Is that the devil?

Three weeks ago, my white-haired, quiet, Catholic grandmother studied my final cover photo on the book before leaning in close and whispering in a voice so laden with concern that it bordered on afraid, “Karl, is that the Devil?”

“No,” I said, turning my mouth down and shaking my head. “No, no, no.” Because it’s not. The literal version of the cover is that it’s the main character burning in hellfire. But the devil is in the novel–if you so choose to read it in that light. And the opening quote is from Carl Jung, pointing out that “Man is not fundamentally good. Almost half of him is a devil.” Indeed, the story takes an eastern light on our western culture and blends the black with the white and tries to find a balance between the two. It’s about self-reconciliation and learning about the devil inside yourself and coming to terms with him. But I didn’t want to explain this to my grandma, so I said, “No.” I said, “No, no, no.”

But if I had answered, I would have said, “What makes you think it’s the devil?”

And the voice inside my head, playing my grandmother would say, “Well he’s on fire. And the flames look like horns. And he looks so angry.”

“Is angry all he looks?”

“He looks tortured. And in pain.”

“So is that what makes a devil? Being tortured, in pain, angry, aflame, and with imagery that suggests of horns?”

“And he looks evil.”

“Is that what evil is then? Being tortured? being in pain and angry and aflame?”

“Of course it’s more than that.”

“And he has that?”

Perhaps no, perhaps yes. If my grandmother does see evil in the image, if she says, “That’s essentially what Satan undergoes,”

I’d say, “then that’s exactly what my book is about. My book is about the Devil.”


You can buy Hallowtide through its website at


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