Passion for the Paranormal: Interview with Author and Investigator, Richard Estep

Being a longtime author, paranormal investigator and creator behind ‘Paranormal 911’ and ‘Haunted Hospitals’ hasn’t slowed down Richard Estep’s passion for the paranormal. In fact, his lifelong quest to uncover the truth about some of the world’s creepiest mysteries has helped him to produce compelling and informative studies surrounding hauntings and the effect they have upon people around the world.

The author of more than 28 titles (available in paperback and ebook formats), Estep is considered one of the most renowned voices about this fascinating subject. His books include Haunted Healthcare, The Hanging Pit and The Black Monk of Pontefract, and with every new release, the investigator brings his readers a step closer to the truth behind many infamous hauntings — and some lesser known cases, too.

As someone who has been interested in the paranormal since childhood, I began reading his releases and found myself quickly becoming addicted to his work. I invited the author to be interviewed, and he kindly agreed.

You have been researching, investigating and writing about the paranormal for many years now, Richard. Exactly when did this passion begin for you? What was the catalyst for your interest?

I grew up in a haunted house, which my grandparents owned, in Hull. As a boy, I heard stories of a phantom old lady who tucked my aunts and uncles into bed at night while my grandfather was away, serving in the Second World War. She was a former resident of the house, and I think she was helping out while my grandmother was short handed. When he returned, the old lady’s ghost stopped showing up — perhaps a case of mission accomplished.

Would you describe yourself as a firm believer in the afterlife and the spirit world, or are you somewhere in the middle?

I’m a firm believer in there being *something* but as to what that something is…I have beliefs, but I must also admit feeling very uncertain about the specifics. However, there’s an overwhelming preponderance of evidence to support the notion that we survive death in some form. What is that form? Well, *that’s* the question…

You’ve visited and investigated many allegedly haunted locations across the world, through the years. Which location would you say was the most active, from what you have personally experienced?

It’s difficult to put one at the pinnacle because so much depends on being there at the right time, with the right people, the proper frame of mind, and a hundred other variables, many of which are still unknowns. I’d place Utah’s Asylum 49, Cornwall’s Bodmin Jail, and the battlefield at Gettysburg very high on the list, though.

Although you must be a seasoned investigator by now, do you ever get nervous on location, or frightened by phenomena?

Rarely. One of my pet peeves is the increasing amount of screaming and self-generated drama which pervades paranormal reality television and “investigations.” Some people are simply out to create drama and give themselves a good scare, or trawling for likes/views/attention. In my opinion, the genuine investigators are calm, professional, and keep an even keel no matter what is happening.

My day job is a paramedic. On emergency scenes, we don’t scream, shriek, and rarely have to yell. We’re there to make a difficult situation better, not to inflame it further. I try to adopt the same approach to paranormal investigation. Yes, sometimes *everybody* gets a scare, and reacts accordingly, but those instances should be the exception, rather than the rule.

Have you ever felt so uncomfortable that you’ve wanted to walk away from a property that you’re investigating?

No. When I was a firefighter, I never felt so uncomfortable that I walked away from a burning building, because dealing with that kind of situation was what I signed up for. The same is true for investigating a haunting. The only exceptions involves situations in which there is an unstable, potentially threatening *human* element. Fear the living, not the dead.

Do you think “ghost hunting” can be a risky task? I’ve always wondered if some people may be more susceptible to experiencing the darker psychological effects of paranormal phenomena…

I think it behooves us to be careful and take certain precautions, and do not recommend doing it when recently bereaved or while emotionally upset or disturbed. By the same token, it’s easy to let’s one’s imagination run away with you and allow the mind to play tricks. We really can be our own worst enemy sometimes. I also do not advocate provoking or behaving disrespectfully, with very few, rare exceptions.

You’ve explored and investigated 30 East Drive, Pontefract, and I think it is fair to say it’s one of the most haunted houses in the world. You’ve even written a book about it (which is amazing, by the way!) For readers, can you explain what your own conclusions are about the haunting there? Do you think it is, in fact, demonic in nature?

I think that the word “demon” is grossly over-used and mis-used. Unfortunately, it’s great for TV ratings. I believe that something extremely bizarre is going on inside that anonymous-looking house, and that the constant stream of paranormal tourism contributes to prolonging the haunting. Putting a label on what’s going on there was a great challenge for Bill and I when we wrote the book, and we offer up several possible alternative explanations for what might be at the heart of it all. I’m still on the fence, and think that there’s a lot more to be told of the 30 East Drive story.

Is there a location you’d like to investigate that you haven’t been able to, or aren’t able to? Do you have a “bucket list” of places you want to go?

Alcatraz and the White House are the two places I’d give my right arm to investigate. There are so many historic locations with reported ghost stories that my bucket list grows by the week.

You’ve written many books on the subject of the paranormal (I’m slowly making my way through your back catalogue, and really enjoying it). How do you find the process of writing a book? What inspires you and keeps you going?

I love being there, in the dark, at a supposedly haunted location, and bringing the reader along with me. I try my best not to overly dramatize events, and enjoy the luxury of cutting out much of the boredom which we experience, when I’m writing the narrative. Many of my books are partially written on site, while I’m right there, journaling events as they happen. These kinds of adventures, and telling the stories of the men, women, and children who came before us, inspire me greatly.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of writing

Deciding which project to commit to next!

Are you working on anything at the moment?

Several different projects. Currently a book about the Skirrid Inn and the infamous Shepton Mallet Prison. Further out, a book on the Revolutionary War-era Fort Mifflin, the notorious Sallie House, Beattie Mansion, and a sequel to my book on Malvern Manor.

Finally, for those wanting to try out paranormal investigating, do you have any advice? Any words of warning or things to do/avoid?

Choose your role models and mentors very carefully. The more dramatic they are, the louder, more self-aggrandizing and egotistical their behavior is, the more you should avoid them. There are no experts, only those with time served in the field. Look at their body of work and find one whose approach resonates with you. Be respectful of the locations and spirits within them at all times. Maintain an open yet skeptical mindset (which may sound contradictory, but can be done) and constantly ask questions.

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