Saturday, May 20, 2006

Interview with a Creepy Cat: Podcaster Cat Dumas tells all


Cat Dumas, 41, is a Sacred Fem from Lake Elsinore, California. She's a writer of dark fiction, a Wiccan, a registered nurse, an artist, a painter and a podcaster.

Now in its 18th episode, Cat's Creepycast is a podcast of readings of her own work, of the music of favorite bands, and of interviews with Wiccans, new age, occult, paranormal and assorted "creepy" (we mean that in the good way) writers and other genteel folk. A recent episode found Cat interviewing fellow author Isian minister Denise "Dion Isis" Dumars.

You can tune into or download her podshow on her website or look for "creepycast" at iTunes. How long have you been interested in the paranormal?

Cat: I think I became interested as a child. I loved the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and had this fantasy of living there even though it gave me a weird feeling of being watched. I really believed, and still do, that real ghosts were hiding behind the "fake" ghosts because of the feelings I get going through the mirror tunnel. The room with the psychic and crystal ball also gives me that weird feeling that I get when I'm in a place that has spirits. What led you to study it, and now to podcast about it?

Cat: As a teenager I ran with the punk rock/death rock (now called goth) scene and I became familiar with witchcraft. I started studying Wicca theme books and candle-burning magic-type things. The problem with that is I have a really bad temper, which came from being abused Carrie-style in school and then getting myself into an abusive relationship. So I learned the hard way that I could use that angry energy to cause things to happen. After a few weird experiences I decided that I did not want to deal with that stuff for fear of bringing harm to myself or family. There were a couple of instances where I wished bad things on those who hurt me while concentrating on a burning candle and maybe putting the words on paper with a few symbols drawn on it. My wishes came true to the very last word. This still scares me because I sometimes get enough anger built up over someone who, say, is harrassing me and I can just yell at them that I hope blank will happen to them and it still sometimes does depending on how angry I was and how much I meant it.

As I matured and calmed down I started to have experiences where I'd feel someone touch my arm or shoulder or tug my hair playfully but there wouldn't be anyone there when I turned. And I also still felt certain presences in places or smell things that nobody else does. My theory is that I give off a lot of energy that draws spirits to me because they need the energy to make themselves known. Like the battery drawing theory. So I am a power source for them. Which brings me to my other theory of the chronic fatique syndrome that I have. I've noticed that going to places of great sadness or distress will being on the ailment much more than going to happy places. I teach nursing and have two sites that my students go to for clinicals. When we go to the nursing home I am immediately weak and tired. By the time I get home I'm so overwhelmed with exhaustion that I am always late the next day because I sleep like I'm in a coma. When we go the the acute hospital where people have a much better outlook I actually lose track of time and feel fine when we leave.

From a podcasting standpoint, I just wanted to do it because I could and I needed a creative outlet that wasn't too demanding. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment. All the stress of being a single parent with a huge mortgage had gotten me away from my writing and painting. The podcast has encouraged me to finish the stories I have started and also edit the ones that were finished so they would read well on the show. I am working on one right now that is a two-part story. The first part is finished and will be read on the next show. Do you personally know the bands you feature?

Cat: No, actually I pick the music from MySpace or PodSafe Music Network. I've had some bands contact me themselves and tell me they listen to my show and offer their music. I have made some friends from this. I still stay in touch with Calabrese, whom I interviewed on the show and see them as becoming good friends because we have so much in common and they are really great people. How does one become a podcaster, technically-speaking? Can you do it all alone or do you use a tech-savvy friend? What kind of equipment are you using? Do you work from a script or just wing it? Is it recorded in one sitting, or is there a lot of editing?

Cat: Podcasting is both easy and difficult. It isn't too hard to learn the software required to edit and produce your own show. It does take some good equipment and you have to pay for the show to be "hosted" online. Once you get the hang of the software to cut and edit sound clips it isn't too bad but there is still a lot of time involved.

That is where it gets really difficult. I have a full time job as well as two kids and several animals. Free time is limited as it is so it's really the guilt of not getting a show done on time that gets a fire under me. The editing process sometimes takes several hours to produce a 30-minute show. Where do you see your podcasting in six months?

Cat: I've had a couple internet radio people say they want my voice on their show. I may branch out to internet and try to get a regular satellite station to pick me up. There is a lot of networking involved to get anywhere in this business. I'd just be happy to have a sponsor to help with the costs of doing the show. You're a paranormal investigator. Can you tell me about a personal
experience of the paranormal you have had?

Cat: The term "investigator" should be used loosely here. I have friends that use lots of scientific equiptment that never seem to work for me. I usually just use my gut instincts and take pictures or dowse when I feel there is a presence near me. I talk a lot about one expedition aboard the Queen Mary on my show. I think it is Episode 2. Anyone interested in hearing it can go to my website and scroll down the page till you find number two. Then click on the little icon that says "pod" and it will take you to the player. You don't have to have an iPod to hear the show and I think a lot of people still don't know that. It's just more convenient to download them to a player so you can get your butt moving outside. I like to listen to other podcasts when I'm walking. Then I'm more apt to walk farther because I am distracted. I think the iPod is the best exercise invention ever. You don't have to change CD's while you walk or listen to one skip. I have a 40Gb hard drive on mine so I could walk across the entire state and never listen to the same thing twice. But, I'm not that ambitious! Tell me about your fiction, and your other art. What drives you to produce?

Cat: It is sad but true that most art comes from inner turmoil and sadness. When I was involved in a bitter abusive relationship all of my stories surrounded a battered woman. When I finally got away from that relationship years later I found I didn't have any need to write.

It was more of a chore. So I began to do interviews for small press music magazines but that quickly bored me to death. I like to hang out with rock stars but I don't want to write about it. The podcast is sort of a compromise in that I can still do interviews but don't have to put it in grammatically correct form. I hate homework.

As far as me starting to write new stories, I am currently in inner turmoil again because I have gotten so out of shape in the last few years. I hurt my back (disk herniation) in a freak accident while trying to keep a patient from falling out of the bed. This yo-yo thing of being thin and then flabby is driving back to my teenage battle with anorexia and bulimia. So, as the pattern goes for me, I'm writing a horror story with the main character having an eating disorder. It's how I get over things.

My other art (watercolor painting/drawing) is at a very bad standstill and it makes me sad. I've lost the ability to draw well. I keep trying again every couple months. I've decided that I will take a class at the local college so I will be forced to draw and then I will get my talent back. I plan to produce some watercolor paintings and have prints made. I'm hoping to sell signed prints and a fiction collection through the show. What does the Ankh on the chain around your neck in your photo mean to you?

Cat: The Ankh symbolizes the ever-lasting life. I would like to live on forever if even in spirit. The thing about the ankh is that I seem to draw more paranormal activity when I'm wearing that then when I have on a crystal. It may just be that the Ankh is very close to me as I've had it for over 22 years now. It's like a part of me and it probably has a lot of my energies trapped in it. What's your religious/spiritual background? What's your current
spiritual practice?

Cat: I was raised Christian and even attended a private Christian junior and senior high school. I thought they were all hypocrites, though, and went my own way. I'm more of a Druid/Pagan-type where I believe that the Earth is God and I always try to do good to all mankind, animals, bugs, etc. I catch spiders in the house and take them outside unless they are poisonous. Those I kill because my first priority is the safety of myself and my family. Most of the cobwebs I leave up in my house to catch the mosquitos. We live near a lake so there are thousands of them trying to get in all the time. My kids and I still get on the ground outside to marvel at the ants or crickets even though the rest of the town looks at us like we're nuts. Now that I'm a grownup I like being the outcast. Thanks for talking with me, Cat. I wish you the best in your podcasting and other projects. We'll be listening.

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