Gary Nunn on ‘The Psychic Tests’: First Book Club

The Kill Your Darlings Podcast
The Kill Your Darlings Podcast
Gary Nunn on 'The Psychic Tests': First Book Club

Each month we celebrate an Australian debut release of fiction or non-fiction in the Kill Your Darlings First Book Club. For October that debut is The Psychic Tests by Gary Nunn, out now from Pantera Press.

In The Psychic Tests award-winning journalist Gary Nunn investigates psychics, mediums and astrologers to understand their uncanny, under-investigated and unregulated power. Gary tries out some psychics himself, sometimes with hilarious results. He hears about their secret influence over world leaders, CEOs, news editors and the criminal justice system. Believe in them or not, psychics can impact who will date you, befriend you and even who’ll hire you.

Our theme song is Broke for Free’s ‘Something Elated’. Sound production by Lloyd Pratt.

Further reading:

Read a review of The Psychic Tests in our October Books Roundup.

Read about Gary’s favourite books and reading habits in this month’s Shelf Reflection.

The Psychic Tests is available now from your local independent bookseller.

Stream or subscribe: Apple Podcasts / Soundcloud / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Other (RSS)

Let us know what you think by rating and reviewing in your app of choice!



Alice Cottrell: Welcome back to the Kill Your Darlings Podcast. I’m KYD publisher Alice Cottrell, and today I’ll be bringing you our October First Book Club interview. Our pick this month is The Psychic Tests by award winning journalist Gary Nunn, out now from Pantera Press. Gary investigates psychics, mediums and astrologers to understand their uncanny power, and whether it’s used for good or evil. The Psychic Tests is a gripping, often moving examination of trust, faith and connection. First Book Club host Ellen Cregan spoke with Gary to ask him about the book.

Ellen Cregan: Hi, Gary. Thanks so much for joining me today.

Gary Nunn: Pleasure.

Ellen Cregan: So we’re just going to start with a reading from Gary from the book.

Gary Nunn: Here we go. I wanted to start with just a bit of a preamble. I wanted to start with a good news story, because there’s a lot of darkness in this book, so I thought I’d start with some light.

When, in this minefield maze of headfuckery, people seek out advice from something a bit other-worldly, I kind of get it. Love is the hardest to control of all things. No wonder we want a guiding hand, no matter which world it comes from. It’s the dream, isn’t it? To know what’s written in the stars for you, that there will be someone who’ll love you, alleviate your loneliness, appreciate you for who you are? This is why Agony Aunts and Uncles exist as a profession, and it’s another string to the bow of the psychic; they very often play this role and, I have to say, very often, they’re good at it—because of their intuition, their sharply tuned ability to read social cues and their willingness to decode the language of love. 

And I’d do it because I could, potentially, get the kind of golden advice that Deborra-Lee Furness received. It changed her life. 

The year was 1995 and Deborra, who is Australian, was living in Los Angeles. She wasn’t entirely happy. After graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, the talented and optimistic actor thought she’d try her chances in LA, where it all happens. 

She picked up a few roles, but didn’t get what every actor dreams of: her big break. And it was getting her down. Feeling dejected and crestfallen, Debora did what many people do when they feel they’re in a rut and they can’t seem to know their own minds to make the right choice: She went to see a fortune teller. ‘She told me I had to go back to Australia,’ Deborra has said. ‘She said: “You must go back because that’s where it’s all going to happen. You’ll get work—and you’ll meet a man.”’ 

It changed the trajectory of her life. ‘I thought, What have I got to lose?’ Deborra said.

Shortly after moving her entire life back to Australia, she scored the lead role in the ABC crime drama Corelli. On set, she met a handsome young man who’d also scored a role in the drama and who had just graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. His name was Hugh Jackman. 

This year, they’ve been married for 24 years. 

Whether you believe in fortune tellers or not, that’s a damn good story. And I know you must be itching to know what I want to know. What was her name and does she still take bookings? 

Well, it was a quarter of a century ago, so we may have to let that live in celebrity love folklore. 

There you go.

Ellen Cregan: Thank you so much, Gary. I think that is a really nice way to introduce your book with something positive.

Gary Nunn: Yeah, I think so, because in this book, I wanted to speak equally to believer and sceptic, and that was tricky, a tricky kind of place to find neutral ground and to try and remain agnostic and quieten my inner sceptic. And so in the book, my sister is the voice of the believer, and I’m the voice of the sceptic—at least that’s how we start the book, and what I will say is we step into each other’s worlds a bit in the book. And this was one of the ways I stepped into her world. I started to hear these stories with a bit more of a—I don’t know if I want to use the word open mind, but certainly more of an open heart and just to bear witness to some of these stories. Because whether I believe in that or not, it’s a story that had a huge impact on Deborra-Lee’s life—like she’s moved her entire life to the other side of the world, based solely on this psychic advice. So yeah, just a great, just a great, nice, upbeat story, because there’s plenty of darker ones to counterbalance that in the book.

Ellen Cregan: Can you give us a brief overview of the book, and sort of the structure of the book I’m particularly interested in?

Gary Nunn: Sure. So my book, The Psychic Tests, every single chapter is a different test. And that is because any book previously on this subject has spoken solely to believers, mainly, or occasionally solely to sceptics. There hasn’t, as far as I know, ever been a book that speaks equally to both. And there’s been a fixation on one test—and that test is, is this real? Can psychics see into the future? Can mediums speak to the dead? And I kind of come from a place in the book, a similar place to Alain De Botton in Religion for Atheists, when he says the most boring question in the world to ask when it comes to religion is, ‘does God exist or not?’ And it’s the same for psychics—it’s the most boring question to say, ‘is this true or not?’ Because if your starting point is that you’re a complete sceptic, then you close down stories like that one we just heard, which are full of wonder and fun and intrigue. And also the fixation of whether this is real or not has has kind of distracted sceptics through the ages. So to this day in Australia, you can still win $100,000 from a group called the Australian Sceptics, who spend their time debunking psychics, if you can prove that you have paranormal or psychic abilities. So there’s an, and that goes back to magicians like James Randi, The Amazing Randi, trying to disprove some of the grand claims that psychics made, and he had a $1 million challenge. There’s a great history going back quite far, to people trying to catch out sceptics—psychics, and testing them. In my book, what I decided to do with the structure was to make each chapter a different test, to ask various different questions beyond that one test, such as, can psychics harm? Can they heal? Can they alleviate loneliness? Can they decode mysteries? Can they unstick people from Catch-22 situations? Can they help with grief? Can they freeze-frame you in one stage of grief? And the answer to every single one of those tests is yes. So that’s where I came up with the idea of having my sister in the book, because my sister starts the book as a complete believer, and I start the book as a total sceptic. And the book starts where we go and see this ancient psychic called Iris. And we have a real giggle. But we had no idea how much the predictions that she made for us would come to entertain us, and in some ways guide us, and in many ways bind us in the two years that were ahead. So yeah, in the book, we kind of step into each other’s worlds, we start to hear each other more, and we navigate the grief over our dad’s death in very different ways. And the book starts with my sister seeing various different mediums trying to connect her back with our dead dad. And so that’s where we start, that’s where I start, I’m really intrigued as to her method of grief and how different it was from mine. And then from the micro, I go out into the macro and I investigate how much of an impact psychics have had quite high up, from world leaders to chief execs to police murder investigators. So we go from the micro to the macro. And the book, I guess, is part investigative journalism, part memoir, part gonzo, because I go and see dozens of these psychic and mediums myself, and there’s some humour in there as well.

Ellen Cregan: So you do, you did mention before that you start out with this inner sceptic, and you’re definitely more on the sceptical side of things. But one thing I noticed about the book, and really enjoyed about it, is that you actually are super balanced in your approach throughout. Like, there’s no kind of wink to the audience, necessarily, you’re very much assessing the information in front of you in a really fair and balanced way. Was it difficult to keep that approach, or did you have any sort of strategies to keep that approach at those times where you were maybe quite sceptical?

Gary Nunn: It was really difficult. That was a real challenge as a writer. Because I, I went back to my time at the BBC—so I used to be a features journalist for BBC Australia—and I was thinking about how they achieve balance in all of their pieces, and they’re obsessed with balance, fixated by it, and where to place neutral ground to achieve that balance and that fairness in reporting. And for example, when the BBC’s reporting on climate change today, the starting point is that the science on climate change is settled, climate change is real, and therefore they don’t go out and try and quote a climate change sceptic for balance—even though those sceptics exist within our own political system, voted in democratically, they no longer do that. And there was a time when they they would have done—not when I worked there, but. And similar for gay equality, when they do stories on gay equality, they no longer go out and find some bigot who says that gay people deserve to be treated unequally, because we now live in a world where marriage equality is, exists. So based on the learning and rigorous training that I kind of had by working there, I thought, where do I place neutral ground? Like, the sceptics, the Australian Sceptics would say, ‘well, neutral ground is scepticism’, but believers would say, ‘no, neutral ground is curiosity’. So I’m constantly coming back to where to place that neutral ground. So what I decided to do is out myself as a sceptic, but then ask my reader to trust me when I commit to making an agnostic approach—taking an agnostic approach to the whole story. So I make that promise to them early on in the book, and I keep kind of pulling my head back in whenever my inner sceptic comes out on questions. And I do that by speaking to my sister, who says, ‘well, believers would see it this way, that might not be how a believer sees it’. And I got a very good friend who is also a believer, and a bunch of people who are really into psychics, out as psychic investigators, to go and seek out their advice, and to just kind of come back to me and report how accurate they were. So that I kind of quieten that inner sceptic point where I’m seduced by pseudoscience. Because I think that’s important—it’s important not to go too far when the pendulum swings that way, but in order to hear their stories in good faith, and to understand that this is their belief, and you know, just in the same way that we wouldn’t necessarily too quickly laugh at, mock and utterly deride the faith of a Christian, nor should we do so necessarily with psychic believers. And I definitely was someone that used to do that—I was very dismissive of them, and laughed at the kind of ridiculous things I thought they believed in. And then when I moved away from that into this agnostic approach, all of these wonderful stories started opening up. And whether I believe in their stories or not, doesn’t matter. They were real for them. And the grief and the tears that I kind of bear witness to in the book are very real. And so I’m really pleased that I did that, because it would have been much easier just to do a Richard Dawkins-esque God Delusion for psychics. But like, you know, that’s…I would have shut out so many stories if I’d have done that.

Ellen Cregan: Now I’m going to ask you about the actual psychics and believers in a minute. But you’ve mentioned the sceptics a couple of times, and so I just wanted to ask you about the sceptics that you meet in the book—what were they like, and what was their kind of vibe, I guess?

Gary Nunn: Their vibe was different from what I had expected. So I had expected the Australian Sceptics, who are a group of people who meet up, they have an event outside of lockdown called Sceptics in the Pub: Thinking and Drinking, and they all get together and agree with each other on pseudoscience being bad. And they have their own magazine, and their own podcast, and the bete noirs of sceptics are psychics and mediums and crystal healers, and also naturopaths and homoeopaths and anything that is not proven by science, fact and evidence. And they’ve spent their lives as sceptic activists, many of them, like, for example, they will campaign to get crystal healers out of university fresher weeks, when they have stalls at universities, saying universities are no place for this kind of stuff. And one of the guys I met from the Australian Sceptics, Richard Saunders, he was telling me about an event that they run where they promote ‘rational thinking and analytical skills’ amongst students at schools. And this is because they’re going to grow up in a world where online dating apps, catfishing happens, and people aren’t always say who they…people aren’t always who they say they are. And where trolling happens, and where on the Internet they might be susceptible to non-fact-checked information that might dissuade them, for example, from having a vaccine. So they—and in addition, they could end up spunking a lot of their money on psychics, which as I found out in the books, often when people do that there’s a sort of a shame to it, and they keep it secret, and they get… So the Sceptics do a lot of good, I would say, and promote rational thinking and analytical thinking, because that’s something that they don’t believe is taught rigorously enough in schools. So they run that for young people. But when I met them and explored and investigated them a little bit, they are just as eccentric as the psychic believers who they pursue, because in many ways they, I mean they spend their lives taking trains out to RSLs and sitting through psychic shows and then leafleting afterwards saying if you thought that this might be, this might be pseudoscience and it might not be real. But also they’re colourful characters, they idolise James Randi, the magician who was someone who very aggressively debunked psychics, and he lived until October last year and died when he was in his 90s and spent his entire life trying to expose the trickery that’s involved in seducing you, and making you think that psychics are real when they’re not. And, but also I realised that they have a community, they have their own media and they have their own events. And just like psychics and their believers, they, they have a sense of purpose, a sense of community and are seeking connection and seeking answers. And saying it, but I think that in that sense they have more in contact with their nemesis, the psychics, than they actually realise.

Ellen Cregan: (Laughs). It is interesting, isn’t it? It kind of reminds me of really militant atheists, who are similar. The sort of, the belief in the atheism is almost as powerful as a religious person’s belief in religion.

Gary Nunn: True. It’s interesting because Atheism under itself and Agnosticism underwent kind of a bit of an image change with Christopher Hitchens and God is not Great and Richard Dawkins and The God Delusion. And I remember also with Ariane Sherine at The Guardian, she promoted this campaign of billboards which said, ‘There’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.’ And she crowdfunded them, and I remember being really inspired by that because it was an antidote to the billboards that cashed-up churches were putting around London, when I lived there at the time, saying ‘repent now or face eternal damnation,’ and the people that they wanted to repent were gay people like me, or divorced people like my mum, you know—people who live ordinary lives and don’t consider themselves to be evil. So all of a sudden it became quite fashionable to be an atheist, whereas in the past it had been demonised, because you were portrayed as dour, as a heathen, as a party pooper, as Godless, and infidel, all of these really negative and buzzkill kind of labels. And to an extent, that is what the sceptics still say that they feel like they are portrayed as today, the psychic sceptics. They’re seen as killing the magic that is involved in this realm. And I don’t think their level of scepticism around psychics has yet reached the same fashionable levels that Atheism reached, led by Dawkins as the head of it. But maybe one day it will.

Ellen Cregan: So on to the psychics. You speak to quite a big range of psychics in the book, and like, people from all different corners of that world, people with all different approaches. How did you set about finding these people?

Gary Nunn: Well, that was easy. Because there are so many, it’s a multibillion-dollar industry, the psychics themselves, they’re excellent at marketing. So the psychics themselves are easy to find. In terms of finding the believers, not quite so easy, although there are many of them. And in the statistics that I’ve read, for example, at least a quarter of Americans believe that they have had a psychic experience. Those statistics are just the sort of tip of the iceberg. And a lot of statisticians say that they think that there are many, many more, but people don’t necessarily want to admit to it to a statistic—statistician—I can’t say that word! (Both laugh). Someone who can parse statistics. Yeah, and many of them keep that belief hidden and secret, because there’s a perceived shame, which it always brought me back to people of faith, who tend to wear their faith a bit more proudly, because there’s churches for them to express it, and we give them a lot of credence and respect, whereas psychic believers sometimes—it was quite telling, actually, that a lot of the believers that I did speak to agreed to speak to me on the condition of anonymity in the book, or having a pseudonym, and that’s because they didn’t want their decision making skills or leadership at work to be questioned. And I thought, how interesting—you literally can’t be voted in as the President of America unless you say you believe in God, there’s never been an openly atheist President. And yet if you are professing these, a belief in this form of supernatural miracles, which in my mind as a rational minded sceptic is no different, then you are fearful of being derided and being seen as not very good at your job, and not very good at making rational headed decisions. So yeah, there’s this interesting double standard at play. But yeah, so once I gave people the promise that I’d give them a pseudonym, many people spoke to me, and what surprised me was there were counterintuitive believers, and they were people who—they’re pro-climate change action, they are pro-vaccination, they are pro-science, some of them are atheists, and yet they make big life decisions based on psychic advice. And that always surprised me, because I just thought people viewed it as a form of levity and entertainment, and I didn’t, I don’t think—I underestimated how seriously people take them, and how much power that bestows upon them. And it’s an under investigated power, because of the secrecy, and the fact that people, there’s this clandestine tone to all of it. So yeah, promising them pseudonyms and anonymity allowed me to reveal that there are editors of major news sites, chief execs of huge corporations, and people high up in the police and world leaders who are seduced by psychic advice.

Ellen Cregan: It’s so interesting to think about how this might change as well, because I feel like with the rise of like, meme astrology and things like that, people’s attitudes towards psychic, um, to psychics and sort of divination, I suppose, is really changing in these younger generations.

Gary Nunn: Absolutely it is. Yeah, the crystal ball has become the astrology app, and the tarot cards have become the memes like #notallgeminis, which is huge—apparently I discovered people love to rib Geminis for being two-faced, etc. So, yeah, very interesting. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is it’s a form of irony. So like, there is a younger generation who are coming up and astrology is particularly inviting to them—it’s a form of ironic belief. So they almost suspend their disbelief and indulge a cognitive dissonance, and they can hold both things to be true. They could be pro-science, and yet they can explore this world in a way that gives them some light guidance and some life hacks in the daily notifications that these astrology apps like Costar and the Pattern are giving them. And they’re big. They’re really big business. So that’s one reason. But the other reason is deeper, and it goes to a sort of Millennial and younger malaise and disillusionment with late stage capitalism, and where it has led us. So we’re living in this post-truth world where Trump gets in and Brexit gets voted in against all odds, disillusionment with major parties, major political parties, and a disenfranchisement with major organised religions. And that’s certainly true for the people who feel shut out from the conservative doctrines of major organised religions, and the conservative doctrines of major political parties, because people don’t want to upset the status quo, and certainly not in their minds Boomers, who the status quo served them perfectly well because they own their houses. So with all of this atmosphere creates a perfect storm for younger generations to invest in astrology, because it is a spiritual realm in which women and queer people particularly, can feel empowered, can feel heard and can indulge all of the pomp and circumstance that many major religions have, but without the kind of diktats and the doctrines that shut them out—and certainly shut women out from the hierarchies and positions of authority in major religions. And they see where capitalism has led them and they don’t like it. So they want an alternative system, they want alternative answers. And yeah, in this post-truth world they are looking to astrology as a way to feel connected and to feel empowered.

Ellen Cregan: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a great point. So throughout the process of researching and editing the book as well, did you find any of your opinions towards psychics or their work change quite a bit?

Gary Nunn: Yes. My opinions did change towards psychics—but not in the way that I think people wanted them to. I think people wanted me to change from sceptic to believer, and—because people want this to be true. Even, I was even asking some of the Australian Sceptics, like, ‘do you want this to be true?’ Because it would make…it would just be, A, exciting and B, it would be consoling and healing, because it would suggest that when you die, that is not it. There is an afterlife and your loved one, you’ll see your loved ones again, and when they die, they’re looking out for you, and they’re paving the way for you, and there’s a predestined path of fate. All these things are really reassuring, and they prevent us from dwelling in uncertainty, which is something we don’t do so well with, which we’ve seen, particularly in the last 18 months. But some things must remain unknown and uncertain, and that is just the way it is. And at this stage, there is absolutely no proof that there’s life after death. So yeah, I think that deep down it would be lovely to believe in those things, I would love to to persuade my mind that it does believe in those things. It would make grief more palatable, and it would make life more digestible, to know that there might be an afterlife. But yeah, the will is there, but the desire is not. So that is one way that I didn’t change my mind. But what I will say is I’ve changed my mind about the power that psychics have, rather than the powers that they have. The power they have is bestowed upon them by the powerful people who are surreptitiously hiring them, and getting them to advise them on how to run their business, and how to run their country in some instances. So I’ll give you an example of that. One of the big inspirations for the book was a story I reported on for the Sydney Morning Herald in 2016. Australia’s biggest stockbroking firm had collapsed, and it collapsed because its executive chairman, Glenn Rosewall, had run it by hiring a psychic for four years and paying her to advise him on where to invest his stocks and shares, but also who to hire and even who to fire. And after running it this way—and for four years, taking her, this psychic’s advice seriously—it went bust, and it was the biggest stockbroking firm collapse since the Global Financial Crisis. So it gave me this new hunch that maybe psychic believers weren’t vulnerable and naive and perhaps even foolish, as I had imagined—because they can be all of those things still, but also maybe psychic believers could secretly be powerful and authoritative and responsible for millions of dollars and hundreds of staff, like he was. And so I then went on to find out various other chief execs rely on psychic advice to help them with what they perceive as their success, chief execs as Christine Holgate, who was the former chief exec of Australia Post, has used psychics and credits them with the financial success of the vitamin company that he used to head up, Blackmore’s. And even, like I mentioned, the police and world leaders such as President Ronald Reagan and Adolf Hitler have all been susceptible to taking psychic advice seriously and allowing it to stroke their egos, boost their confidence and make them feel more secure in this position of power which, when their decisions can affect so many people, there’s no one above you but the divine. And if you don’t truly believe that God is real, then you might look sideways to these psychics.

Ellen Cregan: There might be a bit of crossover with the next question and what you just said, but was there anything that really shocked you, like, that you didn’t know, that you learnt?

Gary Nunn: Yeah, what really shocked me was when I did a Freedom of Information request on the New South Wales Police Force and I discovered that psychics had been used by the police at least 19 times between the years of 2003 and 2019. And I decided to investigate that a bit more deeply, and I discovered former high ranking detective sergeants saying that psychics were an essential part of every detective’s kit bag, along with fingerprints and DNA, and also that the New South Wales Police force has paid the expenses of psychics who have supposedly helped out on murder and missing person cases. And that shocked me because this is public money being spent on pseudoscience. And we’re living through a time when pseudoscience and misinformation and information that is not led by evidence and facts is not just distracting, and not just dangerous, but deadly. And yet we are allowing our publicly funded services to indulge this pseudoscience. And bodies remain missing, and our biggest stockbroking firm has collapsed. So psychics have a lot of success in persuading people to pay them, but certainly not much success in finding bodies or helping businesses.

Ellen Cregan: That part was gripping because they really tried to throw you off the trail when you were trying to get those Freedom of Information requests in.

Gary Nunn: Oh, yes, they did. Absolutely.

Ellen Cregan: (Laughs) They were not happy about that.

Gary Nunn: No. They didn’t want me to pursue the Freedom of Information request, they said it would be too hard because a lot of police make handwritten notes in their books, and therefore they said that the Freedom of Information request results couldn’t be accurate because it couldn’t include the handwritten notes in their books. So what that actually tells us is that it’s likely to be many more times that psychics have been used. But because of this antiquated system that the police use, their record keeping has only recently started to sort of digitise and become more sophisticated. But it was really interesting, like I looked into the case of Madeleine McCann who went missing in in Portugal, and in that case 1000 psychics contacted that family. They swoop in like a second wave of predators after one predator has taken your child, and they had to hire someone just to deal with them all. And this was really shocking—a psychic in Leicester phoned up the Leicestershire police and said, ‘I know where Madeleine McCann is, she’s on a farm in Seville, she’s been taken by a Spanish farmer.’ So based solely on that psychic advice, the Leicestershire police called the police in Seville, who then went and kicked down the doors of several farmers in Seville. So these poor farmers have got to replace their farm doors and explain to their families why the police are on their doorstep claiming that they’ve got, they’re harbouring a missing child. So there’s a real power in this world. And if you are just a sceptic and dismiss them all as charlatans and entertainers, you miss this power that they have over people in positions of authority. And that’s why I was so grateful to take this agnostic approach, because I would never have discovered that if I’d have just been dismissive.

Ellen Cregan: I have one final question for you. So based on everything you’ve learned researching and writing the book, and all the people that you’ve spoken to, what advice would you have to people who are maybe on the fence and are seeking out psychic advice?

Gary Nunn: It may be controversial, but my advice is go and see one. And the reason for that is so you can make up your own mind. But trust your own mind, do your research and go and see one. And the other reason is because, we’ve just covered a lot of the potential for harm in this world, but there were people who told me that there was some healing and consoling elements when they suspended disbelief and they indulged that cognitive dissonance. The psychics could reflect them back to themselves in a way that was sort of more lighter hearted, perhaps, than seeing a fully trained accredited counsellor, which you should always do, if you’re experiencing low mental health, go to them first. But it was a way of them kind of decoding mysteries, untangling themselves from a Catch-22 situation, getting in touch with their own guts, sort of un-muddying all of the messes of contemporary life. And sometimes the psychics would envisage for them a future that they hadn’t been able to envisage for themselves. So maybe a romantic partner, or progression in their career, or boosting their self esteem, and it created for them a sense of optimism that wasn’t there before. Even if, deep down, they didn’t really think that this person had psychic abilities—it just allowed them to nourish their dreams and attend to their anxieties and feel heard and feel connected. So my advice is go and see one, because if at the end of the hour that they give you, you think that that was all bullshit—good, because you now know, you now have done your research, and you now know that that’s what you think. But until you do go and see one, like, you know—they are unproven and they are pseudoscience, but we don’t…we don’t know. And just as I might walk into a church and find some time for contemplation and reflection there, you might find the same, you know, in a psychic’s house, and it might give you the chance to pause and reflect, just as I do when I go into church, as an atheist. You don’t necessarily…things don’t necessarily need to be true for you to find truth. And that is why we read fiction, and that is why we watch films and watch TV programmes. You can find some truth in this world if you are armed with the facts and you know what’s scientific and what isn’t, and you’re willing just to dream a bit and to indulge the mysticism a little bit. So that’s one thing I will say.

Ellen Cregan: I think that’s some very sage advice to end on. Thank you so much, Gary, for taking the time to talk to me today. It was so fascinating. And it’s a really fascinating book.

Gary Nunn: Absolute pleasure.

Alice Cottrell: That was the October First Book Club edition of The Kill Your Darlings Podcast. We’ll be back soon, but while you’re waiting, you should drop in on the KYD website for new commentary, criticism, memoir, interviews and reviews. If you’re feeling inspired to write, then check out our wide range of online writing courses. Thanks for joining us. See you next time.