After publishing more than 900 articles and 40 books, Katherine Ramsland can be called prolific. She can also be called "doctor" with a Ph.D. in philosophy along with her master's degrees in forensic psychology, clinical psychology and criminal justice. When she's not writing, consulting with law enforcement agencies on appearing on television documentaries, Dr. Ramsland teaches her subjects at De Sales University in the Lehigh Valley.
Because research is a focal point of her writing and her subjects are so unusual, Mitzi Flyte asked Dr. Ramsland questions about both.
Mitzi Flyte: You have 40 books published. How much time do you spend researching a topic?
M: Considering the topics of your books, was there any subject (person or situation) that really bothered you to the point where you didn't think you could write about it?
M: What was the most unusual thing you had to do in researching a book?
M: What spurred your interest in criminal activity/criminal justice?
K: It began with a serial killer in my home town when I was a kid. I was fascinated with the news reports as each body was discovered, and with the increasing community tension. Much later, I read a book about it and got interested in the investigative and legal process. Along the way, different writing opportunities pulled me closer and closer into the world of criminal justice, and eventually I was teaching classes in the areas in which I had some expertise. Truly, my journey as a writer has been full of serendipity and synchronicity. Whenever people ask how they can do what I do, I say, "Be open and be curious." Many people wondered why I'd go for yet a fourth graduate degree. My answer was, and is, "Because, why not?"
M: What was the inspiration for your new book: "Snap! Seizing Your Aha Moments"?
K: I was looking for a psychological experience that I could document that would intrigue readers. I had seen various accounts of Oprah-type "aha! moment" as shifts of consciousness -- "Ah, I see" -- but I was more interested in those stunning moments of eureka insight that propel you straight into action or dissolve some stubborn impasse. I call them "snaps." Just the way Malcolm Gladwell invented "blink" for an experience we all have of gut instinct, I articulated the "snap." And I discovered some really amazing snaps in all different kinds of endeavors, from little kids creating their own companies to military commanders, to writers and scientists. I also found brain research to support it, so from all of that, I devised a way to help people make these sudden (and awesome) insights occur in their lives on a regular basis. I had done something similar many years ago for "bliss," but I think this material is more exciting.
M: Your bio mentions "dead" dinners. And what would they be?
K: Actually, it's a "dumb supper." It's a gathering of serious-minded people who agree to not speak while being served a specific type of meal as they commune with spirits. I haven't attended yet, so I can't say more than that. But it's my next venture into the dark.
Thank you, Dr. Ramsland, for being so open with your answers. I look forward to your workshop on research at The Write Stuff Conference.