The Haunted Mansion interviews: Christian Colvin, Skeptical Poet

Christian, standing, with Diane of the GhostGirls, Stacey Graham, and Sephera Giron: ghost-hunting at the Mansion. Photo by Nichole Boscia.

Christian, standing, with Diane of the GhostGirls, Stacey Graham, and Sephera Giron ghost-hunting at the Mansion. Photo by Nichole Boscia.

Christian Colvin is survivor of both Haunted Mansion Writer’s Retreats. He also contributed poems to both volumes of The Haunted Mansion Project. In addition, his poems have  appeared in Polyphony, Nightstalkers, and have won awards from John Wood College and from the Virginia Poetry Society. He and his wife live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Q. Had you ever had a paranormal experience before you came to the Haunted Mansion?

A. I once spent a weekend watching a trance channeler work. It was an eye-opening experience—unless that individual was a much better actress than I thought she was!

Q. Have you ever ghost-hunted anywhere else?

A. My sister once swore the museum where she worked was haunted. I wasn’t present during her experience, but I spent a few weeks there later and found no indication of paranormal activity whatsoever. I’m a skeptic. Although I believe hauntings (for instance) are within the realm of possibility, I also believe the great majority of ghost “sightings” have far better explanations than ghosts. For example, what my sister thought was a ghost was probably the wind rattling the shutters. Other likely explanations for “paranormal” events involve suggestibility, earthquakes, hoaxes, dreams, controlled substances, ungrounded electrical wires, and so on. One should always examine all the evidence before drawing a conclusion.

Polaroid taken by Rain Graves at the Haunted Mansion, in case Chris vanished during the weekend.

Polaroid taken by Rain Graves at the Haunted Mansion, in case Chris vanished during the weekend.

Q. Did anything spooky happen to you at the Mansion?

A. Other than the drive up, no—but my friend Dan did have a hair-raising experience. (Editor’s note: see yesterday’s interview!)

Q. What inspired the piece you wrote for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two?

A. I’m a scholar of mythology and it’s fascinating how a person’s belief system informs the way they see the world. I remember watching a movie several years ago set in the Middle Ages, in which a woman takes her sick child to the village recluse. As the village priest watches from behind a tree, the recluse calls upon ancestral spirits to cure the child. Everyone present witnessed the same event and saw something different. The recluse practiced the religion her parents had taught her. The mother thought the recluse was a witch performing magic. The priest saw a heretic.

There are many ways to interpret the Sekhmet myth. She’s a war goddess; one meaning of her story is that war is hell. Even warriors on the just side can commit atrocities they’d never dream of in any other context. Sekhmet’s a lioness; the myth warns that lionesses are dangerous predators! The myth also cautions against the hubris that caused Sekhmet’s wrath. Regardless, though the myth seems brutal to us today, it made sense to the ancient Egyptians.

On the topic of paranormal experiences, I’d been working on the poem for several hours when I heard Rain Graves talking about Sekhmet in the next room over. Unlike Ra and Osiris, Sekhmet isn’t well known today. I hadn’t mentioned my poem to anyone and suddenly heard its central figure being discussed a few yards away. Was it coincidence? It was certainly surprising.

Christian, William Gilchrist, and Fran Friel hard at work in the parlor at the Haunted Mansion. Photo by Kim Richards.

Christian, William Gilchrist, and Fran Friel wooing the muse in the parlor at the Haunted Mansion. Photo by Kim Richards.

Q. Do you expect to come back to the next Haunted Mansion Retreat in 2015?

A. Who knows what the future may bring?

Q. What’s coming up for you next writing-wise?

A. I’m presently looking for a publisher for my fantasy novel, The Tarnished Quest. I hope to start the next book in the series in the next month or two… and who knows? Perhaps Sekhmet will be involved.

Find out more about Christian Colvin’s work at:

His personal page: http://mystarion.home.comcast.net/

A page on his book of political satire in verse: http://cyroth.home.comcast.net/

His Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mystarion

Keep up with developments for the 2015 Haunted Mansion Writer’s Retreat: http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com/

About Loren Rhoads

I'm the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, as well as a space opera trilogy. In addition to blogging at CemeteryTravel.com, I blog about my morbid life at lorenrhoads.com.
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