Andrea Perron was just twelve years of age when her family moved into The Arnold Estate, a large farmhouse, with a big barn and two-hundred acres of land.
The family lived at the farmhouse for nearly ten years claiming to have experienced paranormal activity throughout their stay and they became the interest of researchers both academic and sensationalistic.
It took Andrea nearly 30 years to put pen to paper and start to write a memoir of the events that she claimed happened on the farmhouse. She has released House of Darkness House of Light Parts One and Two with favourable reviews. The third book that concludes her trilogy is due out June 2013.
Hollywood became interested in the story and began filming a fictionalized story of the suggested events with a project that based the focus towards two controversial paracelebrity investigators – Ed and Lorraine Warren, of the Amityville Horror fame. The film, initially entitled The Warren Files, has recently been the subject of much scrutiny and the producers have changed the title to The Conjuring.
Advanced screenings to test audiences have delivered positive results, however, critical reviews have already dismissed the horror movie as a sham claiming that any movie based upon the exploits of The Warrens cannot be considered anything more than another hoax-tale like Amityville. They also point out the scriptwriter's previous failures and the director's predictability.
But what the critics fail to recognize is that the story begins with a family, who were not influenced by The Warrens until much later into their experiences at the farmhouse. What is the truth behind their story?
Andrea Perron was just a child when she, along with her sisters and mother began noticing and experiencing strange activity at the farm. At first the father dismissed the activity altogether and accused his wife of not telling the truth. Andrea admits it was a difficult and confusing time for the family, but ultimately it brought them closer together.
The Arnold Estate - All images used within this article are courtesy author Andrea Perron who maintains copyright
Andrea has agreed to be interviewed about the events and her memories of the happenings at The Arnold Estate.
Q - What was the purpose in writing your book and what do you hope readers will take from each volume and the story as a whole?
A - The purpose of writing the book was to tell this extraordinary series of encounters with spirit and detail the story as a whole, as it was time to clarify the folklore around our family. The rumors were persistent, the Warrens kept it alive over 30 years and I knew it was time to tell the truth.
It was a divine spark. In August of 2007 I began writing my own memories on note cards, gathering them in a recipe box. Within six weeks I had an outline, at which time I informed my family that the process was under-way. There was a lot of reticence. My mother was particularly unwilling to exhume the dead, though she now admits they were buried remarkably close to the surface. I spent many sleepless nights with her, sipping tea at the kitchen table (I moved in with her & my sister Christine in 2008) and taking copious notes as she recalled her experience at the farm. Christine was the lone holdout as I worked. She did not want to disclose her traumatic encounters and it took Cindy to convince her it was for a greater cause. Perhaps it will bring some peace to those troubled by the fear of death.
This is not the kind of story one should rightfully take to the grave without sharing and though it was very difficult, it was worth the effort. I wrote this as a gift to my family, dedicating the first volume to my mom, the second to dad and the third to my sweet sisters.
Q - In writing House of Darkness, House of Light, did you collaborate with your sisters and mother and discuss what had happened during these events or did you primarily utilize your own memory?
A - I interviewed each member of my family and discussed our experiences at length. In fact, I left R.I. and relocated to Georgia to be close, necessary to telling the story authentically.
MOST of the manuscript came directly from them, transcribed into the text. As you read you'll notice that few of the stories actually center on me. I was more of an observer and kept a journal of the experiences as they occurred. At first I thought it would be a jumble of scattered stories but everyone remembered well the encounters they had and when it came time to compile all of it into one story, I had to change only one discrepancy, as one event (the bloody orange) had occurred in a different season than I'd recalled. That was it. Really, I was amazed. Some things you never forget.
Q - Are any of the events and experiences lost to your memory? Or are they very clear?
A - As stated previously, they are still very clear. There are moments in life which are so compelling, so surreal, it is impossible to forget them.
We ALL still have flashbacks and vivid dreams about these encounters, including my father. Each of us was fundamentally altered by these events. They were impaled in our memories to such an extent, a scent or a song can trigger an intense memory. We've all learned to deal with it and move on but it is amazing how it happens.
When we were on the set of the film Cindy had a meltdown moment no one expected but we came together to help her through it, as we always do when someone in the family is struggling. To say our experience of the farm is a permanent part of our collective psyche is an understatement. It is part of us all.
Q - What was the trigger affect that made you sit down and need to tell your story?
A- It was as if an alarm clock went off in my head. I cannot explain it. Something told me "It's time" and I proceeded to gather my notes and old journals together without discussing it with my family. I suppose I wanted to test the waters myself and determine if I was up to the formidable task before I informed them about the sudden sense of urgency I felt, literally the first time I had a sense of it.
Q – How old were you and your sisters when you first moved into the farmhouse?
A - I was 12, Nancy 10, Christine 9, Cindy 8 and April 5.
Q - Did your father believe what was happening to the children and your mother or was he skeptical at first?
A - My father was an ass. He created an environment which was more difficult to tolerate than having the spirits infringing on our lives. The entire story of his transition to belief is detailed in the books but I can tell you, his disbelief in all of us was the root of an eventual divorce. To question my mother's voracity was the greatest mistake of his life.
Q - Why do you think activity and events increased when the family dynamic was tested? What do you think caused the family tension and why do you think the activity increased during this time?
A - Based on my recollections, the activity increased when turmoil erupted between my parents. Most times it was a low-level angst, an almost imperceptible resentment and hostility, as my mother tried hard to hide her deep disappointment and contempt for my father.
However, when harsh words were exchanged, something always seemed to happen to either break it up or spur it on. A bottle from the sideboard would fly across the room or the stereo (turned off) would suddenly begin blaring music at speaker-rupturing volume. It would usually shock everyone into silence and my mother didn't object because it was more validation of what she was fighting about, his inability to recognize or discern or even acknowledge the activity in our home.
Perhaps it was their way of saying they were listening or a joyous outburst indicative of getting what they wanted. They thrived on disruption because it generated energy, I believe, a form of negative energy easy to absorb. Mrs. Warren said it was "feeding the beast" and on this point, I think she may have been correct. OR...it could have been that they craved peace & quiet in much the same way we did and it was their way of saying "HUSH!" "ENOUGH!" "HERE! LET ME GIVE YOU SOMETHING ELSE TO THINK ABOUT!" As if being chastised for the altercation, like a parent scolding children, it was usually an abrupt action which brought an argument to a close.
Frankly, I'm not sure but there was no mistaking the presence made known during an absence of peacefulness in the house. To this day, I'm still fascinated by the fact that it happened at all. I'd like to think they were interceding on behalf of the war-weary children in our family.
Q- Why did the family chose to stay living in the home for 10 years?
A - This is the most commonly asked question I receive and my own impression and personal answer is simple: We were supposed to stay until it was time to go. Most people find it inexplicable and a bit "out there" when I say this but I must speak what I believe.
There were, of course, serious economic factors at the time. The economy was in utter turmoil, housing values dropping like lead weights, oil & gasoline embargo, a war raging and a country in a blue funk (thank you Richard Nixon) so selling the farm we'd just purchased would not be so easy to offload. The logical question: WHY would you be selling a farm you just bought? What's WRONG with it? BUT there is one more circumstance which must be explored on the issue and that's the fact that we LOVED the farm. Capital-letter-love. It was magical, beyond beautiful, and we, the five children, would beg our mother to reconsider every time she made mention of wanting to leave it behind. To do so would have financially crippled our family. We would have had to walk away. She put it on the market once in spite of our vehement objections where it languished for six months without so much as a single showing. No calls. Not one. Perhaps there is such a thing as destiny and we were supposed to be there -- to see, hear, feel, interact -- then later, much later, tell the world our tale of darkness & light.
Q - How did the Warrens get involved with your family?
A - We're not quite sure how the Warrens found us. One night they pulled into our large circular driveway just before dusk, right around Halloween in 1973. A family friend named Barbara Shaw had seen them speak in Putnam, CT and she came by the house and told my mother she'd been to a paranormal seminar and asked if my mother would like to go to the next. She declined.
We're pretty sure Barbara told them about our dilemma during another lecture at Rhode Island College. We had no idea who they were when they came to the door until they identified themselves and mom recognized their names from her last conversation with Barbara. Mrs. Shaw was very concerned for our welfare and was only trying to help.
Q - How were the Warrens perceived by your family?
A - My father didn't trust them at all. He was rather harsh and unkind to my mother about their involvement. We (the kids) were grateful to have someone listen and believe us and my mother was listening very closely to what they said, trying to discern the meaning and figure a way out of the problem. She sought resolution and was willing to give them a shot as a means to an end. In other words, she was receptive and cooperative, though she couldn't understand why Lorraine seemed so interested in helping the spirits transcend...she just wanted them gone. Mom thought Lorraine showed a bit too much compassion for their plight, though she did eventually come to understand that we were all inextricably linked.
Truth is, the Warrens bit off more than they could chew. In over their heads. A priest my uncle dispatched from the Vatican (where my Uncle Gene lived and served as a Brother of the Sacred Heart) told my mother the house could not be cleansed.
Q - What did the Warrens do during their involvement?
A - For that, you'll have to read Volume Two. The chapter entitled "Warren Peace". It details their interaction with our family and is far too much to relay in this format. Suffice to say, they came to help but were ill-equipped to handle the job and in the process, made matters worse, though none of us believe that was their intention, including my father. He was afraid of them and what was in the house and lashed out in anger toward them, running them off the property.
Q - You mentioned your father punched Ed Warren in the face and escorted him off the property. Why did your father act in such a manner?
A - My father punched Ed because (I believe) he perceived him as the culprit who caused such awful upheaval. It was a spontaneous reaction. It happened so fast it was as stunning to the witnesses as it was to the recipient of the blow. He was actually angry at himself for allowing it to occur against his better judgement. He felt entirely out-of-control because he was out-of-control. Roger Perron was as angry with Lorraine, more so than her husband. She initiated the conversation and shamed him, questioning his commitment to his wife and family. The man erupted like Vesuvius, spewing venom in rather blunt terms while dismissing them from our home. There was no escort out. They knew it was time to go. Unceremoniously, they gathered their equipment and left the premises. Mrs. Warren remembers the encounter well, every detail of it. When we met her again recently in CA (for the private screening of the film) she sat with Cindy and myself and recounted the episode as if it happened yesterday. My father is the only one who cannot remember this incident, blocked out, no doubt. We all deal with our demons in different ways. My father lives in denial of the physical altercation, but we all saw it...we saw it all. The episode is in Volume Two in the chapter "Warren Peace". Read it and weep.
Q - In regards to the Warrens how did the children feel about them?
A - We, the children, had different reactions to them. April feared them because she thought they would take her friend away. She withheld from them. Nancy poured her guts out while Christine was reticent, having learned all too well about the bullying and critical comments coming from others. She and all her sisters had learned not to speak of it. Cindy was as open as any of us. Though I was unable to recreate the encounter word for word, by extensive interviews with my sisters, I was able to cover some of the ground and describe the events of the day when we "told" our secrets. In the chapter *inquest. Vol II. We liked and even trusted Ed and Lorraine Warren. Ed was very kind and understanding. Lorraine spent most of her time with my mother but she did interact with us to some extent. However, she was very concerned for our well being and repeatedly asked my Mom about us. She insisted that we were all susceptible to danger. About that, she was right. All of us were vulnerable. All of us were touched by the Light of spirit but something dark and evil, too.
Q - Do you think the Warrens helped your family and the situation. If they did not, please explain why? And if they did, please also explain how.
A - As I write about in Volume Three, we each interpreted their intervention differently. I perceive them to be, as all else in life and afterlife, a balance of blessing and curse. Darkness and Light.
Q - If you could describe the entire experience in one word, what would that word be?
A - Phenomenal
Q - When is Volume Three available?
A- June, 2013.
Q - I understand a children's book and a play have been authored – what is the subject of each and what are your future endeavors?
A- I have several projects partially completed, and hope to spend my golden years bringing them to light, including a stage play I believe is destined for Broadway. None of the other works are about OUR story "House of Darkness House of Light" though the fictitious story for children is set at the farm, my childhood home. There is nothing supernatural about it, though some would think it has a spiritual element to it. I've got a closet full of writing. Where most people store clothing, I keep my life's work in office boxes.
Q - Do you think the movie The Conjuring was truthful to your story? Do you believe it was accurate? If not, could you explain why not?
A- "The Conjuring" is a mesmerizing film, well-crafted with care taken. It is a film for adults and is not intended to entertain as much as inform. In broad strokes it tells our story well, though it was based on the case files of Ed & Lorraine Warren. Liberties were taken as well. The screenwriters created a script based on what Mrs. Warren divulged and what I provided the producers. They retrieved elements of it then wrote a script based on what they read. This is to be expected. There is no conceivable way to cram ten years into two hours. As for our memoir, they merely scratched the surface. What they did capture on film was most significant: the love of a family. This film is not what you expect.
Q - What do you hope audiences will gain from watching The Conjuring in theatres this summer?
A – This is a serious issue. It is difficult for me to think of "The Conjuring" as entertainment. And it would be unfair for me to characterize it so because that would be tacit approval of such, putting my family on display in this way. I signed a contract on behalf of my family, giving a movie studio the rights to our names and likenesses, telling our story from the perspective of others, some I did not even know at the time. It was a huge risk to take. Essentially, I let go and let God. It was an act of faith, a blind extension of trust. I've since met everyone involved in the film and I am satisfied that I made the right decision. I hope the audience is touched by the spirit of it.
Q - How has your mother reacted to the media attention and upcoming film?
A – My mother hasn't reacted at all. She lets me handle all of it and remains reclusive, in the background, feeding her birds and tending her flower gardens. It is my sole responsibility to protect her from scrutiny and I do it very well, and always will. She deserves her peace.
Q - Have you, your sisters or your mother experienced anything paranormal before the farmhouse? And since the farmhouse? Please explain.
A – Yes. My mother had one childhood experience (Vol III) and since we've lived at the farm, all five of us, the kids, grew to adulthood gifted with abilities we did not possess prior to dwelling in a portal cleverly disguised as a farmhouse. We were all profoundly altered by our experiences there. Perhaps these gifts are innate to all mortal souls and must be triggered by an event. I don't know. All I know is this: I am never alone. I am completely surrounded at all times. We moved into that farmhouse as a "normal" family and emerged ten years later as a "para-normal" family, sensitive to spirit in ways few could comprehend, Cindy more so than any of us. I cannot do investigations because my presence skews the results. I cannot do any more appearances in St. Augustine, FL because of an incident which occurred there about a year ago. Too many stories to tell. You'll have to read the book about writing the trilogy and all that happened as I deliberately chose to raise the dead, all buried remarkably close to the surface. "Lesson Learned Message Received" will be out in 2014. Believe me, I had help from beyond the grave while compiling this memoir. More than once I abandoned it as impossible and was gently guided back to my desk. They were so helpful, so loving, so persistently here with me that they received acknowledgement at the end of the trilogy. There it is. In my humble opinion, they are the source of all enlightenment. For me, there is no veil. It is the illusion.
Q - If someone were to experience a similar series of events, what would you recommend they do?
A – Stay. Learn. Evolve. Accept. Embrace your destiny. Banish your fear. Merge with the Light because you will never fear death again. It was the most liberating experience of my life.
Q - If you could change anything about the experiences, the events, the way things turned out – anything at all – what would you change?
A – Nothing. I would change nothing. Let it be.
Q - I noticed your siblings and mother are not very vocal about the story. Why is this?
A – Because I am the author and they prefer to remain out of the spotlight and I don't blame them a bit. Whenever I need them to film an interview with my friend and production partner (Les Anderson) they graciously do so because they love and trust him. We've got many hours of footage with my family and I use clips of their interviews to augment and elaborate on the story in my book promotion videos. That's enough for them, though Cindy did go to California with me and she was what made that trip so special. We watched the film together with Mrs. Warren and Tony Spera. It was important that we view it together. We held hands and passed a box of tissues. It was an emotional ordeal. I'm so grateful she was with me. As for my family, they all participated in the telling of this tale from beyond. Many sacrifices were made, dredging up things they'd prefer to forget forever. It was no easy feat for anyone and so they receive the utmost latitude from me. The time will come when they will share more. In the interim, I do my best to preserve their privacy.
Q - Do you think these were spirits of those that departed or do you think they were something else? Please explain.
A – Both. All of the above. Not until the seance did I believe in a demonic force not of this world, but now I do. There were entities benevolent and benign and oblivious. There were spirits who noticed us and those who interacted with us, one dominatrix and something purely evil. In the end, the house released us and we released the house, though it is never far away in mind. Routinely revisiting it in dreams, I find myself eternally there in recent years as I write a story with no end. Only death will part us, though I doubt that memory ever really dies. Rather, it is imprinted on our souls. That's my belief.
Q - When the incidents took place and shortly after did the media descend upon the family? What was the reaction? The outcome and could you point to any historical news articles or stories that were published at the time?
A – One rag mag printed an article and the current owner has a copy of it. The source came from beyond our family and it was riddled with inaccuracies. We never said or did anything to publicize our plight. In the chapter *hippies, freaks and misfits (in VOL II) I describe the onslaught of unusual characters who graced our threshold in search of further information, including paranormal researchers. The first to come (August 1973) was Keith Johnson with P.I.R.O., a group from Rhode Island College. The Warrens came shortly thereafter when they were informed of our plight. They arrived in October, close to Halloween. My mother never asked anyone for help. A close friend of hers involved the Warrens and I know the P.I.R.O. group consulted with them, as well. Keith and I are close friends. He and his wife Sandra have done all in their power to help me share this story. They are good and kind and whatever Keith Johnson says is the truth, on that you can rely.
Q - Have you come to learn more about the Warrens and their involvement with other cases and families?
A – When we left the farm in 1980 we all moved on with our lives and tried to leave that experience behind. Such fools, we were! It wasn't long before Mrs. Warren found us in Georgia. This subject and its aftermath are detailed in Vol III and I don't want to divulge too much. Suffice to say, we learned much later about ongoing disputes and lawsuits. Once the internet came into existence it was easy to track life events but I never did. I had nothing to do with paranormal ANYTHING for 30 years. Once I decided to write the book(s) I began doing research with my SEO partner and soon discovered that the Warrens are as infamous as they are famous. It is a complicated relationship between us, made all the more intriguing by a film script penned from their perspective. Speaking only for myself, my heart is filled with gratitude because I believe they tried to help us and my heart is full of forgiveness for any and all transgressions. They're only human, after all...and so are we. Everyone makes mistakes and hurts others inadvertently. I do not believe there was a malicious bone in either one of them. I have to trust my instincts on this, and I do.
Q - What could have your family, the Warrens or anyone else involved with the case done differently that would have resulted in a different outcome?
A- The obvious answer is never going through with a seance at all. That was our worst moment in that house and the worst thing the Warrens ever saw before or since, by their own admission. However, allow me to backtrack a bit and answer this question differently. I've not failed to notice that you have a proclivity for asking "what if?" questions. Personally, I do not think that way. Instead, I assume that everything happens with purpose and reason and unfolds as it will in life. It serves no purpose for me to speculate about what might have been because it is already done and gone and is, in fact, practically ancient history. I could not alter events if I wanted to and I wouldn't want to if I could. What I learned during that decade has served me well for a lifetime. Yes, I would have liked to be able to spare my mother what she endured but it was her path to travel and I could not intervene. I was only a child myself, coping with my own dilemmas, transfixed by what I witnessed in that house. My job was to observe and chronicle these events and I knew it from the age of 12. I believe we were supposed to live in that farmhouse and I believe I was supposed to tell the story when the time was right. So, you see, I have no need of conjecture. It bears no fruit in my garden.
Our thanks and appreciation goes out to Andrea for allowing John to interview her and for PSICAN to share it with our readers. It is not easy either living through or sharing openly and very publicly such highly personal experiences such as Andrea has done, and we appreciate her courage in doing so. If you would like to get in contact with Andrea or would like purchasing information for her series of books House of Darkness House of Light please visit her personal website http://www.houseofdarknesshouseoflight.com/