Its been a thrilling year for author Linda Alice Dewey, whose first book, Aarons Crossing, has received a blizzard of publicity from Michigans press since she penned the 232-page manuscript a year ago about her encounter with a ghost in an old cemetary near Glen Arbor.
Much of that is due to Deweys considerable hustle: sending out waves of press kits and review copies, establishing a an elaborate website, and generating stories and reviews in more than a dozen newspapers and magazines, including the Detroit Free Press.
But a savvy P.R. campaign alone doesnt move books, and its obvious from the ascendency of Aarons Crossing as a regional bestseller that Dewey has struck a nerve with local readers. Shes sold out her first run of 3,000 books, primarily through test marketing the novel/memoir in northwestern lower Michigan, and now shes heading for broader horizons. Currently, shes preparing for a downstate tour of Ann Arbor, Gross Pointe and Kalamazoo, followed by a national push this January through California, Arizona and onward.
Somewhere down the road, she hopes for an international bestseller, possibly a musical and a film, and definitely a follow-up book.
MOVING ON UP
In the meantime, the challenge for Dewey is growing acceptance of Aarons Crossing nationwide. The problem when youre working with a small publishing company is that if you get on Oprah, youd better have the stock out there for the readers, she notes.
But having the sizzle provides half the recipe of success, and at that end of the kitchen, Dewey has managed to tantalize readers. Ghost Whisperer is one of the hottest shows on TV right now, and thats just what I did, she says with a laugh.
That brings us to the plot of Aarons Crossing and how Dewey got involved. Born in Detroit and raised in a metaphysically-oriented family, Dewey practices a technique called spiritual listening.
Basically, that means tuning in to the voices of folks who are trapped in the afterlife in the form of ghosts.
I grew up with a fascination for it, she says of her spiritual sensitivity. And I think a lot of people have have a fascination possibly have a gift for it as well, like those people who have a deep fascination for music. It wasnt until I really started investigating deeper that I developed some skills.
That was in 1987 before she began co-facilitating a spiritual listening group in Glen Arbor. It was in 1991 that Dewey came across a 100-year-old cemetary where she began sensing the presence of Aaron Burke, a long-dead Irish farm worker. Aarons story gradually unfolded in Deweys thoughts: he claimed to have been kidnapped at the age of four by his father and brought to America. Years later, he abandoned his own children after the death of his wife to live a fairly miserable, solitary experience as a farm laborer. Killed in an accident, Aaron lingered on in
ghostville until Dewey established contact with him
and set him free of his guilty, grief-stricken burden.
Aarons Crossing is meant to be a heart-warming, uplifting tale of redemption, rather than a bloodcurdling ghost story. Needless to say, this is also a tale for true believers willing to be seduced by Aarons credibility.
All of which leads to the question of how spiritual listening is done:
What I learned to do -- and I have to say a word of caution because theres all kinds of stuff out there -- but what I do is clear a place in my mind for it and ask for divine protection or say a prayer, Dewey recounts. And I clear my thoughts and the words will come in. You can think youre imagining things, but the way you can tell youre not is that youll receive words and concepts that are not your own. Its what we call the Work with a capital W -- spiritual Work.
Working with ghosts requires keeping a lid on things.
You really have to put boundaries on contact with ghosts because they dont have boundaries and limits themselves and theyre desperate, she notes.
Dewey has had other encounters with ghosts since receiving Aarons tale and has indeed had to impose limits on the process if only because of the busy task of marketing her book.
Speaking of which, one of the pleasant side effects of her booksignings is that she has received dozens of stories from fans of their own encounters with the Other Side. Such as that of a woman who lives on Torch Lake near the purported site of an Indian uprising years ago, who gathers spectacular pictures of spooky visions at night.
Does she plan to have a follow-up book to Aarons Crossing, based on the many anecdotes shes gathered?
Definitely, she says. Whenever I go to a signing I have a file folder of releases and a tape recorder and I try to follow up on the phone. Thats what Dr. Raymond Moody did in the 70s, gathering life-after-life experiences. People usually dont want to talk about these things because our culture is very closed to spiritual matters. The rise of science in the 1900s made us throw away the knowing of such things, but that was like tossing the baby out with the bathwater.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, much less being able to communicate with them telepathically, theres no denying that Linda Alice Dewey spins a good yarn and is an engaging live wire. And its nice to know that somewhere, poor Aaron is smiling as news of his redemption climbs up the bestseller charts.