Some days we get lucky and an author drops in to say hello. This is one of those days! Welcome author J. Merrill Forrest, author of "Flight of the Kingfisher" and "The Waiting Gate."
SC: Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book
JMF: A few characters in The Waiting Gate have equal billing, but the one I see as the main one is psychic medium Alex Kelburn. Alex was introduced in ‘Flight of the Kingfisher’, where he experiences some terrible tragedies but comes through them a better man and a stronger medium who has an even deeper understanding of the Afterlife because he is taken there. He is working on his TV show, challenged to find out what happened to a little girl whose remains have been found in a shallow grave. At the same time, his wife’s grandfather is showing signs of dementia, and he is asked a very important question by a dementia care nurse he meets at the care home: where do they go? I based him on mediums I have met and interviewed over the years as well as some famous ones we see on TV such as the late Colin Fry, Tony Stockwell and John Edward. Many psychics are portrayed in films as slightly or completely mad, but I wanted to represent them as they really are, normal human beings who happen to be able to link with the dead and let us know our loved ones are happy in the Afterlife.
SC: I know some Mediums myself. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so do you have an experience you can share?
JMF: The paranormal experiences involving my late brother and father, which had a profound and life-changing effect on me, are covered in detail on my website (jmforrest.com), but I’ll tell you about one of the experiences that happened shortly after my brother passed away in 1984. After a few weeks of strange things happening in my brand new house – electrics going crazy, things moving around – I was talking to someone at work who told me about a Spiritualist church which held services on Sunday evenings. I’d had no intention of going, but something was nagging at me and I was indecisive all day about getting in my car and driving there. At the last minute I decided to go and see what it was all about, and I arrived with a few minutes to spare. The church was full and I took a seat right at the back, wondering what was about to unfold. There was a short service and then the medium, a dark-haired woman, was introduced. She started to give messages to various people and then she said, and I remember this word for word as she pointed to my side of the hall, “There’s someone here for the first time. Sitting right at the back.” I felt myself go hot and cold but didn’t know what to do. She said, “I have a brother waiting to speak to his sister. Please speak to me so I can make the connection.” I must have made some reaction because the person sitting next to me took my hand and said, “If it’s you, just say yes.” I found my voice and said that I was there for the first time. The medium then began giving me information about my brother, information only I and other family members could have known. I was stunned at her accuracy, for how could she have known these things? She finished the reading by telling me that my brother wanted me to research life after death, that he knew I would do it and make something of it. Well, it’s taken many years, but here I am shouting about it!
SC: That's fab! And speaking of shouting about things, what titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?
JMF: There are four quite different projects I’d like to work on for publication over the next two years or so, I just don’t know which one will be completed first:
- a fundraising book for Guide Dogs for the Blind, based on my experience raising a Guide Dog Puppy from 7 weeks to 13 months old. Throughout the year I took hundreds of photographs of him and captioned them, so the story will be told in pictures from his point of view.
- a story about a telepathic girl, as yet untitled. It’s based on a short story I wrote years ago, but whereas in that story the narrator is the girl’s school friend in her early teens, at a time before mobile phones and Internet technology, the novel will have her in her middle years looking back at what happened.
- republish ‘Orders From Above’, a light-hearted comedy about angels causing havoc in a small Wiltshire village. It was published in 2013 but I wasn’t happy with the quality of the book or the way the publisher handled the marketing and I took back the rights last year. I love this story and feel it deserves a second chance.
- a third Alex Kelburn novel. I don’t know yet where this one is going to go. So far I have a character who is horrifically injured in a traffic accident and doesn’t feel she has anything to live for, but the ideas are so fleeting I can’t grasp them yet. I always have this struggle to begin with, but I trust that all I need to know will come when the time is right.
SC: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, let's look at your latest release, "THE WAITING GATE".
The Waiting Gate
J Merrill Forrest
Publisher: Hashtag Press
Publication date: October 27, 2017
Alex Kelburn is a psychic medium who knows full well where we go when we die for he has been there. But what about those in the grip of severe dementia whose minds have disconnected? Where, indeed, do they go? He knows he must find the answer. Not only for Erin, the caring, compassionate nurse who has asked it, but also for his own wife, and for friends Kallie and Trish, and the thousands of others who are grieving and bewildered because they have loved ones who have gradually disappeared until only their physical selves remain.
Working on the case of an unidentified little girl whose remains have been discovered in a shallow grave, he is gradually led to a new and wonderful understanding of just what is on the Other Side …
“Where do you think they go, the patients who no longer seem to be aware of themselves or their surroundings? I mean, take Simon. One moment he’s angry and shouting, the next it’s as if he’s simply left his body behind and gone somewhere. Some of the patients are like that all the time, never having lucid moments at all, and I’ve always wondered … where do they go?”
About the Author:
J Merrill Forrest’s deep interest in the supernatural is a major theme in her writing. For more than thirty years Jane has researched her subject, visiting psychics, mediums, Spiritualist churches and séances, always keeping an open and questioning mind, hunting down evidence.
At age 40, J Merrill Forrest followed her dream of going to university and gained a BA (Hons) in English Literature, and returned to academia ten years later to gain her MA in Creative Writing. It was during this time she began to work on her novel ‘Flight of the Kingfisher’, published in 2015, which deals with the emotive and polarising subject of life after death and introduced psychic medium Alex Kelburn. He returns in her latest novel, ‘The Waiting Gate’, the main theme of which is dementia and what happens to those who ‘disappear’ as the disease takes hold.
J Merrill Forrest is also the author of 'Orders from Above' published in 2013.