Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Football (Soccer) & Vampires? Find Out More In This Candid Conversation With Martin Tracey Author Of Beneath The Floodlights

What do football players or as we say here in North America soccer players and vampires have in common. Well each has a goal in mind. Football players like to score points and vampires like to score blood. Outside of that I can't see what else they have in common but, author Martin Tracey does. He his book Beneath the Floodlights. The book tells the tale of a team that is in bad shape and in need of divine intervention so to speak. The intervention does come in the form of a new manager and a crew of players who seem to possess incredible skills. Little do most folks know including some of the teams players that the manager and his crew are vampires and the Manager is on a quest to clone the first vampire. But, there are some slight problems that the manager encounters. I got in touch with Martin Tracey to discuss the book.

Cliff T.: Mr Tracey, or Martin welcome to Candid Conversations.

Martin Tracey: Hi Cliff, Martin is fine. Thanks for the opportunity to discuss Beneath the Floodlights.

Cliff T.: Pardon the pun but, I would like to sink my teeth into this right off the bat, so to speak. Vampires and football an interesting combo. Tell me how did you come up with the plot?

Martin Tracey: I have always been fascinated with the supernatural and horror since a small child be it ghosts, werewolves or vampires. I remember in particular around the age of 9 or 10 watching Salem’s Lot starring David Soul and it just fueled my already existing active imagination. Also like most Englanders I have always been hooked on football. In England football is a massive cultural entity which significantly dominates a variety of social circles and is very much a way of life for many individuals in this country. The team I follow is Wolverhampton Wanderers and their nickname is Wolves so I initially had the idea to have werewolves taking over a football team, but the more I thought about the plot I felt that vampires had more scope to develop the story. To many the idea of the worlds of football and vampires colliding may seem a very unique storyline, but to me it made sense to marry the two worlds together because I am writing about two subjects that really inspire me. I decided to make Cezar a Professor in Football to allow the scope for him to run a School of Football Excellence and be a credible expert in the sport and I thought if he was also a Professor in Genetics I could develop the plot of him extracting DNA to make a clone. If Cezar purchased a large enough residence he could set up both his school and laboratories at the same location. Birmingham is a major city in England yet it is surrounded by ample countryside so I decided to have the residence set up in rural Staffordshire, close to the Shropshire borders which is rural enough to possess a private dwelling yet is close enough to Birmingham for Cezar and his vampire footballers to travel to the football ground.

Cliff T.: In the book it looks like there are 4 characters that are central to the plot Johnny, the professor a girl and another vampire. How do they interact with each other?

Martin Tracey: Johnny Knox is a local boy done good. He epitomizes every school boy’s dream in that he is playing for the team he supported as a child, in this case the fictitious Birmingham team of Kingsbarr United. He is club captain and would give blood for the good of his team (you will have to read the book to see if he literally has to!) He is also a strong family man and he would die for his family without a moment’s hesitation. Johnny is haunted by the disappearance of his son some years earlier but has a daughter and also finds himself adopting a Romanian child during the course of the book. When Professor Cezar Prodanescu, the master vampire from Transylvania manages the team, he recognizes Johnny’s loyalty to the club and also his ability as a player and captain. It is never on Cezar’s agenda to compromise Johnny’s position on the team hence one of the reasons he wishes to keep his vampirism secret. Cezar is the head of a raging vampire nest which doubles as a School of Football Excellence and the most promising prospect from this school is Andrei who is a fantastic footballer and is as prolific at scoring goals as he is drinking the blood of humans. It is Andrei who helps Cezar unearth the grave of the world’s first vampire which is secretly in Sutton Park (Birmingham’s equivalent of Central Park where King Henry VIII once hunted deer) so that Cezar can attempt to extract the DNA from the ancient bones in a bid to make a clone. Whilst in Birmingham Andrei unsuspectingly falls in love with a human girl called Lily and much of the book features on his struggle to protect her from the vampire world which torments him as it is against his very being: as a master vampire he is programmed to lead the way in drinking human blood to augment his vampire race. The old saying of “opposites attract” couldn’t be more appropriate as the sweet, young innocent Lily is totally at odds to all that Cezar stands for. Andrei doesn’t share his master’s desire to protect the humans that have complemented their lives and this clash between master and servant leads to dramatic consequences. There are other strong characters in the book, for instance some of the other human footballers: Jody who loves all things 1980s, winger Charlie Cheng - a Chinese Kung Fu expert and Italian playboy Giuseppe. The products of the School of Football Excellence/Vampire nest who spectacularly merge into the team are all latter-teenage orphans mainly from the countries of Romania and Brazil. Another strong character that features is Kingsbarr fan Gene who also happens to be a seasoned vampire slayer. 

Cliff T.: Is there a bit of you injected into the book?

Martin Tracey: Sub-consciously perhaps but not intentionally. There are traits of me in Johnny I guess, my family are my main priority in life and I like to think I have strong values around loyalty but I could never play football as well as him. In fact most of the time I was a goalkeeper when I played! Many of the locations I’ve used around Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield are inspired by the love I have of my home city so when I reflect on the drinking bars of Broad Street for example some of my life experiences possibly seep through.

Cliff T.: Martin, it's mentioned that you aim to be realistic while still writing in such a way that the reader will feel the horror as well, how difficult was that for this book? And, what did you do to ensure some reality was sprinkled into the fiction?

Martin Tracey: Very good question. If certain characters are portrayed as being traditionally cynical but then become exposed to a supernatural situation that they are forced to accept I think this gives an element of realism to the story. I try to get the reader to identify with the character and consider “well if that could happen to Johnny then could it happen to me?” I get the characters to question the situation they are exposed to until they themselves come to the conclusion that they must have experienced something they could not believe possible but there indeed can be no other logical explanation other than they have experienced a supernatural occurrence. Also by placing the characters in more familiar situations and by balancing fact with fiction, this is more likely to draw the reader in when the more horrific situations occur. Many of us have fears lurking in our subconscious anyway: for example how many of us have got into a car alone late and night and found ourselves checking the back seat of the car expecting a presence to be there? Many of us have involuntary fears that can be brought to the surface if manipulated well enough.

Cliff T.: Besides this book I see that you working on two others Mind Guerrilla and Divine Inspiration, what can readers look for in these two books?

Martin Tracey: Mind Guerrilla tells the story of a tough and uncompromising Birmingham cop named Judd and his superior and friend William. They are presented with the need to catch a very unorthodox serial killer and this leads Judd uncomfortably back to a previous time in his life when he was a football hooligan. Unfortunately football hooliganism was a very big problem in Britain in the 70s and 80s but in the book its ugly mark on football has developed to a more sophisticated level. William is suffering from a debilitating illness which affects his physical being but he has always possessed a gift of telekinesis and as his illness deteriorates his telekinetic powers actually increase and this helps him assist Judd in readdressing a travesty in justice whilst at the same time seeking to avenge his sister’s misfortune at the hands of a religious cult.

An abridged version of Divine Inspiration was once published as a short story in Words magazine but I am developing it into a novel. It tells the story of a failing Rock Star who is helped from beyond the grave to try and resurrect his career. It is a proper haunted house story where Jack, the Rock Star, returns to his native Peak District in Derbyshire and purchases a creepy old mansion with a piano that seems to play on its own accord.

Cliff T.: When did you get interested in horror and why did you choose vampires for this book?

Martin Tracey: As I mentioned earlier, since I was a child horror is something that has just always fascinated me, I remember watching the old Hammer Horror films and just fell in love with them. A particular favorite is The Curse of the Werewolf starring my favorite actor of all time Oliver Reed. At a very young age my mates and I would discuss the films and invent stories about seeing ghosts – eventually convincing ourselves that the stories were real. We even kept a log book with drawings and particulars about the respective ghosts! I have never experienced anything supernatural to my knowledge but when you have an active imagination the entity of the unknown is very appealing and I keep an open mind about these things. I chose vampires because I liked the idea of their powers increasing under the darkness of the English winter sky i.e. Beneath the Floodlights. In my book vampires have evolved to stand sunlight but like other nocturnal creatures they perform best in darkness.

Cliff T.: I am assuming that the books are geared to sport and music and horror lovers, or do you have a wider audience in mind?

Martin Tracey: The book is first and foremost geared to an audience who is comfortable with mature themes. The book is about modern day footballers so swearing is par for the course. I have always been intrigued how the bite of a vampire is quite sensual in many vampire tales that I have seen and read, with the victim succumbing to the bliss that they encounter, so I have exploited this theory in the book. There are some musical references in the book mainly due to Jody’s love of 80s music and the team blast out CDs in the dressing room as a method of pre-game preparation. If the reader likes sport, music or horror then they won’t be disappointed but I believe the portrayal of the struggle Cezar has with his emotions around Lily and the human footballers allows the more sensitive and romantic reader to enjoy the book as well. There are also sprinklings of history in the book including that of British monarchs.

Cliff T.: Martin I noted that besides writing books you also do some acting and writing. Are these full time jobs for you or do you have a day job as well?

Martin Tracey: By day I work as a Performance and Analysis Manager and by night (and at weekends) I juggle my other interests whilst foremost being a husband and dad. These days the acting is very limited but I did land a part in a zombie film, called ZombieHood, which is set in Nottingham and I believe is due for release sometime this year. Both my youngest daughter and I play zombies (she needed the grotesque make up more than I) but my eldest daughter has a speaking part as the news reader who reports on the mayhem that the Zombies are causing across Nottingham. Before writing novels I concentrated on writing songs and played in a few bands around Birmingham. I had some success in the music business supporting the Fine Young Cannibals at one very special gig and I have a song called “Raging Bull” on the CD “Old Gold Anthems – the songs of Wolverhampton Wanderers”.

Cliff T.: I see that people can get the book from Amazon, can they buy the book via you're website and get copies in stores?

Martin Tracey: There is a link on my website to contact me directly to buy a signed copy; obviously UK readers can post me a cheque in sterling. I would not wish to alienate my overseas readers so if they contact me through my site in the first instance I could easily arrange to email them a PayPal invoice so they too can purchase a signed copy. I believe that they do not even need to have a PayPal account themselves to do this. In the UK the book is available in Waterstone’s store. The book is also available at Barnes and Noble, the AuthorHouse online bookstore and several other outlets.

Cliff T.: Martin it's been great to chat with you here on Candid Conversations. All the best with the books and other things you are up to.

Martin Tracey: Many thanks Cliff; I’d be happy to chat again sometime perhaps when I release other publications. All the best for now or as we say in Birmingham “Tara for a bit!”

Martin Tracey, author of the book Beneath the Floodlights, a tale of vampires and football. The book can be purchased from Amazon.co.uk/com in print and electronic version for the Kindle. Mr. Tracey also has a website www.martintracey.co.uk. Martin Tracey wrote to us from Birmingham U.K.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The First Candid Conversation Of 2012, With Renowned Hypnotist Debbie Papadakis

Hypnosis is a fascinating subject to dive into. Recently I came across a press release for an event that is going to take place in January. World Hypnosis Day is on January 4th and there is an open house and workshop taking place in Toronto featuring Debbie Papadakis the founder and head of Hypno Healing Institute where the open house and workshop will be held. Debbie Papadakis has become somewhat of a celebrity having been featured in the National Post, Toronto Star and Oprah's O Magazine, Elle Canada, Zoomer & O’s Big Book of Happiness.

Cliff T.:  Debbie nice to have you here on the Candid Conversations blog.

Debbie Papadakis:  Thank you Cliff, it is a pleasure to be here.

Cliff T.:  Reading the press release I noted that part of the event is meant to give the public a chance to speak to you regarding the benefits of hypnosis as well as dispelling myths about hypnosis. I know for myself the most I have seen is the odd TV show where a Hypnotist gets people to act like animals or do other silly things. The notion that this is a circus stunt must be a real challenge to deal with.

Debbie Papadakis:  Yes, my purpose in hosting an Open House Gala & Workshop on World Hypnotism Day, January 4, 2012 is to facilitate a dialogue with the public and media highlighting the true power and effectiveness of hypnosis and dispelling the misconceptions surrounding it. It allows me to address the notion or myth that hypnosis is a circus stunt. The most important thing is having an open mind. Like most things in life, our belief in what we do has a huge impact on the results. The challenge lies in raising widespread awareness and reaching those people that are afraid to even come see a hypnotist as a possible solution to their problems, especially when conventional methods have failed. When in a hypnotic state a person doesn’t lose their power to the hypnotist. Hypnosis is a collaborative process between a trained and experienced hypnotist and the client in that the hypnotist acts as a facilitator or guide to assist the client to go past their conscious mind into the subconscious and uncover the root cause of their problem. E.g. Fear, anxiety, beliefs etc. So a person will not behave out of character when hypnotized because they still have the ability to choose whether or not the ‘suggestion’ by the hypnotist is in keeping with their true self.

Cliff T.:  What are the most common myths that you face daily when it comes to hypnosis?

Debbie Papadakis:  Some people fear losing control, power, not coming out of hypnosis, divulging secrets, and behaving silly. Others believe they will not remember anything because they would have been asleep through the process. In fact ‘hypnosis’ is a heightened state of awareness which means we are highly alert and remember whatever we allow ourselves to remember.

Cliff T.:  Another problem of course are those out there that think they can self-hypnotize themselves or others, what are your thoughts on this issue?

Debbie Papadakis:  At Hypno Healing Institute we do teach our clients & students self-hypnosis techniques to empower them to help themselves. This allows them to get into a relaxed state at their own will. However when dealing with complex issues with oneself or others it is recommended to work with a trained and experienced hypnotist.

Cliff T.:  So in short no one should try hypnosis unless they are properly trained.

Debbie Papadakis:  Once you learn self-hypnosis you can hypnotize yourself to give yourself positive suggestions to enhance your day to day life. What most people don’t know is that we are already hypnotized for three quarters of a day everyday of our lives! For example when watching TV if someone calls your name and you don’t register it and continue to be focused on your show, it is because you are in a hypnotic state, which is basically a heightened state of concentration and focused attention. When working with others we recommend that you take the Professional Hypnosis Certification Training with a reputable association and school such as NGH or IMDHA.

Cliff T.:  Now that we have that clear, besides smoking and other bad habits, what else can a hypnotist help a person deal with?

Debbie Papadakis:  A hypnotist can help with:
  • Sleep issues
  • Overcoming fears, shyness, 
  • Eliminating addictions 
  • Releasing anger 
  • Improving relationships 
  • Weight management 
  • Performance Enhancement – Children & Adults 
  • Improve learning, adopt healthy habits, overcome obstacles (exam anxiety), maximize career potential, enhance sports performance, improve memory and concentration. 
  • Creating abundance in all areas of life 
  • Raising self-esteem/confidence 
  • Clearing negative emotions and limiting beliefs that hold you back 
  • Reducing stress and anxiety 
  • Learning to relax 
  • Connecting with and exploring your spiritual self 
  • Discovering your life purpose 
  • Freeing the blockages that keep you from reaping life’s awards 
  • …and more!

Cliff T.:  From what I read on your web page Debbie, your specialty is to help heal the body through the release of painful feelings and emotions. By releasing feelings and emotions what effect does that have on the body?

Debbie Papadakis:  Through Hypnosis we can tap into our hidden/latent power, dispel fears, negative emotions and limiting beliefs, thereby healing our mind & body. This allows us to make positive, lasting changes in our lives in order to reach our full potential. We all know that stress can have detrimental effects on our mental and physical health. Releasing negative feelings and emotions allows the body to relax by releasing toxins (detox), shedding the excess emotional weight that bogs us down, reducing stress, re-aligning the body into a balanced state, promoting restful sleep, improving digestion and boosting the immune system overall. 

Cliff T.:  Could someone who has a medical condition benefit from hypnosis?

Debbie Papadakis:  Yes. However when we work with someone who has a medical condition, we always request a doctor’s referral and work in conjunction with the doctor. For example Hypnosis can help manage chronic pain and is also used in surgical procedures in lieu of anesthesia.

Hypnosis is a very reliable and relevant treatment option and has proved successful in treating many mental and physical ailments, when the person is open and receptive to the suggestions. In order to understand how hypnosis works we must first understand how the mind works.

The Conscious Mind holds all the analytical & rational information with short-term (temporary) memory and is responsible for thinking and the questioning. This is the chatter that occupies a person’s mind and leads to conflict and distress. The Subconscious Mind stores all of the emotions, beliefs, feelings, habits and worries. It works like an organic computer. This part of the mind knows and retains everything that happens 24 hours a day and impacts our thoughts, behavior, habits etc. The Unconscious Mind is the domain of our automatic functioning affected by both the conscious and the subconscious. 

Once we understand how the mind works we can see the correlation between our conscious and subconscious mind, emotions and how that affects our health.

Cliff T.:  Debbie besides healing in the body and the mind are there other things that hypnosis help people do, like finding hidden talents and skills?

Debbie Papadakis:  Yes, Hypnosis targets and accesses the subconscious mind and reveals the root cause of a person’s problem. By releasing blockages, negative emotions & limiting beliefs that hold us back from moving forward we uncover qualities, talents, skills etc. that were hidden underneath our “issues”. For example I had a client who was working on a novel, and was feeling stuck. She had many limiting beliefs that were working against her. After a few sessions, and releasing these beliefs & blockages not only was she able to complete the novel, but also found a major publisher who published her book.

Cliff T.:  I have done a few speaking engagements and one of the things I often feel is stage fright, the idea that I might bomb during a presentation gives me a bit of the hebe geebies, so to speak. Can hypnosis help people like actors, runners or politicians get in their groove so to speak?

Debbie Papadakis:  Yes. Yes. Yes! Fear of Public speaking is a very common and universal issue that can be easily resolved with hypnosis. This is because this ‘fear’ like the rest of the emotions resides in the subconscious. Hypnosis allows us to access the subconscious very quickly and deal with the fear directly as opposed to dealing with it logically at the conscious level.  

Cliff T.:  I am assuming that you would walk a person through a situation while under hypnosis so they could run through what it might be like in front of a live audience.

Debbie Papadakis:  Yes I role play with the client and through questioning find out what emotions they are experiencing while imagining a particular situation, for example public speaking. I trace the emotion by regressing the person to find the root cause of that specific emotion e.g. fear and resolve it at its point of origin. You have to understand that the subconscious does not differentiate between reality and imagination. In this case even though the person will imagine they are speaking in front of people their emotions are real. Once the original trauma is dealt with it has a domino effect, in that the subconscious automatically traces and transforms all subsequent situations to a positive or neutral state

Cliff T.:  Besides helping people walk through a situation a lot of focus is now being placed on prevention of illness and increasing wellness in people. Can and does hypnosis offer a way to prevent illness or reduce it? I guess what I am asking Debbie is it possible to train the mind to keep the body healthy through hypnosis?

Debbie Papadakis:  Yes it certainly is possible to train the mind to keep the body healthy. Hypnosis can help in this process by reprogramming or transforming the negative thoughts, beliefs, feelings, emotions that translate from the mind to the body. If the mind sends positive and healthy signals to the body, the body responds similarly. The same is true of the opposite scenario. How hypnosis helps is by re-recording our old negative tapes i.e. transforming negative messages to positive messages which act like filters for all new information.

Cliff T.:  During my introduction I noted that you are going to be hosting an open house and workshop at the Hypno Healing Institute. The workshop entitled Unleash Your Power Through Hypnosis sounds very interesting. Debbie can you give a bit of insight on what you'll be teaching in the workshop?

Debbie Papadakis:  The workshop ‘Unleash Your Power though Hypnosis’ - It is our birthright to live freely and experience love, peace and happiness, is designed in three parts: 
Part 1: A 40 minute presentation on hypnosis to facilitate an understanding of how limitations affect our life, understanding our unconscious behaviors and how we can use the hidden & incredible power of our mind to manifest the life we desire. 
Part 2: Volunteer Demonstration. We will ask one of the group members to volunteer for a demonstration (usually we have many pe4ople interested in this process) whereby the group will see how the process works and the volunteer will be hypnotized and an issue of their chose will be cleared. 
Part 3: Group Hypnosis. We will hypnotize the entire (willing) audience and have them go through some exercises to clear emotional obstacles in order for them to realize their full potential

Cliff T.:  And, where can people get more info about the open house, workshop and Hypno Healing Institute's programs and services?

Debbie Papadakis: Our office is located at 355 Keele St, Toronto, Ontario M6P-2K6, Visit our website at www.hypno-healing.com, call our office at 416.760.8996 / toll-free 1.888.758.3223 or email us: info@hypno-healing.com

Cliff T.:  I touched briefly on the need to be trained to properly do hypnosis. What does it take to become a hypnotist?

Debbie Papadakis:  In order to become a hypnotist you require proper training from a qualified school and trainer, a desire and willingness to help people, dedication to the profession, personal ethics and code of conduct.

Cliff T.:  What drew to this kind of work?

Debbie Papadakis:  I’ve always known I wanted to help people somehow. I’ve also been very interested in human personalities and philosophy and read the works of Plato, Aristotle and Kazantzakis early in life. The human mind has always been of interest to me and I pursued a degree in Spiritual Psychotherapy followed by various other training courses from different institutions around the world. My contribution to a recently published book ‘Adventures in Manifesting’ talks about how I’ve aligned with my life’s purpose.

Cliff T.:  I know that you have probably helped hundreds of people in your career but, I have to ask is there one incident that sticks out in your mind as being the most interesting or satisfying.

Debbie Papadakis:  One of the most memorable and personally gratifying incidents involved a student of mine who was disabled, unable to walk without assistance for ten years. During the class I was demonstrating how to take a person to higher levels of consciousness and through this process this student regained his ability to walk by himself. He now travels world-wide teaching and healing others.  

Cliff T.:  Debbie I must say I could go on and on but, time and space well they are kind of short. It's been interesting to speak with you. All the best for 2012 and of course on January 4th during the open house and workshop at the Hypno Healing Institute.

Debbie Papadakis: Thank you Cliff. It was a pleasure being interviewed by you. I wish you, your family and your readers a happy, healthy & prosperous 2012. 

Debbie Papadakis, BCH, CI, is a Master Hypnotist, sought-after Sleep Deprivation Specialist, Spiritual Psychotherapist, Reiki Master and Author. She is an National Guild of Hypnotists & International Medical & Dental Hypnotherapy Association Certified Instructor, president of the NGH Ontario Hypnosis Chapter featured in Oprah’s ‘O’ Magazine, O’s Big Book of Happiness, OWN Oprah’s Network, ELLE Canada Magazine, Zoomer Magazine, WTN Women’s Network’s Remedy Me!, Slice TV’s Newlywed Nearly Dead, CTV’s Positive Living, Oprah.com, CNN.com/living, Omni Television (Edo Kai Tora), ACE Fitness Magazine, Money Sense Magazine, Canadian Business Online Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, National Post and more.

She has been honored with the NGH 2005 Hypnotism Achievement Award, and was selected as an Award Winning Hypnotist to present her “Put Insomnia To Sleep” workshop at the 2005 NGH Solid Gold conference in Las Vegas, also included in the October 2006 “Most Powerful Women in Hypnosis” panel (IMDHA/IACT).

She continues to train professionals about sleep improvement with her “Unlock the Door to Sleep Improvement” seminar & improving relationships with “The Relationship Code” workshop. Debbie is the founder of the Decording™ technique which is assisting people to heal all of their relationships. Her ability to communicate with the unconscious mind works in synergy towards the release of painful feelings and emotions that are stored in the body. Debbie’s techniques allow the body to regain its health. Her goal is to awaken the fearless self in each of us. Debbie is the Director of the Hypno Healing Institute in Toronto, CA. She brings a wealth of knowledge to her clients & students with courses in the field of Hypnosis, NLP, Time Line Therapy™ and Reiki at all levels.

 Contact Info:
 Debbie Papadakis, BCH, CI
 Hypno Healing Institute Inc.
355 Keele Street, Toronto,
 ON M6P 2K6
 Phone: 416 760 8996 / Toll Free: 1.888.758.3223
 Email: debbie@hypno-healing.com
 Website: www.hypno-healing.com

I reached her via email at the Hypno Healing Institute.  Where on January 4th she will host an open house from 1 to 3 PM and then a workshop later that evening from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM entitled Unleash Your Power Through Hypnosis.