Cassidy O’Connor is the author of the book Diaries of the Dark Side, released July 20, 2011 by Black Oak Media. Diaries of the Dark Side is a memoir of one family’s battle with dark forces and the woman who never gave up on them.
Were you born and raised in western New York? What was your favorite ghost story growing up, and when did you decide to go out and explore these places yourself?
I was raised in a very rural area of Western, New York. Bliss, New York in fact. I have a lot of work that I do in the state of Pennsylvania, but I still live in New York, despite the ridiculous taxes.
When it comes to my favorite ghost story growing up, I fall short. Despite the classic Scrooged and The Ghost Busters movies, ghosts were not a talked about subject in my home. Though, near to my home was a set of “haunted” state lands dubbed, The Lost Nations. These 1,344 acres of hilly woods were always rumored to be haunted by the spirits of the Native Americans that disappeared there overnight. I always wanted to go up and dig around as I was the classic little girl with heavy pockets, bringing home every stone that caught my eye. It wasn’t until I was about 16 years of age that I explored these state lands. Before this I was terrified of them due to a story that my older sister brought home one telling of being witness to a horrifying event. When I finally did go up there, I was with several friends and started to witness the happenings for myself. I began to hear whispers and even was present for a horse jumping out of the weeds and into the darkness. Since then, it has been a place I visit at least once a week. The history that is held inside these woods could be wrote for miles. So, whenever I need to clear my head, or have a day to myself, I spend it there digging in the old foundations for Buffalo China, and chatting with those long forgotten.
Though, when it comes to other locations and exploring, I was very fortunate growing up to have a step mother who was in full force with the Buffalo Industrial Heritage Committee out of Buffalo, New York. Basically, what this group of people did, was fight to save the ever fading water front in Buffalo. As a child I accompanied her exploring and photographing several old Grain Elevators as well as many abandoned spots on the water front. From climbing up broken iron staircases to staring down the shaft of a grain elevator, exploring was not something I fell short on as a child. I was very lucky to have her as she sparked my immense interest in exploring historic buildings and history.
I always did have a fondness of old abandoned houses. Even as a small child I can remember my dad driving passed old houses in the car and I sitting there staring out the window gleaming at them. As far back as I can remember I always appreciated the old architecture of those beautiful buildings. There was one house locally that sat on a dirt road, out in the middle of no where. When I got my license I decided to go have a good look at it for myself. Well, me being a rock star and 17 I took it upon myself to crawl into the window of this home to check it out. Well. . . I didn’t make it very far in. Apparently the wood under the carpet had long rotted and I fell right through the floor, hitting the edge of the water tank on the way down. Of course, this was the beautiful age before cell phones. I laid there for at least an hour before I crawled up the stairs and limped to my car. So that was the day, I learned that no ghost or spooky house was worth breaking a few ribs for. Though, I have ventured back to the home, of course with permission and proper safety precautions!
I have been gifted since I was a small child but really started getting involved with the paranormal scene at about 18 years of age. It seemed my interest switched from punk rock shows to ghosts very quickly after a car accident I had. My Grandfather was not only with me during the accident but was warning me three days before with a series of smells and even sitting in my back seat every time I drove by this location. My grandfather died when I was five. I should have died in that accident, I escaped the mangled sinking car in 20 degree weather without a scratch or damp clothes.
How is Diaries of the Dark Side different from a more traditional book about hauntings, such as Haunted Buffalo: Ghosts of the Queen City, which you co-authored?
Well, Haunted Buffalo was a very standard book that basically shared the history of a location and the folklore. What I tried to do in this work was mesh them together and see any patterns that could be traced back to historical events.
Diaries Of The Dark Side is very different in fact, as it is a first person account of a case I handled for over three years. I guess I can say, that I learned several important lessons during the life of that case, and I wanted to share it with others. I know there are many seventeen year old kids slipping through broken windows in abandoned houses with a digital recorder to get a quick thrill. I also know how very quickly things can get very dark and nasty. I know this book is not a traditional one, but I am OK with that. I wanted it out there to open a few eyes and to turn a few gears. If one person reads this book and steps back from any situation that looks a little off, I will be have done my job.
Diaries of the Dark Side is based on real events, but is there anything you changed or omitted from your narrative, and why?
There is nothing of the events that was changed. I was brutally honest in this book. I know that I may take some criticism for my honesty, but I am ready for it. I can defiantly say I omitted a large amount of swear words! I also chose to change the names of those involved to protect them, good and bad. I left quite a bit out with our methods as I did not want this book to help John Q public’s interest in this game of chance. I also left out my feelings on a few events that took place in this book because some opinions should be left in ones head and not spewing out of their mouth.
What was the reaction of the family portrayed in Diaries of the Dark Side when you decided to come forward with the story? Did they read the manuscript, or will they read it for the first time when the book goes to print?
The reasoning behind this book is this family. It was their wishes that this story be told. Before the manuscript was ever sent over to Black Oak Media, it was sent to them. I had them read through it and make sure that all my time lines, quotes and facts were correct. Well, they sent it back with a few comments here and there, along with a note. The note told me how much the family appreciated me, loved me, and thanked me to know there are still good people in the world that will do the right thing. I remember it saying how if they had not witnessed this themselves, they would never believe it to be real. They were very pleased the way I portrayed them in the book, even with honesty. They did make comments about me not being hard enough on some people in the book, as well as not taking enough credit for what I accomplished for them. I cried and hung it on my office wall, where it still sits today. This book isn’t about money, or adding another book to my author shelf, this book is about them, and for them.
Do you believe this book will be controversial? What would you say to someone who argues that you are encouraging your readers to meddle in things they may not understand?
Oh, it will be a controversial book, I am prepared for that. What makes this planet of ours so great is the fact that every human being is entitled to their own opinions. Many on this earth do not share my belief systems or way of life, so I am sure there will be much to say. Though, as I said, I told the truth, as brutal or sweet at points, it was still the truth.
If someone were to argue with me that this book is one to encourage the behavior of engaging evil when it comes calling, I will simply say, read it again. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to go through what we all did in this book. I will say again, throughout the book I am very vague on our methods, because of the few who will read this and feel empowered towards playing with the shadows.
What has the response been to the pending release of your book? Do you have any upcoming events or book signings planned?
The family is very excited to have this released as well as given closure. Those who are very close to me as well as my colleagues know very little about what I put in this book. I do not share cases. I only share information with those directly involved to protect others. I guess you could say I am not a kiss and tell kind of person, I do not share others personal lives with anyone. Though, those close to me as well as several of my Paranormal colleagues around the world are anxiously waiting the arrival of this book.
I have a book release party that is getting scheduled as we speak at the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora in the office of the Spirit Way Project headed by Mason Winfield. I also will have a few book signings in local libraries set up around western New York. When those are available with time and date they will be posted on the my public facebook site: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cassidy-OConnor/145637882160702
My schedule can also be found on this site of upcoming lectures and workshops.