Art, tell us a little about your evolution as a radio talk show host. How does your on-air style differ from that of other hosts?
Art: I've been in talk radio for 15 years. I've always had an interest in the paranormal, which is probably why 'Coast to Coast AM' evolved as it did. I tend to book people who interest me, and so it's natural that the show has the slant that it does. I don't know how my on-air style differs from other hosts; I just get on the air and start having a conversation. That's the key to the show's intimacy.
Whitley, you've had a successful career as a bestselling author writing about the paranormal. Is this field gaining wider acceptance?
Whitley: The word paranormal doesn't make any sense to me. The world is made up of forces that we understand and forces that we don't. As we extend our knowledge, we also extend the limits of the known. For example, in 1850 television would have been magic and very definitely part of the 'paranormal.' But certainly that wasn't true in 1950. The same goes for all unknown phenomena. The problem is that society is continually claiming that what is known right now is the absolute limit. This is never true. As far as the paranormal being accepted is concerned, I would hope that it would never be accepted unless it is understood.
How did you two first meet?
Art: We met on the radio. We became friends on-air, doing 'Coast'
Whitley: Although 'Coast' is a five hour broadcast, the time just flies because of the way Art asks questions. The one thing I don't like about doing 'Dreamland' is that I'm not on 'Coast' as often.
Art: Whit's a good guest. No dead air.
Why did you decide to collaborate on this book? How did the writing process work?
Art: We had started working together on a book about the extreme edge of science when Whitley suddenly realized that there was this huge environmental story waiting to be told. We went back to the drawing board to outline and research The Coming Global Superstorm. We work by talking things out together, making decisions and discoveries. The process flows very naturally.
How did you go about researching The Coming Global Superstorm?
Unidentified: The researching was largely Internet basedthere is tremendous amount of information out there. But there was also basic, old-fashioned book research investigating things such as how the weather actually works, and the limitations and capabilities of climate modeling. A lot of research was reading the day-to-day weather news about gigantic storms and polar melt. To a great extent, we also found that we could let the story come to us. This phenomenon is real and it's unfolding all around us right now.
You are two of America's leading investigators of unexplained phenomena. Why do you think your explorations of UFOs, government conspiracies, anomalies, etc., are so popular with the American public? Why is the mainstream press so reluctant to examine these same topics?
Our work is popular because it's about things that are real, yet that science won't deal with. People are very curious about the world around them, and they are not stupid. They know they're not getting the whole story. So many people have seen UFOs, but when scientists or the media or the government say it's all nonsense, they hurt their credibility. Telling people that they didn't see what they know darned well they saw creates the need for an open-minded forum, such as the radio shows we do and the topics that often come up.
Do you consider yourselves optimists or pessimists?
Art: I'm probably basically an optimist.
Whitley: I'd like to be one, but it's getting harder.
What do you hope readers get from this book?
One, that there is a serious and immediate problem with our
weather and it's getting worse. Two, that the individual can take
steps that will definitely make a difference. We don't need more
environmental laws, we need more widespread public action, and
our book ends with an outline about how to do just that.
A Conversation with Art Bell & Whitley Strieber, authors of The Coming Global Superstorm
© 1999 Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.