Paranormal investigator, medium, psychic, and author, New Orleans native Kalila Smith is a returning featured guest of the 2015 UndeadCon writers conference, which runs Thursday, Oct. 29 through Sunday, Nov. 1. Kalila will be part of “The Ghost Panel”, an hour-and-a-half-long discussion that will take place on Friday, Oct. 30 from 2 – 3:30 p.m. and will include New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham, Andrea Perron, author of House of Darkness, House of Light, the real true story behind The Conjuring, Blog Talk Radio host George R. Lopez, YA author Greg Wilkey, and budding paranormal author Viktor Salazar. Kalila is also a guest of the annual Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Ball, this year entitled the Gathering of the Ancients.
In the city of New Orleans, Kalila Smith is well known for writing the material used by Haunted History Tours of New Orleans’ Ghost, Vampire and Spellbound tours. She has been featured on and worked behind the scenes on television productions including Travel Daily, Places of Mystery, Secret New Orleans, Unsolved Mysteries, FEAR!, MTV’s On The Road, Blind Date, Hidden New Orleans, Urban Legends, America’s Most Haunted Places, In Search of…, and Supernatural Destinations. She appeared in the motion picture, The St. Francisville Experience. She wrote and directed Journey Into Darkness…the Trilogy, a video documentary, featured in segment in television broadcasts in the US & UK and worked on and appeared in the documentary for Sony’s Playstation II game, Ghosthunter. She conducted all of the paranormal investigations for the local television show, Haunted New Orleans. She was a producer in the PBS documentary Southern Haunts New Orleans episode produced by Sky Dive Films. Kalila is also an instructor at Delgado Community College.
Books written by Smith include Afterlife Mysteries Revealed, Searching for Spirits: The Ultimate Guide for Ghost Hunters, Miami’s Dark Tales, and her iconic Tales from the French Quarter, where the author shares personal stories of her adventures in investigating. Kalila is currently awaiting the publishing of her latest book, Séance Experiments, written with fellow medium, Sid Patrick.
On that cold December night when Sandy and Deidra joined the group like they did in Florida, the conditions became right for physical phenomena to develop. Almost immediately, the table began to vibrate. Several times within the first few minutes, it “bucked,” and the room became very cold. We all saw what appeared to be tiny particles of bright snow floating over the table. Several of us witnessed bright sparks of tiny lights flashing about. I could see shadows darting about behind Sid. We began to sing. We sang old songs such as “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” These types of songs are fast paced and most people remember the words. It’s not so much the words of the song that is important but the participation as a group to raise the energy. The point is to get everyone singing and laughing.
The room became even colder. I could feel something touching my legs under the table. I felt the “spider web” type ectoplasm that moved gently across my face. I sang even louder. Sid moved himself into the cabinet. We continued to sing. The table moved erratically but moved nonetheless. Sid sat quietly in the cabinet in hopes of manifesting ectoplasm. We all watched as we sang with anticipation. But something felt odd to him. His mother’s spirit spoke to him instructing him to put Sandy in the cabinet. The two changed places. Once inside the cabinet, she quickly fell into a deep trance state. We continued to sing and the table remained rather sluggish. For some reason I blurted out, “Put in a CD.”
Someone left the table to turn on the CD player, which still had the CD used in our most recent mental séance. The moment the music came on, the table responded by moving, first slowly then speeding up. It vibrated even more, and continued to buck. Soon it was time once again for Stephanie’s favorite song to play. As I heard the first few chords, I felt her presence enter the room. I said, “Here we go.”
Soon the table was swaying so fast it was as if it would take flight. I knew my daughter was present. I called out to her and the table pushed up against me hard. I asked questions and in response the table jumped up and down as if it was laughing. This was something new for not only me but for her too. It was her first attempt at physical manifestation. The table danced in time with the music as she answered a few simple questions. All too soon she was gone as other spirits came and said hello to the group.
-Excerpted from Séance Experiments, to be released November 2015
Smith graciously agreed to an interview via Facebook Messenger to share her thoughts on her new book and her upcoming appearance at UndeadCon.
Dionne Charlet: Kalila, thank you so much for your time, and for sending the book excerpt. I know you are quite a busy lady! What can you tell atombash.com New Orleans Literature readers about your new book and your experiences writing it?
Kalila Smith: “It is about our year and half long journey of delving deep into the afterlife world. Our journey revolves mostly around personal experiments conducted in our séance room but we even traveled to Ireland and the UK for some experiences. It should be available this fall.
“This was the first time my mediumship group experienced physical phenomena in the form of ‘table tipping’ in our séance room. The séance room is a place where we mediums experiment with various methods of communication with spirits. This can be a number of ways, mentally, through trance, or actual physical phenomenon. The Holy Grail of every medium is to experience physical manifestation of spirit.
“In that excerpt it was the first time that my daughter on the other side, made an attempt to contact me through physical means. This sort of thing is not common. There are only a handful of physical mediums in the world let alone in the US. We have one of the very few physical séance rooms in this country. The experiences we had in that first year were astounding. Many mediums wait years to have something like this happen; if it happens at all.”
DC: That is such a beautiful and heartfelt experience. Thank you so much for sharing on such a personal and touching level. Is there anything in particular that you plan to discuss during your appearance on the UndeadCon Ghost panel?
KS: “I am going to play it by ear with the panel and see where the conversations go. I never pre-plan a panel talk. I like it impromptu. I am very excited to be a part of this year’s panel with fellow authors. I think it will be quite a hit of the Undead Con.”
Are you excited to interact with fellow featured guests on the panel? What are your thoughts on Heather Graham and Andrea Perron?
“Of course I am honored to be on a panel with the legendary Heather Graham. No doubt when someone mentions paranormal fiction, she comes to mind. She is one of the great leaders in the paranormal novel genre. Coming from a paranormal non-fiction background I am looking forward to “fiction meets non-fiction” in this panel. I think all fiction whether its short stories like those I’ve written for the Southern Haunts Anthologies or novels like Heather’s have some basis is reality. We’ve all grown up drawn to that which goes bump in the night. It intrigues us, so we write about it. Heather’s work brings to life those dark, scary places of our childhood. She adds the elements of romance and mystery which lures us further into the exhilarating journey of the story line. That’s what keeps us coming back for more. I can’t wait to meet both of these brilliant authors.
“I am very intrigued that I will be sharing a panel with Andrea Perron. I’ve crossed the paths of many different people in the paranormal world but no one that had personally experienced what she and her family did. I am certain that she will have a very interesting perspective of ghosts and other paranormal activity given her history with it. I am very much looking forward to meeting her.”
How would you describe the impact Anne Rice has had on paranormal fiction?
“What can I say about Anne Rice? The mere mention of her name tells it all. She’s a living legend and an iconic figure in New Orleans. I cannot imagine where paranormal fiction would be without her. She is has become so much more than vampires and werewolves. Her novels take us through a myriad of emotions whether we are following in the footsteps of wolf-like creatures or peering into the mind of a tragic vampire who struggles with his fate. Whatever the mood, it’s never dull. She has been the inspiration for so many throughout her career. It is always an honor to be a part of this event with her. She is more than an amazing writer; she’s a very kind and lovely person as well. She appreciates her fans, and takes the time to give each one she meets her undivided attention; even if only for a brief moment. She’s genuine and we love that about her!”
For more information on Kalila Smith, click here. For ticket information on UndeadCon and the Gathering of the Ancients Ball, go to www.ARVLFC.com.