Everything Books
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January 23, 2013

The Guilty Pleasure

I once read that Charlize Theron, while filming the movie Monster, cleared her mind after long and grueling days on the set from the intensity of playing a serial killer by watching The Bachelorette.

When I was working on my first book, my mother was working on her third, the first comprehensive biography of photographer Edward Steichen. It was then that she introduced me to the necessity of having at least one guilty pleasure, but preferably more, to sustain me throughout the long, grueling, solitary process of bringing a book to life. Her big guilty pleasure at the time: Baywatch.

I have certain guilty pleasure staples which have helped me through the writing of several books— Supernatural, 90210, The Bachelor, Revenge, and, most recently, Ghost Adventures. Currently, I’m working on more than one project, but the largest and most time-consuming and brain-draining is the rewrite and extensive edit of the fourth Velva Jean novel, American Blonde.

Ghost Adventures is a kind of “reality” Hardy Boys, featuring three paranormal investigators from Las Vegas, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin. (Zak’s the muscly, ghost-taunting leader, Nick the poker-faced one, and Aaron– my favorite– is the bald, bearded one who gets easily spooked.) The show first aired in 2008 and, in its eighth season, remains the Travel Channel’s highest rated series.

Using night vision cameras and various ghost-hunting equipment, the trio is famously locked down from dusk till dawn in such spooky locations as the Lizzie Borden House, the Edinburgh Vaults, the Winchester Mystery House, the Eastern State Penitentiary, England’s Hell Fire Caves, and various asylums, hotels, nightclubs, lighthouses, and frontier towns with dark and twisted pasts. They’ve even visited Loretta Lynn in her haunted Kentucky home, and talked to the ghost of Johnny Cash while visiting his Jamaican plantation. Each episode is comfortably similar– Zak taunts and bosses both the ghosts and his crew (and sometimes gets possessed), Nick doesn’t smile and invites the spirits to “use my energy,” and the ever-affable Aaron is used as bait.

It’s wonderful. While I’m watching, I don’t have to do a thing. No research, no outlining, no coming up with ideas and storylines out of thin air, no writing, no editing. For that precious hour (or two, depending on how many episodes I go through), I just turn my brain off and let the guys entertain me.

Next to the sometimes chill-inducing shadow images and EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) they often capture, the very best thing about each episode is the sordidly fascinating in-depth history they relate about each place– the only ghost investigation show to do this– and Aaron’s wide-eyed reactions.

So thank you, Ghost Adventures, for seeing me through this stressful time. You’re a much appreciated healing balm for an overextended mind– a kind of brief spa break for the girl who doesn’t have time to go to the spa.

Have any guilty pleasures? Please share them! And enjoy this little clip from the show: