PROVIDENCE — Pretty much everyone has a ghost story. Some are comforting. Others amuse. Still others terrify. But not everyone has made a flourishing career of them.
Rhode Island resident Amy Bruni has.
You may have watched paranormal investigator Bruni, formerly of the popular TV show “Ghost Hunters,” and now as co-star of the Travel Channel’s hit show “Kindred Spirits.”
You may have read her USA TODAY best-selling book, “Life with the Afterlife: 13 Truths I Learned about Ghosts,” which chronicles her adventures, including her investigations of ghosts inside the old Biltmore Hotel and the house in Burrillville that was the basis for the 2013 supernatural movie “The Conjuring.”
And now you can watch Bruni discuss her life and work — this week on “Story in the Public Square,” a Providence Journal and Pell Center partnership that airs on SiriusXM and public television stations across the country.
Bruni began by discussing her childhood in California in a house that was haunted — with a mother and father who both were interested in, and did not fear, the supernatural.
“The way they talked about it was so matter of fact,” Bruni said. “They were just, like, ‘sometimes there’s ghosts.” And, I never thought that it was a scary thing. Obviously, since then I’ve had many scary ghost experiences, but being raised in that environment — it just really piqued my curiosity and that never went away.”
Does Amy Bruni believe in ghosts?
Surprisingly, forsomeone who has experienced so many hauntings, Bruni does not proclaim dogmatic belief.
“From my interaction with what I believe could be spirits, I do think that they are some bit of us that’s left behind after we pass,” she said. “I do think that classic idea of ‘unfinished business’ sometimes holds a piece of someone’s consciousness here. That is my best guess, but I will never claim to say that that’s absolutely what a ghost is.
“And you never know if it’s going to be explained one day, with quantum physics or other possibilities. The more that we do this and the more kind of strange experiments we do, the more questions we have. And so that’s why I make a really big point in the book to never speak in absolutes.”
Historical research of the homes, institutions and other places Bruni investigates — and of the deceased people who lived in them and the people alive today who occupy these spaces — is a critical element of her work.
“History is a huge part of what we do,” Bruni said. “I can sit all day and try to prove the existence of ghosts. And people can be skeptical about it or not. But I will absolutely make sure my history is right. That is one thing that I can prove and I can get records of.”
Amy Bruni on Ghost Hunters and Kindred Spirits:
Bruni broke into the national spotlight during her time, from 2008 to 2014, as a star on “Ghost Hunters,” investigating cases for episodes including “Dead Presidents,” “Family Plot,” “Nine Men’s Misery” and “An Officer and an Apparition.”
“Kindred Spirits” launched in 2016 and among the most-watched episodes are “Ghost Train,” set on Cape Cod; “Hell House,” about the Burrillville home; “Fire Starter,” which also happens to be the title of a Stephen King novel; “Keeper of the Light,” filmed on Rose Island, off Newport; and “The Legacy of Lizzie Borden,” taped in Fall River. Bruni has served as executive producer of all episodes of “Kindred Spirits,” which remains in production.
Bruni said the well-being of the inhabitants of a haunted house are a critical concern for her and her “Kindred Spirits” co-hosts, Adam Berry and Chip Coffey.
“Some of these families have been dealing with this paranormal activity for years, and they’ve either been too afraid to say something or they feel like people don’t believe them,” Bruni said. “We’ve actually encountered people who have legitimate PTSD from some of their experiences. And anxiety issues. It’s so much more than just ‘my house is haunted.’ ”
And there are so many people with stories than fans of horror movies or King novels.
“I meet people who don’t even believe in ghosts, but they’ll say ‘but there was this one time’ and then they’ll tell me this really crazy story. I think people feel comfortable talking to me about it. And you know, I live in one of the most haunted places in the country, in New England. And everyone’s got a great ghost story here.”
“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 3:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center at Salve Regina University and The Providence Journal/USA TODAY Network.