Cassidy O’Connor is the author of the new book, Diaries of the Dark Side, released July 20 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 licence 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.