This is Part 2 of an interview with paranormal author Barbara Parks. View Part 1 here >
Barbara is a spiritual medium and as a teenager lived through some truly terrifying experiences.
In her twenties and thirties, Barbara established a busy podiatry practice, and yet her connection to spirit persisted. In her late thirties, she wrote a memoir: In the Presence of Spirits.
Barbara’s remarkable story has inspired many people to open up and share their own spiritual experiences with her, some of which are included in her subsequent books.
Now, with understanding and compassion, Barbara helps lost souls pass over into the light, and offers comfort to people grieving departed loved ones with messages of hope: love never dies.
Here, in Part 2 of my interview, Barbara Parks describes her recent spiritual encounters, and the valuable insights gained from writing and publishing spiritual books. Welcome, Barbara!
I’ve learnt that I’m stronger than I thought I was. I can always bring myself back to view life from a spiritual perspective…
At first, I was advised to write under a pseudonym lest it adversely affects my professional career as a podiatrist. I was told I would lose credibility by claiming paranormal experiences and a belief in spirits and the other side.
However, I didn’t entertain doing that for a moment because to me, that’s a lie. If I’m going to stand behind my work, my experiences, and my beliefs, I need to put my name behind them.
If people don’t like that, that’s their problem, not mine. And, as far as my medical-based career goes, it hasn’t affected it one bit!
My first book, In the Presence of Spirits, is about my early life and my experiences with the paranormal. It starts by sharing the terrifying aspects of that, and how I came to accept what I was experiencing and evolved to the point where I am now.
If I could rewrite my history, I would never ever exclude that aspect of my life. If I had to go through it again, as I am now, I would love to because I would handle it so differently.
In fact, a couple of years ago, I had a poltergeist follow me home so that brought it all up.
He was in our house for a matter of two or three weeks and just having the wisdom of age, and with everything I’ve learned, I was able to approach this soul very lovingly, whereas years before I would have run out of the house screaming!
I’d be lying to say that I wasn’t a little bit scared because I didn’t know if I would have the strength to move him on and clear my home. But I was able to do that, by projecting love and compassion to this soul rather than fear and rejection.
I wrote about him in my second book, Embracing the Spirits. His name is Ted and he’s the star of my first two chapters. I actually came to feel very warm towards Ted and had pity for him because he’d been in this state for over 70 years.
I changed my thinking towards a poltergeist by imagining him as the newborn little boy that he was many years ago, and how sad it was that he ended up being an angry lost spirit, residing in a crumbling old hotel.
I used to pray for Ted every night and rather than lying in bed and saying a quick prayer as is my custom, I would actually kneel next to the bed so he could see me and I’d pray out loud so he could feel love and that someone cared for him. I told him that his loved ones were waiting for him in the light, and there was no need for him to be cowering.
He hadn’t lived the best life, he was a violent alcoholic and as is often the case, people who feel they’ve not done well in their lives don’t always cross easily because they’re fearful of judgement and being cast in the fires of hell. So, I assure them that that’s not the case and that light, love, and healing await them and they really deserve it.
It took me six months to write the first draft of the manuscript for my first book but there was a lot more work afterward. The motivation was there because I felt passionate about it. I didn’t have to rack my brain trying to find what I was going to write about, my story was there.
I would write regularly, late at night when the kids were in bed or early in the morning – I’d get up at 4.30 am. I remember certain chapters where I’d get up and sit by the fire, in the wee small hours, and it was beautiful. Sometimes I’d change my routine and go and write in a book cafe, there’s one in South Perth.
I also had writing goals, whether it was 1,000 words or 2,000 words in a session. I’d say to myself, I’m going to write this chapter, this is what I’m going to write about, and I’ll write it today – that worked really well.
I didn’t have an agent. I sent my manuscript to three publishers – one local Western Australian publisher, one national publisher in Sydney, and one international publisher in America.
The international publisher was the biggest and oldest publisher in the genre and they accepted unsolicited manuscripts. The local publisher said no thank you and the national one… I’m still waiting.
The international publisher responded within six weeks, and I still remember the wonderful feeling of opening my email on a Saturday morning and the editor saying that they were interested in my manuscript, however, could I write an additional 20,000 words. To which I said, “Yes, of course.”
It was a very, very long process. From that first email, it took about two years until my book, In the Presence of Spirits, got published. There was a lot of toing and froing and miscommunication.
Even though my publisher had a publicity team, the marketing was left up to me. I organised my book launch at a local performing arts centre which I thoroughly enjoyed. I arranged every interview for myself. I held spirit contact evenings. I did talks and presentations. It was all me.
I then wrote, Embracing the Spirits which is about how I evolved from a frightened woman in my 20s to where I am now, my more recent spiritual experiences, and those of my patients. It was published by the same publishing house and again, the marketing of it was entirely my concern.
That’s what largely made me realise that I didn’t need a publisher, hence my latest book, Surrounded by Spirits was self-published.
Really, getting a publishing deal is validation for yourself and a stroke of the ego, but to up-and-coming authors, I would say traditional publishers are concerned with selling the book and making money. They’re not too concerned with the author and how they think or feel, and I found that out the hard way.
Do it yourself, and get it done how you want. You don’t need someone to tell you that you’re a good writer – know you are. Either way, you’ve got to push your work, so why not do it yourself and benefit.
For my third book, I did something called NaNoWriMo which is National Novel Writing Month. It’s a worldwide online event in November where writers commit to writing 50,000 words in a month and I did that.
I think it works out to 2,000 plus words a day. I stuck to that. Sometimes I exceeded that. Sometimes I didn’t quite hit it. By November 30th I had 52,000 words.
I then approached author Leila Summers who self-published and established a business offering publishing support. I totally handballed her the intricacies and she was very professional and very affordable – I was amazed. I can’t recommend her highly enough.
She did everything – editing, book cover, and got me onto Amazon via CreateSpace.
One thing I really enjoyed about the self-publishing process was that I got to choose the image for the cover of my book. With my traditionally published books, I had no say whatsoever.
With Leila, it was great to be involved with the formatting of the book. In my second book, the photos were too small. I’d be discussing an orb with my readers that couldn’t even be seen and it made me look foolish.
That was not the case in Surrounded by Spirits which is a continuation of my more recent experiences, like the loss of my brother-in-law two years ago, on New Year’s Day. His visits provided me and my family with so much comfort.
I’ve received beautiful feedback from all around the world which is really heartening. Even one email from someone saying that I’ve taken away their fear or grief can leave me on a high for weeks.
In this day and age, with the internet, email, and Facebook, it’s easy to be in contact with your readership, which is wonderful, and I make an effort to respond to everyone.
Overall, it’s been a very positive experience. I’m just happy when my time comes and I’m gone, to leave this legacy of books that shows we are so much more than flesh and blood – that everyone is surrounded and protected by spirits.
Thanks, Barbara Parks! If you’re a writer it can be difficult to know which publishing pathway is right for you and it’s particularly helpful when authors share their lived experiences. If you’d like to get in touch with Barbara you can do so here.
Have you ever had a spiritual encounter that terrified you? I’d love to know!