As a writer of paranormal fiction, I frequently do what I like to call "research." Sometimes, it's sitting around watching cable TV shows about ghosts, monsters, and psychics, and other times it's rooting around the Internet to see what I can scare up, so to speak. Yesterday I searched for paranormal organizations in Illinois. I found a fantastic website that listed and linked to all the paranormal organizations in my home state. We apparently have 125 of them. One hundred and twenty-five. At the end of that rather extensive list, the site obligingly followed up with a second list of organizations that are active in Illinois even though their home bases are in other states. After scrolling down for several minutes, I decided not to even try counting their total number.
But back to Illinois. One hundred and twenty-five. That's a lot of groups. That's an awful lot of groups.
Being a fiction writer, I started wondering other things about this listing. Do two groups ever stumble over each other at the same investigative site? Better yet, do ghosts stumble over each other trying to keep up with all these groups? Talk about not resting in peace! There may be ghosts that can't even hang out in their favorite abandoned mansion without being disturbed by yet another investigation. And even better than that, is it possible that any of these organizations has a member who is actually no longer breathing?
I sound as if I am mocking paranormal investigation and that is something I certainly would never do. I know I don't have the moxie to go into a reputedly haunted building after dark and look for the things that are going bump in the night. I know. I was invited and I turned it down. (Can we say chicken?)
Still, I am fascinated by the stories that are compiled by groups like this and by the history they unearth while researching hauntings. People who investigate help people who write. Like me.
I currently have a manuscript that involves a group of people who tell ghost stories every Thursday night. A friend of mine who read the book thinks I should have this group of characters branch out into actual investigations, but I don't know if that will ever happen. After all, that would entail research on the part of the author, like a hands-on experience in paranormal investigation. Um, I think my characters will stick to telling stories!