Monday, October 29, 2007

Nikki Nelson-Hicks: Where the Haunted Things Are

interviewed by Caren Crane

Today, we welcome to the Bandit Lair a true Ghost Hunter and seeker of things that go bump in the night. Nikki Nelson-Hicks has pursued knowledge of all things paranormal since she was a child. Nikki is also a writer of short stories with a sometimes slight and sometimes quite lethal paranormal bent. With Halloween just around the corner and the paranormal romance market hot, Hot, HOT, we wanted to take a closer look into this extraordinary field of investigation and see what makes a Ghost Hunter tick. Welcome to Romance Bandits, Nikki!

Can you tell us when and why you became fascinated with all things paranormal?

When I am asked that question, I am always struck with the idea of why wouldn’t anyone be interested? I don’t care how technologically advanced humans become, we will always, at our core, be afraid of the shadows, what is lurking inside them and wondering if it wants to eat us.

I have always been into the dark and weird. [Okay, I knew Nikki in elementary school and this is totally true!]When other kids were reading Nancy Drew stories, I was watching Creature Feature. Other girls wanted to grow up and marry Donny Osmond while I wanted to go off on adventures with Carl Kolchack (and if you don’t know who he is, drop your pen right now and forget ever writing horror).

I remember when I was in first grade and I tried to check out a book on bats. The librarian wouldn’t let me because she thought it was too advanced for me; it was a third grade book. When I read a few pages out loud, she told my teacher and then, bam, I was shuttled off to some special class for gifted kids. Little did they know that the only reason I wanted the book was because I thought bats were vampires in disguise. I was very disappointed to learn they weren’t.

What convinced you to take your curiosity and interest and make it a hobby?

I kept my hobby in the closet for many years. I would read about a haunted house, say for instance, the Whaley House in San Diego and I would go out, alone, to check it out. Nothing very in depth or with any gear or anything. Just me, walking around and hoping to get a glimpse of something extraordinary.

When I lived in Budapest, I had to check out all the vampire history. Elizabeth Bathory’s family was very powerful there. They have an entire square named for them, Bathory Ter. The ruins of her castle are still there and are supposedly haunted. And, of course, Dracula left his mark. He was married in St. Matthias church in the Var and had been held as a royal prisoner in Solomon’s Tower in Visigrad.

There was one house that was occupied by a State Dept employee that had stories of a ghost. Supposedly, the recent occupants had seen a Hungarian guard in full dress uniform on the staircase. Marines from the barracks also claimed to have seen the guard. I was invited to a tea one Sunday and I snuck away and took photographs hoping to catch something. I had to keep it all hush hush.

When I lived in Muscat, Oman, I was a little more forthright about my interests. There was a place near the Marine house that was reputed to be so haunted that no one could live there. Because the belief in ghosts was not allowed in Islam, they claimed it was djinns. I had to take a look so I had one of the Marines take me over. The courtyard gate was locked so we couldn’t venture in but I can tell you, there was a very bad vibe coming from that place. Bad mojo.

I had a great time in Oman researching their pagan past. In the outer regions, where villagers left candies to appease spirits in caves, belief in the old ways was still evident. I would go hunting in the souqs for old talismans called somts and rings used in exorcisms called Zar rings.

It wasn’t until I came back to Tennessee in 2004, that I became involved with a group actively. Adasagona Paranormal Society (APS) was founded in 1998. There is some confidence that comes with numbers but, frankly, I still do most of my investigations and research alone.

Have your investigations convinced you that ghosts do or do not exist?

Of course, with age, I’ve lost many of my romantic ideals and became the crabby, cynical Scully I am today. I go into every investigation looking for the rational before I begin considering the paranormal. I am a firm believer in the Aristotle idea: it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it.

What is the coolest investigation you've ever been on?

Two summers ago, the APS was invited to do an investigation at the J.B. Moore house in Villisca, Iowa.

A little backstory: in 1912, 8 people (two adults, 6 children), were slaughtered with a household axe. The killer (or killers) was never found. There are tons of websites on it, if you’re interested.

The whole crew caravanned from Nashville late Friday evening and arrived in Iowa late Saturday afternoon. Our refuge for the night was a house with no electricity and no running water. Oh, yes. No bathrooms. That, my friends, was in itself an adventure in public peeing. Throughout the night, we would all go across the street and take care of business behind a shack. It wasn’t until the next morning we found out that the shack was in the back yard of a senior citizen’s rest home.

When we first entered the house, I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary. When I went upstairs to the supposedly haunted store room where they suspect the killers might have hid, I still didn’t feel anything. But when I went into the children’s bedroom, man, it hit you in the solar plexus. Just deep, deep sadness and fear. And anger. It was there that I saw (intuitively) an angry little boy who kept saying, “my head hurts” and “it isn’t fair.” I had brought with me some teddy bears to give to the children. I put them on the beds and then I did a blessing on the house. After that, the atmosphere lifted.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get any empirical evidence: no photos, video or EVPs. I got the blame for doing the blessing so early on. Even our team sensitive said the house was completely quiet. Many other teams have gotten lots of interesting EVPs and videos.

I was actually more afraid of the townsfolk than I was of the spirits. They were courteous until they found out what we were doing there. Afterwards, they were very cold and downright nasty.

What is the "most haunted" site you have ever visited?

We were called in by a woman who was afraid she had a demon in her house. Erk. When I hear “demon”, it makes my hackles go up. She lived in a mobile home out in the boonies. I really put my GPS to the test to find this place.

Her chief complaint was that electrical appliances in the house were malfunctioning: TVs, DVD player, PS2 and even the generator on her hot tub outside went on the fritz. Light bulbs were popping. In spite of all that, what really scared her was this feeling of hostility in the house. She and her family and friends were complaining that her house, normally a social gathering place, felt “uncomfortable”.

We got to the house and did a quick walk thru before interviewing her. You didn’t need to be shown the heart of the problem. It screamed out to you. The back bedroom. Nasty place.

During the interview, we learned that, six months earlier, she had taken in a teenage boy she knew from church who had been sexually assaulted by his step mother. On top of that, his father had sexually abused his stepsister, the daughter of the woman he had married. Sort of a backwoods criss-cross.

The boy was doing well until she took him back to his home to get some personal belongings. After that, the boy’s behavior began to change. He became surly and disrespectful. He started sneaking into her teenage daughter’s room during the night. After that, she had the boy’s grandmother come and take him away.

We didn’t even need to ask which bedroom had been the boy’s.

Our team sensitive said she could feel the presence of something but that she couldn’t sense anything sentient. It was just a boiling of dark emotions, rolling around and around.

Turns out, what we had there wasn’t so much a spirit or demon but a case of a very sad, angry teenage boy who had projected his emotions into something tangible. Well, as tangible as a residual energy imprint can be. It’s very common in poltergeist cases.

We did a blessing and a cleansing and told her that the energy would dissipate on its own as long.

Interestingly, we had a call from a couple three weeks ago that was having poltergeist problems. They were terrified. But during the interview we found out they were in the middle of a very contentious divorce. Ah-ha. We explained the idea of emotional residue and that the only one haunting that house was themselves. The husband moved out and the problems stopped.

Does your family share your interest in the paranormal?

Both of my kids are deeply agnostic and find most things spiritual highly suspect. However, they are also writers and find that most of this stuff is great story fodder.

My husband doesn’t really care one way or the other. His main worry is the fringe that I often come in contact with. When your hobby takes one into dark places, you meet some real weirdos.

As me about the Email Chick sometime. Whooo, boy.

I think most of us--I know I--would be way too chicken to do the sort of investigation you do. Are you ever afraid? What do you think it is in you that makes you hunt for the things most people don't want to see?

The Masonic Lodge in Franklin, TN is the oldest lodge in the state. Andrew Jackson screwed over some Indians right there on the front steps. There is Civil War graffiti in the bathroom. And the third floor is haunted.

Only members of a certain degree are allowed to go to the third floor. Luckily, my husband, a 32 degree Knights Templar, is but, unfortunately, I am still a woman and no matter how highly elevated I am, I cannot go to the third floor. Well, as far as the Lodge is concerned. Ha. During a tour, Brian snuck me up to the third floor. He watched the staircase while I prowled around. I found the door that led to the main meeting room and opened it. Instantly, I felt a sickening pull at my solar plexus, my breath was taken away and I felt pushed out of the doorway. Whatever was in that room, did not want me, a woman of all things, coming in there.

That was probably the most uneasy I have ever felt. Mostly, I’m too curious to be afraid.

So, what is different about my makeup that keeps me doing this sort of stuff instead of taking up some respectable hobby? I honestly don’t know. There are many days I think to myself that I am a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat that probably isn’t even there.

And then I’ll hear a rapping on my wall. It’s been doing that ever since I brought that wood back from Gettysburg. And the hunt is back on.

How do you feel about Halloween?

As a holiday, I love it. It’s great macabre fun.

But, man, it brings the whackos out of the woodworks. I have a standard response when I am asked by anyone “Where is the best place to go to see ghosts?” I tell them, “Blockbuster. Rent a movie.”

While it’s nice that the idea of paranormal research has some popularity right now, the pendulum has swung to the far side and there are lots of Scoobies out there, mucking about in graveyards, with EMF meters and digital cameras. It’s a real pain in the butt for people who are doing analytical investigations.

So, Banditas, are you brave enough to be a ghost hunter? Are you fascinated with the paranormal? Do you have a paranormal idea and need some detail to make it ring true? I'm sure our readers and writers have many questions to ask of our paranormal expert, so fire away! We are giving away a $10 Borders gift card to a lucky commentor. We will, naturally, select a winner at midnight. [cue creepy music and add a "bwahaha" *g*]

Thank you, Nikki, for being with us today and sharing your expertise. Banditas, you can catch up with Nikki at her blog Nik Cubed. Happy ghost hunting!


Cherie J said...

What a fascinating interview! I must say I was intrigued by Nikki's stories. You are one gutsy lady. I don't have the courage to be a ghost hunter even if I am interested in the paranormal. Thanks for being here and sharing.

Joan said...

Dagnabit! Here I saw "0 comments" and thought "Aha! I've got the golden rooster" and then here comes cherie j typing ONE minute ahead of me!

But I'm on vacation ALL week and can stay up!

Thanks Nikki and Caren for the interesting post.

I probably believe in spirits et al but am a 1st degree scaredy cat. (Dear God, someone on my buddy list has a screeching cat noise for sign on and it just went off while I was reading about your adventures! I think I peed myself)

I am a very intuitive person by nature and when I visited Charleston SC last year felt a strong energy pretty much everywhere I went. Especially the ghost tour. Dear. God. In. Heaven. An approaching thunderstorm just was the cherry on top to make my heart jump in my throat.

I "saw" ghost pirates everywhere including the bedroom of the B & B carriage house where we were staying. I got so spooked I mentally calculated how fast I could leap from my bed to my roomate's bed way across the room....and if she'd slap me if I did. LOL

I also grew up across the road from Waverly Hills TB Sanitarium which local hype has touted as being very haunted. I'm not sure I believe that (it once was a nursing home..THAT was scary) but have advised people planning on visiting that they will know if there is a ghost present...they'll hear coughing :-)

Now, off to try to sleep after being hyped up on dark chocolate and letting my imagination run free.

Um...hold my hand?

doglady said...

Joan, I cracked up when I read your post. I HATE stuff that makes me jump. I have always been fascinated with the paranormal. Three years living in a haunted house will do that to you. Nikki, I think you have one of the most fascinating hobbies around and it must be so interesting to go out and actually LOOK for these phenomena. I am a big believer in spiritual energy hanging around the place were it was dissipated. I have been to Charleston as well, Joan, and the energy there is overwhelming. Another place that is steeped in spiritual energy is Savannah. New Orleans, of course, is a given. I've been to Romania as well and boy is that one spooky place.

Helen said...

I loved the interview thank you Caren and Nikki But I am a big chicken not that I don't believe it just scares the hell out of me and that is probably because I don't understand it. You really lead a very interesting life Nikki good on ya.
Have Fun

Tawny said...

How fascnating! Nikki -thans so much for sharing all these great adventures with us. I'm blown away at all the ghostie things you've seen and done :-)

I definitely believe in magic, ghosts, in energy and in the power of the human spirit to make an impact long after it's left the body (or the room *g*)

That said, I'm a wienie and would never go looking for it LOL - As it is, I try to make sure my house is as sealed from nasty energy as possible!!

Caren Crane said...

Cherie J, I've known Nikki since we were kids and she really is incredibly brave. I have always been a Class A wimp! And congrats on your Golden Rooster!

Joan, sorry about the Golden Rooster. Also, I don't think you could possibly be more of a scaredy cat than me. I'll wrestle you for it! *g*

Doglady, you've told us a bit about your haunted house before. I love to hear about it, but can't imagine living in one!

Helen, you can wrestle ma and Joan for the Scaredy Cat award, too!

Caren Crane said...

Tawny, I am totally with you on sealing against bad energy! When, my husband and I were looking for a house, there was one he went to see first and put on a short list for me to check out.

When I walked in, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. There was a funky, funky vibe in that place. And my husband, very Spock-like, kept wanting to know what was wrong with it. He didn't seem to think "funky energy" was a good enough reason not to buy a house. But I couldn't live there!

Caren Crane said...

Everyone, I wanted to let you know that Nik will be answering questions this morning early and then after work. Yes, she has one of those paying gigs where they won't let her access Blogger during the day. Bummer! But she's a night owl on Central Time, so maybe she'll stay up and play with you night owls. *g*

Buffie said...

I can't believe you mentioned the Creature Feature!!! That was a staple in my house when I was a child. My dad and I would watch it every Saturday afternoon. Too funny that you remember it too!

Caren Crane said...

Buffie, you are lucky. Creature Feature came on late night in middle TN, so we stayed up and scared ourselves silly. My favorite was the old "Little Shop of Horrors"!

Christie Kelley said...

Welcome Nikki. That was a great interview. I love the paranormal and grew up in a house that definitely had spirit activity. But I was never really scared by it. The house had been in my family for about 100 years so I always figured if anyone was there it was probably a crazy relative.

I did have an unique experience this summer in New Orleans. I was staying at a wonderful 4 star hotel and had no knowledge (before I left) of an activity. The entire time I was there I felt odd. My stomach bothered me, my head bothered me and the minute I left the hotel I was fine. And I mean as soon as I walked through the doors. The hotel was perfectly clean, no mold, no dust so nothing to make me think allergies. But the feeling was oppressive. One of the days I was there I got on the elevator with a group of people and as the doors closed all the lights on the buttons turned off. Every one laughed and punched in their floors again. The door shut and it happened again. I had been off and on this elevator all weekend and never had this happen. It all just felt very strange in there.

Joan...Ghost Hunters is doing a live Halloween broadcast from Waverly Hills on Wednesday at 9pm. (Scifi channel). They went there before and had some unique things happen.

Nik said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. I've never thought I was brave, really. I'm more like a big stupid kid that sees a shiny red button and thinks, "Ooooh, what does this button do?" and pushes it before even thinking.

I'm probably gonna pay for that one day.

I noticed many entries talked about residual energies. I think that is the root cause of most paranormal activity.

I like to think that most people cross over with little trouble and don't get stuck here. I can't imagine a worse hell although my psychic friend, Donna, tells me there are spirits who are happy staying here. Not me. Too much Universe to explore to be stuck on this crazy rock.

Of course, spirit visitations are a completely different bag of tricks. That's just Grandma popping in to say Hello or Stop screwing up, you moron!

So, are there any questions? Is anyone working on a story that involves a paranormal investigator? Or any questions on the different theories about what the heck it all is?

I'll be checking back this afternoon.

Again, thanks for reading the interview. Keep on working! I hope the best for everyone.

Terry Stone said...

Okay, after reading Joan's (hilarous) confessions I decided to share one of my own.

I have been a big fan of paranormal shows for years. One night, about six years ago, I was watching Crossing Over with John Edwards. I decided to try and contact my dead grandfather.

No ouija boards or candles, just me sitting on the couach saying, "Papaw, if you can hear me-give me a sign." Well, a bright light filled the glass pane on my front door!

Ever get that so scared you can't breath and your head starts swimming feeling? I did. I finally worked up my nerve to investigate, and found that the wind had blew the storm door open, which had reflected the porch light into the glass. Talk about feeling like a moron!! I decided I am not a paranormal investigator.

Question for Nikki-I know that you must have come into contact with people that scoff at you and your belief in paranormal activity. How did you respond, or do you simply ignore them and walk on?

Caren Crane said...

Terry, that's a great question! Kind of like how do we respond to people who scoff at romance. *g* I'm sure Nik will have a snappy comeback she uses, too. She'll be back on this evening, so be sure to check back!

Caren Crane said...

Joan, I'm going to Charleston in a couple of weeks. Any ghost tours you would recommend?

Joan said...

Ah, Caren I haven't got the strength to wrestle (too many Halloween parties and popcorn balls this week end. I feel like a slug!) So you can have the scaredy cat award. Plus, I have crucifixes and holy water and let me see...some garlic?

As to Ghost Tours in Charleston, I don't remember the one we chose but you started out down at the park with the fountain. We actually had started one with this great young guy who had fantastic storytelling abilities...not too much...not too little just enough to scare the c*ap out of you. (His story about the family who drove off the bridge in the 60's and who still drive a haunted car across it STILL freaks me out!)But a storm came up that night too and they had to cancel.

Christie. I might tune into Ghost Hunters just to see what the deal is. The structure itself is beautiful..kind of castle like up on a hill. I was just reading our local paper about a local ghost hunting group. This guy related that they had gone there after it had rained. Rain had gotten into the cafeteria and formed puddles. While they were standing there they saw wet barefeet prints start materializing from one of the puddles.

The only thing scary I remember from childhood was the "chute" from way up the hill that they sent the dead down to the railroad tracks. It was a big rite of passage for guys to go "walk the chute".

And Terry. How do you know your Papaw didn't send the wind? When my mother passed away, my brother and I were sitting in my living room waiting to go to the cemetary to take care of "stuff". I suddenly got the strongest whiff of roses. My mother was devoted to the Blessed Mother who, it is said, often has the scent of roses around when she is. It lasted 45 min. I had no perfume, potpourri..nothing around. I took it as a reassurance that my Mama was ok.

Now to something really scary...the bathroom scales. Shriek!

MsHellion said...

This is all so incredibly fascinating. I wouldn't go looking--not unless I had a bunch of Scooby friends *grins*--because I do believe there are more things in the Heavens and Earth than I could dream up.

I would like to know more about emotional residue--can you explain more about it?

Caren Crane said...

Joan, I had the same thought about Terry's grandfather sending the wind. Two interesting stories (happened within 3 months of each other, btw):

My siblings and I were in LA (lower Alabama) for my father's funeral. We drove to Pensacola and went to a bar/restaurant for dinner. Midway through, a guy starts playing guitar and singing folk-type songs, like our father always had. He started playing 'Tom Dooley', Daddy's favorite, and we felt a cold wind rush through us. My brother said he didn't feel it, but the four of us girls did!

The graveside service for my grandfather (3 months later) was conducted by the preacher of my step-grandmother's church. The pastor had never liked Grandaddy and thought he wasn't going to Heaven, so it was an odd service. Toward the end, a HUGE wind whipped up and absolutely driving rain blew through the area. The storm stopped right when the preacher ended the service. Then the sun came out and shone brilliantly. We laughed and laughed!

Donna MacMeans said...

Great interview! Thank you, Nikki, for sharing your experiences with us. I believe in spirit and resident energy but I'm not so sure about the physical manifestations. I have tried to see ghosts in hotels/restaurants rumored to be haunted. I'm beginning to think it's a bit of a publicity ploy. But I know some very serious, sane folks who calmly tell me they've witnessed a ghost in their homes. Never have these been vindictive spirits, but they have left a mark on those who see them.

Thanks for a proper start to Halloween week!

Terry Stone said...

Joan, I don't think I ever thought of that, but it would be like Papaw to do something mischevious like that to scare me! As to the scents, one of my cousin-in-laws is half American Indian and she swears that if you smell a scent you associated with someone-that means they are visiting you. I like the thought of that.

Caren, I mean the question in exactly that way! I know she has to have people condescending to her all the time-people being what they are. I think it is fascinating that she can go surging forward where I would be a trembling mess, praying for an angel, and running in the other direction as hard as I could :0).

FilmPhan said...

I have a question for you. Can animals sense or see paranormal things more than we can?

Not too long ago I was by myself with my dog, Lola, in my house. I must have been reading or something because it was quiet in there. Lola gets up from sleeping, walks to the stairs leading upstairs and starts barking like someone is there. She is the kind of dog that really barks and growls when she sees people that she doesn’t know. And she will keep barking for as long as they are there. She was looking more towards the ceiling above the steps though instead of up the stairs to the second floor. Obviously, it freaked me out since I was the only one home and she kept barking even though nothing was there. After about a minute she finally calmed down. And of course I went to check and make sure nothing was wrong upstairs with a phone in hand just in case.

My new cat does some weird things too like hissing and jumping at things that I can’t see or hear anything and neither can anyone else. Sometimes he acts sort of like something scared him or jumped out at him. But he is blind (sometimes can pick up on shadows) so I honestly don’t know what he might see or hear. It could just be his own paranoia too.

Caren Crane said...

Filmphan, I can't wait to hear Nik's take on those. Especially interesting about your blind kitty. Our cat tends to get spooked easily and jump at nothing, but he's just a wimp. He is the smallest cat in our neighborhood and his frenemies come eat his food. *g* I'm sure your cat really hears or senses something!

kim h said...

no that is scary but i believe everyone has psyhsic ablities.

Hi Nikki

Cassondra said...

Hi Nikki.

Thanks for this wonderful interview --and so near Halloween too! Caren, great timing as always, and what interesting friends you have!

Yes, I believe in the paranormal. I'm not sure whether it's fortunate or unfortunate that I grew up in a church that also believed in such, and taught people how to deal with it, both on an everyday basis and on those extraordinary ocassions when there's something really nasty present. So for me, it was kind of an everyday thing, but I know that's not the norm. I've been involved in actual exorcisms, which were REALLY hairy and don't want to go there again, but I suppose it's a good skill to have.....?????? (picture me laughing out loud at myself as I type this) Anyhow, my husband is so used to my hypersensitivity that he'll turn to me out of the blue and go "what's wrong honey, do we need to leave?" if we're somewhere and the energy is really uncomfortable for me.

The worst I ever came upon a "haunted" building was when I was in grad school and studied in Great Britain. In one particular castle we were taken into the dungeon where they tortured prisoners. I couldn't stay. Everyone looked at me like I was nuts, but I couldn't breathe, and it felt as though the space around me was pressing in on me and I would be crushed. I turned around and went "out the in door" and people had to get the heck out of my way. It was AWFUL.

And then a few years later we moved into a haunted house! :0) We had it blessed (good excuse for a party) and that took care of it.

Nikki, I have some questions about your group. How did you come upon these friends who've formed the association? And since you spoke of the "weirdos" out there, I'm guessing this type of group tends to attract those kinds of people--who would like to join but would be more of a detriment than a help to your goals and mission? And how do you all, as an organization, deal with that?

Maureen said...

This was such an interesting interview. Thanks so much. I think it's fascinating that you're willing to go to these places. I'm wondering if you have ever felt any presence in your own home.

Kim Howe said...

What a gripping interview! Your travels fascinate me as well and I'd love to hear more. What are some of your favorite ghost-related novels?

Thanks for stopping by!

anne said...

Your interview was fascinating and wonderful! I do read about ghosts and sightings but am not brave enough to participate. I love reading and learning about time travel and find that area intriguing.

Anna Campbell said...

Caren, thanks for inviting Nikki. Nikki, fantastic, fascinating interview. I've been sitting here getting goosebumps, not just with your stories but with the comments too! Good thing it's the start of the day down here and not midnight!

Actually I firmly believe there's more to heaven and earth than what our measly brains can reason out - it's arrogant to think otherwise, IMHO.

Nikki, you've been to some amazing places. I'd love to go to Hungary. Were you an army brat or are you just a wild and willful traveler? ;-)

Joan, your post cracked me up!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, yes, Nikki! I love a good ghost story. What are some of your favorites?

Caren Crane said...

I want to give Nikki the day off work so she can answer our many questions. *g*

I do know that she was in Budapest and Oman because her husband was in the Marines and had embassy duty (if I remember correctly).

Interestingly, Nik's husband is a Civil War re-enactor, so they have traveled to some spirit-filled places in the USA near famous battlefields. Also, he trained snipers in the Marines.

Yes, they are a much more interesting family than mine! Although my husband has some fairly horrifying stories about fixing computers, I don't think it's quite the same, somehow. *g*

Joan said...


I think animals are sensitive. My brother who lives in Mom and Daddy's house has a cat, Citrus.

He says every now and then she looks up at the ceiling as if she is watching something. He said it was most likely our Mom saying "What the h*ll is a cat doing in MY house?" LOL

And Cassondra, I've felt those vibes strongly on every trip I've taken to Ireland. Very mystical and those castles can give you the creeps.(Especially Ross Castle in Killarney and you saw the teeny tiny attic stone space/ledge where ALL the servants slept.)

I have a friend who studied in Great Britain one year. She went and assisted at an archeological dig near Hadrian's wall. Her professor related that they had been excavating down several layers (so many layers represent the ground at different time periods). He had taken a break when he looked up and saw a Roman cohort marching past. He couldn't see their legs because they hadn't dug down to THEIR time period yet. They marched right on through the wall.

Dang, if I'd only been there I could have asked "So, does dormouse really taste like chicken?" :-)

Susan Seyfarth said...

Okay, I'm really impressed by all you people who have such amazing sensitivities to paranormal energy! I'm so clueless about that kind of stuff. Not that I don't run up the basement stairs when I'm alone in the dark laundry room from time to time, but I think that's mostly because I've seen too many scary movies & freak myself out.

So here's my question for Nikki: Do you think there's paranormal activity going on all over the place, but most of us just can't perceive it? Or is it really more of a rare occurence to interact with the spirit world? I kinda like the idea that stuff is happening all around me that's invisible, that there's a whole other layer to the world than I can see.

Thanks! Susan

pearl said...

This has been a learning experience. Thanks for the peak into this world. I enjoy reading and hearing about it but not involving myself within it. I do believe that there is something out there, as I get feelings and have throughout my life.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Welcome to the Bandit lair, Nikki!

Even though I have a very "intuitive mother" who has these wild family woo-woo moments, I'm a bit of a cynic. Next year some writer friends and I are going to Denver next fall for our annual retreat. We're driving up to the hotel that the "shining" was based on. Supposedly a very haunted place. I'll be curious to see if I have any woo-woo moments there.

jo robertson said...

Really interesting interview, Caren, and Nikki, welcome to our Lair, the name of which takes on a whole new sinister meaning! Yikes!

Fascinating stuff, thanks so much for sharing your interests and expertise with us.

Caren Crane said...

Joan, my younger sister and I were supposed to go on a walking tour along Hadrian's Wall in 2001. Of course, that was the year we ended up going to Nova Scotia instead and were there on Sept. 11. Aiyee.

Anyway, I have longed to go to Hadrian's wall ever since. So, when are we going to the UK again, Joan?

Beth said...

Welcome to the Lair, Nikki! I love paranormal books, movies and TV shows but I'm definitely not brave enough to be a ghost hunter - I'll leave that to the experts like Nikki *g* (Although when I read the post I thought Nikki said she kept her HUBBY in the closet, not hobby *ggg*)

Thanks for the great interview, ladies!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Okay, Dianna now scared silly, I have to go to the store and it has to be before dark now. I admire people like you Nikki but I am a dyed-in-the-wool coward and don't care who knows it! I am one of those people that if I get scared by anything, I can't put my feet on the ground, I am 55 years old and cannot make my body do what I tell it to. I have slept in a chair or on a couch more than one night because I just got a glimpse of something scary on tv. I can walk into my own basement and before I can flip the light switch the hairs on my neck stand up and I start to hyper-ventilate. Can you imagine me trying to apprear brave to my kids as they were growing up? Neither one of them realize their mother is a first class coward about things she can't see.

Nancy said...

Great interview, Nikki and Caren. Like Cherie, I don't think I'd want to be a ghost hunter. I wouldn't say I believe in ghosts, but I subscribe to Hamlet's theory that there are "stranger things in Heaven and Earth" than most philosophies cover.

When my mom was dying, she reported seeing other people in the room though we saw no one. The Hospice nurse told us this is very common. Mom's roommate died, and Mom said she saw angels take her out the window. The nurse confirmed other people having such experiences. Mom appeared to be otherwise in touch with reality, so I'm not going to say she was imagining it. It was kind of a creepy feeling, though.

A perfect interview for Halloween week!

Kate Carlisle said...

Wow, what absolutely fascinating stories. Thanks, Nikki! And Caren, thanks for introducing Nikki to the Lair. I don't have any questions right now...I just want to hear more of your adventures!

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

Nikki, this was a really cool interview. And, hey, we live in the same town!

I've written paranormal and am a big fan of the show Supernatural, but myself? I'm a big fat chicken. I freak myself out all the time, especially when I'm home by myself.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Joan, I will hold your hand cos I am a coward too

Nik said...

Sorry for the late posting. I'm having internet problems...

Okay, let’s answer some questions.
First off, how to deal with “the look”. It’s different for every situation.
Since I live in Nashville, TN where the only spirit people want to hear about is the Holy Spirit, I have to be very careful about what I tell people. Since I was outed at work, I have people tossing religious tracts on my desk on a monthly basis, more so during the holidays.
For people who want to believe I’m dealing with demons and devils, I just nod my head, smile and say, “Thank you for the prayers. I can always use more.” It’s no use arguing with people like that.
The ones I really hate are the people that, say, invite you to dinner and then use you like a floor show. They ask you all sorts of questions and act like they are supportive and interested but, you can tell by the gleam in their eyes, you’re just a talking donkey.
I’m beyond the need to prove myself or have people believe me; I’m too old and cranky for that.

What is emotional residue? First let me start off with a warning: everything about paranormal research, like all sciences, is theory. Okay? The idea behind emotional residue is that when someone experiences a strong event, it leaves behind a stain. It can be positive (although you don’t hear about that as often) or negative. Have you ever just been somewhere where you just felt bad? Like you suddenly had the creepy crawlies? Or you feel light headed and nauseous? That’s what we’re talking about. Unless you can rule it out with some other physical problem. For instance, carbon monoxide poisoning or, my favorite, arsenic in the glue used to stick on antique wallpaper.
Oh, another interesting cause of a “haunting” and completely natural one is when a place is bombarded with high EMF waves. We had a case in Hendersonville where a woman claimed a rental property she had was haunted. She said that every family (her’s included) that lived in that house would eventually break up. Marriages went bad, people went nuts, the works. She called it the Hell House. Naturally, I had to have a look. We got to the property and lo and behold, the house was right in the middle of a three power lines that formed a triangle around the building and a transformer right nearby. My EMF meter went off the charts. Not much we could do for her, really, except tell her to move the house.

Are animals sensitive to the paranormal? Yes. Of course, to them, it’s not that unnatural. Who has ever told them any different?

How did I find the APS? Interesting story. I love going to New Age Expos. It’s great fun, tons of story fodder and you meet the most interesting characters. My sister, Mel, and I went to one a few years ago and we stumbled across a booth that read “Adsagsona Paranormal Society”. Ooookay….what’s an adsagsona and what’s so paranormal about it? I circled the booth, trying to figure it out and finally just decided to jump right in. Hey, she was doing readings for $10. What a steal! As soon as I sat down with her, I heard bells tinkle and when she put her hand over mine, I felt an electric charge I’ve never felt before. I’m an old psychic hag, not much impresses me anymore. I have a few catch things I look for when I find a reader to test their veracity. She hit them all. I was freaking impressed. Turns out, they also were a ghost hunting group looking for interested members. I took a card and a week later I was outside Donna’s apartment with my sister. We had a pact: If anyone gets naked or passes around a basket of snakes, we are outta here.
No snakes. No naked people. And that was our first time with the APS. The group has had some rough patches in the past few years and we’ve come out stronger for it. We’ve lost some good people and some bad ones too.
The group had rented out an entire house in Rugby, TN to do an investigation. However, some members misunderstood “investigation” to mean “drunken orgy”. It got really bad. We lost some good people that night and it nearly destroyed the group.
And that brings up the problem of freaks. Look, I’m the first to say I’m not the sanest person on the planet. But, whooo boy, I’m freaking Queen of Sanity compared to some people.
We had a woman who joined up with the APS that we’ll call Psycho, for short. She claimed that she could spirits and she saw them everywhere. She would tell stories of living in houses where a serial killer hid the bodies in the spaces between the drywall and how the ghosts would pick at her. Okay, we all just sorta grinned and smiled at her. Then she started calling people and saying that their husbands had come on to her or tried to assault her. What? That’s when we knew we had to get this chick outta there. We’ve asked her to leave but, every so often, she makes an appearance at our public meetings. Oh well.
We’ve also had people who talk to cats and the cats talked back. People who talk to Elvis. Ya know the kind.
The worst of the lot (or most entertaining) are the ones I’ve dubbed as Super Psychics. They think they must be the most Psychic person in the room and “feel” stuff all the time. If you question their authority of all things spectral, they get huffy and call you names. They crack me up.
BTW, one of the best books to read about ghost hunting has to be Will Storr VS the Supernatural. It’s snarky, yes, but so on the mark.
Do I have stuff happening at my home? Well, sometimes. Recently, my sister, Mel, and I went on our Scooby Tour 2007 to Gettysburg. While there, I found a really neat hunk of wood near Spangler Spring, the home of the White Lady. I thought it was cool and artsy so I brought it home. Ever since, we’ve had some weird stuff going on. First it was rapping on the walls. I would be on the toilet and the wall nearest me started rapping. Okay, could be pipes or something. Then when I went back to bed, the rapping followed me. At work, a file cabinet stuffed with files fell over right after I walked past it. It took a chunk out of the dry wall. The janitors couldn’t figure out how it fell over. Then Brian was goosed while talking to me in the dining room. A few days later, while washing dishes, the water turned off. By that, I mean the faucet physically turned off. That was amazing. That means an actual physical manipulation took place. But, since Brian went back to Gettysburg and went to the Spring and asked for forgiveness for taking the wood, things have been quiet. Weird, huh?
I really enjoyed the story about the Roman legs at Hadrian’s Wall. That is a good example of residual energy imprint (REI). That’s sort of like a film that just keeps playing and playing. It’s not sentient and will, eventually, play itself out and disappear unless something comes along to charge up the battery. Or so goes the theory.

One last bit: yes, I do believe that paranormal events are happening around us all the time and we are unaware. Primarily, I think that Spirit (yes, with a capital S) is always around and working through and with us. I keep that in mind when I am trying to do something and find myself foiled at every turn. Perhaps, it is something I am not ready to do. I also enjoy thinking that people I’ve known who have crossed might stop by for a visit, now and then.

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, you can wrestle us for the Scaredy Cat award! Or I suppose you could wrestle Cheri J for the Golden Rooster. You'd probably have better luck with us scaredy cats. *g*

Seriously, Dianna, my older daughter is 14 and when we are at the movies--watching previews mind you--we both have to cover our eyes just so we don't get snippets of anything scary in our heads. My younger daughter, who is 13, is fearless.

We saw a preview for "The Grudge". My 13 waited until the end when the theater was dead silent and sais (loudly), "That was so fake!" The 14 and I were huddled close together, hoping to forget the millisecond we saw before covering our eyes. *g*

See, that's why I think Nikki is so awesome. She's one of the fearless!

doglady said...

Man, this is just like sitting around the campfire! Because I live in the boonies, my students used to come over for cookouts and we would build a huge bonfire and sit around talking about ghosts, demons, hauntings and all the philosophies contained therein.

As to animals, I absolutely believe they are psychic. After my husband died, the dog he gave me the year before we married, would suddenly sit up and bark a few times, wag her tail and then look back at me as if to say "Dad's here." She would go and lie by his chair and for a while I could feel him with me. I think that is why her death at the age of seventeen was almost like losing him again. I had an old Great Pyrenees dog, Sherlock, who raised my twin goats, Romulus and Remus from the time they were weaned. They went everywhere with him. He was their parent and their guardian. Other people lost goats to coyotes. I never did. We had a terrible lightning storm one evening and I heard this horrendous crash. The lightning hit Sherlock and killed him instantly. I am out in the rain, trying to get the goats to come to the barn, but they will not leave Sherlock. I went to the barn to get some halters and lead ropes for them. I was so upset because Sherlock was dead. All of a sudden I felt something brush against me and I "smelled" Sherlock there in the barn. The next thing I know, in walks the goats. They laid down in their stall like nothing had happened. I would have those sensations of him being around off and on for years until Rom and Rem passed away within days of each other. I haven't sensed Sherlock since.

Gillian Layne said...

Whoa, it's first thing in the morning and still I have chills.

A special wave to my fellow Passion Slaves Terry Jo and Doglady/Louisa! Ladies, what stories!!

I live very very near the Joplin MO spook light. If you live in the midwest, you know about it. People come from all over to sit on road and wait for it to appear.

I'm more of the "honey, if we're driving by it and it's late at night, don't tell me, don't tell me" variety.

Nik said...

Re: Rom, Sherlock and Remus

That is a great story. You should write that up. With illustrations.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Nikki, you are so awesome but I am sure I would have a heart attack.
Caren, I so, so relate to you and your daughter.
My mother told me stories about myself when I was young and I still get the willies thinking about them. Maybe I am just over sensitive to suggestion ( I am one of those people that "see" movies when they read) but it takes very little to get my nerves standing straight up and my skin to crawl. I can handle blood and gore, I don't like it so much but it doesn't freak me out. It is the spirit realm that can set me off.