I had the privilege to interview author Ed Kovacs via email recently about his debut novel, Unseen Forces (Amazon US or UK). Ed is a conspiracy buff, psychic, amateur archaeologist, global adventurer, and Daily Grail reader from way back. I hope you enjoy the interview, and please, don’t be shy — join the discussion and post your thoughts.
Rico: It must be a dream come true publishing your first novel. How did it all get started?
Ed: An idea for a new writing project started to emerge back in 2000. I was burned-out on writing screenplays – I’ve written 30 under different pens names with 9 or 10 having been filmed – so I decided to finally do something I’d been procrastinating and write a novel. Professionally, I’ve done lots of different types of writing, such as journalism, ad copy, business plans, speeches, jokes… but writing Unseen Forces was the most fulfilling writing experience in my life. I finished the first draft in 2001, before I ever heard of The Da Vinci Code, although my book has since been compared to it. I rewrote it several times as I tried to grab New York’s interest, then through serendipity found a small publisher in Los Angeles.
Rico Unseen Forces combines many different areas of interest, from alternative archaeology to remote viewing in the American military. They all combine seamlessly to form a believable plotline. Was it difficult combining these seemingly disconnected subjects, or do they have elements in common that made them ideal for each other?
Ed: I worked very hard plotting the book, and believability is important to me. The book isn’t fantasy or science fiction. I structure carefully – an old habit learned from my screenplay work. Mystery writers like Donald Westlake who sometimes begin a new novel with only a vague sense of where they are going, but create a masterpiece nonetheless are rare birds, I think. Personally, unusual juxtapositions intrigue me, whether in architecture, art, life or fiction. I don’t like things too pat. When I stand back and look at my life, I see a pastiche of disparate elements that don’t necessarily go together logically. I like dichotomies, and I think it makes for more interesting characters in fiction. You might be surprised that more than a few mainstream archeologists have in the past quietly solicited input from “psychics” to aid an excavation. There’s a lot of detective work in archeology and in that regard, remote viewing can be extremely useful.
Rico: Remote Viewing is one of the novel’s various subjects. You’re a student of remote viewing yourself. Have you experienced success with your RV sessions?
Ed: Yes, and I think most people are able to, with proper training. I make no pretense of being a great remote viewer, if we use the precise SRI/Pentagon generated definition of what remote viewing is. I need more training and hope to take one of Paul Smith’s courses in Austin, Texas when I can find the time. However, I have lots of training as a clairvoyant, although I refuse to have anything to do with predicting the future.
Rico: Did your personal experience of RV make its way into the character of Diana Hunt?
Ed: I think all authors put parts of themselves in all of their characters, but Diana is much better at remote viewing than I am!
Rico: Any male reader who has a pulse will be enamoured with Diana Hunt. Are 60% of the CIA’s female field operatives really chosen for their seductive good looks? If so, it validates decades of Hollywood casting choices!
Ed: I think what I referenced in the book is that 60% of all international assassins are female. That was an Interpol statistic I came across years ago, so the percentage may be different today. I wanted Diana to have a dark past, to have been exploited by her government in a sexual way. Unattractive females don’t make for very good bait in honey traps!
I did meet a former military female remote viewer. She was a career intelligence officer, both in and outside the remote viewing unit. She was no femme fatale, but an effective officer. I’m sorry to say she was tragically killed in an auto accident a couple of years ago. The paranoid part of me would like more information about how exactly she was killed.
Rico: Do you believe the American military is continuing its remote viewing program under different guises to this day, or was it finished completely as disclosed to the public almost a decade ago?
Ed: As far as I know, elements of the government have sub-contracted out RV work to places like SAIC and some of the entities set-up by former military remote viewers. This is quite sensitive stuff and not readily discussed. If there is still some kind of RV type unit within the military or intelligence community it’s deep black. Contrary to cynical belief, the US government can keep secrets. Most governments tend to weaponize inventions, ideas and even people. The dark side of “psi” – remote influencing and so forth – is very real. Hard to imagine the government would not attempt to utilize such resources, especially since there’s very little cost involved to run such units.
Rico: If the military can train remote viewers, then it’s also possible for big business. Should we be concerned that ex-military RVers have entered the private business sector, and might be selling their talents to the highest bidder?
Ed: In the early days back in the 70s when the remote viewing protocols were still being developed, Ingo Swann, the father of remote viewing, was making money working with oil companies to locate new deposits of crude. Edgar Cayce, the so-called “sleeping prophet” did the same decades ago, and actually located a number of “gushers.” I’m not too troubled by business using RV consultants. The genie is not only out of the box, it was never in the box. Companies and governments have used this kind of woo-woo stuff since time immemorial. The huge Bank of China building in Hong Kong, built by the communist mainland government before they took control of Hong Kong, used Feng Shui masters in the design of the building for their geomancy skills. The point literally was to energetically ensure their domination of the territory. Concerned office workers in adjacent buildings place mirrors in their windows trying to reflect the energy of The Bank of China building back onto itself.
Rico: The Bilderberg Group is an example of an entity who could profit through remote viewing. Has there been efforts by “friendly” remote viewers to see what goes on in the Bilderberg’s shadowy, uber-secretive meetings?
Ed: Good question! I’ll try to pass this tasking on to someone I know.
Rico: One of the more sinister aspects of your novel involves mind control. Did your research produce mostly fiction, or did you uncover disturbing facts?
Ed: I started investigating MK Ultra and mind control back in the eighties. I was fortunate to befriend Walter Bowart, who wrote one of the seminal works on the subject, Operation Mind Control. Spending time with Walter was always sobering. He paid a heavy price for writing that first book. He lost his job, home, wife, his property was seized, and he basically fled to the California desert and lived a very low key life as a magazine editor for years before resurfacing as a conspiracy researcher.
I have no proof, but it certainly appears that some governmental element set out to destroy him, short of termination. I’ve seen it before, not only in the US, but elsewhere, that when a citizen begins uncovering and publicizing extremely sensitive information, well, suddenly bad things start happening to them.
Breaking new ground in the conspiracy arena can be a dangerous avocation. It’s safer to deal with “disturbing facts” that have already been made public, even if these facts have remained obscure. For conspiracy researchers, there’s a small upside and a huge downside.
I pushed hard for a long time to get a magazine-style TV show on the air called Conspiracies, Cover-ups, and Crimes. Dick Clark, the powerful TV producer, is something of a conspiracy guy and tried to get the show up, but even a guy with his juice couldn’t do it – the networks said no because the major advertisers wouldn’t support the show… too controversial.
The whole mind control thing is fascinating, but it’s simply impossible to reach some kind of ultimate truth regarding what has happened or is happening, as is usually the case with such deep black operations. Some of the people who claim to be victims of Project Monarch I absolutely do not believe, for very good reasons. Others, I find credible. People who don’t think the government plays around with mind control should look up the article in Defense Electronics, a mainstream scientific magazine, that reported the FBI had purchased mind control technology from the Soviets – equipment they had used on their own soldiers in Afghanistan.
Rico: Dr Yuseff Fakhry is a caricature of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities’ very own Zahi Hawass. Hawass has been linked with the ARE, Cayce’s Foundation, and even the SRI (the institute that pioneered remote viewing in the United States). Do you believe Hawass is involved in a conspiracy to withhold the truth about the Giza Plateau and its monuments?
Ed: Well, there are plenty or researchers who do believe that about Hawass. Actually, my character Dr. Fakhry is not based on Hawass. There is a character I reference in my novel named Dr. Salim Sakra, who has kicked my archeologist hero off the Giza Plateau. So this character Sakra is my representation of Hawass. And it’s true that Hawass has banned certain alternative researchers from Giza. Reasonable people could certainly conclude that Hawass is hiding something. The more interesting question I ponder is, who ultimately controls Hawass?
Rico: The Sleeping Prophet, Edgar Cayce, spoke of hidden chambers in the Pyramid of Khufu and underneath the Sphinx. Do you know if remote viewing attempts have been made in regards to the Pyramids of Egypt?
Ed: I believe there have been such taskings, but I don’t recall the details. Similar predictions of the existence of such chambers were made in the 1930s by occultists in England.
Rico: Apart from the action and conspiracy theories, your novel also deals with the very real and tragic plight of the Burmese people. I’ve been following the story of Aung San Suu Kyi for many years, but the drug trade in the Golden Triangle has remained largely unreported in the West. Tell us about your experiences in Thailand and Burma, and how it affected your novel?
Ed: I’m a sucker to support the underdog, the average guy. I’d been following the genocide against Burmese ethnic groups for a long time, and wanted to give some ink to their plight. For me, the best way to do that with veracity is to go there. I made both legal and illegal incursions into Burma, in the Golden Triangle, to see things for myself. I also spent time down in Mae Sot, a town Soldier of Fortune magazine compares to the wild wild West. I visited Burmese refugee camps on the Thai side of the border that were shelled and attacked by the Burmese army, until driven away by Thai Rangers. Energetically, I felt Mae Sot to be one of the most dangerous places I ever visited.
In the Golden Triangle I traveled with different guides, and thankfully avoided trouble. I was told I was suspected of being DEA – not a good thing in an area where everyone is dealing dope. I’m gratified to hear from so many readers who tell me the chapters set in Asia are their favorite part of my book.
Rico: Sky Wilder is a man with an interesting past. He also seems to have a different kind of cigar for every special occasion. Your author’s photograph in the press kit shows you holding a smoking pipe. Is there a little bit of Ed Kovacs in Sky Wilder?
Ed: Yes, I’m afraid so, although I can assure you, Sky has better luck with women than I do! Fundamentally, perhaps I’m most like Sky Wilder, in that I’m a person who, once I decide to do something, I go out and find a way to get it done. I’m decisive, methodical, and enterprising. I also have plenty of foibles, and I look forward to complicating Sky’s personal life in future adventures with the kinds of problems that are the stuff of life.
Rico: Wilder’s childhood friend, Professor Frank Bacavi, is a Navajo. How did his character evolve, and will we see more of him in the future?
Ed: Frank will play larger roles in future books – most certainly in the next one. Los Angeles is such a melting pot. In my neighborhood Caucasians like me are the minority, and I’m quite comfortable with that. I always populate my fiction with people of color because that’s how my world is populated, but a character like Frank is an ethnic whose ethnicity is immaterial. I hope he’s an interesting character, who just so happens to be Navajo. He’s intelligent, successful in his field, stylish to the point of vanity, and much more skeptical of paranormal stuff than Sky. I didn’t want him to be any kind of stereotypical ‘Indian,’ but nor did I want him to be ‘whitewashed.’
Rico: How important are people such as Wilder and Bacavi in context of considering alternative ideas despite mainstream academia bullying anyone who dares to think differently?
Ed: Thank you so much for asking that question. It’s not for nothing that Dr. Sky Wilder is considered fringe. Not that he’s off the deep end, but he’s very open to alternative thinking. In a way he’s like Coyote Spirit, a trickster shaking up the established order. Frank is a more moderating influence and actually represents kind of a scientific ideal to me – a scientist who is skeptical yet open-minded. It’s the bullying scientific materialists, unfortunately, who control the scientific establishment. As far as I am concerned, they are enemies of humanity. They are the kind of thinkers responsible for shutting down the military remote viewing unit. They couldn’t fathom it was possible, they didn’t want it to be possible, and so rejected all evidence to the contrary out of hand.
Rico: Will there be a movie adaptation of Unseen Forces in the near future? If so, I recommend the Daily Grail’s Greg Taylor for the role of Sky Wilder.
Ed: I’ve been in talks with some producers who think Sky Wilder and the posse will make a great film franchise, but we’ll have to wait and see. I’m sure I could make a deal in no time if I called Paramount and told them Greg Taylor was willing to star.
Rico: You’ve written quite a few screenplays yourself. How does novel writing compare to writing for the big screen?
Ed: I learned discipline and plotting from writing screenplays and that helped me a lot writing Unseen Forces. I worked out the story and sub-plots in a three act structure much like I would a script. The story and plotting were of course more complex than if I had been writing a script. I wrote five pages, single spaced, about each main character and their backstory. In a novel you can allow a story to breathe and explore tangents. There’s not much allowance for that kind of thing in screenwriting. I so enjoyed writing this novel, I don’t know that I’ll ever write another script.
Rico: You’re a keen collector of WWII vintage military aircraft seats. How many do you have, and which seat is the most comfortable?
Ed: The sexiest seats I have are from a PBM. They’re black anodized aluminum with black leather original cushions. They were radio operator seats and are quite swank. But my latest acquisition is a real coup – a pilot’s seat from a P-61 Black Widow, circa 1946. There are only four Black Widows in the entire world. One is in China, and I’m trying to acquire that plane even as we speak. Military aircraft seating underwent an incredible design revolution in the 40s – pioneered by machine-age designers – and I’m co-writing a book about this that should appeal to the arty design crowd. My friend and I are putting on a gallery show featuring these seats in West Hollywood at the end of the year. These seats are big, take up a lot of space, and cost a lot to restore and ship. If I was smart, I would have collected Olympic pins.
Rico: What kind of sacred objects do you collect, and were there any Sky Wilder-like adventures obtaining any of them?
Ed: My collection is broadly focused. I have a shadow box crammed with smaller objects – stuff from Japan, India, Native American fetishes. I have some exquisite shaman’s rattles. A crystal ball imbued with the image of the Monkey King. I once had thousands of crystals, but gave most of them away.
Sky Wilder is a bit more larcenous than I am. But I was taken into custody by a female soldier at the airport in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, lead away from my companions, taken to the basement and essentially accused of antiquities smuggling. I had a cache of precious Buddhist items I bought at a ramshackle monastery near the Gobi Desert, and they were trying to shake me down. They had already seized a gazelle skull from me at the ex-ray machine. Stingy with their bones, those Mongolians. I’ve since consulted with militaria smugglers who operate out of Mongolia, but that’s another story.
Rico: Your novel touches on interesting subjects, and you’ve had many interesting travel experiences (especially in the Golden Triangle along the Thai/Burmese border). Do you plan on writing articles or books about your experiences and interests, or is all of your attention focused on the next Sky Wilder novel?
Ed: I recently posted a blog at my Web site, www.edkovacs.com, where I talk about some experiences in Cambodia and Central America regarding acquiring precious objects. I’ve spoken to Nick Redfern, editor of Phenomena Magazine, about writing an article on crystal skulls, a topic I started researching in the late 70s. The skulls will make an appearance in a future Sky Wilder adventure. I’m rich with stories I want to write, the problem is finding enough time.
Rico: The subjects of alternative archaeology, world mysteries, conspiracy theories and the paranormal provide an incredibly rich and seemingly inexhaustible treasure trove of story ideas and plotlines. What’s next for Sky Wilder?
Ed: When I scan the home page of The Daily Grail, I see so many items with the potential to be worked into a compelling piece of fiction. And sometimes the best way to get the truth out is to “fictionalize” it. As for Sky Wilder, he and Diana will soon take on a charismatic descendant of Chingus Kahn and his Buriyat shamaness mistress who are up to global no good. The story will mostly take place in Japan, China, Mongolia and Siberia. I have some big surprises in store for Wilder, so we’ll see how he handles them.
Rico: On behalf of everyone at TDG, I’d like to thank Ed for his time and generosity.