BARNES & NOBLE Authors on the Record
Author Chat Transcript, April 12, 1997
Whitley Strieber: THE SECRET SCHOOL

On April 12th, barnesandnoble@aol welcomed Whitley Strieber, author of the 25-week bestselling novel COMMUNION and the more recent bestseller BREAKTHROUGH. He was here to discuss time travel, extraterrestrial life, and his latest release, THE SECRET SCHOOL.

Q: Welcome, Whitley Strieber. Thank you for coming!

Thanks for having me here.

Q: How do you reconcile your “encounters” with religious tradition?

I don't have any problem believing that God would inhabit such a large universe with many different creatures.

Q: Do the Starborn teach you about reincarnation and karma?

I don't know what “starborn” means. My whole experience is still in question. There perhaps has been some reincarnation-related material. I discuss it at length in THE SECRET SCHOOL. As far as karma is concerned, I suppose I'm still working that out.

Q: What other types of books do you plan on writing?

I'd like to get back to fiction...I'm not working on any fiction currently, though.

Q: Do you think the Heaven's Gate cult members were very close to your beliefs?

No, I don't have “beliefs.” I have questions. I think it can be demonstrated that something unexplained is happening. Beyond that, there are no facts available, therefore, only questions.

Q: Mr. Strieber, how long did it take for you to write COMMUNION once you had decided to write it?

Nine months, I believe.

Q: Do you have a comment about the farsight announcement? Thank you.

I don't know about the farsight announcement.

Q: Good evening, Mr. Strieber. My question is, can we expect any open contact between the so- called “grays,” and if not, do you foresee any disclosure in the near future from our government?

Is there such a thing as “grays"? I don't know. I was told by high government officials there was a cover-up connected with the Roswell incident. It would seem to me that the discovery of what this was really about was almost inevitable. Beyond that, I don't know.

Q: Do you believe “the visitors” will ever make themselves universally known to us?

I have no way of really answering that question. I don't know what “the visitors” are.

Q: I just started reading WILD, and I must say, I enjoy it so far. What persuaded you to write this novel?

My enjoyment of wolves.

Q: Do you think there's any truly significant events that will happen in conjunction with the arrival of the new millennium?

I would be very surprised to see that.

Q: I thought your COMMUNION was the most informative book on abduction ever printed for the public. Do you think that we will be able to accept the coming changes as a society of planet Earth?

The significant changes are the human changes. The question is, Will we be able accept ourselves?

Q: I read WOLFEN first and loved it. In retrospect it seems a metaphor – do you feel WOLFEN was inspired or influenced by your experiences with the “others"?

I think influence runs throughout my work and is particularly strong in WOLFEN, THE HUNGER, and CAT MAGIC.

Q: What is one of your favorite books you wrote?

EVENINGS WITH DEMONS, because it contains 30 years of work.

Q: Do you believe in reincarnation?

I'm not sure. There's a certain amount of evidence for it, even in my own life. But the factual basis is very elusive. Without provable facts, how can we believe in anything?

Q: What is your opinion on the purpose of THE SECRET SCHOOL? Why would the aliens care about illuminating earthlings?

Perhaps because we are illuminating ourselves. I assume that aliens are the answer when we actually don't know what is going on.

Q: What do you think of the way UFO culture seems to have permeated the mainstream? Nowadays the alien image can be seen on everything from cereal commercials to skateboards. Do you think that this draws criticism to UFOlogy or helps support it?

We are integrating the image and the visitors into our version of reality. That process is bound to draw both criticism and support.

Q: Loved your book COMMUNION, but the movie was pretty bad. Did you have much influence on the outcome of the movie?

For me, the movie was a grave disappointment. I was isolated from influence over the movie.

Q: How do you feel your experiences have changed your life?

I have based it on versions of reality that I didn't think existed before, and discovered that the mind almost certainly has extraordinary untapped capacities.

Q: Mr. Strieber, I have not read THE SECRET SCHOOL but found BREAKTHROUGH very disturbing. Do you feel you know a little more of what the visitor's purpose will mean to you and your life? Do you see a definite direction that your experiences are taking?

My experiences always go in the same direction – toward more and more provocative questions. The experience as a whole I doubt will emerge into a cathartic moment of closure. What we are headed towards is an enormous question – one that we will be unable to bear and unable to answer. When the public confronts this part of the situation, that's the next step.

Q: Your book COMMUNION was a godsend. I too have had very similar experiences but was afraid to talk about them. Are your experiences still happening, and are they increasing in frequency?

My experiences reached their greatest frequency in 1995. Subsequent to my being forced from my cabin, the frequency has declined.

Q: Why were you chosen to interact?

It's a not a question I can answer.

Q: Are you working on any new novels?

No, I'm not.

Q: Why did you write WAR DAY?

To address a dangerous political situation of that era. There was talk about “hardening” the United States against a limited air strike. This could have induced a Soviet first strike. The book was a warning.

Q: Do you have a favorite author?

Many favorite authors. UFO related, Jacques Vallee. Fiction, probably my all-time favorite is Conrad. Recent interesting book – Patrick Harpur, DAIMONIC REALITY.

Q: Mr. Strieber, why do they interfere in our lives without obvious permission to do so?

We don't know what “they” are. Therefore we have no idea how issues like that actually relate to the experience.

Q: Has your wife ever experienced extraterrestrial encounters similar to your own?


Q: Why are “they” so interested in our reproductive system? Why the experiments re: our reproduction done on abductees? And why do they take eggs and sperm?

Bear in mind that the only evidence we have that this is happening is anecdotal. That evidence must be respected, but at the same time, it is suggestive, not conclusive.

Q: In announcing you, the online host called COMMUNION a “novel.” Would you please comment on that characterization?

No comment.

Q: Have you had any interaction with other alien types other than “grays"?

I've seen numerous different forms...for the most part variations on the human form. Gray creatures are the most alien looking that I have recognized.

Q: What good Web sites do you recommend for UFO news?

The best Web site for UFO news is CNI. To get it, you will have to do a search on the letters CNI. I don't know the exact address.

Q: Do you personally believe that the government has knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrials?

I feel sure that there is a secret, or was a secret, connected with Roswell. Whether there is current knowledge of extraterrestrials or not, I don't know.

Q: Do you believe, as Art Bell believes, that we are headed for a “Quickening” in the immediate future?

Clearly we are. The rate of change in human society is accelerating about as predicted back in the '70s. This is because of increasing population, economic activity, and stress on the environment.

Q: Mr. Strieber, I wonder if you are as frightened of the inexplicable aspects of your experiences as you once were?

I'm not frightened anymore. I got used to being astonished, and bored with being scared of things that didn't hurt. I guess I lost interest in my fear. That doesn't mean that I have decided that the experience is benign or even positive. I don't know how to interpret it. I move ahead cautiously.

Q: Shirley MacLaine has stated on national television that President Carter confirmed to her the government knowledge of extraterrestrial activity and authorized her to quote him. Have you had the same information from Carter?

No, I have not.

Q: What do you think about life on Jupiter's moon?

It would be fascinating to find life there. The moons of Jupiter, however, may be much younger than the Earth, though it's possible that life there will not be as evolved as marine life here.

Q: How do you feel about television shows such as “The X-Files,” which deal with abductions and visitor experiences?

They create an assumption that there is something to the whole cover-up business. It's not obvious that the situation is as bad as these shows imply. If it is that bad, then we need a new government, and we need it yesterday. If it isn't, however, these shows create a barrier of fiction between the people and the government that the government is helpless to break down, without revealing information that may be classified for important reasons that are irrelevant to UFO controversy. They're fun to watch, too.

Q: What positive effects would you like to see come from your work?

In the long run, I would like to see society adopt the question of what is happening to us scientifically, so that it doesn't simply decline, as it is now doing, into a lot of worthless superstition. We need a solid scientific study of UFOs and abduc-tions so that we can gain a clear understanding of what these things are and whether or not UFO sightings and abduction reports are related phenomena. In the very long run, I hope that my work, in some small way, contributes to the expansion of human consciousness and the expression of mankind into the cosmos.

Q: What would you like a reader to walk away with after reading THE SECRET SCHOOL? Is there an important message(s)?

Yes, the following messages.
1) It is suggested by the book that the mind may have access to a much larger-scale relationship with reality, including the ability to move through time, than we have allowed ourselves to believe.
2) Humanity has a future.
3) The nature of what is real is fundamentally in question. We don't know who we are.
We don't know what the universe is. And we don't know the relationship between ourselves and the universe, but we can find out.

Q: What type of question do you foresee as unbearable – have you been given any clues?

There could come a question about our origins and destiny that would be incredibly provocative because it would relate to the meaning of every human life. It might be that such a question, and the implications surrounding it, would not be answerable with the information we had available at that time. This would place us in the position of having to make some kind of a leap into a superconscious state in order to bear the knowledge of what we really are.

Q: Have you read any theosophical books -- various levels of existence/heavens – and if so, how do you relate them to your experiences?

The human spirit, it seems to me, is directed toward ecstasy. Ecstacy is like heat. There _is_ no highest temperature. There _is_ no highest heaven. There is always potential for more. Evil is like cold. It comes to an absolute end like absolute zero. This is why the good – as human history will attest -- in the long run remains after evil has passed away.

Q: What do you think of Dr. John Mack's book on abduction?

I think John Mack is a very brave man. Every scientist who has addressed this issue seriously has taken a risk and suffered often very serious challenge, as Mack did. He met the challenge with great intellectual rigor and personal grace - his book also reflects both of those qualities in abundance.

Q: Are you familiar with the work of Barbara Marciniak on/with the Pleiadians? If so, what do you think of it?

Channeled material is fascinating to me, because we don't know where it comes from. It would offer us rich new insight into the human mind, if we could understand this. I like Barbara very much and respect her integrity and effort.

Q: Thank you for your books, Mr. Strieber. Any brief advice to people, both believers and non, who would like to learn more?

Abandon belief in favor of question. Then you cannot fail to learn more. ~

©1997 Barnes & Noble