UM, AN UNDERSTANDING
OF WHERE THE MYTHICAL, WHICH HAS
ALWAYS BEEN WITH US, RIGHT?
I MEAN, WE'VE ALWAYS HAD WAYS
AND GODS, UH, STORIES THAT TRY
TO EXPLAIN DEATH, WHERE WE GO
AFTER WE DIE, WHY ARE SOME
PEOPLE BAD AND OTHER PEOPLE GOOD?
AND MY FIRST NOVEL WAS BORN OUT
OF THE BERNARDO CASE.
I MEAN, IT WAS WRITTEN, FOR ME,
AS A RESPONSE TO SOMETHING THAT,
WE ALL REACTED THAT SAME WAY.
YOU KNOW, IT WAS SO SADDENING
AND SO AWFUL, AND IT MADE ME
ANGRY AND I COULDN'T UNDERSTAND
HOW THESE TWO NORMAL-SEEMING
PEOPLE COULD DO THESE THINGS.
AND SO I WROTE A NOVEL ABOUT
GHOSTS AND ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY
AND ABOUT, UM, ABOUT EVIL.
THAT, THAT, THAT IT IS, IN FACT, REAL.

Piya says AND AS YOU STEMMED--START FROM
THAT NOVEL TO HERE, I MEAN, THAT
WAS A HORROR IN A REALISTIC SENSE.
THIS IS A HORROR IN A FICTIONAL SENSE.
WAS IT FOR YOU, “I WANNA TALK
ABOUT EVIL AND DEMONS.”
WAS THAT LINE JUST A STRAIGHT
LINE THEN--
“THEREFORE, I'M GONNA
WRITE HORROR STORIES.”

Andrew says IT WAS LESS SELF-CONSCIOUS THAN THAT.
I THINK, YOU KNOW, LOOKING BACK
ON THE LAST COUPLE OF NOVELS,
THEY ARE LESS CONCERNED WITH
HORROR THAN THEY ARE CONCERNED
WITH MYTHOLOGY.
SO, IN THE CASE OF
THE DEMONOLOGIST,
MY INTEREST WAS
THE DEMONIC.
UM, HOW, HOW DO DEMONS, UH,
EXIST TODAY?
WHAT KIND OF COVER WOULD THEY
ASSUME IF, IF THEY WERE AROUND
IN THE 21ST CENTURY?
SO I PROPOSE THAT, YOU KNOW, IF
DEMONS ARE REAL THAT THEY WOULD
BE QUITE HAPPY TO HAVE
THEMSELVES EXPLAINED AWAY AS
BRAIN CHEMICAL, UH, UH,
PROBLEMS, OR PSYCHIATRIC
DEFINITIONS.
I MEAN, THAT COULD BE A COVER.
YOU KNOW, ONE MAN, ONE MAN'S
PSYCHOTIC MIGHT BE ANOTHER MAN'S
DEMONIC POSSESSION.
SO, UM, I WANTED TO WRITE ABOUT
DEMONS IN A REAL GROUNDED WAY
TODAY, AND HOW THEY AFFECT, UH,
MY CHARACTERS IN AN EMOTIONAL WAY.

Piya says AND, AND, I MEAN IF IT'S IN,
SORT OF, THE ZEITGEIST OF OUR
TIMES, IF YOU JUST, YOU KNOW--I
SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, IF YOU
LOOK, MOVIES AND FILMS, THINGS
LIKE THE AVENGERS,
UM, WALKING DEAD, HORROR.
THE AVENGERS,
SUPERHEROES, UM,
DIVERGENT SERIES AND BOOKS.
IT SEEMS TO BE, IF DEMONS HAVE
BEEN AROUND FOREVER, WHAT IS
IT ABOUT THIS TIME WE LIVE IN
THAT WE SEEM TO BE SO INTO THIS?

The caption changes to "In the zeitgeist."

Andrew says WELL, I THINK HORROR, AS WELL AS
GENRE FICTION GENERALLY, HAS
ALWAYS BEEN GOOD AT BEING THE
CANARY IN THE COAL MINE, WHEN IT
COMES TO SOCIAL ANXIETIES.
CABLE SHOW ABOUT ZOMBIES.
YOU WOULDN'T REALLY THINK, WHEN
IT FIRST AIRED, THAT IT WAS
GOING TO BE THE GIANT SUCCESS
THAT IT IS.
AND I THINK IT TAPS INTO, UM, A
FEAR OR A WORRY A LOT OF US
HAVE, AGAIN, IN ENLARGING CITIES
WHERE WE DON'T KNOW OUR
NEIGHBOURS, UM, UH, YOU GET ON
THE SUBWAY AND YOU SORT OF FEEL
THAT TENSION, IT'S TOO CROWDED,
THERE'S TOO MANY PEOPLE ON THE STREET.
THERE'S ROAD RAGE.
AND YOU SORT OF THINK, IF WE
JUST TOOK ONE PIECE OF THIS
SOCIAL CONTRACT OUT, IF WE LET
THINGS, UH, UH, LOSE CONTROL,
HOW QUICKLY WE WOULD TURN INTO
SURVIVALISTS.
AND SO, I THINK ZOMBIES ARE AN
INTEREST BECAUSE WE HAVE AN
ANXIETY ABOUT LIVING WITH SO
MANY PEOPLE AROUND US THAT ARE
JUST THIS CLOSE TO BEING
THREATENING.

Piya says IT'S ALL--YOU KNOW, ALEX GARLAND'S
28 DAYS LATER,
I REMEMBER SEEING THAT.
I THINK IT CAME OUT 12 YEARS AGO
OR SOMETHING.
AND IT WAS REALLY THE FIRST TIME
THAT I WAS LIKE, “ZOMBIES ARE REAL.”
I MEAN, I'M ACTUALLY FEARFUL OF
THIS BECOMING A REALITY, IN A
STRANGE WAY.

Andrew says YEAH.

Piya says AND WE, SORT OF, SEEMED TO HAVE
TAKEN OFF OF THAT IN
THE WALKING DEAD,
OF COURSE,
HUGELY POPULAR.
UM, WE DID A SHOW.
STEVE DID A SHOW ON THE POPULAR
ZOMBIES AND HE TALKED TO, UM,
ARNOLD T. BLUMBERG, WHO'S FROM
THE UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE,
AND HE TALKED ABOUT WHAT'S
BEHIND THE CLIMATE, SORT OF,
THAT'S BEHIND ALL
THIS POPULARITY.

A clip plays on screen with the title "Arnold T. Blumberg. March 10, 2011."
In the clip, Steve Paikin and Arnold appear on split screens with the captions “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” and “Arnold T. Blumberg, Baltimore.”
Arnold is in his thirties, with short curly dark hair and a full beard.

Steve says DO YOU THINK 9-11 IS KIND OF THE
KEY MOMENT IN HISTORY ON THIS?

Arnold says OH, DEFINITELY, FOR THE MOST
RECENT RESURGENCE, ABSOLUTELY.
I MEAN, LIKE A LOT OF THINGS,
THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS BLACK AND WHITE.
THERE ARE A LOT OF MOVIES, AND
CERTAINLY FANS THEMSELVES WILL
SAY, THAT FALL OUTSIDE OF THIS
PARTICULAR, UH, TRACK.
AND REALLY, IF YOU THINK ABOUT
IT, YOU COULD EXPAND THIS
PHENOMENON TO TAKING A LOOK AT
THE HORROR GENRE, IN GENERAL.
BECAUSE HORROR, IN GENERAL, IS A
GENRE THAT PEOPLE GRAVITATE
TOWARD WHEN THEY NEED THAT
CATHARSIS DURING TIMES OF CRISIS.
SO, FOR INSTANCE, THE GREAT
CLASSIC UNIVERSAL HORROR MOVIES
FROM THE '30S HAPPENS ALL AROUND
THE DEPRESSION AND WWII.
BUT, LIKE WE'RE SAYING HERE
TONIGHT, THE ZOMBIE IN
PARTICULAR IS A PERFECT
METAPHOR, BECAUSE IT'S THE
CLOSEST TO US.
IT'S YOUR FAMILY, IT'S YOUR
FRIENDS, IT'S YOURSELF TURNING
INTO THIS CREATURE.

The clip ends.

Piya says WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?
DO WE LEAN ON ZOMBIES 'CAUSE
THEY'RE THE OTHER SIDE OF US?
I THINK SO, YES.

Andrew says AND I THINK WE, YOU KNOW, I
THINK WE FIND OURSELVES IN
SETTINGS, INCREASINGLY, UH, YOU
KNOW, THE EATON'S CENTRE FOOD
COURT, UH--

Piya says THE SHOOTING THERE.

Andrew says THE SHOOTING THERE BUT ALSO JUST
ON AN EVERYDAY, SORT OF JUST,
YOU SORT OF SEE--

[PIYA LAUGHS]

Andrew says THERE'S TOO MANY PEOPLE HERE,
YOU KNOW?
UH, AND IT, YOU START TO STOP
SEEING PEOPLE AS PEOPLE, UM, AND
YOU SEE THEM AS, YOU KNOW, JUST,
JUST A TURN OF THE PRISM, AND
YOU SEE THAT, YOU KNOW, THE,
SORT OF, THE WALKING DEAD.
I THINK, SIMILARLY, YOU KNOW,
THE IDEA OF PLAGUE, AND
DYSTOPIAN FICTION, OF COURSE, IS
ANOTHER BIG, UH, LITERARY THEME
OF THE MOMENT.
AND I THINK WE, IT IS BECAUSE OF
OVERPOPULATION AGAIN.
THE CONCERN OF, YOU KNOW,
WHETHER IT'S EBOLA, OR YOU KNOW,
WHEN THESE, WHEN THESE NEW, OR
OLD DISEASES, UH, RISE, YOU SEE
THIS EXPLOSION OF MEDIA INTEREST.
THAT'S NOT JUST, I THINK,
OPPORTUNISM.
I THINK IT'S, IT'S PROVIDING US
WITH THIS--IT'S FEEDING AN
ALREADY-EXISTING FEAR ABOUT,
“OK, WHAT IF THE SYSTEM FAILS?
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO, HOW AM I
GOING TO PROTECT MY FAMILY?”
AGAIN, THAT SURVIVALIST, UH,
POSSIBILITY RETURNS.

Piya says AND THAT, SORT OF, SPEAKS TO
THIS COMMUNAL, THIS SOCIETAL
FEAR THAT, I GO BACK TO THAT,
WHERE THERE'S THIS SORT OF
ZEITGEIST, THAT WE'RE ALL KIND
OF COLLECTIVELY SCARED OF THE
WORLD THAT WE LIVE IN.
BUT THERE'S THIS INDIVIDUAL
ANXIETY AND FEAR THAT YOU TAP
INTO, AS WELL.
SO HOW DOES THAT RESONATE WITH YOU?

Andrew says WELL, I LIKE TO WRITE, MY, MY
HORROR ISN'T LARGE-SCALE LIKE
THAT, SO IT'S, UM, IT'S
TYPICALLY VERY FAMILIAL.
UH, IT'S TYPICALLY
EMOTIONALLY DRIVEN.
AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT I'VE,
SORT OF, SET OUT AS MY
CHALLENGE, IS TO WRITE, UM,
SCARY STORIES, SUPERNATURAL
STORIES THAT ARE NEVERTHELESS
DRIVEN BY EMOTION, BY FEELING,
BY TYPICALLY THE BONDS BETWEEN
PEOPLE.
I'M NOT REALLY INTERESTED IN
JUST SEEING PEOPLE DIE--

PIYA says SURE.

Andrew says IN INTERESTING WAYS.
I'M INTERESTED IN HOW FEAR
CHANGES CHARACTER, IT CHALLENGES
CHARACTER.
SO, IN THE CASE OF
THE DAMNED,
WE HAVE DANNY WHO LITERALLY MUST
DIE A SECOND TIME FOR THOSE
PEOPLE HE LOVES, WHICH IS A VERY
OLD STORY, IN A WAY, RIGHT?
I MEAN, GREEK MYTHOLOGY HAS
PEOPLE, UH, BRAVING THE
UNDERWORLD, GOING TO WHERE THE
DEAD RESIDE AND TRYING TO RETURN
WITH SOMEONE, RETRIEVE THEM,
ARMED ONLY WITH LOVE.
YOU KNOW, THESE IMPOSSIBLE
JOURNEYS.
SO I WANTED TO WRITE, RECREATE
AN OLD MYTH, BUT SET IT IN THE
PRESENT DAY, AND RE-CAST IT.

Piya says AND ALSO, I MEAN, IF SOME PEOPLE
ARE PUT OFF BY THIS IDEA OF
BEING SUPERNATURAL AND COMING
BACK FROM THE DEAD.
YOU TAP INTO LIKE THE REALISTIC
HUMAN EMOTION THAT WE HAVE.
YOU TALK ABOUT FAMILY AND A LOSS
OF, OF FAMILY.
AND, AND SOMEONE BEING THE OTHER
WITHIN YOUR, YOUR FAMILY.
THIS TALKS ABOUT REAL THINGS
THAT RESONATE BEYOND THE
SUPERNATURAL.

Andrew says YEAH, I THINK IT HAS TO.
I THINK, FOR A NOVEL, ANY NOVEL,
WHETHER IT'S A GENRE NOVEL OR,
OR ANY OTHER KIND OF NOVEL, IT
NEEDS TO HAVE SOMETHING THAT
RESONATES ON THE HUMAN LEVEL.
IT CAN'T SIMPLY BE A
DEMONSTRATION OF AWFUL THINGS,
UH, OR A COMPENDIUM OF HORRORS,
OR A SORT OF, YOU KNOW,
COLLECTION OF DEATH.
UM, THAT'S JUST, THAT'S JUST
SORT OF PORNOGRAPHY OF A KIND.

Piya says AND, IT'S INTERESTING ABOUT
ASHLEY, BECAUSE IF WE SORT OF
JUST PUT HER IN THE CATEGORY OF
BEING EVIL, I MEAN, SHE'S MORE
LAYERED, SHE'S MORE COMPLEX.
YOU HAVE SOME COMPASSION FOR
ASHLEY, YOU DON'T, CAN'T JUST
KIND OF DISMISS HER AS THIS
CRAZY LUNATIC.
SHE DOES COME BACK TO SPEND TIME
WITH HER FAMILY, IN A WEIRD WAY.

Andrew says WELL, TWINS ARE LIKE THAT.
I MEAN, MY, MY, ONE OF MY
DEAREST FRIENDS HAS FRATERNAL
TWINS, AND I'VE OBSERVED THEM,
UH, THEIR WHOLE LIVES.
AND THEY HAVE THIS RELATIONSHIP
WHERE THEY'RE CONSTANTLY AT WAR.
I MEAN, YOU COULD THROW OUT A
PAPER CLIP BETWEEN THEM, AND
THEY WILL FIGHT OVER THE PAPER CLIP.
AND YET, IF THERE'S AN EXTERNAL
THREAT, A THIRD PARTY WHO IS
TRYING TO DISCIPLINE THEM OR
COMING FROM THE OUTSIDE, THEY
WILL STICK UP FOR EACH OTHER FIERCELY.
THEIR LOVE IS FIERCE.

Piya says YEAH.

Andrew says EVEN THOUGH IT LOOKS LIKE
THEY'RE ABOUT TO KILL EACH
OTHER.

Piya says YEAH.

Andrew says AND I THINK THAT, I LOVE THAT
IDEA, I THINK A LOT OF FAMILIES
ARE BUILT ON THAT, RIGHT?
I MEAN, WE DRIVE EACH OTHER
CRAZY BUT WE LOVE EACH OTHER SO
DEEPLY.

Piya says YEAH, WHEN THERE'S AN EXTERNAL
THREAT, WE PULL TOGETHER LIKE NOTHING.

Andrew says THAT'S IT.

Piya says THE INTERNAL THREATS, WE WILL
DUKE THEM OUT.

Andrew says YEAH.

Piya says I KNOW THIS WELL, I HAVE TWINS,
YEAH.

[They BOTH LAUGH]

Piya says THEY'RE YOUNG BUT THEY'RE
ALREADY FIGHTING OVER THAT PAPER CLIP.
SO, AS A WRITER, AS YOU'RE
TRYING TO APPROACH THESE THEMES
AND TELL A GREATER GOOD--A
GREATER LESSON, UM, YOU'RE ALSO,
SORT OF, CHALLENGED WITH THIS
IDEA, “I'M WRITING HORROR.”
IT NEEDS TO BE, AS YOU SAID,
IT'S EXCITING TO WRITE.
SO HOW TO DO YOU BALANCE, WHEN
YOU'RE APPROACHING THIS, UM,
ENTERTAINING, BEING
ENTERTAINING, CAPTURING PEOPLE'S
IMAGINATIONS AND ATTENTION WITH
TAPPING INTO THESE DEEP OR
REALLY MORE COMPLEX ANXIETIES OF US?

Andrew says WELL, I THINK IT'S ABOUT, YOU
KNOW, I SERVE THE STORY, YOU KNOW.
IT FEELS A BIT MYSTICAL, AND
MAYBE IT IS, BUT I FEEL THAT
ONCE THE STORY OCCURS TO YOU AND
YOU KIND OF MAP IT OUT A BIT, IT
TAKES ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN.
IT'S ITS OWN INDEPENDENT
ORGANISM THAT YOU ARE FEEDING
AND NURTURING, AND HOPING THAT IT GROWS.
AND SO, IN THE CASE OF A SCARY
STORY, I MEAN, WHAT I DO IS TRY
TO KIND OF FIND THE SCARY THINGS
THAT ARE EVERY DAY, SMALL-SCALE.
SO THERE'S A SCENE IN THE NOVEL
WHERE, I KNEW THAT SOMETHING
SCARY HAD TO HAPPEN TO MY MAIN
CHARACTER WHO WAS BOUND,
HOUSE-BOUND, HE COULDN'T LEAVE
THE HOUSE.
AND I THOUGHT, “WELL, WHAT'S
SCARY IN A HOUSE?”
AND I THOUGHT ABOUT THE BLENDER, NO.
BIT OBVIOUS.
THE BATHTUB, EH,
PSYCHO, BEEN DONE.

Piya says YEAH.

[PIYA LAUGHS]

Andrew says THE SHOWER, YEAH.
YOU KNOW, WE CAN'T DO THAT.
SO I ENDED UP IN THE LAUNDRY
ROOM AND I CONSTRUCTED A--NO
SPOILERS--BUT I CONSTRUCTED A
SCARY SCENE USING A TUMBLE DRYER.
AND I LOVE THAT, I LOVE BEING
ABLE TO KIND OF CREATE SCARES
AND TWISTING REALITY ON EVERYDAY
THINGS THAT PEOPLE ENCOUNTER ALL
THE TIME.

Piya says HMM, NOW I'M SCARED.
I'M SCARED MY DRYER.

Andrew says SCARED OF THE LAUNDRY.

Piya says LIKE I'VE ALWAYS BEEN SCARED OF
THE WASHER, NOW THE DRYER.

Andrew says GET SOMEONE ELSE TO DO THE LAUNDRY.

[They BOTH LAUGH]

Piya says OK, I WANNA, YOU KNOW, YOU'VE
GOTTEN REALLY GOOD REVIEWS FROM
THIS BOOK, AND YOUR LAST ONE DID
REALLY WELL ON BESTSELLERS' LISTS.
AND YOU'VE BEEN COMPARED, WHICH
MUST BE A HIGH COMPLEMENT, TO
THE LIKES OF, LIKE, ARE YOU THE
NEXT STEPHEN KING?
IS THIS--

Andrew says OH, YES, OF COURSE.

Piya says MY COMPLIMENT.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, YOU'VE
SORT OF BEEN PUT IN THIS
POSITION OF, I DON'T WANNA SAY
DEFENDING, BUT BALANCING WHAT
WE, SORT OF, HAVE STEREOTYPES
ABOUT HORROR FICTION AND
LITERARY FICTION.
AND I KIND OF WANNA TALK TO YOU
ABOUT, SORT OF, THOSE PARALLELS
AND WHERE YOU DRAW THE COMPARISON.
SO ARE YOU--FIRST OF ALL, ARE
YOU CONCERNED THAT PEOPLE MIGHT
TAKE YOUR WORK LESS SERIOUSLY,
BECAUSE YOU WRITE HORROR?

The caption changes to "Genre wars."

Andrew says UM, I THINK IT USED TO BE A
CONCERN OF MINE.
I USED TO GET QUITE ANXIOUS
ABOUT THESE CATEGORIES AND, AND
FINDING MYSELF IN THE RIGHT ONE.
I FEEL LESS SO NOW.
FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS.
ONE IS I THINK THAT WE'VE
CHANGED, THE IDEA OF GENRE IS
MORE FLUID THAN IT USED TO BE.
I THINK WE ARE INCREASINGLY
LIVING IN A POST-GENRE, UH, ERA,
WHERE WE CAN HAVE, UH, WRITERS
WHO ARE WRITING, LIKE MYSELF, I
THINK, WRITING CROSSOVER NOVELS
THAT, UM, ARE HOPEFULLY
NOURISHING, THAT HAVE REAL
CHARACTERS, UH, THAT ARE
PROVOCATIVE TO THE MIND.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, UH, YES,
ARE PAGE-TURNING ENTERTAINMENTS
WITH SCARES.
AND THAT THOSE TWO THINGS AREN'T
MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.
UM, I THINK IT'S, SECONDLY, I
THINK IT'S, WHERE THAT COMES
FROM, OR PART OF THE PREJUDICE
AGAINST GENRE COMES FROM IS THIS
IDEA THAT SERIOUSNESS, SERIOUS
FICTION HAS TO BE EITHER, SORT
OF, LOOKED AT IN THE PAST, UH,
OR MAYBE KIND OF CONSIDERED IN
THE PRESENT.
AND THERE'S VARIOUS CONSTRAINTS.
IT HAS TO BE REAL.
UM, IT KIND OF, IS THIS VERY
SMALL, VERY CONSERVATIVE WAY OF
LOOKING AT LITERATURE WHERE, AS
I SEE IT, I THINK THERE'S HUGE
POSSIBILITIES IN THE
FANTASTICAL, IN THE
MYTHOLOGICAL.

Piya says WELL, WE SEE IT, UM, YOU KNOW,
NOT THAT YOU'RE NOT A GIANT OR
TO BE A GIANT, BUT THE GIANTS OF
LITERARY FICTION, THE ATWOODS, I
WAS TALKING TO KAZUO ISHIGURO,
UH, ABOUT, YOU KNOW, THEY HAVE
ADOPTED THESE SORT OF TROPES OF
SCI-FI AND FANTASY.
UM, STATION ELEVEN.

Andrew says YEAH.

Piya says WHICH WAS NOMINATED FOR THE
NATIONAL FICTION, UH, AWARD LAST YEAR.
IT SEEMS TO ME, TO MAKE YOUR
POINT A LITTLE BIT MORE, THAT,
UM, IT'S BECOMING A LITTLE MORE
RESPECTABLE.

Andrew says YEAH, I THINK IT'S BECOMING MORE
RESPECTABLE AND I THINK THOSE
WRITERS ARE, UH, FIND THESE
DIFFERENT TROPES, WHETHER IT'S,
YOU KNOW, IN ATWOOD'S CASE,
DYSTOPIAN FICTION.
UH, ISHIGURO'S CASE, THE FANTASY.
UH, I THINK, BECAUSE THERE'S
HUGE OPPORTUNITIES THERE.
I THINK THEY SEE, THEY WANT TO
EXPAND AND THEY SEE--I DON'T
THINK IT'S A DUMBING DOWN AT ALL.
I DON'T THINK IT'S A CASE OF
WRITERS BECOMING CYNICAL.
ON THE CONTRARY, I THINK THEY
ARE CHALLENGING THEMSELVES TO
USE EXISTING, UM, WAYS OF
STORYTELLING--AGAIN, THE
FANTASTICAL, THE DYSTOPIAN, UH,
THE SCIENCE-FICTIONAL--AND
EMPLOYING THEIR TALENTS AND
TAKING THAT FORM TO, HOPEFULLY,
THE NEXT LEVEL.
I THINK IT'S...

The caption changes to "Watch past episodes of The Agenda. Theagenda.tvo.org."

Andrew says SO, AGAIN, I DON'T SEE A BORDER
BETWEEN THESE WORLDS, I JUST SEE
NOW, UH, YOU KNOW, THE WALL HAS
BEEN, YOU KNOW, DESTROYED AND
PEOPLE ARE TRAVELLING BETWEEN
THESE BORDERS MORE FREELY.

Piya says OK, YOU MAY THINK, THERE ARE
OTHERS WHO ARE CRITICAL OF, SORT
OF, THIS, THIS, NOT OF THE
LINE-BLURRING, BUT THE SORT OF
DEFENCE OF THE LINE-BLURRING.
SO I WANNA READ SOMETHING FROM
THE NEW YORKER.
THIS IS FROM, UH, ARTHUR
KRYSTAL, ESSAYIST.
LONG LITTLE CLIP I'M GONNA READ
HERE, BUT HERE WE GO.

A quote appears on screen, under the title “Good, but not great.” The quote reads “Great writers hit us over the head because they present characters whose imaginary lives have real consequences (at least while we’re reading about them), and because they see the world in much the way we do: complicated by surface and subterranean feelings, by ambiguity and misapprehension, and by the misalliance of consciousness and perception. Writers who want to understand that reason cannot know are not going to write horror tales or police procedurals. Why say otherwise? Elmore Leonard, Ross Thomas, and the wonderful George MacDonald Fraser craft stories that every discerning reader can enjoy to the hilt – but make no mistake: good commercial fiction is inferior to food literary fiction in the same way that Santa Claus is inferior to Wotan. One brings us fun or frightening gifts, the other requires –and repays- observance.”
Quote by Arthur Krystal, The New Yorker, October 24, 2012.

Piya says WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT
CRITIQUE?
I MEAN, IS THERE MERIT IN THAT
CRITIQUE, OR IS THAT JUST AN OLD
TROPE THAT WE'VE SORT OF STOOD BY?

Andrew says I DON'T THINK THERE'S VERY MUCH
MERIT IN THAT CRITIQUE.
I MEAN, IT'S ONE THING TO SAY
THAT SOME GENRE FICTION IS
POORLY-WRITTEN AND SHALLOW.
UM, BUT I COULD SHOW, YOU KNOW,
DEMONSTRATE, I COULD GO TO THE
NEAREST BOOKSTORE AND BRING BACK
20 EXAMPLES OF SHALLOW,
INADEQUATE, POORLY-WRITTEN
LITERARY FICTION JUST AS QUICKLY.
SO, I DON'T THINK IT'S A MATTER,
IT'S A QUALITATIVE, I DON'T
THINK IT'S A QUALITATIVE
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LITERARY AND
GENRE FICTION.
AND FURTHERMORE, I THINK, I
THINK GENRE FICTION CAN JUST AS
EASILY, AND FRANKLY, IF NOT MORE
POWERFULLY, UH, DEMONSTRATE, UH,
YOU KNOW THE PRESENT-DAY HUMAN
CONDITION, ALL THE THINGS THAT
HE IS TALKING ABOUT THAT, UM,
THAT, THE INGREDIENTS THAT GOOD
FICTION SHOULD DEMONSTRATE.
I THINK THOSE, THAT GENRE
FICTION CAN.

Piya says BECAUSE YOU HAVE A BROADER
LICENCE, 'CAUSE YOU CAN GO TO
PLACES THAT YOU'RE NOT CONFINED
BY IN LITERARY FICTION.

Andrew says THAT'S, YES, THAT'S PART OF IT.
AND I THINK, AS WELL, IT'S,
IT'S, UH, IT TURNS NOT ON THE
GENRE BUT THE SKILL OF THE WRITER.
A GOOD WRITER, IN ANY GENRE, CAN
CREATE SOMETHING THAT IS, UH,
YOU KNOW, THAT IS EDIFYING AND
USEFUL AND SOCIALLY RELEVANT AND
POLITICALLY, UH, STRIDENT, AND,
AND, AND, YOU KNOW, IS HELPFUL
IN THE DISCOURSE.
OR, A POOR WRITER CAN WRITE
SOMETHING THAT ISN'T MUCH WORTH AT ALL.
IT DOESN'T TURN ON THE GENRE, IT
TURNS ON THE STORY AND THE
WRITER.

Piya says AND YET, SOME PEOPLE LISTENING
AND, ARGUABLY, I MIGHT SAY,
YOUNG PEOPLE WOULD SAY, LIKE,
“LEAVE MY HORROR GENRE ALONE,”
RIGHT?
LIKE THIS IS, UM, DIFFERENT THAN
SORT OF THE CANON OF LITERARY
FICTION AND IT HAS ITS OWN
MERITS, WHICH YOU'VE SPOKEN TO,
BUT WE DON'T WANT THIS TO BE,
SORT OF, DILUTED INTO MAINSTREAM.
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THAT?

Andrew says UM, I DON'T WORRY ABOUT THAT,
BUT I SYMPATHIZE WITH THEIR
POINT OF VIEW.
LIKE, WHY DO WE HAVE TO BE
HAVING THIS DEBATE ANYWAY?
I ENJOY THESE BOOKS, I DON'T
CARE ABOUT WHAT, YOU KNOW,
SOMEONE SAYS IN AN ESSAY IN
THE NEW YORKER OR ELSEWHERE.
I'M JUST, I LIKE SCARY STORIES
AND IF THEY SCARE ME, THEY'RE
GOOD, IF THEY DON'T, THEY FAIL.
I'M PERFECTLY HAPPY WITH PEOPLE
WHO FEEL THAT WAY AND I HOPE
THAT MY BOOKS WILL PLEASE THEM.
BUT, UM, I DON'T THINK IT'S
NECESSARILY THE CASE THAT IT'S
EITHER-OR.
I THINK THOSE PEOPLE CAN BE
SATISFIED BY A STORY THAT, AT
THE SAME TIME, PROVIDES
SOMETHING NOURISHING AND MORE
SERIOUS, UH, IN, YOU KNOW, IN
ITS THEMES AND ITS WRITING.

Piya says AND AS YOU EXPLORE THESE THINGS,
UM, THESE THEMES IN THE DAMNED,
AT THE OF THE DAY, WHAT DO YOU
WANT ME, AS THE READER, TO SORT
OF SURMISE, TAKE AWAY, LEARN
FROM IT?

Andrew says WELL, I WANT YOU, I WANT YOU TO
BE EXCITED BY IT, PRIMARILY.
I WANT YOU TO HAVE THAT
EXPERIENCE.

Piya says IT'S EXCITING.

Andrew says GOOD!

Hey both chuckle.

Piya says IT'S FREAKY, YEAH.

Andrew says WELL, TO KEEP YOU UP LATE.
NO, I REALLY, AND I MEAN THAT, I
THINK THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT, I
WANT THE EXPERIENCE TO BE REALLY VISCERAL.
I WANT, I WANT YOU TO FEEL THAT
FEAR AND FOR THAT FEAR TO PULL
YOU IN IN A WAY THAT IS VERY INTIMATE.
I WANNA MAKE THE BOOK A SPACE
THAT IS INTIMATE AND CUSTOM-MADE
FOR EACH READER.
AND THEN, IF YOU'RE THERE, THEN
I THINK YOU'LL SEE HOW YOU REACT
TO THOSE FEARS, WHAT MAKES YOU
ANXIOUS ABOUT THIS STORY.
AND I THINK THAT WILL REVEAL
THINGS IN READERS THAT, AGAIN, A
SORT OF QUIETER, MORE SUBDUED,
COTTON-BALLED LITERARY PIECE OF
FICTION WON'T REVEAL TO YOU.
IT WON'T GIVE IT TO YOU THE SAME WAY.

Piya says UM, IT'S BEEN NICE TALKING TO YOU.
THE BOOK'S DONE VERY WELL.
CONGRATULATIONS.

Andrew says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Piya says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Watch: Andrew Pyper: Horror Show