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Andrew Pyper: On demons, dryers, and Canadian identity

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“Pyper’s gift is that he deeply respects his readers, yet still insists on reducing them to quivering children.” – Gillian Flynn


I think anyone who’s read an Andrew Pyper novel would have to agree with Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. Andrew’s stories are terrifying and dark and demonic. But they’re also tender, wise, and somehow full of genuine beauty. The Canadian literary scene is lucky to have Andrew Pyper, and so was Kitchener Public Library. I was honoured to get the chance to interview him during an 85 Queen event in the Reading Lounge. Andrew was incredibly personable and insightful, and he gave our audience a lot to think about. For those who couldn’t make it on October 26th, here’s a rundown of my favourite Pyper highlights.

Our evening started with a meet-the-author book club event, and librarian Karen Ball-Pyatt did an excellent job hosting. In this small group, everyone had the opportunity to ask Andrew questions about his writing. We learned about his choice for Detroit as The Damned setting (the nine rings of hell with a frozen river at the center, reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno). We learned why lakes and rivers always make appearances in his novels (lakes are scary! And Canadian. You never know what’s lurking beneath the surface).

Andrew even trusted us with some novel-writing secrets. An attendee asked how Andrew plans a novel, and he excitedly explained that he is a “notebook nerd.” He keeps a notebook full of plot point ideas that he thinks of throughout the day (for example, an ominous word being etched into the steamy wall of an empty shower). Basically, he always has a notebook on the go, filled with dozens of potentially terrifying situations. Personally? I think every writer should have one of those. You never know when you’ll need a scary idea tidbit.

Next, we moved to a live interview in the Reading Lounge. What a unique location for an author interview – the fab Enlightenment mural behind us, starry-skied ceiling above us, and a huge window wall looking out to a blustery October Queen St.

Andrew started by reading a terrifying scene from his newest book The Damned. It involved a demon and a dryer. None of us are ever doing laundry alone again.

During the interview we learned a lot. As an expert on Canadian horror, Andrew explained how his Canadian identity influences his writing. He says Canadian horror is more delicate than American horror; less about the shocking violence and more about the slow creep of fear. Canadian horror is more about the relationships, and the emotions surrounding the loss of a loved one. Andrew also hopes that one day we’ll be categorizing books based on their merits and drawbacks, rather than the slippery labelling system of genre.

With so many scary stories out there, how does he keep thinking of new, fresh ways to be scary? It’s in the little things. Andrew prefers to read the newspaper from back to front. There’s always some absurd, creepy story at the back that captures his attention.

My absolute favourite tidbit of wisdom came from this question: “Imagination seems to be one of those skills that deteriorate with age – children are naturals, but as we grow up it starts to wear off. What advice do you have for adults to keep their imagination strong?”

His answer? Tell stories. Just keep making up stories, and building upon real life experiences. His kids are always asking him to tell them stories (and who can blame them!) so he’s constantly exercising his imagination. People they know in real life often inspire characters.

Andrew Pyper has published 7 novels, and we have them all in our catalogue. If you’re looking for a supernatural horror, try his newer books: The Damned, The Demonologist, or The Guardians. If you prefer elements of crime fiction and mystery over traditionally defined “horror,” try Lost Girls, The Trade Mission, The Wildfire Season, or The Killing Circle.

And keep Andrew Pyper on your book news radar. According to our interview, he’ll have a new book out in the near future – and it’s all about monsters.

Want to hear more from Karissa? Check out her blog.

Take a look through the photo gallery below, and be sure to join us at our upcoming 85 QUEEN events:

Patricia Patkau: Shifting Perspectives in partnership with Grand Valley Society of Architects

An Evening with Catherine Bush in conversation with CBC-KW’s Andrea Bellemare.


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council of the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country. 


Author: Charlotte Prong

I'm the Social Media Editor at Kitchener Public Library. Follow us on Twitter @KitchLibrary, on Instagram @kitchenerlibrary, or like our page on Facebook.

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