Since I am interested in the paranormal and write in the paranormal genre, I thought I’d share the books and movies that have had the most influence on my beliefs and my writing. Why? Because sharing the things that have influenced me in this field might be of interest to others who are curious-about or are interested-in paranormal subject matter. More and more people are becoming fascinated with this mysterious supernatural element of our lives. And why not? Someday we will be a paranormal entity ourselves when we transition over to “the other side” of life. Since it’s a place (more like a state-of-being) we are all headed, I figure the interest is quite warranted!
Now, those of you who have read my blogs know that I used to live in a haunted house. I moved into it when I was seven and moved out of it when I was fourteen. Although quite a bit of paranormal activity occurred in the house, other things have happened throughout my life to convince me that there really, truly, without doubt IS a life for us after physical death. So, obviously one of my earliest influences was the haunted house experience. Apart from reading any and all non-fiction books I could get my hands on (Linda Goodman‘s books and anything dealing with Edgar Cayce being two of my favorite), I’ve also been influenced by FICTION books and movies. Now, the thing about fiction is…the stories had to come from somewhere, right? Sure, sure…the imagination but what influences that? Where do those ideas actually come from? A connection to the spiritual world maybe? There is truth in fiction and fiction in truth. So with that, I’ll get on with it.

My first exposure to the paranormal was probably the soap opera Dark Shadows. I was pretty young at the time but I remember it well enough. At least, I remember that although I didn’t always understand the adult nuances of the show, I understood the spooky stuff well enough to be scared (yet fascinated enough that I couldn’t NOT watch it!). An interesting aside here…Dark Shadows is purported to have been influenced by my hometown! Truly! I lived in Bucksport until the age of seven (when we moved into that haunted house in the next town over) and Bucksport is the influence for Collinsport (the fictional town in Dark Shadows…in fact, Bucksport was often mentioned in the soap!). Why? Probably, because its town founder, Jonathan Buck, was supposedly cursed by a witch he was rumored to have put to death! In fact, this legend influenced my writing Hidden Voices which was published in paperback on the 23rd of August 2012 and in ebook today (24 August 2012)! Bucksport has a few other spooky mysteries as well and I’m hoping to explore those a bit more with my Tess Scafer-Medium book series!

One of the first books I can remember reading that truly started influencing my beliefs was The Amityville Horror. I read the book and saw the movie and both of them scared me to freakin death! I think what really added the scare element was the fact it was supposed to be based on a true story. The part where the little kid sees red eyes in the window truly got to me because my family and I experienced a similar event in our haunted old house! (see Living With Ghosts Part II for the “red eyes” story). Now I have to tell ya, I think a lot of the stuff depicted in the book was a little far-fetched and the movie even more so, but I’ve no doubt that SOME of those paranormal instances occurred and it’s those parts that scared the crap out of me! It didn’t matter that I didn’t know which elements to believe or not, the fact is…SOME of that scary crap might have happened and that was enough.

Another book that had a lot of influence over me was The Shining by Stephen King. Now, I grew up in Maine about a half hour’s drive from where Stephen King lived and because he is the King of Horror and Maine’s most known celebrity, I was naturally interested in anything the man wrote. But The Shining really grabbed my attention and activated my imagination on many levels. I mean, really. Here’s a book about a haunted hotel (hmmm…sort of like the haunted resort in my first book Be Still, My Love!) and lots of scary, ghostly crap happened there (just like in that haunted house I lived in!). Now, the horror part of it…you know where Jack goes berserk and tries to kill his family…that sort of stuff I don’t like. Horror, per se, does not interest me. I can’t handle all the blood and gore. I am attracted to spooky, scary…and that’s IT. Despite that, I couldn’t put the book down and I honestly felt sometimes that reading the darned thing was attracting spirits to me!  And speaking of that…I think the more we think about this stuff, the more it DOES attract otherworldly occurrences! So, if you get a chill while reading this or suddenly feel someone standing behind you…well, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Another book that really got me going was Audry Rose (it was also made into a movie and actually stayed pretty true to the book). Man oh man! Suddenly I’m thinking about reincarnation and wondering how that fits into our lives and then I’m having weird dreams that seem too real to be dreams. After reading that book, I started wondering if I was actually dreaming about my past lives! Seriously, Audrey Rose totally influenced my writing No Matter What about a little girl (Clara) killed for witchcraft and whose spirit becomes trapped in our world. To save her lost soul, her spirit is reincarnated into another little girl who ends up moving into the house and befriending her (synchronicity of the universe at work on that one!). Compounding Clara’s problem (and her fears) is the fact that those who killed her have reincarnated as well! One way or another they all become mixed up with each other. I totally found the whole evolution of that book fascinating…how all the characters’ present lives were affected by their past lives and what they needed to do to get over it. That book will be out in October and I can’t wait to share it with you!

When The Entity came out, I was just starting my military career. I went to see the movie while attending technical training school (in Colorado which is where I’d wanted to go ever since seeing The Shining!) and it fired up all the stuff I’d been interested in and experimented with before entering the military.

Busy and fully engaged as I was with my military life, I had to let my paranormal interests drift off to the wayside for awhile. The never-ending itch to write, however, was strong within me and I continued to start story after story (never finishing a darned thing!). Then I saw the movie “The Changling“. Wow. That one really got me going! Talk about a spooky, haunted old house and scary crap happening! That one made me think about Automatic Writing (which was done in the movie) and I even dabbled with it for awhile with great success mind you. Really, if you like a good ghostly movie, this one is pretty good and should fit the bill.

Of course it goes without saying that Poltergeist fired up my imagination. I thought the movie was pretty good until it got crazy…you know, with the creature thing coming out of the closet and all that. What really worked in that movie was the creepy stuff that happened before all the horror crap took over. Honestly, what is creepier than a jester doll sitting in a chair staring at you, then suddenly its NOT in the chair anymore! Nothing used to scare me more than thinking something was under my bed! Seriously, I just got the willies thinking about it.

When The Sixth Sense came out, I really got fired up (again). By some odd coincidence (which I believe is actually the universe working in synchronistic brilliance), my old notebook that contained the No Matter What story (begun when I was 17) was laying on my bed when I came home from work one afternoon (it was around the same time I saw this movie so I was primed to write again). I took it as a sign that I needed to finish that story and a dear friend of mine at the time, Teresa, totally encouraged me to do it. I bounced my ideas off her and she was so enthusiastic and supportive of the story that I kept going with it. She died while I was pitching it around to various literary agents. Breast cancer is a real bitch. Now, thanks to the advent of the glorious ereader, I’m going to publish the book myself and dedicate it to my dear friend now residing in spirit. What I totally loved about The Sixth Sense was the fact it was a great ghost story! No one died (other than all the spirits haunting that poor kid of course) and it didn’t get crazy toward the end either. In fact, the ending blew me away and I had to go back to watch it again. You know…I went to see that movie with Teresa and it scared the crap out of her. I think my arm took a few days to recover from all the clutching she did! (smile) Gosh I miss her.

Another movie that got me thinking was Defending Your Life and even though this isn’t a ghost story and it isn’t creepy, spooky in any way, it deals with the afterlife and I found it interesting. Certainly I think this movie has influenced my thinking on what might happen after we experience physical death. Another movie along these lines is What Dreams May Come. That one, too, deals with life after death and reincarnation. I was quite intrigued with that movie. And since I’m on this particular kick, Only You, oddly enough, got me to thinking about just how important coincidences are! In that story a girl named Faith is playing around on the Ouija board with her brother and she asks it who she’s destined to marry. Her brother, bored with the game, manipulates the planchette to spell out Damon Bradley. Not long after that, she goes to see a psychic and asks the same question … who is her soul mate? Now, her brother, not wanting to waste time dealing with silly psychics, pays the woman to give his sister the same name he gave her on the Ouija board. Convinced now that she must marry a man named Damon Bradley, Faith waits for him to show up in her life. A few years later, she gives up on this dream and settles for someone else. But, on the eve of her wedding, a man calls to leave a message for her fiance and his name is none other than Damon Bradley! She sets off to find him (in Italy which is where I was living when I saw the movie!) and so the story goes. The fact is…the name was made up and yet it is Damon Bradley who helps her find her soul mate. This movie really made me think about how all things affect each other. And I can’t not mention Frequency when discussing fate! This is a great movie. A son contacts his dead father on an old ham radio by connecting to him from 30 years earlier and ends up changing his entire life! That movie truly is a powerful story in my humble opinion. I marvel at the person who thought it up (or perhaps channeled it from spirit?).

I was editing No Matter What (again) when I watched The Others and that movie just helped me focus more on my own story. Why? Because it so intrigued me I wanted to write a story that would do the same thing…intrigue people! I just knew I was on the right track with my book after watching that movie. Also, I looked into the Spiritualist church right after seeing it and so I guess you could say it had a pretty strong impact on my life by pointing me in that direction. The movie got me to thinking about that stuff (ghosts, life after death) and when talking to someone about it (I was running a campground at the time and was chatting with a camper), she told me I should check out the Spiritualist church in Augusta (Maine’s capitol and not far from where I live!). I did so, had my grandmother come through (they do readings from spirit during the last portion of their service) and she told me to get going on my book. So I did!

Of course many other books and movies have added to my paranormal influence, but these are the ones that stick out the most. What about you? What books or movies have you read/watched that influence your thoughts on the paranormal? I’m always up for a good spooky read or a good scare-your-socks off movie!

Until next time, blessings to all and Peace Out!

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