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20 QUESTIONS WITH Mitchel Whitington

GHOST HUNTING With  Charles J. Adams III

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Mitchel Whitington

Author and speaker on the subject of the supernatural www.ghostinmysuitcase.com. While traveling around the country, he has investigated haunted places from one coast to the other, and is a popular speaker at paranormal conferences. Mitchel relies more on experiences than photographs or recordings, and believes that investigators must respect the spirits and locations that they visit.

He is the author of several books on the paranormal, including regional worls such as "Ghosts of North Texas" and "Ghosts of East Texas and the Pineywoods." He is also named editor on four "Haunted Encounters" anthologies: "Real Life Stories of Supernatural Experiences," "Personal Stories of Departed Pets," "Ghost Stories From Around The World," and "Departed Family and Friends."

Mitchel has also contributed to the books "Haunted Tales of America's Jails" and "Haunted Texas Highways".

As a speaker, you will find him traveling around the country at conferences ranging from L.A. to Las Vegas to San Antonio. Whenever he speaks, his credo is simple: keep an open mind, and have fun.

Visit Mitchel Whitington's Official Web site www.ghostinmysuitcase.com


20 QUESTIONS WITH Mitchel Whitington

1. Where do you see ghost hunting and Paranormal groups, web sites or Ghost information, tours, Books Paranormal Radio and Television in 10 years?

Hopefully a lot of the ones started just to make a few bucks will have fallen by the wayside, and the people with a genuine interest in the paranormal will still be around. There is also quite a bit of conflict between groups, so I would love to see that end and have everyone concentrate on the single cause of investigating the supernatural.

2. What would you personally consider to be the definitive proof that ghosts are real?

When I was writing the book “Ghosts of North Texas,” I was investigating a nightclub that used to be a theater. I tracked down an actress who had been in a play there years ago – she now lives on the west coast. She described a man that she saw walking up the steps beside the stage one night, although no one was in the building. Upon investigation, there was no one there but her; she felt like the man was a ghost that she’d seen. Separately I found a young lady who works at the nightclub today, and she described seeing the exact same man one night while locking up. Neither of the two women knew of the other, they are separated by half a country, and were a generation apart in age. The younger one didn’t even know that the nightclub had once been a theater; yet they saw the same man, and described him perfectly. I was talking to a policeman who’d read the book, and he told me that if two independent witnesses could place a person at the same place, it was enough to convict. He went on to say that people had been put to death on less evidence that that – I don’t know how much more proof of a supernatural occurrence that someone could want.

3. What is the most real evidence you personally have uncovered so far?

See above. I’ve had many experiences while investigating places: seeing spirits, hearing their voices and footsteps, smelling their odors… but a skeptic could easily dismiss all those with the wave of a hand. The incident that I described in the last answer constitutes the best proof that I’ve ever seen.

4. Are you skeptical of the claims other make of their findings?

I try to walk a line between being skeptical and being completely open-minded. I live in an 1861 house that is haunted, but if I thought that every little creak was a ghost, I’d go crazy. Things do happen in the house all the time, but it also is constantly settling. What did Freud say? “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Still, I am certainly open to reports of other paranormal investigators.

5. If you could investigate your "Dream Haunted Hot Spot" where would it be?

My dream spots to investigate and write about are public places that are haunted, such as restaurants. I love stories where different, ordinary people experience the same thing at that same time – not ghost-hunters or paranormal investigators, but regular folks. I love to interview those people.

6. What was your first Paranormal encounter?

At a hotel in New Orleans – it was just a feeling, and nothing more dramatic than that. My wife and I were accompanying a paranormal investigator to a hotel where he’d been checking out some activity; he told us to separate and walk around, and that we’d talk later. After a few minutes, I’d found a couple of places where my skin prickled and the hair on my arm stood on end – it just felt, well, odd. When we got back together, my wife had experienced the same thing in the same places, and the investigator told us that they were “hot spots” for the hotel, without knowing that we’d each felt something there. It was incredible, because it taught me that not every supernatural experience would be seeing a ghost, catching an EVP, etc. Sometimes it’s just a feeling.

7. What scares you about Ghost Hunting or Paranormal Investigations?

Ghosts don’t scare me – people do. If I’m in a remote location, I worry about being robbed or assaulted, but never about having a supernatural experience. For example, my wife and I were in New Orleans one evening visiting haunted places, and we were walking several blocks off of Bourbon Street to visit an Irish Pub. Halfway there, something didn’t feel right, and I was terrified. We ran to the establishment, and then back to Bourbon when we were through there. Nothing to do with ghosts, mind you, just the thought that we were vulnerable and that someone was watching us.

8. If you could work side by side with one of the Paranormal Investigator greats, who would it be?
No question – Harry Houdini. That may sound strange, because most people view him as a skeptic who went around debunking mediums. If you study his life, though, he desperately wanted to contact his mother after her death, and just exposed the mediums that were using trickery to make him think that the connection was made. He wasn’t out to prove everyone wrong; he just wanted to prove someone right. I think that it would interesting to accompany him on his quest.

9. Read any good Paranormal Books lately?

I read a ton of books on the paranormal, but my favorite authors (in no order) are Loyd Auerbach and Troy Taylor. Both are talented paranormal investigators, and compelling writers. I think that I’ve read everything that they’ve both done… c’mon guys, give me some new books – I’m going on vacation next week and need something to read!

10. What Question do people ask you most when you tell them you’re a paranormal investigator?

“Do you REALLY believe in ghosts?” When I tell them yes, they then proceed to tell me about a paranormal experience that they had, but never shared with anyone. You wouldn’t believe how often that happens.

11. In your opinion, Where is the most Haunted city in America?

Jefferson, Texas. It has many of the original buildings from the 1800s, since the Union Army was defeated at Mansfield, Louisiana. Had the Federal forces won, they would have marched into Jefferson and burned the town. Since the South won, the town was preserved, and most of the houses and structures still stand, and many seem to have spirits associated with them.

12. Do you feel more people should get involved with Ghost hunting or Paranormal Investigation?

I wouldn’t encourage or discourage people either way – I think that everyone has to follow their own path.

13. What does the future hold for you?

As a writer of books about the paranormal, I’m continually visiting haunted places. Sometimes nothing happens, and other times there are incredible occurrences. I plan on continuing to write in this genre, though, so I hope to find many places to visit in the future.

14. Paranormal Conventions: do you see them growing? And which ones are the Must go to ones?

I love paranormal conventions – I’ve spoken at them across the country, and I always find that getting together with people of a like mind recharges my batteries, and gets me excited about the interests that we all share.

15. What is your most favored tool of the trade?

I don’t have a favorite electronic gadget – I rely on feelings more than anything else. I accompanied one paranormal investigation group who said, “We don’t consider anything genuine that we can’t measure scientifically.” In my experience, a staunch skeptic will deny the most genuine, compelling evidence, and a hopeful believer will see a ghost in piece of lint on the camera lens. I can Photoshop you a photo that is incredible, but I can’t induce feelings… I remember walking into a stairwell and being overcome with extreme sadness, as if someone had thrown a blanket of it over me, and that kind of thing can’t be faked.

16. Tell us about your best moment in investigating or conference attending for you?

My best moment is being able to tell someone, “You’re not crazy.” Since I investigate and write about haunted places, people who would normally deny any supernatural activity seem to feel like it’s okay to share it with me – like I won’t think that they’re crazy. Of course, I don’t! I listen to each story with an open mind, which is something that the person usually hasn’t encountered before… most people assume that if they’ve had a supernatural experience, they’re crazy. I love being able to say, “No, it’s okay… I’ve had them, too.”

17. What is the hardest part about being a paranormal Investigator?

For me, it’s dealing with the people that I love where ghosts don’t fit into their belief structure. For example, when I was writing “A Ghost In My Suitcase: A Guide To Haunted Travel In America” one of my relatives sent me Bible verses to show that there couldn’t be any such thing as ghosts, since when we die, we lie in a coffin in suspended animation until Jesus returns (her belief). I didn’t respond – how do you take up a philosophical fight with someone that you love? I just ignored it all. In the years since, that dear person that I really do love has passed away, so hopefully now she understands it all, much more than I do.

18. How do you document your investigations?

For me, it is personal interviews with people who have had multiple experiences at the places that I’m visiting. I always have a camera and a recorder, but I mostly rely on interviews that I conduct with people who are at a location day in and day out. For example, if I’m investigating a hotel, I may be there for two or three days. The person that I really want to talk to is the maid who has worked there – and experienced things – for the past ten years.

19. Have you ever taken a ghost Tour OTHER THEN YOUR OWN? And, What about it did you not like?

My wife and I take ghost walks around the country, from one coast to the other, and generally have a good time with them. The one that I really didn’t like (and I won’t say were it was) had a guide who did magic tricks throughout the tour, but purported them to be his own “mystic ability”. Now, I did magic as a teenager at little kids’ parties and such, and I could do most of the tricks that he performed for the group under the guise of his own psychic talent. It ruined the tour for me; since I knew that his words about the tricks were BS, then I figured his ghost stories were as well.

20. What in the field of ghost hunting and Paranormal Investigating needs the most attention?

I’ll probably catch a lot of flack for this, but my answer is: ORBS. I know that there are some people in our field who say that EVERY orb is a reflection of some type or another, and then there are other people who say that EVERY orb is of supernatural origin. I have to come down in the middle. For example, if you want to get a hundred orbs in a photo, just go out and take a flash photo with a digital camera during a rainstorm, and you’ll see them everywhere. On the other hand, I’ve seen a few photographs that defy explanation. I just think that we need to step back and take a careful look at the whole ORB phenomena before assuming one way or the other.

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