Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Things That Go Bump in the Night

One of the secondary characters in Darkness Dawns is very well-acquainted with things that go bump in the night. Namely ghosts. And well he should be. Marcus, who is the only friend of Darkness Dawns’ reclusive hero Roland Warbrook, has been seeing them for almost nine hundred years, though they still manage to catch him off guard periodically.

General interest in things that go bump in the night seems to have risen sharply in recent years, though that wasn’t the inspiration for Marcus’s “gift”. Numerous shows that revolve around ghosts, ghost pets, ghosts stories, ghost hunting, etc. have popped up on cable/satellite television. Movies like Paranormal Activity have received enthusiastic responses by viewers. I suspect the popularity of such stems from many people being either unnerved or fascinated (sometimes both) by the concept of things unseen invading their lives and physically affecting their world.

I had my own “things going bump in the night” experiences this summer on the set of an independent feature film on which I worked. (I provided special effects and special effects makeup, served as script supervisor and am now editor.) Shortly after production began, I learned that the building in which much of the film was shot had spawned numerous ghostly encounter stories over the years. During the many long pauses characteristic of film production (relighting, blocking, wardrobe changes, meal breaks, etc.), I was regaled with tales by men and women of varying ages who worked in or frequented the building. (Film production tends to lure curious onlookers.) Some cast and crew members seemed fascinated by the stories. Some were uneasy, if not frightened.

And over the next few weeks, things did go bump in the night several times. I heard a violin playing in a supposedly haunted room and couldn’t locate a source for the music, since no one was in the building except cast and crew. This particular room had apparently inspired stories in the past of doorknobs rattling, music playing and voices speaking when no one appeared to be present.

On another night, I was able to spend a couple of uninterrupted hours editing Book 2 in my Immortal Guardians series on the set. (I took a copy with me every night and worked on it every chance I could get.) I was alone in an office with a desk, filing cabinets and bookshelves full of books. After at least an hour and a half of silence broken only by the scribbling of my red pen, some of the books on an upper shelf shifted and fell over for no apparent reason. I had used the office on and off throughout production and those books had been in the same position, untouched, for three weeks. They weren’t precariously balanced. The office next door was empty, so no one had bumped the wall or otherwise caused it to vibrate and disturb the books. There just really didn’t seem to be any reason for them to move.

Oftentimes the director, the director of photography, a production assistant and I were the last to leave when production wrapped for the night. (It took a while to pack up our various and sundry equipment.) And there were several nights when, alone in the building, we heard thumps and what sounded like doors opening or closing. But there was never anyone there when we looked for the source to make sure no one had snuck inside while the doors were unlocked.

Now, some of the cast members got a kick out of it all and, on more than one occasion, dared each other to walk down darkened hallways or spend so many minutes alone in the haunted room. Others were uneasy and avoided such. Much to my amusement, I was called upon a few times to accompany a crew member down dark hallways because of more mysterious thumps and bumps that stretched nerves tight. (As long as the thumps and bumps weren’t caused by some nefarious person breaking in for criminal reasons, I wasn’t overly bothered by them myself.)

So, have you ever had any encounters with things that go bump in the night? Do you find such things frightening, fascinating, amusing or not much to write home about?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. And, as always, if you’d like a Darkness Dawns cover flat, leave a comment below, then email me your snail mail address. My email can be found in my profile and on my website.


  1. Hi Dianne!
    Your paranormal experience sounds excellent and scary at the same time:) I've not had my own paranormal experience yet, but it could happen... if anything I'm at least a believer. I would absolutely love to visit a haunted castle! I've heard of many that are in Scotland and would love to hear some of the local stories since it all adds to the scariness factor. Plus some if not all of it has to be based on truth, right?

  2. Hi, *yadkny*!

    I've actually received several reports of more "things going bump in the night" occurrences that have taken place in the building since we wrapped production. Ironically, the film we were shooting involved ghosts. :-)

    I would imagine the castles in Scotland abound with tales of hauntings. It seems like the longer a structure has stood, the more such tales arise around it and those castles have been there for centuries. I agree that exploring them would be great fun! I hope you get to visit one!