Meet Paul Perry, Book Author and Documentary Filmmaker
We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Perry and we’ve shared our conversation below:
Hi Paul, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
How did you begin your career as a writer? When I was 18 years old I had the fortune of writing a story that was good enough to sell to a newspaper. It was a story about a travelling magic show that appeared at the Arizona state fair. Entertainers would blow massive fireballs by spraying lighter fluid from their mouths on to a lighted match, or use mirrors and costumes to evolve into wild animals before our very eyes. It was very low-grade entertainment, but the story I wrote was good enough to publish. When I was paid $50 by the newspaper I switched my career choice from marine biology to writing. If I could make money, travel and get a byline why wouldn’t I choose writing as a profession? As Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) declared to me later in my life, “writing is a ticket to ride. Hell Paul, who doesn’t want that?”
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Over the years I have written numerous books about a variety of things, 23 books to be exacts. Maybe even 25 books. I’m not totally sure. For instance, while editing a running magazine funded by the Nike shoe company, I went to China to cover their first international marathon. I assigned Ken Kesey of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest fame to write the story about this event, and through that venture Kesey and I became friends, so much so that he authorized me to write a photo documentary about his wild LSD days with the Grateful Dead and a motley crew known as the Merry Pranksters. My work on this running magazine led me to contact Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, the creator and king of Gonzo journalism and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Before long I asked if he would cover the Honolulu Marathon and to my surprise he said yes. At that point he was extremely unreliable, not having published anything in eight years yet taking advance payments from magazines to do so. So when his favorite illustrator Ralph Steadman offered to go along as an artist and personal motivator, I took him up on the offer and turned certain failure into a massive success, packing the magazine with Ralph’s sharp and satirical art and Hunter’s acerbic verbiage.
I took notes of the time I spent with Hunter over the next few years, and eventually wrote an unauthorized biography of Dr. Gonzo. To say he was not happy about the book is an understatement. He threatened me with death and dismemberment for writing a biography of him without asking but in the end his animas melted and renewed his old habit of making frequent three a.m. calls to talk about politics, the good old days, and what a bastard I was to write something about him that was unauthorized. He even agreed to write an introduction to On The Bus, my photo documentary about Kesey and the Merry Pranksters that ran next to a foreword by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.
Throughout the years I have followed an almost schizophrenic mixture of interests, writing books about health (I became the Executive Editor of American Health magazine, so why not?), books about the paranormal (mainly near-death experiences which have earned me five New York Times bestsellers), a book about the Whydah, the only pirate ship in the world to be excavated, followed by an expedition with explorer Barry Clifford to Madagascar where we found Captain Kidd’s flagship. The finding of Kidd’s ship was enormous news in the archaeology community and a big hit with the national media.
Shortly after the Captain Kidd find, 9/11 happened. I had planned to go to Egypt to follow the Holy Family Trail, the route believed to have been followed by Jesus and his family in their escape from King Herod of Israel. I decided to override my concerns about going to the middle East so soon after 9/11 and went alone despite the perceived danger. There I found no danger just a warm welcome from the Egyptians, who seemed to be as aggrieved by 9/11 as Americans were. I followed the lengthy route of the Holy Family from the border with Israel to the middle of Egypt and wrote the book Jesus in Egypt. Less than a year later when the book came out I found myself back in Egypt making a documentary film about the trail. That movie has run at least 25 times on American TV and is now available on Amazon Prime as Jesus in Egypt.
So is this where the filmmaker part of your bio comes in?
Well, sort of. Several years before turning my book Jesus in Egypt into a movie, I became interested in the art work of Fritz Scholder, a native American artist famed for a style of art entitled “Super Indian,” consisting of colorful, powerful and imposing Indian braves. Fritz was as colorful as his work. Sometimes that meant literally. For example he’d wear the paint smeared shirts he wore while painting to the supermarket , looking so stylish that strangers would offer substantial amounts of money to buy the shirt right off his back. His attitude toward life can be he summed up in one quote, “I believe in everything because there are too many possibilities not to.“
I suggested doing a documentary about him and he jumped at the chance. We raised the amount of money necessary from his collectors and then travelled to his favorite haunts – Santa Fe, New York, and Paris – knitting it all together with scenes of him working in his Scottsdale, Arizona studio. For the fine narration of Pulitzer Prize winner N. Scott Momaday, Fritz traded a painting.
The film ran on the Public Broadcasting System under the title Painting the Paradox. It was like a Fritz painting, a strange and somewhat abstract piece of work, and the network was thrilled to air it. If you want a copy of that video, contact me at: email@example.com
My interest in filmmaking has expanded. In between writing books, I have written and directed a number of documentaries on a variety subjects. These are available on Amazon Prime and other streamers:
Afterlife, a documentary about near death experiences, told largely through the eyes of those who have nearly died and come back to tell stories of out of body events, meeting with dead relatives, seeing magnificent being of Light, and other glimpses of eternity. To add scientific heft to a mystical subject were deep interviews with Raymond Moody, MD, the researcher who named and defined the near-death experience, and Jeffrey Long, MD, one of the founders of The Near-Death Research Foundation. The film was primarily shot in New Orleans, the city treated to a near-death experience by hurricane Katrina.
Dali’s Fatima Secret, a true story of Salvador Dali’s painting of the vision of Hell, one of the horrific visions seen by the three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. The Fatima visions were and remain earth-changing event for Catholics. It was also a life-changing event for the great surrealist himself. He went from being an atheist to a true believer as result of this painting. We interviewed Amanda Lear, Dali’s girlfriend, as well as Robert Descharnes, Dali’s late and great photographer for 40 years. Dali’s Fatima Secret can be seen on Amazon Prime, Tubi and other streamers. The story itself can be read in the book I wrote of the same name. As a side-note, I was knighted for this film by his highness the Duke of Braganza of Portugal and made the official filmmaker of the Portuguese Royal House.
Secrets & Mysteries of Christopher Columbus is a film that challenges the history of the controversial explorer. And I mean it really challenges his history, questioning where he was born, his parentage, his relation to royalty, even his religions. All of this was done with the stealthy examination of his DNA by Jose Lorente, former FBI and now head of the CSI department at Granada University of Spain and interviews with descendants of kings and explorers, including those of King John of Portugal, Vasco da Gama and even Christopher Columbus. I only agreed to do this film because a Vatical relic expert, Carlos Evaristo, kept using the secret history of Columbus to make the point that “all that we read in history books is not true.” We followed his lead and he was probably correct.
So what’s next on your agenda?
I have a new book out right now from Simon & Schuster/Beyond Words, PROOF OF LIFE AFTER LIFE: 7 Reasons to Believe There Is an Afterlife. It is the sixth book I have written with Raymond Moody, MD, PhD, the researcher who named and defined the near-death experience. This book explores shared death experiences, which do indeed prove that consciousness survives one’s bodily death. I know Proof is a big word, so trust me when I say we have the research and case studies to earn that title.
And yes, I am beginning production on a movie about this book as well, my second about near-death experiences since Afterlife. There is tremendous interest in the subject of death, largely, I suspect, because of the pandemic and the millions of loved ones lost to that terrible disease. I venture a guess that hardly a day goes by when we don’t think about death and that age old question: What happens when we die? But whatever the reason for their interest, people are beginning to see that life is like money: No matter how much they have, they are always wondering where it goes and will they get more. Death is one of mankind’s most persistent concerns, and those who research it through near-death experiences are reaching some important conclusions.
There is tremendous interest in the subject of near-death experiences these days, that’s for sure. Do you have any other plans for that subject area?
I do. Over the years my co-authors and I have been able to reacquire the right to our books from our publishers. Now I have assembled a half dozen of those books and started a publishing company, www.glimpsesofeternity.com. This is a highly-specialized publishing company that deals with afterlife subjects. Right now this company deals with the classic authors in the field, including Raymond Moody, MD, PhD, Melvin Morse, MD, Dannion Brinkley and others. But I am interested in bringing more books on this subject to market. There are many great writers out there on this subject and I would love to hear from them. Contact me through www.paulperryproductions.com .
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A lot of people deserve credit because no one becomes successful alone. First on my list is my wife, Darlene Bennett-Perry, who is truly a North Star. My agent and longtime friend Nat Sobel deserves credit for his guidance, my publishers Michele Ashtiani Cohn and Richard Cohn at Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster for taking my books under their wings. And on and on. There is a long list of people who have been helpful in my life because for each of us it takes a village.
Paul Perry Marlin Darrah Carlos Casimiro
6 de Novembro de 2023