August 3, 2007
Ghosthunters: On the Trail of Mediums, Dowsers, Spirit Seekers, and Other Investigators of America's Paranormal World
By John Kachuba
Publisher: New Page Books (August 2007)
Pages: 252 - Price: $15.99
Interview by Jeff Belanger - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ghostvillage.com author interview
In John Kachuba's new book, Ghosthunters, the reader has the opportunity to ride shotgun with John as he travels America exploring the great haunts and talking to the people who go looking for the ghosts. From mediums to dowsers, ghost hunting legends like Ed and Lorraine Warren to relative newbies, Kachuba leaves no gravestone unturned in his quest for all things that go bump in the night. Ghostvillage.com had the chance to ask John about his latest book, his work, and the crazy paint job on his car.
How did you first get interested in pursuing ghosts?
Like you, I grew up in New England, a place where you can't walk more than fifty feet without stumbling over some old cemetery. I was always interested in history and often history is intertwined with folklore and with stories of the paranormal. It seemed to me that, as a New Englander studying the area's history and being surrounded by evidence of that history everywhere, hunting old ghosts was inevitable.
What do you think a ghost is?
Wow! What I wouldn't give to know the answer to that question! I've included several theories about what a ghost may be in Ghosthunters, some of which seem more plausible to me than others. I suppose I side with Einstein and his thoughts on energy. If energy can neither be created nor destroyed, then what happens to the energy that is "you" and "me" after we die? Einstein's theories state that one form of energy can be transformed into another. That transformed energy that used to be "me" might be what we mean by "ghost." It's anybody's guess, of course, what a ghost may be and, although I would like to know, part of me still holds out for a little bit of magic in the universe.
In your previous ghost books you focused on regions (Ghosthunting Illinois and Ghosthunting Ohio), Ghosthunters takes a much broader approach, looking at haunted sites across America, ghostlore throughout the ages, and the people who pursue this elusive subject. Have you seen a difference in how the supernatural is approached in different regions of the country? For example, do ghost hunters in the midwest go about this any different than ghost hunters on the east coast?
Yes, Ghosthunters is quite different from my other books, offering more appeal to a wider audience.
Your question is an interesting one. I haven't noticed any significant differences in how ghost research is conducted in various parts of the country. That's been my experience; others may disagree. I have noticed that there are some regional differences in the types of ghosts that are found, based upon the culture and heritage of that region.
I have definitely noticed differences in ghosts and in ghost hunting techniques from one country to another, however. I'm currently researching international ghosts and just returned from six weeks in Malta, where I hunted some ghosts of the Knights of St. John and their Turkish adversaries. I've also created a new Web site, www.ghosthuntinginternational.com, that has an interactive world map that allows visitors to post their ghost stories from other countries.
What happened on your first ghost hunt?
My first ghost hunt was in Dudleytown Connecticut, maybe twenty years ago. I'm sure many of your readers know about Dudleytown, the eighteenth-century mountaintop village that was home to a group of charcoal-makers. Over the years, several of the town's inhabitants went mad. Today, the village is nothing but a forlorn memory, pocked with old cellar holes, and once again overrun by the dense forest.
It was preternaturally quiet the summer day that I visited Dudleytown. No birds sang. Not a leaf stirred. I was there with Jay Baca, a local Connecticut historian and storyteller. We made our way through the underbrush, discovering cellar holes, old wells and root cellars. I took photos (long before digital cameras) of everything. All the while we were there, I had a sense of unease, as if someone was watching me, following me.
Once I had the photos developed (showing my age here), I noticed what looked like a leathery, brown face in one of the cellar holes. The photo intrigued me enough that I contacted Ed and Lorraine Warren, the famed ghost hunters, who lived nearby. They were fascinated by my photo and proceeded to show me photos of their own, all taken at Dudleytown. Their photos showed ectomist, vortices, colored lights, and what looked like faces.
I haven't been back to Dudleytown in all these years, but I would like to return someday.
What new perspective on paranormal investigation did you gain during the research and writing of your new book, Ghosthunters?
For me, Ghosthunters opened up an entirely new avenue of inquiry. What I came to understand in my research was that ghost hunting had much greater importance than simply being a fun activity for people curious about ghosts. Much more important ramifications emerged. If the existence of ghosts can be proven, then everything we think we know about reality and the universe is stood upon its head. If there is another existence after death, then incredibly huge questions about life, death, God, spirituality -- you name it -- come into play. The people I interviewed in Ghosthunters and the experiences I shared with them have all driven me to this deeper exploration of the paranormal.
Was there ever a time when you were scared during an investigation?
In all honesty, no, not really. I've felt some apprehension at times, but mostly I've been too interested in what I was doing to worry about being scared. And now that I've said that, I'm sure the next place I investigate will scare the beejeezus out of me!
Do you have a favorite haunt that you come back to again and again?
No, there are too many haunted places I haven't visited yet.
Was there ever a moment when you looked around at the haunted items for sale, the ghost hunter certification courses, and the practices of some of the more esoteric ghost investigators and think, man this field is getting weird?
Ha-ha, oh sure, many moments. Still, for every weird person that may cross my path, there are scores of serious-minded, honest investigators who are doing their best to figure out the paranormal world.
How long has your car been painted that way?
Too long, I think. It's a 1987 Buick Skyhawk that was painted by Ohio University (I teach Creative Writing there) art grad students in 2004. I'm going to put the Ghosthuntermobile (including signed copies of all my ghost books) up for auction on eBay at Halloween with proceeds going to charity.
What are three books you recommend to aspiring writers?
I take it you mean writers in general, not just "ghost writers." One of my favorite books for fiction writers is Janet Burroway's Writing Fiction. Stephen King's On Writing is also a great book, as is Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird.
What's in your CD player right now?