New Orleans native Kalila Smith is well known locally and worldwide within her field for her work as a paranormal researcher. It is her material featured on Haunted History Tours of New Orleans' Ghost, Vampire and Spellbound tours. She is the author of "New Orleans Ghosts, Voodoo, & Vampires," as well as "Tales From The French Quarter," "Miami's Dark Tales," and "Afterlife Mysteries Revealed."
Kalila's bio is impressive:
She has been featured on and worked behind the scenes on television productions including "Travel Daily," "Places of Mystery," "Secret New Orleans," "Unsolved Mysteries," "FEAR!," "MTV's On The Road," "Blind Date," "Hidden New Orleans," "Urban Legends," "America's Most Haunted Places," "In Search of...," and "Supernatural Destinations." She appeared in the motion picture, "The St. Francisville Experience." She wrote and directed "Journey Into Darkness...the Trilogy", a video documentary, featured in segment in television broadcast in the US & UK and worked on and appeared in the documentary for Sony's Playstation II game, "Ghosthunter." She conducted all of the paranormal investigations for the local television show, "Haunted New Orleans." She was a producer in the PBS documentary "Southern Haunts" New Orleans episode produced by Sky Dive Films.
This New Orleans lady has made her presence known in a realm where presence is inferred and spirits abound. Examiner.com New Orleans Literature is pleased to feature the amazing responses of the author/lecturer/therapist/spiritualist as part of the Undead Con 2013 interview series.
Dionne Charlet: Kalila, when did you first find yourself first enthralled by the occult?
Kalila Smith: I had always been intrigued by anything supernatural. I had a fascination with psychic phenomena and spirit communication from a very early age. I don’t think there was ever a time that I did not have some sort of connection to that.
DC: How did your research come into play as you helped to develop Haunted History Tours in New Orleans?
KS: I had experiences with spirits my entire life. When the tour company began, I wanted to validate the stories that I had heard growing up in New Orleans. If we were saying that these locations were haunted, I wanted to know for sure that they were. I began to go out and knock on doors and ask to do investigations in these places. Soon, residents and businesses were calling me to check out their haunted activity. Basically one thing led to another. I just got pulled further in; wanting to find out more.
DC: What would you say is one of the more significance ghost encounters of your life?
KS: I have had numerous very significant experiences but the most compelling would be what was called a 'crisis apparition' shortly after the untimely death of my youngest daughter. She was born with Down Syndrome and suffered throughout her life with multiple disabilities because of the syndrome. She died tragically this past January of an infection following a surgical procedure. The crisis apparition is the physical manifestation of the spirit of a deceased person that appears shortly after death usually to say good-bye and let loved ones know that they are still okay. I saw her sitting on the edge of my bed the morning after she died. She looked healthy and radiant; no longer disabled with Down Syndrome. She smiled at me and threw up her hands as if to say, "Ta-dah! Look at me!" This spirit visitation along with numerous ADCs (after death communications) from her on the other side prompted me to write my most recent book, "Afterlife Mysteries Revealed," published by Dark Oak Media & Press. Dr. Jeffrey Long, author of "Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences," wrote my forward noting that my ADC's were the most "remarkable and evidential" he had ever encountered. This book was written from my own personal tragedy to help others who face death and grief. The message is: we don’t die. Our souls are eternal. It’s my hope that my experiences will help others who are grieving or facing death.
DC: Have your years of experience helped you personally in any way?
KS: Absolutely. I don’t think anyone could possibly have the experiences I’ve had my entire life and not be connected to them in every aspect of their life. My experiences are all very personal to me. I just happen to be fortunate enough to be able to do this as a profession. The connection I have to spirit and to what is called the paranormal would be a part of me even if I did not do what I did for a living. It’s part of who I am.
DC: What most compels you when you write?
KS: It depends on what I’m writing. When I am writing non-fiction it is of my own experiences with spirits and the paranormal then field work plays a huge part in that work. But I also write horror fiction. When I am writing fiction some aspects of real life enter into the scene but also influences from my childhood when my father, an avid horror buff, got me interested in classic horror films. To me there’s nothing like a good scary story.
DC: Do you enjoy your banter with your skeptical cohort Allan Gilbreath?
KS: I love to banter with Allan Gilbreath! He is a staunch skeptic but plays fair. He weighs the pros and the cons and when he has a disadvantage, he accepts that. The skeptic plays a difficult role. Because when it comes to the paranormal, lack of proof does not mean lack of paranormal activity. It’s the skeptic’s job to disprove something that cannot necessarily be proven in the first place. That is what makes it so much fun to get Allan on a panel and agree to disagree with him. I’ve been bantering with him for a few years now so I’ve become somewhat of a pro at it.
DC: What can attendees of Undead Con 2013 look forward to during your shared panel with Allan and M. B. Weston as you three discuss "The Nature of Good and Evil" on Friday, October 25, 2 - 3 PM at the Hilton Garden Inn in New Orleans?
KS: I have no doubt it will be interesting. The subject is a bit more abstract than simply skeptic versus believer. What or who determines what is good and what is evil? Is it not in the eye of the beholder? What might be good to one could very possibly be evil to another. There are so many directions this can go, I dare not predetermine anything. But I guarantee it will be quite entertaining.
DC: What are your thoughts on Anne Rice?
KS: Without a doubt she is one of the most influential writers of our time. She is living legend in our city. I believe she is responsible for giving fictional vampires not only more dimension by adding their complex personalities but also raised the bar for allure of the vampire. Her characters have depth. They elicit our emotions. Who, after all, has not fallen in love with them? She has been a major influence in many more recent vampire authors using New Orleans as a back drop for their own vampire stories.
DC: Is there anything you'd like to tell Anne?
KS: Welcome home, Anne. We have waited with bated breath for your return.
For more on Kalila Smith, please visit her website.