Heather Graham, New York Time bestselling author of the, Krewe of Hunters series, shares with us her ghost stories and insight into the FBI paranormal investigators featured in her series.
To ask an age-old question: What comes after death? Ghost stories have been around ever since humans began to reason, think and wonder. Shakespeare was fond of them. So was Dickens.
I’m not sure how much curiosity (about this and other things) we’re simply born with—and how much results from our environment as we grow up. My mom came here from Dublin, Ireland, with her family when she was a teenager, and as I grew up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother who babysat my sister and me. She was filled with tales, many about banshees. If we were misbehaving, she’d warn us that if we weren’t good girls, “the banshees be getting ye in the outhouse, y’know!”
She did it well. We were teenagers ourselves before we realized we didn’t even have an outhouse.
But, more than anything, I think the belief in ghosts comes from our longing to see those we’ve lost. And growing up Catholic, I often said the Nicene Creed, which includes the words, “I believe in the Holy Ghost.”
I’ve always had a fondness for what was old and steeped in history. Places like the Vatican, Westminster Abbey, Gettysburg and other battlefields all over the world, plantations and mansions, old taverns and graveyards—they have an appeal. You can’t help wondering about the people who came before. History buffs wish they could sit down to dinner with Abe Lincoln, or perhaps Thomas Jefferson, or maybe Queen Elizabeth I. (I’d like to shake Mary, Queen of Scots, and tell her to snap out of it! Alas, too late for her to avoid her fate…)
There are many tales—old and new—about people who somehow know what’s happened to a loved one a continent away.
Then there are those who seem to sense things more strongly than others. It’s well-known that we don’t use our full brain capacity; maybe we have senses we haven’t tapped.
I started writing about the Krewe of Hunters because I wondered what it would be like to have the training required by the FBI—but have that special something, as well. And working on the Krewe stories has allowed me all kinds of fabulous experiences. I’ve gone “ghost hunting” at Lizzie Borden’s House, on the Queen Mary, the Myrtles Plantation, the House of the Seven Gables and more, and recently (in a roundabout way because of these books), I was privileged to be a guest of Mel Fisher’s crew. I got to dive the Bank of Spain Atocha site—and touch pieces of pottery last held in 1622!
Have I ever seen a ghost? Hmm. Once, I was sure I did. I was with the Peace River Ghost Trackers at the Spanish Military Hospital in St. Augustine. Naturally, cameras and recorders were set up, and I was watching a screen. I was certain I saw a shape, a darkness, rising in one of the infirmary rooms. I pointed it out to Scott who smiled and told me, “Yes, you’re seeing something. That’s Sprout’s shadow. She’s walking across the room.”
I have been to places where I do believe history remains and where I could close my eyes and see the past. The heights at Harpers Ferry, the fog-laden streets on a dark night. Stirling Castle—where you swear you hear the clash of arms. The Tower of London . . . .
Are there ghosts? Or just a group consciousness, a shared memory and an empathy for those who are gone, but who also lived and breathed and loved?
This time around, in The Hexed, the Krewe are in Salem, Massachusetts, a place I’ve stayed many times and where I’ve made many friends . . . and felt the universal pain of those who so unjustly suffered there.
Do the dead, if they stay behind, stay to help us? I like to believe they might