Most paranormal enthusiasts met Amy Bruni in Season Four of Ghost Hunters on SYFY, as she used her inquisitive nature and experience with "haunted" houses to shed light on seemingly unexplainable occurrences, with the figure then going on to star in her own Travel Channel series Kindred Spirits. Much like her former series, Kindred Spirits attempts to offer insight into events in which homeowners are frightened by what appears to be paranormal activity, while also attempting to bring peace to these situations and alleviate the fears of those who feel they are encountering spirits from beyond. Bruni's new book, Life with the Afterlife: 13 Truths I Learned About Ghosts not only offers real-world advice on uncovering mysterious happenings, but also charts her trajectory in the field. Life with the Afterlife is currently available in stores and Bruni will appear alongside her former Ghost Hunters co-stars in the upcoming Ghost Nation: Reunion in Hell special on the Travel Channel on Saturday, October 31st at 8 p.m. ET.
From her earliest supernatural encounters as a child, through her years appearing on Ghost Hunters and the creation of her company Strange Escapes, which offers paranormal excursions to some of America's most notoriously haunted destinations, and into her current work on The Travel Channel's Kindred Spirits, Life with the Afterlife is full of astonishing and deeply moving stories of Amy's efforts to better understand the dead but not yet departed. With Amy's bright humor and fierce compassion for both those who are haunted and those who are haunting, Life with the Afterlife is an eye-opening look at what connects us as people, in life and beyond.
ComicBook.com recently caught up with Bruni to talk about the questions she is asked most often, common misconceptions, and her new book.
ComicBook.com: Between your book coming out and a reunion with your former Ghost Hunters co-stars on Ghost Nation, you have a busy Halloween season, so with so much of your year focusing on otherworldly events, is Halloween a big deal for you?
Amy Bruni: I am obsessed with Halloween. I love Halloween. This is the one time of year people really take me seriously. But I will say that it's also very busy for me. This October, especially, I know a lot of people are at home, and they're not working and things, but this October has been incredibly busy for us and me, with the book, and, like you said, the reunion special, plus we just wrapped new episodes of Kindred Spirits. So I haven't gotten a chance to breathe. I haven't even put my Halloween decorations out yet.
I feel like this is a problem. I need to take care of this.
It's alright, you've still got some time.
Yes, but they should've been up September 1st, in my world, really.
Throughout your decades of experience investigating the supernatural and appearing at conventions and events, what would you say is the question you are asked about the supernatural more often than anything else?
Oh my gosh. There are top three, I would say. One is, "What's the scariest thing you've ever seen?" Two is, "Why do you only look for ghosts at night?" Three is, "Are ghosts real?" Those are my top three questions.
It seems like, at least that very last one, you think it would make more headline, worldwide news if you had the answer of, "Yep. They're real. Here's the proof."
Well, I'm not sure, because a few months ago, the Pentagon released that UFOs are 1,000% real, and evidence of them, and people barely batted an eye. So I don't know if the revelation that ghosts are real would really make headlines.
Speaking to your new book, what I liked about it was that the approach of these "lessons" offers practical advice to anyone conducting their own investigations, yet you get to use that structure to then slip in personal anecdotes. When you planned on writing a book, had you always intended to develop it with that format or did it evolve over time?
It did. I didn't want to just spit out a bunch of information at people and be like, "This is the way ghosts are." I wanted them to see how I arrived at these thoughts and theories. The way to do that was really to make a memoir as well. So it starts from the beginning and it did grow into that. It's not just a generic, "Hey. Here's how you go ghost hunting." It's actually deeply personal. I go into some really personal experiences, and friendships, and interviews with people who I respect in the field to show people how I came to these conclusions.
I really like the way that progression happened. I also, as a byproduct of that, as people have started reading it and pre-release copies have gone out, I'm finding that people who really don't have an interest in ghost-hunting shows or even the paranormal are really enjoying the book just for the memoir aspect, and just what a different story it tells than what they're used to.
I think one of the more surprising things that I read in the book, and enlightening, I would say, was the section about there not being a device that is a "ghost detector." There is no device you can buy that proves there are ghosts, especially because going back to the early days of Ghost Hunters, you see this evolution of, "Hey. Let's try this device. Maybe that will help confirm evidence of ghosts. Fingers crossed." You don't totally slam those devices, but just say, "There's no proof that they actually work. They just sometimes can potentially support the experiences that you have." I wondered if you ever face any sort of backlash from some of your peers, that you're putting out there, "Maybe don't buy totally into this," when it's things that are so commonly used by other investigators?
I think my goal with that is don't always just rely on the tech. It's so important to realize that what we're doing is all theoretical and is really a belief system. The tech is amazing and we use it constantly. It works best when it's in conjunction with experiences and research. It's one tool in the toolbox. It's when you have that trifecta of tools working, research coming together, personal experiences, maybe you throw in a psychic medium, and they pick up on something that makes sense, too, that is the perfect storm, and so much more provable than just a little thing lighting up in the dark.
I think that sometimes if we rely too much on the tech, it just leads to a lot of confirmation bias. So I always try to encourage people to think outside the box and look at it from all the angles besides just the ghost detector.
And not just shows you've been on, but any paranormal show requires some degree of technology, which even includes video cameras capturing the footage to relay to viewers, so we ultimately have to rely on the investigators and if they believe in what's really happening to be supernatural. In this regard, do you think we will ever be able to find concrete, irrefutable proof of an afterlife?
We really have tried, from things like code words to test and experiments. We keep coming up with these, what seem to be really indisputable things that have happened, that prove that, maybe not necessarily the afterlife, but that there's something weird going on. It's not ever enough. Especially in this day and age, people have so much information coming at them from all over the place. I think that, in order to be a true believer, you have to have the experience for yourself, or you have to trust the source, which I think is why [Kindred Spirits co-host] Adam [Berry] and I have really ... we strive to maintain our integrity through all of this. We're very aware of paranormal reality television and what that means to a lot of people. But we know that anything you're watching us do is completely on the level. That's the best we can do right now is trust, and experiments, and thinking outside the box really, if that makes sense.
Yeah, I get what you mean. Because you have these shows that claim to have the "best paranormal evidence ever" and you have self-appointed experts in the field claiming everything they see is conclusive proof of ghosts, trying to convince you because that's a more sensational experience. With your work on Kindred Spirits, you've established yourself as someone who is more trustworthy to not do that.
Right. I love shows like that. People send me things all the time that they find on YouTube and cell phone videos. There's something to that. There's an adrenaline rush there. It's spooky. It's fun to watch. It gets you thinking. I don't doubt that some of those are real. But just coming from us, I feel like there is this level of trust that we need to maintain with our audience. So they know that anything we show them, we know and we can tell them exactly what was going on in that moment, who was there, who wasn't, what else we monitored. We will give them everything we can. It's hard to debunk videos if you weren't there yourself when it happened, to be honest.
With Ghost Nation: Reunion in Hell, you investigate with Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves, and Dave Tango from Ghost Hunters. Despite being co-stars on the series for years, this was also the first time you actually investigated with Steve. What was that experience like?
Well, Steve and I are very good friends. We've been on many investigations together, but if you remember Ghost Hunters, there was this very decisive pairing up that happened. It was always Jay and Steve, or Jay and Grant [Wilson], Steve and Dave, and me and Adam, or me and Kris [Williams]. We didn't vary from those very often. Sometimes we would investigate together as a group, like as pairs, we would go into a large space and do some experimenting or something.
But yeah, Steve and I were walking through the [Carey] mansion, and I looked at him and I went, "You know we have never investigated together." He was like, "What?" He's like, "Oh, my God. You're right." I'm like, "We have never investigated together." It was just this really weird moment, because we are so close, and it feels like we have, but we really hadn't, in that sense. We've obviously done a lot of researching together and things, but we have never just been in the dark looking for ghosts together, just the two of us. So it was really fun. We had some really cool stuff happen, too, which is awesome.
You mentioned earlier that people always ask why you investigate at night and I know there's this notion about certain times of day when spirits are theoretically more active, but if you never had to hear one trope about the afterlife ever again and never had to deal with it, what would it be?
Orbs. I wish I never had to see another orb. I think that orbs are this thing, even people who are near and dear to me still will bring me orb photos. It's not that I'm saying that there isn't a chance that some of these orbs might actually be something that's spiritual, but I can create them in any number of ways. There are actual graphs of like a moisture orb, a dust orb, a lint orb, a bug orb. Let's move past that. Because orbs could be so many other things, let's find something that's more decisive than that. People don't like to hear that, but I can't look at an orb photo and say, "Yes. That's a ghost."
There's this whole idea, too, people start seeing faces in them, which is matrixing and pareidolia. That's hard, too. So ghost photos, people will bring them to me, and I always say, "Don't show me that unless you want me to tell you it's not a ghost, because I'm probably going to tell you it's not a ghost."
And it's tough because people are obviously very excited to show you something they very much believe is proof of spirits and they're all so inconclusive.
I always try to be very gentle with it. The big one right now with security cameras is if a spider is spinning a web in front of a Ring camera or something, it literally looks like a floating manifestation, because you don't see the web itself. You don't really even see the spider. It's just this blob. I get sent spider web-spinning videos on a daily basis. Some of them have even made it to network television. "Look at this ghost." I'm like, "That is a spider."0comments
Life with the Afterlife: 13 Truths I Learned About Ghosts is on shelves now. Ghost Nation: Reunion in Hell airs Saturday, October 31st at 8 p.m. ET.