Have you ever had something strange happen to you? In honor of Friday the 13th, we spoke with Tom Adams, author of The Big Book of Mysteries, about some eerie topics! Read the Q&A and decide if you’re a believer or a skeptic.
Question: Have you visited any of the places in The Big Book of Mysteries?
Answer: I’ve visited quite a few of the places mentioned in The Big Book of Mysteries. My earliest mystery encounter was to Loch Ness when I was only around 5 or 6. I remember on a holiday in Scotland clambering out of the back of our big old Landrover and scrabbling down to the edge of the lake with my brothers and sister. I was excited because the drive there had been filled with stories of sea serpents and Nessie sightings and by the time we arrived I was certain we were going to see a great monster bobbing about as clear as day. Of course, it wasn’t quite like that!
My brothers, my sister, and I lined the shore of the lake and stared…and stared…and stared. Nothing. After a couple of minutes of staring I’m sure we probably threw a few skimmers, perhaps hoping the splashes might raise Nessie from her slumber. Then Mum got the packed lunch out, and we sat in a row munching on doorstop sandwiches, all the while staring across the water. One of my brothers claimed he saw something out of the corner of his eye, but I’m not convinced he did. For me, that was a definite “no show” from Nessie.
Other places I’ve been lucky enough to visit include trekking in the Himalayas (no sign of the Yeti), a trip into the Australian Outback (no sign of the Yowie), Bodmin Moor (no sign of the Beast), and Tintagel, thought, by some, to have been the birthplace of King Arthur. If it wasn’t, it really should have been. The landscape is so dramatic, so beautiful, it’s the perfect place for the birth of a legend.
Question: What do you think of the recent world news about UFOs and aliens?
Answer: Anyone who has looked out across a night sky and seen the trillions of stars twinkling back at them through the blackness can’t help but wonder if we are alone in the universe. As Scully from the X-Files used to continually remind us, “the truth is out there.” So we are always going to be interested in UFOs and aliens and it’s no surprise they’re back in the news again.
I think it’s great that the Pentagon is now more open about their UFO investigations or UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomena, as they’re now known). Any kind of secrecy over alien investigations is only going to encourage conspiracy theories, so why not be open about it? Of the 500 or so UAP reports released by the Pentagon recently, many were dismissed as drones, balloons, birds, or bits of rubbish sent airborne by the wind. However, I love the fact that 171 sightings remained “uncharacterized and unattributed” and that some of these were able to fly in certain ways or at speeds that left the Pentagon experts scratching their heads. Are they alien craft passing by? I doubt it, but it’s great fun trying to find out!
Question: Which mystery from the book do you want to know the truth about?
Answer: Any number of them, but I really like the codes and ciphers stories. I think the Phaistos Disk is fascinating. Here’s a clay disk, some six inches in diameter, made by someone on the island of Crete over 3,000 years ago, that has flummoxed academics across the globe to this day. It’s a window into the past that reveals how much we still have to discover about us and about our world, and that’s even before we try to figure out what it says. We thought the printing press began in 1450 with the Gutenberg press, but this disk was created with moveable metal dies, and so is the earliest example ever of moveable type. Making the metal shapes involved no small degree of work so it seems incredible that whoever made the disk didn’t use those dies to “print” other things. So where are they? Why haven’t we found other examples? Then, of course, the other question is, “what does the disk say?” We don’t even know what language it is in. This simple ancient artefact throws up all kinds of mysteries.
Question: Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?
Answer: Hmmm…that depends on where and when you’re asking me. Midday, on a busy high street, surrounded by people, of course not. Close to midnight, on my own in a graveyard, with a failing flashlight battery, I might reconsider.
Actually, that’s not really true. I don’t believe in ghosts but that doesn’t stop me from getting spooked by things that go bump in the night. I then have to force myself to be rational about things and convince myself that the noise I just heard was the house settling, or the wind, or foxes going through the trash cans, and not a headless lost soul forced to drag his ball and chain around my house for eternity. If I am rational about it, I realize it’s more likely to be the foxes.
I was afraid of the dark as a child and preferred to go to sleep with the door ajar so I could see the light in the hallway beyond. I built my own rules on how to stay safe from whatever lurked in the dark. For example, there was most likely something unpleasant under my bed, but so long as I didn’t dangle my arm out the side of the bed, so whatever lived there couldn’t grab it, I would be safe. It wouldn’t ever crawl out from under the bed and get me. And going to the bathroom, which was across the landing, down a corridor and a set of stairs, could be quite hairy. Again, I was safe in my room and strangely, the bathroom too (thank goodness) but I was fair game for ghosts or anything else when moving between bathroom and bedroom. I had to cross this “no-man’s land” as quickly as possible before the undead got to me. Thankfully, I managed it every time.
What all this makes me think, though, is that while I don’t think ghosts exist as physical objects in our world, they certainly do in our minds. And that means they’re just as real. Right?
Question: Is there an intriguing mystery that you researched but didn’t include in the book?
Answer: Yes…Gobekli Tepe, the oldest monuments ever discovered. This amazing site in Turkey consists of great stone pillars arranged in a series of circles. Some of the stone pillars weigh up to 10 tons and have carvings on them, of foxes, scorpions, or lions. This extraordinary structure is around 11,000 years old. As a comparison, the great sarsen stones at Stonehenge were most likely raised around 4,500 years ago. It means Gobekli Tepe was built at a time when humans were hunter-gatherers, using stone tools to make things. We hadn’t even figured out how to make pottery at this point.
Some may see Gobekli Tepe as evidence of an as-yet undiscovered ancient civilization on Earth but I don’t think that’s the mystery. It was made by our hunter-gatherer ancestors, not aliens or a super-race, but it has rewritten history. Until Gobekli Tepe was discovered, we didn’t think these pre-Neolithic people could come together and create something like this. But they did, and the mystery is how and why? This is the very first temple in the world. What drove our ancestors to choose this spot and to build this structure? What did they do that was so important they needed this collection of circles and stones to do it in, and what was it for? It’s a proper mystery.
Bonus Question: Has anything spooky ever happened to you?
Answer: Sadly, not really. I’ve never seen a ghost or had messages from beyond the grave, and much as I’d love to, I’ve never seen a UFO. If I felt a shiver down my spine in a deserted house, I’d assume it was because I wasn’t wearing a vest rather than there being a “presence.” The one thing I have had, is auditory hallucinations. Hallucinations are when you see things that aren’t there. Auditory hallucinations are when you hear things that aren’t there. I remember one time as a teenager, living at home, I woke up to hear a tractor engine. A big, noisy, spluttery tractor right outside my bedroom window. We lived up a small road that only led to our house so there was no reason a tractor would be passing, especially not at two in the morning, so it made no sense. I lay there listening for a good minute or so, wondering what the tractor was doing there until I eventually got out of bed to look out of the window. There was nothing there, and as I looked, the sound of the tractor seemed to just fizzle out. It was gone. I remember standing at the window in my pajamas totally and utterly confused by not seeing anything, and craning my neck to see if I could spot any tractor lights down the road. Why a tractor? I have absolutely no idea, but sadly there was no ghostly farmer driving a phantom tractor off into the distance.
About the Creator
Tom Adams is a children’s author who juggles his time between writing books and making television programs. He was born in Yorkshire but now lives in Kent with his wife and their three teenage sons. When he’s not at his desk writing, he’s often scribbling ideas for books and TV shows down in his notebook. He likes lots of sports, cooking, walking and playing the guitar but is slowly realizing that his children are better than him at most of these things. He dislikes weeding the garden but does it anyway.