Facing Your Demon First Thing Sunday Morning

For all good demon experts, 10AM on a Sunday is a real challenge. Microphones had all been carefully adjusted for the panelists who struggled to maintain their voices after myriad late-night antics. Still, Dragon*Con must go on, and the “Face Your Demon” panel discussion started on time, with a sizable audience.

During introductions, a blue, tribble-like demon also received his introduction, but, alas, no mortal tongue can pronounce his infernal name–much less type it. He appeared safe and cute at first, under the close care of moderator Jana Oliver, but over the course of the panel, the demon grew in size and menace until it became obvious the demon had actually eaten the soul of Christopher Golden. The absent writer was obviously battling the demon in the realm of dreams while the panel. The three panelists did not let Christopher Golden’s immortal peril hamper the festivities, and the discussion of demons commenced with an energetic roundtable. The coffee, apparently, was working.

Samantha Somersby, a psychologist in her mysterious past, was interested in true crime and horror before she came to demons directly, as an author, and she was fascinated with the exploration of something “outside.” In human folklore and common mythology, demons are assigned purposes and they have jobs in the cosmos, but they don’t have personalities. What’s fun to her, as a writer, is assigning these infernal entities a personality, with fears and ambitions.

Rob Thurman enjoys demons that have a good time and have fun. She wants them good-looking in their human form: really, really hot. She steals most of her demons from a 13th century monk. She never said this monk’s name, naturally, because to say it three times, even if it is accidental, would summon this mad monk to the panel, wherein she might not be able to keep the mad master of demonology from cursing and harming some of the attendees of the panel.

Jana Oliver, the panel moderator, described demons as classically cunning, clever, and always trying to suck one’s soul to hell. To her, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, a demon is pretty much classified as evil. In other traditions, they are guardians of temples and people. As a child, she couldn’t read horror, and she stayed away from demonic literature in general. She came to demons from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The angel and demon have a nice relationship, and neither one wants the end of the world. She studied a lot of the Hebrew Bible, but found her own brain was the best source of demons. She also is a fan of the Book of Enoch for the names of angels. “The danger of humanizing demons is you think of them as human until this moment comes when their shopping list says they need one of those and one of those and whatever.”

It wasn’t long until the line between ghosts, demons, and angels got very blurry. Oliver’s books are all about trapping demons, much like in Ghostbusters, and no discussion of demons is complete without panning the snotty angels that think they are better than us. As the conversation continued, it was much harder to maintain sanity with the blue demon feasting upon the soul of Christopher Golden, who was otherwise not present. The infernal smell became too great, and this reporter fled the room while brave panelists led some of the attendees in battle against the demon before it could escape the room.

Author of the article

Joseph McDermott writes for the video game industry by day, at Xaviant Software. At night, he writes fictions. His novels include Last Dragon, which was #6 on Amazon.com's Year's Best SF/F of 2008, shortlisted for a Crawford Prize, and on Locus Magazine's Recommended Reading List for Debuts. Maze, his second novel, will be out in 2011, from Apex Books, along with Never Knew Another from Nightshade Books. If you see him scampering about the convention, offer him Peanut M&Ms, iced coffee, and high fives (because he is awesome!).

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