Friday, October 26, 2012

Nancy Drew's Guide to Haunted Bungalows: Guest Post by Penny Warner

Today I welcome back Nancy Drew's BFF Penny Warner. Her latest adult mystery is HOW TO DINE ON KILLER WINE. Her latest middle-grade mystery, THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB: THE HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSE, comes out November 13. Don't miss the Nancy Drew Handbook. She can be reached at

Nancy Drew’s Guide to Haunted Bungalows 
by Nancy’s BFF, Penny Warner 

As a mystery writer, Halloween is obviously my favorite holiday. I wish I believed in ghosts, but after reading so many Nancy Drew mysteries where Nancy exposed fake séances and phony haunted houses, I’ve become skeptical of all things ghostly. I thought I share some tips I learned from the Girl Sleuth, after reading “The Haunted Bungalow Mystery.”


Bess has always been easily frightened, but her pal Nancy knows there are no such things as ghosts—and she often has to prove it in one of her mystery cases. If you suspect you’re the victim of a “haunting,” and feel a chill running down your spine, dispel the fraud with the following steps.

Step 1: Locate the site of the disturbance.

Investigate the bungalow, mansion, castle, or cottage thoroughly to determine where the “ghost” is residing, or where it’s doing most of its “haunting.” Check behind secret panels, under trap doors, down dark basements, and of course, in the dusty old attic.

Step 2: Determine what kind of “ghost” it is. 

To help you deduce what kind of haunting you’re investigating, the field of parapsychology recognizes three kinds of events related to “ghosts”:

 • Those that haunt places where special events have occurred. These ghosts are usually benign and not interactive, so feel free to chat them up.

• Those that are made by a poltergeist. These ghosts are characterized by moving objects and strange sounds and images, caused subconsciously by a person under a lot of stress. If you’re the cause of the poltergeist, have a glass of wine and chillax.

 • Those that are apparitions of dead people. These sighting are extremely rare, and have not be proved, although encounters seem to be interactive. If you see one, it’s probably just Bruce Willis.

Step 3: Research the site for clues. 

Check into the background of the building and the area in which it resides. You may find that the site was once an Indian burial ground, the scene of a heinous murder, an asylum for the criminally insane, or used car lot.

Step 4: Gather a team to assist you. 

Something or someone is most likely causing the disturbance, so it would be foolish to investigate the property alone. Choose a team of friends, law enforcement personnel, paranormal investigators, or your cat to accompany you on your visits to the haunted site.

Step 5: Assemble your equipment. 

You’ll need a few basic pieces of equipment if you want to prove a site is not haunted.

• Notebook and pen to record suspicious details.
• Tape recorder or video camera to obtain “proof” of the event.
• Compass to test whether or not an electromagnetic field is involved.
• Infrared thermometer to pick up sudden jumps in temperature.
• First-aid kit, in case the “ghost” attacks you.
• Food, drinks, magazines, and sleeping bags for a long stakeout.
• Your cellphone to post Instagram pictures on your Facebook page.

Step 6: Gather the data. 

Watch a bunch of paranormal TV shows, such as “Ghost Hunters,” “Haunted Hotels,” “Paranormal Activity,” and “Pet Psychics,” to educate yourself. Then set up cameras to record suspicious events. Write down everything you see and hear so no one can accuse you of having a wild imagination or being under the influence of margaritas.

Step 7: Don’t panic. 

Ghosts cannot hurt you, in spite of the movies you’ve seen that indicate otherwise. Even in cases of poltergeist activity, most objects thrown through the air can be easily dodged if you keep your head about you—and duck. There’s always a logical explanation for the disturbance, and once it’s discovered, the mystery will be solved. According to Nancy Drew, there’s always a logical explanation for the disturbance—a practical-joking friend, a landlord who wants to evict you, a rabid raccoon living under the house, or an old high school chum you dissed years ago. Stay calm and eat some leftover Halloween candy.

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