Thursday, May 22, 2014

Witches, Mediums and Ghosts ...oh My

Long before I ever wrote my first fantasy novel, I had more than a passing interest in the paranormal. I grew up in a sleepy town in Connecticut where haunted houses and ghost sightings were commonplace. Ironically, our neighbor in the apartment building next door, loved to dabble with her ouija board and used to invite my friends and I over to demonstrate her prowess.

The board spelled out a gruesome tale of murder, greed, and deceit at the hands of a well respected surgeon. Allegedly, he was also a key player in the Great Brinks Job Robbery from 1950. His step daughter overheard a conversation implicating him in the robbery, so he murdered her to keep her quiet. My neighbor swore that a blonde wispy presence came to her in the middle of the night, claiming that the stolen money was in fact hidden under the apartment building where we lived. This was a lot for my seven year old brain to take in, but instead of being scared, I was intrigued. From that point on, I became fascinated with ghosts.

This same neighbor used to dress up as witch on Halloween and bake giant cakes shaped like black cats with whiskers made of licorice and Dots for eyes. Everything about her was fun and magical. Even if the ghostly girl and the Brinks Job tale were made up, her place was a great escape from the chaos of my dysfunctional household. I will always be grateful for the time she spent with me and the way she sparked my imagination. 

I had another childhood friend whose grandmother lived on the other side of town. We used to ride our bikes to her quaint, haunted cottage and fill up on juice and chocolate-chip cookies while she regaled us with stories about the ghost that kept her company at night.

I couldn't seem to get away from ghost stories:

After we moved from Connecticut to New Jersey, a group of my friends and I used to venture deep into the woods of Assunpink Lake for the occasional bonfire. It was literally out in the middle of nowhere. Needless to say, the spooky stories ensued, along with the beer. 

Everyone seemed to know the tale involving a beautiful woman who was killed on her way to her wedding. She'd been the passenger in a head-on collision that had severed her body in half on the road leading to the lake. Rumors abounded about a ghostly presence in a wedding dress who haunted the surrounding woods. Although I never did catch a glimpse of her, I was always drawn to the creepy allure of the place. The fact that there was a crematorium up the road, only added to the overall experience. Despite the spooky stories, I always got the sense that she was looking out for us kids to make sure we were okay, so that we didn't meet the same fate.

Do all of us have spirit guides, angels on the other side who look out for us?I'd like to think so.

My next novel is about a medium who's been talking to spirits her whole life. Do you think this is a gift some are born with or can this ability develop over time? Maybe some people know how to use a different portion of their brain than the rest of us. Or perhaps this is a genetic gift handed down from one generation to the next.

Next week I'll be doing a bit of my own ghost hunting for research purposes. I plan on visiting the Logan Inn in New Hope, PA to talk to the staff who have all seen and heard a presence that goes by the name of Emily. Apparently, she has a fondness for one room in particular and many claim to have seen her shadow on more than one occasion. I wonder if she died there or perhaps she was murdered and can't move on. I can't wait to get the scoop. I'm going to write my next blog about my experience. 

So what about you? I'd love to hear if you have any ghost stories you'd like to share.


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