Jason Offutt has been an Examiner columnist for the last 10 years. He is a former Examiner editor, author of a new book, his third, titled “Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us,” and instructor of journalism at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville. Offutt’s column “As I Was Saying” is published each Saturday in The Examiner, and “From the Shadows: Amazing Tales of the Paranormal” is published on Wednesdays. His books can be found at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and Borders.
1 Your new book “Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us” has just been published. What is it about? It’s about a specific paranormal entity called a Shadow Person. Their appearance and behavior generally rule out ghosts as an explanation. And they’re seen all over the world.
2 You also have a weekly column in The Examiner – “From the Shadows” – with the same topic. Is your book a collection of some of the stories from the column and how do you get the ideas to write about? Only a small handful of stories have appeared in my column. The rest are from interviews and responses to my blog, from-the-shadows.blogspot.com. I rarely have to generate ideas; people from all over the planet contact me with their stories.
3 As a former journalist and now a university journalism instructor, sometimes the stories seem hard to believe. Do you believe the personal stories people tell you and how can you sort them out from someone trying to fool you? As a journalist (my column and books are still journalism, albeit paranormal journalism), I have a pretty good BS detector. I have plenty of stories that never made it into my column because they were just too unbelievable.
4 You also write a humor column for The Examiner called “As I Was Saying,” about being a dad and normal family life. Is it hard to continuously generate new topics to write about? Absolutely. Humor is the hardest thing to write and coming up with workable topics every week is rough. But when my 2-year-old pours a bucket of sand over her head, the column kind of writes itself.
5 Are you working on new projects, and if so, tell us about it? My next book, “Within 100 Miles: What’s Outside Your Back Door?” is a collection of paranormal stories I found within 100 miles of my house. It’s currently at the publisher and should be released in 2010. I’m also writing a book of general strangeness tentatively entitled “Paranormal Missouri” due to the publisher in November.