December 2020 – Expect a Shift?

Fiona Broome - Dec 2020 projects and news

2021 looks like a year for major changes in paranormal research.

I believe that – like most everything we’d become accustomed to, prior to 2020 – a “new normal” will emerge in ghost hunting, and it may look very different from what we’ve seen in the past.

Or, we may want to revisit trends that flared briefly in the past. Those include trends from a decade ago, but don’t overlook what happened with Spiritualism after World War I. Much of the social upheaval – and tragedies – of that era bear a startling resemblance to our current situation. Will history – or at least trends of that era – repeat? Only time will tell.

My own projects

Recently, and with the help (okay: strong nudge) of one of my publishers, we’re updating several of my websites. If you’ve been to HollowHill.com recently, you’ve seen that redesign unfolding. This site (FionaBroome.com) is also a redesign-in-progress.

I’m updating past articles and deleting really outdated ones. Currently, HollowHill.com has 451 articles. I’ve retired another ~130, at least for now.

We’ll redesign & update my other sites in 2021.

Speaking of 2021…

Right now, I’m expecting a shift of attention in the paranormal field. It’s going to affect both the U.S. and the U.K, at the very least.

Throughout 2020, ghost research has been on a roller coaster.

  • At first, everyone was distracted by political headlines.
  • Then, the pandemic sent people home. Suddenly, people noticed all the creaks and “weird stuff” in their homes, and worried they had ghosts, or worse. I scrambled to republish “Is Your House Haunted?” with a heavy emphasis on debunking, to help readers overcome their anxieties.
  • The enclosed spaces of haunted sites made ghost hunting a health risk. Cemeteries were safer, but – with fresh graves as reminders of the pandemic – even they weren’t so attractive. So, for most ghost hunters, investigations were on hiatus.
  • As Covid Fatigue set in, people turned to familiar entertainment for comfort. That included ghost hunting shows, apparently making a strong comeback. But… for how long, with what kinds of shifting interests, and how will that affect real-life ghost hunting in the immediate future?
  • As Covid vaccines and other health measures reduce health threats, people are eager to resume more normal routines… but 2021 may be a “new normal.” Will that include real-life ghost hunting, and what will the new version look like?
  • And we’re fast approaching a major political (and possibly social) shift as America’s leadership faces a change, and Brexit’s deadline is weeks away. That could shake-up even more of what we’ve thought of as “normal.”

What’s next?

Early in 2021, I’m expecting another somersault in paranormal research. I’m not sure how early. A lot hinges on the political scene, the weather, and the pandemic, as well as the jobs market and finances in general.

  • It might be a resurgence of local ghost hunting groups. (Traffic at my free ghost hunting course, at Hallowfields.com, suggests that.) People may want to get out of the house more. And telecommuters whose jobs are now permanently at home… they’ll have far more free time than they did, pre-pandemic. They’ll also want more social opportunities. Ghost hunting could be a good match.
  • As people get less of an adrenaline rush from news headlines, they may fill that gap with ghost hunting TV shows. Will they want the same kinds of shows, or new approaches, or both? I think the adrenaline factor may be key, perhaps returning us to preposterous, “Extreme Paranormal” style shows. (I hope not.)
  • I’d love to say that books about ghost hunting (and paranormal nonfiction topics) are doing well, but the average book in Amazon’s top 20 (for that category) is selling less than a copy a day in Kindle. Sales are only slightly better in printed editions; that’s normal in this niche. If people aren’t devouring ghost-related nonfiction books when they’re stuck at home, I’m not confident that will improve in the near future.
  • On the other hand, I think haunted inns, B&Bs, etc., will attract more visitors. People are eager to travel, and an almost-guaranteed ghostly encounter will give them a fun/chilling story to tell when they get home. (B&B owners should consider a nightly “ghost story” chat around the fireplace, or in the site’s most haunted room. At the very least, it’s entertainment.)
  • This isn’t a truly new idea, but one that’s gaining popularity: virtual and self-guided ghost tours.  Theatrical troupes may provide the most drama, but tech skills will help, too.  (Here’s one in Atlanta, GA.)

I believe people – both ghost hunters and TV show fans – will be open to something new. So, I’m working on a project that takes my ghost research in a very different direction. It’s a little radical, so it’ll be separate from my work at HollowHill.com; that will remain a how-to website for ghost hunters.

(My first article at Medium is a preview. I’m not sure how frequently I’ll post there, but it seemed the right place for that kind of statement.)

This new project is still evolving. Nothing is firm, yet, but I hope to be able to talk about it by mid-2021.

Meanwhile…

I’m continuing to update my websites, a little at a time. (If a site looks weird at one visit, check again in a day or two. We’re still in the “hmm… not so sure” phase of the redesigns.)

I’m revising past books that are now out-of-print, and may finally publish the topic-specific guides I’ve been musing about.

Trend-watching is also part of my daily routine. I’m using a variety of websites – far beyond, say, Google Trends – for that kind of research, because I’d like the new project to hit all the right notes.

And, of course, we’re celebrating the holidays at home. It’s going to be a quiet Christmas, but – for us – it’s the right thing to do. We’ll make up for it in 2021.

Happy holidays, whichever you celebrate – if any – and I hope your new year is filled with tremendous fun and great adventures!