Halloween is over, but that doesn't mean ghost stories are out of vogue. Quite the opposite!
To that end, I have a special treat for you today: an interview with Tina Lynn Sandoval. Tina Lynn is a darling of a blogger. She writes YA and is currently revising her novel. If you read her blog regularly, then you know she also sees dead people.
This fascinates me to no end. I've never seen ghosts, but Tina, who until recently even worked in a very haunted hotel, is very sensitive to them. For Halloween, she posted a really chilling short story on her blog. She agreed to talk to me about her experiences. All of my questions below were fueled by an unrepentant curiosity about this because I've NEVER been sensitive to this stuff.
Sierra: I am endlessly fascinated by your real life ghost stories and it seems like I have a lot of questions that you don't always answer. So, here goes: have you always had the ability to see dead people?
Tina Lynn: I'm not sure, but I've had experiences for as long as I can remember. The house I grew up in was very "active".
Sierra: Did it scare you always?
Tina Lynn: Yes.
Sierra: Have you ever found a way to confront them and make them stop? In your story for the Halloween blogfest you describe the act of blinking to make them go away.
Tina Lynn: That works when I'm seeing things, but the noises and the feeling that someone is with you still stays with you. I guess I should correct the above statement. I'm not always scared. But it's never comfortable.
Sierra: That's understandable. I'm a big scaredy cat when it comes to things like that, so I definitely wouldn't be either. What's the worst thing that's ever happened?
Tina Lynn: That's a hard question to answer. I remember when I was very young my playroom was a scary place. Things moved.
Sierra: Ooh, that is scary.
Tina Lynn: But recently, I experienced my first full figure ghost. I thought I was going to have a coronary.
Sierra: What! I would have.
Tina Lynn: I actually did post that story on my blog.
Sierra: How did I miss that one?!?
Tina Lynn: I don't think you did. You never miss my scary stories.
Sierra: I know, I'm terrible, I'm an awful sucker for your scary stories--as long as I'm not the one actually experiencing them. That's what makes them so fascinating, probably. So where did you see the full figure ghost?
Tina Lynn: It was at the hotel. A friend of mine and I have been discussing the possibility that I brought something back with me.
Sierra (getting chills on back of neck): What do you mean, "with you"? When you were born?
Tina Lynn: The house I live in has become "active". It didn't used to be.
Sierra: Ahh. Like you're drawing them to you, almost.
Tina Lynn: Exactly.
Sierra: Maybe they're like the ones in The Sixth Sense, they know you can see and hear them, so they flock to you. What do you think about that movie? (I'm sitting here making comparisons between you and that movie which might not be fair, so feel free to scoff.)
Tina Lynn: LOL. That child was much more sensitive than me. Children tend to be more sensitive. And cats. Our cat knows.
Sierra: Definitely. I think you mentioned before that your kids have the ability to see as well?
Tina Lynn: My oldest has been having many experiences over the course of the last few weeks.
Sierra: Out of the blue?
Tina Lynn: Yes.
Sierra: How does she handle it?
Tina Lynn: She had experiences at our old house (which was a terrible place), but here it's new. She's terrified. But she knows she can come to me. So, that's good for her.
Sierra: Have you ever looked into finding someone who can help you through it?
Tina Lynn: No. I've always just dealt with it.
Sierra: If you could choose, would you have it stop?
Tina Lynn: That's a good question. I think short answer is: yes. Long answer is: If I can't ever make it amount to anything, I'd prefer for it to stop. But if I could help someone, I wish I could. Dead or alive.
Sierra: Have you ever tried to help anyone, or maybe a better way to ask that is, have you ever felt like you had the opportunity to do so (dead or alive)?
Tina Lynn: I've asked before. One night at the hotel, I begged the entity to let me help it if that's why it was bothering me, but perhaps I am not sensitive enough for it to communicate with me. I never heard anything from it.
Sierra: That's interesting and kind of leads to my next question: do you think they are conscious? Do you think they think?'
Tina Lynn: I think it varies. I think some are fully conscious. Not in the way we are, but I disturbed one once, and she made no secret that she was pissed. Others I think just carry out the same motions.
Sierra: So they have emotions.
Tina Lynn: Oh, yes.
Sierra: Maybe like us living, some are more engaged than others.
Tina Lynn: Perhaps. This particular girl stays in a stall in the women's bathroom in the hotel lobby. I can see her shape in the mirror. I always check the actual stall to make sure she isn't really there. She didn't bother me. She is just present. Which is scary.
Sierra: Yes. Especially when your pants are down.
Tina Lynn: LOL! Yes.But one time, I couldn't check the stall because the door was closed. I opened it to check to make sure, like always.
Sierra: What do you mean? The door was closed already, before you came in?
Tina Lynn: The door to the stall is usually open.While I was ahem doing my thing, she started banging.
Sierra: Did you yell at her? "Hey, I"m trying to PEE here!!"
Tina Lynn: No. I sort of finished and booked it out of there. Not sure if I had my pants completely on either.
Sierra: Have you ever shouted at them out of frustration?
Tina Lynn: Once. Only once.
Sierra (getting chills again!): What happened?
Tina Lynn: Sorry. I'm a bit distracted.My oldest has a "baby". And she's crying.
Sierra (thinking Tina means a ghost baby): WHAT! HOLY COW! Right now?? Maybe I shouldn't make you talk about this. I see that now. !!!
Tina Lynn: For sex ed, they now hand out simulation babies to discourage teenage pregnancy.She's plenty discouraged right now.
Sierra: Oh. PHEW. I thought you meant a GHOST! Is the sim baby programmed to cry at intervals? Hopefully it doesn't do that during the night. THAT would be realistic.
Tina Lynn: It just cries all the time.
Sierra: Modern sex ed: "We teach you how much it SUCKS."
Tina Lynn: That's why my daughter is crying now. She's frustrated and tired.
Sierra: Yes, well. I hope you reminded her that this is how YOU felt.
Tina Lynn: She asked me how in the world I did it. THREE TIMES. I think it's a bit different when you love them though.
Sierra: Did you say, "But for the grace of God!" Also, they're warm and you know they will grow out of babyhood. Of course real babies take massive dumps, too.
Tina Lynn: yes!
Sierra: That's not so good. And they puke everywhere. Nothing like projectile milk vomit all over you, your chair, the carpet, and your books.
Tina Lynn: Yeah, and my daughter was a spitter. Blech.
Sierra: Oh yes, my son was as well. OK, back to my hard-hitting ghost investigative journalism.
Tina Lynn: LOL
Sierra: By the way, right now I am eating a grape flavored Tootsie pop, and I must say it is entirely pleasant.
Tina Lynn: Yes, I had one yesterday.
Sierra: Although I would normally murder for chocolate, I do not prefer the chocolate ones. I like grape and strawberry and especially cherry.
Tina Lynn: Oh, we are so so alike.
Sierra: We are, Tina, we are indeed. Ok so: Do you ever get the sense of how they died, or why they linger?
Tina Lynn: No. Never. That's why it sucks so bad to be me. I'm sensitive enough to know they are there, to sense them, to see them, but I can't do anything about it. I've been encouraged to try and strengthen my sensitivity, but I really don't want to.
Sierra: Strengthen it! Why, so you can play bridge with them? Holy cow, what would you strengthen it for?
Tina Lynn: So that I could help them.Or get them to leave.
Sierra: Yes but then you'd be running all over town to solve their problems.
Tina Lynn: LOL. Yeah, maybe.
Sierra: And you have a family to worry about! And a plastic crying baby!
Tina Lynn: Oh, boy. Poor girl. She's going to have a loooooong night.
Sierra: Yes, but she'll think twice now about unprotected sex.
Tina Lynn: Yeah, right.
Sierra: Just whatever you do, don't tell her that its actually easier the younger you are, cause you have more stamina for the all-night sleep deprivation.
(Then followed a long tangent about labor, babies, and pregnancy, NaNo, writing, and the Bay Area, with the following comment mixed in somewhere: "Applesauce with steroids, now THAT is good.")
Thanks, Tina! It was fantastic to talk to you about this stuff. Anyone have any questions for her and her amazing ghost-seeing ability?