SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Ask paranormal investigator Mary Ann Winkowski about slime and gore and she will just laugh.
Winkowski claims that from an early age she has been able to see and talk to ghosts, but only people who have opted at the time of their death not to go into a white light that appears but to stay around. She calls them earthbound spirits.
Winkowski's experiences were used as the basis for CBS's Ghost Whisperer show. She has also written two books about her experiences, "As Alive, So Dead," and "When Ghosts Speak."
She has just released her first fiction book, "The Book of Illumination: A Novel from the Ghost Files," written in collaboration with screenwriter Maureen Foley.
The central character is Anza O'Malley, a single mother with a five-year-old son, Henry, working as a freelance bookbinder who inherited the gift to speak to ghosts from her grandmother.
Winkowski spoke to Reuters about writing and ghosts:
Q: Why turn to fiction?
A: "Everybody wants ghosts and spirits to be like you see on TV and in the movies but in reality they are not. They are not bloody, gory, and I've never been slimed. They don't walk through you. But with fiction you can have a bit of fun. I can make a ghost do a little more than they can actually can."
Q: How did you find out you could see and talk to ghosts?
A: "I was in first grade at a Catholic school with nuns when I found out that not everyone could see ghosts. There was this decrepit looking man standing behind one of my friends and I told one of the sisters there was a man I didn't like. A few weeks later I saw him again and I told the sister and she looked over and saw nothing. I went home and told my grandmother and she told me that not everyone can see ghosts and don't talk about it.
Q: How does the white light work?
A: "Well, everybody attends their funeral to check out who is there, what they are wearing, and most people at the cemetery will talk into the white light and cross over ... but you have free will and if you don't want to go into that white light then you don't have to. Suicides, people who were murdered, teenagers and people with young children often chose not to. But that white light will go 24-72 hours after the cemetery. If you don't go into it then it disappears and you are stuck. These are the spirits I see and talk to and in the end they cause problems."
Q: What kinds of problems?
A: "They will be an energy drain on any house they are in. Kids will have a lot of ear, noise, throat and respiratory problems. Adults will have unexplained headaches, maybe sinus and lower intestinal problems. Divorce is very common."
Q: Why do they seek to cause trouble?
A: "They realize, most of them, at some point that they made a mistake and should have gone when they had the opportunity. You get a 17-year-old kid on drugs who wraps his car around a tree and dies. At his funeral he is saying, 'I'm not going in that light, I'm going to hang out with my buddies', so he stays. But when you die you stay the same age. His buddies graduate, work, get married, and now he's a 17-year-punk with a bad attitude."
Q: Is there a way to cross over if you miss that light?
A: "There are a couple of ways. If you decide to stick around and give someone grief -- which I would not recommend -- all you need to do is to go a funeral home that has a service going on. That white light around that spirit is universal, not individual light. Bob into that. Also I can make the white light."
Q: People ask you to help with ghosts. Can you give an example.
A: "One woman called and said her mother died 6 weeks ago of cancer. She was in a hospital bed in the living room. They had a terrible fight and the woman went for a walk around the block and when she got back her mother had died. I could tell over the phone that she had a ghost in her house and what she was wearing when she was buried but I can't talk to ghosts over the phone so I went over there. The mother was a piece of work. She started the fight where they left off but finally I got it settled and I made the white light and made her walk into it. Her daughter thanked me for giving her peace."
Q: Can they move things or touch you?
A: "They have the energy to move things, keys, paper, money, jewelry and especially in the week leading up to the full moon when they get more energy. A lady with a husband, a baker who got up early for work, rolled onto his side of the bed and felt the bed go down and an arm around her waist but could still hear the shower going. She turned around and no one was there. She was creeped out. It was a guy who thought she was cute. But once I caught him it was no fun anymore. He left."
Q: Any other things that keep ghosts away?
A: " Quince seeds. I give everyone a quince seed to put over their doorway which I get from Italy and no earthbound spirits can ever get back in the house again. Also you can get a smudge stick, made out of sweet grass or sage and it is what native Indians used to get rid of unwanted spirits."
Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Sugita Katyal