Paranormal research isn’t an exact science, but investigators use certain tools to help determine if an anomaly is present. In my Bad Hair Day mystery, Dead Roots, hairstylist Marla Shore attends a family reunion at a haunted Florida resort. Along with her fiancé, Detective Dalton Vail, she unearths dead bodies along with fond memories in the midst of Thanksgiving dinner. Also present that weekend are a group of ghost hunters. As the lead researcher explains to Marla, spirits can be active at any time. More readings are taken at night because there are fewer distractions. It’s also better for video to have a dark background. Here are some of the instruments at hand:
Electronic Voice Phenomena Recorder
EVP recorders capture voices and sounds that are not heard by human ears at the time. Researchers will enter an empty room with a recorder on, invite anyone present to speak, and then maintain silence while the recorder is running. Later, voices may be evident on the recording. It is important to attempt duplication from other sounds in the vicinity in order to eliminate natural causes. Pipes and duct work, for example, may conduct sound.
Electromagnetic Field Meter
This device measures electromagnetic energy in the area. Spirits produce a disruption of energy, but so do many of our common household appliances. Therefore, it’s essential to get a reading during different times of the day to detect household electricity. This gives you a base reading on normal EMF fluctuations. As with the EVP recorders, you have to locate normal sources before you can detect unusual spikes.
There may be a colder reading when a spirit is present because it sucks up energy from things around it. Again, check for drafts or other common sources, and correlate the temperature change with EMF variations and video recordings.
Cameras and Camcorders
Supposedly, entities emit near infrared radiation, or NIR. The most common type of anomalies caught on film are orbs. You might also see vortices, energy rods, or other unusual sources of light. Rarely does one capture an apparition. What’s the difference between an orb, apparition, energy rod, and vortex? Not much; they’re just different forms of spiritual energy.
How do you know you’re photographing an orb rather than a speck of dust on the lens? Orbs have a spherical shape. Sometimes you’ll catch them where you have EMF fluctuations. Researchers have caught videos where anomalies have gone through walls, hit ceiling fans, veered around people. You need to see if the anomaly can be recreated from any known sources. Go through the process of elimination before you consider anything to be actual evidence.
If there’s a ghost, how can you tell who it is? Often by the history of a place. Residual hauntings, for example, are like recordings. They reflect events that occurred at a particular location. Think in terms of an energy residue that keeps repeating itself. Footsteps going up and down stairs, soldiers fighting on battlefields, people walking down hallways; these are experienced in the same place over time like the apparition in St. Augustine, FL who’s always seen doing her laundry. By repeating the same action, she’s left an impression on the place. It’s a replay of the scene, like a traumatic event that has stamped its imprint on the locale. This type of haunting is simply a recording of an event in time. Anniversary ghosts are similar. They only appear on the anniversary of a significant event, so their appearance is a type of residual haunting.
Then we have intelligent ghosts who will try to get your attention by rattling doorknobs, creating odors, moving furniture, making noises. They’re the ones who create mischief. Poltergeists, for example, don’t intend to hurt people, but their high energy level can make them dangerous. They want people to know they’re around.
Marla and her family are staying at Sugar Crest Plantation Resort in Dead Roots. Besides her late Grandfather Andrew whose ghost affectionately pinches her in the tower elevator, there is Alyssa, the love-struck daughter of the original plantation owner, who met her demise during a fire in the sugar mill where she waited for her lover. There’s the Union solder shot to death outside the old homestead, now converted into concierge suites. And finally, Marla puzzles over the two strangers wearing Cossack hats who confronted her grandfather before they mysteriously disappeared. It’s said their spirits haunt the condemned wing of the hotel. Which ones of these ghostly tales are real and which ones may be stories meant to frighten visitors away?
Marla’s family reunion at a haunted Florida resort turns up dead bodies instead of fond memories. She and her fiancé, Detective Dalton Vail, launch another murder investigation in the midst of Thanksgiving dinner.
“Ghost stories, nifty secret passages, tales of gemstones and family secrets enliven this tale.” Oline Cogdill, Sun-Sentinel
“If you like ghosts and ghoulies and things that go blink in the night, you’ll love this book.” Mysterious Women
“Condemned wings of the hotel, secret passages, and a gaggle of paranormal experts investigating the resident ghosts, all add up to a frenetic mixture of mirth and mayhem.” I Love A Mystery
“The setting, a Florida resort complete with ghosts, ruins and secret passages, makes a terrific site for a mystery.” RT BookReviews