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GHOST HUNTS: BELIEVE IN FEAR
by K.N. Johnson
“All a skeptic is, is someone who hasn’t had an experience yet.” — Jason Hawes, founder of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS)
It sometimes baffles people when I tell them I’m a skeptic. Why would a skeptic travel to other states, stay up night after night, participating in ghost investigations? If you’re a horror fan, though, you get it. Frights and jump scares can be fun. It’s the adrenaline, the dread, that moment when exhaustion crosses your brain wires… and you start to believe anything’s possible.
For a successful ghost investigation team, it helps to have members with a range of belief. Skeptics need to respect the true believers and vice versa. It’s like a good horror film – you’ve gotta have someone who insists they shouldn’t go or someone getting a real bad feeling about a place. And then you pack gear, link arms, and go anyway!
GATES OF HELL
By the time we arrived, I’d read all about the cemetery’s 300-year sad history. Once the favored burial hill for locals, the site is now overgrown and littered with visitors’ melted candles and cult items. Seriously, folks, pick up your trash. Dappled sunlight streamed through the tall oak trees. For these trips, I take photos and use a phone app like Ghost Radar Legacy. I’m not going to discuss its scientific merits – I insist it adds to the experience.
On the radar screen, you’re the center point. So, dots of energy – yellow, green or red – appear on the screen in a quadrant where, supposedly, an energy force is detected. One-word messages also pop up.
My radar flashed green in the top left quadrant, so I stepped that way. I shuffled through a blanket of dead leaves. Yellow dot and the message HERE. Really old graves had sunk - some were a pit of leaves up to my knees. Red dot and the message GO. And to my left, the leaves moved. I tried to whisper-yell for my husband. The leaves moved again. And just as I moved in closer with my camera, a huge black snake slid from the pile. I almost pissed my pants. A message popped up: LAUGHING.
FOX HOLLOW FARM
In our exhaustion, we goaded the ghosts. One gal called out, “If you want to communicate with us, please move the chandelier.” Someone else muttered, “Or flicker the lights.” But I always look for something that will convince me. Something a breeze or heavy footfall can’t do. I got specific. “Move that bug spray can on the pool table.”
These are the stories I’m writing about in my next book. If you’d like to know when it’s finally finished, sign up for my newsletter on my Facebook page – you’ll be the first to know when it’s done!
Thanks for joining me today Nina. I guess I’ll start by asking why. Why do you write what you write?
As a child, I had vivid nightmares – the kind where I’d fall out of bed terrified. I also had an active imagination, so I’d see things. This combination filled my head with eerie stories I sometimes wished were true.
I was the oldest child in my family, but I had a dream where a young woman visited me at night and told me she was my big sister. She would sneak me from the house and we would fly through the night on vigilante adventures. As a Catholic second-grader, I’d share this story to an attentive group of friends on the playground. Eventually, the nuns took me aside to verify if these stories were true. “The other children are afraid these are real. Maybe you should just write your stories down.” It was a thrill to keep their attention, to seize their imaginations, and to give them a little scare.
Tell me about your story Frigid, it won an award, right?
Yes, Frigid won first place in Mythraeum’s Pygmalion contest. Mythraeum runs about four short story competitions a year. Each theme centers on a mythological figure and writers are encouraged to really run with it, to morph the traditional idea. So, of course, I went dark with it!
There’s a cash prize for first place and then your story is in the running with the rest of that year’s first place winners for short film development.
Frigid won! Filming begins in January 2018 with Loste Films in Colorado. Their last project Turn Around (2016) was an award-winning horror short. I’m excited to see the story come to life on screens at indy film festivals.
A movie? Wow! What about your other work? I know you have appeared in some anthologies. You even work in field, correct?
My stories appear in a number of anthologies. Horror readers might be most interested in the Polterguests and A Haunting of Words anthologies. My dark science fiction story “Regolith” is coming out in the Terra Nullius anthology fall 2017.
I’m in a ghost investigation group founded by members of Unseen Press.com. We’ve investigated historical buildings such as the Athenaeum in Indianapolis and the serial killer Herb Baumeister’s house. My husband and I love to visit small towns and will often legend trip on our own. We’ve expanded some of our equipment, but my favorite is taking notes and tons of photographs – the pure experience of it.
What are you working on now?
I’m in final edits for my story The Clearing appearing in the Transmundane Press anthology On Fire later in 2017.
But I’m most excited about a new project inspired by fans at local paranormal conventions. I love sharing stories about the ghost investigations I’ve participated in and everyone keeps asking if I’ve put them in a book. So, that’s my current project. I’m compiling field notes and data plus, of course, my recollections, on several locations into a volume. I have a feeling it will turn into a series.
I'd love to hear more about what it is to be a ghost hunter. Is it like what they show on television? Mind telling me about one of your hunts?
Oh, I warn newcomers it’s nothing like the shows! You definitely need patience. It’s like fishing. You keep quiet most of the time, setting your lures, casting your line, and eventually there’s a bite and a sudden flash of activity. And sometimes you catch it – sometimes you don’t!
At Herb Baumeister’s former residence, we’d been investigating for several hours. We were all quite tired after roaming the house, the woods, the acreage. We waited in the warmth of the lower level for the last of our group to return. We sat in the game room, next to the infamous indoor pool, and packed up most of our equipment. And that’s when something happened. Our group leader was so disappointed, kept lamenting how he’d shut off the video camera. I so wished I’d been taking some random photos at that moment! But, that’s how it often works out. It’s an intriguing experience.
I am definitely going to get you to do a guest post and tell us a lot more about that! Thanks so much again for being here, and I look forward to speaking with you again.
For more info on K.N. Johnson, her work, and ghost hunting, click on any of the images and links below. Happy hunting!
My Facebook page serves as my website for now & includes a Shop with links to the publishers’ online bookstores:
Here’s Loste Films’ award-winning horror short Turn Around (2016):
Here’s my Amazon author page:
Hey Jessica, it’s great to have you here. How are you doing?
Fabulous, It’s a nice sunny day in Massachusetts. Apple season is just around the corner. Looking forward to hoodies and fires.
Well, I guess the most logical place to start is with The House on Hayden Pond. Tell me about it. What gave you the idea, and did you take inspiration from personal experience?
I started writing The House on Hayden Pond about two years ago. It’s my first Novella and very dear to my heart. I named the book after my son Hayden. He loves all things scary and creepy. He is six years old and always excited to see his hand print on the book cover. I would say my writing style is very different. I write fast paced without allot of fluff. I always say you have one chapter to grab my attention. I have taken that to heart in my writing.
I have something called Maladaptive Daydreaming Disorder. I was given the suggested diagnosis as a freshman in college. Since it’s not yet recognized by the NIH they could not officially give me the diagnosis. I basically daydream 70% more than a “normal” person. Having written various screen plays for my own enjoyment, I made the decision to complete and write a book. A day later I was watching the movie Aloha and took two actors played by Bradley Cooper and Rachel McAdams transforming them into Paul and Sam Bolton. Through my daydreams I had the first draft completed in three months. This was followed by multiple versions and a constant changing story line. After the final draft was complete I made my own cover and hired Thomas Hauck to professionally edit the book.
So, Maladaptive Daydreaming Disorder – can you tell me more about what that is exactly?
Absolutely, I am a firm believer in educating. It stops assumptions about the disorder. Throughout the day doing absolutely any task I can get caught up in a daydream. I have a hard time falling asleep. It usually takes about 2-6 hours because I have such a busy mind. It’s also known as the Walter Mitty Syndrome for good reason. Not to be confused with normal daydreams they tend to be much more elaborate and extremely vivid. Like a movie or novel played out in your mind. People with MDD are 100% aware that these daydreams are not real in any way. It’s impossible to stop because it’s subconscious. It often happens while preforming regular everyday tasks. I have probably had it since I was about five years old. I try to have a positive attitude about MDD. Instead of dwelling on it I use it to my advantage to write. In reference to the House on Hayden Pond, when I say I know every inch of that house and every character intimately, it’s because I’ve been there. I have seen it all unfold. The downside is it can be embarrassing. I have been so caught up in a daydream that I have unknowingly said a line from one of my characters in public. Then you get the crazy person stare. I have also randomly laughed in public at something funny I was daydreaming about. People have gotten frustrated with me because they are talking and I am a million miles away. I have learned from others with MDD there is a spectrum of people who are high functioning and low functioning. I am thankful I am able to complete tasks and drive myself to focus.
Fascinating! I may have to look into if this applies to me. So, what is next? Will there be a follow up to Hayden Pond?
I have a current project that needs to be seen to completion. After that I will be diving into the prequel titled The Rise of Roman Hollick. I did already write the first chapter, but I’m trying to be disciplined and write one book at a time. All I can say so far is it’s going to be a blood bath.
Anything else you would like to tell us, or promote?
I am currently working on a thriller that my horror backbone can’t help but creep into from time to time. The project is not yet titled. Please follow my Facebook page for The House on Hayden Pond it will be the best source for future information on my new books including release dates.
Well, thanks again Jessica. I look forward to speaking to you again when the new book comes out.
Thank you for your time. The pleasure is all mine. If anyone has any questions about my books or MDD please feel free to PM me on my Facebook page.