Thursday, April 26, 2012

Conversations with Ghosts by Laura Bickle

Please click here for the Spring Fling Blog Hop Giveaway!
I'm very pleased to welcome guest author
Laura Bickle
to the blog today!

Take it away, Laura...

Talking with the dead isn’t a new pursuit.

I’ve always been curious about how it happens, from both historical and modern perspectives. In my Anya Kalinczyk books, my ghost-hunting protagonist is the rarest form of spiritual medium, a Lantern. Where other mediums in her world allow spirits to use their hands and voices to communicate, Anya devours and incinerates them. As you can imagine, there was a lot of fun research that went into the story about ghost hunting and mediums. I was intrigued by how conversing with ghosts has changed – and also remained the same – over time.

Modern ghost hunting involves investigating haunted sites in search of proof of life beyond death. Ghost hunters and other paranormal investigators often attempt to record data from their experiences using a variety of equipment beyond personal anecdotes. Such investigations can make use of EMF meters, thermometers, cameras, motion detectors, and audio recordings to capture evidence of paranormal activity. There’s a plethora of new evidence-collection devices available, with more invented and adapted as time goes on.

With all the technology used by ghost hunters and the recent popularity of such investigations, it may seem that such activities are a new phenomenon. In fact, organized attempts to contact ghosts have their roots in Spiritualism, a movement that peaked in popularity between the 1840s and the 1920s. As a belief system, Spiritualism assumed that spirits of the dead could be contacted by humans. Spiritualism relied on mediums, living people who have the special ability to communicate with spirits, to bring the words and deeds of the dead to the masses.

In 1848, two sisters, Kate and Margaret Fox, claimed to contact spirits through rapping noises. The experience of rapping by their audiences was considered to be vivid evidence at the time. Their experiences and the experiences of other mediums in the movement sparked widespread public interest in the afterlife. Seances, table-tipping, Ouija boards, and automatic writing became popular entertainment, even parlor games at parties. Communication with the dead became democratized, in a sense. It could be witnessed by ordinary people.

The movement began to wane under accusations of fraud. In the 1920s, stage magicians such as Harry Houdini campaigned to expose mediums defrauding grieving families. As analysis began to replace belief, many efforts to contact spirits were exposed as delusional or predatory.

Still, the interest in life after death is perennial; across cultures, it‘s a topic for philosophers and theologians. But the Spiritualist movement brought the search to the masses. Ordinary people were able to touch and see evidence of an afterlife for themselves.

Modern ghost hunters are the heirs of much of those grass-roots efforts. Ghost hunters come from all walks of life, and are ordinary people with an interest in the afterlife. But we now live in a scientific age. Armed with technological tools, many ghost hunters depart from Spiritualists by embracing skepticism, rather than blind belief in things that go bump in the dark. By embracing scientific methods, such investigators are likely to come closer to the truth than the Spiritualists that came before.

The curiosity is the same, but the methods have changed. Rather than seeing contacting spirits as a game, modern ghost hunting views contact with the dead as an investigation, worthy of measurement and accumulation of evidence, not as a form of entertainment. As a result, we may come closer to answers, answers that curious people a century before could only speculate about.

Oooh, so interesting! Hey, guys, do you have any good ghost stories from your own life? If so, do tell! And please thank Laura for such an intriguing post!

Thanks for reading!
Laura & Laura
Read excerpts of Embers and Sparks
EMBERS is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble
SPARKS is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble  


Laura Bickle said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today!

Aurian said...

Thanks for this interesting post. Is it a coincidence I got your books in the mail today? Dark Oracle and Rogue Oracle.

I am very glad not to have any personal encounters with ghosts, but sometimes there is too much coincidence in my life. So I do believe there is more between heaven and earth than what we can see. Which is one of the reasons I love reading paranormal romance books and urban fantasy.

Laura Kaye said...

Glad to have you, Laura! And thanks, Aurian, for kicking off the comments! I've had SO MANY encounters of the ghostly type, so I really enjoyed this post! :)

fuonlyknew said...

I'm another laura! These books sound really good and I can;t resist a series. Add in some ghosts and mediums and I am hooked. I'll get my hands on these soon, looking forward to reviewing them!
laura thomas

Laura Bickle said...

Thanks so much for trying my books, Aurian! I agree that there are many things on heaven and earth...far more than we can express in fiction!

Thanks, Laura! Would love to hear about your ghostly encounters!

Laura Thomas, thanks so much for including me in your TBR list! I hope that you enjoy! :-)

Laura Kaye said...

Wow! This might be the most Lauras ever to comment on one of my blog posts! LOL

Oh, my, Laura, I have SO many ghost stories. I'm 100% confident I've seen two ghosts - one at the age of 8 that appeared human but filmy, one at the age of 17 that I thought was a real person, an older neighbor lady who'd been in the hospital for two weeks before but had died the morning I saw her still in the hospital. There are dozens of hauntings stories from my family, and ghosts were a regular topic of conversation around my grandmother's dining room table when we all gathered. Cool, huh?

Laura Bickle said...

Laura, that is SO INCREDIBLY cool! I love hearing real life ghost stories! :-D