About Cristael Ann Bengtson: questions and answers
Pecos National Monument: This is where my parents and I saw the great Eagle Dancer, Tony White Cloud. The pueblo and its people are a focal point in the chapter on Spirit Eagle. Click on photograph to view enlarged version. Photograph: Arnold Woodworth.
I've always written, and I've always enjoyed writing. I backed into writing sideways from getting 'A's' in English college classes to spending years writing in journals. I started keeping a detailed journal every day when I was taking care of my mother. It helped me deal with the fact that I was watching, helpless, as my mother went through dying by inches every day for almost three years.
After I had my Near Death Experience, I wrote extensively in my journal. Finally, in 2005, when a documentary film maker featured my story in 'Departing Visions', I began writing my book by fits and starts. And slowly and sneakily, writing my memoir took over my life.
So I did not so much become inspired to write as I fell into writing and then couldn't escape the need to write every single day.
I began writing this memoir as a means of clearing my mind about my experiences, not only my NDE, but lots of visionary experiences that went all the way back to my teenage years. And the more I wrote, the more I realized what immense experiences I had been given. And the rest was gravity, being more pulled into the writing each day.
Anywhere and everywhere. In Griffith Park. In coffee shops. In bookstores. In my office space, sitting at my Mac. I've written on napkins and in undersized notebooks. I've jotted down crabby-size notes on stickies. I've written on scraps of paper, you know, those all-important ideas that get scribbled at white heat, and then they promptly get lost. And eight months later they turn up in the jumbled contents of an old handbag.
First and foremost, Jane Austen. Also David Baldacci. I like reading suspense novels. Dannion Brinkley and Raymond Moody's books on NDE's. Tobias Churton's books on gnostic philosophy and related subjects. Brian Greene's books on quantum mechanics and cosmology. But really, I read anything and everything. When I was younger, I had to consciously keep myself from reading the backs of cereal boxes while I was eating breakfast.
I want the reader to be able to live inside my skin. To see and taste and smell and feel what it's like to be a visionary. To wrestle with the angel that stands guard over the conflicts between the inner world, the inner sanctum, and the outer mundane and profane world. To feel that bliss when you are standing in front of the Great Light. To have the breath-catching understanding when all old paradigms and life patterns suddenly are blown into tissue-thin ashes, when there is something new, right now, just here, that will change the very rhythm of inner thought and being. Above all, to have the reader's heart become weightless and still for just one moment so that the light and bliss of divine inspiration shines through the stillness of thought suspended.