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.
Thank you for this interview, Paul. Let’s begin by having you tell us what kind of writer you are?
Don’t tell anyone, but in the quiet moments of my day and in secret times of contemplation I admit to myself that I am a horror writer. I balls out write horror. I clean it up and say I write psychological thrillers and dark fantasy; but, rock bottom its horror. It’s my own kind of horror that is quite different in many ways from what is out there in the marketplace. I see huge volumes with convoluted tales. The old horror master, my true inspiration and guiding lights, wrote without ungainly complexities. There was good and there was evil and they were set at life threatening odds with one another so that the reader was scared to death because they had secretly wondered if something like this could ever be or ever happen and the old masters brought that dark wondering out of the cupboard and set it loose on the earth. That’s what I do, can’t clean up except when I feel compelled to in professional and academic societies of clinical psychology and psychoanalysis. But, more and more I’m making my way out of the closet and saying plain and simple that I’m a horror writer. Yikes…there…I said it…wasn’t bad…tooo baaad…Yikes! You can see by my conflict how the only way for me to write is to unplug from this conflict and get down to the nitty gritty and be the horror man. This is what jazzes me and makes me write…pure, raw, human fear and horror..the stuff of this writer’s life.
What’s one of the most terrifying things about being a writer?
If I’m going to write a true story that resonates with my audience I have to live it out. It has to have been a part of my life. Since I write thrillers and dark fantasy, that means that dark forces that have been at play in my life or are presently in the works can be quite overwhelming. This is not a hands off enterprise. Writing cuts to the core of my life and life experience, relationships, profession, dream, and nightmares. If I could only research stuff from a distance and then write in a compelling way about that, that would be one thing; but as it is I have to live this out. The story is a living breathing thing within my life before it hits the page, and then once its on the page, and then on from there. The Unholy is about terrifying religious encounters. This is something that I was raised with, fought my own battles about, treated people for clinically, and finally found that I was smack dab in the middle of writing a story that could not be stopped. It had to come out. Frightening, very frightening to live this close to one’s work. There were times that it effected my family, and I had to wonder whether I should withdraw; but we all talked and I had their support. I have it now. The arms of creativity stretch long and influence oneself and others who are in the emotional and psychic vortex of one’s existence. The energy, the psychological amalgam, of this is so intense and persuasive that nothing short of challenging and amazing can be said to even faintly describe it.
What are some of the secrets about your favorite genre?
Secrets about your favorite genre. The greatest secret about the horror genre is that it is so multifarious and multiparadigmatic that it defies description. You get S. King with increasingly rich stories as he is ageing, a man who not only has lived and knows horror, but knows longing and love as is evident in his more mature stories written over the past few years especially Lisey’s Story. Then at the other end of the spectrum you get the rough and wild bad boy of horror, Edward Lee. The guy has some seriously demented characters that never ever can be redeemed. I mean what kind of character is the main character in Portrait of a Psychopath as a Young Woman? Horror is such a varied genre. In The Unholy you get more of a classic good guy and bad guy scenario but played out on a supernatural venue featuring the mythopoeic realm of Aztlan. This is a cultural realm with deep spiritual meaning for the mestizos of New Mexico. This is a story of church politics, culture, misogyny, and the struggle to find a sense of self within this multifarious and tormented drama. I don’t think anything short of a horror story (I won’t clean it up at this point by calling it a psychological thriller) could convey the terror of conflicting energies of culture, church, abandonment and the desperate need for courage in a world that seems like it has gone to hell in a church pew! I love horror and I love horror because it is so multifaceted, rich, and into extremes that pop out the realities behind the scenes of everyday life. That’s the secret of horror…it’s into extremes so as to express truth…if you got something to say, an old professor of mine used to quip, why not exaggerate to get the point across. Horror does that. The Unholy does horror and goes to extremes to pop out the reality behind what is observable.
Can you give us a day with you behind the scenes?
I get up at 3:45 am and write horror…actually I practice yoga for half an hour and call on the spirit world for guidance and direction, inspiration, for my day treating patients and for my writing. The inspiration often comes with an out-of-the-blue idea that I then tear off with onto the page. Everyday I like to write a little, without hope or despair as one writer said. I then have breakfast with my wife and read newsmedia for half an hour before seeing my first psychotherapy patient at seven am. I have full days of seeing patients Monday through Thursday then I write Friday through Sunday. I wake up ready to go, ready to engage in private psychotherapy practice, treating those who have suffered from the dark side of religion, to write about the drama of human life and individuals struggle to find themselves in the midst of dealing with a world loaded with dark energies and maleficent beings. There is so much in the course of one day to fill my life that I have to make sure and get time to heal myself, to relax, sink into marriage and family life. Ultimately, it’s the wonder of marriage and family life that grounds and heals me, keeps my feet on the ground, keeps me real and keeps me going! Without marriage and family there wouldn’t be the juice to keep moving the way I like to move, to live as I desire to live, and to write with the force and rage that is in me to write. The Unholy was a daily process over many years and all my stories are and will be daily processes over many years.