Interview-Alternate Perceptions Magazine, December 2014
An Interview with Greg Starnes, Freelance Writer, Civil War Historian and Preservationist, and the author of Hollers from the Hollows
by: Brent Raynes
Brent Raynes: Can you share with our readers a little about yourself and share with us how you became interested in ghost stories and such?
Greg Starnes: I'm a graduate of the University of Alabama (1991) and have a degree in communications. For years I owned a company specializing in sports highlight packages. In 2011 I turned to writing full time. My primary interests were history, especially the American Civil War, and sports. However, I believe that history and haunts go hand in hand. When visiting a historic site like a battlefield or old house, I can feel something there. When anything dramatic, or traumatic, takes place it can leave an indelible mark. So, after moving to DeKalb County, Alabama, and reading the ghost stories of Kathryn Tucker Windham and Debra Glass, I presumed that my new home area would be filled with interesting stories. I had seen first hand the effects of cattle mutilation in 1992 while rabbit hunting with a friend on Sand Mountain. But, I was for all practical purposes a stranger, and the locals were hesitant to speak with me on the subject of the paranormal. When I assured my interview subjects that I was not poking fun at them, only trying to gather stories for a book, some began to open up. Then, word of mouth got around and I was able to put 17 of those stories into the book that became Hollers From The Hollows.
Brent Raynes: Have you had any personal paranormal experiences yourself?
Greg Starnes: Yes, I've seen ghosts on several occasions. The first spirit that manifested itself to me was that of one of my cats that had gotten run over the previous day. While working in the building where he was born, I glanced out of the door, and there he sat! He was a solid orange tabby, but so was his sister. However, she was smaller and was walking behind him in the back yard! He was just sitting and looking at me. I called his name and began walking toward him. He stood up, strolled toward some bushes where he liked to play, and disappeared. Maybe he was telling me not to be sad; that he was alright. I've also seen flashes of black out of the corner of my eye on several occasions. I believe this is the spirit of another cat that tragically died. Her name was Blackie, and that story is in my book.
Also, the spirit of a young woman who inhabits the courthouse in the Lebanon community of DeKalb County manifested herself as I snapped a photograph of the building. I could feel something weird the entire time I was taking pictures, like someone was watching me. But, I didn't see her in the daylight. I only noticed her after examining the photo.
I've not only seen the effects of cattle mutilation, but also what I believe was a UFO spinning in the sky at night. The calf was very interesting. It's eyes had been removed, as well as its tongue and entrails, but there was no blood or gore left anywhere around. The organs had been removed by something hot and precise, like a laser. The animal had not been attacked by dogs, wolves or coyotes, because the carcass was not torn or gnarled. Neither were the leaves or bushes disturbed where it lay. Whatever happened was definitely out of the ordinary. The story Sand Mountain Butcher describes this encounter. The other sighting, was in December 2010. I witnessed a bright, silver light spinning just a few feet above some trees near a pasture across the road from my house. It sat stationary for a while, then suddenly darted straight up and over to the side. It then sat still again, before gradually sinking down.
Brent Raynes: Those were very interesting personal experiences. Thanks for sharing them. Any future writing projects that you’re working on?
Greg Starnes: I'm currently working on an historical fiction novel set in 1864. I've had some articles about the Civil War published by magazines, and I plan to query literary agents in hopes of having the novel traditionally published. As for ghost stories, I probably have enough material for another book. Once Hollers From The Hollows was published, folks have come to me with their stories. It would be fun to write another volume.
Brent Raynes: What are your hoped for future goals and directions?
Greg Starnes: My goal is to be a great storyteller. My philosophy is to enlighten, inspire and entertain, whether that be from the written word or as an oral storyteller. With history, I strive to get factual information, and my research is meticulous. With Hollers From The Hollows I made sure the historical facts were accurate by researching the history of a place or event. I do that with all of my writing. Of course, who doesn't like a good ghost story?
My work has been compared to that of Alabama's premier storyteller, Kathryn Tucker Windham. What an honor! I'm always trying to improve, and the more I write the better my work will be. Networking with other like-minded authors is fascinating. I hope my readers will feel like they are transported to the places I write about. My goal is to paint a picture for them to see in their mind's eye.