This interview with Richard Finney was conducted by Basha Skulski, media relations executive at Lono Publishing.
Q: Even while writing in the genre of a modern commercial Thriller you attempted to embody the work with literary ambitions. The most daring creative choice was your decision regarding the narrative point of view throughout the novel.
A: During the process of conceiving of DEMON DAYS – Angel of Light (“DD-AOL”), I had wanted to experiment with POV. When I was very young, I read many of the works of Agatha Christie, including a very famous novel she wrote (which I will not identify because it would be a SPOILER) that had the narrator of the story ending up being… the killer. It was my first introduction to the “unreliable narrator” concept, but it also showed me the power behind whoever is telling the story also can be in charge of shaping the story for the reader.
Now let me clear, my ambition was not to have the narrator be the killer. DD-AOL is not a murder-mystery. But what I did have in mind was to play around with the point-of-view of each chapter and how it affects the way the novel’s narrative would unfold.
Q: Why attempt such a feat? Why not just tell the story from the point-of-view of a “neutral narrator?”
A: I still wanted the resources that come with having a “neutral narrator,” but I also wanted each chapter to have a more personal view point. My goal was to give insight to the reader about the story that was unfolding, but make it even more intimate because they would be seeing it from the purview of a character they were following. And my agenda included not only the protagonists in the story, but other characters as well, including what some would call the… “villains.” Though I would claim that they are “antagonists,” if such a label had to be applied, not “villains.” And I would further claim that perhaps a few “antagonists” in the novel are also… “protagonists.” Very early on in my training as a writer, I learned that the most effective and convincing way to write about a “villain” or an “antagonist” is to remember that in their head, they sincerely believe they are the hero of the story.
Q: So you moved forward with the intention that each chapter would have a different POV?
A: Yes, but still each POV would fall underneath a “style” umbrella. Almost as if we were getting a few different “voices” but they were… part of the same “context.”
I also had a few rules. The first rule was that none of the chapters would ever showcase the POV of Satan himself. Whatever “The Angel of Light” was thinking was his business, and his thoughts (or “spin”) would come out the way he chose to communicate. And anything he had to say would be revealed through the point of view of the narrating character. I wanted to keep the essential motivation, thinking, and agenda of Satan (along with “God”) out of the reach of the reader.
Also, since there is the concept of “demonic possession” in the book, there had to be another rule -- I would never adopt the POV of a possessed person.
Lastly, as a concession to achieve maximum impact in telling a story that would keep the reader on edge, I always made sure that if a chapter featured any of the main protagonists sharing time with an antagonist, the POV of that chapter would by default fall to the protagonist. These are the choices you must make in writing a commercial thriller. You always want your reader to feel the protagonist is in jeopardy, which would be lost, or at least compromised, if I adopted the POV from an antagonist in the same chapter that featured a main protagonist. Now the interesting thing became when I had a chapter with one or more “antagonists” and no “protagonists.” That’s when readers should probably realize that perhaps someone they think is an “antagonist” is perhaps being restrictively labeled.
Q: But you did retain the “neutral narrator?”
A: Yes. Throughout the novel, we have a “neutral narrator” who relates what is happening in a “neutral” way. This neutral narrator ends up sharing equal time with the character who is guiding the direction of that particular chapter. Now we should make it clear that this entire discussion is on a level of “sub textual.” When you are reading the book, the story should unfold in a way that everything I’m describing is, for the most part, seamless.
Q: We've been calling him a “neutral narrator,” but already some advance readers believe that this “neutral narrator” is God.
A: I will not comment on that point, except to say that the beauty about novels is that the reader gets to sit in the jury box and come up with their own verdict.
Q: So you decided that writing a 900 page book was not difficult enough – you needed this extra burden?
A: Actually, there were aspects to this device which were not restrictive at all. For instance, at times the chapter’s POV is shared between two characters. Though I will acknowledge that adhering to a very strict POV within each chapter pushed me to become more thoughtful about how the narrative would unfold. But ultimately going in this direction yielded a creative accomplishment that ends up being one of the novel’s strongest points. It allows the reader an intimacy with several of the main characters, and allows a different POV on events as they unfold that would otherwise be restrictive with just one narrator or a limited POV.