PAUL DeBLASSIE III, PhD, is a psychologist and writer living in his native New Mexico. A member of the Depth Psychology Alliance, the Transpersonal Psychology Association, and the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, he has for over thirty years treated survivors of the dark side of religion.
His latest book is the psychological/paranormal thriller, The Unholy.
About the Book:
A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, “The Unholy” is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.
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Thanks for this interview, Paul. I love psychological paranormal thrillers! Can you give us a little background behind The Untholy?
The story comes out of over thirty years of treating patients in psychotherapy who are survivors of the dark side of religion…have been used and abused and cast to the side. I’ve seen that when this happens people, those around the victim, to include family and friends, often turn a blind eye and deny what has happened. Rather than writing a self help book I decided to approach this realm of human suffering in fiction. To tell a story moves the reader into a deep and unconscious dimension that bypasses conscious defenses, leaving us open to truths that otherwise would be blocked. So, dramatizing the dark side of religion, pulling what can be the most vile and evil, and pivoting it against an innocent and sincerely searching soul leaves the reader on edge, hopeful, but unsure as to what will happen and who in the end will survive…a truth conveyed symbolically and dramatically. To have written out a list of what to do or not to do in the midst of religious abuse might have helped some individuals, but would have left many people stone cold because there is no emotion is such guidance. In The Unholy, the story is pure emotion, fear and rage and hope and challenge, that inspires and frightens and causes us to stay up late at night in order to finish the story. Dream and chronic nightmares plagues people who’ve gone through the horror of being abused within a religious system. It could be emotional, spiritual, physical, or sexual torment—or all of the above—a true encounter with the unholy—that people undergo during childhood or adolescence or adulthood. They become anxious, depressed, or suffer a terrible emotional breakdown. I’ve treated them, helped them, and they helped to inspire the story of The Unholy!
You are such a busy person. How do you balance everything and write, too?
It’s a matter of listening to the energy coming from self, family, and friends so that nothing tips more one way than the other and the creative juices stay flowing rather than being depleted by excessive writing and are therefore constantly in a state of being replenished. I had a music teacher who once told me to practice or play up to the point that I feel bored, that the energy for it has been spent, and then to stop for the day. That’s what I do with writing. I stay with it, hit the page running each day, and go for as long and with as much intensity as I have for the scene that I’m writing. Then, I stop. And, if I don’t stop I’ll have nightmare that night that I’m being seduced and used by the muse and that such a thing could lead to utter ruination. There are horror stories about this. Writers in the stories feel the tug to write, the muse senses that someone is taking the bait and then the writer is hooked and reeled in. So, if I let myself be hooked and reeled in then I lose my balance. There is something to being hooked and reeled of course, but the true and balanced thing of it happens when it comes from a hook and a reeling that is my own and not one that causes me to be possessed by something other than my own common sense. After all, what matters is the living of life, and living a good one to the best of one’s ability, writing only a part of that.
Where do you get ideas from?
Ideas come from the deep repository of the collective unconscious mind that inspires images and symbols during the fantasies of waking life and during dreams and nightmares. Mainly, it’s the nightmare stuff that bodes best for writing psychological thrillers and dark fantasy such as is in The Unholy. When I wake up in a cold sweat with the characters of the novels threatening me (I remember when Archbishop William Anarch, sinister prelate in The Unholy tormented me for nights on end, demanding that I not write the story) that’s when I know that real inspiration is flowing and that to listen to it and follow the images and symbols that emerge from my deep, unconscious mind during sleep and during the reverie of writing the story will end up in the development of spine tingling realities that jettison both me as the writer and the reader into phantasmagoric realms that have a way of shaking up conscious mindsets and get our heads blown out in a very, very unsettling but ultimately useful way. My writing, in other words, comes from an inner place of torment that needs to be let out so it can be set right. When mind stuff is set right inside me I can feel it by sensing a quality of being at peace, that I’ve written to the best of my ability and been true to the deep, archetypal energies swirling through my mind during the narrative. It really is a trip to listen to ideas, let them become images, and suddenly have them take over a page. It’s like the pages catch fire and everyone has come to life and things become disorderly, fraught with conflict, and danger looms.