Was there really a Canterville ghost?

The story of the Canterville ghost was created by Oscar Wilde. It’s fiction.

Canterville ghost illustrationHe based it on stories he’d heard from his mother, Jane Francesca Agnes, Lady Wilde. She was among the leading experts in folklore of the British isles.

As far as I know, no haunted 19th-century British home is or was named Canterville Chase, and no town in England is named Canterville.

The plot is a solid template if you’re writing ghost stories, especially with a romantic twist.

My favorite movie version is the one with Sir John Gielgud. He’s every bit as cranky as some ghosts I’ve encountered.

The tale makes ghosts less scary to children.  That’s a very good thing.

Read the story online at Gutenberg.org,  or at  http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/CanGho.shtml

LibreVox has several public domain audios of the story, if you’d like to listen to the story. It’s not very long, but it is fun.

And, if you search online, you’ll find several ideas for related, stylized stage plays.

Why is the Lizzie Borden house haunted?

People have asked me why the Lizzie Borden house is still haunted, if — as many believe — Lizzie committed the crime. Isn’t the mystery solved?

Lizzie BordenIf Lizzie actually haunts the house now, I think she would stay even after the crime was solved. Everything that I’ve learned about her points to a quirky personality. She probably likes the attention.

When I visited the Lizzie Borden house, I received very strong impressions. They’ve been confirmed by other psychics, and one Lizzie Borden historian.

However, I’m not sure the house is actually haunted. Not by a ghost, anyway. When I was there, wiring-related EMF issues were a problem. I haven’t been back.

Who committed the Lizzie Borden house murders?

In my opinion, more than one person was involved in the murders. I believe that two were involved. If Lizzie had a clue what she and others were actually doing, I’m not sure she would have participated.

That’s more a mental health issue than an absolution of what she may (or may not) have done.

Also, I think several people went to considerable lengths to prevent Lizzie’s conviction. Close friends did their best to protect her. That may have included murder.

For me, the most intense impressions came from the basement. Those below-ground rooms have a gruesome history. They could have inspired horror stories, even without the lurid murders upstairs.

In addition, the basement has physical evidence best seen with Luminol (C8H7O3N3) or fluorescein and black light. It is not for the squeamish.

Yes, there are logical explanations for that much blood. It’s also a great smokescreen for something more sinister.

My psychic impressions included a maid, someone looking through a window, and a young person who appeared to be a man… but I’m not sure if that was just a disguise.

If Lizzie haunts any one room, it’s probably the room nearest the front door. When you visit Lizzie’s famous house, sit on the sofa if you can. If you’re sensitive to psychic impressions, I think you’ll be impressed.

How can I see a ghost?

If you’d like to see a ghost, you may need to do a lot of ghost hunting.

Many long-time ghost hunters have never seen a ghost. Not one that they were sure was really there.

Apparitions — ghosts that you can actually see — are rare.

Most of the time, people think they may have seen something, but — at the time — it surprised them so much, they didn’t instantly think “ghost.”

  • It may have been an unexplained flicker of light or a shadow.
  • It might have been just part of a ghostly figure, like a face that was there one moment, and gone the next.
  • It could have been a full apparition that they mistook for someone living, dressed in a costume. (That’s common at some living history events.)
  • It could have been a full or partial apparition the person saw for just a second, out of the corner of his or her eye. And then, it was gone.
  • In many cases, the ghostly image shows up as a reflection in a window, mirror, or shiny surface like a table top.
  • It may be a shadowy figure, whether or not it’s a “shadow person.”

However, seeing a ghostly figure that looks “like a ghost” (either solid or translucent) and realizing it’s a ghost while you still see it… that’s so extraordinary, I can’t recall anyone talking in those terms.

ghostly mistIn other words, if you want to see a ghost, be observant. Notice everything, especially the things that make you do a quick double-take.

Chances are, you won’t be sure it was a ghost until minutes after it’s vanished. And, even then, you may have doubts.

Keep your expectations low. Don’t insist that you have to see a ghost to believe in them.

Some people see anomalies. Some only photograph them. Others hear anomalous sounds or voices. Yet others only record them. And so on.

As you investigate haunted sites, you’ll develop a “sixth sense” related to your unique way of tuning-in to ghosts.

It may not be anything visual. If it is, let me know what you experience. Leave a comment at this article. I’m always interested in apparitions… when they happen, where, and exactly what they look like.

Few people actually see a ghost, but — if you do — it can be extraordinary.

What are your favorite haunted houses?

My favorites vary. It depends on the current activity at each site.
At the moment, my three favorite haunted buildings are:

  • Falstaff’s Experience/Tudor World (Stratford-upon-Avon, England)
  • The Myrtles Plantation (Louisiana, USA)
  • The Witch House (Salem, MA, USA)

In the United States, in addition to the Myrtles Plantation, I like the ghosts of Houmas House. Both sites are in Louisiana.

In New Orleans’ French Quarter, I always stay at the happily haunted Hotel Monteleone. A good night’s sleep plus some odd encounters and great ghost stories…? It’s an ideal mix.

Also, I dine at Brennan’s Restaurant where the Red Room has an eerie, ghostly history. The restaurant’s food is among the best in New Orleans… and perhaps the world. (Don’t be surprised if you see celebrities at nearby tables. When actors are filming anywhere near New Orleans, they make a point of having a meal at Brennan’s.)

And, based on my ley line research, I spend time in a park on the edge of the Quarter… but there’s no house there, haunted or otherwise.

Salem Inn, Salem, MAI’ve been very impressed by the ghosts of the Salem Inn in Salem, Massachusetts. Also, I’m fascinated by the old pirates’ tunnels beneath Essex Street. Several buildings adjoining it have dramatic ghost stories.

Salem’s Witch House is an interesting case with surprising physical phenomena, even in broad daylight.

In nearby Danvers, I’m drawn to the remains of Rev. Mr. Parris’s home, as well as Whipple Hill (aka Witch Hill) near Endicott Park… but the hill has no “haunted house,” either.

In England, I like the Falstaff’s Experience. I also like Warwick Castle, just a few miles away. So far, Falstaff’s Experience is the most intensely haunted site I’ve been to, anywhere in the world.

Also around Stratford-upon-Avon, I like the Falcon Hotel and Ettington Park Hotel.

York (city) has more eerie and interesting haunts than I can list here. The Golden Fleece is the tip of the iceberg.

And, though it’s not quite a haunted house, I like the Tower of London. Each part of the Tower complex has fascinating ghost stories. Usually, visitors can see physical evidence supporting the Tower’s paranormal history.

As you can see, only a few haunted houses and hotels stand out among my favorites. However, my list of haunted cemeteries, parks, and lakes, and haunted beaches would be a lot longer.

How can I get my own ghost hunting TV show?

Many people ask me about how to land their own ghost hunting TV show. The reality is: it’s not impossible, but be sure you really want to invest your time, energy, and enthusiasm in it.

Ratings for many ghost hunting shows have declined over the past decade.  As of late 2016, even “Ghost Hunters” has ended its long tenure on SyFy.

So, I can’t pretend that ghost hunting TV shows are great opportunities, even when they’re offered.

Today, few networks or production companies will sign anyone new to star in a ghost hunting TV show. (You may have better luck if your ghost hunting videos have been successful on YouTube.)

First, decide why you want to have your own ghost hunting TV series.

The Paycheck

If you think stars of ghost-related TV shows are well paid, think again.

Many of them probably earned less per hour than they would working at a fast food restaurant.

Most of my friends who star on paranormal TV shows… they never quit their day jobs.

When they’re not filming, they work at normal jobs, just to pay the bills.

A one-hour TV show can involve up to two travel days, then jet lag when you reach the site, followed by two or three days of filming.

After that, you’ll analyze the evidence, and film the reveal. That will require additional days. With all of that completed, add another day or two to return home.

In other words, while it might sound great to be paid $500 for a one-hour TV episode, you might need a week or 10 days to complete just one episode.

You’ll often film shows back-to-back. No days off.

  • Expect to work seven days a week, including weekends and holidays. That may include Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc.
  • You won’t get time off for your mom’s birthday or your child’s school graduation.
  • Even if you’re miserable with a stomach bug, you’re still expected to show up on the set and act as if everything’s fine. As they say, “the show must go on!”

Fame

Is fame that important to you? If so, here are my suggestions:

Look for casting calls for existing ghost hunting TV series. (HARO can help.) See if you can get on just one show, even for 5 minutes.

stage lightsUse that 5 minutes to your advantage. Treat it like an audition. You should seem so interesting, producers will want to include you in future shows.

When your particular episode is about to air, make sure people know that you are on it. (Check your contract to be sure you can talk about the show.)

Also, you should have your own website, and it should look terrific.

Have you been on two or three ghost hunting shows? If they haven’t called you back, get additional exposure on non-paranormal TV shows. Look online for casting calls. Anything on camera is good. Get work as an extra if you must.

Plan your networking carefully. Earn the respect and interest of both the cast and the production company. However, the cast rarely have much input into the show. Impress the filming crew and any producers on the set. They might be involved in scouting and hiring.

After you’ve been on three to five TV shows, start looking for a theatrical agent. You’ll have enough experience for an agent to promote you as a future star.

This can take months or longer. Attend ghost-related conferences with presentations by casting agents and producers. You’ll learn more about breaking into TV. You may also make a connection that leads to work.

Never forget that this field is full of overeager ghost enthusiasts who’d do almost anything to be on TV. Many of them are pushy and obnoxious. Most seem almost oblivious to the realities of working on TV… until they’re actually on a TV show, that is.

Then, they can’t voice their disillusionment because they signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Distance yourself from starry-eyed and self-aggrandizing aspiring stars.

Stand out as a confident professional. That’s the best way to hear from more producers than you’d ever want to talk to. Really.

How can I pitch a location to ghost hunting TV shows?

Would you like to scout haunted locations for ghost hunting TV shows and movies? Do you know some great haunted places that should be on TV?

dracula's home - a great locationIt’s best to wait until ghost hunting TV shows request locations and story suggestions.

You’ll find those requests online.

Look for specific paranormal TV shows and the production companies that cast and film them.

Also check casting calls listed at websites like http://www.realitywanted.com/ and http://www.must-see-tv.com/forum/reality-tv-show-apply-here/

You may also find opportunities on the HARO lists. http://www.helpareporter.com/

Be prepared

For the best success, you should:
– Know the history of the location.
– Know if it’s ever been featured on a TV show (of any kind) in the past.
– Know who owns the site, and exactly how to contact them.
– Take lots of photographs at the location in daylight and during the hours the show would probably be filming.
– Have a list of witnesses to the ghostly phenomena. They must be willing to talk to TV producers about their experiences, even if they’re not paid for their time.

Many production companies like to film several shows in the same vicinity. For best success, be ready to present three or four other haunted locations in the same town or nearby.

If you’re just scouting locations, the producers might not involve you in the filming. This means no screen credit, unless you negotiate for that.

My advice: Present the one story that most interests you. Then, mention that you have several other nearby locations equally suited to the TV show.

Take precautions

Before you reveal those other locations:
– Get a written agreement that’s signed by someone authorized by the production company. (Email and phone agreements do not count.)  This is especially true if you’re dealing with Gurney Productions.
– Hire an entertainment lawyer to review the contract.
– Be sure you’re allowed to use your professional work as a credential on your CV or resume.
– Be very clear about your continued obligations to the show or producers. For example, they may expect you to appear at events. Know how much time they expect, and who will pay for your expenses.
– Make sure you’ll receive full benefit of — and credit for — all of your work and creativity.
– Understand what you can (and can’t) say during and after the show airs. Know how long your non-disclosure terms extend, after the final episode.

Some liabilities of ghost hunting TV shows

Fiona's adviceNever expect TV producers or production companies to be honest or even logical. Get everything in writing… printed and signed, not just email.

Know exactly what’s expected of you, and what you’ll get in return.

I was on one TV series for a major cable network that focuses on history. (Ahem.) But, even to promote the show, my contract prohibited me from saying I’d actually appeared on it.

Yes, that seems very weird. The producers seemed to think it was a normal requirement.

Then there’s the time that, with a verbal agreement and lots of phone calls and emails confirming it, I spent three weeks scouting locations for a TV series.

That involved lots of driving. Hours in dusty libraries, creepy locations, and conversations with a few truly strange people who wanted to tell me their ghost stories.

Was it fun…? Yes, most of the time. Would I do it again…? No. Not working 12+ hours a day, seven days a week, under a lot of pressure from the producer.

Then I delivered the information the producer needed, with photos, ghost stories, verified site contacts, and witnesses.

The production company said that their producer “hadn’t been authorized” to hire me.

Even with the star of the show and my manager working on this, I was never paid a cent.

Sadly, my story is far from unique. It’s just so embarrassing, others in the field won’t talk about their similar experiences.

Remember: Some people are eager to be involved in a TV show. They can be so excited by what sounds like a great opportunity, they’ll assume things they shouldn’t. Production companies will take advantage of that, if they can.

Is this just for fun?

Are you happy to work for nothing, just to know you were part of a TV show? If so, go for it.

However, no matter what is implied, make sure you have it in writing, on real paper (not a printout). Be sure it’s signed by someone with the authority to make that agreement.

Even well-known TV stars have put together great show ideas. They’ve lined up everything necessary for a successful TV series.

Then the show was given to someone else.  I can think of two instances of that. There are probably many others that I never heard about.

TV work is like a lottery.  You have a slim chance of winning, but – if you did – it could be great. If that’s not good enough for you, make sure everything you expect is guaranteed, in writing, in an iron-clad contract.

Most of my friends who work as production consultants also ask for at least half of their fees, up front.  Their out-of-pocket expenses are extra, and covered as they go.

They receive the other half of their fees when they complete the job.

And, one friend insists on payment in full before she does anything at all.

(She’s hired regularly, anyway.  So, don’t think you’re being “too difficult.”  If your information is unique and valuable, remember that you’re the one calling the shots.)

If you want to work with a TV show for fun, that’s one thing. If it stops being fun, or you expect anything in return, get it in writing.

What famous locations have been used for ghost hunting TV shows?

Around Halloween, many TV shows feature haunted locations. As they say, “‘Tis the season!”

eastern state penitentiaryUsually, TV producers choose those sites because they look creepy.

Those places are well-known haunts. Something dramatic (and perhaps scary) is likely to happen at least once during the show.

Those same haunted locations can be great if you’re looking for nerves-of-steel investigation sites, too.

Or, they can be too extreme.

Some haunted locations featured on TV

Here are some of them:
Buffalo Central Terminal, Buffalo, NY
Campbell House, Eugene, OR
Essex County Sanitarium, Cedar Grove, NJ
Fort Delaware, Delaware City, DE
Hill View Manor, New Castle, PA
Letchworth Village, Haverstraw, NY
Moon River Brewery, Savannah, GA
New Mexico State Penitentiary, Santa Fe, NM
Pennhurst State Hospital (originally named the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic), Spring City, PA
Queen Mary (luxury liner), Long Beach, CA
Sorrel Weed House, Savannah, GA
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (later called the Armand Auclerc Weston State Hospital), Weston, WV
Waverly Hills Sanitorium, near Louisville, KY
West Virginia State Penitentiary, Moundsville, WV

On the other hand, if you’re looking for haunted locations near you, visit the nearest public library or large newspaper office. Look through back issues of local newspapers and magazines, from around Halloween. Every year, most periodicals feature local, haunted locations, including some  you can investigate or tour.

How do I contact Ghost Hunters’ TV show?

Fiona's adviceAfter season 11 (2016), new episodes of the Ghost Hunters TV show are not scheduled for SyFy. That was reported in various media, including Jason Hawes/TAPS Facebook page.

As of 2017, the best way to contact the Ghost Hunters team is through their TAPS website (that site’s contact form isn’t working, but you can email Tapsjasonh@gmail.com ) or Facebook. You’ll also find Jason on Beyond Reality.

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Here’s my original article about contacting Ghost Hunters. It includes other ways to reach the cast, SyFy, and information about joining a similar TV show.

Old TV and remoteIt’s easy to contact Ghost Hunters’ TV stars and producers, if you’d like to. It depends on what you’re looking for — to follow the stars’ careers, learn more about the Ghost Hunters TV show, or meet the cast & crew, personally.

One general way to find information about the Ghost Hunters’ TV show — through Season 11 — is via SyFy.

That’s the cable network that ran Ghost Hunters for many years. You can visit the site the Syfy.com website and — if it’s still there — click on the link for the Ghost Hunters TV episodes.

You’ll find several options, from direct contact with Syfy, to related forums.

However, if you want to contact Jason Hawes or Grant Wilson, Dustin Pari, or any cast member from the many seasons of Ghost Hunters, look for their respective websites.

To learn more about TAPS Family members, visit the TAPS website. That’s at http://www.the-atlantic-paranormal-society.com/

If you want to be part of a show like Ghost Hunters, look for casting calls at the Syfy.com website and similar pages at other networks’ sites.

Or, search online using phrases such as “casting calls,” “ghost TV shows,” and so on.


Comments are disabled on this article, due to the large number of people who try to use this site to reach the TAPS team. Fiona is not part of TAPS and never has been. She does not investigate private homes, and refers those tormented by ghosts and entities to other professionals.

Why did Grant Wilson leave Ghost Hunters?

At almost every ghost hunting event I attend, long-time fans of Ghost Hunters always ask me why Grant Wilson left the Ghost Hunters TV show.

So, it seems like this question just won’t go away.

On the show and at the TAPS website, Grant explained why he left the Ghost Hunters show.

It wasn’t a sudden decision. It wasn’t related to interpersonal relations with fellow cast members.

From what I saw, Grant got along fine with everyone on the investigation team. Nothing was inappropriate or hostile, on either side.

Grant simply wanted more time for “other aspects of [his] personal life.”

Not a surprise

His decision did not surprise me. Grant has always been an excellent paranormal investigator. However, I believe that his talents are greater in music and the visual arts.

spalding inn - once owned by grant wilson and jason hawesSeveral years ago at New Hampshire’s Spalding Inn (which Grant and Jason and their families owned), a few of us were relaxing on the hotel’s porch.

I was completing a landscape painting on the hotel’s porch.

I said, “When I get to the end of the road, I won’t say, ‘Gosh, I wish I’d investigated one more haunted location’. I’m more likely to say, ‘I wish I’d painted one more painting’.”?

Grant paused and said quietly, “So true.”

I wasn’t sure if he was simply agreeing with me, or if what I said resonated with him. For many of us in the arts, it’s difficult to balance paranormal research and our creative interests.

Ghost hunting, like many other interests, can be a fascinating hobby. That hobby can evolve to the professional level.

However, whether you’re a professional or hobbyist, your interests may change. Many ghost hunters find the answers that brought them into ghost hunting, in the first place.

Others conclude that there are no real answers.  At that point, the person may quit ghost hunting or continue with renewed interest.

I haven’t a clue if that was a factor in Grant’s decision.

Nevertheless, I applaud Grant’s decision. He was ready to re-prioritize. Many people — in any field, not just TV — reach that point when their careers become too demanding.

That’s especially true when you want more time with your spouse and family.

And, life in “the industry” (in this case, the world of TV and public events) can skew anyone’s perspective on life and importances.

Yes, Grant Wilson left Ghost Hunters. That was a professional decision, and I wasn’t surprised by it.

Grant hasn’t vanished from ghost hunting. He still appears at some ghost-related events and conference. He’s just reorganized his time to have more time for what he loves most.

It’s wonderful that Grant’s fans remained so enthusiastic about his work on the show and his personal well-being.

If you’d like to follow his career — as a ghost hunter, author, artist, musician, or game designer — see his website, GrantSWilson.com.

There’s no mystery and no scandal in his decision. Grant Wilson left Ghost Hunters because it was the right time to do so. He was ready to pursue other interests.

Why do some ghost hunters lock themselves inside haunted places?

On only a few TV shows — like Ghost Adventures — ghost hunters lock themselves inside haunted places.

Frankly, I think it’s silly. It’s just another way that TV producers try to make ghost hunting look more exciting than it really is.

stairs and windowThe fact is, if anyone really wanted to leave the haunted site, they could open a window and climb out. Or leave through a back door or a basement door.

So, in real life, investigators rarely lock the doors. Not unless it’s a private residence or business, and the doors are always locked after dark.

Of course, being “locked in” is a common plot device in many stories, books, plays, and movies about haunted places.

It’s also used in some “scary haunted houses” created for Halloween.

On TV shows and in movies, I think it increases the tension. The site may be so terrifying, team members might try to leave before the investigation is completed. That’s the impression they’d like to give, anyway.

(Does anyone else wonder if the producers provide a room with sofas and food? Or, in derelict sites with no electricity and running water, do they have a discreetly concealed porta-potty for the team’s use?)

Some Ghost Adventures locations look dangerous. That has nothing to do with ghosts.

During filming at those locations, I’d lock the doors to keep vagrants and drug dealers out.

Making that part of the story line — as if they’re trapped inside the site, overnight — is an added bonus.

But, in general, you’ll never see ghost hunters lock themselves inside a haunted site. There is no logical reason for it.

Fiona's adviceIf you’re in a dangerous area, or have real concerns about a stranger entering a derelict site while you’re there, invest in some inexpensive bells. They’re often sold as “jingle bells.”

You can string them on a ribbon, and place them on doorknobs or — with a pushpin — position them to make noise if a door is opened. (You can also buy pre-made versions, sold as “potty bells” to housetrain dogs.)

Otherwise, when ghost hunters lock themselves inside a haunted site, it’s because the doors would normally be locked at that hour. I can’t think of any other reason to do so.