Elizabeth Maxim

Interview with Elizabeth

Being Psychic

What is a psychic?  Merriam-Webster defines psychic as sensitive to nonphysical or supernatural forces and influences: marked by extraordinary or mysterious sensitivity, perception, or understanding.

How do you define it?  Terms and definitions change throughout the years, usually in an attempt to be politically correct.  I use psychic because that was the vernacular when I was growing up.  More recently I’ve heard people use the term sensitive.  I take umbrage with that term.  I am not sensitive.

When I was growing up, sensitive was used to describe someone who was emotionally and psychologically weak; someone who couldn’t handle adversity.

My ability – and psychic is an ability – simply means I perceive the world in a way others do not.  I have access to information others don’t.

Saying it’s a sixth sense is a good description because it’s as much a part of me as the other five.  On the other hand, it is misleading because some of those senses – sight, smell, touch – are enhanced because of the ability.  I see, hear, and feel things other people might not.

That isn’t a separate sense, it’s just a stronger or enhanced version of the ones most people have.

There is another condition under which a sense can be enhanced and strengthened.  If we lose one sense, other senses often strengthen to compensate.

After the brain surgery, I was blind for several weeks.  During that time, my hearing became incredibly acute.  Even after I regained my sight, my hearing remained – and still remains – acute.

How long have you been psychic?  For as long as I can remember.  I was five the first time I saw a ghost.

My family was playing Aggravation on our porch on a hot summer night and something brushed my leg.  I looked down to see the ghost of my kitten Muffin, who’d been hit by a car three weeks’ earlier, winding about my ankle.

After the Near-Death Experience, my abilities were off the charts.  They’ve gained in strength and number ever since.

What is it like being psychic?  A friend of mine once pointed out that though he and I could be sitting side by side in the Caribbean watching the sunset, both of us agreeing it was beautiful and comparing notes on the colors we saw, we could never truly understand what the other person was experiencing because the experience was, by its nature, individual and therefore, unique.

If you ask six psychics to describe a paranormal experience, you’ll get different answers depending.  If you ask them when they are together, you may get one or two legitimate answers but chances are two or more will say “Me too.”  If you got them one on one you are more likely to get answers that, though similar in some cases, would be unique and interesting.

What is it like for you?  The paranormal has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.    It’s like breathing.  Some of it is really cool.

When I met my husband, I knew I was going to marry him the minute I shook his hand.

Some, not so much.

Sometimes the information you get sucks.

There’s a burden of responsibility that goes with being psychic.

Do you do readings?  Nah.  I like writing.

Using psychic energy is draining.

What is your strongest sense?  Hard to say.  Probably whatever one is trying to get my attention.  I find that if I need to know something, it comes to me in a way that will get my attention quickest or make the biggest impact.  That might be through a dream, a vision, audio, or just knowing.

I saw a vision of a car pulling out in front of us though it hadn’t yet happened.  I told my husband to slow down immediately and sure enough, the car darted out.  Because he knows to listen to this kind of warning, we were going slow enough that he was able to avoid an accident.

Did being psychic lead you to write paranormal fiction?  It wasn’t a conscious decision.  I started out writing historical romance but it never took.

 I tried mystery but that was a disaster. 

I was living in San Francisco when I got the idea for Kerry’s Game.  By the time I wrote Psychic Hangover, I was hooked.

They say write what you know.

How much of your real-life experience goes into the stories?  I guess it depends if you consider perspective real-life experience.  I know what it’s like to live in a house that’s haunted, to see ghosts.  I know what it’s like to know the future and not like what I see.  Like most fiction writers, I exaggerate various aspects to fit with the story and to entertain.

What is your biggest challenge in writing paranormal fiction?  There are a few.  As renown, psychic Ingo Swann pointed out, experience isn’t something you can test in a lab.  It’s not transferable.

This is especially true of psychic experience.

In writing, it’s important to connect with the reader so the challenge becomes how do you help people feel more a part of the paranormal?


If something is happening to a character and the reader can relate to and empathize with that character then they can get an idea of what it might be like…absorb the fundamentals.

The challenge with that, however, is that people tend to read something and think because one person said it – it must always be that way.  This leads to misconceptions about the paranormal.

Not to mention off-the-wall pre-conceived ideas about it.

Can you give an example?  I have two.  Someone somewhere spread it around that the pineal gland is the psychic gland.

It isn’t?  What part of the body becomes aware of danger first and sets it into action?  The Adrenals.

Think fight or flight.

Many psychics talk about an energy burn or feeling tired out after a paranormal experience or after doing readings.  That’s because the adrenals have been drained.  There is a serious need to refuel after expending psychic energy.

I’ve put this truth in my novels.

The other example?  I believe in Democracy for ghosts.

Who am I to tell them to go to the light?

The ghosts I’ve spoken with – and I’ve been communicating with them since I was ten – are here for a reason – and it isn’t because they’re tormented souls.  They’re waiting for loved ones to join them or they are looking after loved ones they’ve left behind.

That doesn’t mean they feel like they have unfinished business either. 

They are making a choice.  Every ghost I’ve communicated with has been in full possession of their energetic faculties.

They are not tortured souls. 

They are intelligent and don’t like being treated in a condescending fashion.

I have the same frustration with the Near-Death Experience.  People watch a movie or read a book and think everyone has the same experience.

Or worse, that it’s a new phenomenon.

People don’t realize it’s been scientifically investigated across cultures and age groups.

And that it’s been going on for centuries.

What was different about your Near-Death Experience?  I didn’t go down any lit tunnel or up any stairway.

I did, however, find myself in a very bright room with lots of celestial beings, including loved ones who had already passed on.

I detail the experience in After Here: The Celestial Plane and What Happens When We Die.

What are some of the more realistic psychic experiences you’ve seen in books and movies?  You have to remember, fiction is fiction.  There is some truth to it but it’s exaggerated.  Lynn Kurland does a good job with her work.  Victoria Laurie is another one I enjoy.  P.J. Alderman has a good handle on pieces of it.

For movies, I think my favorite is Ghost.  The scene where Patrick Swayze is singing Henry The Eighth to Whoopi Goldberg’s character is pretty accurate.  Ghosts can be annoying if they want to be.

They will shake the bed, throw things to wake you up, and pester you until they get your attention.

I enjoyed the movie Hereafter, but I found I had much more in common with the psychic –  Matt Damon’s character.

I don’t need to take medication – I learned to manage the disruptive nature of my abilities before anything like that became necessary.

My religious upbringing – in a culture that accepts the supernatural – had a lot to do with that.  It was just accepted so I didn’t think a big deal of it either.

What about movies like Poltergeist and the Amityville Horror?  Lloyd Auerbach has a fabulous take on this.  He was the paranormal investigator for the real Amityville Horror site – which was nothing like the movie.  He talked about what a circus it was, with people running around, saying, “Oooh, can you feel it?  Do you feel it?  Ooooohhhhh.”


How could anyone pick up anything with all that energetic racket?

Most of those people were probably detecting each other’s emotions.

Any final thoughts?  Life is never dull.

Related books:

After Here: The Celestial Plane and What Happens When We Die

Kerry’s Game (Psi Adventure Series #1)

Psychic Hangover (Hangover Series #2)


Introducing You to a World You Never Knew Existed