Hi, everyone! Alina Ray here. Thanks to Lisa and The Novel Approach for allowing me to take over your blog to talk about my story “Hell Bound” in Devil’s Night.
I was scrolling through the anthology calls on Storm Moon Press’ website when one caught my eye. They wanted stories all about demons and devils. At first, I scrolled right past it, because I’m usually not a very dark person, and I didn’t think I would be able to write dark. But my mind never let it go; it circled around and around until it came up with an idea.
Now, I know that there are tons of different ways to write about demons. I could have gone literal; I could have gone subtle, more human. I mean, the ways to write about devils and demons are about as endless as the meaning of the word demon itself. What truly makes something a demon? I decided to take the literal approach. I decided to make my main demon a demon in Hell. One who actually works for the devil himself. I went with the interpretation of a demon that I feel most people picture when they think of a demon; red skin, dark hair, horns.
Once I decided that I wanted my story to take place in Hell, I had to decide what, exactly, would happen there. Do demons just sit around all day worshiping a devil? I wanted my demons to have a purpose. And what better purpose could they serve than punishing those souls who are sent to Hell for their misdeeds on Earth?
Enter Craig, my other main character. He was sent to Hell to atone for all of his wrongdoings, but he doesn’t know what he did. As an aside, I originally had him stand in a seemingly endless line to get into Hell, but the editor pointed out that the television show Supernatural had already done that. I haven’t seen Supernatural, so I was a bit bummed that my oh-so-clever idea had already been done. Although, looking back, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. :)
Upon his arrival into Hell, Craig is assigned to a young demon named Karawan, and then the fun begins. Karawan is determined to punish Craig and make him feel genuine remorse for what he did. The problem with this, aside from the lack of Craig’s memory, is the fact that Craig actually likes his punishments. They turn him on. This is something that Karawan hasn’t encountered before, and it flusters him. So, along with the help of his mentor, Moloch, he comes up with creative ways to deal with Craig.
On the one hand, this story was a lot of fun to write. I got to experiment with things that would really push the envelope with “real” people. Craig is already dead, so it’s not like anything I could come up to do with him would kill him again. I liked being able to let that side out of me a little bit. On the other hand, I was really surprised where my mind took me.
Some of the scenes in this short story are pretty dark; at least, I think so. But it’s Hell, so I don’t think it would have been complete without at least a little darkness. Especially with creatures whose entire existence is to punish people. Over the years, they would have had to come up with extreme ways to punish some of the more extreme cases.
One thing I did was I didn’t make Hell permanent. People are only there for the period of time it takes them to feel truly sorry for what they did. Not to get too philosophical, or religious, but it never made a lot of sense to me that people were sent to Hell for all eternity for their misdeeds during their relatively short life. It seemed to me that Hell should just be a stop on their way to whatever afterlife is next. Yes, these people have to account for what they did, but should they really feel guilty for all eternity? It’s a theme I kept in mind as I wrote my story, and I hope readers don’t mind it!
Again, I want to thank Lisa and The Novel Approach for allowing me to take over this blog! I hope you enjoy reading “Hell Bound” as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Alina Ray is the proud author of two Storm Moon Press short stories. Her 1980’s tattoo-centric story “Powder” is included in the Written in Flesh, and her devilish short “Hell Bound” will release in the Devil’s Night anthology.