Angel Leigh McCoy is a narrative designer on the PC game Guild Wars 2. Recently, she co-edited Deep Cuts, a horror anthology, and she produces WilyWriters.com, an audio speculative fiction e-zine. Her short fiction appears in numerous publications and you can learn more at www.AngelMcCoy.com. She is an active member of HWA and SFWA.
Q: Had you ever had a paranormal experience before you came to the Haunted Mansion?
ALM: I have, actually. I used to have a close friend who was a trance medium. He had several personalities who spoke through him when he entered a trance. I spent several years living next door to him, so I had numerous encounters that could not be explained. It was an eye-opening time for me, as I realized just how big the universe is and just how little we understand about it. I spoke to several individual personalities through him, though I hesitate to say who or what they were.
Possessions always leave you wondering if it’s real, faked, or some kind of hallucination. The conclusion I’ve come to through my experiences is that we don’t know. It could be any of the above. And that, in and of itself, is pretty scary.
We’re always left—after experiences like these—to rely on faith, belief, or intuition. No one has yet to find concrete proof that what seems to be happening really is. For now, we speculate. One day, I imagine the proof will surface, and then it’ll all just be mundane. We may even be disappointed when we learn what’s really been scaring us in the dark.
Q: What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?
ALM: I’ll point to an experience I had during the same period of my life when I knew the trance medium. It happened just as I was falling asleep. I “saw” blood, a great splash of blood. Suddenly I was wide awake and my heart was pounding. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something bad had happened. I noted the time. It was the middle of the night, around 3 a.m. I paced and paced, unable to relax, much less go back to sleep.
Less than an hour later, I received a phone call from my mother. My brother had been in a car accident. He had hit a telephone pole and was badly injured. My mother received the call from the police right around the time of my vision.
That wasn’t an encounter with a ghost, but it made it clear to me that there’s a connection between us and the people we love that goes beyond the physical. I believe (again with belief, faith, or intuition) that I had sensed my mother’s reaction to the news and known something terrible had happened. I just didn’t know what or to whom. That was a very long night.
Q: What inspired “Purgatory,” the story you wrote for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two?
ALM: I wanted to tie my story strongly to the “people” who were emerging in the recordings and the imaginings of those staying in the house. I wanted to bring them to life and explore one possible explanation for how we could record their voices in real life.
The events I describe and the character histories have nothing to do with the Mansion. That came entirely from my imagination, but the character names and some of their personalities were drawn directly from the transcripts of the house recordings. [Editor’s note: the GhostGirls and several other attendees of the 2012 Haunted Mansion Retreat recorded EVPs. Nichole Boscia talked about one of the real-time EVPs she heard when I interviewed her.]
The fact that you can hear the voices in the recordings is deeply interesting to me. I don’t deny that it could be sound waves from media or from previous conversations by living folks who passed through the house, or from ghosts watching us from the other side. I have no idea what they are, but they sure got my imagination going.
Q: Do you expect to come back to the next Haunted Mansion Retreat in 2015?
ALM: I’m not sure if I’ll be able to, but I would love to. We’ll have to see.
Q: What’s coming up for you next writing-wise?
ALM: I’m working on a collection of short horror stories that will be released later this year or early next year. It includes some of my darkest stories to date and will be my first collection ever!
You can keep up-to-date with Angel’s projects at:
Follow the development of the 2015 Haunted Mansion Writer’s Retreat: http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com