Just came across a fascinating piece on a tenth-generation Florida native who also happens to be an avid ghost-hunter -- Weird Florida's Charlie Carlson. Be sure to head over to LLLipGloss to read Lola's entire interview with the state's most famous purveyor of supernatural tales, but here's a teaser to get you in the mood for Halloween. Have a Hauntingly Happy Holiday!
1. Having always had a fascination with the metaphysical as well as some powerful personal experiences with psychics, I read your biography with great interest. Your grandmother was a medium. How did she influence you growing up, and do you possess the same ability to communicate with the dead?
Yes, my grandmother professed to be a medium and practiced her gift in the spiritual settlement of Cassadaga, Florida back in the 1940s. My mother was also a medium, although she preferred being called a “sensitive.” My exposure to spiritualism was at the age of five when I attended séances and spiritualist meetings with my grandmother and mother. I recall seeing tables float off the floor and chalk writing messages on a slate. For me at age five, this was normal stuff. Both my grandmother and mother were good at telling old Florida folk tales…of course this involved many ghost yarns, too. You haven’t experienced the old Florida until you spend an evening sitting on a porch in the smoke of a smudge pot, used to keep the skeeters away, and listen to ghost stories. My grandmother lived in a cracker house with a shotgun hallway running through it, near the St. Johns River in Seminole county. I grew up listening to her tales and this probably set me on course for being both a historian as well as a writer of the unexplained. Whether I inherited any psychic traits is difficult to say, but I do believe that I have a high intuitive level and an excellent sense of direction that beats a GPS device, if that counts.
2. Being raised in the south in Sanford, Florida did you experience any kind of resistance from those who rejected the idea of psychic phenomena?
I find the South more accepting of spirits than most regions of the country. Southern folklore is filled with ghost stories and tales about things lurking in the woods, and we have more Hoodoo doctors than any other part of the country…look at New Orleans with all the Voodoo practitioners. Generally, Southerners will lean more to the believer side than to the skeptical side when it comes to strange phenomena. There are a lot of eerie stories in the backwoods of the South but folks are less likely to trust relating their encounters to an outsider. I am fortunate to be able to cross the line because I speak “Southern, y’all,” and can be as comfortable on the porch of a shack in the swamp as I would be in an upscale restaurant in South Beach…although the back country is more exciting and a great deal more genuine.