Guest Speakers at Sage Paracon 2016…
I first had the pleasure of meeting Greg Lawson back in 2016 at Sage Paracon where we were both guest speakers at the event, Greg clearly more experienced in this area, whilst I was still able to count the paranormal talks I have given on one hand. If you’ve not been to Sage Paracon or any paranormal convention then I highly recommend it, its an event in the Paranormal field like no other really. I especially like that you can meet others in the field and talk to them about their approaches to the Paranormal and in turn they want to understand your thoughts too.
If memory serves me I think Greg actually caught my talk and helped me at one point, like I said I am still new to standing up and talking about the Paranormal.
Unfortunately during the 2016 Sage Paracon I missed Greg’s talk as I was off helping with something or other, something I was a little gutted about to be honest. This was mainly because I wanted to know more about Detecting the Paranormal as my own approach to investigations has always been organised and methodical, I wanted to know how a professional in the field of investigation took on cases of the unknown.
However with most paranormal conventions they seem to be a flash in time that disappear almost as quickly as an apparition in a haunted house, they are an anomaly all by them selves really.
The return to Sage Paracon in 2017…
In 2017 I was lucky enough to be invited along to the official Sage Paracon Investigation of Warwick Castle by my good friend Jo Woolley (someone equally interested in investigation) as she managed to win a couple of tickets to the investigation. Once again Greg Lawson was a guest speaker and both Jo and I wanted to grab a few seconds of his time whilst on the investigation. Which we did and it was great to see old friends again.
However it was during the investigation when I spent a vigil lead by Greg that I realised something greatly important. Often we bundle into locations and straight away start looking for the presumed ghost without looking around us in order to comprehend our environment, something that could easily explain possible hauntings. On this occasion at Warwick Greg had us analyse the information provided to us and question it, which ended up with me staring down a grate into a bear pit on my hands and knees! Sometimes Paranormal investigation isn’t about chasing the unseen, its about defining what you do know.
On to Greg’s book…
So now you know how my path crossed Greg’s at Sage Paracon, its probably best I talk a little about his book ‘Detecting Paranormal’, which I also missed picking up at either Sage Paracon, but Greg was kind enough to send me a copy. Thank you Greg I really appreciate it and I will explain why in this very post!
Detecting Paranormal is one of those books that if you’re like me, you pick up in the book shop and look at for two important cover based reasons. The first is that its called ‘Detecting Paranormal’ not paranormal investigation or investigating the paranormal; ‘Detecting Paranormal. The second is that its author is Detective Greg Lawson, M.Ed. A book written by a detective about investigating the Paranormal, surely if anyone had a professional insight regarding techniques in the field then an actual Detective would be that person.
Thumb through to the books contents and I have to admit I smiled again, excited a little by the books structure. Those that know me understand what I am like, those that have investigated with me have seen exactly what I am like during an investigation too. Hence when I find a book all about the investigation of the Paranormal that right from the beginning lays out a definitive structure, then I already know I’m in for a treat.
What’s it all about then…
Well to be fair the clue is in the name and to be quite frank the contents of the book delivers exactly that, investigation process, how to interview, tips on research and how to manage the location of your investigation too. It has to be said, its one of those books that whilst reading it I thought how awesome it would have been to have this when I first started overnight investigations.
Detective Lawson, sorry just thought it would be cool to say that, walks us through each of these sections with precision and examples that provide for excellent understanding. However don’t be mistaken, this isn’t an academically focused book that many will find difficult to read. Often is the case, I may have even done it myself in the past, that when attempting to communicate best practices for a Paranormal investigation you can slip into a mono-tone approach that reads more like an appliance manual than a book on the exciting world of the unknown.
I am pleased to report that Greg manages to fully avoid this and delivers his invaluable information in a fully engaging fashion. He’s writing style captures you from the outset and his continuous use of examples and anecdotes from his fascinating life helps deliver the ‘how to’s’ in easily digestible chunks.
Speaking about anecdotes I think they at least deserve a little recognition in themselves. One of the great things about ‘Detecting Paranormal’ is how Greg ties in many examples through various experienced anecdotes from his own past. What makes these anecdotes slightly more fascinating is the clever use of both ghost stories and personal or professional experience. Whether its his visit as a young man to Cry Baby Bridge or some of the very real police cases he has worked, Greg manages to pin-point an excellent anecdote that helps you get his point. I have to tip my hat to the guy, I wish I had as many fascinating stories from my past as he does. I can imagine that I could spend hours talking through some of his experiences. What is equally amazing is when those ghost stories cross over into his police work to provide the reader with either a logical explanation or something unknown to question. I have to admit, I may have looked up from reading at a few points and uttered ‘no way’.
Greg Lawson has found the fundamental point of the Paranormal, which is that most of what we attempt to investigate begins with a story. A story which may outline someone’s experience at some time in some place. Establishing that and then digging deeper to discover the facts beyond the story is what true Paranormal investigation is all about. Don’t get me wrong it can be exciting to investigate overnight in the dark trying to make contact with probable spirits at a location, I’ve spent many an adrenaline fuelled night searching strange phenomena myself. However I am also one of those research junkies that gets just as excited when I find a factual link between two things or equally finds proof that goes against our understanding of a particular ghost. We must all strive in my mind to search out the primary case, the first report in order to understand fully the mystery we are investigating. Greg highlights this throughout his book, but also gives us the understanding and tools to properly detect Paranormal ourselves.
In my opinion…
Detecting Paranormal is one of those books that in all honesty when you pick it up in a book shop you probably question a little, after all there can’t be a specific way to investigate something that’s unknown, right? Probably true to be fair, but Greg doesn’t attempt to tell his readers that they should be doing it a specific way, he presents his advice from his own professional opinion. That’s professional as in law enforcement by the way not professional Paranormal investigator. It’s this view point that captures my attention, as we are shown how to adopt certain approaches that Greg has learnt over the years to the field of the Paranormal.
The fact that Greg covers off a great deal of important areas such as research, understanding your tech, planning your investigation, allocating roles to your team, people, interviewing witnesses, documenting the investigation and so much more makes for an excellent detailed understanding. This book gives you all the right tools to conduct a thorough investigation, document it and present your verdict too.
Now its usually at this point that I would be likely to try and identify something extra I would have liked to have seen in the book, more detail on a specified area, better description of a certain approach perhaps. However I have to admit ‘Detecting Paranormal’ is a well balanced book delivering the right hit of information to explain how best to detect Paranormal. Greg doesn’t drown us in information or ideas, but equally isn’t brief in some areas. If I would have to pick and this is me really looking hard for something, then the only thing I personally wanted to know more detail around was how he may structure a case file. I have a certain format I tend to follow, but was interested to read that Greg’s suggestion was to create a physical folder to add the collated documentation, details and even digital files to. Currently I work with mainly digital files on the cloud as they are really easy to share (Greg mentioned this too), but haven’t used a physical folder in years. The structure of a folder be it physical or digital can help organise a case in my experience, but that might only work for me. In fairness, Greg explained all the parts which should be included along the way, so you could easily construct your own file and then remain consistent as Greg advised.
Closing the cover…
‘Detecting Paranormal’ by Greg Lawson is a fantastic book which I would happily recommend to any budding paranormal investigator. If you’re new to the Paranormal field and you’re looking to investigate various paranormal cases from haunted locations to strange cryptids to UFO’s then this will be an awesome book to start you off. It’s explanations and details regarding approaches to investigation are clear and concise in their delivery. Equally if you’ve been in the field for many years dont let this book pass you by! I found myself feeling quite good about some of my own approaches because they matched that of a professional detective in law enforcement, but equally there were a few moments where I thought Greg’s approach made much more sense. We should always be open to learn new things, especially in a field of the unknown.
Something that also took me by surprise was how easily I managed to read this book. I’ve picked up a few in the past and read them, but found myself almost forcing myself to get through the pages. Greg’s book had his unique writing style that really resonated with me and helped it to be such an easy read. Easy reads are the best as you can consume loads of information quickly and often not even realise that you have just read two hundred plus pages. I think this was made so much easier by those quality anecdotes of Greg’s, some of which presented logical explanations with a little humour too..
If you want to become a Paranormal Detective, like me now, then this is most definitely the book for you. If you’re looking for fact and logical explanation then grab yourself a copy of Detecting Paranormal to help you find it. I know this book will be on my bookshelf now, but I guarantee it will be one of those books (I have a few) that I will pull out to reference from time to time.