Texas Spirit Seekers: Training Future Ghost Hunters

Writing Novels That Sell with Adrienne deWolfe

Texas Spirit Seekers is training the ghost hunters of the future right here in Austin! 

(Honestly.  I don’t make this stuff up . . .)

As Halloween night creeps ever closer, I started thinking about all the spooky freakishness that happens right outside my front door.  (No, I'm not talking about my cat barfing up hairballs!)  Haunted pizza restaurants, ice hockey in 100 degree heat, tarantulas crossing quiet suburban streets, spectral panthers prowling near the Dell Computer campus . . .  Suddenly, I started thinking, "Ya know.  Austin would make a GREAT setting for an urban fantasy!"

That's right, Twilight fans:  Forks, Washington, has NOTHING over Austin, Texas!  I’m sure it’s no coincidence that many people from south Austin drive around town with bumper stickers that proclaim, “Keep Austin Weird.”  North Austin might have the spectral panther, but south Austin has the bats.  More than a million of 'em!

Our moth-munching, Mexican Free-Tail bats roost and raise their pups under Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge. Syndicated newspaper columnist Dave Barry immortalized our beloved bridge in one of his signature, HILARIOUS columns, by calling it “Bat Poop Bridge.”

Needless to say, Austinites get a big kick out of roasting Dave Barry. 

(With mesquite-flavored barbecue sauce.)

As Halloween dawns over south Austin, I thought it would be apropos to run the third article in my Haunted Pizza Series.  Perhaps it will help you feel a teensy-weensy bit safer later today, as the sun begins to set, and the spooks begin to prowl . . .

Texas Spirit Seekers:  Training the Ghost Hunters of the Future

By Adrienne deWolfe

(Originally published in the Oak Hill Gazette on Oct. 29, 2008)

Got ghosts?

Who ya gonna call?

Texas Spirit Seekers (TSS) is a not-for-profit organization that offers training programs for teenagers and adults who are interested in becoming paranormal investigators.

“We’ve all had personal experiences (with the paranormal),” said TSS Co-Founder Lance Brooks of Lewisville, “and we didn’t understand what was happening at the time.” In Brooks’s case, “I had no way of knowing how to debunk the experience through natural causes, and that spurred my interest.”

TSS educates its investigators-in-training in the Scientific Method, case management, equipment usage, data documentation, and reporting. “Professional paranormal investigators have protocols to follow,” explained TSS Co-Founder Teresa Allen of Austin.

“For our Youth Group,” Allen continued, “we especially emphasize the importance of listening and acting professionally without goofing-off. We make sure they don’t put themselves in danger.“

Brooks cites his 11-year-old son as the “brainchild” of the TSS Youth Group. “Morgan (would) bug me about going ghost-hunting every time I took off to meet our group at an investigation,” Brooks said. “He would ask me why he could not go . . . I didn’t have an answer.”

Brooks acknowledged that during many TSS investigations, children are not permitted on site “because of some very obvious reasons.” But there are situations, Brooks and Allen both concede, where it is safe for young people to take an active role.

“Now we have started scheduling Youth-only hunts, where we take (the Youth Group) to a location and let them run the show,” Brooks said. “(Adults) are there to help and answer questions, but (the Youth members) . . . review data and write the reports.”

Parental consent is required to join the TSS Youth Group, which currently has three members, including 15-year-old Brandon Stephens of Venus, Texas. During the investigation of the Austin Pizza Garden (APG) restaurant on Sept. 27 (2008), Stephens was the only TSS member who could prove in a documentable way that he’d interacted with an unseen force – perhaps a genuine ghost.