I first came across Debe Branning, author of Sleeping with Ghosts: A Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Arizona’s Haunted Hotels and Inns, when I was adding ghost guides and regional ghost books to HauntJaunts.net’s Emporium. Later I learned she’s also the leader and founder of MVD Ghost Chasers Mesa Arizona and the Arizona Haunted Sites Examiner.
I started following her writing because (a) she lives in Arizona, a place that will always hold a special place in my heart (I have many fond memories of visiting my grandparents in AZ, who used to live there, and I lived there myself for 11 years), (b) she’s a ghost enthusiast, and (c) she makes a lot of Haunt Jaunts (to Jaunts in both Arizona and beyond).
I’m getting pretty bold about approaching people for interviews lately, so I took the chance and asked her. You might imagine how excited I was when she said, “Why of course!”
Here’s what resulted from our Q&A session:
Courtney Mroch: Sleeping with Ghosts features a number of Spooky Stays throughout Arizona. Which is your (a) favorite, (b) one you think is most haunted, and (c) one you wouldn’t want to be stranded alone in?
Debe Branning: (A) The Gadsden Hotelin Douglas AZ has always been my favorite. It is something out of the old west—very invtiting—and something (if only little) always happens when we stay there.
(B) The Gadsden Hotel is the most haunted. I also believe Noftsger Hill Inn in Globe has a lot of energy…..
(C) I think it would be VERY scary to be alone in the Gadsden Hotel in the dark –there are lots of nooks and cranys ghosts could be found.
CM: Ooh! The Gasden sounds great. Of all my years either living in AZ or traveling there, I don’t believe I ever made it to Douglas. Marking this Spooky Stay for my next trip! And speaking of the old west…it’s recently come to my attention that Lydia is a common name for ghosts in certain haunts. Do any of the Spooky Stays you write about have a Lydia?
DB: Hmmm…..in Arizona the leading lady ghosts seem to be named “Sarah” –and there most always is a “ghost cat” at every location too!
CM: Ghost cats, eh? I believe you just gave me an idea for another post….Thanks! Hey, I saw on the website that you, as the leader of the MVD Ghostchasers, organize haunted road trips both in Arizona and elsewhere. Do people have to be members of the MVD Ghostchasers in order to go on these haunted road trips?
DB: We started to do the workshops throughout AZ because so many people would write and ask how to start ghost hunting–or were too scared to go alone. So we invited seasoned ghost hunters–paranormal teams—and folks just wanting to learn the art of ghost hunting to come along. Amazingly, many of the same people that came 9 years ago to our first workshop still attend one or two each year! We have all become great ghost hunting buddies!
CM: What a blast! What about for anyone making a Haunt Jaunt to Arizona, what Jaunts would you recommend they check out?
DB: They all need to visit Jerome and Bisbee—two old mining towns that have kept paranormal energy in the hotels and restaurants and various historic buildings in town. They should all visit a ghost town such as the Vulture Mine and go to some of the out of the way places I talk about on my Examiner.com column—Arizona Haunted Sites.
CM: Most excellent suggestions! Besides Prescott, Jerome and Bisbee are among my favorite AZ towns. They just have a very neat vibe in them. Kind of like Tombstone too. It’s really easy to imagine life as it once was on the wild frontier when you’re in these places. Hey, you’ve made a lot of Jaunts to a lot of neat haunts. What’s been your favorite so far? (Whether it’s Arizona or not.)
DB: My favorite has always been old hotels. You are staying there so you can walk around and ghost hunt all nite! I love historical places where you can research and perhaps pin point who or why a ghost may be there. Too many favorites. I have enjoyed every place I have investigated.
CM: What about dream Haunt Jaunts? Got any?
CM: Oh wow! You have a neat list. I’ve always been curious about the Myrtles. Not sure I could handle it, though. Bobby Mackey’s always makes me leery because of the whole posession thing that went down there. I have enough trouble getting possessed by Moody Cooties every month. Wouldn’t want to risk adding to that! And the castles…Since I have a feeling you’ll get there before me I’ll live vicarioulsy through you until I can do it myself. Definitely on the Bucket List though!
This has been really great. Just one last question: Do you have any more books on the horizon?
DB: I am forever gathering stories for “Dining With the Dead” so I am looking for about 10 more AZ haunted cafes, grills or restaurants!
I also have a children’s book coming out soon called “The Adventures of Chickolet Pigolet–Murmur on the Oink Express.”
CM: Awesome! I’ll be looking forward to “Dining with the Dead.” Be sure to let me know when you get that one all set.
And here I thought The Adventures of Chickolet Pigolet: The Bribe of Frankenbeans was a cute title. They just keep getting more clever!
Debe, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Good luck with all of your projects!
Want to meet Debe in person? She’ll be one of the presenters at HauntedCon!