Christine Schiefer and Em Schultz from the smash hit podcast And That’s Why We Drink join us to talk all about haunted and spooky sites across the USA! That’s the subject of their New York Times Best Seller which you can find at good bookstores and at Amazon: A Haunted Road Atlas: Sinister Stops, Dangerous Destinations, and True Crime Tales
Thanks Christine and Em!
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This is the Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold.
JIM HAROLD: Welcome to the program. I am Jim Harold, and so glad to be with you once again. We have some superstars with us today. I’m talking about Christine and Em from And That’s Why We Drink, that hit podcast. Not only do they have one of the most popular podcasts in the universe, they also are like rockstars; they tour the country to packed houses throughout.
And now, folks, they’ve conquered that. They rule all media. They are now New York Times Best Sellers. See right there on the screen, if you’re watching the video – A Haunted Road Atlas is their new book, and that is a screenshot of them being on the New York Times Best Seller list. I couldn’t be happier for them because they’re great people, great podcasters, and great friends, and we’re so glad to have them with us.
Em and Christine from And That’s Why We Drink and all their other enterprises. Hey guys, how are you doing today?
CHRISTINE: Wow, what an intro.
EM: Ringing endorsement from you. We’re really good. We’re especially good just talking to you because we’ve said before on your show that you were our inspiration for a podcast.
CHRISTINE: To start a podcast. It’s true. So this is a full circle moment, really.
EM: It’s all because of you, truly.
JIM HAROLD: Well, thank you. That’s very kind. I appreciate it. I think you’re too kind, but I will accept it. [laughs]
CHRISTINE: [laughs] Perfect.
JIM HAROLD: Since last time we talked, a lot has happened. I’m going to take you guys one by one. We didn’t talk about this off-air – maybe we should’ve – but you could maybe fill us in on some things that have happened to you individually and collectively, other than a New York Times bestselling book. Let’s start with Christine. Let’s go with Christine.
CHRISTINE: Hello there, Jim. First of all, I’m fully caught up on the Campfire, so I feel like that’s quite an accomplishment on my end.
JIM HAROLD: Excellent.
CHRISTINE: But other than that, I moved away from LA, I bought a house, had a baby, we wrote a book. There’s just been a lot on my plate, in a good way.
JIM HAROLD: Good. Yeah, it seems like a busy time. And Em?
EM: Well, I have stayed put. I have no new relationship information, and I’m having a good time just breezing by. [laughs]
JIM HAROLD: That’s good. Is it different for you guys producing the show now that you’re not geographically where you can more easily get together? What’s it like to be states and states away from each other and doing this?
CHRISTINE: It was definitely a learning curve. We’ve tried a few things. I think a lot of podcasters have said the same thing. They’ve tried different software, different platforms, and we definitely were on that journey as well. I think we’ve stuck with Zoom for the time being for the longest so far.
But it worked – I hate to say “well,” because obviously the entirety of COVID was a disaster, but the timing worked out because I was moving, unbeknownst to me, right as COVID was starting. So we got a crash course in – even though we were in the same city, we had to be separate anyway, so we kind of got a little crash course in recording separately. But yeah, I think it’s been working so far. We have our hiccups, sometimes forget to hit record, but that happens. [laughs]
JIM HAROLD: Believe me, it happened to me before. I’m sorry to interrupt; I’ve just got to tell on myself. I was interviewing the guy that started the whole Ancient Alien thing back in the ’60s. I’d been wanting to get him on the show for years. A lot of people don’t believe in that whole thing, but to be the guy that started that whole thing, that’s kind of cool. Erich von Däniken is his name. He had a book called Chariot of the Gods that started this whole thing, rolling with the whole idea of Ancient Aliens. Believe it or not, but still, it’s a major thing.
So I’d been wanting to get him on for years. He called me on his phone from Berlin. I had a new mixer, and I got off – and it was strictly 30 minutes, “It starts this time, it ends this time, that’s it,” through his assistant, all this rigmarole. At the end I’m like, “Man, I’m good. That was such a good interview. That was fantastic.” I go to my fancy new mixer, and I had recorded the wrong track. So I had 30 minutes of glistening silence.
EM: Oh, Jim. [laughter]
CHRISTINE: That hurts my heart.
EM: We’ve all been there, but I just feel for you, based on how madly you wanted this person on to begin with.
CHRISTINE: It always tends to be that way.
EM: To be fair, one time I was really excited to tell Christine a story and she fell asleep during recording. [laughter]
CHRISTINE: That’s true, yeah. If we’re putting ourselves on blast, this is the moment.
EM: If you thought you were really killing that interview, I thought I was nailing this story, and I was like, she is just awestruck. That’s why she can’t talk.”
CHRISTINE: So silent.
EM: And then she was unconscious on the other side.
JIM HAROLD: Yeah, that’s awesome. That is so funny because I think if anybody has done any kind of content creation or any kind of podcasting or anything, if you’ve been doing it long enough, the minute you start to get like, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this,” it’s big screw-up time.
CHRISTINE: Oh yeah, the universe tells you where your place is. [laughs]
JIM HAROLD: That’s right. And your place, both of you, is like superstars. What was the genesis of the idea for this book?
EM: We had been talking about a book since the beginning of the podcast, but I think it was more of a “wouldn’t it be fun if…” I think we always thought of it as a hypothetical until the moment came where we were like, “Oh, I guess it’s time to write a book.” It was really COVID that did it. We had a lot of time and we were like, “We should probably be productive with this time we’ve been given.” We got taken out of our tour, and I think our manager had asked, “Have you ever thought about doing a book?” The second we said, “Oh yeah, we’ve talked about it for a few years now,” I think she rode that wave of “You’re ready to write a book right now.”
JIM HAROLD: Now’s the time.
EM: Yeah. So we found out really quickly that we were going to actually be writing a book. I think within a matter of weeks, it went from a fun idea to actually really happening.
CHRISTINE: Yeah, careful what you wish for in a way, I guess.
JIM HAROLD: It’s pretty clear – A Haunted Road Atlas – but explain to folks what the concept of the book is.
CHRISTINE: We always rib Em for this, but when we started writing the book, Em said, “The only caveat here, the only thing I want to make sure of, is that it’s a book I would read.” And Em’s not traditionally into books. It’s sort of canon on the podcast that Em is not a big reader.
EM: I get bored quickly. My eyes need something new to look at.
CHRISTINE: So we wanted to make it as interactive and fun as possible. It’s a road atlas. We cover a number of cities across the U.S., and the idea is that in each city, Em will share a paranormal story that happened in that town and I will share a true crime story. And then we have a section at the back of each city that features haunted hotels, where to stay, the best bars – that’s my contribution – the best ice cream spots – that’s Em. We mark which ones are haunted. It’s just supposed to be a fun little guide; if you’re going traveling, you can check out the city you’re going to and see what there is to see.
JIM HAROLD: Do you think that certain parts of the country – I mean, you’ve toured all over, you’ve done stories from all over – do you think certain parts, whether we’re talking about the true crime side or the paranormal side, are more spooky?
CHRISTINE: There were certain cities, at least for me, that I noticed I needed to pare down the story. It took a lot more effort to pick a story. They were kind of surprising sometimes. Like Milwaukee, for example – Chicago you kind of understand when it comes to true crime, but Milwaukee, man, they have a whole lot of story options. I don’t know what the pattern is, but there definitely seemed to be some cities that offered more spookiness, at least in the true crime part. I don’t know about the ghosts, Em.
EM: I think the ghosts were – there are some places that have more ghosts, but I think that’s just because – well, I don’t even know why, but there happen to be clusters of more haunted spaces. But it was pretty easy to find at least one good ghost story in each city. I feel like everyone’s got their famous lore. It was at least fun to track all that down. Writing it was not as much fun, but learning about it was a great time. [laughs]
JIM HAROLD: What was your criteria? I know, Christine, you said you had to make some cuts. What was the criteria for a story making the book? What were you really looking for?
EM: For me, I was trying to put in as much original content as possible versus stories you had heard from the podcast. That way you were getting new content. There are still some stories in there that I think we’ve talked about on the show that are pretty notorious that had earned their spot in the book.
Like the Los Angeles chapter, we talk about the Cecil Hotel. I can’t imagine talking about anything other than the Cecil Hotel. So even though we’d covered it before, it got selected for the long haul. But there are other places where I got to learn about a city I’ve never even touched on. I was trying to find new material for the book, but it ended up working in my favor and now I have new material to report on later in the podcast.
JIM HAROLD: Go ahead, Christine.
CHRISTINE: Sorry. I was just going to say, as far as picking stories, we had a hard time because there were so many to choose from. And it’s a good problem to have, but we also originally had I think like 60 cities or 70 cities on the docket, and the publishers were like, “This is going to be a 2,000-page book. Nobody’s going to read this.” [laughs]
JIM HAROLD: Book Two.
EM: Trust me, we’ve heard that before. But yeah, I think my original idea for the book was incredibly unrealistic. Even though I’m the one who doesn’t usually like to read and I’ve never been the one that claimed to want to be a writer, I was the one demanding more cities, and I was like, “We’ve got to put more stuff in there.” The publishers were like, “This is going to be an encyclopedia of thousands of pages if you can’t figure it out.” In my mind, I want a full, comprehensive guide, and I think a hardcopy version of that is just not doable in today’s world.
CHRISTINE: Yeah. We had to make it a little more selective. Even the stories themselves, we had to cut back on some detail because we had a word count, basically, that we had to stay under. That was the hard part. Again, it’s a good problem to have. We had the material because it was out there, but we had to be a little more selective than we originally thought.
JIM HAROLD: I wanted to ask you about something, because you mentioned a case and I think it’s a fascinating case. It’s one that’s incredibly sad, when I think about the Cecil Hotel, but it’s also incredibly mindboggling.
What are your collective thoughts on the Elisa Lam case? Obviously, it’s extremely sad. This woman traveled, sightseeing kind of thing, and she ended up in a place maybe she didn’t realize where she was really staying because of the way it was marketed, and then she dies under very mysterious circumstances in a water collection tank. I know you guys have talked about this before; what are some of your thoughts on the case? I’m not asking for the whole treasure trove, but just some thoughts on that particular case.
CHRISTINE: I covered that on a pretty early episode of the podcast. I remember when I was surface-level researching it, when I started digging into it, there’s obviously a lot of mystery surrounding it. What were her final moments like? What was she doing in the elevator? How did she end up in a water tank? So there’s a lot of this mystery surrounding it, and there’s a lot of – I don’t know the right word to say, but maybe lore or theories that are spooky and not necessarily based in reality. Maybe more paranormal theories, supernatural theories.
But then when I started to really dig into it and learned more about her mental health history and the medicines she was taking and maybe the reasons scientifically speaking why she might’ve had this mental illness show up while she was staying there – that’s when, at least to me, it started to turn more into a tragic case of mental illness, mental health gone wrong, rather than the more paranormal, spooky theories.
I’m kind of stuck in between, and I think I lean more toward something went really wrong for her, and she had had a history of mental illness. So that’s where I lean, but I know that people have alternating opinions on that.
JIM HAROLD: Em, do you have any thoughts on that case?
EM: I definitely agree with Christine that it’s probably more leaning towards a mental health crisis than something paranormal. But I understand why people want to throw in the spooky lore whenever they can. I think as people, we’re genuinely curious about the mysterious and try to even give ourselves the creeps every now and then. So I’m totally with Christine.
And that’s one of my favorite things about our podcast. Usually Christine already comes up with the running theory after her stories, and it’s nice to be able to – she weeds through all the theories so I can pick from the very best. So I appreciate that. When it comes to cases like Elisa Lam, I’ll usually take Christine’s theory as the one that it’s got to be. [laughs]
CHRISTINE: It is kind of fun because we come into every episode not knowing what the other person’s story is, and we typically don’t know the case the other person’s discussing. So it’s kind of fun – if I’ve spent days researching something, I can come to Em and as I progress through the story, Em gets to throw ideas out, and I’m watching Em hear about it for the first time. So it is fun to go over those potential alternate theories. And in this case, nobody really knows what happened, so it’s still a mystery.
JIM HAROLD: I’m a little sketchy on the details because it’s been a while since I’ve looked it over, but with Elisa Lam, the thing that gets me – because I agree with you. I think the mental illness angle makes a lot of sense. That’s something we have to be really careful about in our line of business. If you’re dealing with paranormal stuff – I believe there is paranormal stuff. I believe people see paranormal things. But sometimes people can imagine things, or it could be a case of mental – I think it’s something we as content creators and podcasters in this particular genre have to be really careful about and sensitive to. I think that’s so important.
EM: Yeah, absolutely.
JIM HAROLD: But I also think with Lam – I don’t really believe there’s anything paranormal going on, but I think the fact she was found in that water tank the way she was, I wonder if there was somebody else there.
CHRISTINE: That’s true. That gets into more of the true crime angle of it. So yeah, you’re right, there are so many mysteries to it.
EM: I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s not such a clear-cut answer to anybody because there are some spooky, unsolved parts to it that feel creepy. I mean, she was in a not-so-great hotel, and it had a reputation for not being a very great hotel, and then she ends up being found in a really terrible way that really has no rhyme or reason to it. It makes sense why people wouldn’t go straight to “It must be mental health. It must be some external factor.”
JIM HAROLD: Very true. We’re talking with Christine and Em from And That’s Why We Drink, and having a great conversation. We’re talking about their new book, A Haunted Road Atlas. I’ll bring that slide up if you’re watching. If you’re listening, it won’t do you much good.
CHRISTINE: You can imagine it.
JIM HAROLD: It basically shows a screenshot of these two fabulous people on their book cover and being on the New York Times Best Seller list. We’ll be back with Christine and Em right after this.
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Follow Jim on Twitter and Instagram @TheJimHarold and join our virtual Campfire Facebook group at VirtualCampfireGroup.com. Now, back to the Paranormal Podcast.
JIM HAROLD: Actually, a quick note before we get back to Christine and Em on this episode of the Paranormal Podcast. Just wanted to let you know the show is taking one week off – just one week off. We will not be airing an episode the week of July 4th. That gives me and everyone who helps me a little more time to rest for the holiday.
Of course, check out the other shows, Jim Harold’s Campfire and You Won’t Believe What Happened to Me and Unpleasant Dreams. Plenty of content to tune into for the single off week for the Paranormal Podcast, and we will be back in two weeks with a brand new episode. And now back to Christine and Em.
We’re back on the program with Christine and Em from And That’s Why We Drink, and they are also bestselling, New York Times Best Sellers.
I want to talk about – we were talking about the Elisa Lam case a little bit; I made the observation early on that I felt there was a Venn diagram of the paranormal and true crime. If you remember from sixth grade or whatever it was, your Venn Diagram, the two and there’s that overlap in the middle.
Now, I was smart and stupid. I was smart to recognize that back in about 2011, and I started another show called Crime Scene, but I was stupid and I put it in my Plus Club so nobody listened to it. Then came Serial.
CHRISTINE: Oh boy. [laughs]
JIM HAROLD: Wah-wah-wah.
EM: But you know what, you had the idea first.
JIM HAROLD: Yes, that and 10 bucks will get you a gallon of gas. [laughs] But be that as it may, oh well, I’m thankful what has worked has worked. But my question is, is that your observation? I think back to the old Unsolved Mysteries and stuff like that. There definitely seems to be a real overlap between people fascinated with true crime and fascinated with the paranormal.
CHRISTINE: Absolutely. I think when we started the show, we hadn’t really seen that crossover anywhere, so we thought what a fun, unique twist, because there were already these true crime shows that were pretty big. It just came naturally because Em was a paranormal investigator for a while; I was working as a private investigator. So we both had that angle that we brought to the table. We didn’t know if it was going to work, obviously, but it seemed to work pretty well.
There are times even when we accidentally take each other’s stories. Em, for example, covered the Villisca Axe Murder House because it is purportedly very haunted, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, next week I wanted to cover the true crime aspect of that.” So sometimes they do definitely cross over. I think Em has said before, that’s how the ghosts were made. They’re here for a reason, oftentimes, so the true crime and paranormal do tend to overlap.
EM: Yeah, I definitely think – they’re both different versions of spooky. I think if anyone’s a little bit of a thrill-seeker, at least in the stories they want to listen to, it totally makes sense why they’re a good pairing.
JIM HAROLD: Well, everybody needs to pick up this book, the New York Times Best Seller, A Haunted Road Atlas. But I thought it would be fun to cover a few cases. It’s not going to be in depth like it’s going to be in the book. I thought maybe if we pick out some different ones from some different regions – the oldest part of the country is the Northeast, so I’ve got to think between true crime and paranormal, there’s a lot of spooky stories. What’s one of your favorite ones from that region?
EM: Let me think. In D.C. in particular, the White House is supposed to be very, very haunted. Shockingly haunted. Which I guess makes sense since it’s been around for so long. In my opinion, if people have been living there for a lot longer than other parts of the world, there should be more ghosts. I feel like you put enough people living in the same house back to back to back since the 1700s, there’s probably going to be a few ghosts there.
One of them was supposedly the son of Abraham Lincoln. He died as a child, but he is said to still run around to this day and be one of the mainstay ghosts there. There’s also David Burns, who I think actually lived on the property before the White House was there, and the government ended up having to – they made some sort of shady deal and bought his land.
JIM HAROLD: The government?!
EM: I know, can you believe it, taking someone’s land in America?! What? I don’t think he wanted to give up his property, but they found a way to get the White House on that property anyway. So his ghost is said to also still haunt the attic. He doesn’t say much; he just announces himself every time. He says, “I’m David Burns.”
And then my favorite one is Abraham Lincoln himself is supposed to be the biggest ghost, the most consistent ghost there. Even Winston Churchill was in a bath in the White House –
JIM HAROLD: Yes, I was going to tell this.
EM: He was taking a bath and he gets up completely naked, walks across his room, and Abraham Lincoln is just sitting at a table laughing at him. I can’t imagine a more embarrassing thing than the president laughing at you naked by yourself. I think they had some sort of witty back and forth.
JIM HAROLD: Well, I think what Churchill said, supposedly, is, “I’m sorry, Mr. President, I think you have me at a disadvantage.” [laughs]
EM: There it is. That’s the one.
EM: And he faded away while laughing. I would never rest or take a bath again.
JIM HAROLD: No, definitely not in the White House. Man. Wow, getting dissed by a president from the 1800s. That’s pretty wild.
JIM HAROLD: That’s the thing; it seems to me, in talking to different people over the years about this, that it’s kind of like an equation. If you have a place with a lot of energy that’s been around for a long time, there’s like a reaction that causes ghosts. I think of hospitals, I think of asylums. And the White House – I mean, think about this, the emotion that is charged in that place. Life and death situations. War and peace.
CHRISTINE: High stress.
JIM HAROLD: High stress. Ambition. You couldn’t get much more power-packed than that as a place, and it’s been around – speaking in terms of America – for a long, long time. So it just makes sense.
CHRISTINE: I agree.
EM: There’s actually a ghost there – I think it’s the ghost of a cat that’s supposed to only appear in times of crises. I’m like, that’s got to be every day, then. In the White House? That cat has to just be hanging around all the time. But I totally think if you’re looking for a place that’s going to be jam-packed with stress and tension and ups and downs, no better than the government’s house.
JIM HAROLD: We are talking about ghost stories from this book, A Haunted Road Atlas, New York Times Best Seller. Check it out. Christine, I’m going to deviate a little bit here. Rather than just saying the Midwest, I’m going to ask you about your hometown and ghosts in your hometown. I am a fan of Skyline Chili.
CHRISTINE: Oh hey, it’s rare to hear a Clevelander say that.
JIM HAROLD: Big fan. I love it. I love the stuff. My wife does not.
CHRISTINE: I don’t blame her, to be fair.
EM: I also do not, to be fair.
JIM HAROLD: She calls it dog food.
EM: Your wife is right. [laughter]
CHRISTINE: I don’t blame anyone for disliking it.
JIM HAROLD: I like it. So Skyline Chili, if you’re out there and you want to do a brand deal, I am all open because I legitimately love Skyline Chili.
CHRISTINE: Awesome. I’m here too, Skyline, if you ever want… [laughs]
EM: If you are spaghetti, please reach out to us.
JIM HAROLD: Christine and Em will reconsider. Maybe they’ve been a little hasty. They haven’t sampled the full menu. [laughter] Be that as it may, Christine, your hometown?
CHRISTINE: Yeah, this was a super fun chapter to write. I will say in the original pitch, I had Cleveland, and we had to cut Cleveland.
JIM HAROLD: Ugh.
CHRISTINE: I know. If we write another book, it’s going to be in there.
JIM HAROLD: I’m telling you – you guys have done the Torso Murders, right?
CHRISTINE: That’s right. I think I did that at the Cleveland live show.
JIM HAROLD: That is a crazy case.
CHRISTINE: It’s bonkers. Oh yeah.
JIM HAROLD: Yeah. But go ahead about Cincinnati.
CHRISTINE: I’m going to pitch that. Next book, okay? Cleveland’s going to be in there, I promise. But yeah, we did the Cincinnati chapter, and one thing we didn’t mention earlier when we were talking about the book is that in each city we put a little blurb about our time in the city, whether that was on tour or if we visited. So Em and I each have a little blurb. In the Cincinnati chapter, we get to talk about how this was my hometown and how Em hung out at my house – which Em always likes to remind everyone is on a cemetery. Growing up, I lived pretty much directly inside a cemetery in a very creepy old house.
EM: It’s like she’s Wednesday Addams. [laughter]
CHRISTINE: Yeah, it’s very spooky. So it was fun to write about my part in the Cincinnati haunted sphere. But then Em covered something that I’d actually never heard of, which was really cool because growing up here, I’ve taken all the ghost tours. I thought I’d learned everything there is to learn about the classic haunted places, but Em covered something I’d never heard of. Maybe you have, Jim. It’s called the Sedamsville Rectory.
JIM HAROLD: No.
CHRISTINE: Okay, I had never heard of this either. I was stunned.
EM: It blew my mind. I would say that’s actually my favorite story in the entire book.
EM: Oh yeah. Especially because I had no idea going into it how scary it was. I was doing research purely to write this chapter, and I just got sucked in. I think as I was doing the research for this chapter, I ended up using the notes for an episode anyway because I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The owner was regularly getting possessed or assaulted in the house and was getting weirdly attached to the house. I saw at one point that they were opening this up for an Airbnb. I don’t know how that true that is.
EM: Bad business call, I think. Or great, I don’t know.
CHRISTINE: It depends. The right audience.
EM: Yeah. I don’t really want to volunteer after what I’ve researched, but maybe someone else is into that. But if you’ve got time and you’re really trying to creep yourself out, do a little digging through the Sedamsville Rectory. It was supposedly a spot where there was some bad history that happened with priests, so one of the running theories is that this is the spirit of a priest who is either in limbo or couldn’t pass on. Or maybe it’s just a plain old demonic presence. But I feel like every piece of research I found on it just made it creepier. It was so good.
CHRISTINE: And growing up Catholic, I think anything that starts to involve demons spooks me a little bit extra compared to other stories. I’m looking at this chapter right now, and there’s a guy who gets bit in the house. It’s just a spooky place. And I looked it up on Google Maps because I’d never heard of it and it was like 20 minutes from my house. So I learned a thing or two from our own book, believe it or not.
I guess the story I covered was not really necessarily haunted, but it’s the story of Donald Harvey. He was one of these classic angels of death where he worked in medicine and was killing his patients.
JIM HAROLD: Oh boy.
CHRISTINE: Obviously very tragic. So yeah, it was an extra spooky chapter, I guess you could say. And then, of course, there’s the Skyline element to it in the “what to check out in Cincinnati,” so that adds a little bit of fright, I guess, for those like your wife who aren’t really looking forward to it. [laughs]
JIM HAROLD: It’s funny because my youngest daughter and I – we used to live close to one; we don’t anymore, but we used to go and she and I would have lunch, which was a cute little tradition. And my other daughter and Dar absolutely hate it. So it worked out. They went somewhere else, like Panera or something.
CHRISTINE: It’s a nice little lunch spot.
EM: Speaking of your daughter, I wanted to say – I really should’ve come more prepared for this, but she has her own podcast.
CHRISTINE: Yes, it’s very good. And talked about the Cecil Hotel.
JIM HAROLD: Yes, she did.
EM: I was going to say I’ve used your daughter’s podcast for research recently, and it was so helpful. So please pass along a thumbs up to her.
JIM HAROLD: Excellent. I will, I will. Everybody, Unpleasant Dreams. Check it out. Unpleasant Dreams. We cover a lot of cases that we’ve covered on all of these podcasts – my podcast, these folks’ podcast.
EM: What’s so wild is I didn’t even realize she was related to you when I was doing the research. I was like, wait a minute, I know that last name. Hang on a second, there’s no way. So I found her podcast organically and was just enjoying it for the research, and then it ended up being affiliated to you and I was like, oh my God.
CHRISTINE: A Harold family original.
EM: I was like, no wonder I’m having a great time.
JIM HAROLD: Feel free to spread the word, Christine and Em.
CHRISTINE: We would love to.
EM: Of course.
JIM HAROLD: Thank you. Let’s take another region here. This would seem to be rife with opportunities for hauntings and true crime – the Southeast. I think of New Orleans and all the different history of different areas here, hauntings, true crime. Had to be a lot there.
EM: It’s funny that you say New Orleans because I talk about the Lalaurie Mansion, which was actually my sample chapter that I sent in when we were just pitching the book.
CHRISTINE: Yeah, we did New Orleans first.
EM: We were like, if we can’t find good stories in this to write about, then we’re not going to be good writers. I had a great time writing that one. But the story itself is brutal. It’s about a woman who “owned” people – let’s put it that way – and all these enslaved people were basically her torture experiments, to not put it very lightly.
They ended up being discovered when there was a fire in her house, and either – I think it was maybe the firefighters themselves or it was the town coming in to try to save people. They ended up going into the attic and finding that these people had – it was a torture experiment lab upstairs. It was found out by the town and she was run out of the city. We still don’t totally know where she ended up or where she died, how she died, but she took off in the middle of the night because she was so hated by the town.
JIM HAROLD: I’ve never heard that before. That’s absolutely one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. It makes H. H. Holmes look like a nice guy.
EM: Yeah. When I originally did the notes for the Lalaurie Mansion, it was the most brutal story I’d ever covered. Usually I lean on Christine to handle the cruel, awful –
CHRISTINE: The H. H. Holmes.
EM: The real horror, and usually I do the fun spooky ghost show. This was a really tough one to get through, but it’s such an important story, just to make sure the people that had to go through that are known of. But it’s really rough. I was taking it as a test for myself, where if I can write a sample chapter about something like this and still find a way to make it palatable, then maybe we’re going to have an okay book.
JIM HAROLD: Em or Christine, one of you had mentioned earlier that’s how the ghosts are made. Do you believe that there are times, not only in terms of interest, that the true crime and the paranormal meet, but that maybe there was some kind of tragic happening or something like that and then it does create some kind of haunting? Do you both believe that’s a thing?
CHRISTINE: I definitely do. I think we both have discovered that pattern over and over again when we’re covering stories. Just the overlap – like you said, the Venn diagram is automatically there.
And for me at least, I’ve maybe lived in LA too long, but I’m a big believer in energy. It sounds stupid to say a “believer” in energy, obviously, but I do think that a lot of times when there is – I guess a residual energy left behind, it is because something really momentous happened or something tragic, for example. And I think that energy can stay put and create what we see as a haunting. But that’s just my theory. What do I know? [laughs]
EM: I feel the same way. I don’t know if it’s because someone was taken and it was too soon for them and their energy just got stuck here, or maybe they have unresolved feelings about the event, or it could be even the energy of the person who – if there was someone who actually killed another person, it could be their energy and that hatred still spewing over into this world. If it was an accident, maybe just because no one – there’s a million reasons, but I feel like energy stays put if it feels like it needs to, and sometimes it gets stuck here.
JIM HAROLD: I do feel very badly for people who are victims of these horrible, horrible crimes, and to think that somehow that might contribute to being a ghost or something like that – that can be a truly sad situation.
One of the most interesting things that I was ever told was by Loyd Auerbach, the great parapsychologist. I interviewed him one time and he told me a case that he had worked on years ago for an old TV show by the name of Sightings, which I think goes back to the early ’90s or something. There was this place that was haunted where there had been a murder, and people would go there and report seeing the murderer. You would say, “Oh, I’ve heard of that happening before.”
But here’s the weird thing. They would see a reenactment. They would actually see the murder, and they’d see the murderer and the murder victim. But the murderer was still alive. He was on Death Row.
CHRISTINE: Jim, I was about to say that because I was just thinking, I don’t even think it has to necessarily do with somebody passing on. I’ve heard those cases where the person who committed the crime – they are seen, and then it turns out they’re in prison somewhere.
EM: Ooh. Oh, that really got me. Yeah, just the memory was so powerful that it left an imprint.
JIM HAROLD: Yeah. I wish I knew the case, but I know he specifically said that. And Loyd’s probably one of the sharpest people out there on this subject, so when he said it, it stuck in my limited brain.
I want to real quickly hit a couple, because you’ve been very generous with your time, and today we’ve been talking about – you guessed it – A Haunted Road Atlas, New York Times Best Seller. Let’s see here. What about the great American Southwest?
CHRISTINE: Ooh, the Southwest. I feel like that was one of our earliest regions that we covered. I’m trying to even remember what was put in there. We put Southern California in there, I believe.
JIM HAROLD: Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Houston, San Antonio. I have these all memorized.
CHRISTINE: Thank you. You know it better than I do. [laughs]
JIM HAROLD: They’re not on the screen here.
CHRISTINE: I think we were stuck at first to decide how to break up the regions because obviously California is so big, and we didn’t know whether to do a West Coast. But anyway, we bulked it all into Southwest. Man, that was a lot.
EM: There was one in Dallas. I’m pretty sure this was the one I wrote about in the book because I think it’s my favorite Dallas story. Miss Molly’s Hotel is now a hotel – I think it was a bed and breakfast for a while and now it’s just the bed part of that. I don’t think they were able to keep the food up, which puts it down on the ratings to me, but whatever. [laughs] But the story is super interesting.
I think it used to be a gambling hall. It was one of those old-fashioned – during the Prohibition, it was a building that had all sorts of tomfoolery going on.
JIM HAROLD: I like that. I like that word, tomfoolery. That covers a wide swath of shenanigan.
EM: A swath of shenanigans. We could do this all day. [laughter] But it was just a place where the bad boys hung out, I guess, back then. It’s now a hotel. I think there are seven different rooms and they all have different themes. There’s a Gunslinger theme and there’s a Cowboy theme.
CHRISTINE: Once Em had me guess what the different themes were, and I really struggled because they are so random. There’s like “Gunslinger”… [laughs]
EM: There’s one that’s Cowboy and then there’s another one that’s Cattleman, and I was like, aren’t those literally – those are synonyms.
JIM HAROLD: Kind of the same thing, yeah.
CHRISTINE: Seems like the same thing.
EM: But I guess there’s a few ghosts there that seem to bother the hotel manager. They try to poke fun at her a lot, but she has a very interesting back and forth friendship with them. In interviews, she is very clear about how they really set her off and they do it on purpose, and everyone’s getting their kicks laughing at her because they can see that she’s getting frustrated. It feels like a work environment where the coworkers probably kind of hate each other, but they’re poking fun just to get through the day.
That’s the vibe that I was getting from her with these ghosts. There’s one ghost there that’s a cowboy named Jake who will regularly slam her bedroom door just to get a rise out of her – and do nothing else. It’s like they’re having fun.
CHRISTINE: Pranking. Office pranks.
EM: It’s like little kids poking fun at their mom just to see her yell for a second. I think the reason that story sticks with me is because the interviews that the manager has done seem so entertaining. She seems to be such a good sport about it. I just really like that story.
JIM HAROLD: It strikes me that you guys have been doing this for a long time now. You’ve been doing the podcast, you’ve been touring, now you’ve got the book. After all these years and talking to so many people and doing so much research, what would be one or two key things you think you’ve learned from the whole process in terms of the paranormal, in terms of true crime? What are one or two truths or at least theories that both of you individually have gleaned over the years?
EM: Jim Harold coming in hot with the questions.
CHRISTINE: Wow, what a thinker.
EM: It’s only emboldened my belief that there are things out there we can’t explain.
CHRISTINE: Absolutely, same.
EM: That was not hard for me to fall into, though. I was already ready to believe that. But there are some stories where I think over time, I’ve tried to become more skeptical just to try to keep one logical foot in the door. And there are still things you can’t explain.
And then from a practical, maybe moral standpoint, I’ve learned a lot on how to try to cater to these stories in a way that people can hear them while also being respectful. I think that’s also probably a bigger takeaway for Christine because she handles a lot more sensitive material than I do, but I think we’ve both gained a huge respect for storytelling in a way that is professional and appropriate and not exploiting victims.
CHRISTINE: Right. I think that’s the hardest part. That’s been the hardest learning curve, but also I think we’ve been very, very careful with that from the beginning, especially being a comedy podcast. I think it sometimes comes off to people like “you’re making fun of these stories,” and that’s the farthest thing from what we want to be doing. So we try to find comedy at the expense of ourselves or in between, if we find any moments of levity.
And some stories there just isn’t that room. I think a lot of times we find the humor in Em’s side more than mine just because it lends itself to more levity than true crime, typically. But yeah, I think that’s one big thing we’ve learned: how to have a good time, but also be as respectful as possible, especially when the cases are still fresh enough that there are people who are still being affected by it today.
And then as far as paranormally, I think Em made a very good point there. One of the things that I’ve deepened my belief in is something that our friends at Astonishing Legends always say, Scott and Forrest, which is that “everything is connected.” I know people make fun of them for saying that, but that’s something I feel like has stuck with me.
As Em tells more stories – and yesterday Em told an alien abduction story, and one day we’ll tell Skinwalker Ranch or one day we’ll tell a ghost story, and somehow I just think there is – we probably will never understand it, but I do think there is some sort of web connecting everything.
JIM HAROLD: Words of wisdom. We’ve been talking with Christine and Em from And That’s Why We Drink and A Haunted Road Atlas, their new book, a New York Times Best Seller, if we forgot to mention it earlier. [laughter]
So the question is – there might be one person out there watching or listening who has not heard your podcast. I highly doubt it, but if there is one person out there, where can they find the podcast? Where can they find the book? Upcoming tour dates? All those good things.
CHRISTINE: I guess the easy answer is just go to our website, andthatswhywedrink.com. We’re on social media, ATWWD Podcast. You can obviously listen to our podcast wherever you listen to Unpleasant Dreams or Paranormal Podcast or any other fine Harold family podcast, you can find ours.
As for the book, you can get it anywhere fine books are sold. That’s Amazon, Barnes and Noble. We do like to tell people, if you have the opportunity, go to support your local bookstore if possible. But yeah, you can find it pretty much anywhere online. Again, it’s all linked on our website.
JIM HAROLD: I’ve got to believe, with as much success as you’ve had, is there something next, some big project in the works that maybe is even a greater expansion of what you guys are doing?
CHRISTINE: We have trouble sitting still. So even though I don’t necessarily know, I just have a bad feeling that we’re not going to sit still for very long and we’ll come up with something else.
EM: That’s true.
JIM HAROLD: Excellent.
CHRISTINE: We’ll see. [laughs]
JIM HAROLD: Great content from Em and Christine of And That’s Why We Drink and their new book, A Haunted Road Atlas, a New York Times Best Seller. Thank you for joining us today on the program.
EM: Thank you so, so much, Jim.
CHRISTINE: This is an honor. Thank you, Jim.
JIM HAROLD: Thank you so much for tuning in to the Paranormal Podcast, and another big thank you to Christine and Em. Congratulations on all their success. I have a feeling that they’ve got much more to come. I think the sky is the limit for these two folks, and great people they are. We thank them for remembering us. Again, great folks.
And thank you for tuning in to the Paranormal Podcast. We appreciate it. As I said, we’re going to take a little bit of time off, so no show on this particular podcast for the week of July 4th, but we will be back the following week with another brand new episode.
We thank you so much for tuning in. We will talk to you next time, and as always, stay safe and stay spooky. Bye-bye, everybody.