Book Nerdection Interview

by | Mar 27, 2024 | Miscellaneous, News | 0 comments

I was recently interviewed by BookNerdection.com about the fusion of horror with historical fiction in my novel, The Exorcism of Adolf Hitler. It was an honor to receive their coveted “Must Read” label and I was happy to answer their insightful questions about the book and my writing process:

What inspired you to write The Exorcism of Adolf Hitler, and how did you come up with the concept of intertwining historical events with supernatural horror elements?

I wish I could point to some “eureka!” moment where the idea came to me in dramatic fashion, but I really can’t. My most direct inspiration for the book was an episode of the original Rod Serling The Twilight Zone called The Howling Man. In it, a man is traveling on foot through central Europe in the years after World War I. He gets lost in a storm and seeks refuge in a hermitage of monks. While there, the traveller hears what sounds like a wolf howling inside the hermitage, but when he finds the source of the noise, he finds a man claiming to be held prisoner against his will. The monks pull him away and explain that the prisoner is no man, but the devil himself, and warn him to stay away. But the traveler is skeptical of the monks, finding the prisoner’s story more believable, and helps him escape when the monks are asleep. Naturally, the prisoner really is the devil and he is now set loose upon the world just in time to start the Second World War.

So…years go by from when I first saw the episode, and I wondered, “What if the howling man was Adolf Hitler?” I’ve always liked horror and historical fiction, but it’s difficult to tell a story like this using real historical figures because demonic possession is just too much of a strain on believability for most of them. I think Hitler is probably the only one it works with. With him, I could combine perhaps the greatest historical evil with the greatest supernatural evil.

How do you tackle the challenges of writing about sensitive historical events while incorporating elements of speculative fiction?

I have a story about this. The second person who ever read the screenplay version (a friend and writer colleague) put the script down halfway through and warned me not to develop it any further. He believed it was impossible to write about a possessed Hitler without suggesting that he didn’t somehow bear personal culpability for the war and the Holocaust. To him, exorcising demons from Hitler meant there was some kind of good in him to be found and that this was way too offensive an idea to write, much less publish. I knew there would be some people who would react this way, but how adamant he was took me by surprise. That wasn’t the message of the story at all, but his feedback forced me to go back and make sure my plot, characters’ thoughts and dialogue, and delivery of my themes were airtight.

The principal theme of the book is and always has been personal responsibility. Hitler could not accept Germany’s responsibility for losing World War I, just like he couldn’t take responsibility for failing as an artist or accept the ultimate personal responsibility for what he did to the Jews and for losing World War 2. Even when he knew it was lost, he ordered his men to go scorched earth on their own cities and shot himself in the head in a bunker. The demons in my book see this quality in Hitler from an early age and use it to forge a partnership. I can confidently say it is indeed possible to write about demons possessing Hitler without absolving him of anything. I think the way it plays out in the book is something readers will find both dramatically interesting and not-at-all compromised ethically.

Check out the rest of the interview here!

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