New book explores NZ's paranormal

Spooked: James Gilberd, left, and Arlo Edwards, who have set up Spooked, an exhibition about the paranormal.
Spooked: James Gilberd, left, and Arlo Edwards, who have set up Spooked, an exhibition about the paranormal.

The trail which led paranormal investigation group Strange Occurrences to publish their first book was anything but normal.

Publishing company Random House New Zealand approached the group after a television appearance and asked them to write a book about their work with the paranormal.

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Author James Gilberd said he could hear his co-author, Jo Davy, "turning back-flips" when he told her of the book offer.

"It was an opportunity of a lifetime," Davy said.

The pair, who met through the group a few years ago, had eight months to complete the work. To add to the pressure, Davy was pregnant during that time.

The marine biologist, with a masters in creative writing, said staring at the computer made her nauseous.

But the book and her daughter arrived healthy, happy and on time.

Both writers agreed writing the book was a great opportunity.

"It was an entirely pleasurable experience," Davy said.

Spooked: Exploring the Paranormal in New Zealand is not sensationalist, unlike some books and television programmes that deal with the paranormal.

The book tracks the experiences and findings of the eight members of the Strange Occurrences group.

It does not come to a definite conclusion about whether ghosts exist. It does, however, give readers the information to form their own opinions.

Break-out boxes are used to detail different aspects of the paranormal, such as supposedly haunted places and tools used on investigations.

These boxes add interesting elements and colour to the book.

Author and photographer Gilberd said he was open to the idea of ghosts existing, but tried to stay away from making claims in the book.

"We are eternal optimists."

He said a closed mind needed to be tempered. "We are very keen on taking a scientific approach. Some people watch too much television."

Strange Occurrences' sceptical approach to the paranormal is what it believes makes it different from other groups.

Davy said not many other people were researching this subject in a scientific manner.

Gilberd said Strange Occurrences were a bit of a "pointy-headed lot".

The group has eight members including photographers, a statistician, a marine biologist, and a ninja.

"I don't think we come across as fruit loops," Mr Gilberd said.

Spooked: Exploring the Paranormal in New Zealand was launched last week at Inverlochy House – the sight of many of the group's paranormal investigations. The book costs $40.

For those interested in an all-things-paranormal art exhibition, Spooked will be running at 39 Dixon St until September 3. The exhibition was set up by Gilberd and Arlo Edwards.

The Wellingtonian