Nicky Alan: A Modern Day Witch Hunt?

•December 9, 2012 • 1 Comment

 

When I first saw Nicky Alan live and witnessed the work she did as a psychic medium, I was impressed by not only her accuracy, but by her warmth and kindness. Even from on stage, where she could only interact with people under the pressure of time and under heavy scrutiny, she exuded such heartfelt kindness and respect for the people she was reading for. So when I found out, through her website, that she was being slandered, abused and experiencing damage to her property because of a Christian group, I was utterly shocked.

Last week, at Nicky’s shop, ‘Heaven on Earth’ at Chelmsford, members of a Christian group damaged and defaced the property, causing in excess of £500 worth of damage. Police made aware, Nicky is still awaiting justice for the vandalism. Posters advertising her work have been defaced with abusive comments, such as “Satanist Scum!”

Nicky herself, via her online blog, has said, “Sadly, it seems that the modern-day witch hunt continues. What a sad world we live in. Every banner and board I have used to advertise has been vandalised or scrawled on. I have had to report damages to the police eight times.”

Nicky has said that this isn’t the first time she has experienced such mentality from various people and religious groups. The psychic medium recalls many occasions where she has felt belittled, abused and at the receiving end of prejudice from others. Pointing out on her online profile that other religions, churches or groups would not accept such abuse on their property, Nicky wants only the same treatment that other people, religions or groups receive. Nothing more, nothing less.

As somebody who comes from the Christian faith myself, I can say I was really upset to see how Nicky as an individual has been treated. When those who profess to be Christians ignore the teachings of the New Testament in favour of their own inclinations and beliefs, the results are tragic. Just as when people were judged and executed in centuries past, when so called witches were burnt at the stake, one would like to believe that in modern times, we have passed the mentality of ruthlessly abusing and judging other people. One would like to think that we can now live in a society where people are free to make their own choices about their belief system, and not live in fear of what others will do to them.

When Jesus Christ came to earth, He said:  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

He also said, “Why do you take the splinter out of your brother’s eye, when you miss the plank in your own?” The point being? Jesus wanted us to love each other, to refrain from judging. So whilst there are people out there abusing, hurting and slandering others, there will never be any love and acceptance. The irony is this: the group of people I described here are not sharing love, or acceptance, but are instead perpetuating the age-old degrading belief that those who are different should be excluded and thus become victims of modern day witch hunts.

Nicky Alan is working with a local paper about her negative experience in the hope that she can enlighten people to her plight and thus expose the hurt that such actions can cause.

I hope her work with the police, and the newspapers, will result in these people being brought to justice.

Nobody should be made to feel victimised about their beliefs – even when we feel threatened or confused about the beliefs of others, these should be enlightened times, a time of brightness. We are no longer in the dark ages, we are no longer covered by shrouds of ignorance: there is just no excuse for such intolerance to another human being.

I would like to wish my best to Nicky Alan, my experience with her so far as been nothing short of dignified and caring, even through such trying times.

 

True Life Tale: An Australian Haunting.

•October 9, 2012 • 2 Comments

Anybody who has read my novels, or who scans the pages of my website, knows that I am passionate about the paranormal. I like to explore this fascinating subject as much as possible. I always approach paranormal accounts with an open mind, and when I came across this story on a website, I wanted to explore it further. I contacted the person in question, and thankfully she was willing to share her account of her haunting experience. I want to thank her for her time,  honesty and for sharing an account of her life that was, at that time, troubling and upsetting to her. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed it.

True Life Tale: An Australian Haunting

Can you share with us a little bit about yourself and your background, Melissa?

I was raised in New South Wales, Australia in a Christian home.  My Father was a Pastor of a Church for more than 25 years, so being a good Christian daughter went along with the territory I suppose.  I’m happily Married to my Husband John, am the Mother of 5 children and am currently working full time in administration for a Trade College, so life is pretty much as mundane, hectic and normal as family life can be really.

Melissa, with her husband and daughter

Can you tell us when you moved into the home, and how soon you started noticing unusual occurrences?

We moved into the home at Daisy Hill, Queensland in September 2007.  At first the house was just perfect for our needs.  It was affordable for our small income, the school was close, shops even closer and not far from where I was working at the time. It was an older style 4 bedroom house with polished wooden floors.  It’s what we would call a renovated “Commission” house, which basically means it was once owned by the government and then sold to a private owner.
The first night, as any first night in a new home, was a little uneasy…we were all just getting our bearings on our new surroundings I suppose.
A couple of days after our first night, we would hear scratching in the walls.  I thought we may have been lucky enough to have acquired rats.  A week later, whilst in bed at night, I would hear what sounded like faint footsteps running up and down the hallway. Because it was so faint, I thought it may have been sounds coming from the neighbour’s house.
Did you suspect straight away that the unusual activity was paranormal? Have you always believed in the paranormal?
I think with anything like that, you just automatically and logically attribute your natural surroundings to anything that is questionable. I didn’t admit to myself that is was something else until I saw evidential proof that it was ‘something else’.  Everything else, although it left you with an uneasy feeling, was so surreal, it left you questioning yourself.

Have I always believed in the Paranormal? Yes and No. Being raised a Christian; I was always taught about Demons, Angels, Good and Evil…but paranormal.  No.  There was no such thing as Ghosts and such.  To me, it was either made up or in the mind of the person telling the tale.  Should I have seen photos of such…it was a Demon.

 

Can you describe for us what sort of things occurred?

Where do I begin?  There was just so much that went on.  I mentioned the scratching in the walls.  One day, I thought I’d scare the ‘rat’ away and bang on the wall to make it stop.  I banged 3 times – it banged back 3 times.  That was scary.

We would hear clear shuffling – like the sound of bare feet walking on the wooden floors at night, whilst everyone was in bed.

We would hear the sounds of nails scratching and dragging down the hallway, on the walls, in the roof and also under the floors. Dragging; shuffling and banging in the roof.
Tapping on doors and the windows at the back of the house – which was impossible because there were no trees nearby, and no one could have climbed up the back as it was two stories high.
 Lights would turn on and off without any reason whilst we would talk about God.  The power would shut off numerous times in succession, and then just be fine.  We’d hear loud bangs on the front door at night, answer it and have no one there. I’d be in the shower and sense someone there.  Feeling like a physical presence in the same room, open the shower curtain to find no one else there.
You said in an online article that you began to see physical manifestations in the home. What was it you actually saw? Can you describe it?
For a while there was just a lot of speculation as to the what and why’s of the noises we were hearing.  It wasn’t until we were pregnant with our Fourth child that things started to get a little worse at night. Being pregnant, getting up a lot during the night is a given and I would sometimes get that creepy feeling that something was behind me and then hear a horrible hissing like breathing from behind me.  It was all just so scary – but at the same time…questionable.  So my mind would tend to just brush it off and put it down to an overactive imagination, tricks of the mind or my natural surroundings.

Then, I started to wake with the feeling of being watched.  I would see either a red, yellow-orange or grey cloud hovering over my head.  Other times I would wake suddenly to see these ‘things’ like weird shapes that looked like faces, but were faceless floating past, big black spiders or insects crawling over the mirror and then disappear and sometimes the shape of a blurry person standing at my bedside watching me.  It was always so scary.

One night, I woke to the feeling of being watched and was facing the mirror at the time.  As I opened my eyes, in the reflection of the mirror stood a silhouette of a person that looked terribly charred.  I screamed and it disappeared.

How did family and friends react to your fears and experiences when you shared them?

At times I would see something floating in front of me and point it out to my Husband – and he wouldn’t see a thing.  These things made me feel like I was going crazy.
I remember being up late one night to make our baby a bottle and saw a bright light shoot past me.  I remember thinking “what’s the use in saying anything – no one would believe me”.  It was horrible and very, very lonely.
As far as the loud banging, scraping, shuffling on the floor and such…they were things that everyone in the family experienced, but as to the things that I saw…I was completely alone in that. I don’t know why it was easier to explain away things like ‘bumps in the night’ than unexplainable things that are seen, but I suppose they all thought it a bit too far fetched.
My marriage was starting to experience a lot of strain, as I was waking my Husband 6 – 8 times in a week, sometimes 2 or 3 times in a night screaming in fear of these ‘things’ I was seeing.  My Husband had real concerns for my mental health and my Doctor prescribed anti-depression medication. This did nothing at all to dissolve the waking horrors…but it did help me cope with the emotional stress of it all.
You say that you actually saw a dark, shadowy figure in your home. Can you describe this for us, what actually happened, and if you believe it to be a ghost or a shadow man?

I was pregnant with Hannah at the time and it was raining that night.  I remember waking to the sound of our little Maltese dog whining outside.  I rolled out of bed and made my way to the family room at the back of the house.  I opened the back door and leaned down to dry her off with a towel.

The house was still dark except for the light coming from the spare bedroom which was just off the main lounge and I heard footsteps shuffling up the hallway and thought it was John coming to check on me. As I stood up, expecting to see him, I saw, instead, a tall man shaped figure that was about 7 foot tall, as solid pitch black as the darkest shadow and was completely devoid of light.

It wasn’t a black skinned man…it was complete solid shadow.

This solid black figure was walking out from the hallway, across the lounge room and heading towards the spare bedroom. As it made its way towards the light, it was walking almost trance like…as though it had no idea that I was there and did not know I was watching it.

I stood there glued to the floor in absolute disbelief at what I was seeing, and in complete fear that should I move or make a sound, it may turn its head and see me.
I just stood there and watched it walk into the bedroom and then just disappear.  Once I saw it gone, I screamed at the top of my lungs for John.  He came bolting out of bed and saw me standing there shaking.  I asked him to wait a moment while I checked the room and to my horror saw nothining there.
Do I know what this Shadow thing was…No. I have been tempted to ask a Psychic or Medium for answers, but then I’m not sure I really do want to know.
You eventually moved home. Did you move because of the haunting?
Mainly yes. We had lived there for 4 ½ years and the feeling in the house became so oppressed not one of my family members were happy.  Everyone hated living there and my Husband was sure I had lost my mind.
I don’t think John really believed what was happening, until it started to happen to him.
We were in bed one night, when I was awoken by 2 hard taps on my head.  I woke and annoyed – asked my Husband why he hit me.  He replied that he didn’t hit me and that I was the one who hit him…once and hard on the head.  Yeah, that was weird.

Then only 2 nights later, he woke me asking if I had heard ‘that’

Asking what ‘that’ was – he told me that he had woken to the sound of a high pitched cackle, right near his ear and he said it had sounded so evil and that he felt from this laughter that it ‘somehow’ knew us and was mocking us.  He couldn’t explain that away and was clearly shaken by it. Then our 2 year old toddler would wake up screaming and come running into our room.  She knew the word scary and that’s all she said.

John could see that she was genuinely scared of something and drew the line.  It wasn’t long after that, that we made arrangements to move. We had decided that we would start packing now, then when we found a place to go to, moving wouldn’t take as long.
One night, John and I were moving our mattress from our room to the Family room and we were followed by the sound of scraping along the walls (as one would drag fingernails along a wall).  By now, I think we just told ourselves it was rats to give ourselves some kind of comfort.

But it followed us all the way from our bedroom to the Family room at the other end of the house and that was followed by the sound of a dragging-slide…thud.  Dragging-slide…thud.  Dragging-slide…thud.

We stood in the family room and looked at each other.  Making our way back to the bedroom, the sounds followed. So we went back to the family room to see what would happen and it followed us again.  As we looked at each other John asked “What’s that?”  And I’m like – I so don’t want to know. Then we heard the most awful, screeching sound.  There was scuffling, banging and then that sound again…it was the creepiest sound I had ever heard.  It didn’t sound anything like an animal or person or anything I had heard before.
The screeching made us extremely fearful as it made us feell very threatened and it felt like it intended malice towards us.  My Husband and I bolted back to the bedroom.
We stayed in the bedroom for a moment when we heard the scraping and shuffling again.  In a burst of courage I lunged out of the bedroom, into the hallway, planted my feet and screamed at the top of my lungs “In the name of Jesus Christ, get out! Get out of my house now!”
It didn’t like that and we heard banging and crashing against the walls as it sounded as though it was running towards us.  We heard a crash in the ceiling, a loud thud onto the roof of our shed outside and then scurrying into the bushes outside.
We just stood there looking at each other in disbelief.  There was no explanation for what had happened and John was convinced something was going on.
Has anything unusual happened since you moved out of that property?
Not to me, no.  I’m glad to say that I’ve never had anything wake me up, nor have I heard or seen anything that makes me feel uncomfortable in my own home. Our daughter, who is now 3 still, wakes up at night saying that she’s afraid of the ‘scary spider who is a man’. It does concern me, but don’t really know what to do about it.  We normally have her in our bed and try to dissuade her fears as best we can.

What would you say to those who don’t believe or feel they need proof to believe your story?

I used to believe a whole lot of stuff that seemed to be quite cemented and black and white. And I used to think I had all the answers to a whole range of topics.  But I have now come to appreciate that only God really knows the answers to things still left “unknown” and that maybe I’m not meant to have all the answers.
Some things just are!

I’ve been humbled by my experience and have been taught that things aren’t always as we think, perceive or make them out to be. People are welcome to think whatever they want.  I’m not out to persuade anyone to believe anything.  Just telling my story of what happened in the house we lived in.

Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your story!

Discussion with Skeptical Researcher of Paranormal Claims

•October 3, 2012 • 1 Comment

I came to know of paranormal group RiPA and its founder, Atticus, online through Facebook. As somebody who is immensley interested in the study of the paranormal, I wanted to learn more about the group. Atticus kindly agreed to an interview and here he explains what he has experienced in the group, what has drawn him to the paranormal, and what he thinks of the popular ghost-hunting shows.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what got you interested in the paranormal?

Hey, how you dooooing? A bit about myself? Okay, I’m pretty much a frustrated film maker who has no mates and stays indoors. Ok… I sometimes venture out to a nettle patch to play the bongos in my y fronts - but even that’s becoming a rarity.

My interest in the paranormal started from an early age. My first film was Evil Dead. I saw that when I was about 2 years old. From then on. I was hooked.

I remember growing up through early school years looking forward to the next time a Hammer Horror film was on. Then come weekends there would be stay overs. With stayovers come horror films. As this was the 80′s I grew up with Freddy, Jason, Michael, and all the other horror films of that time. Yeah, I guess you could say I was the weird kid at school! After a while I started to think about why people like horror films. What is the cause of fear? Why is it that people like to be scared? Ok so the slasher films were fiction, but what about ghost stories. People always know of someone who has seen a ghost. There must be something to it all. So yeah, the interest was there from an early age but my research into paranormal study really only took off about 15 years ago.

Your paranormal group, RIPA, has been running for close to ten years. Can you tell us about the group, and why you started it?

Oh RiPA. RiPA’s back story is quite a journey. I returned to Milton Keynes in 2000. There I was, a newbie in a town were I knew limited people. Kinda felt like a bit of plankton in a filter jug. Where do I go, what do I do. So one night I tuyrned on the pc and thought. hmmm I wonder if anyone out there shares any interests with me. This was back in the day of MSN clubs. I made a group page based for people with paranormal interest and sat back and waited.

I then got an email from someone who already had a paranormal group running. Boom! I thought. Then it turned out he only lived around the corner from me, Double Boom! We hooked up, got talking and KAPOW! the birth of where we are today started. Over the years we have had several name changes, turned in many different directions hired and fired and loved and lost many members but that all adds up to the journey.

However. A few years back we were known under a different guise. Things were getting complicated with the co founder. I was busy taking things academic and he was busy taking the completely opposite route. It was tough. Many dissagreements came about regarding the future of what we had. Then came the decicive day. We went our separate ways. A name change was in order to encapsulate the research that we now do. Looking upon some of my academia fellows I adopted the name RiPA. Research into Paranormal Anomalistics. and that kinda stuck. Although I have toyed many a time with changing Paranormal to Psychological. This may still happen. But with any branding it costs a lot and can be quite a workload.RiPA is fundamentally a skeptic group. but this is only because its where our research and studies have led us.

Although saying that, we are not cynical. The RiPA mantra is ‘ Its not impossible, just improbable’. Come to us with a claim, we may or may not initially believe you. Show us proof. Give us the evidence. Unfortunatley, this is yet to happen.

 RiPA also conduct investigations into paranormal and pseudo-science claims. Be it Psychics, Mediums, Healers, Homeopaths etc.

This has led to RiPA getting quite a name for itself within the world of the paranormal. If we come to your psychic event or your ‘Mind, Body, Soul’ day, you know we are going to question your claims. We have been refused entry to some, received death threats from others and shunned by many.

If you make a claim, we wanna see proof!

Paranormal expert, Atticus, (above) in action!

On your website you claim that most paranormal claims can be explained away. Do you believe in the paranormal? Has your group ever uncovered anything you’ve yet been unable to explain?

Most paranormal claims are just tales of ignorance. Now I don’t mean that in a detrimental way. Just because you cant explain it does not mean it is paranormal. You may not be aware of the psychological causes of Hypnogognia (Sleep Paralysis) or the haunting effect that a high dose of carbon monoxide can cause. or the reaction that some geological and environmental conditions can play on the brain. Examples like these make up quite the percentage on paranormal experiences. Do I believe in the paranormal? I would like to. Really I would. And yeah, sometimes I do like to leave the bubble of reality and think about the what if’s. I believe that people DO experience paranormal phenomena. Gee, there are far to many accounts out there for there not to be anything. But I don’t think it is what you think it is. Come to me with a tale of a ghost sighting. I believe you saw what you said. Was it a ghost? Probably not. well, not in the sense of a typical spook anyway. So do I believe? Let me just say that I believe that you believe……

What is your opinion on popular ghost hunting shows?

Ratings! All about the ratings! I really don’t watch them. I get annoyed. It always seems to be the same tired format. Lets take a popular UK based Ghost Hunting show. 14 series’ later but still they have no proof of the paranormal. Despite what they say on the show, if they had caught real empirical evidence of the after life, a lot of science books will have to be re-written!

RiPA are currently filming some shows based on the paranormal subject but none will be the ghost hunting format.

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about serious ghost investigation?

 Certain TV shows do a serious amount of damage to genuine research.

There are many carbon copy groups of MH. They go out, do what MH do and that’s that. That is not a ghost investigation! That is hanging out in place with your mates hoping a ghost will show. and surprisingly enough. It quite often does.

RiPA are certainly doing something wrong as over the years we must’ve covered over 300 locations and we are still yet to get anything! To be honest, 90% of ghost investigation can be explained from the armchair with a bit of research.It is soo much more than going to a supposedly haunted location, sitting in the dark and waiting for a machine to go ‘boing’!

Have you had any paranormal experiences yourself (or, experiences you’ve been unable to explain away)?

 Yeah, Once. It was a strange account. And to make matters worse it involves the most debunkable form of  ‘ghost’ research technique, EVP. Electronic Voice Phenomenon. It happened at a place in Gloucester. We were there for the night based on claims of many hauntings. I had an external microphone on a lead plugged into a dictaphone. There was a boarded up fireplace at this location. We were not allowed to remove the board. However, my interest peaked and there was a gap between the board and the middle of the fireplace archway. This was just big enough to stick my mic in. I had it in place for around three minutes. The room I was in was silent. On reviewing the recording, there was a section where what sounded like a crash of pans followed by a voice saying, quite clearly, ‘She’s DEAD!’ That was pretty cool. And although I have debunked and explained away many EVP recordings, this one is one occasion where I don’t have the answers……yet!
There is a call on your RIPA website for mediums to take part in a project. Can you tell us more about this, about any responses you’ve had, and what your opinion is on mediumship?
Ah, the ‘Test The Mediums’ project. We have had this running for 3 years now. We are still yet to conduct this! We have had many mediums agree in principal. but when it comes to show time they disappear!. We have had adverts up in places where Mediums meet only to have the advert ripped down. This really isn’t doing the Mediums any favours. What they don’t seem to understand is that this experiment is not about exposing them but its about discovering their ‘Gift’.

Just think what it could do for science if they actually took part and passed? I cant really see what the big deal is, its only doing what they charge people to do every day….. isn’t it?

My opinion on mediumship…. well. A lot of mediums dislike…..I mean hate me and RiPA. This is because we question what they do. We will investigate them, we will get evidence of their techniques and we will assess their style. We sit at their shows quietly, taking notes, filming covertly. We have had many members of the public come to us with tales about dodgy mediums ranging from being sexually inappropriate to just pure aggression when the subject tells the medium ‘no’.  Saying that. not all mediums are bad or out to make a quick buck. I’ve got some good friends who partake in the medium circles. But the services they hold are more like a group counselling session to put people at ease. These are not the type that charge a fortune or make outrageous claims.
You mention on the RIPA website that you have some projects upcoming. Can you tell us anything about this?

Future projects mainly consist around media. Moving with the times we need to concentrate on the media content. We have some shows coming to RiPA soon that will be like nothing you have seen before. We also have a few social experiments that we’ll be bringing to the high street.
What advice can you offer to any individual or group wanting to seriously investigate the paranormal?

My first and main bit of advice would be to work out what you want. Will you be a ‘ghost hunter’ or a ‘paranormal researcher’. Ghost hunting is easy. Paranormal research is not.

Can the general public take part in any of your investigations?

 Generally no. But sometimes we do open our doors in order to let people join us. But when they do it is part of a study. We would monitor how they are in certain situations and look into how they react if they experience effects of a typical haunting. These notes are then put into a paper that is confidential and stored for our records.
Can you share any relevant links so that people can learn about RIPA, yourself or any relevant material?

Of course:

Interview with Writer & Producer, Paul Gannon

•September 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Paul Gannon is a writer/stand up/comedy producer who has written and performed for UK TV channels BBC, ITV, Channel 4 as well as run the well loved ‘Geek Night Out’ live comedy show in London. As a stand up, he’s performed in London and the UK as well as Boston, Los Angeles and New York…

Paul Gannon has kindly agreed to be interviewed, to discuss his upcoming theatre tour, his opinions on ghosts, horror and writing… !

Paul, you’ve been involved in writing, stand-up comedy and the paranormal for some time now. A peculiar mix! For readers who aren’t familiar with your work, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up hosting your own Ghost-Busting show?

It’s a long story, but the general gist is that the film Ghostbusters started it all off for me. It set my imagination alight (at the tender age of 6), put me in love with the supernatural and made me want a career making people laugh. Like most people treat Star Wars as a religion, I treat Ghostbusters with the same reverence. Except Ghostbusters is better than Star Wars. Easily.

It was Dan Aykroyd’s writing that inspired me, his use of words and his strength in character dialogue that made me want to follow a career in comedy. Of course, at that early stage of my life, I actually wanted to grow up to bust ghosts for a living… But no one had the heart to tell me at that young age that is wasn’t a real profession!

In terms of my own work, I think I like mixing horror with comedy because they mostly work on the same principles, storytelling with a twist or subversion of expectations… whether it’s for a fright or for a laugh.

Failing that… cock jokes!

I met you briefly in 2011 at paranormal show, Psychic & Science. The show was a mix of paranormal investigation, comedy and interactive experiments. I personally loved it. How did you find  the experience of hosting this theatre tour, and did you ever experience anything unusual, either on stage or off?

I really loved the show although at times, in all honesty, I was at odds with some of the ideas in the show. I just decided to make it my duty to point out that not everything you experienced during the show had a supernatural explanation. I’d do my best to point out the skeptical or ‘alternative’ explanation to anything potentially spooky. That wasn’t in an attempt to deflate anything, but rather to make sure that any truly unexplainable was noted and not cast into the same pile as reading too much into Ouija board reading (for example), which is a true hazard.

As I’ve been doing stand up for a fair few years, performing for big crowds was no real problem with me (strokes ego) but the audiences were VERY different from my usual crowd. Importantly, they weren’t drunk. The crowds were largely wonderful, excitable and eager to get involved. Most of them were believers, but it was my job to try and start the show with a clean slate and allow them to make up their own mind by the end of the evening.

As for my role, I think it was mainly to keep things moving at a jaunty pace and try and keep the experience entertaining during those shows that were low on supernatural activity. A lot of shows, like Most Haunted, are self important, over earnest and, frankly, embarrassing to watch, and so with P&S, I thought it was important to try to make investigating the supernatural fun and far less agonizing.

As for experiences, well, there were a few (Some of which I reveal in my comedy show)… Some of them were easily explained and some were truly mind boggling. I’m not going to say they were supernatural, but they have certainly addled the minds of a few skeptics. It’s those moments that I find awesome… That gap in reality is what I live for!

The big question – do you believe in spooks?

Hmmm… Tough one. It’s something I tackle in the show, but it’s a “No… with a maybe” or a “Yes with a but…” The interesting point about my show is I went in with a design to find out if I believe or not, but came out more interested in why other people go ghost hunting instead. I became a hunter of ghost hunters basically. I think where I draw the line is with psychics. I just don’t believe in their abilities. I’ve met tones of them and get along with a fair few, but I always stress that I don’t think anyone can talk to the dead, and those who say they do, I kind of question their motives. But again, I don’t aim to debunk, as others can do that far better than me, but rather ask why other people believe.

So your upcoming tour, Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost, will be a mix of comedy and the supernatural. What can audiences expect from the show?

I’m hoping the audience can expect a good time, if nothing else. It’s a mix of storytelling, stand-up comedy, sketches, songs and videos, so it’s a varied show. I don’t want it to be a gag filled cheap piece of comedy, but rather a story with a mix of different style in order to tell it. It’s been hard to compress 3 years of research into 55 minutes without feeling I am missing important bits out, so I am trying to tell the best story I can. There are a fair few spooky stories, silly asides and it hopefully leaves you talking about your own thoughts on the supernatural. I’m not out to debunk or make fun, but rather talk about a very modern fascination with a very old fashioned question… What happens after we die? I just hope people like it, that’s the bottom line!

 I have noticed on your website that you enjoy creative writing too. Do you have any plans to submit work, either fiction or true-life, to a publisher in the future? What do you find most difficult about the writing process?

I love writing. Absolutely adore it. I just find it so bloody hard to get started. It’s hardly a unique complaint, but sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is actually get into a position to open that word document and get writing. I seem to wait until I find this ‘perfect moment’ when I am inspired in just the right time and place… Which I don’t think exists. So I have to drag myself, kicking and screaming, in order to get anything done. At the moment, I am enjoying writing a fiction blog about the adventures of a Ghost Hunter (I know, I know… but I love writing comedy and horror) called Eli Jenkins. He is an old, mad, possibly consistently drunk and demented paranormal expert who has decided to write up some of his most famous cases. I am having tones of fun writing it, I just need to publish more of it more often. It’s just hard to get some proper writing time with my schedule. If you fancy giving it a read, you can go here:

http://elijarvisparanormal.wordpress.com/

You mention on your website that you’ve “offended religious groups.” Dare I ask what has triggered this, and how you’ve combated attitudes from certain groups/people?

Well, that comes from the Psychic and Science tours, and frankly, it’s humourous because the groups in question were small minorities who were offended, but ultimately quite pathetic in their reaction. Nothing I’ve done is as awful as The Innocence of Muslims (thank god), but the level of negative feedback has mostly been people standing outside the theatre shouting ‘this show [Psychic and Science] is evil’ or telling me I am doing the devil’s work. However, the minute you say ‘Well, let’s talk about this…’ They get very defensive and build up an impenetrable wall of bullshit around them. So you can’t win. So instead, I’ll just take the mickey out of them during my show… Which they won’t come to see anyway… So I win!

What are your plans for the future?

I’d like to tour “Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost” around as much of the UK and abroad as possible. It already went down very well in America, so I’d like to go back there with it. Basically, if you’d like me to come to your town to do it, I’ll be there. Other than that, I just want to get more writing done, explore comedy in various different ways and carry on regardless… I know that sounds vague, but providing I can do what I enjoy and make a living out of it, I’ll be happy.

As many readers of my website are interested in the paranormal/horror genre, can I ask what your favourite horror movie is, and why?

Ok… Let me break this down. There is a lot of horror out there, and a lot of sub-genres, so let me take you on a brief tour of what rocks my horror boat.

Favourite Haunted House Film

The Haunting (1963)

Simply one of the best horror films ever. It both is and isn’t about the supernatural, has a dream-like quality to it. It has stunning photography, some inventive scares and ultimately leaves you wondering what exactly did happen at Hill House… was it supernatural? That’s up you.

Favourite Gore Fest

Evil Dead 2 (1987)

It’s the ultimate ‘hold on to your hats’ kind of horror film. It’s less interested in scaring you, but more interested in picking you up, throwing you around, messing with you mind and then dumping you at the end of the journey with your mind well and truly boggled. It may not be the goriest film ever, but its more like a Three Stooges film with decapitations.

Favourite Grim Horror Movie

The Mist (2007)

It’s one of the best Stephen King adaptations and its probably got one of the best all time “WTF” endings to a movie I’ve seen. It’s mean, cruel, grisly and makes you doubt your faith in humanity but it’s a damned fine monster movie. Even if the monsters themselves are probably the humans.

Favourite Clever Horror Film

This is a tough one – but there are 3 films I would recommend if you fancy your horror to be a little more smart.

Scream (1996)

The film that revitalized the horror genre in the 90s. It was a smart peek behind the curtain when it comes to the rules and clichés of being in a horror movie. Even though it dismantled the genre, it also became a classic in itself. It’s legacy has only been weakened by its own sequels and other knock offs!

Leslie Vernon: Behind The Mask (2006)

It is best described as a cross between Spinal Tap and Scream and it is monumentally clever. It lets you go behind the scenes with a masked killer who explains to a documentary crew how it’s all done. It flips from classy cinematics to grungy found footage and it works in perfect harmony.

Cabin In The Woods (2012)

Simply put. It’s awesome. It begins as many other horror films do… Some dumb teenagers head out to a cabin in the woods and then get picked off one by one by something lurking in the darkness. But that is only HALF the story, as there is something else going on, behind the scenes, that is both humdrum and hilarious. It’s how these two halves meet that truly blows your mind!

Where can people find out more about you and your work?

Well, I’m all over Facebook – Just look for Paul Gannon and if you see a picture of a man wearing a ghostbusters uniform, then that’s very likely me.

I’m also seen lurking on Twitter @paulgannonshow, so why not follow me and see me say really rubbish/boring things… Although I do live Ghost Hunt tweets at times, so they are fun! What else? Well, I’m working on a few websites that will be launched soon.

http://paulgannonsituation.co.uk/ – where you can learn about my gigs and video clips and other fun stuff

and

www.geekatorium.net – which is the new website that accompanies my new London show, which begins in 2013… and its going to rock! Both websites are being tinkered with and should be online soon!

Finally, any advice for readers who are interested in perusing careers in comedy/stand-up?

Advice? Well, I’ll be honest, it’s best just to go and do it. You could go and try one of those ‘Stand Up Courses’ that teaches you how to be slick and like the people you see on the telly, but ultimately, the only way to learn is find an open mic night and just do it… and carry on doing it until you find your voice and confidence, or until you quit and decide to open your own ‘Stand Up Course’.

Obviously, I don’t think anyone reading this should get into comedy, because there are far too few jobs anyway and I don’t think I can cope with any more competition. SO STAY AWAY FROM MY PATCH!

Here is the trailer for Paul Gannon’s upcoming theatre show:

Thanks for your time, Paul :)

Livid: A Review

•September 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I love horror movies that are sinister, subtle, troubling and unnerving. Whilst I do have an appreciation of more visual, bloody horror, such as “Saw” and “Inside“, I usually opt for unusual, ghostly stories. When I was recommended “Livid” recently, I was intrigued. The cover art for this movie was already enough to grab my attention, and when I read the synopsis, I knew I had to give it a go.

The story centres around a care worker, Lucy, who is a care giver to an elderly woman who resides in an old, crumbling mansion in France. When Lucy discovers that the elderly woman possesses money and treasures locked away in the old house, she breaks in one night to try to find the hidden gems. It is during this night that Lucy comes across terrifying supernatural presences, ghostly interceptors and a girl that just won’t die….She has a night trapped in the house, with the ghosts that inhabit the property.

This film is French, with UK subtitles. The grim, grainy and dark quality to the film really captures the mood of the story as a whole. The acting is tight, making the unbelievable aspects to this story very believable. The film is an old-fashioned ghost story combined with visual effects that do not drag the audience into reality, but instead into a nightmare that feels every inch real.

The film simply worked for me. Dead ballet dancers. Ghostly shadows. Toys that seem to be alive. The dead that won’t rest. It’s simply delicious. A strong story, strong acting and a beautiful cast of actors really bring this enchanting story to life.

I have watched it once, but I know I shall be watching it again over Halloween. If my first reaction was the correct one, I can easily imagine it ranking amongst my favourite scary movies of all time.

Go on, buy a copy of the DVD, or spend a couple of quid and rent it on iTunes. It’s too good to miss.

My Radio Interview with US station, Romance Radio Network

•September 20, 2012 • 1 Comment

This interview took place in late 2011, with Desmond Haas of the Romance Radio Network. I remember particularly enjoying this interview, because it was my first time (and attempt!) at publically exploring and expressing my thoughts on The Banishing, being able to talk about my feelings, opinions and influences regarding the horror genre as a whole. It was a learning curve for me as much as for any reader of The Banishing!

I took the interview down from my site a long time ago, but wanted to share it again here. I feel that anyone who is passionate about writing horror, or who has been strongly influenced by the horror genre, would relate toat least some of what I shared in this interview.

Either way, I’ve added it here again for you to have a listen, if you get a spare few minutes.

Thanks!

LINK:  Fiona’s Romance Radio Network

When Horror Delivers

•September 20, 2012 • 1 Comment

What do you find scary?

I was thinking lately about some of the movies and novels I find particularly unnverving, or frightening. There aren’t too many. Whilst I enjoy horror as a whole, after many years of being exposed to all kinds of repulsive scenes and fear-inducing descriptions, I have to say I’ve become somewhat immune to the horror that the genre itself delivers.

That isn’t to say I don’t get scared – I do. I’ll often be the first to jump, screech out loud or hide behind a cushion. I can be a nervous viewer when the tension is just right, however I’m talking about a type of nervous fear, the kind that only a few books or movies can do to you. There’s been some real gems over the years, when I think back. The novel “Pet Cemetery” by Stephen King had me so nervous that I was often relucatant to turn the page. I didn’t even like reading it alone in the house! The movies ‘The Ring’ and ‘Insidious’ both unsettled and scared me. When the tension, atmosphere and believability is just right, the effects can  be far-reaching to an audience.

This had me thinking about some of the things I’ve watched recently which have had the perfect amount of creepiness and atmosphere. The first was a movie I came across online, called ‘Ju-On, White Ghost.’ Made shortly after The Grudge (which was a big success), this lesser known feature runs at just one hour, yet really packs a punch in the chills department. Scenes of insane grandparents, murderous boyfriends and possessed houses, Ju-On White Ghost literally made me scream out loud. If you’re interested, take a peek on You Tube, because the feature is on there. If you’re really after atmosphere, watch it late. Watch it loud. On your own.

Then there is the US series, A Haunting. I purchased the box set of this series some time ago. It’s a long series, with 26 episodes detailing so-called true-life accounts from across the States. I loved this series. Of couse, in a set with this many episodes, there are some that are better than others. The accounts themselves, the acting, the special-effects etc, do of course change from one episide to another, but there are definitely some strong stand-outs in this series. Two of my favourites were the episodes detailing the Haunting in Connecticut, and another episode entitled Hidden Treasure, starring wonderful actor Johnny Alonso. You can get sneak peaks and samples of either episode on You Tube too.

A Haunting is a US series exploring true-life encounters

All in all, it’s really hard to pin-point to why we find something thrilling or exciting. Some of you may find what I have mentioned really light, or easy viewing. I guess fear is as individual to us, as our fingerprints. There is something within each of us that bears a darkness, a place we don’t really like to touch or explore too deeply. With me, it is hauntings, spiritual wars, anything that explores darkness and evil within our lives, homes or bodies. I find that far more troubling than any violent movie.

Anyway, I’ve enjoyed this. If you have any recommendations for scary books or movies, I’d love to hear. Halloween is around the corner and I’m up for exposing myself to more!

Catch you soon,

Fiona.

 
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