If you haven’t already guessed from the title, today’s post will be looking at my experiences of what people refer to “paranormal activity” and ways in which it has influenced my writing, on both a conscious and subconscious level.
If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you may recall something that happened to be in the wee hours of the morning during one of my writing sessions.
What happened that night wasn’t the first time I’ve felt that sort of presence, it’s actually something that has happened to me quite a number of times over the years. I’m not the type of person that goes in search of paranormal activity, it is something that finds me. Sometimes it is simply a feeling and other times it is something glimpsed ever so briefly and I’m never 100% sure if it was there or not. Usually the experience is accompanied by an emotion, perhaps a sense of calm or sometimes a sense of sadness. However I have not ever felt threatened or in danger from such a presence. Do I believe in ghosts though? I guess the simple answer to that question is yes, I do believe that there are spirits among us, but I don’t exactly believe in the haunting, dragging chains presence that a ghostly presence is often depicted as.
For some reason, I have always felt a connection to my great-grandmother, even though she passed away about ten years before I was born. When I was a teenager and doing my final exams, I was understandably under a lot of stress. One night I felt the presence of an elderly woman sitting on the end of my bed as I slept, she patted my leg in a comforting way, as if telling me that everything would be alright. This would not be the last time that this woman would visit me, over the years she has always been with me during difficult times in my life and also in times of celebration and also most recently, I believe it was her again who was with me the other night as I was writing, looking over at me work. My family members have also had similar experiences over the years and the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the elderly woman is my great-grandmother, who was lovingly called Nanny Greene. She was fiercely protective of her family and even though she passed away before having the chance to become a great-grandmother, I believe that she is still with us all, popping in every now and then whenever we need a little extra support or just to see how we are doing.
There have been other times as well when I felt a presence other than what I believe is my great-grandmother. One night as a teenager I was driving home by myself when I saw a girl with long brown hair, probably in her early teens, standing next to the road under a tree wearing a white nightdress. I thought it was odd that someone was out at 10:30 at night in their pajamas, when I blinked though she was gone.
Perhaps it was the night and my mind playing tricks on me, perhaps the girl was never there at all, but I remember looking at her for that brief moment as I drove past her and I remember the feeling of being lost, not physically but emotionally lost. I never saw the girl’s face, her head was down and her brown hair curtained her face, but I am sure the feelings I felt were hers. You see, they couldn’t have been my own feelings, I was on my way home that night feeling happy, I knew where I was heading in life, I was in love and I was happy. The feelings I felt from the moment I looked at her and for a while after she was gone were definitely not my own.
I never saw the lost girl again, but the memory of that night and the feelings I felt will never be forgotten.
Sometimes I wonder if I have some sort of natural ability, whether I am in some way in tune with their world. It is not something I have explored, it actually frightens me a little, probably because it is so unknown, so I am thankful that most of my experiences have been positive ones. I’ll never know for sure whether it is my overactive imagination or if they are true experiences and connections with the spirit world. However when members of my extended family are also having similar experiences, we can’t all be victims of overactive imaginations can we?
Mark Twain once said,
“Write what you know.”
Whilst this is a common piece of advice for writers, I don’t believe that these words should be followed to the letter because what we know is always changing, I do believe however, that we often bring some of our own experiences to our characters, so in many ways we are often writing what we know.
In saying this, I have definitely brought my experiences with the “paranormal” to my characters, not in a clanging of chains haunting way, but in the way that I have experienced it, as emotions and a connection to family who have passed. My stories do not have a strong paranormal theme, but it is an element and essential in telling the story of my characters, in understanding who they are and as a way to explore their emotions and experiences.
I have two WIP that include characters of strong women who have experienced a connection to the paranormal world. Whilst these characters are in two different stories, in two different times, they have one common character connecting them: József. This man is the connecting thread between his and Anna’s story, taking place in the 1910s and Thomas and Rose’s story, which takes place in the 1930s. His connection with these two women is quite different, with Anna he is a husband, a friend, a lover and with Rose he is a protective father figure and a friend, but while he has never personally experienced the same connection these women do with the spirit world, he understands their experiences and never doubts them.
Now it’s sharing time.
To my fellow writers, what experiences of your own have you drawn on to breathe life into your characters?
And to my readers, have you ever had any experience with the paranormal? A feeling, a vision or even a clanging chains type of haunting?
I’d be interested to hear some of your experiences. Feel free to comment below or drop by on Twitter or Facebook to start the conversation.
© Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within, (2013-2016). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.