It is Smart to Know People Who Are in the Know                      Sandra Martin

My literary clients weren’t your run of the mill writers. They didn’t write fiction-well some would say they were writing fiction, but they would say no, definitely not fiction. They weren’t journalist in the mainstream way of thinking, but they were reporting facts. And they weren’t “literary” –fiction, biography, poetry. No, my clients were the ones who documented the strange and mystical. They tackled the subjects that very few journalists would take on. Oh, some mainstream journalists would write about these subjects, but only to discredit and ridicule them.

My clients were dead-on serious about what they investigated and did their very best to be a straight and true to the subjects.

John Keel, famous for his research into The Mothman sighted in Mt. Pleasant, Ohio, which was made into the movie, The Mothman Prophecy starring Richard Gere. Also John was known for researching UFOs which he tracked all over the US and the world. The strange and the mysterious happenings were his thing.

Once I asked him where he’d been, because I’d been trying to get in touch with him about a manuscript. He said he’d been called to Switzerland to investigate this strange event: a huge hole had appeared on the side of a mountain. It was made on an angle, straight as could be for more than about 50 yards deep into the mountain.  Smooth open hole with hard sides as if heated by high temperatures, like if it was made by a machine but no one had seen it, no one heard it and it appeared overnight. It wasn’t there the day before and the next day, there it was. He was asked to come and investigate.

I asked what had made it and he said, “It was one of those weird things: seemed like an invisible giant instrument had been inserted into the mountain, searing the sides and then pulled out. Nothing else to see. No one had seen anything and no one knew anything. It wasn’t there one day, and the next there it was.”

“What did you tell them?”

“I told them, yes that is one big hole and I have no idea how it got there. And then I flew back to Manhattan.”

John was tall, handsome, a great conversationalist and had a wicked sense of humor. He was an extraordinary writer: compelling, entertaining, fact after fact, and a dedicated researcher.  I’d recently sold one of his books, Mysterious Beings. The cover of that book was my favorite of the many books I’d sold over the years. I still keep a framed copy in my office.

John was also a magician. An important quality/ability/talent he always had in his back pocket, so to speak.  His first book, Jadoo told his travels to India and tracking down magicians-whether paranormal or street magicians. He found most of the fakirs in India to be the ordinary kind of magician. He loved learning their tricks.

I trusted him and called on him whenever I had manuscripts about psychic abilities that seemed too good to be true.

Another client was Alex Imich, originally from Poland, a career chemist, a parapsychologist afterwards. His wife died and he was determined to connect with her “on the other side” and he visited many mediums, psychics and researchers. He searched, even though many who also knew his wife, believed she was communicating with him through multiple mediums, he somehow did not believe. It was a long, long search.

He had a small frame, white hair and a nice mustache, and very blue eyes. He had been retired for 20 years when I took him on. He lived in an old hotel on the Upper Westside of Manhattan. He lived like a monk-ate very little, meditated a lot, did yoga religiously, wrote and researched paranormal subjects that interested him. I agented his book, Incredible Tales of the Paranormal.  He was strong and vibrant and sharp as anything.

I never knew exactly how old he was as he looked, after 25 plus years that I knew him, exactly like he looked when I first met him. In 2014 I found out, from the New York Times of all places. It was his obituary and he was 111, at that time, the oldest man in the world.

Alex’s joy was discovering “new” psychics.

The word was out in the paranormal world that he had discovered a psychic in Israel that was the “real deal.” He’d sent money to have him and his manager fly from Jerusalem to give a demonstration of his psychokinetic ability–move objects with his mind. Read your thoughts and much more. Alex was very excited. He organized the “show” with another psychic who was also my client, and I was invited, officially, to the “show.”  Alex had invited many of the local media.

Alex said I had to attend because this guy could be my next New York Times Bestseller – a compelling reason for a Literary Agent.

John Keel was invited as well. We decided to go together.  He taxied down from the Upper Westside and picked me up at 52nd and Broadway. We laughed and hoped that this might be “the real thing.” But John ever cautious and me a believer who seemed to most people to be a full on skeptic, were excited to see what would happen.

We were a tad late but they had saved seats for us right up front. John Keel, the famous writer and researcher and me, the famous Literary Agent. After a while the performance started.  A man, his manager friend, introduces the psychic. The psychic comes out and after a little conversation, he starts performing. All a little too Las Vegas for me.

He has a match box and he is showing it around to various attendees. They look at it and say, “Yes, that is a real matchbook. “  After that the psychic/magician begins, using his psychokinetic powers by holding the matchbook between the palms of his hands but his hands aren’t touching it at all. The matchbook just hangs there in the air. It looks impressive.

A slow minute passes, the audience oohing and aahing. Abruptly John grabs my arm, pulls me up and whispers, “We’ve got to get out of here.”

We make a scene as we leave climbing up loud metal stairs. Out on the street  John is red faced and upset , “I can take you over to the magic store right now and buy that trick. I could teach you, Sandra, that trick in five minutes. He is a fake.”

Since the media were there, John did not want either of us to have our photos taken or be interviewed. Bad for business, he said.

Wow. That was that. Alex was devastated and the host disgusted. I heard they had a nice magic show but nothing special.

Knowing who your go-to guys are is an important part of business and of advancement.

I will be forever grateful for John’s wisdom and smarts.

Sandra Martin