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Antonio R. Garcez
Antonio R. Garcez, author of Ghost Stories of New Mexico and ten other books on the paranormal, approaches his subject matter with reverence and very little sensationalism. His books feature first hand accounts of interactions with ghosts, which gives his tales an immediacy and intimacy lacking in more traditional approaches to the subject.
The New Mexico author won the Turquoise Book Award in 2008. The Ted Turner video "Haunted" featured two of his ghost stories, and he has been featured on shows such as 'America's Most Scariest Places.' Garcez is constantly writing and lectures throughout the U.S.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Garcez about his ghost books, just in time for Halloween.
Tell us a little about your background and how you ended up writing books on ghosts.
Antonio Garcez: Well, my parents were spiritual healers, as were my grandparents. My grandfather, my mother’s father, was Mescalero Apache from southern New Mexico, and my father’s mother was Otomi Indian from Old Mexico. I was literally born into the subject. I literally went with my parents when they went ghost hunting. My younger brother and I were in the room and would observe. And that’s how I got my knowledge.
What made you decide to write these stories down?
I used to work for the police department in Los Angeles as a crime report writer, so I have a lot of experience in writing. When I moved to New Mexico, to Santa Fe, I went to the local library to look at books on ghost stories because they always intrigued me. And I was bored by them, because they were always stories handed down from generation to generation. And given that information, or lack of, I decided to write a book and interviewed people who had first time and first hand experiences with ghosts. I was successful with that book and here I am, eleven books later.Continue to 2 of 5 below.
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What Are Ghosts?
We've all heard spooky stories about paranormal events, but in your experience, what exactly are ghosts?
That depends on the nature of the spirituality related to that ghost or spirit. Using my terms, I look at the more negative aspects of spirits as being ghosts, and the more positive aspects, I term spirits
Why is that?
There is a distinction between the two. And if we go between those polar opposites, you get all kinds of different aspects of spirituality related to entities, such as demons, natural forces of the spirit world attached to animals, and things like that. So, to say I have a definitive answer, or for anyone to say that they have the definitive answer about what ghosts or spirits are, no one really does. We’re just speculating at this point.
People should become familiar with the fact that there is a spiritual realm to our existence. We are spiritual human beings in a physical body, not the other way around. We’re more spiritual than we realize.
Antonio, are you afraid of spirits or ghosts?
No, I’m not afraid of them. What does happen sometimes is they surprise me, so I get startled. But I’m not afraid.
What do you say to people who are, who see them as spooky?
You try to familiarize them. You try to make them comfortable with the fact that it could be a relative, a friend, or someone like that, close to them. And I have them just become familiar with the spirit, or spirits.Continue to 3 of 5 below.
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Ghosts of Albuquerque and New Mexico
Do you think Albuquerque and New Mexico have more spirit entities than other places?
Not at all. When I speak around the country and lecture, people always ask me that. After reading my books or hearing some of the stories I would tell them about New Mexico, they immediately have the same response, of, boy, New Mexico must have a lot of spiritual entities, more than Massachusetts or Ohio, etc. But I always explain to them that it’s not necessarily the case
But what we do have in this state is more openness to accepting such things as ghosts or spirits, given our historical background. First, of course, the foundation was laid with Native American people, in their approach to viewing every natural living thing in the universe. And then with the advent of the Spaniards who brought with them their own religion of Catholicism, which is very much (or used to be) open to things such as spiritual activity and manifestations as they appeared to saintly people. You can read all about the lives of the saints and how they were approached by different spiritual guardians and were given messages to relate to the general population to use for themselves and their personal growth. So the foundation is ripe and fertile here in New Mexico.
So to answer your question, the answer is no, we don’t. We’re just more in tune to such things as creaking doors and footsteps, shadows, and voices that we hear. And we’re not so quick as to put them into the realm of “a figment of our imagination.”
Are there any haunted houses in Albuquerque?
Yes, there are. Of course, they’re private residences, so I wouldn’t necessarily want to disclose where they are. But we do have them here, as well as businesses. As well as, of all things, a Catholic church. I’m writing about that one in New Mexico Ghost Stories, Volume II. In the book, I talk about a particular priest who committed suicide in his residence, for some reason known only to him. The staff sees him regularly; the workers at the church rectory see him regularly. And this just took place within the last three years.
What do you say when someone says their house is haunted?
That depends on what they mean by haunted. I’ll ask them, well how do you know, and they’ll say, well, I know, but I say well, what do you mean, and then I’ll delve further into that and ask them what experiences they’ve had and most times people just assume they have a house that has a spirit in it and dwelling in their home. And as you might imagine, not all the time is that true. It’s not always the case, but there are occasions where they do in fact have spiritual manifestations taking place.Continue to 4 of 5 below.
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Encountering Negative Spirits
Some spirits in people's houses may be friendly. Are there negative spirits that one could encounter, and what would one do if they did?
It depends on their viewpoint, whether they believe in such things or not, and what their religious or spiritual background is. That dictates which direction they’ll go, and what their mental state is, of course. There’s a lot of factors to take into account. Some people live quite easily with such things that take place in their homes. Others definitely do not. There's a whole spectrum of how people individually react to such things. But you’ll get some people who as I’ve said conveniently live with such things, and those who won’t, or refuse to. And the ones who won’t, well, there are ways to banish such manifestations.
Can you talk a little bit about that?
They’ll use such things as smudge sticks, or call in the priest in situations like that. Or in their own ways, pray the rosary, or pray whatever prayer to whatever deity they have, or know of. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t.
So if someone may need help in banishing such spirits, how can they protect themselves from charlatans who say they can help?
Education, informing them. Reading. You can more or less judge someone by their cover in this case. If they say, "Oh, I know what to do exactly" and they’re very eager to do that, and on the other hand, extend their hand for something (money), then I would definitely have a lot of misgivings about using that person. And the ones that advertise in the Yellow Pages, etc., there’s quite a bit of charlatanism. They’re wanting to prey on those emotionally weak or vulnerable. So whatever your inner voice is telling you, I would listen to that, your gut, and go that route.
On your website you have some pictures of people trying to capture the energy force of spirits on film.
They’re called spiritual orbs, where things have taken place, sometimes not so positive. In certain rooms of the home, or in some cases, it (spirit) might actually be attached to a piece of furniture. People send me their submissions or photographs that they’ve taken from all over the United States, and I’ve posted some of them on my website.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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How do you approach a new book?
I do not go seeking ghosts. When I do formulate the manuscripts for my book, I actually sit down and interview people who have had first time encounters with spirits. Of all the books I’ve written (11 so far), in hundreds of interviews, I’ve never had one person come back to me and say, you didn’t report it like I said. I try to get every word as correctly as possible, and every thought. Of course I have to embellish a little, using literary license to make the subject matter more interesting, while staying true to the topic.
Your books have been set in the southwest, as well as California and Yosemite Park. Is it true you want to write ghost stories for every state in the U.S.?
That’s what I want to do eventually. After my second New Mexico Ghost Tales is published, I’m going to be writing on the ghosts stories of war veterans. I’ve already interviewed quite a few war veterans, ex-Army, Marines and war veterans of Iraq and Vietnam. From there, I’m going to be doing another book on ghost stories of gays and lesbians, which is going to be a first. Then the next one, well, I’ve got so many. You can imagine. I like to be unique in the topic I choose.
For more information, go to Antonio Garcez' website, www.ghostbooks.biz.
Compare Prices on Ghost Tales of New Mexico, or purchase Garcez' books on his website.
Take one of several haunted tours in Albuquerque.