I am addicted to quite a few paranormal reality TV shows. I guess that juxtaposing "paranormal" and "reality" would look like an oxymoron to quite a few people, but I'm an unapologetic believer so I'm fine using that phrase to describe what I watch. I call it "research."
I don't know if anyone reading this routinely sits down with the same shows, but I'll bet most of those who do aren't also sitting there with a notebook and a pen. I'm not kidding about the research. I've gotten amazing history tips from John Zaffis, The Haunted Collector. His show not only featured all of the client interviews, night vigils, cameras, recording equipment, and ruh-roh! moments as every worthy paranormal investigative show should, it also delved into researching the history of the site and the object/s he was investigating. And from that aspect of each show, I have learned about small pox, blood-letting, and 19th century cavalry uniforms, among other things. I also have a notebook with lists of bizarre details that are too good to forget about entirely; who knows when one of them will pop up in a Bridgeton Park Cemetery Book? I LOVE my research!
I have purchased the books written by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson to give me something to do between seasons of Ghost Hunters, another one of my obsessions. (I only know one other person who dragged her husband out to hear Jason and fellow hunter Steve Gonsalves do a presentation at the haunted Rialto Theater in Joliet.)
I watched Psychic Kids for years until it went away. I couldn't talk my husband into going to see Chip Coffey in person, so I brought my daughter and we teamed up with my friend, the one I ran into -with her husband- at the Hawes/Gonsalves presentation. Psychic Kids taught me how paranormal experiences can differ so much from one person to the next, depending on the way the ability manifests for each particular psychic. And I also got to watch, on many a show, the interactions between a psychically-gifted child and a non-believing parent, interactions that help spur the conflict I write between Cassie and her mother.
I also regularly tune in to The Haunting Of... ,The Dead Files, Haunted History, and Ghostly Encounters. I would be watching Celebrity Ghost Stories if I could only find it on my service. I sometimes watch A Haunting. And I mourn the disappearances of The Haunted Collector and Psychic Kids.
I know I have written about all of this before and apologize to anyone who feels this column is a repeat. To help make this new again, I'll include this little tidbit: I only ever write my stories during the day. This dates back to when I wrote for a community newspaper and did the true ghost stories Halloween article. Something got very interested in what I was doing and made such a crashing disturbance in the garage that I thought the shelf had come off the wall. I was home alone when that happened, and I realized I could handle it during the day, but probably not at night...
I know I've also mentioned that when I write about ghosts, my house comes to life. Things shift and bang. I sometimes hear footsteps coming down the hall toward my office. There are miscellaneous rustlings and shufflings coming from other rooms. It all stops when I stop writing, but it always happens. Even my husband has heard it and asked me, "What is that?" "Nothing, dear, just the usual when I'm working."
So here's my little tidbit: lately, while I sit with the remote in hand, watching my DVR'd paranormal reality shows, the house behaves the way it does when I'm writing. I can't decide it it's because restless spirits like watching shows about themselves, or it they're trying to get me off the couch and back to the keyboard. Whatever it is, it sure adds that little extra to the show I'm watching. And if I write down a description of the particular rustling or other disturbance I hear, that becomes part of my research, too.