Mysteries, Legends and Unexplained Phenomena: Ghosts and Haunted Places
By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
Publisher: Chelsea House (August 2008)
Pages: 144 - Price: $10.95
For ages: 12 and up
Interview by Jeff Belanger - email@example.com
Reading stories of ghostly legends and haunted houses are one thing, but understanding why a place may be haunted, or how to investigate the spirits is quite another. Rosemary Ellen Guiley has been writing on the paranormal for more than 20 years and has written dozens of books for adults. Now, she's bringing her knowledge of things that go bump-in-the-night to a younger audience. She's the consulting editor for a new series of books called, Mysteries, Legends and Unexplained Phenomena by Chelsea House. Kids.Ghostvillage.com caught up with Rosemary to ask her about her new young adult book, Ghosts and Haunted Places.
Do you feel that children are more sensitive to paranormal encounters than adults?
Rosemary Ellen Guiley: I do think that children are more sensitive to the paranormal than many adults. Most children have at least some paranormal experiences, such as seeing ghosts or having "invisible playmates," the latter of which may be faeries. These experiences drop off as a child ages and becomes more engaged in learning how to get along in the world. Sometimes adults can dampen experiences by dismissing or disapproving them.
How old were you when you became interested in the paranormal? What sparked your interest?
Like a lot of young children, I had some paranormal experiences, though at the time I didn't think of them that way. I had invisible playmates - they were always outdoors, not in the house. They looked like little kids about my own age, but I think they were faeries, who are drawn to children. I also heard and felt the presence of angels - they would sing to me when I was alone. I didn't see any ghosts, or at least ones that I know of, until I was into adulthood.
When I was in my early teens, I became interested in psychic dreams, because my mother experienced dramatic precognitive dreams, usually related to upcoming deaths. This stimulated my interest in the paranormal, and in experimenting with my own dreams. I read books on how to develop your powers of extrasensory perception, and began exploring my dreams for astral travel, precognition, and sending and receiving messages from people. I had a fair amount of success, which energized me to learn even more about the paranormal.
There were other influences, too. At age six I looked through a telescope for the first time and became hooked on astronomy, which has been a life-long interest. Astronomy was quite mind-expanding for me as a child, introducing me to concepts about time, space, extraterrestrial life and more. This in turn led to an interest in UFOs.
From a very early age I was a voracious reader, not only of nonfiction, but also science fiction, fantasy and horror - all genres dealing with the paranormal.
What do you want young readers to take away from your Ghosts and Haunted Places book?
I hope that Ghosts and Haunted Places kindles a desire to learn more about the paranormal, especially in a grounded way. We're all entertained by films and TV shows, but the real paranormal is much different, far less sensational and exaggerated. I would like young people to not automatically categorize the paranormal as fearful, weird, and creepy, but rather as a mysterious part of human experience shared by people throughout history.
Are there dangers children should be aware of regarding exploring the unexplained?
Children are naturally curious about, and excited by, the paranormal. They are more vulnerable than adults, however, and a negative paranormal experience can have lasting side effects. I do not think that parents should push their children to develop psychic ability, or be exposed to situations that might prove disturbing to them. Playing with spirit communication devices, such as the Ouija, can be problematic, although I do not think the Ouija per se is a "dangerous" instrument.
You've written many paranormal books for the adult market, but the Mysteries, Legends, and Unexplained Phenomena series is your first foray into books for children. Do you approach these books any differently than your books for adults?
For the young adult market, I've simplified concepts and language to make the information as accessible as possible. I've avoided some of the darkest aspects of the paranormal. Where appropriate, I don't avoid the negative and scary, but I don't give them as much emphasis or detail as I might in an adult book. On the other hand, the paranormal shouldn't be sugar-coated for young readers, either. The young adult market presents more of a challenge in striking the right balance.
Ghosts and Haunted Places includes a chapter on "Ghost Hunting with the Pros," can this be a family activity?
I certainly think that paranormal investigation, including ghost hunting, can be a worthwhile and educational activity for a family, and I do know of adult investigators who involve their kids. Young children can be taken on some ghost walks and tours, but they are not suited to investigations. Older teens are suited to learn investigation techniques. Some paranormal groups and organizations allow adults to bring teens; some have age cut-offs of 14. Paranormal investigation requires a great deal of focused attention, patience, and the ability to be quiet for long periods of time.
Do you have any tips for kids just getting started in investigating?
I always tell beginners in paranormal investigation, regardless of age, that the best tools are their own powers of observation. Gear is great, but you can do a lot with just a flashlight, notebook, and pen. Pay attention to what you see, hear, smell, and feel, and take notes without trying to judge your experiences. Investigators are always surprised that what they often dismiss as "imagination" are bona fide unexplained phenomena associated with hauntings.
If you have the money, invest in a digital camera and a digital or tape recorder. A compass is a good idea, too, for revealing magnetic weird spots.
What other books are in the Mysteries, Legends, and Unexplained Phenomena series?
There are 17 titles in the initial rollout this year and in 2009. Besides Ghosts and Haunted Places, we have Werewolves; Vampires; Witches and Witchcraft; Aliens and UFOs; ESP, Psychokinesis and Psychics; Astrology and Divination; Shamans and Shamanism; Magic and Alchemy; Dreams and Astral Projection; Lake and Sea Monsters; Bigfoot, Yeti and Other Ape-Men; Mysterious and Mythical Creatures; Mysterious Places; Faeries, Goblins and Sprites; Zombies; and Spirit Communications.
Visit Rosemary Ellen Guiley's Web site at: www.visionaryliving.com
here to buy this book now.