Monday, December 5, 2016

Ryan Sprague / author interview

Author and friend Ryan Sprague just published a book of UFO accounts. It's titled Somewhere in the Skies, and subtitled A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon. The focus of his research has been the very personal side of these complex experiences. The book is set up as a series of short stories, each account digs into the emotional side of this enigma. 

I play a small role in this book. Ryan and I had met a few times over the years, either at the UFO Congress in Arizona, or in the streets of Greenwich Village in New York. I was always struck by just how earnest and open he was. I also sensed he was approaching the bigger mystery not as a pragmatic researcher, but more as an artist. This is something I relate to strongly.

We exchanged a few emails in and created a short interview. I know what it means to try to try and promote a book, and this one is highly recommended. Ryan reads the opening chapter of the book in an audio excerpt, linked HERE.

  more about Somewhere in the Skies HERE  

Mike Clelland: I remember we had a conversation while you were working on the book. You mentioned some advice, your publisher, Richard Dolan had given you. If I remember correctly, he said don't write the introduction until you've finished the book. Meaning your ideas will change during the project. What did you think you were getting into in the onset—and what changed along the way?

Ryan Sprague: When I first wrote my initial introduction, I came to realize that I was already inducing pre-conceived notions into the main body of research. I was subconsciously creating a bias towards certain aspects of these phenomena by constructing limitations from the onset. It was naive, and it was apparent. So I decided that I would leave writing the introduction until the very last draft of the manuscript. What lessons had I learned in the two years of interviews and research, and I could I then apply those to the first words of the book that anyone would read? What I thought was going to be a rather straight-forward book of witness testimony and accounts soon turned into a much more poignant and deeply personal journey through the hearts and minds of so many people having extraordinary experiences. 

MC: You must have talked to a fair number of people at this point. Do you have any sort of internal lie detector? I mean, some things sound extremely strange. Do you trust everything in the book?

RS: I stand by every story told in this book. After having interviewed hundreds of individuals, I must admit that it was both daunting, frustrating and disenchanting at times. But as I navigated through and endless maze of stories, I began to find very compelling and genuine people who had absolutely no reason to make these stories up. There was no financial gain. No book or movie deals to be had. These were people with friends, family, and communities who believed them, supported them, and listened to them. Whatever may have happened, they firmly believed it to be true, and it impacted their lives in countless ways. And those few dozen stories I tell in the book are most definitely the ones I feel in my heart or hearts are authentic and worth continued exploration. 

MC: You have documented some things that have a depth that goes beyond just a scary encounter. People described spiritual aspects, an how things seemed connected to their own soul. Here is a quote from Chapter 12.

“Our eyes, minds, and souls are being opened,” 
Patty told me.

You realize some researchers out there are repelled by this side of the phenomenon. What is your impression with these spiritual aspects of the stories?

RS: The spiritual aspect is something I wasn't expecting when I first started my research. I always looked at this phenomenon from two sides; Scientific and Philosophical. So when I started noticing a healthy amount of these individuals viewing their experiences this way, I knew I had to at least keep an open mind and look into it. 
What I found most interesting is that some were very spiritual and/or religious before their experience, and this was the lens in which they perceived what had happened. Others, who had no previous religious beliefs began to believe in a higher power thereafter. There have been so many reports throughout history of aerial objects piercing the skies, and many times these were viewed as miracles. Could some of UFO reports or abduction experiences be a divine intervention of sorts? I can't say, but for those who choose to see it that way, I would never fault them. It only opens the doors of possibility with what we may be dealing with. Or perhaps only a fraction of what we're dealing with. 

  click the "Read more" link below to see the rest of it.  


MC: your partner Jane was the editor, and she got to follow these stories very closely, albeit second hand through you. What was her impression of your journey thru this book?

RS: Jane is a very level-headed individual, and besides being my partner, I can honestly say she is one of the most intelligent people I have ever come into contact with. That being said, her openness to these topics says a lot about not only their possibility, but their probability. She, as so many others, agree that there is most certainly life elsewhere amongst the stars. Now whether or not that life is intelligent and has indeed visited this planet is something we continue to debate on a daily basis. But the one thing we both agree on fully is that those I interviewed most definitely had something life altering occur, and it unarguably changes them in many different ways. 
In her editing, she would often come to me and ask for clarification on some of the direct quotes from experiencers. I would then go to the expreriencers and request clarification. And often, there was no way to make these severely bizarre experiences make sense. And this is what lay at the heart of these mysteries. Those experiencing them struggle to make sense of what happened to them. And I can only imagine that it is very difficult to do when nobody believes you or they flat-out refuse to listen. Jane and I were willing to listen. No matter how “out there” it may have seemed. It impacted us both in many ways. Ways we are both personally still trying to put into words. Only time will tell. 

I found the story of the event at the drive-in movie absolutely fascinating. Did you make any effort to find out if there are any other witnesses around from that night? I realize that story is over 40 years old, and digging into this would be terribly challenging, but did you just document the story Scott told you?

RS: I did attempt to look further into the incident but had no luck finding anyone else from that night. I searched local newspaper for any reports on the event, and came up short. While this may turn some people away from Scott's testimony, it only strengthened by empathy for him. The man is genuine and had absolutely no reason to make this up. So I personally believe that whatever occurred that night succeeded in making everyone else completely forget. But not Scott. It took a simple trigger of a UFO image to make something click. I look forward to any development he may come up with. 

MC: I am assuming you used email as a tool. I mean, having witnesses recounting their experiences and then having a tidy bit of text to quote from. Was this part of your process? (I ask because I did it extensively in my books)

RS: Most interviews were done through email for the simple reason that I wanted to capture the voice of the individual through their own writing. I realized early on that face-to-face interactions, or even phone and Skype conversations would yield very precise results, but were terribly time-consuming to transcribe. And while I did do this often, I found email to be the most beneficial, convenient, and most honest way to get to the core of what these people wanted to tell me. Many could argue this process, but it most definitely worked for me.

MC: How did you find all these stories? What I’m asking next is a leading question, but did synchronicity play a role in how you connected with the people you write about in the book?

RS: I first started reaching out to other researchers to see if they had any compelling sightings, encounters, or abduction testimony that they felt I could further research. This led me to several of the people in the book. I then used social networking to reach out to various groups. Others I had met at UFO conferences or at Experiencer support groups. Having worked with OpenMinds Production at their IUFOC conference every year, I was able to meet so many people. It was a matter of then trying to track them down and see if they'd be interested in being interviewed. I can say that not one single person came to me asking me to tell their story, which made me feel good that those in the book were not seeking attention. This made the stories I compiled much more genuine to me, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

MC: Were you really as scared as you described during your stay with me and Andrea?

RS: The only time I was truly terrified was when the events in the bedroom were occurring. I felt trapped in some sort of bubble. Jane wouldn't wake up (She is a severely light sleeper), the room was completely silent (Except the tapping on the second story window) and everything felt very slow around me even though my heart was racing This all culminated into an almost dream-like state to me, yet I was full awake. I felt my feet on the hardwood floor. I wiped sweat from my forehead. And I could smell the air in the room. Flashes of Rachel's experiences with the dark figures kept creeping into my mind. I honestly felt that whatever I was hearing from Rachel was now latching on to me. And I was powerless against it. When Tom arrived and told Rachel to let the fear go and that it was an opening for these beings, and all she had to do is close that door... I knew that I had to do the same. The rest of that weekend was absolutely perfect after I decided to push the fear aside. 

MC: I am 54, and I feel like the youngest person in the room at most UFO related events. What was it like being so young in a field dominated by gray haired old fogies?

RS: I struggle with being on the “younger” side of the field. I never truly understood why this was the case. The UFO question is one of the most exciting things I can personally imagine. And it pains me to think that I am one of the youngest researchers. But the way I see it is that I am on the younger side only because I have made myself visible at this point and put my voice out there, love it or hate it. I know many younger people who are just as fascinated by this topic. They just choose to keep it to themselves and do their research underground. I commend them on this. It strips away any risk of seeking attention or wanting to always be the “smartest one in the room.” 
I see many younger people bringing extremely fresh perspectives to the UFO and experiencer debate, and this is where I am focussing my attention right now. This is no longer just a nuts-and-bolts field. Nor is it any longer a boy's club. The amount of female researchers out there is growing in droves, and their detailed, credible information is not only exciting and a breath of fresh air, but essential to the progression of this field. While I deeply respect the old guard of Ufology, and would be absolutely nowhere without their information and support, there needs to be a new guard to shake things up every once in a while. I must also add that the “old guard” is actually much more inviting than most would think. You just have to have something compelling to make them say, “Huh... I've never thought of that before.”

MC: What’s next on your list of UFO projects?

RS: I recently completed work on an extended essay which will be featured amongst many other researchers in and out of the UFO arena in a new book. Further information should be available in the coming new year. Otherwise, I am gearing up for my first ever talk at the 2017 IUFOC (International UFO Congress) in February. More info can be found at the linked HERE.
Meanwhile, I am working on several plays here in New York City, some of which actually involve the UFO phenomenon. For more information, you can visit me at the book site, HERE.

Here's a bit more:
I should add that for any paperback or E-Book versions of Somewhere in the Skies ordered from December 1st – January 31st,  25% of Ryan's personal profits will be donated to The Women's Refugee Commission. Ryan said, "This organization holds a special place in my heart for displaced female youths and refugees seeking medical assistance, employment, and a safe place to live." More info can be found HERE.

The opening chapter from Somewhere in the Skies, read by the author.



Anonymous said...

Womens refugee commission and UFO's.REALLY !!

Ryan Sprague said...

It is a cause I believe in greatly. And one I found most essential right now. I hope that clarifies thing for you.