Do You Believe in Ghosts?

So far, 2013 for me has been all about the release of my first Quinn Matthews Haunting Mystery, Dark Music. Since I originally conceived of this story decades ago, and reworked it several times before finally turning it into a “cold case” mystery with an amateur sleuth, I am delighted that it’s finally in print.
I always intended the story to be a departure from the usual Amityville Horror-type approach. Though I hope it’s scary and suspenseful, I’ve tried to make it a fairly realistic depiction of a haunting, and Quinn’s experiences very close to those reported by people who claim to live in real haunted houses. I researched those reports in books, online and in video interviews. One thing I noticed was that people who stay in a haunted house — usually because they can’t immediately leave, for one reason or another — tend to get used to the phenomena and sometimes even crack jokes about the ghosts. I included that kind of graveyard (literally) humor in my book. People who live with ghosts can’t go around terrified 24/7. They relax and even acclimate for a while…until something new and shocking frightens them all over again. Sometimes the situation calms down to a level they can live with, and other times things escalate to the point where they can’t take it anymore and have to move out.
I’ve never seen a ghost or even had a sensation of a haunting in any of the places I’ve lived, but I’ve certainly heard many credible stories along that line from other people and I’m very open-minded on the subject. How about you? Have you ever seen an apparition or experienced other phenomena that made you believe in ghosts? Or has anyone in your family? If so, please share!

About E. F. Watkins

E. F. Watkins specializes in paranormal suspense, and since 2003 has published eight novels with Amber Quill Press LLC. Her first, DANCE WITH THE DRAGON, received a 2004 EPPIE Award from the national organization EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection) as Best Horror Novel. Next came the romantic mystery RIDE A DANCING HORSE (as “Eileen Watkins”). Her third book, BLACK FLOWERS, was a Finalist in the Thriller category for both the 2006 EPPIEs and the 2007 Indie Excellence Book Awards. ONE BLOOD, a prequel to DANCE WITH THE DRAGON, was a finalist for a 2012 EPIC Award in Paranormal Fiction. She also has published the paranormal thrillers PARAGON and DANU’S CHILDREN. In 2013, she launched the Quinn Matthews Haunting Mysteries featuring a psychic amateur sleuth. The first in this series, DARK MUSIC, received the David G. Sasher Award at the 2014 Deadly Ink Mystery Conference, and the second, HEX, DEATH AND ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, was a finalist in Mystery for the 2014 Next Generation EBook Awards.
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6 Responses to Do You Believe in Ghosts?

  1. Irene says:

    I’ve seen two ghosts…full body apparitions. One saved my life. The other was Mme. Jumel in the Jumel mansion in NYC. That was one of those recurrent situations…doing the same thing over and over. Some day I ought write about that.
    Oh, wait, I did.

  2. That’s pretty amazing! I’m very curious about the one that saved your life. Yes, in my book my character learns about the difference between a “residual haunting,” which is like a tape loop that doesn’t interact with the living spectator; a “crisis apparition,” which occurs when the spirit of someone who recently died appears to a loved one; and an “intelligent haunting,” in which the ghost interacts with the living and seems to want something from them.

  3. Krista M. says:

    My parents moved into a split level when I was 16. I had the bedroom in the basement, down the hall from the den. One night, I was woken up by this figure standing over my bed with long black hair. I felt like she was choking me. After a few moments, it faded. What makes this weird is this: I never told anyone because I was afraid no one would believe me or would chalk it up to some kind of nightmare. A few months later, I was sitting in the den, when my then-boyfriend and father both did a double take looking down the hall to my room (it was night and I had a light on in my room). They both swear they saw a black-haired woman walk past the doorway and into the closet. After that my mom had the house blessed and prayed over by a priest. Nothing weird happened but the whole family had bad luck until we moved out.

  4. EJStarr says:

    Oh the stories I could tell! I’ve always been spiritually attuned and it stems from a day when I was three. Yes, I said three as in One, Two, Three years old.

    I was playing in the front yard, as three-year-olds will do, and “felt” someone behind me. A hand dropped on my shoulder and I looked to see who it was. I saw an older woman dressed in one of those print-flower dresses circa 1800’s (though I didn’t know that at the time) standing there. She was a real to me as anyone had ever been. She smiled patiently, eyes twinkling and said, “Never forget you are special child.”

    I nodded and replied, “Ok Grandma.”

    It wasn’t until I was 16 and doing the normal genology project for English class that I discovered who she was. My father was the “keeper” of our family records and I’d asked for his help on the paper. We were sitting there looking through some ancient photos. He turned the page and there she was! Wearing the same print-flower dress too! I pointed at it and said, “I know her!”

    My dad looked at me like I’d lost my mind and said, “Honey, that’s your great-great grandmother. She’s been dead for 200 years!”

    Needless to say I didn’t mention *how* I knew her, but I’ve seen and felt ghosts and spirits all my life…I still do.

    And someday, someone might want to ask me about the four Native American Boys I spent an entire Summer with when I was 13! Maybe I should use that in a book…hmmmm…*ponders and plots* Oh, and JOHN, PUT MY KEYS BACK WHERE THEY BELONG PLEASE!

    Sorry, John is a ghost that has followed me since I was 16. He’s saved my life twice over the years and tends to move my keys and cell phone whenever he wants attention. I have to put both in the exact spot, everyday, otherwise he has field day with them!

    And no, I’m not crazy, just (and this is my personal opinion on the subject) more aware of the forces that make this earth what it is – a place of grand and wonderous adventure if you know what to look for and listen too!

  5. EJ, that’s the kind of thing I meant when I said people can eventually get used to the phenomena. You’ve gotten used to “John” and the things he does that are fairly harmless. My character experiences those kinds of events…as well as other things that are a lot more threatening, of course!

  6. Here is the text of a speech I gave recently at my Toastmasters club:

    “Friends: A Ghost Story”

    Do you believe in ghosts, my fellow Toastmasters and most welcome guests?
    I didn’t—until . . .
    It was a steamy summer night, and my girlfriend Susan and I had driven from Athens, Georgia, to Atlanta to visit my old buddy Paul. Paul was living in a many-gabled tumbledown Victorian house in the somewhat seedy Little Five Points section of Atlanta. We had been college roommates and had forged a fast friendship. When he invited Susan and me for an overnight visit, we jumped at the chance. We arrived at Paul’s house and were delighted to see another old friend, Don, who lived in a different part of town.
    After a delicious, peppery Thai dinner at a neighborhood restaurant, we repaired back to Paul’s, for there was a lot of catching up to do. It had been years since we were all together. As the night grew long and conversation ebbed, Paul offered Don a lift back to his place. Susan and I stayed behind. Paul would be back shortly.
    We were sitting on the sofa, absorbed in conversation, when a persistent tapping sound interrupted our tête-à-tête. It was light and rhythmic and seemed to be emanating from Paul’s dining room. Susan and I got up to investigate, and as we entered the dining room, the sound stopped. We went back to the sofa and shrugged off the noise. Hmm. That was odd, wasn’t it?
    A few moments elapsed, and suddenly the rhythmic rapping resumed, somewhat louder than before. We again got up to investigate, and again the knocking stopped, right as we approached it. We sat back down, now shaken and somewhat alarmed. What was going on?
    Soon the front door opened, and to our immense relief, Paul arrived home. I’ll never forget his words. “You guys look like you’ve seen a ghost!” He couldn’t have known how insightful those words were.
    We spilled our story to Paul, and he took it all in, wide-eyed. And just as we finished, as if on cue, the tapping started up again, even louder than before. We three got up and moved to the source of the noise. And then it happened! More than twenty-five years later, I still get chills whenever I think about it. As we approached the spot, the rapping intensified. It began to swirl around the room, encircling us, enveloping us in a cocoon of terror. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap!
    We gripped each other in horror, and Paul cried out, “That’s it! We’re leaving!” And as abruptly as the rapping began, it stopped. Susan and I snatched up our belongings in mere seconds, and as the three of us scurried out the door, we could hear the knocking start up again. Only this time, it was a pounding staccato. Boom, boom, boom, boom! Something was taking delight in terrifying us! Something that defied explanation.
    We piled into Paul’s car for the trip to Don’s apartment, where we all spent the night, finding refuge from our nightmare. Don was surprised to see us and, more so, to witness our panic. But Don was a sensitive soul and agreed that “things weren’t right at Paul’s.”
    Paul would return home in the morning, while I never set foot in his house again. In the weeks to come, he relayed other mysterious, unsettling occurrences and how his dog, his protector, a rather forbidding German shepherd, would cower under his bed when things went bump in the night.
    Ultimately, Paul was able to exorcise this restless spirit. He took to reading aloud a biblical passage, every night, about casting out demons. We joked that the ghost probably grew bored with this nightly ritual and moved next door, where they had the good grace not to subject him to an unneighborly harangue. We joked, and that was our way of coping with the fear. We joked—but with an undercurrent of uneasiness.
    Paul would eventually move away, to a brand-new townhouse in the suburbs. And we would be left with a haunting memory, of a steamy summer night, in Atlanta, Georgia.
    * * *
    Upon seeing the ghost of his murdered father, Hamlet tells his skeptical friend, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” How true. How very, very true.

    Madam Ghostmaster

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