Following her father’s passing in 2001, Emmy Award-winning journalist Jenniffer Weigel (jenweigel.com) started to explore the subject that interested her the most—what happens when someone dies, and can we still communicate with them? The Evanston writer’s quest has led to four books, including her newest one, Psychics, Healers & Mediums: A Journalist, a Road Trip, and Voices from the Other Side ($17, Hampton Roads Publishing). She also has a monthly show at the Wilmette Theatre, where she interviews people with connections to the spirit world. The next live show features Weigel with Raymond Moody, who is an expert in near-death experiences. July 10, 7pm, tickets $20-$25, wilmettetheatre.com
Writing books about the paranormal feels like a real leap from on-air TV news. How did you get here?
I’ve always been an interviewer and storyteller, but my passions have shifted to trying to explain the unexplainable. And that happened when my father passed away from a brain tumor, but even before he got sick, I was always curious about the paranormal and the metaphysical.
You must encounter a lot of skeptics.
I wanted to know, too, are these people stealing our money? I’m not telling anyone what to believe. I present the evidence and tell the stories, and they can decide for themselves. Change comes from inspiration, not imposition; it’s a big difference.
In your books and onstage, you talk openly about your experiences.
I believe that pulling back the curtain and exposing your vulnerabilities is the best way to connect to the reader—truthful telling. It was either going to be all or nothing. This is all about the pain and the journey of losing my dad, and wondering where he is and if I can still talk to him.
And what did you find out?
When you lose someone you love, the grief can be paralyzing. I introduce people who are stuck in grief to mediums and psychics so that they can understand that their loved one isn’t really dead; they’ve just changed form from their physical body to their soul. Sometimes it takes meeting someone who contacts their loved one to make them say, ‘Wait a minute, this is real.’