In the course of writing The Bleeding Room, I was forced to do quite a bit of research into actual real life “ghost hunting” techniques. Most of it was done online and from the basic staples I had seen on Ghost Hunters. As I got around to final edits earlier this year, I realized I needed to go a bit deeper. I dug deep, trying to find someone online that might be able to provide answers, and then realized that I needed to look no further than fellow Belfire Press author Bob Freeman.
Bob is an author, artist, and paranormal adventurer from rural Indiana. He is the founder of the paranormal research group Nightstalkers of Indiana, and a member of the Indiana Horror Writers. He provided me with some down to earth, basic-yet-invaluable information to give the muddled science of The Bleeding Room a more authentic feel. I thought it only proper to interview him on his passion for the paranormal and his experiences as a paranormal investigator.
Hi, Bob! So, we’ve all seen the Ghost Hunters and its ilk on TV. How does the real thing measure up to some of the things we’re all accustomed to seeing on these programs?
TV compresses the sheer amount of time that an actual investigation entails. You’ve often got hours of research before you even step foot on a property and then the actual investigation can encompass dozens of hours, and in some cases, far more than that. There is one location that I’ve been working on that I’ve logged well over three hundred hours at, and I’ve only scratched the surface.
Was there one single event in your life that set you on the path to be so heavily invested in the paranormal and trying to study and understand it?
I became interested at a very young age, mainly due to being captivated by ghost stories and urban legends. I lived in a very rural setting, on a sixty acre farm in the middle of nowhere. Just up the road from our place was an old cemetery that had a long storied history of being haunted. I would sneak out of the house late at night and perch myself in the crook of an old oak in the middle of that boneyard, watching for any sort of sign that the ghosts there were real. When I saw my first spirit, I was hooked and have been studying the occult and paranormal ever since.
Could you describe some of the equipment you use on a normal basis? Also, can you touch upon the difference between technological equipment and more natural approaches? Which do you prefer and why?
I’m solidly oldschool in my approach to paranormal investigations. I often work with investigators who are obsessed with all of the high-tech toys, and I enjoy fiddling with them. But I prefer to work with pretty much the same things I’ve been using since the early eighties — a compass, divining rods, pendulums, spirit boards, and the like. I also always have candles and matches on hand, talcum powder, salt, a couple of marbles, and some chalk. I also prefer a tape recorder over their digital counterparts.
To be honest, most of the high tech gadgets, particularly ghost boxes and emf detectors, are very unreliable. Paranormally speaking, a common compass is far more accurate at divining electro-magnetic disturbances than these modern gauges.
Could you explain to those that may not be familiar with this line of investigation what a few of these things are for? For instance, what purpose does the chalk serve? And what is a ghost box?
Chalk has many uses, the most common being the drawing of a circle. This could be for a circle of protection, utilizing techniques culled from magic rituals, or for a more mundane purpose. I will, at times, place a marble on a flat surface and draw a wide circle around it. I’ll then ask the spirit to move the marble outside of the circle. Sometimes I’ll inscribe multiple circles and see if I can get the spirit to move it from one to the other.
Some of the other items are sort of self-evident. Talcum powder, for instance, can be laid out in an area where phantom footsteps are heard to see if an impression is left. Salt is said to be a natural deterrent to spirits, creating a barrier (or trap) to either keep them in, or out, depending on your needs.
A ghost box is a sort of white noise generator that’s routed through a random voltage circuit and tuned into an AM Radio. The theory is that spirits are able to manipulate this and speak through it.
Could you share with us the most horrifying moment you’ve had in your investigations?
One night, the Nightstalkers and I were exploring an abandoned house. We were in the great room, dead of night, when all of the sudden something hits the floor under our feet. It lifted us off the ground. The whole floor rose up, maybe six inches. I’m a big guy… at the time I was 6’2” and weighed in at 225. There were five of us. Boom! There it was again. And this sound… kind of a sucking, gurgling, otherworldly noise that echoed through the room. The fear was palpable.
We made our way through the kitchen and to what I imagine was a mudroom with a door set in the floor. Steeling ourselves, I lifted the door that led down to the basement. It was filled with dark, murky water, right up to the top step. Suddenly a damn creature flips up out of the water and we all screamed like school girls. It was like some sort of Lovecraftian Horror. I staggered back, dropped my flashlight into the water. Two of the guys ran off into the night. Then the creature came to the surface again.
It was a carp. No, let me say that again. It was a HUGE carp. Maybe four feet in length? I mean, it was freaking HUGE. The three of us sat down and laughed our asses off. I mean, wow, talk about frightening… I assume the floor joists were rotted away from the bottom plate and gave the floor some buoyancy. That’s how it was able to rock the great room’s floor and put the fear of Cthulhu into us…
That night scared me more than any of the actual supernatural encounters I’ve ever come across and was far more frightening than the times I’ve had my life threatened with a gun. This was a primordial fear that just wrapped its fingers around my gut and squeezed. Weird how it also happens to rank as one of the funniest moments in my life as well.
My novel, The Bleeding Room, toys with the idea that some haunted houses and spirit accounts are the manifestation of evil forces. Do you feel that hauntings have an aspect of evil or negative energy to them, or is there something more peaceful and misunderstood to them?
Depends on the haunting. Most investigations I go on all have very natural, real world explanations. The majority of the cases that are actually paranormal tend to be residual hauntings. Where things get really interesting are when you stumble upon intelligent spirits.
These spirits can be deceased humans with unfinished business, or they can be confused or just unready to move on. Simple fact of the matter is, some people are good and some are bad. Their ghosts are no different.
But sometimes these entities are beings that have never been human, such as elementals, wights, lower godforms, and yes, demons. These have their own agendas and thankfully they are quite rare.
Now you’ve even stumped me. What is a wight? A lower godform?
A wight is a sentient, preternatural being often tied to a particular place or ritual area, much like sprites or faery folk. Lower godforms are powerful spirits, often worshiped as gods by “primitive” societies, and entreated by magicians, shamans, and the like.
Given all that you have studied and seen, is there any paranormal phenomenon you simply can’t buy into?
I try to keep an open mind in all cases, but there are a lot of wild theories, particularly in the Ufology field, that I have a hard time swallowing. Ancient Alien theorists can be a real hoot, but for all their half-baked and crazy speculations, at least it’s never dull.
You’re also a writer; what sort of projects do you currently have available and what are you working on currently?
My occult detective novel Descendant is currently available in print and electronic form and available on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Descendant-Wolfe-Investigation-Bob-Freeman/dp/1926912004).
There are links to all my works on my website, http://occultdetective.com.
I’m currently working on a graphic novel, Oddfellows Serenade, with artist Chris Wilson, a sequel to Descendant titled Born Again, and a whole host of poems and short stories that should be finding their way into various anthologies slated for release in 2012.
I’m also still chewing on a paranormal memoir I’m calling My Haunted Hometown and hope to have it ready for publication soon.
Thanks for your time, Bob! And thanks for your assistance with the technical aspects of The Bleeding Room.