The short answer is because I like literature that includes the paranormal or the supernatural. From Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw to Steven King or Anne Rice: they are the books I most enjoy.
This used to embarrass me, because after all I have degrees in English lit from Stanford and Brown.
However, for pure entertainment and the firing of my imagination, give me Anne Rice’s Lestat or even the wraiths of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.
So if this is what I find most entertaining, this is what I should want to write, right?
However, that is the short answer, not the complete one.
To me, the paranormal is not just something fanciful. The paranormal repesents a subtler level of reality, as real as the worlds of material objects, of emotions, or of thoughts through which we move.
Every once and awhile I see reality through a celluloid film strip, which is running a movie of events happening at a subtler level. I can shift my focus to watch this movie — as if I’m dreaming wide awake — or shift again and pay attention to the tables, chairs, people, and obstacles around me.
As a child, I would wake in the night, and find myself surrounded by spectral, but harmless, presences. Watching them was an entertainment. Then I’d fall asleep again.
When this happened at Stanford, in the middle of Introduction to Psychology at two in the afternoon, I found myself in a strange land and it was suddenly the middle of the night. The campus pomegranate trees had transformed the courtyards into a magical and exotic land out of the Arabian nights.
I was admitted to the Stanford clinic and diagnosed as an acute schizophrenic, until a wiser Stanford psychologist, a disciple of R.D. Laing, said these “shifts” were temporary, and if I were in a earlier culture, I would be isolated from the tribe and put into a training program to become a shaman or witch doctor.
The attraction of those naturally ocurring experiences soon had me experimenting with drugs: a lot of LSD. During my trips I traveled to the places my celluloid film strip hinted at.
In time, however, the drugs were no longer a ticket to the astral, and they had taken a physical toll: sleep deprivation, lack of exercise, indigestion, etc.
I, by that time, knew that meditation was the prefered vehicle for tripping, but because of the damage drugs had done to my nervous system, it took years before I had experiences that even approached the intensity of what had happened at Stanford. Also, meditation taught me that although the trips were glamorous, I had a body for a reason and that reason was to do things in this world, the physical, and not to escape into these sublter realms.
Now I abstain from drugs and I meditate, and my first-line contact with the astral/paranormal/supernatural has become my writing. My plots and characters come when I let go and allow them to. And, to my delight, my fiction reveals meanings my intellect could never discover.
I write about the supernatural because that is what has been given to me to write.
I fought it for a long time, trying to write what would be more acceptable to the literary establishment. However, for me, there was no joy, no fun, in that.
So I gotta go where I gotta go, and hope some of you are interested in coming along.