October 10, 2007
The Ghost Files: Paranormal Encounters, Discussion, and Research from the Vaults of Ghostvillage.com
By Jeff Belanger
Publisher: New Page Books (September 2007)
Pages: 222 - Price: $13.99
Interview by Lee Prosser - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ghostvillage.com author interview
It is always a pleasure to discuss many topics and ideas with paranormal author, Jeff Belanger. He always has something interesting to share, and in his latest book, The Ghost Files, he shares many items from the vaults of his Web site, Ghostvillage.com. Jeff, once again, you have given the readers something which is a combination of entertainment, enjoyable reading, educational, and a fine paranormal journey! Let me start this interview by asking, What inspired you to put together such a book as this?
Jeff Belanger: Since I started writing about the paranormal back in 1997, I've learned quite a bit about the subject and about myself. In my other books I focused on either specific haunts, the encounter, or spirit communication. With The Ghost Files I wanted to show readers just how broad this topic can be and how complicated it really is. This book allowed me to not only share what I've learned, but also to put forth some of my own theories as well.
Is this the beginning of a possible book series based on topics published at Ghostvillage.com?
You never know! When the Web site started back in 1999, the idea was to create a simple repository for all things ghostly. Early on, I actually worried that we would run out of material to explore. But the more I began to research and write about the subject of the supernatural, the more related avenues and offshoots of the topic I discovered. It's not as simple as ghosts and hauntings. There's belief, perception, religion, and all of the interwoven subjects within those sub-topics. It can take a lifetime to explore any one of them thoroughly, but they're all fascinating.
This is definitely a "best of" collection, and well worth the reader's time. Was it hard to select material, did a lot of research into what type of book you wanted to create play a major part in the overall approach to the book?
Since my first book came out in 2004, I've done quite a bit of lecturing on the topic of ghosts and everything that falls under that very big umbrella. Each lecture I give is different, I present different facets of what I've learned, and I try to broaden the sights of my audience. You could say that The Ghost Files is a book I've been outlining for years-every time I prepared for a lecture and I learned what topics resonated with my audience the most.
Once I sat down and started putting the book together, the writing and work went really quickly because these are the ideas and topics that I've been talking about for years. It was nice to be able to put them down in one place. How does it feel to know that Ghostvillage.com is the major Web site that so many people return to regularly for reading and paranormal insights?
It's a great feeling. I'll take full credit for starting the Web site and "throwing the switches" on the Web server, but after the first few months of operation, the site has become a collaborative effort. So many people have contributed their experiences, research, and ideas, and Ghostvillage.com would have been nothing without all of those invaluable articles. My rule for the site is simple: it's the kind of Web site that I enjoy reading. That's how I keep focused as we move ahead.
Have your feelings about what happens after death become more defined over the past few years? Could you share some of those feelings with the readers?
If anything, my feelings on what happens after death have become less defined. I've heard so many versions of the same experience (i.e., dying) and its aftermath (i.e., ghost encounters) that it's been difficult for me to formulate an opinion on the details. I'll be the first to say that I don't know. But what I do know is that millions of people have had some kind of unexplained supernatural experience that leads me to believe that something happens after death. What exactly that something is, I'm still working on.
What lasting effect did your visit to Paris, France, and its famous catacombs have upon you?
I've been to Paris twice now, and both times I visited the catacombs. It's such a powerful place. To disturb the resting place of the dead is a universal taboo, but these old bones had to go from where they were because Paris needed room to grow, and the living will always take precedent over the dead. To walk through those old limestone tunnels is humbling. There are 60 generations of Parisians there -- all of them intertwined with each other. Each has a unique story, but they've been forced into one collective story and one single voice.
Paris, France, is regarded as one of the most haunted cities in the world. Do you agree with that?
With 2000 years of history, I would hope Paris has more than a few ghosts lurking. With so much art, culture, and significant world events that left a mark on that city, it's safe to call it one of the world's most haunted.
Did you happen to come into contact with the late French author, Guy de Maupassant, whose ghost is rumored to walk the streets of Paris, France?
No, sorry. I didn't meet any specific ghosts while I was there.
Do you find you are continuing to be drawn to paranormal investigation as a personal adventure into the unknown?
I've always been interested in exploring haunted places, be they historical or private residences. I've had the opportunity to tag along with several paranormal investigative groups, and I've gone out on my own as well. You can study this stuff all you want in the comfort of your own home, but sometimes you need to roll up your sleeves and get out in the field. Lately, I've been more interested in hauntings at private residences. I'd like to really explore one family's experiences with the paranormal over an extended period of time.
Over a period of time, you have put together a storehouse of paranormal and supernatural material. What legacy do you wish to leave behind for your own children?
Hey! I'm much too young to be thinking about my legacy just yet. But one of my prime objectives is to increase the awareness about these fringe human experiences and promote the discussion. Perhaps with a higher profile, we could get some decent funding to run some real experiments that would truly stand up to scientific scrutiny.
Do you think your daughter, Sophie, will follow in your footsteps?
Hold on, I'll ask her… …okay, she said (and I quote), "Bbbbaahhh, maaaahh, ga-ga." I'm not exactly sure what that means because she's only seven months old, but I think roughly translated it means, "I have no idea what I want to be just yet, but I do know I'm overdue for my nap."
Sophie can be whatever she wants to be. I'll support her all the way.
What suggestions would you offer to those with personal ghost stories wanting to share their information?
There's something very cathartic about sharing these experiences. Around October I tend to do many smaller lectures at libraries and other meeting places. Near the end of my presentation, I'll always ask if anyone wants to share their own experience. After a few seconds of silence, a timid hand will go up, and once one person starts sharing their story, I watch their shoulder start to relax -- almost like a weight has been lifted. Then others jump in and share their experiences. Meetings like these are a great place to share, but you can also go to Web sites like Ghostvillage.com and offer your experiences in our encounters section or discuss them in our message boards. You'll find you're just not alone.
Do you feel the year 2008 will be filled with paranormal happenings on a larger scale, given the problems currently facing the planet Earth? What is your personal perspective on this?
I don't believe paranormal experiences are increasing, but I do believe the subject is becoming less taboo because of all of the exposure on television, on the Web, in books, and on audio broadcasts. Because the subject is becoming more accepted in the mainstream, people are talking about the paranormal more and we're hearing about more and more cases.
What each encounter means will be different for each witness. Some may interpret a ghost experience as some kind of warning, others will view it as help from the other side. In some cases, I believe they're neither. They just are what they are. That's what drives me deeper into this subject. I want to understand the phenomena and glean some meaning from it all, even if only for myself.
It has been a pleasure to visit with you and share your thoughts with the readers. Thank you.