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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Writing – research – Psychic-01

Research for my third Tana Standish novel (The Khyber Chronicle) has re-introduced me to one of my old books, Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain by Sheila Ostrander & Lynn Schroeder (1970) my copy 1976.

As a writer of fiction, one doesn’t have to believe everything, particularly where the so-called pseudo-sciences are concerned. A significant proportion of the population (US, UK, elsewhere) believe in the existence of some form of supernatural or psychic phenomena, though it does seem difficult to prove under strict laboratory conditions.  The writer’s mission is to suspend disbelief, and in this case that requires a certain amount of research in the literature on the psychic subject.

When creating my psychic spy, Tana Standish, I realised that she couldn’t attempt to utilise too many abilities, only a few, otherwise she'd be 'superwoman', and these 'talents' could not always be called upon at will. Emotions and environment play a part in receptiveness, as we know.

In the 1970s I had amassed a fairly large collection of books on the supernatural; this decade seemed to be the heyday of paranormal phenomena, and it was the ideal period to set my psychic spy series. 

One interesting example from the Ostrander-Schroeder book was Wolf Messing, a Jew. 

In a Warsaw theatre in 1937 in front of a thousand people he predicted, ‘Hitler will die if he turns toward the East’. 

At least one psychic had been murdered by the Nazis for ‘knowing too much about their plans’.

Hitler, apparently a believer of the occult, heard of the prophecy and put a price of 200,000 marks on Messing’s head.

The German Army invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 and Messing hid but he was captured and identified. He was beaten up, losing six teeth, and then taken to a police station. Here, he used all his powers of mind to compel all the police to go to one room where he locked them in, and he escaped to the Russian border. His father, brothers and his entire family were slaughtered in the Warsaw Ghetto.

At Brest Litovsk he was among many refugees fleeing the Nazis. His telepathy convinced the manager of the Ministry of Culture to give him a job.

People’s thoughts came to him as pictures, he explained, visual images of a specific action or place. If he touched the person, the thoughts were clearer, stronger, but touch wasn’t essential.

Later, Wolf Messing trained NKVD officers and had a number of encounters with Stalin.
He seemed able to telepathically project his thoughts into another person’s mind, to control or cloud them… In one test, he penetrated Stalin’s dacha, got past the many guards and servants by mentally suggesting to them he was Beria (Lavrenti Beria was the feared head of the Soviet secret police). He didn’t look like Beria, either!

Messing died in 1974, aged 75. 


Some aspects of Messing's ability would be employed by Tana. She was a child of five when she escaped the Warsaw Ghetto with her brother. Her psychic powers were slight at this time, but growing, despite the hunger and fear - or perhaps because of those life-threatening stimuli. She would have a psychic link with anyone she'd touched. As an adult and a spy, she would not balk at shaking hands with the devil; all the better to slay him...

Tana Standish can be found in The Prague Papers and TheTehran Text.

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