Author Interviews & Reviews

Interview with Author Eliza Blanchard

May, 2009

eliza-blanchard

Courtesy of Eliza Blanchard & Rocco Baviera

A Child’s Book of Blessings and Prayers by Eliza Blanchard has taken graces, blessings and prayers from around the world in a wondrous attempt to unite the children of the world through the common thread of spirituality. A Child’s Book of Blessings and Prayers is a must have for all children not only because of its beautiful illustration but its connection underlying connection to the oneness for us all.

* Available through the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

Price: $12.00 – http://www.uuabookstore.org/productdetails.cfm?SKU=4753
Interview with Eliza Blanchard

Pagan Pages (PP):
Who is Eliza Blanchard?

Eliza Blanchard (EB): I’ve worn a number of hats, but currently I’m a Unitarian Universalist minister, a helpmeet, and the mother of two young adults. I’ve loved reading, writing, religious questions and rituals since I was a child. I also enjoyed teaching, especially writing, to people from pre-kindergarten through adulthood.

PP: How did you come about writing the book, what was the inspiration behind it?

EB: I’ve taught religious education classes to children on and off since I was seventeen—like I said, I’ve been interested in religion for a long time and I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm. When my children were in high school I became the director of religious education for a Unitarian Universalist congregation. At a conference I got curious about the history and idea behind prayer. Since Unitarian Universalism is a non-creedal religion welcoming to atheists along with others, prayer has not been central in our more recent liturgies. During that time I also took part in a Unitarian Universalist woman’s group, female in theology, and we worked with blessings. So when a parent mentioned that she couldn’t find a U.U. book of prayers, it all came together.

PP: Why A Child’s Book of Blessings and Prayers?

EB: Later, when I became a minister, I wanted to know what I could do to support families with children in our tradition, and one parent in my congregation gave voice to a thought that had been brewing in me: Wouldn’t it be great to have a family resource to explore prayers and blessings? Why children? I think because children are especially interested in and needing guidance on questions of the spirit, like what can we do if we hurt someone,  where can we take our most joyful joys, how can we honor this gift of life, and where do we take our deepest sorrow.

PP: Why such a diverse collection?

EB: Given the Unitarian Universalist commitment to religious freedom and our embrace of a variety of sacred texts, my editor and I decided the book should include reflections of that diversity and our embrace of it. This collection offers parents and children a place to start a discussion, a place to begin a practice, and a plurality of languages and images with which to journey toward answers.

PP: How long have you been a Unitarian Universalist minister?

EB:
I’ve been a minister for almost five years. I felt called to ministry in mid-life, yet I never felt that it was a radical change from teaching. Teaching is a part of any ministry, as is learning, and doing both in a religious community is stimulating. It’s an exciting journey.

PP:
What led you to the Unitarian Universalist Association?

EB: Family. When my husband and I were ready to settle down and have children, we wanted to provide our children with a religious home as well. My husband suggested we try the Unitarian Universalist church in town because he felt we might find a community of fellow liberal religious seekers there. The congregation was welcoming and we laughed liberally during the first service we attended. That was a revelation! We knew we’d found what we were seeking for ourselves and our family.

PP: What was the most important thing to you when writing A Child’s Book of Blessings and Prayers?

EB: Most important to me was that this collection be diverse and yet accessible to families. That’s why some of the prayers and blessings, like the final “Day is done,” are familiar ones, while others, like the Jewish blessing “Be who you are,” may be new to readers. And that’s the reason I tried to find material that includes as many of the world’s religious traditions as possible. What was hardest was to leave some beautiful and helpful words out. Maybe there’s a sequel there!

PP: What do you hope will come from this book? Do you think that A Child’s Book of Blessings and Prayers will inspire the parents as well as the children into a more spiritual existence?

EB: I hope that people will enjoy and be comforted by this book. Rocco Baviera’s delightful illustrations draw us in, and the thoughts and feelings expressed bring forth that deep level of sharing that can nurture and sustain children and those who care for them.

Yes, experiencing prayers and blessings can be the start of a rich spiritual quest, an expansion of horizons and a greater appreciation for what we as human beings share in spite of different cultures and religions. We’ve included a bibliography at the back for anyone who wants to travel that path.

PP: Do you have any other works in progress? And if so will I get first shot at them? LOL

EB: I have several ideas, including writing a book of blessings and prayers for middle schoolers. In my research for this book, I found nothing that spoke to their moral and spiritual concerns. I am also planning to do a book of meditations on aging (and sage-ing). I will certainly let you know when they become a reality! And I want to thank you very much for this opportunity to share this books’ birth story.

Previous work:

The Paper Chain, by Eliza Blanchard, Kathy Parkinson and Claire Blake

Review from Amazon.com
“The Paper Chain is a wonderful book to help families cope with an ill parent. Beautifully illustrated with excellent coverage of the important issues, it is sensitive, realistic, insightful and practical. It is a book which would be helpful to many of the families we serve.” — Cancer Care, Inc. Carolyn Messner, ACSW Director of Education

Interview with Ghost Hunters International’s Barry Fitzgerald

May, 2009

barry

Courtesy of Barry Fitzgerald (2009)

For those of you that only know Barry Fitzgerald as an investigator of the Paranormal from Ghost Hunters International (GHI) may be surprised to know there is more to him than meets the eye. Barry is an avid photography and writer who is very proud of his Irish heritage and loves to show his I love for Ireland through his photography.  His new book entitled Journeys (Book of Photos) takes the reader on a wonderful journey through the vastness of the world showing nature in a way that has long since been forgotten. If you do only one thing for yourself I strongly suggest that you add a copy of this beautiful work of photographic artistry to you collection you will not be sorry.

~ Michele Burke, PaganPages.org
Journeys
Print: $33.70
http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=2555138


Interview with Barry Fitzgerald

Pagan Pages (PP): Who is Barry Fitzgerald the man??

Barry Fitzgerald (BF): People know me from the show but outside of the show I am a very different person but my favorite past time is photography, especially in the seldom quite times; my work can be seen in Journeys a sample of my work has already been published and a written book on the paranormal will soon reach the shelves with more planned coming behind. . I particularly like to share Ireland. I am very proud of Ireland and love to show others what I love so much. I am an uncle and love spoiling them as much as possible. Other than traveling for the show I like to stay home and recharge my batteries in the solitude of the forest.

PP: Can you explain to our readers what elemental spirits are? Are faeries elemental spirits? Have you had any personal experiences with elemental spirits or the Fae?

BF: Yes, I have experienced with both the Fae and Elemental spirits. Elemental spirits are powerful guardians of the natural world and should be respected The Fae are much like us they live as we do but on another plane.

PP: Do you believe elemental spirits exist?

BF: Oh yes…

PP: What are Faerie Thorns and have you had any experience with them?

BF: Oh God there is a huge population of them they are connection to the underworld the thorn is a way for the faeries to connect with our realm, we never cut them down. A lot of people outside of Ireland would laugh at this but it is better to be safe than sorry.

The Fairy thorn is generally small scraggly trees that in some places look like no more than a finger sticking up from the ground. Farmers generally leave them untouched as it is better to be safe than sorry because there have been too many instances of bad luck associated with the moving of them. That is one reason they remain sacred here in Ireland.

PP: Most people I know think Faeries are these flighty little creatures like tinker bell, what would your description be?

BF: They come in all different sizes and forms in Scotland they are seen in processions marching in all different sizes. Whenever I see tinker bell on TV it annoys me to no end in that it is not true to what they are; Pan’s Labyrinth a Spanish film which can be found at http://www. panslabyrinth.com/ and is a winner of three academy awards is more representational of the Fae than that which Walt Disney tried to do and can be reflected in the movie in all its spender and horror at the same time for those that are not wary. Pan’s Labyrinth and the earth spirit kingdom is a much better description of them than tinker bell

PP: How many different breeds of nature spirits are there?

BF: I honestly could not answer that there are too many to count.

PP: I would be very interested in hearing your take on Lisheen the haunted house in Sligo what experience if any did you have there?

BF: Lisheen itself was built on behalf of an archeologist who kept mummies in the basement form Egypt that is when the activity allegedly began. However, whey back at when the house was initial constructed there the evidence leaned more toward the Fae causing the activity. Lisheen itself means faery ring. Behind the Rath has always been seen as a place the Fae would come too. Whenever I look at the Rath I see that it is connected to the Fae. On one investigation at Lisheen with Ghost Hunters a face appeared near the Rath and as quick as it did it was gone.

PP: What lead you to the field of the Paranormal?

BF: When I was five years old I experienced my first paranormal experience. It was Christmas eve and I was supposed to be asleep but I heard something downstairs, I thought it was Santa so I started out to go down stairs when much to my surprise I was meet by an apparition of a man that definitely was not Santa. I went back to bed shaken but in the morning the presents from Santa were there. I have been interested in the field of the paranormal ever since.

PP: How do you like working with GHI?

BF: Working with GHI is very different it is a wonderful experience understanding other people and the research is great. I love the travel and meeting people regardless of the time we are away from our families. I have the greatest respect for those who have families and are away from them but I love working with GHI and hopefully it will continue for a long time.

PP: Can you tell the readers a little about your new book Journeys?

BF: The book has been designed in an attempt to allow the reader the ability to reconnect with nature in ways which the modern western man has forgotten. The pictures inside were captured during my journey’s around the world whilst filming; these photos expose a side to life which is not so busy, locations which seemed to rest outside our man made rat race and in those moments I believe captured the essence of life, a life which most have forgotten.

Bountiful Blessings and thanks go out to Barry Fitzgerald for granting the pagan pages readers and I such a magnificent interview.

Works of Barry Fitzgerald:

Fitzgerald, B. (2008). Journeys. (First Edition). Publisher: Barry Fitzgerald, United Kingdom

Coming soon: A written book on the paranormal