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A happy medium: Five questions for former Fargoan with 'sixth sense'

Troy Parkinson discovered his powers as a medium while attending Emerson College in Boston. His book, "Bridge to the Afterlife," chronicles the story of his life as a medium. Special to The Forum

Troy Parkinson describes himself as an ordinary guy, a good Christian and a natural skeptic.

Oh, and someone who talks to dead people.

The spiritual medium, who grew up in Fargo and graduated from Fargo North in 1996, may be the John Edward of the Upper Midwest. He reconnects those who have "crossed over" with the loved ones they left behind via one-on-one readings and workshops around the country. He recently published a book on his life, titled "Bridge to the Afterlife: A Medium's Message of Hope & Healing" (Llewellyn Worldwide, $15.95) and will have a book signing today at Barnes & Noble in Fargo.

Parkinson says he first became interested in communicating with the deceased following the deaths of a close friend and his wife Chanda's uncle. Searching for answers, he turned to the Web. There, he discovered the Christian Spiritualist Church, which supported spiritualism - the belief that the dead can connect with the living via a third party - without compromising his traditional Lutheran value system.

"To me, spiritualism is something safe," he says. "It's helpful, it's healing. It's not like you see in movies with séance rooms and crystal balls. It's a very natural part of what we are as spirits. It's not the devil's work."

While a film student at Emerson College in the late '90s, Parkinson began studying the afterlife at the First Spiritualist Church in Boston. Several weeks into his first course, Parkinson says he became aware of a spirit who was trying to communicate with a classmate. He approached the woman and described the spirit to her as a "good-looking kid with straight white teeth and a white surfer T-shirt on." He also told her he felt discomfort in his head and neck. The woman replied that he'd just described her brother, who had died in a car accident from head and neck injuries.

"That was probably the turning point for me," Parkinson says.

Parkinson, Chanda, also a professional psychic, and their son, Jacob, recently moved from Fargo to the Twin Cities, where he is pursuing his medium work full time.