Paul Conroy conducts investigations for the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO). He has studied the Sasquatch phenomenon from the Everglades to the Canadian border for thirteen years. When not pursuing the unknown, he roams the wilds, practices martial arts, reads, and writes. Conroy and his furry four-legged daughter Koda live in the Jersey swamp.
Michael Robartes leads Scientific Paranormal, a paranormal investigation team in The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) Family network. A life- long explorer of unexplained phenomena, he knows what eyewitnesses go through and helps them integrate their experiences into their world-view. Robartes lives in New York between the Adirondack Park and the Canadian border.
Q-and-A: Meet authors Paul Conroy and Michael Robartes
Q. There are so many books concerning ghosts and Sasquatches on the market. What distinguishes The Rabbit Hole Experience from the rest?
A. PAUL: I think The Rabbit Hole Experience is unique in three ways. First, most books relating to the topic focus on the debate regarding whether or not the subject matter exists, whereas “The Rabbit Hole Experience” is just as much about the witnesses themselves and their interpretation of their experience.
Secondly, the parallels that we’ve drawn between the world of cryptozoology and spirit investigation have given us a broader experience. My relationship with Mike and the experience that he brings to the table has made me a better investigator, not despite his different field, but because of it.
Thirdly, there are plenty of books on the topic of Sasquatch and plenty more on the subject of ghost phenomena. Our book includes both. TWO BOOKS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE! In trying economic times, The Rabbit Hole Experience makes for a sound financial investment.
Q. Do you investigate together, on separate teams, or both?
A. PAUL: We are members of separate teams, but Mike has accompanied me on many investigations over the years, and is as knowledgeable of the approach to Sasquatch investigation as anyone I know. I think at this point, we’ve become a team unto ourselves.
MICHAEL: It provides a good balance so that when we work together, we can bring different skills and ideas to the table.
Q. Where do you investigate and how do you choose your locations?
A. MICHAEL: My team almost entirely focuses on residential cases. People call us when they’re experiencing what they believe to be paranormal activity in their homes. My main criterion for choosing to do an investigation is whether I feel that we will be able to help the people involved and leave them in a better state than when we arrive. Whether or not I expect to find any paranormal activity is not really the issue, although sometimes we are surprised.
PAUL: For Sasquatch investigation, large tracts of wilderness or undeveloped land. Over the years of talking to witnesses and other investigators, you can identify territory that has a high concentration of reported experiences.
Q. You’ve both been investigating for years. At what point did you become interested in the people who experience strange phenomena as much as the phenomena themselves?
A. MICHAEL: From the beginning. I entered the field because of my own history of experiences. I really didn’t need any more evidence to convince me that these phenomena are real. My purpose was always to help other people to deal with their experiences.
PAUL: I think my interest deepened after considering the broad range of interpretation I experienced regarding the feedback of witnesses over the years ; a downright spiritual experience for some, primal fear for others, and a few who simply gained an immeasurable open-mindedness regarding limitless possibility – so many people having extraordinary experiences, and interpreting them so differently.
Q. Each of your endeavors produces enough stories to fuel a book of its own. Why did you join forces to write one book?
A. PAUL: The book was born over fireside conversations regarding Mike’s investigations and my field work regarding the Sasquatch phenomenon. While each subject is compelling on its own, I think the creative fire was sparked by the idea of marrying experiences from both fields together. Like a song... a big, hairy, ghostly, song.
MICHAEL: Our focus in the book is on the common ground between our fields, which is the psychological impact of a person encountering something they don’t believe is real. Seeing this impact from the different angles offered by our individual pursuits really helped us to better understand what was going on. We hope that it will be the same for our readers.
Q. When you were writing The Rabbit Hole Experience, who did you envision your readers would be?
A. PAUL: The skeptic who wanted insight into those who claim what has been deemed impossible, the believer who wants a bit more than a mere documentation of sightings, and the witnesses to the unexplained themselves, those who have fallen into the hole and need to validate their experience and know that they are not alone.
Q. What do you most hope to accomplish with your book?
A. MICHAEL: I think we are at a critical juncture in the paranormal field. We’ve reached a point where collecting more evidence to prove the existence of these phenomena is really of marginal value. It’s time to shift the focus of our inquiry from gathering evidence to examining what it means that people have these experiences. I hope that our book can help to steer the conversation in that direction.
PAUL: For me, it’s simply our experiences over a decade of poking our noses into areas where many don’t, or won’t. I hope that people read it, apply their own knowledge and experience and develop a broader sense of the “real” vs. the “unreal”.
Q. How has investigating affected your belief systems and approach to life?
A. MICHAEL: My belief system expanded to incorporate spirit phenomena long ago. However, on the Bigfoot side, I have still not crossed that line. Above all, investigating has humbled me to just how little we actually know about the way the world works.
PAUL: The most enriching part of investigating is the constant reminder that there are still mysteries out there for us to discover. We don’t have all of the answers. There are still mysteries to unravel that require our open mindedness and the exchanging of ideas.
Q. What is the next step for the two of you in your respective fields?
A. MICHAEL: Relating to the idea of turning our focus on the meaning of these experiences, I am currently very interested in the nature of time and how it relates, not just to paranormal experience, but to human experience in general. Many paranormal experiences don’t play well with our linear ideas of time, and I think there is something very deep there that can be learned. If we can adjust our view on what time is, or even on what is isn’t, it may make the rabbit hole seem a lot less dark and twisty.
PAUL: To continue to have new experiences and broaden my horizons regarding where I conduct investigations, and hopefully either produce or witness new evidence that brings us to the next step in the study of the Sasquatch phenomenon, and to possibly branch out into other areas of the unexplained. For example, we have become interested in stone chambers found throughout the Northeast that have inspired a lot of debate regarding their significance. Strange happenings have often been associated with the chambers, and Mike and I have often been associated with strange happenings. We look to dig deeper - into the Rabbit Hole.