Santa Fe-based Judie Fein is a travel writer who had bylines along with her husband Paul Ross in dozens of magazines and newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic Traveler, Boston Globe, and Dallas Morning News. She’s published a new book “How to Communicate with the Dead,” just in time for the Day of the Dead celebration at El Museo Cultural on Nov. 1. A shrine show takes place from 4 to 6 pm, there’s food available for purchase, plus dancing, blessings and more. She’ll give a talk at 7 pm. (Julie Ann Grimm)
Do you feel like during certain seasons or days there's a better chance of successful communication with the dead?
No. I really don't think it's dependent on human time. I think it's dependent on a relationship between you and a person you are trying to contact or the person who is trying to contact you. It's more a question of when the timing is good for both that it happens. It could be when you are brushing your teeth, it could come in a dream, or it could be when you are walking down the street or when you are driving over a mountain pass in Colorado. It can be any time. If you initiate contact, you choose the time.
What do you think readers find the most surprising about your book?
How widely accepted this is. Communication with the dead is in so many places in the world, and how varied and exciting and upbeat and wild and moving the ways that they communicate with the dead are. ‘Cause this is a culture that is afraid of death. . … People say ‘what are you writing about?’ … I just say the word dead, and you can see people turn a different color. … We, my husband and I, have been experiencing this everywhere in the world. We just came back from Cuba and it happened—everywhere we go. I hope that we will see the normalization of this as opposed to being some marginal thing that people are embarrassed to talk about.
You write in your email signature that you only report on things you've experienced first hand. When did you develop this rule for your writing?
Right now the buzzwords are 'experiential and transformative travel,' and we've been doing that for 19 years. .. We're contacted all the time that people want us to write about things, but it has to be something that we have tasted, felt, experienced, learned, gone to, so that we write from a place of personal engagement … I am interested in subjective/objective stories that are about something that's not me ,which is great, but also I'm giving you a personal, honest account of what's it's like and then, it's about 'Hey come along with me. Let's go to this together.'