The Orb Within – An Interview with Jane Helen Croft

I’m excited to announce that The Ghost Post is now doing interviews with paranormal authors and paranormal investigators.  My first paranormal author interview is with Jane Helen Croft.  Jane recently published an intriguing ghost story novel with Vanguard Press called The Orb Within. To find out more about Jane or to purchase her book, go to Jane Helen Croft – Author.

 

Thank you for interviewing with The Ghost Post, Jane!

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I was born in Hitchen, Hertfordshire, UK, in 1963. As a newly published author, I’m extremely proud to say that my ancestry dates to Sir Thomas More – 07/02/1478 – 06/06/1535, later venerated as Saint Thomas MJane Helen Croft - Author Picture 2ore. Not only was this amazing man the author of Utopia, he was also councillor to Henry VIII and former Lord High Chancellor of England. I spent my early childhood in Handsworth, Birmingham UK, and the remainder of my youth, and early adult years, in Lincolnshire, England. In 1989, my family and I emigrated to Sydney Australia.

After working in retail and customer service for many years (alongside raising my five children), in 2004 I moved to the idyllic island of Tasmania.  Up until this point, I’d never even contemplated becoming an author, but after a huge life path change, I began using writing as a type of self- therapy, and after sharing my work with close friends, as well as a few unbiased people, I made the decision to submit my manuscript of The Orb Within to Pegasus Publishing House, UK. To my amazement, my novel was accepted first time, the team at Pegasus then offered me a shared contract, and have asked for first refusal on my next two works. These are currently being written.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I’d dreamt of becoming an author for many years, however, being busy raising my five children, it wasn’t until I was in my late forties that I found both the time to start writing, and a hidden ability to create a fictional novel that could instantly capture a reader’s imagination.

Who are your literary influences?

Do you have a favorite book or author?    

To be honest, I have no literary influences as such. I do however adore a rather mixed bunch of authors, Maeve Binchy, Bryce Courtney, Matthew Reilly, Virginia Andrews and Tom Sharpe, and have recently been introduced to the works of Jodi Picoult.

Do you have any quirky writing rituals?

Yes, I do have a few routines and rituals I instigate prior to writing. I only write during the night hours. No, I have no vampires in my heritage, I just prefer the quieter hours. There are less distractions, less noise interruptions, and a more relaxing atmosphere. Being English, I must have a constant supply of tea at hand, plus a few biscuits for midnight snacking purposes, my beloved cat Binky needs to be close by, and I like gentle background music playing.

Do you view writing as a spiritual act or practice?

I view my writing as a spiritual practice. The reasons for this are as follows: Whereas a part of me wishes I’d found my writing talent when a lot younger, another part is grateful that the universe enabled me to truly experience life, and death, before I began my literary career. Not only did my past mould me into a more empathetic person, it also expanded my imagination and opened my mind to all possibilities in this world, and the next.

When and how did you become interested in the paranormal?

I was only quite young when I had my first paranormal experience. In fact, it is the vivid memory of this particular incident that was the inspiration behind my first novel, The Orb Within, and is included in the story itself. At the age of five years, I tripped and fell down a flight of stairs, rather than reaching the bottom of the steps in an injured heap though, a spirit woman appeared before me and broke my fall, she then lifted me up, as a mother would a child, placed me gently on my feet in the hallway, stroked my cheek softly, and then disappeared into thin air. This wasn’t my only visit from this sweet-scented entity. I found that at times when I felt sad or lonely, if I sat on the exact stair on which the spirit stopped my tumble, and thought about her, more often than not she’d appear.

Many years after leaving this house, I found out the tragic history of my childhood home. Back in the early 1960’s, on the 24th December (Christmas eve), the father of the family who owned the three-bedroom, semi-detached residence, finished a long night shift and headed home. Rather than following his normal routine of sleeping though, he instead packed his wife and two young children into the family car, filled the boot with luggage and an assortment of presents, and set out on a three-hour drive to visit relatives for the Christmas holidays. An hour into the journey, unable to stop himself drifting off to sleep, the father lost control of the car and steered into an oncoming fuel tanker, the family were all killed instantly.

I am totally convinced that the gentle natured, loving, female entity who was my semi-transparent childhood friend, had been the mother. I feel she was a lost soul, that somehow, she’d became separated from her loved ones upon death, and in search of her beloved children and husband, she’d returned to the place that was familiar to her, the family home.

How do you feel about spirits?

Having encountered many spirits in my time, two of those being my parents who visited me after they’d passed, I accept the afterlife as part of my life, if that makes sense? I have been lucky enough to have been shown that it is only our physical body, our ‘skin suit,’ that dies, not our souls, and that our essence, our very being, is preserved.

What is your view of the afterlife?

From what I’ve studied, observed, photographed, and been told by those who have passed over, is that the afterlife is a place of love, understanding, and constant learning. It is certainly not a place of judgement or punishment.

Do you believe in reincarnation and past lives? 

Why or why not?

I do believe in reincarnation and past lives. I’ve read of many instances where reincarnation is impossible to disprove, and I would love to meet someone with a vivid awareness of a past life. I myself seem to have a pull towards the Victorian era for some unknown reason, and because of this strange attraction to the past, I recently made the decision to be regressed to find out more. I’ll update the results once I’ve experienced this process, hopefully with audio tapes.

Tell us about a memorable paranormal experience that you had.

I’ve already ‘spoken’ of my experience with a female spirit in my younger years, but this wasn’t the only encounter I’ve had. After leaving my childhood residence when I was seven years old, we moved into a rental property in the Lincolnshire countryside. Now whereas the bungalow (single level home) itself was built in the 1970’s, the land upon which the estate was erected, happened to be close to the ruins of a Premonstratensian monastery which was founded in 1154. Evidently, in 1537, the abbey became involved in an uprising of some kind, six of the resident canons were executed, the others cruelly evicted, and the whole place was closed down.

For the first few months following the move, all appeared well, however, I suddenly began having horrific nightmares. I couldn’t remember what they were about, but I’d awake absolutely terrified. One night, I was too scared to drop off to sleep, and so my mother had allowed me to keep my bedside lamp on. I was lying on my side, facing the doorway that led out to a long hallway, when a freezing cold blast of air hit my face. An ominous feeling of doom filled my bedroom and I saw a dark shadow appear in the doorway.

Petrified, I tried yelling out for my parents, yet my voice was muted, not a sound would emerge. I attempted to leave my bed, but I couldn’t move, staring in terror at the large black shadow before me. The form suddenly manifested into a monk. He was wearing a cowled robe, which totally masked his face, and his arms were folded across his chest. He stood in the doorway for only a few seconds, before floating off down the hallway and disappearing into the wall. Night after night the hooded monk visited my room. I never did see his face though, neither did he speak, but the feeling of evil that emanated from the spectre was almost palpable. Thankfully, once the legalities of buying our own property were finalized, we left the bungalow.

You recently published your debut novel, The Orb Within, with Vanguard Press. 

What is it about? 

What was your inspiration for the book? 

My debut novel, The Orb Within, tells the story of renowned psychic, Gemma Underwood. Following her marriage to the suave, Robert Langton, Gemma realizes there’s something very amiss about her new husband, having no other option than to delve into Robert’s sordid past to get the answers she seeks. When tragedy suddenly strikes, Gemma has to rely on both her earthbound friends and those in the afterlife to help assist in her quest. The book not only follows Gemma’s experiences as a spiritual medium, the storyline also draws the reader into a world filled with debauchery, witch craft, incest, and a string of evil betrayals.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about your writing or the paranormal?

Due to my avid interest in the paranormal and especially the afterlife, over the years, my photographs and experiences have come under the scrutiny of many skeptics. Now whereas I openly encourage skepticism, as this allows a doorway for discussion, I am averse to cynics, those whose blinkered attitudes veer more towards criticism than to open mindedness and possible understanding. However, as in life, and death, with the good comes the bad, and I think as long as those of us who remain loyal to our beliefs, rise above the negativity, then our research into the realms of the paranormal will continue regardless.

How can readers contact you and where can they find your work?

Readers can contact me via the following – Facebook Page Jane Croft- Author, and my work (one book to date) can be viewed on my webpage: www.jane-helen-croft.pegasuspublishers.com.

Click here to see a teaser book trailer for The Orb Within!

Jane Helen Croft - Author Picture


If you are a paranormal author or investigator who is interested in doing either a phone or written interview with The Ghost Post, send a message to Tara Theresa Hill – Author via Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guardians Beyond the Grave

Dear Readers,

I hope that this letter finds you well.  This will be the last blog post for the year.  Thank you for all your support!  I’ve got some more great ghost stories and hauntings to share with you in 2018, so stay tuned.  Enjoy the holidays, and I hope the new year brings you much love, good health, and blessings! 

Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year from The Ghost Post!

Best,

Tara Theresa Hill

Guardians Beyond the Grave

Maybe it’s just the time of the year, but I always find my ancestral spirits on my mind more during the fall and winter.  I believe that our ancestral spirits both from this lifetime and previous ones are always around, watching over us, and offering help and guidance whenever they can.  Over the years, I’ve had a few amazing experiences with the spirits of my maternal grandparents, Grandpa Freddie and Grandma Tessie.

Grandpa Freddie used to watch me after school when I was a little girl.  I was over his house almost every day.  After my homework was done, we used to sit and read or watch TV together.  Once a week, we would feed the birds outside of his house.  He would sing to me, cook special meals for me, and watch over me while I played.  He was the best grandpa that anyone could ask for.  I adored him and was heartbroken when he died.

After graduating college, I got a job teaching high school English.  Many people have a difficult first year teaching.  In addition to juggling lesson plans and managing a classroom, you’re also dealing with parents and school politics.  It’s a challenging, and often thankless profession.  Couple these obstacles with a failing institution, and you have the perfect combination for burnout.  Within a few weeks, I had a sinking feeling that teaching wasn’t for me.  I did my best, but by the end of the first semester, I was let go.  I refused to give 90s to the students who didn’t want to work, and that apparently with my struggles as a new teacher, was enough to fire me.

Unfortunately, this was just as the economy crashed.  Being new to the workforce, I fell into the category of knowledgeable, but inexperienced.  Constantly scouring the internet for opportunities that didn’t exist left me feeling useless.  I didn’t have any inclination to do the things that brought me joy, like reading and writing.  Eventually, I started to spiral into a deep, dark depression.

Then one night, I had a strange dream.  I heard my name being called from my living room.  I saw the shadow of a male spirit sitting on the couch.  As I approached, the figure turned into my Grandpa Freddie.  I remember that he was wearing trousers with a dark blue flannel, V-neck shirt.  He even had on a fedora.  This is the same kind of outfit that he used to wear when he was alive.

“Grandpa?” I asked in surprise.  “What are you doing here?”

“Tara, you have to stop crying.  Everything is going to be okay, but you have to stop crying so much.  It’s upsetting all of us.”

His answer implied that my other relatives in the Spirit World were concerned, as well.  I was stunned that they knew about it, but I promised that I would do as he asked.  That was all I remembered of the dream, but it gave me hope that things would get better.  Within a few weeks, I had started writing, and then I found a part-time office job a couple of months later.  It is important to note that my grandparents were children during the Great Depression, so they knew what it was to overcome real struggle.

Grandma Tessie died of a rare form of cancer three years before I was born.  My grandfather had little, porcelain bird statues set up around his house that had belonged to Grandma.  I used to beg Grandpa Freddie for stories about Grandma Tessie.  He would tell me that she had been a deeply loving person who enjoyed nature, singing, reading, and helping others.  I always wished that I had had the chance to meet her.

My husband and I had just bought our first home and were having issues with some of the appliances.  The seller hadn’t told us that the refrigerator was on its last legs.  Fortunately, we discovered this before buying groceries.  We ordered a refrigerator that day, but the store said it would take another two weeks for delivery.  Between the move itself and this mishap, we had been eating takeout and microwave meals for a while.

My husband and I are generally healthy eaters.  I tend to be more diet conscious than he is because my body is sensitive to large amounts of salt or preservatives in food.  We were still a week away from getting our refrigerator when my legs swelled up from the knee down.  I discovered this at work and didn’t have time to see the doctor until the next day.

By the time I got home, I was panicking about whether I was going to be okay.  I sat down on the couch, meaning to rest for just a few minutes before ordering dinner.  My husband wasn’t home yet, so I was all alone.

I had just started to doze off, when I felt someone come into the room.  A sweet female voice said, “Don’t worry, Tara.  Everything’s going to be fine.”  I made out the figure of a dark-haired woman wearing a bright yellow dress standing by the couch.

As I looked at the woman, I started to sit up.  “Grandma Tessie…” I said, but she was already gone.  I don’t know if I entered a semi-trance in my sleep somehow or if I was starting to dream, but she came through to let me know that I was going to be okay.

The times that their spirits appeared to me, I was not consciously asking for help or thinking about my grandparents.  Also, even though I had never met my grandmother while she was alive, I still recognized her by the sound of her voice.  While I had seen pictures of her before, her voice is what caught my attention.

The Spirit World has a marvelous ability to tap into our world at just the right moment.  There is always someone out there guiding and watching over us, even if we don’t realize it.  No matter how frightened we may be, we are never alone because love transcends death.


Do You Have a Ghost Story?

Send me an email to theghostpostreporter@gmail.com to set up an interview.  I’m always in the mood for a good ghost story! 

Want even more Ghost Stories?

Check out The Ghost Post’s YouTube channel for audio recordings of The Ghost Post.  It’s perfect for camping out, sleepovers, or anytime you just want to hear a ghost story on the go. 

For more ghost stories, paranormal phenomena, and updates, follow Tara Theresa Hill on Facebook and on Twitter at @TaraTheresaHill

Are you one of the following: A paranormal writer, artist, or investigator?

Or

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Then check out my new paranormal advertising group, The Paranormal Hotspot: The Market for All Things Paranormal. There is no set promotion day, so you can promote your business, art, or group every day for free. You can also post links to sites where you sell your products or services. Our mission is to help paranormal businesses, artists, writers, and investigators connect with fans and consumers!

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Check out our CafePress store featuring The Ghost Post’s official mascot, Spook.  We’ve got awesome coffee mugs, t-shirts, and more!

Spook Giant Coffee Mug
Spook – Coffee Mug – Copyright 2017

Stay in Bed

Age eleven to thirteen was a time of great upheaval for me.  My maternal grandfather passed away and my parents separated shortly after.  I switched schools first for bullying issues and then because my mother and I moved to the Bronx so that we would be closer to her store.  That very same summer, my mother’s sister, Roseanne, was diagnosed with lung cancer.  My first week of Junior High school ended with her funeral.

Aunt Roseanne and I were always close.  She knew the type of clothes and toys that I liked.  She was one of the adults that actually listened to what I said when I talked.  She encouraged me in school, listened to my dreams, supported my love for imaginary play, and was always affectionate with me and my mother.  We were heartbroken when she died.

A few months after her passing, I was sitting in my room working on a short story when I suddenly caught the scent of her perfume.  This was not a flowery fragrance that can be mistaken for a scented candle or an air spray.  Aunt Roseanne always wore Chanel #5.  It was such a distinct aroma that I actually stopped what I was doing and spoke her name aloud.

Of course there was no answer, but it had broken through my concentration.  Now completely spooked and seeing how late it was, I decided to get ready for bed.  I didn’t mention the incident to my mom because this had happened to me before.

When my grandfather had first passed away a year earlier, I had smelt his cologne in the downstairs lobby of our apartment building when there was no one around.  The aroma had been centered around my person, not wafting through the hallway, as it would have been if someone wearing the cologne had passed by.  I had been so depressed over my grandfather’s death that mom had brought me to a grief counselor for a few sessions.  When I discussed this event with the counselor, she said that it was common for family members to experience this kind of phenomena after someone’s death.

Smell is one of the most powerful memory triggers.  A grieving person might believe that they smell a specific scent that they associate with their loved one because that soul could be trying to alert them to their presence.  However, some other schools of thought believe that it is actually the memory itself that is triggering the illusion of the aroma.  Growing up in a family that believes in the paranormal, I never discounted the possibility that my grandfather’s spirit could have been visiting me.  I was not consciously thinking of either my grandfather or my aunt at the time that I experienced these phenomena.  Each time the experience caught me off guard and happened when I was alone.

After I went to bed the night that I smelled Aunt Roseanne’s perfume, I felt anxious.  The event had been unsettling.  I sat up, ready to go get my mother, but something told me to stay in bed.  Lying back down, I tried to go to sleep, but couldn’t.  Again, I desired to get up.  This time, I thought I heard a soft voice say, “Stay in bed.”  Two seconds after closing my eyes, there was a loud crash.

Mom rushed into my room.  Pieces of my ceramic ceiling lamp littered the floor.  My desk chair was positioned directly under this lamp.  A half hour earlier, I had been sitting there when I had smelled my Aunt Roseanne’s perfume.  After the mess was cleaned up and I was back in bed, I told mom about the earlier phenomena and then the voice urging me to stay in bed.  Mom and I still believe that Aunt Roseanne’s spirit protected me that night.

If you have a real ghost story that you would like to share with The Ghost Post, send an email to Tara Theresa Hill at theghostpostreporter@gmail.com to set up an interview. 

I’m always in the mood for a good ghost story! 

My Beloved Bambi

 

Bambi Photo
My dog, Bambi. Original Artwork by Jan Mina, 2013

For anyone who knows the loss of a familiar or animal companion.

Bambi and I were inseparable from the moment we met.  He was a handsome Sheltie dog with light brown fur and a white front ruff.  I was eight years old and recovering from the chicken pox when my parents got him for me.  Bambi was an intelligent, loving, well-behaved, and extremely gentle dog.  He never bit anyone and was deeply protective of our family.  He slept with his head on my legs from the first night that we brought him home until the day that I left for college.

During my sophomore year, he fell ill and became progressively sicker.  Then one night during my spring semester finals, I had a strange dream.  I was standing on the edge of this beautiful field.  Long green grass waved in the wind.  A blue butterfly with a wingspan the size of a large notebook appeared by my shoulder and started dancing around me.  Surprised, I started whirling around with it.  At some point in the dream, the blue butterfly smiled and kissed me on the forehead.  I watched as it flew off to join a cloud of other butterflies that had gathered in the field.  My heart was heavy because I knew that I could not follow the joyful little spirit.

When I woke up that morning, I knew that Bambi had passed away even before my mother called me.  I told her about the dream and said that he had come to say goodbye to me in my sleep.  The months that followed were a dark time for me.  I mourned Bambi so deeply that my husband (then boyfriend) bought me a stuffed animal that looked like him to sleep with at night.

I started seeing Bambi’s spirit frequently after I graduated and moved into my first apartment.  I have had four apartments so far and he has followed me to each one.  I will turn around and suddenly see him out of the corner of my eye or enter a room and find him sitting on the floor just as he used to when I was a little girl.  Sometimes I even see him resting next to my darling cat, Diana.  Bambi has the most benevolent soul and his presence always brings me a sense of incredible comfort and peace.  Even through death, we are still connected and always will be.

 

Lay Me to Rest

Thanks to Laurel from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for this story!

It had been a year since Laurel’s grandfather had passed away.  It being Samhain, the Wiccan celebration of Halloween, she decided to hold a private circle to bless her ancestors.  Her grandfather had been cremated and his ashes distributed in vials among the family.  Gathering her supplies, she decided to bring one of her grandfather’s vials along to further include him in the ceremony.

Since it was such a lovely, fall morning, Laurel decided to hold the ritual outside.  At the top of a small hill behind her house is a beautiful grove of trees.  Sitting with her back against one of the trees, Laurel began the ritual.  She set the incense burning to cleanse the area around her.  She blessed the herbs that she had brought as an offering to the Gods.  Then she lit her candle and sat back to say her prayers and to meditate.  She had her grandfather’s ashes beside her.

Once she had closed the circle, Laurel began to collect her things.  Then she made an astonishing discovery.  The vial was gone!

“It couldn’t have gone far,” she thought.  “I had it right next to me.”

She started scrambling through the leaves, thinking perhaps that the wind had shifted some of them and hidden the vial.  She couldn’t find it anywhere.  Maybe the Gods were playing a Samhain trick on her?

She looked up at the sky.  “Okay.  I acknowledge that you’re there, but this isn’t funny.  Can I have my Grandpap back now, please?”

As if in response, another thought came to Laurel.  “Grandpap was a trickster in his own right.  What if he was the one who took his vial?”  Laurel felt comforted.  If her grandfather wanted to remain in this special spot by her home, then she would honor his wish.  She smiled, knowing he would always watch over her and her family from the grove on the hill.

 

Keep the Light On

Thanks to Stephanie from Massachusetts for this story!

Whenever I think of haunted states, the ones that come immediately to mind are New York, Virginia, and Massachusetts.  Maybe it’s because they are all from the original thirteen colonies and have so much history, but it’s not surprising to hear of ghost stories.  From houses to colleges to battlefields, almost everything is haunted.

Stephanie works the night shift in a residential home for children with extreme developmental issues.  Part of her job is to check on the children routinely throughout the night.  She does this about every five to ten minutes.  The house that she works in has four bedrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and a living room that functions as a common area.

Stephanie sits watch in the hallway.  The living room is behind her.  Two bedrooms are at the front of the house.  In order to get to the second bedroom, she had to walk around the staircase and pass through the living room.

Last October, it was a normal night like any other when things suddenly became strange.  It was about two or three in the morning.  The area by the craft table in the living room was dimmer than usual.  For some reason, Stephanie had forgotten to turn the light on in the room that night.

As she turned into the living room, the figure of a man materialized.  He had short hair, was muscular in stature, and looked to be anywhere from his twenties to mid-thirties.  It happened so quickly that Stephanie didn’t even have time to react.  One second he was walking beside her and the next, he had passed through the wall by the craft table and disappeared.  She only caught the side profile of his face and didn’t notice any particular details about his clothes.

Stephanie is a no-nonsense person.  She had a better reaction than most other people would have had in her situation.  Once the man was gone, she resumed her nightly duties.  Since that night, Stephanie always remembers to keep the light on in the living room.  The mysterious man is yet to make another appearance.