I first developed a fascination with the paranormal when I was researching I Heard Your Voice, which follows a “sensitive” who works with a paranormal events team. Since my only experience with paranormal investigations was Most Haunted, I booked myself onto an investigation at a haunted location in Bradford.
I’ll be honest, the scariest thing that happened that night was being abandoned by my satnav on a council estate. However, the techniques used and the way the crew managed the guests was ideal for literary purposes, as was the small group of women who, I’m pretty sure, showed up only to fake phenomena. The moment during table-tipping when the table juddered across the floor may or may not have been genuine, but I strongly suspect they were pushing the planchette on the ouija board (although since the alleged spirit simply told us to go away, I could almost believe it – I wouldn’t want random people in my house either).
After that, I started an online course in parapsychology and began reading some related magazines, Silent Voices and Fortean Times. I’ve also been taking advantage of the many, many paranormal TV shows there are at the moment. Ghost Hunters, Paranormal Witness, Haunted Collector, Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files… you name it. There are LOADS.
Strangely, I’ve found that the more I read, study or view, the less scary I find it. I haven’t had many paranormal experiences, but have always believed in ghosts. However, when you’ve watched episode after episode of investigations which turn out only a couple of bumps and bangs, even the ones where the crew decide to “be provocative” (“Hey! Come on out here and scare us, asshole!”) you gradually realise that there probably isn’t much more to see. True, Ghost Hunters has caught moving objects, voices and occasional apparitions, but even those have ceased to chill me.
I think I’ve been given practical proof of what I should have known already – the truly scary thing is the unknown. Once you start to study it, it becomes really quite mundane.
Maybe I’ll take cryptozoology for my next major enthusiasm. Ghosts are in the past – roll on the chupacabra.