This week I am pleased to be part of the Virtual Book Tour for Barbara Cheapaitis (also known as B. A. Chepaitis), author of The Fear Principle and the rest of the books in the Fear series featuring Jaguar Addams. Tomorrow I’ll have a review of The Fear Principle for you. For today’s post, Barbara shares some thoughts on empathy, an ability that is very important in the series.
The Ordinary Empath
In my novel The Fear Principle and the ones that follow, my two main characters, Jaguar Addams and Alex Dzarny, are empaths, with a variety of psi capacities. Alex is precognitive, Jaguar is a chantshaper. Both can read energy lingering in objects or places. Both can enter the memory, dreams, or current emotions of others and experience it as if it was their own. These are useful skills since their job is to make criminals face their fears.
Readers often ask me how I imagine those states of mind. They want to know if I – um – can – you know…. Do that sort of thing, and do I know others who are – y’know – like that? The answer is absolutely, on both counts. In fact, I think we all have the capacity to reach beyond the five senses and pick up intuitive knowledge in lots of ways.
I’ve been known to pluck a strange truth from someone in a way that frightens them. Once, when my now ex-husband was making a joke I didn’t laugh. When he asked why I said, “I don’t know. I just see the word sorrow.”
He was taken aback. Well, okay, he was scared. “How did you know?” he demanded. I shrugged. I really had no idea. Maybe, as my mother used to say when she did that kind of thing, I could smell it.
But my mother and I both taught for many years, she in a first grade and myself in universities. I’ve also had many years of live stage performance, storytelling with my group, The Snickering Witches. These arenas require very good people reading skills . So yes, sometimes I dip into the thoughts of other people, but I’m guessing I’m really just very good at reading subtle cues of gesture and face.
And maybe, like the empaths in The Fear Principle, we all have our own particular ordinary psi capacities, our own limited skills. I don’t dream predictively and often can’t even predict the behavior of those I love most. But I’ve known people who do, and people who see ghosts, people with other skills. My favorite example comes from a friend of mine, a very down-to-earth woman who called me in a panic one day and said, “I dreamt for you last night, Barbara.”
She told me the dream, and within two days it came true, quite literally, with details. If she hadn’t warned me, I would’ve missed a very important bit of information that explains why I got divorced soon after. I asked her later if she did that often, and she said she’d always dreamt for others, but never dreamt for herself. I asked her if that was a family thing, something maybe her mother did, too.
She said, “Oh, no. My mother doesn’t dream like that. She just talks with the dead.”
Okay, then. Apparently, Jaguar’s world is simply an exaggeration of what goes on every day, with lots of people. The Ordinary Empath is everywhere.
About the Author:
Barbara Chepaitis is the author of 8 published books, including The Fear Principle featuring Jaguar Addams (Wildside Press), and the critically acclaimed Feeding Christine and These Dreams. Her first nonfiction book, Feathers of Hope, is about Berkshire Bird Paradise and the human connection with birds. She’ll follow that up with a book about Eagle Mitch, a bird she helped our US troops rescue from Afghanistan. Barbara is also past director of the storytelling trio The Snickering Witches, and faculty coordinator for the fiction component of Western Colorado’s MFA program in creative writing.
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