When the Dead Influence the Living

While Megan was home for the Thanksgiving weekend, we watched a Netflix documentary called, Jim & Andy. It’s the behind-the-scenes documentary of the making of Man on the Moon, in which Jim Carrey plays the later crazed comedian Andy Kaufman. In the documentary, Carrey says that he channeled Kaufman and was constantly in-character during the time the movie was being filmed.

Many people who knew Kaufman were astonished by how similar Carrey looked and acted to Kaufman. Even Kaufman’s father hugged Carrey, in a behind the scenes clip, as if Carrey was his son. His out-of-wedlock daughter, who Kaufman never met, talked to Carrey for an hour and as if the daughter was meeting her father for the first time.

After watching the documentary, we talked about the idea of spirits of the dead influencing creative efforts of the living. That was when I recalled my own similar experience when I literally ‘ghost-wrote’ a book in 1991 for an author who had died after writing a few short introductory chapters. I later wrote about the experience in a blog post in 2007. Here it is, unedited.
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Years ago, an editor asked me if I would be interested in completing a novel for an author who had died. He was forty and passed on very suddenly of a heart attack. He’d written four chapters and left behind an outline.

Trish and I knew him–though we’d never met in person. He and Trish had the same editor and agent. We’d exchanged e-mails and participated in the same mystery novel blog on GEnie, back in pre-Internet days. (They didn’t call them blogs, though.)

I worked on the novel for a few months, and from time to time I felt the author, Dave Pedneau, standing behind me, watching, and sometimes I thought he was laughing! It was kind of eerie. So I wrote faster. Finally, I finished the novel, but there was one thing I hadn’t figured out. Oddly enough, I didn’t know what the title meant. He used law enforcement acronyms for his novels, like B.O.L.O. (Be On the Lookout), or A.K.A. (Also Known As). But this one just had the letters: N.F.D. with no parenthetical meaning and I had no idea what it meant. I couldn’t tell from the story, either. Finally, just before I turned it in, I asked a cop at the gym if he knew. He frowned, then said: “Oh, that’s easy: No Fricking Deal.” Though ‘fricking’ was not quite the way he put it.

That was the title of the book! Suddenly, I knew why Dave had been laughing.

There is a little synchronicity here, too. A few years ago, I was teaching private yoga lessons to a very well off woman. She was religious, also kind of prim and proper, and always had her housekeeper or cook around when I was there. One day I was waiting for her to get ready and looked at the books on a shelf. There weren’t many, maybe a dozen. Just as she walked in the room, I spotted N.F.D., and blurted, “Hey, I wrote that book.”
She picked it off the shelf, looked at the cover, and asked: “What’s that title mean?”

”Umm, ah…No Fair Deal.  That worked. In fact, that was the name the publisher put in small type right below N.F.D.

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27 Responses to When the Dead Influence the Living

  1. C.J. says:

    In response to Lauren’s cautionary comments, I am in complete agreement. Playing with
    various means of contacting discarnates requires due diligence and absolute awareness
    that there are God only knows how many dimensions existing beyond our third dimension, and some of them are inhabited by really nasty entities. I want to recommend a book that was released years ago but should still be available somewhere:
    THE UNQUIET DEAD by Dr. Edith Fiore. It isn’t a text engendering fears, but instead offers insights that are essential for any ‘newbie’ who wants to begin to learn the best ways to approach these matters. It’s an invaluable primer on the subject.

  2. lauren raine says:

    We think of interaction between the living and dead as a good thing, but to be honest, there are many good reasons why the inexperienced, troubled, and immature should not be messing around with possession, “ghost hunting’, and other things. There is a reason why groups like the Spiritualist Church have such a strong protocol, and native cultures work through trained shamans. Because I was naive when I was younger and sought out anything I thought was “spooky and spiritual” I had some very frightening experiences, including a spirit that it took me years to get rid of. There can be a fine line between imagination, mental illness, addiction and dependancy issues, and actual possession and interferance on the part of earthbound spirits. And many earthbound spirits are far from enlightened beings………….I have numerous times had my house “cleared” by a medium I work with, because I do not want the energies of discarnates there, affecting the energy systems and emotions of those who live here……….

    • Rob and Trish says:

      Shadow left a comment that appeared on my phone but which I can’t find in spam, trash, or comments on the blog. So here it is: I love Darren’s take, rings right *grin* I think the dead can definitely influence the living, whether by intent of the individual or the deceased I’m not sure of…

  3. C.J. says:

    Can hardly wait to get Whitley’s book! Am praying by then my vision will improve. BTW, can you check your spam and trash? Have sent several emails but my computer is being obstinate and I’m not sure if emails are arriving at correct destinations. In one of them I asked you if you had any news regarding two mutual friends: J and D. They’re on my mind. Thanks! And how about 12 inches of snow in ATLANTA!!!!!! Climate change deniers are stupid.

  4. C.J. says:

    I do hope Whitley’s new book comes out in hard copy! I am unable to use an EReader due to the Parkinson’s tremors….can’t ‘slide’ pages. In my previous comment about my inexplicable relationship with Dr. W, I meant to say that there was no contact between us since the 1960s, until his sudden appearance in my sleeping dream in 2011. He came every night for more than a week, and I decided to see if I could find him. The way I found him is pretty miraculous but too lengthy to detail on the blog, except for this: I DID locate him in a very small S. GA town, phoned him there; wife answered and after I identified myself and simply told her he had been my physician decades ago and saved my life, and that I wanted to say hello and see how he was doing, (no way I could tell her he was visiting me in my dreams!), she told me he had Alzheimer’s and wouldn’t remember me. When the brief conversation with her ended, I sat with the receiver in my hand for a very long time before being able to put it in its charger.

    Dr. W continued to come, and ultimately I felt that while his physical self was for all intents and purposes ‘gone’ due to Alzheimer’s, his Spirit was out and about. In late June 2013, he came in a dream and told me he had finally crossed over. I knew I needed to confirm this but absolutely knew I couldn’t call his family. Instead, I located the funeral home in his little town and called THEM, asking if they had Dr.W in their obits. The wonderfully kind woman at the funeral home immediately replied, “Oh, Mrs. C, I don’t need to go to our archives. He’s right here on my computer! He passed away on June 16, (2013” ) and she offered to send me a copy of his obituary, which she did. To say I was stunned would be the understatement of the century. 6-13-2013 was the night he came in my dream and told me he had left! The rest is history. Our relationship during these last several years could easily write a book. (Actually, it IS becoming a book, through my journals.)

    Here’s another mystery: I called his home and spoke with Mrs. W in 2011 after he initially appeared in my dreams. When his obit reached me, I saw that Mrs. W had PRECEDED him in death in late 2011! This meant he must have guided me to her to be sure I made a connection because she herself apparently was quite ill, and his son in Griffin, GA, took Dr. W to care for him there after she had died. I would never have found him if I hadn’t made that 2011 call. Mysterious miracles of life!

  5. Kathy Beard says:

    Ugh….just wrote a who piece and deleted by mistake. I think I remember Whitley Schrieber from my early years and my fascination with UFOs & ETs. Is that right? I’m not googling it to check. I love & believe the idea/fact that the dead influence the living. I’ve lost some siblings & feel their presence!

  6. Nancy says:

    After the text communication from my deceased husband, I have no doubt they can communicate. I have looked at it from every angle, and the fascinating thing is the way he did it left absolutely no way for me to be able to explain it away. Having his message pop up during a conversation between myself and our daughters, in the TEXT LINE, “He loves you.” I felt he did this on purpose knowing if there was any way to explain it by, say a technological blip, I would. He didn’t say “I love you” because he knew when I sent it out the girls would think it was from me. Since we were discussing going through his clothes, the person we were talking about was already established. “He” being him. I will have to download Whitley’s book now that I’ve had my own experience and know it’s possible. Fascinating stuff.

    But I have to wonder – has it always been so easy, or is the veil starting to fall?

    • Rob and Trish says:

      Whitley will be on C@C tonight to talk about his book with Noory. Since you live on the west coast, you won’t have to stay up half the night to listen!

      • Nancy says:

        Did you by chance listen to the segment with Kristy Robinette on December 7th? Evidently, I’m not the only one getting text messages.

        • Rob and Trish says:


          • Nancy says:

            A caller also called in stating he had received a text message from a deceased friend, but there was no message – just a blank line from the person’s phone. In my case, it was written on the text line during a conversation with our daughters. She said it takes a lot of energy for them to do these things. Interesting. I have never been a fan of mediumship, so hard to prove and my interests are based more in science, but I think I may have to do some research – starting with Whitley’s book.

            • Rob and Trish says:

              Fascinating! I suspect anne strieber is right. One of the quotes from her in the book: “Mankind is a species divided, not so much between the sexes but between the living and what we call the dead. It isn’t natural and it isn’t necessary. We can become whole.”

  7. C.J. says:

    Whitley and Anne Strieber (UnknownCountry.com) have a fascinating and insightful relationship between her new dimension and his here in the third dimension. I share an on-going dialogue with a “deceased” physician with whom I had a beautifully intimate (tho not sexual) relationship. We had no contact of any kind from the mid-1960s until he suddenly appeared to me in a sleeping dream. There is much rich detail in our dual dimensional relationship since then, sufficient to fill 26 pages of lined legal pads.

    Last week I asked him if he was really here, and if he was, could he please give me a definitive PHYSICAL sign of some kind. It was the middle of the night. The door to my bedroom is adjacent and perpendicular to the door into my Egyptian Sanctuary. I close that door at night but am able to see it clearly from my bed. When I asked the question, that door swung open, stayed open for a few seconds, then quietly closed again. And BTW, it was LOCKED. He then placed his hand gently on my arm. Invisible, but that feather touch cannot be mistaken.

    My black Lab Storm, who never leaves my side except to go outside, stood up in her bed and watched, but showed no fear whatsoever. Just watched. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just plain nuts, but something always happens to help me understand these dialogues and his presence are really real and not my imagination. I think the Veil is often not as dense as we might think it is. Isn’t is heartwarming to know they are with us and even assist us in such projects as writing a book!! Great post, MacGregors! THANKS!!

    • Rob and Trish says:

      Fascinating, CJ! Anne and Whitley’s book is out today, as an ebook. I just downloaded my copy. The Afterlife Revolution.

  8. Darren B says:

    My eldest son has been telling me to watch the Andy Kaufman/Jim Carrey show on Netflix, but I’m not really into Andy Kaufman’s humour, even though I love Jim’s.
    I guess I’ll have to take a look at the show now, though.
    I was also thinking about Dave Pedneau standing behind you while writing the novel N.F.D. and laughing because N.F.D. could also stand for “Not F#ckin Dead” 😉

  9. lauren raine says:

    Fascinating! The idea of an actor taking on the role of a dead character like that is a kind of invocation to “possession”, if you think about it. It must have been hard, when “working collaboratively”, so to speak, to let the character go and become Jim Carrey again. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to finish a novel for another author who passed on………

    I’m not much of a writer, and never had the urge to write a novel. But in 1993 I started writing a little novel about a snake priestess of the ancient world with my former husband, and in retrospect, although I see the mythological influences we were interested in at the time, I’m still not sure where that came from. I even remember kind of feeling like someone else was telling the story at times.

    I think the creative process is often shared with “invisible collaborators”, personally, that consciousness is quite permeable, especially when we enter into creative “flow”……