One Man’s Journey Into the Paranormal in this Book Review…

13 Dec

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Beyond the Fray Publishing
Spoiler Alert

I Want To Believe: One Man’s Journey Into The Paranormal is more like two. The title may well have some people curious, because the meme is straight from X-Files. We can blame the UFO poster Mulder had in his office in the tv show, The X-Files.

In Jason Hewlett‘s case, I imagine the poster in his office is either The Others or Changeling. He’s a Kamloops-based film critic, reporter and radio producer whose lifelong passion for the paranormal has taken him down many roads. In this book’s case, perhaps it’s to give a realistic view of what goes on in paranormal investigations. This primary author’s journalism skill serves him well, as the details are told matter of fact. He’s interviewed his friend, Peter Renn, who’s now the leader of Canadian Paranormal Foundation. He was formerly with the Vancouver Paranormal Society, but has recently passed the reins since he’s relocated to the interior of British Columbia.

The two share a passion. Each of them had a paranormal experience which defined why they are heavily invested in figuring out what the afterlife is about. This intro is necessary because when we don’t know the personalities–personal problems et al–then why follow their cases?

A bit of general folklore is given and it’s mostly flavour text to help new readers learn about the mysteries like why some hauntings occur at 3am and the number 666 is often feared. Even I learned something new about the latter! At haunted locations, the reactions are more often of surprise at something happening (it’s better to go in not expecting activity to happen than not) than a “Dude, Run” (as made famous in Ghost Hunters on SyFY)–although it’s no spoiler and not surprising that a few of Renn’s investigative friends have done that.

Whether an encounter takes place at a museum or someone’s home, there’s often a reason behind the activity. There’s no clear conclusions either–especially in this hobby–and neither do they say it’s a trade. In what this book offers are details of how close they got and it’s often personal experiences which says it all. Every case these two have been in are backed up with video or audio recordings. However, to release this type of multimedia presentation means a lot of red tape and contractual deals with the many organizations involved. One day that multimedia book will come, and I’m hoping these two have plans for it.

The focus on Renn is because he’s been investigating longer than Hewlett. The former (pictured left) has been active for more than 25 years now! Readers get to know his life. He moved from Great Britain to Australia (and back) with his interest in looking for ghosts always in tow. He later relocated to Canada, and made the interior of British Columbia his home. By day, he’s a Construction Project Manager and by night, usually weekends, he’s out documenting ghostly activity.

He met Hewlett a few years ago when he was still with the VPS. This organization had a recruitment drive and these two hit it off quite well. Hewlett had some weirdness go on in his life, and he wanted answers, hence joining.

Renn’s day job helps him afford to buy the fancy gear and pay any fees (including insurance) involved to hit up many famous and no-so-famous locales. The Baillie House (Merritt), The Orpheum (Vancouver) and the Maritime Museum of BC (in Victoria) are just an example of the many places in this province he’s gone to– which are recounted in this book. I was invited to participate in the Maritime vigil in 2013, and was excited to hear one of the EVPs he got when we reviewed the evidence at the venue.

The thing with investigating the paranormal is that eventually the media (wanting to put someone in the spotlight) will come knocking and it’s no surprise Renn got the call. He doesn’t care about being on television or fame, and Hewitt’s prose says it all. This book has its own hidden purpose—if you want to become a paranormal investigator, it’s best to leave your ego at home. Hewlett and Renn’s friendship develops in the later chapters, and it’s their mutual understanding of each other (and Hewlett’s better media contacts) which saw them hook up with JoBlo.com to fashion their own type of paranormal reality program.

It’s awesome to see them wanting to produce their own show. They only have themselves to be accountable to rather than the advertisers or producers. Yes, there’s terrific production value in the bumpers and scoring, but ultimately, when you’re watching them investigate, what you read in this book and see in their I Want to Believe show on YouTube are the same. You’re not going to get high-end experiences all the time.

But when you do, some of the anecdotes revealed in this book are good zingers!

5 Stars out of 5

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