An Interview with Real Life Action-Adventure Heroine…Erin Ryder (with exclusive never-before-seen photos!)

Erin Ryder from Chasing UFOs
So what do you get when you cross the ruggedly adventurous physicality of Lara Croft and the brilliant open-minded skepticism of X-Files Dana Scully and the rapier-quick wit of…well, um, Bruce Campbell from the Evil Dead movies (’cause I can’t think of anyone more awesomely quick-witted than him)? Well, you might just get Erin Ryder from Destination Truth fame (only she’s much more attractive than Bruce…and I think BC would agree with me on that). 
This is the second time I’ve been fortunate enough to have this awesome woman on my blog and I’m even more excited the second time around. You see Ryder is really something very special in the realm of television. She is smart, extremely funny, athletic, and she’s certainly not afraid to get dirt under her fingernails. She’s traveled the world searching for the truth behind monsters, ghosts, legends of all kinds (and soon to be UFOs…but we’ll get to that in a minute). She’s traversed the most rugged terrain the world has to offer. Probably been injured during these adventures more times than we’ll ever know and she keeps getting back on the saddle for more. Why? Well, probably because she’s nuttier than a hot fudge sundae! Or maybe, it’s because she has a deep desire to reveal the truth behind the things that have perplexed mankind for centuries. Possibly, it’s because she just likes being on TV or any combination of all those things and more. But, in my opinion, no matter what the reason….she is one of the most amazing women I’ve ever seen. And though she’ll probably die when she sees this, I think she is a fantastic example of what a woman really is…what a woman is capable of accomplishing. Yes, I’ll admit it…I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Ryder. I probably have more respect for her than any other female on TV today. 
Exclusive photo for  Season 5 of Destination Truth

I have seen her nearly fall of the Great Wall of China and laugh about it afterward. I’ve seen her lay down a motorcycle on a muddy road in the middle of nowhere…requiring the excellent medical skills of the very awesome Rex Williams (DT’s team medic)…and laugh about it afterwards as well. I’ve seen her face down the monsters in the dark and make jokes as she did so. Of all the women on TV right now, I honestly don’t think there is anyone more tough or brave or (most importantly) compassionate and nice than Erin Ryder. In essence, she’s a hero. She has all the qualities of one, anyway. Why? Because she hunts ghosts and monsters and UFOs? Nope. She’s a hero because she constantly pushes herself when it would be very easy to quit. She’s a hero because she moves through those dark jungles despite the fact that there might be large fanged cryptids or even something as mundane as a poisonous spider ready to have a piece of her. She’s a hero because most importantly, she does all this…usually…with a smile on her face and a wisecrack on her lips. 

Ryder getting up close and comfortable with ET.

Of course, the same can be said for everyone on Destination Truth. Every single one of them have done things that would make Indiana Jones wake up in cold sweats in the middle of the night. That’s the whole awesome thing about the show. I write about adventurous monster hunters. The majority of the authors I typically feature on this blog write about adventurers traveling the world in search of the biggest legends known to man. But the crew of Destination Truth…including Ryder…actually do it. On a regular basis. They are living all our dreams and as I’ve said on a number of occasions, they are all the inspiration for me to really get serious about my writing. The inspiration for my ENIGMA Directive cryptofiction series. So I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to them for that. 

But Ryder’s not just about chasing monsters, ghosts, and legends anymore. She’s recently got a new gig chasing strange phenomenon that quite literally could be out of this world. This Friday, June 29, on the National Geographic Channel, Ryder’s new show Chasing UFOs will premiere. The first episode begins at 9 PM EST and is immediately followed by a second episode at 10 PM EST. I seriously cannot wait to see this. From what Ryder has told me, this show is going to be awesome. But I don’t want to spoil it for you. I’ll let her tell you in her own words what it’s all about. 
Erin has been so gracious to do another interview for me (but that’s just the kind of girl she is. 🙂 ). So now, without further ado…here’s my interview with Erin Ryder:
Ryder and DT host Josh Gates
1) The new season of Destination Truth is right around the corner. Can you share a few of the creatures, legends, or locations you investigated this time?

Without going into too much detail we traveled to Kazakhstan to investigate strange UFO sightings, Romania for ‘Haunted Forest; Part Deux’, Vietnam, Fiji and Sweden to name a few investigations and locations. 
2) Any return investigations to look forward to? If so, what prompted the decision to return to this place/creature/legend? If not, which would you most like to return to?

Romania’s Haunted Forest beckoned us. What happened to Evan was so strange and indescribable that it has stayed on our radar for awhile now. But with the increase in sightings and stories we couldn’t resist packing our bags to head back to that dreaded circle. Oddly enough it’ll be a first time for me since Jael was on the road that season. 

3) On the show, you guys face many challenges on a regular basis…from physical to environmental to mental. Trips and falls. Luggage lost. Legal roadblocks, etc. What challenges do you find most frequently that seem to be the most taxing on you? How do you most often cope with these challenges?

The biggest challenge on a show like ours is the travel, we are constantly on the move whether we’re on a flight, a boat, a motorcycle or on foot we’re moving non-stop. Sometimes you just want to stop and enjoy the sights or better yet, catch your breath. But the team is such a great group that we’ve learned to watch one another and take care of each other when the road gets to be too much. 

Ryder on a DT investigation for season 5
4) Since your time on Destination Truth, what do you think is the single greatest lesson you’ve learned about life, people, and our world?

The world is smaller than we think. People say I want to travel but then make excuses about why they can’t go, how far away these places are or how expensive it is. But there’s so much wonderment in our own backyards or just a short flight away that you just have to take the time to go. Don’t have any regrets there’s an exotic trip out there for everyone and we all deserve a little adventure in our high stress lives.

5) Okay…I have to ask this question because I wanted to the last time we chatted and totally forgot. Elves. Real or myth? Haha! [I ask because the elf episode is one of my favorites and honestly, some CREEPY things happened that episode].

ELVES! It’s an elf off! You have to take into consideration that Iceland is such a young, mythical country that I appreciate them holding onto supernatural things like elves. And who are we to judge when we have Bigfoot walking among us!

6) Josh has recently written an excellent book on monster hunting and globetrotting adventure. Ever thought about writing a book about your experiences? Or just writing a book about anything in general actually?

I could say that I should leave that stuff to the professionals like you but of course I have the desire to pen something of my own. I think being a seasoned female traveler that I would love to pass on some of the knowledge I’ve learned on the road to other women…and men. Maybe a fun take on “Around the World in 80 Days,” only this would be “Around the World in One Suitcase!”

7)  Speaking of “anything in general”, besides hunting ghosts, cryptids, and beasties of all kinds…what is Erin Ryder passionate about? What are your interests outside of the show?

I love trying new things, in fact I am always out looking for something fun and interesting to try. Right now I am getting my SCUBA certification, taking Trapeze classes and just booked a sky diving weekend with friends. It’s not about adrenaline its about trying everything once!

DT team at Great Wall of China, Season 3
8) Back to the show, what country have you guys NOT been to that you most would like to visit? Why?

Josh and I have teased for a long time that we’re dying to do an all islands season. Nothing but white sandy beaches and tropical drinks…but we know that will never happen so top of the list for me is North Korea. There is something about it just being opened up to tourism that intrigues me. It has been off limits for so long that it feels due for a proper investigation of some of its mysterious mountain ranges.

9) One of the great things about DT is how you guys demonstrate the culture in the region your investigating. Part of this is showing some of the more interesting culinary delights. What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten that you surprisingly liked?

Weirdest thing I have ever eaten was a sea horse in China, where their street markets house many unusual delicacies. Not outright gross but just something I would have never thought I would be eating off a stick. WORST thing I’ve ever eaten would be Durian. A fruit, from Indonesia, with a creamy inside that has a pungent smell like dirty socks and tastes even worse. And lastly, this season you’ll see Josh, myself and the team partake in an interesting Vietnamese tradition and although it’s a nasty, gruesome ritual to watch, the end result was way better than I thought! You’ll have to watch this season to see what I mean!
Okay…so I spent some time with Ryder talking about Destination Truth. Now, it’s time to delve into her brand new show, Chasing UFOs, premiering on NatGeo this Friday (06/29/2012). Let’s see what she has to say about it.

The Chasing UFOs Team
10) So what exactly is NatGeo’s Chasing UFOs? How’s it different than Destination Truth? What will the format of the show be like?

Chasing UFOs is a scientific investigation to try and uncover the truth behind some of the most unexplained UFO sightings and encounters around the US and beyond. Our goal is a critical examination of these claims – applying scientific methods and principles to unidentified sightings, and trying to come up with explanations when it seems none are possible. The team consists of myself, James Fox a UFOlogist and Ben McGee a radiation scientist. It’s a really good cross section of points of views from die-hard believer to questioning skeptic. Unlike Destination Truth you wont see our crew, they stay behind the cameras and you wont get as much culture as DT delivers but you will get first hand unexplained stories from doctors, policemen, Colonels, and even the 6th man to walk on the moon. But its not just about people in high places, some of the most compelling testimony come from locals that we sought out, ones who truly didn’t want to talk with us but gave in because they just wanted other people to know that they weren’t alone.

The Chasing UFOs Team at Chichen Itza
11) As a “skeliever”, I realize that many UFO sightings and witnesses need to be taken with a grain of salt. But as you’ve started digging into this particular branch of paranormal investigation, what do you think is the strongest argument in support for this phenomenon? What strikes you as the most credible kinds of accounts?

You’re absolutely correct the hardest, yet most important thing is to have an open mind and not go into these cases or interviews with preconceived notions. Innocent till proven guilty works well with people who have had sightings. You can’t think they’re bat shit crazy. You can’t think they’re making it up until you talk to them and hear the whole story. But the people we’re interested in are the people who have had the same story for years, whose sightings are corroborated by others in different locations at the same time. Men and women who aren’t looking to get famous or rich off of their interviews, maybe even those who have a lot to lose if they come forward like their jobs or reputations. That’s when stories are credible and those are the cases we’re after.

Air boating for UFOs?
To me some of the strongest support of this phenomenon is the consistency – go back thru our history and you can find letters about strange events in the skies, paintings showcasing mysterious objects in the air and this is at a time when there were no man-made crafts taking flight, a time when people knew the skies and the stars better than we ever will, when Photoshop and animation weren’t even dreamed up, before Ray Bradbury’s or Orson Wells’ sci-fi stories were penned…Nowadays people are so easy to dismiss what they see in the skies because of how far our technology has come and how “influenced” we are, but what do you say about our past, about the sightings that are similar to ones still reported to this day? It’s intriguing to me. And the interesting thing is I’m sure James and Ben both have completely different answers to this!

12) Have you been surprised by any of your findings on the show? You don’t have to throw out in spoilers for us, but can you elaborate on any of these surprises?

Absolutely, I think I captured something truly unidentified on video in Texas, we dug up something truly unusual at the Roswell debris field and we work with Travis Walton a famous abductee on a new hypothesis he has about the UFO that abducted him. It’s truly a wild ride!

13) Finally, have you run into any production problems on this show concerning government roadblocks? Any Men in Black situations going on?

No show is without its roadblocks and of course this one is no different. We had a run in with strange white vans, helicopters, unmarked boats etc. We push the limits to get as close as we can to the truth. I personally feel that the government knows more than they are sharing with the public but they didn’t personally come between us and any of our investigations…yet. 
Thank you so much, Ryder, for taking the time out of your incredibly crazy schedule to answer these questions.  And I can’t thank you enough for the awesome never-before-seen photos you sent me too. You’re the best and you know I’m rooting for you in everything you do. Just keep me posted whenever you need a professional forensic investigator/adventure author to consult on one of your shows and I’ll be there for you. Ha!
And readers/friends/blog enthusiasts…I promise you, Ryder never fails to entertain. You could a lot worse in your television viewing experience than to make sure you catch anything that she’s on. See for yourself just how amazing she is. Watch her shows. 
All new episodes of Destination Truth start July 10 at 8 PM on SyFy Channel! I sooooo can’t wait and I believe they are actually planning two back-to-back episodes that night. So be sure to set your DVRs (but try to watch it live…’cause you know, that crazy Nielson guy likes live viewers. Haha!). 
And most importantly, don’t forget to check out Chasing UFOs on NatGeo this Friday at 9 PM EST. Just from this interview alone, I’m pretty sure that if you’re interested in the paranormal at all…or are a thriller author just looking for ideas…this show might just leave you on the edge of your seat. I really shouldn’t be missed. I know what I’m doing this Friday anyway…so no one better text me (unless it’s Ryder). 
By the way, if you want to learn more about Erin Ryder, check out her website at

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