1. What is your background leading up to the book "Devil in the Delta"?
A. I have been interested in, and investigating, the paranormal since the mid 90's. Most of those years were occupied with visiting reputedly haunted locations, attempting to gather evidence, and tracking trends that seem to surround these types of events. In 2005, the group Paranormal Inc was formed by myself and two others--Mike Uelsmann and Brandon Delrosa--to continue researching and documenting paranormal activity. After years in the field, our website has now gathered a lot of visitors, as well as case files that we have posted, which led to me writing my first book for Llewellyn Publishing, The Ghost Hunter's Field Guide. A year later, I wrote my second book--also with Llewellyn--called Ghost Hunting for Beginners. Now, Devil in the Delta is my latest book.
2. What is the subject of Devil in the Delta?
A. Well, the actual subject of the book is the ambiguity and difficulty that is involved with performing a private paranormal investigation. When a researcher goes to a public haunted location--such as a hotel, restaurant, or B&B--it's really more of a 'fun' investigation in that the clients may or may not even care that they are haunted. In a lot of cases, these places even publicize their ghosts and design events around them. But when a person investigates a private case, everything is different. Every detail is scrutinized, research expands to the practices and lives of the clients, and inhabitants usually want some kind of resolution to the situation.
3. What makes the case in Devil in the Delta a good example of a private investigation?
A. The short answer is that there was a lot of ambiguity with this particular case. While the location was, indeed, haunted, there were a lot of other things going on that were revealed as the investigation went on. For instance, the client believed something evil--like a demon--was in the home, details of a supposed murder were revealed, inhabitants would later admit to dabbling with the occult, and evidence of drug use were found. The difficulty of sifting through what was real, what was imagined, and what was not paranormal was the real challenge of the case. This process is all detailed in the book.
4. What do you do when a client believes they have an evil presence in their house?
A. First off, you have to take it seriously--even if your own religious views do not support the existence of such a thing. This is because regardless of what you want to call such a spirit, the point is that something malicious is inhabiting the area. Once you do that, the real challenge becomes documenting the activity with a neutral mindset, figuring out what is explainable and what is paranormal, and making the client feel comfortable in their home again.
5. In the book Devil in the Delta you delve into a few ghost stories from your own past, too, right?
A. That's true. Because the belief in ghosts and spirits can mean different things to different people, I felt it important to help people understand my approach and mindset concerning these types of events. I also wanted to include a few paranormal experiences I had while investigating the case, too.
6. Did you consult with any other investigators while working on this case?
A. Oh, yes. First off, I was called in by another paranormal group that's based in Mississippi to help out with the case, so during the entire process of investigating and researching I was still working with them to a large extent. Also, when I first interviewed the inhabitants of the home, it was clear that they believed a demon, or some other malicious spirit, was present there--along with at least two other spirits! Because of this I chose to email a few of the clergy that are knowledgeable in these types of situations. I was especially fortunate to find someone who was privy to the events that surrounded the actual possession and exorcism case that would go on to be the book and film The Exorcist.
7. Would you then call Devil in the Delta a cautionary tale?
A. Most definitely. Popularity with the paranormal is at an all time high--and as a result, lots of folks are forming groups and taking on cases. If these groups are doing what I was doing in the 90's--going to public haunted locations--it's no big deal. Have fun. But I think most new investigators underestimate what they are taking on when they decide to try and help private clients. I wanted this book to give an accurate account of what can happen in just such cases.
8. With Devil in the Delta being such an ambiguous case, how did you come to the conclusion that the home in question was haunted? And how would you convince others that it was haunted?
A. In the end, when an investigator is through with all the research, interviews, and hours of actual investigation, what matters is the evidence and facts. After speaking with local law enforcement in the area about the case, and sifting through numerous hours of audio and video evidence--not to mention photographs, environmental data, etc.--I was left with enough evidence to come to this conclusion. As far as convincing others is concerned...well, some people are never convinced. But for those with an open mind, I'd say visit the Paranormal Inc website and read the book. With the release of the book, we published part of the case file surrounding the investigation on our website. It includes EVP's--electronic voice phenomena--gathered at the location, additional details about the case, and even an odd photo that was taken there.
9. Have you been back to the location in the book since its publication?
A. I have not. There was a resolution to the case as far as I am concerned. My friends in Mississippi have continued to work with the client to an extent, but to my knowledge nothing new has really happened at the location.
10. In this day and age, books concerned with ghosts and hauntings are being routinely made into horror films. Do you see Devil in the Delta becoming a movie?
A. Well, I certainly did not approach the writing of this book as I would with a horror novel. The intent wasn't to simply frighten readers. That said, in its own way, Devil in the Delta is quite frightening in that what is documented there is most assuredly real! I think if an ambitious filmmaker wanted to tell a ghost story that had a lot of twists and turns, but in the end was grounded in reality, it would definitely make for an interesting movie. But we will have to wait and see if that ever happens!
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