Keisha Young and John Sparks

Keisha Young and John Sparks live in Avery County and operate ‘Sparks of the Paranormal’ together. They post their video content on Facebook.

HIGH COUNTRY— Workers of the High Country offer services ranging from mechanics to chefs, but very few work in John Sparks’ specialty: paranormal investigation. Sparks, along with his girlfriend, Keisha Young, and sometimes other industry professionals, has the hair-raising job of seeking out and communicating beyond the grave.

“God put us on this earth to help one another,” Sparks said, “and it’s cool to go to these big, historical places but what we really want to do is help out residents and businesses in our community.” As an ordained minister and devout Christian, Sparks said his faith informs and drives his work.

Sparks and Young recently started their paranormal investigating service and YouTube channel, Sparks of the Paranormal, in November 2020. However, Sparks said investigating the paranormal is an activity he has been doing since he was 15 and participating in investigation activities with family members like his uncle.

Sparks said he and Young offer their services all over the region; they will soon be visiting a location in Virginia to investigate a residence, according to Sparks. “You just say it and we’ll be there,” Sparks said.

In Avery County, Sparks said he and Young have investigated a nearby abandoned church, but are hoping to work more with locals. According to Sparks, when people feel their house is being haunted or that they have a spirit that is bothering them, just like with humans, communication is key to resolving the issue. “They’re not bad, they’re not negative, they’re just people,” Sparks said.

Whether investigating the historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary with TV’s infamous Ghost Hunters or a local abandoned location, Sparks and Young are sure to conduct their investigations safely and legally. According to Sparks, before entering a property they always organize approval with the property owners and notify local police to ensure they are not mistaken as intruders. Respect is an important part of his work, according to Sparks, and he said they never enter a property if an owner asks them not to. He said it is important they leave the place as they found it or better, as they make sure to pick up any litter or trash on their way out.

Ghosts are nothing to be afraid of, according to Sparks. He said that death is a natural part of life and that some of ourselves is still left behind afterwards. Conversely, he said, when we lose somebody we love a piece of us goes with them.

“There are so many people out there that are skeptics,” Sparks said, but even in his own experiences he said that he is highly skeptical. Going to investigate people’s claims and finding out the truth is his goal, Sparks said. But, Sparks stated that convincing skeptics of the value of his line of work is often difficult.

“If we had something tangibly available, if we had a way to capture ghosts and put them in ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not,’ people would still not accept it,” Sparks said. He said his work is taking theory into practice and looking to continue improving paranormal investigation and that he believes a cultural shift around how death and the paranormal is viewed will take many years.

Sparks said that he and Young offer their services for free. To contact them, reach out to or find them at @sparksoftheparanormal on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

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Marisa Mecke is a Report for America corps member for Mountain Times Publications. Report for America is a national nonprofit service program which places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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