Before I really knew who Ed and Lorraine Warren were, I watched a made-for-television movie called, I think, A Haunting in Connecticut. Unlike many television movies, it was actually quite scary. Fast forward several years and I find myself writing a book that involves the Warrens. I felt obligated to read all the books they “wrote”—all of them ghostwritten—and I’d been holding off on the one titled In a Dark Place, which is the story behind this television movie which was subsequently made into a theatrical movie. The book is by Ray Garton and the parents of the family involved (Carmen Reed and Al Snedeker) are also credited. The story is indeed a dreary one, not something I expected would bring any holiday cheer. About that I was correct.
Why do I do it, then? A concern with veracity drives me. Throughout history enough people have told stories like this that either we have to lump our species together as a bunch of lying attention-grubbers, or there might be something to what they say. The academic and official responses have long been to state that such things can’t happen, so they don’t. When compared with how we come to know other things about life, we quickly realize that it involves experience. In cases where experience is anomalous we tend to dismiss it. We are great conformers. What if there really was a demon in the Snedeker house? Others have told similar tales. If there’s any reality to it, shouldn’t we know?
As a former academic, I always thought that if we really wish to learn the truth, no subject should be off-limits. That’s not the same thing as credulousness. We don’t have to believe everything overwrought people say, but the subject should be worth consideration. Of course, those who ghostwrote for the Warrens claim that they were given liberty to stretch the truth to make a better story. They also tend to claim that the basic elements of the story are true. When someone’s writing a book, there’s likely some hope of remuneration involved. And sometimes the truth isn’t quite flashy enough for major presses with the bottom line in sight. Still, the question of what really happened is left open. The internet is a place where credulity reigns. We can seek truth there only with great caution. Maybe that is the lesson to apply to books like this as well. Although In a Dark Place is scary, there was money at stake, and as the wise say, money changes everything.