10 Questions with Roxie Zwicker

Today we’re speaking with podcaster, author, and New England’s Mystery Maven, Roxie Zwicker! Join us as discuss walking tours, ghosts, and why New England is the best.

1. You’ve built a bit of a spooky empire with New England Curiosities, walking tours and events, and several books exploring graveyards. How did this all come about?

I’ve always had an inquisitive – or curious personality. Going on field trips as a child, I was always the one asking – “Is this place haunted?” Also, I had some early spiritual experiences that made me a believer in a world beyond the veil. In addition, being adopted into a family always made me the odd one out. I often wondered if people I walked by on the street were related to me. It was hard to find a sense of self at times, and if I walked through a graveyard as a young adult I would ponder, what if I was connected to someone buried there. There is an aspect of healing my past that I became aware of very early on as this path opened up. It was never my intention to create an empire, and if I had to orchestrate a map there would be a lot of twists and turns along the way with a few key moments. One of those key moments was back in the early 1990s when I took a second job as a storyteller on a haunted hayride in the Plymouth, Massachusetts area. It was the best job interview ever, with the final interview request was to scream as long and loud as I could inside a barn. I truly loved that job as it was a wonderful blend of creativity, ghost stories and spooky fun. Flash forward to 2001 and I got involved with a volunteer group that took care of a lighthouse on the New Hampshire seacoast. I had an unusual idea of trying a ghost walk in the local seaside park as a fundraiser. I went through the process of getting permissions and wrote the tour myself and I thought that maybe a handful of people might come out. To my surprise, I sold out four walks at about 50 people each, and the seeds were sown. What I didn’t expect at the end of each walk were the local haunted stories that guests would share with me. The next year I added my own walking tour in downtown Portsmouth and before I knew it I had written and conducted 9 different tours on the seacoast. The tours gained some local attention which opened up pathways to writing books based on my research that led to national television exposure with the Travel Channel and the History Channel. I finally managed to take the jump a few years back and made this my full-time job. It was a scary, but gradual jump, with some sacrifices along the way, but you don’t know unless you try. I eat, breathe, live and sleep New England Curiosities – it’s my Magical Buffet!

2. Can you tell my readers what your walking tours involve?

The tours are a blend of history, folklore and ghost stories with a backdrop of beautiful architecture. On each tour we walk just under a mile and explore each neighborhood as it was centuries ago. We talk about hidden history, like tunnels, secrets tucked into architecture or old burial customs. The stories are a rollercoaster ride, sometimes told with humor (and bad puns) and sometimes the stories are disturbing and downright creepy. On some tours I will share old photos or newspaper headlines to add that extra layer of connection. I strive to tell the stories of everyone from the colorful locals to the historically famous people who visited the city. I love to do research on a continual basis to update and add to the stories all the time. In about an hour and a half we time travel and bring thought provoking chapters of haunted history to our guests. My goal is for people to walk away with a deeper appreciation for where we explored and to also understand that a lot of people are having some amazing spirited experiences out there. I usually give folks a little homework for additional local sites to check out on their way home.

3. How can someone find a reputable walking tour?

Great question! In over 20 years of doing my own tours I have taken other ghost tours and I’ve also received a lot of valuable feedback from my guests. I really enjoy tours where the guide is the researcher and not an actor hired to memorize a script. Tours that offer the history behind the ghost stories tend to be the most memorable to me. You can always check their on-line reviews to see what people are saying. Has the host of the walking tour written any books, or contributed to local history projects. It’s so important to consider that your guide is the voice to the past and in many cases is representing the people and the history of an area. How well did they get to know the location and its people?

4. What role does your spirituality play in your business?

In the very beginning I used to keep my spirituality out of the tour business because I wanted the stories to stand on their own. However, after a couple of years, I discovered that spirituality is something that has come up in discussions during the tours and afterwards as well. Many of my guests will often say, “I’ve never told anyone before, but I think you’ll understand…” then they will proceed to share their spirited experience of their spiritual beliefs. I sincerely appreciate the comfort that people feel in approaching me and I am always grateful for those connections that we make. I truly believe that spirits have so much they can teach us and that they are often there supporting us.

5. When it comes to purported hauntings, do you find a common theme?

One theme that I see often, is that many people are frightened by the idea of a location being haunted – and might even consider that a place needs to be “cleansed” or the spirit needs to move on. But people are often surprised that oftentimes you don’t actually have to go on a haunted tour to have an experience. We all have a spiritual support team of guides, guardians and ancestors. I have one cemetery tour where we not only talk to the spirits in the burial ground, but we ask them about the spirits that have come in on the tour with us. After we raise a few eyebrows when we turn the tables on our guests, we then explore decoding the spiritual signs we receive or discuss “coincidences.” We might do some L-rod dowsing and some spirit communication to delve into why spirits are around. There have been occasions where people sometimes don’t realize that the experiences they are having aren’t from the house that they are living in, but it could be a deceased friend or relative checking in on them – rather than some wandering spirit trying to scare them.

6. With the rise in popularity of the true crime genre, people are beginning to express concerns of minimizing victims or sensationalizing death. What are your thoughts on that discussion?

It has almost been of utmost importance to be sensitive and respectful to the stories that I tell. I am very selective about stories that I tell that took place in the last 40 years. Over the years I have had a lot of guests directly related to my stories on my tours or at my events, whether they were a descendant or directly knew the story. I have had law enforcement officers on my tours, I have even been questioned by detectives working a local case after one of my tours. If someone feels the need to sensationalize a death on a tour, they are not only disrespecting the person, but they are setting a bad example. There is a responsibility the storyteller has to their subject as well as their audience. Empathy is a necessity as a storyteller and understanding why you are telling the story; Is it to inform your listener, perhaps to enthrall them – it should never be to exploit the story.

7. What is your favorite thing about the New England region of the United States?

There is no other place I’d rather live than New England. The layers of history are my favorite things about New England. There are so many intriguing stories about the region that go back even before the colonization of the area. The peoples that lived here and visited here thousands of years ago have their stories carved into the rocks and hidden on remote islands along the coast. Combine the layers of history with the architecture, cobblestone streets, old burial grounds of New England, there is so much to explore and I never tire of those places.

8. Casper, Beetlejuice, or Slimer?

Casper! I grew up reading Casper comic books and I used to laugh at how frightened everyone seemed in the stories. (I have totally dated myself with that response, haven’t I?)

9. What’s next? Do you have any upcoming projects that my readers should be aware of?

I’m finishing up my 9th book, which should be out later in 2023. It’s on Vermont graveyard history, folklore and ghost stories, it’s part of my Book of the Dead series. I’ve just started season four of my podcast, Wicked Curious, which I’ve been researching and writing new stories for. I have a Oracle card project that I’ve been developing over the past four years as well.

10. Parting Shot! Ask us at The Magical Buffet any one question.

If I were to lay out a velvet tablecloth on an old table and the Magical Buffet would be setting up a dinner party, what would that look like?

I’d love to think it would be overflowing with all my favorite dishes from a variety of global cuisines: pho, steamed meat dumplings, mofongo, etc. However, in honesty It would probably end up with a bunch of deep fried appetizers and cocktails.

About Roxie Zwicker:
New England’s Mystery Maven, Roxie Zwicker has been entertaining the locals, visitors from away and curious souls since 1994. Her company New England Curiosities, located in Portsmouth, NH has been offering award winning tours, presentations and special events since 2002 based on New England folklore and ghost stories. Roxie’s TV appearances include New Hampshire Chronicle, New England Cable News, The History Channel and the Travel Channel! Roxie is a published author of 8 books that delve into history, legends and lore. Wicked Curious Radio is Roxie’s podcast available on all major podcast platforms. Her website, which offers information about tours, classes and special events can be found at www.newenglandcuriosities.com

Get your own copy of my favorite Zwicker book here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

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