‘Betty’: Dodge’s New Book Looks at the 1st ‘First Encounter’

Betty and Barney Hill. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the 10 years Dave O. Dodge has been living in Mérida, he has worn at least three hats: innkeeper, tour guide, and travel writer. 

Just over two years ago, he announced the release of his first-ever published book, The Seasons of Grace, the unauthorized story of author Grace Metalious. Metalious, a New Hampshire native, wrote four books during her short life. She is best known for her first book, Peyton Place, which became an unprecedented blockbuster.

Dodge’s second novel, which debuts Thursday at the MEL book fair, is also about a New England character whose story also made international headlines in the 1960s. 

Dave O. Dodge

Betty: A Life Interrupted is the untold story of Betty Hill. “The Betty and Barney Hill Incident,” as it’s sometimes known, was the very first documented encounter with alien beings in the United States. On a dark September night in 1961, their journey home was interrupted in the picturesque White Mountain National Forest. The sensational press coverage that followed caused the entire world to gaze into the night sky, and it continues today.

Dodge, who tends to write about tales from his early years living in the Northeast, refers to his books as “biographical novels.” They are true stories with his twist added to help his readers understand his characters, their emotions, and their struggles coping with their experiences. The stories are sometimes dark but always authentic.

“These are true stories; they have been written about for years,” Dodge says. “I do not write textbooks, though I read many. My hope with my books is to put you in the front seat of the story, right next to my protagonists.”

Betty Hill and her husband Barney were groundbreaking individuals on many levels. As an interracial couple, they were both solid citizens of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They were avid church attendees with professional jobs and well respected in the community. Betty, a social worker for the state, and Barney, a postal worker, were both heavily involved with the Democratic Party, which garnered them invitations to LBJ’s presidential inauguration in 1963. 

‘Betty: A Life Interrupted’ is Dave O. Dodge’s second book.

Their encounter unfolded in 1965 after months of forensic hypnosis by the highly respected Dr. Benjamin Simon of Boston. Their sessions were recorded and documented in a nonfiction account by John G. Fuller, The Interrupted Journey. That book sold nearly 500,000 copies worldwide.

“I read Fuller’s book in elementary school,” Dodge recalls. “I was fascinated with the story, and I had no idea that it happened practically in my own backyard.”

Dodge shares that there are so many stories in his home state that choosing which one to write about is the easy part. He writes what he knows, and like with Grace, the characters and locations in the novel are a stone’s throw from his childhood home. With Betty, he watched her story unfold in real time. It was only after researching that he discovered the alleged abduction had happened near his family’s wilderness cabin.

Betty is a new telling of Hill’s experience. The novel thoroughly goes behind the curtain in this biographical, fictional, story-based, true-events way. When the incident in Betty’s life was exposed, it caused a whirlwind, generating havoc and controversy from the US Air Force, Project Blue Book, and the NICAP. It created both believers and non-believers, a divide that continues to this day. Dodge’s gripping story delves deeply into both the emotion and the science of the encounter. 

Her interracial marriage was just the first of many personal statements. A strong-willed churchgoer who experienced social injustices, Hill developed a desire to champion democracy. 

“I wrote Betty; A Life Interrupted to bring some deserved recognition to this legendary woman who changed the game for alien abductions to come.”

Already, Dodge is planning a third literary outing. His next story is about another New Hampshire icon of sorts, Hannah Duston. It promises to be another story of heroism and tragedy in colonial New Hampshire. This novel will humanize one of the significant abduction stories from 1697, which gained worldwide interest in the 19th century. The working title is The Mist on the Merrimac,” Dodge says.

The Merida English Library Local Authors Book Fair will debut the book on Thursday, March 7. MEL also lends copies of his books to members. 

About Dave O. Dodge

Dodge, who spent his early career in New Hampshire, followed by Boston, as a seasoned luxury brand guru. He is a celebrated freelance writer whose career has allowed him to travel around the world. Dodge, who practically bleeds New England blood, was raised in Franklin, New Hampshire, and like his protagonist, Betty Hill, made his home near the seacoast. He and his husband Patrick run Ochenta y Dos [an urban bed & breakfast & spa] in Mérida. 

Online: daveododge.com, Facebook: Betty: A Life Interrupted

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