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Alternate Perceptions Magazine, November 2021

An Interview with Jimmer Hardy, author of DAMON

by: Brent Raynes

Jimmer Hardy’s DAMON launches his readers into a mysterious world of unparalleled, pulse-pounding high-strangeness. It’s a genuine page-turner with endless plots that pull you into a mind-boggling storyline that could give Stephen King the shivers. During my reading of this fictional masterpiece, I couldn’t help but imagine what awesome movie magicians like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas or J.J. Abrams could produce.

When Hardy sent me a review copy of DAMON, he scribbled out this message: “Here’s hoping your non-fiction, analytical mind has room to enjoy this fanciful Keelian romp.”

For those who may wonder what Keelian means, Hardy dedicated this book “to the mirth, mind and memory of John A. Keel.” Born in 1930 as Alva John Kiehl in Hornell, New York, he moved to New York City in 1947 to become a professional writer. In the UFO and paranormal field, we simply came to know him as John A. Keel. His best-known book The Mothman Prophecies (1975), describes his investigations in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966 and 1967 of UFOs, psychic manifestations, and a birdman with red eyes, nicknamed Mothman. The book became a motion picture in 2002 which starred Richard Gere playing the Keel role.

In Hardy’s alternate universe Keel is named Alva Jacob Keely, who prefers to be called Jake. Anyone who has been a fellow student or reader of Keel will recognize a variety of similarities in the fictional Keely and the real man. For example, right off the bat they’re both pipe smokers, and Jake calls paranormal beings ultra-terrestrials and elementals, as John Keel did. He also used the term Supermind, seeing these things as an interconnected network. Keel investigated Bigfoot reports, birdmen with red eyes, and mysterious Men in Black captors, just like Jake. The word transmogrify turns up where an energy form becomes a solid object, a term the real Keel used. Both were writers and both thought outside the proverbial box about these phenomena, perceiving an interdimensional, shape-shifting reality to these entities and manifestations rather than going along with the mainstream belief that UFOs were extraterrestrial “nuts and bolts” spaceships visiting earth. The term control system jumps out at you too, plus the mention of author Patrick Harpur and psychologist Carl Jung and his focus on archetypes. And, of course, the real Keel and Hardy’s Keely share the realization that there is something very dark and deceptive behind these occurrences, caused by an untrustworthy presence that must be respected.

Hardy’s Jake Keely has a lot of things going for him that John Keel didn’t. Keely is supported by a rich young benefactor, plus a tech-savvy and dedicated staff. The real Keel struggled financially [as do many writers] and I recall him at some point complaining how he sure could have used a secretary.

At any rate, Hardy very effectively crafts Jake Keely’s staff, all of them fully supportive, fully realized friends and I really enjoyed and liked them. They’re the kind of associates any of us would feel grateful to have, especially when confronting serious trials and tribulations. And, as the plot thickens, and all hell breaks loose the end of the human race faces a diabolical being, an ancient being called Damon. In fact, I dare say, they face an Old Testament style fire and brimstone hellish nightmare that descends upon the human condition leaving Jake and his crew to confront an unholy wrath and the end of humanity. It doesn’t get any more gripping and suspenseful than this.

Perhaps in the future – perhaps 2075 – we’ll be able to put it all together, comprehend the rules of the reality game, then once and for all connect the dots and bridge the chasm that has long existed between science and spirituality. DAMON connects those dots with unrelenting zeal, fun and goosebumps, as you will experience for yourself.

An Interview with DAMON author Jimmer Hardy

Brent Raynes: Jimmer, please tell us a little about yourself. 

Jimmer Hardy: I’m a dislocated Midwest boy who ended up in Arizona, high in the foothills of the Rockies. On my mother’s side were artists, saturated in creativity and heady things. On my dad’s were working-class tough guys who were independent and family loyal. I’m a blend that got into graphic design and worked hard, ranging from twenty-years of studio work to my own design office. As a startup and a rabid golfer, working over a decade with the PGA TOUR was a dream fulfilled. Our relationship was two time zones away, all Internet based, thousands of pdfs were sent. And during those independent years, alongside periods of intense work were periods of waiting for meetings to be held and judgments to be served. During those down times I’d wander the internet and eventually landed on a blog site called The One Truth, hosted in the UK, located by the URL: jandeane81.com; filled with friendly, amicable folks who had lots of questions and were seeking answers.

I started a thread called, Sasquatch Vocalizations. This was the time after the Rick Dyer hoax and my discovery of Mike Paterson’s recordings of a Sasquatch family. I mean, really, who isn’t fascinated with this subject? Quickly the thread grew lots of posts, links and videos as we shared the findings of pioneers running the gambit from Dr. Grover Krantz, John Mack, to MK Davis; fast becoming a clearinghouse for anything remotely connected to Bigfoot and the mysterious. Eventually, Mike Paterson himself joined us as we witnessed firsthand his evolving story and his disastrous run-in with his once friendly host. If you’re not familiar with that part of his story, consider yourself lucky; the fallout was brutal. (Sadly, much of his videos are now behind a paywall)

During those times I needed to periodically remind myself to remain focused on what kept the office lights on, yet the passion grew as I continued to mine the Internet for content. And as I did, I kept running into references to a guy who was new to me: John A. Keel. Invariably, many of those paranormal or cryptid articles include the line: ‘much like John Keel believed.’ That reference had tons of variations. Eventually, I took the plunge, potluck. Having seen the movie, I thought I knew the Mothman Prophecies story (which it turns out I did not) and so I dove headlong into the deep end of the pool, The Eighth Tower. Fast forward: Mind blown and everything looked different.

Brent Raynes: What about Keel’s writings drew you in and, well, blew your mind?

Jimmer Hardy: First off, Keel is fun to read and a great communicator. I once read a correspondence of his with a scientist. It was startling how technical and nearly incomprehensible it was, proving to me he knew how to connect with the broadest of readers, while having the ability to converse with the headiest of academics. John Keel was a genius who wrote for the masses.

When I finished The Eighth Tower I not only realized the magnitude of what I had read, I felt a sense of relief, like the secret world was now revealed in a way that allowed me to relax and accept the paranormal as a tangible, yet mysterious thing. And while I now accept that we are not allowed to know, Keel’s unified theory of the paranormal provides an appreciation of how little control we have and that we must relax and enjoy the show that is meant expressly for us. Turns out they are showoffs with plenty of time on their hands with a message as old as humankind: there is something greater to respect, so don’t get bull-headed or cocky—or else. Once that sinks in, it’s humbling and liberating. Keel, the great liberator. Plus, I admire his moxie.

Brent Raynes: So then what was your motivation to write this extraordinary novel about a futuristic Keel-type character based on the real Mr. Keel's unique journalistic career and his explorations into high-strangeness like the so-called Mothman, the MIB, and the UFO contactee enigma?

Jimmer Hardy: I was shocked that Keel had few great photos or portraits taken of him. Considering his global impact, I found that strange and a bit sad. He was a humble guy who had and is today changing the world and little personal insights of his life exists and that’s unfortunate.

After my first novel, Time Box, which told a story of our human origins, I wanted the next novel to be based on the paranormal: a relatable, fresh take on good vs. evil. Much like the old western novels that created heroes, I wanted to create homage to Keel, although written for all audiences, the informed, the uninformed, the young and the old. It felt queasy and a bit disrespectful sticking the real JAK into a fictional story, until the main character became his doppelganger, his spitting image with many similarities along with story driven differences. I figured that would work, like making Jake Keely a disenchanted psychologist whose business card reads: NOT AN AUTHORITY ON ANYTHING. Some will get it, while others might chuckle. The novel, Damon, was written as a fictionalized homage to the real guy who changed (saved) the world.

Writing about true evil was another speed bump for me. I did not want the book to be a grotesque rendering that produced nightmares; that’s not me. While there are shocking, cringe worthy scenes, the peppered humor is meant to provide emotional relief, just like real life. And it was off to the races once I landed the theme: The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Fight the Demon.

I believe we’ve all been touched by high-strangeness. Some brush it off as oddities and nothing more, while others are deeply touched and never forget.

I’m the latter. As a sick, ten-year old, one morning I awoke, glanced up and focused on a figure poking out from behind a window curtain. The open window was screened against ravenous midwestern mosquitoes and other exterior intruders. Across from me, above my sight line, peered a hunched cartoon figure whose fingers gripped the windowsill. It was not cute or cuddly and was not large as only its head, shoulders and fingers were visible, the rest hidden behind the parted curtain. Dressed in a tight fitting black and white striped, long-sleeved tee, its white face was shaped like an African shield whose rounded top tapered to a sharp point, less than a foot long. It’s eyes were dark and squinted, though I don’t remember that clearly. But its sharp, long nose and Cheshire toothy grin were unforgettable and cartoon-like. The hidden parts were dimensional enough to make an impression in the curtain. Movements were slight, short jogs up and down as if tense and antsy. To my right, it briefly glanced at the other bed and my sleeping brother, and then returned to me. Awake and not dreaming, it was as real as it could be, just cartoon-like. After being stunned for several seconds, I looked away towards my brother and shut my eyes; turning back it was gone. Not scared or disturbed, I fell back asleep, yet never forgot.

Ten years ago, or so, two days after Christmas, I was up early, still on my two time zone routine. As coffee perked, I went out for the paper. It was reverse twilight; the air was crisp and biting as I bent for the paper at the end of the driveway. Just light enough to scan the daily headline, I turned and glanced down the road that dipped down toward a wallow and at something out of place. Across from a neighbor’s mailbox was a tall, elongated diamond shape, maybe eight to nine feet in height. At first, I figured it was a late Christmas decoration until I realized it was out over the road, suspended in midair. The edges were wispy and fuzzy; the body was tangerine yellow with a darker core. I squinted to recognize something normal about it but couldn’t. A minute later, the chill reminded me I wanted a warm cup of coffee and went inside. Later that day, I kicked myself for not grabbing a camera. When I checked, it was gone.

Two mornings later, something else happened, something different. Going for the paper, the moon was low over the mesa across the road. Next to it, off right, a series of smoky, intertwining thin trails descended. The moon seemed to illuminate the gray ribbons, too bright for the dark sky. Above it, no source or cause was apparent. There were five or six of them. The leading end of each smoke trail was a glowing ember-like object, like something burning. That time I stayed and studied it, wondering if it was a plane accident or midair explosion of some sort, but the trails and embers fell too slowly, nearly motionless. Minutes later, the display was still there, never reaching the ground. That time I didn’t worry about recording it. The following mornings, the paper reported nothing out of the ordinary, no air disaster, tragedy, or anything remotely close. And that was it, no odd experiences since then. I had been served.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023