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J. Michael Strazinski’s Demon Night

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A week ago (give or take), I finished up JMS’s Demon Night book. I picked this one up because I’m a fan of some of his writing on TV.

This is a fairly rudimentary horror novel in the vein of Stephen King 1988 or so. It was his first novel, and it shows. There are too many people introduced who flit by without much impact and then are referenced seemingly at random subsequently in the novel. I found myself flipping back and forth, trying to figure out who was who and from whence they came. The story itself was pretty straightforward — a little Indian mythology, a little pre-Christian demonology, a healthy dose of paranoia and strange happenings.

JMS himself probably provides the best critique (as to why the book was written and how) in the afterword to the text:

What made Demon Night work — even with all the inevitable flaws and excesses of any first novel, for which accept a year’s supply of mea culpas — and the reason that it has now been picked up for republication by ibooks, is that I wrote it for myself, out of a love of the form, the genre, and a desire to be entertained by a story told about characters who mattered to me.

The lesson was not lost on me, and informed not just the novels that followed, which are also due to be reprinted, it had a profound impact on all of my writing, prose, television and otherwiseIt’s the only lesson I’ve learned that really means a damn, the only one that I can convey to aspiring writers at conventions and workshops and bookstore signings without hesitation, conflict or reservation.

Write the story you want to read.

Live the live you want to live.

Do what gives you joy.

The rest will attend to itself.

Whether you like the book or not, that’s some pretty damn good advice for anyone, writer or not.

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