Tell Us About Yourself
Name (s): Taryn Estella Magill (My parents were really into “Great Expectations.” I have no idea where the “Taryn” came from.)
Age: I just turned 30 about two months ago. One of the paranormal experts I talked to told me it was this significant birthday that might have set the wheels in motion for my, um, new “gift.”
Please tell us a little about yourself. I work as a multi-media artist– photography and oil paints. Organizations, companies, and even private individuals pay me to recreate images of buildings and other structures that are dilapidated and in ruins. I work a lot with historical societies. In some cases, the buildings have been severely damaged in a fire or have fallen in. I use my imagination and degree in historical preservation to create a painting for my clients that shows them what the buildings would have looked like in their prime.
I USED to rely on my imagination and knowledge of architecture to do my job. But now, when I look through my camera, I can actually see the past. Sounds like a dream come true for someone like me, right? It would be, if the things my camera showed me didn’t keep pointing out death and murder.
What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses? My biggest strength is that I have a big imagination. I also work well alone and don’t always have to have someone standing over me; in fact, I kind of hate that! I might be single, but I don’t feel like I have to have a man in my life. I’m an adventurer at heart and have never felt the need to be tied down. My weaknesses? I don’t make friends easily. I feel awkward around people I don’t know and some people take that as bitchiness. Of course, I also have a huge weakness for peanut butter milkshakes. That will come back to haunt me and my waistline one day, for sure.
Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why? My best friend, Matt, is someone I’ve known since I was a kid. He helped get me into the whole urban exploring thing which led to my career path. As soon as he could drive we would hop in the car and go looking for old houses, abandoned factories, ruined churches, etc. We’ve been known to crawl through windows and shimmy up drain pipes to get into some of those places so that I could take pictures. Well, now they call it “urban exploring.” I guess it really sounds more like breaking and entering!
Do you have a family? Tell us about them. My parents died in a car wreck when I was a kid. We were never really close. Before they died, they sent me to stay with my grandmother and she raised me. She’s gone now, too. The only living relative I have is my Aunt Sarah who lives in a wonderful old farm house up in New Hampshire. She’s a recluse and kind of a town character, but I think she’s fabulous. I haven’t seen her in many years, though. Matt is the closest thing I have to family.
Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you?
When I was little, I was playing in an abandoned house with a group of other kids. I got separated from them and ended up down in the basement alone. Another little girl appeared and I followed her, thinking she was showing me the way out. She wasn’t. She took me to a small room in the basement and as I watched in horror, she settled onto the hard dirt floor and then disappeared. I tried to tell my parents about it but they thought I was making it up. Years later, when the house was demolished to make room for condos, the construction crew found the body of a child buried in the basement. She had been murdered. After that incident, I learned not to talk to people about anything I saw or felt. I pushed it away.
Do you have any phobias? I don’t do snakes or spiders. This is a challenge since most of the places I work in haven’t been taken care of and are wild with both. This might sound weird, considering that I almost always work alone and in some pretty isolated and creepy locations, but I’m really afraid of the dark. I don’t like sleeping by myself either. I have awful nightmares nobody has ever been able to explain. My parents tried to drug me as a kid, thinking it was everything from depression to ADD, but nothing worked. I just can’t take the night.
Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. Well, right now the most interesting thing about me is that when I look through my camera I can see the past. This doesn’t happen everywhere I go, and I can’t control it, but it’s something that I don’t think will get old any time soon.
Tell Us About Your World
Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. Well, it’s the present time in my world. Still, I live most of my life in the past, at least figuratively. I’m constantly surrounded by old houses, outdated furniture, and remnants from yesterday. I like to look at a place and try to imagine what the people who once lived there felt, looked like, and loved. Sometimes, I get so engrossed in a job that it’s a culture shock to step back into the 21st century and see a McDonalds.
Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour. I am constantly amazed at how accepting the people I encounter are of the paranormal. I live in what’s known as the “Bible Belt” and not only are people seemingly okay with the fact that a place is haunted, they talk about ghosts as if they’re part of the family or community. I think this has to do with a strong sense of belief in the afterlife. I personally don’t follow any one spiritual path but I feel closer to a greater energy force when I’m outside, alone.
Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? I’m always on the road. My job takes me all over the country. I’ve painted antebellum mansions in Mississippi, abandoned taverns in New York, and train stations in Massachusetts. I have an apartment in Nashville, but I’m hardly ever there. I live out of my car and suitcase. Most of my clients don’t have a ton of money so I can’t be extravagant when I travel. I consider a hotel with indoor corridors (you know, one where you can’t just drive your car right up to your door) to be the height of luxury.
Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world? When I first started seeing things in my camera I began looking around on the internet for some explanation. I was shocked to find out that there are so many communities for psychics, ghost hunters, and even vampires. Spending so much time thinking about the past, I’d forgotten how much things have changed and how magic is, in some ways, not only accepted now but encouraged. You can take classes these days to enhance your abilities! And then there are all the TV shows…I felt like I’d been living under a rock!
Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some. My own personal world is dominated by ghosts. Not just as in dead people, but ghosts of the past. I see furniture, curtains, picture frames…It doesn’t happen everywhere I go, but if a place has held onto a memory for too long or there is some type of unfinished business then it seems I can pick up on that energy and the world around me transforms back to the time period it can’t let go of. The first time it happened, I thought it was a fluke. But now it’s happening more and more and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
Book: Windwood Farm
Author: Rebecca Patrick-Howard