The idea for this novel occurred during a trip to the Hawaiian Islands.
Similar to the two main characters in the book, “Sandy” and “Tom,” we went on a helicopter tour around the island. Like the novel, the other passengers were a Japanese couple on their honeymoon.
We flew to a mountain on the island known as the “Wall of Tears.” Up to that point on the tour I was having a great time. But as we were enjoying the spectacular view, the helicopter was suddenly buffeted by some major gusts of wind. Within seconds, the situation became serious.
The pilot didn’t waste any time. He announced over our headsets, “Everyone prepare themselves. What I’m about to do will feel like we’re moving backwards, then flying upside down. But don’t worry—it just feels that way. Everything will be all right.”
Then he yanked on the helicopter’s control stick and performed an aerial maneuver that, to this day, I still can’t believe got us out of the canyon in one piece. And at the time, despite the nuisance of his chosen words, I believed we were indeed going backwards and flying upside down as we escaped the high winds that were threatening our helicopter.
The tour continued.
“There’s George Harrison’s home. And to your right is where they shot some of Hawaii Five-O…”
None of what the pilot had to say mattered to me. I was just hoping I could make it to a private area before I threw up.
Once we finally landed, I made a beeline to the airport toilet.
I spent the next forty-eight hours in our hotel room with the curtains shut, lying stiff as a board in bed, staring straight up at the ceiling. If anybody or anything dared to interrupt this remedy, I would end up scrambling for the toilet.
Sometime, during the end of the second straight day of lying in bed, my imagination wandered.
I eventually asked myself—what if the helicopter had gone down… what would have happened?
My wife and I probably would have died.
But what if we survived?
Wait, what if one of us survived and the other died?
I played with that concept for a while, but all the answers to that question sounded like a “personal drama.” I wasn’t interested in writing that kind of book.
I let my mind wander some more.
A few minutes later, a thought struck me —what if one of us survived, but one of us died… except he didn’t really die?
What if he had a “Near Death Experience?”
I had been reading about NDEs over the years. Many people have reported having them. The problem was that I wasn’t really interested in doing something with a bright light, a tunnel, and the loving relative waiting on the other side.
My thinking turned to more sinister ideas, which is just the way my creative mind works.
What if the person having the Near Death Experience believes they are having a beautiful, blissful, “religious” experience… but that’s not what’s really happening?
What if… it’s the exact opposite.
I was suddenly feeling much better, scrambling around the room for some paper and something to write with because I was being bombarded with ideas and I didn’t want to forget any of them!
In December 2009, the novel “Demon Days” was published to wonderful critical reviews and a very enthusiastic response from readers.
But this exploration into the creative genesis of the book would not be complete without this final recollection about that Hawaii helicopter flight.
The tour copter actually had a video camera mounted on the front which shot footage of all the sites we visited on our tour. The footage was then made available for us to purchase at the end of our trip. While I was sick in the airport bathroom, my wife bought us a copy.
Once we returned home, I threw the DVD of the tour into a player and watched it. At the point of the tour when we were at the Wall of Tears, the camera outside the helicopter recorded exactly what I not only felt, but what I felt sure had happened—we did go backwards and we were flying almost completely upside down!
That taught me a lesson.
Sometimes what you suspect is happening… is really happening.
And that’s when I knew I had a story to tell.
It’s called… Demon Days
It’s called… Demon Days