by Phillip Luke Sinitiere
Baldblogger (BB): As writers, it is inevitable that some of what we write along the way ends up on the cutting floor. What did you have to leave out of Satan in America? What great stories are readers missing?
Scott Poole (SP): Lots, I’m afraid, ended up being left out and I’m sure you understand how painful that can be. This is why I wanted to include “Hunting the Devil: A Bibliographic Essay” at the end of the book to point readers to other resources. The book I originally proposed to write was much larger, in fact coming in at around 600 pages instead of 300. My publisher really felt that this was too hefty and agreed with me that, even writing a book of that size could not mean I would give my subject an exhaustive treatment.
So, I did not examine American literature to the degree I wanted to. The reader will get bit on Hawthorne, Melville and Twain in the 19th century but only a brief mention of Flannery O’Connor in the 20th. I wanted to say a good bit on O’Connor who stared into the American heart of darkness perhaps more directly than any of our great writers. This was a section that could be cut because other scholars have done this really well, including Jeffrey Burton Russell in Mephistopheles.
Another area that had to be cut significantly was my discussion of the “satanic panic.” I felt ok about this, in part, because other books had dealt with the details. I do hope I managed to convey the sense that American demonologies created a kind of moral crisis in American life during that period and that these beliefs found expression in the larger moral crisis of the Reagan years.
Read the final few questions of Baldblogger's interview with Scott Poole here.