Questions For. . . Heather Graham
It’s almost October, which means the supernatural festivities in Salem are getting even more paranormal than usual. The witch city gets an early start tonight with a seance in honor of New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham, whose new book is titled, (what else?) The Seance. It’s about a reluctant medium in Florida who must solve a string of murders by talking to the spirit of the dead lead detective. We talked to Heather about what she expects will happen at the seance tonight and why people are drawn to the occult.
What do you think will happen tonight?
I really have no idea. I come from a very Irish household, and they believed in all kinds of things. In one way, I kind of always scoffed at it, but on the other hand there’s a little part of me that says, “What if I do find out something?” I don’t know if I’m going to like it or not.
Whose idea was it to have a seance in Salem?
Salem came up in a conversation. It seemed like the right place to do it. My husband has a lot of family up there, so I spend a lot of time in the area. I’ve watched Salem over the past couple decades, and part of the city wants to be famous for seafaring, but the other part says “Heck no, we’re making money on witchcraft.” I find it a really interesting town. Sometimes I get disappointed because it gets a little commercial and some things that used to be charmingly real New England disappear. But I’m never unhappy to go to Salem.
How did you hook up with medium Nancy Garber for the seance tonight?
I’ve never met her. I talked to a couple people I know who worked in Salem, and a couple of people I let my daughters go to, but while they read cards they don’t believe they’re mediums. My company went out to find a medium, and the first gentleman they found looked really interesting, but they didn’t hear back from him. The company found out he’d gone to the Feast of the Undead and had died there.
Yes, but now I wonder if he’ll be there tonight anyway. We did a little more research and that’s how we found Nancy.
Why do you think people are so drawn to the paranormal?
I think a lot of it is that human beings believe in some type of higher being and we want to believe something goes on. Who wants to believe that “I’m gone when I die”? We all have more of an ego than that.
Why did you decide to rely so heavily on the paranormal for this book?
I do four different books a year. One is a straight suspense and I do a vampire series. My alter ego, Shannon Drake, does historical romance, and I also do a ghost story. Sometimes that shifts, but that’s basically what I do.
How have your readers reacted to this book?
Very positively. An awful lot of people out there are into the paranormal. I don’t mean the whole world has gone off and believes they’re all vampires, but I think it has to do with the fact that Americans are looking at a very bad situation in our country and that might be part of it.
Did you consult with any paranormal specialists before you wrote the book?
I’ve gone on more of my family’s superstitions. I’ve read tons of books on the subject, but I write fiction. I don’t really believe that Bela Lugosi is coming back as a vampire. There are people out there who believe they’re vampires, but for the mystical vampires I’m not sure what anyone can tell me since I’m making mine up, as they were made up previously.
With ghosts, I’ve read tons of the stuff out there, and find something are more valid than others. Everywhere I go, I go on a ghost tour or buy everything at the local ghost store. I have found that a lot of the stories are silly, but it’s worth it to read about what people believe. I’ve never seen a film that documented a conversation with a ghost, which gives me a lot of leeway as a writer.
What do you hope will happen tonight?
I want to believe that people go on, and it would be nice to have a good feeling that people go to good places, and there is some higher plane. I’d love to get the feeling there’s a nice ghost saying “It’s great here, I’m out of pain.” I would enjoy that.
People ask me who I’d like to meet historically, and I’d like to meet both Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee, as well as Charles II but I’d have to go to England for that one. But I have no special requests for tonight. I’m going in with a totally open mind.
Boston Daily is also going to the seance tonight with a totally open mind. We’ll report back on if a ghost makes contact with us, and what they have to say. Or we’ll come back possessed. Whatever.