Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

Part III: Paranormal Crap in Virginia . . . Continued

Sep 20, 2023

Have you caught up? I’ve already disclosed that I’m a believer in all things possible—the paranormal being one of them. This is Part III of my paranormal encounters. This episode takes place in Winchester, Virginia where I live today. 

In no real order. . .  

In just the past five years, our home’s basement door likes to turn its own knob and open. No one was there.  I go into the basement and search—armed of course—for would-be intruders. Alone. My wife and dogs back me up from the living room. You know, strategically. On several investigations into the basement following the door opening on its own, I found our cat hiding and hissing like a loon. And yes, I inspected the doorknob. Not loose and it has to be turned. It has to be opened.   

Perhaps the event that intimidated me the most followed the death of my long-time friend, mentor, and omnipotent master, Wally. He was my best friend and mentor for 23 years. He was one of the last World War II OSS agents and the former Deputy Director of the CIA. He did not believe in the paranormal or the afterlife, but would laugh and tell me, “If it’s there, I’ll let you know.” Just days before his death, he gave me an antique emergency radio. One day two years after his passing, while I sat at my desk writing, it turned on in my bedroom upstairs. Two years after his passing—about a week before his death-day anniversary, I was at my computer, writing a blog about him being a quintessential character in all my books—a true fact. Suddenly, the radio turned upstairs playing 1940’s swing music. It scared the crap out of me. I investigated and realized there was something weird—the radio was not turned on nor plugged in. The batteries were dead (at least, they acted dead—pun intended), and there was no alarm feature that would trigger the radio. Yet, it was playing. It shut off as I entered the room. Okay, Wally, very funny.  

While my daughter’s family lived with us for a few years, my granddaughter had a hard time for a while. She would often wake up screaming in her crib and was terrified of being in her room alone. We put in a CCTV camera to watch her there. On a couple occasions, she stood in the crib and reached out to no one to pick her up. This went on for months. Later, while on vacation my daughter, my eldest daughter, and wife witnessed this granddaughter talking baby talk to someone at their vacation house. No one was there. But it was clearly a friend. When they were leaving for the week, my granddaughter turned and waved goodbye to someone … to no one… chanting bye-bye. After that, her bedroom hauntings ended. 

Odd vignettes occur now and then, still. On my wife’s 50th birthday, we all went on a ghost hunt to the West Virginia Asylum famous for its hauntings. On the way there, some 50 miles away still, my youngest son began seeing ghosts—at the Burger King where we stopped for lunch. He saw them everywhere after that—bathrooms, outside the asylum. Inside. Everywhere. To this day, he believes he’s the most haunted person in the world. Now, during this ghost tour, I did have some weird things happen. At one rest stop, someone was whispering in my ear unintelligently. I swore it was my wife, but she wasn’t nearby. Then, he snapped a photo of me sitting in a dark, stone corridor. That photo showed a big, gray haze over my head like a cloud. No explanation. In several other photos, it was always over me. 

West Virginia Asylum

Lastly, I’ll share a weird phenomenon with my eldest daughter. Six years ago, as part of a lark with friends, she went unannounced to a local psychic. She was not on the guest list and just tagged along. The psychic told her some weird things (and I’m paraphrasing)—that my father was there and doing penance for his living years; he was sorry for certain events; and several other tidbits of personal details about him. Oddly enough, I’d NEVER told anyone the details of my father. No one. And, they’re not written down. They’re no blogs, posts, nothing. My daughter’s last name—her married name— should not have allowed the psychic to connect her to me and dear old dead dad. No way in hell the psychic could get this information anywhere. My daughter called me while I was returning from a book signing. It hit me so hard I had to pull off the road and chill. Full on tears and terror and flashbacks consumed me. It took a week to shake it off. Now, I don’t know if it were true from the psychic, but I cannot in any other way explain what she knew nor how she knew it. Oh, and if he were with that spirit doing penance, he’ll be there a very, very long time. I doubt he’ll graduate. 

Dying to Know

There are other stories, too. Funny, as Dying to Know, my first published novel, was based on a 22-year nightmare I had about being killed on a terrorist operation and returning to hunt my killers. I told my eldest daughter that story and she encouraged me to write it as a mystery novel set in Winchester. I did It landed me my agent and my first book deal. Hilariously, at a book event where I was the guest speaker, a fan asked it Tuck—the lead character in the paranormal mystery series—was really me. Was I the “dead detective?” My response? “There’s always a part of me in the lead characters. I have been a detective and a federal agent. I am a smartass like Tuck. But as you can see, I’m not dead. So it’s not me, right?”  

Well, considering my history with the paranormal & supernatural, maybe there’s more to that story yet to come. Right?


I first fell in love with writing while in grade school and over the years continued to dabble with characters and stories whenever life allowed. Lately, I've focused my energy on pursuing this dream—interrupted only by life as a security consultant and the demands of two Labrador retrievers.

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