One to One – Henry Tischler
Interview with Whitley Strieber, Breakthrough: The Next Step
June 27, 1995

Whitley Strieber seems like a troubled man. You would be too, if you had frequent encounters with aliens. Since 1985, Strieber has had a series of encounters with strange, fierce, and quite amazing creatures who did not appear to bear any resemblance to earthly life.
     Strieber wrote about these experiences in two previous books Communion, and Transformation. In 1989 he withdrew from public life, saying he would not return until he had something truly new to say. That same year he also received what he called “strikingly convincing proof that the visitors were real.”
     Now, Strieber is back because he is convinced that the visitors are not an evil force. Their intent is to direct us toward a power that lies undiscovered within us. If we change in the way that the visitors suggest, a new world awaits us.
     According to Strieber, these visitors posses superior knowledge, which may at times seem like magic. But, it is not magic, it is a whole new combination of mind and science. Originally, the visitors wanted to share their powers with the government, but instead the government denied their existence. Because the government response was hostile the visitors and Strieber have now taken their case to the public in Whitley Strieber's latest book Breakthrough: The Next Step. (HarperCollins $23)

TISCHLER: You are an expert in an area that has few experts. Tell us about the experiences that have caused you to write this book.

STRIEBER: I was dragged into this business unexpectedly about 10 years ago when I woke up in the middle of the night and found myself confronted in a scene the likes of which I had never seen before nor understood.
     I was in a small room being peered at by faces that were long and thin and had large slanted black eyes. I experienced great personal panic for a period of seconds or minutes, leaving me with some injuries, most notably the one on the side of my head. I then went black.
     I woke up the next morning under the assumption that I had had some kind of bad dream or hallucination. Over the next few days the side of my head and the other injuries, started to hurt quite a bit and I went to the doctor. I had a series of neurological tests and a psychiatric examination. Eventually, I was placed under hypnosis. The memories became more defined, but still did not know what had happened to me.
     As a result I began to do research and found that among UFO believers, there were many people who had similar experiences that were described as contact with aliens. Eventually I wrote a book about it. There are two groups of people interested in this topic. On the one hand there are the UFO believers who think the government is covering up the truth about alien contact. On the other hand, there are the skeptics who believe it is all nonsense.
     I originally was in the middle and consequently was attacked by both sides. To the skeptics, I became the arch UFO believer. To the UFO believer I was anathema, because I would not support their ideas. This made for a very difficult couple of years in my life, but the side effect was that my book sold very well.

TISCHLER: Who was buying your book?

STRIBER: Everybody else. The skeptics and UFO believers wouldn't hear of buying my book.
     People out there by the thousands, who were not involved in this issue, bought the book because they recognized the face of the cover. I received 140,000 letters from people around the world who had some kind of encounter like the one I had. It was a fantastic experience to read these letters and I was more mystified than before.

TISCHLER: Today you have reached the point where you now believe there are beings among us. Where are these beings from?

STRIEBER: I believe I have proof that these experiences are outside of the human mind. We are not imagining them. I treat the visitors as if they are real. I do not know where they are from.

TISCHLER: Is it possible that we could have encountered some of these visitors in our activities today?

STRIEBER: It almost never happens during the day. These beings never just walk into your life.

These experiences are generally at night when the person is awakened from a sleeping state. Often it happened to single individuals.

TISCHLER: Are they different then ghosts?

STRIEBER: The experiences do spill over into out-of-body experiences, past life recollections, and the seeing of dead friends and relatives. I even had a remarkable experience myself – I was at my cabin with 11 people in the house. There was a whooshing sound in the house and then a blue light flashed. Some people congregated in the living room and then found themselves in a paralyzed state with three small figures standing in the room.
     In the basement a man and a woman were sleeping and the woman was awakened by something tapping on the bed. She opened her eyes and saw an old friend who had died. It was so vivid that she though the woman maybe hadn't really died and was really there. The woman says, “I am really dead, but I just wanted to let you know that I am very well,” and disappears. Meanwhile the visitors upstairs disappear, also.
     What does all of this mean? It means that there was a remarkable series of perceptions that took place, the origins of which are unknown.

TISCHLER: How has all this changed your life?

STRIEBER: I have discovered that I am very stubborn. Nothing will stop me from doing this because I know there is something remarkable to be gained from understanding this. I don't have any credentials. I am a novelist, even a horror novelist. Absent credentials, I am ignored, pushed aside, even laughed at, except by the people who are having these experiences.
     When I go into a bookstore, there are 150 to 200 people there who are having experiences right now. Something is happening to these people. They are in contact. The culture isn't in contact. Science isn't in contact. I don't think the government is, but the ordinary people are.

TISCHLER: Some people believe the government is engaged in a cover-up of these visits. Why would the government be engaged in a cover-up?

STRIEBER: My own uncle, Colonel Edward Strieber, called ma and said I want to talk to you about something. I went to San Antonio and found out he had been at a site where material of the highest national security importance had been brought. He said everyone up to President Truman knew about it. It was concluded that a cover up did take place and it was concealed from congress.

TISCHLER: Sociologists seem to have studied everything, but I don't know of any who have studied people who have encountered these visitors. A sociologist would be very interested in those 14,000 letters you have and would want to analyze them and see who these people are and what they have in common.

Strieber: I have 30,000 letters,7,000 of which are on a computer. Potentially it would be very interesting to study them. I have wanted to get some more answers first to get some further perspective. The letters have come from all over the world. There are an exceptional number of black people. Many are of Irish background. They are quite articulate. The average letter is four or five pages. They are basically getting it off their chest.

TISCHLER: Would you allow someone to study your letters?

STRIEBER: Any academic who did this kind of research would get fired.

TISCHLER: I think trying to understand people who claim to have encountered aliens would be considered an acceptable research project in sociology. I know tenured professors who would be interested in doing such a study.

STRIEBER: I'll have to think about it.

Two hours after our interview, Strieber had another interview in his hotel room with a friend of mine from a major Boston newspaper. Ten minutes into the interview he became enraged by one of her questions and threatened to call security and have her thrown out. It appears to be a difficult task to be a spokesperson for people who have had encounters with aliens.

Henry L. Tischler, Ph.D. is a professor of sociology at Framingham State College and the host of “Cover to Cover” heard on WICN-FM, 90.5 on Wednesdays at 7:30 PM.

Addendum by BeyondCommunion.Com

Regarding Tischler's suggestion that a professor should study the letters that Whitley Strieber had recieved, Strieber had actually already shared letters from the Communion Foundation with Dr. Kenneth Ring of the University of Connecticut (see Dr. Ring's book The Omega Project).
     That Boston newspaper referred to in the interview was the Boston Herald, a paper which, despite a positive review of Communion in 1987, had developed a decidedly anti-intellectual slant (Boston's brightest read the Boston Globe or the Boston Phoenix). A more savvy publicist would have known.
     Later that evening, west of the city in a Border's book shop on the last stop of his multi-city author tour, Strieber commented to the gathered audience that except for one he'd met today, every interviewer on his Breakthrough tour had been positive and receptive.
     Among the intently curious audience, no traces of the run-in lingered and he gave a great presentation. Seeing him in person for the first time, he struck me as a kind and honest man. “Like a country preacher,” an elderly woman sitting next to me remarked to me – and by that, she meant he was like someone known to the community and trusted by them. Despite experiences which sounded “a little bit bit loopy” (as I replied to the woman while still expressing my belief in his sincerety), a hint of a grandfatherly quality was beginning to appear around him, as he had achieved a breakthrough in perspective with this latest book, and people were starting to look to him to hear what wisdom, if any, he may have gained from his experiences. Regarding the suggestion that some have made regarding a cult-like quality to readers of this material, on the contrary it seemed to me that there was no presupposition on the part of the audience that he had come into any wisdom from his experiences, but there was an openness to listen and learn, if he had.