Since these are all accounts that you've collected, how did you go about sourcing all these stories? Would love to know what process you followed. And I absolutely adore real-life accounts of paranormal activity.
Depending on the story was how I sourced them. The ones that were told to me first-hand by friends, I had to take their word on, but I did follow up on the one about the pond. I drive by it all the time when I go east of here, and know people who live in the area. Asking around, I got some stories to back up my friend's claim. Most didn't have specific experiences like his, but had creepy things happen. Lights going on on their trucks. Doors locking or unlocking. That kind of thing. Other stories, when I find a specific story and want to research it more, I'll cross reference it with other sources: old news articles now on the net. Other haunting websites. If I can find a person's name, I'll contact them. Then often, when I talk to people, they won't want their names used, so if there are more than one kind of event associated with the location, I'll merge them into a story and have it happen to one person. Otherwise, I have 15 little experiences from 15 different people on a location.
Field trips? Did you have any? Did anything exciting, mysterious or downright weird happen on any of them? I've had people warn me off going on ghost story hunting missions, telling me I shouldn't mess with "that sort of stuff". Would you say you've invited the strange and unusual into your life by delving into these tales?
My second ghost book, Ghosts of the Illinois Canal System, was all local ghost stories from my area. Those I could investigate all in person, and I did do a lot of ghost hunting with a team while I was writing that book. Sylvia Shults went with on a few occasions at that point. Most of the spirits I deal with are simply humans who have passed on to the other side. Most are harmless. I have however, dealt with a couple of non-human entities (call them demons, and you'd be right) and those are the scary ones. Most spirits can only knock things over, make some noise, that kind of thing. Footsteps are common. We've got great recordings of voices. Sylvia has a recording of one that said "Hello" to her. She's seen red, glowing eyes in a theatre just on the outside of a protective circle she had around her. I've sealed a doorway closed which some pretty nasty spirits were using to cross back and forth. We've recorded a few things on our video. Probably the strangest thing we've captured on film was at a person's house not far from here. We had set up for the night, and were doing our investigation. One of the night cameras was shooting down into the basement. It was set up on a sink, and shooting downstairs. I walked past the moniters, and realized it had fallen over. We went and set it back up, this time taping the feet in place. ten minutes later, I checked again, and again it was aiming at the floor. This time we taped the whole camera in place, again, shooting footage into the basement down the stairs. Again, 15 minutes later, it was filming floor. We rewound the footage, and every time before the camera fell over, there was a black blur that rushed up the stairs and hit the camera. Got it on film three times.
Weird and unusual, yes, it comes with the territory. I have had spirits follow me home from investigations. Some are less obvious than others. I had a mentor teach me to say a prayer when I leave a site and ask the spirits to stay where they are. I've also learned that when an unfriendly entity is trying to do something to you, or threatening you, crossing yourself will drive it away.
If you go, simply be prepared. Be open to what you're going to find. Realize that the vast majority of spirits out there either don't want to harm you, or can't harm you. And make sure you don't drag any of them home by making them mad and challenging them to do something to you. They don't operate under out time frame or reality anymore.
For that measure, do you have ghost tales of your own?
I've got lots of ghost stories. One that happened here in our house, happened not long after my mother-in-law passed away. We moved in with Fay's dad to take care of him, and my routine has been established as pretty much the same since then. Up early, work on book stuff, and go from there. I broke routine one night, as I had some writing to do. Everyone else was in bed asleep. All the lights were off in the house, except for the computer, and the one over the kitchen sink. I heard someone come down the steps. The door to the stairs opened, and someone walked across the kitchen to the room where I was working.
"What are you doing up, Babe?" I asked the person as she came to the doorway.
I didn't get an answer, just a swish of a blue nightgown as she turned and walked the other way. Didn't hear anything else, and after a few minutes, I started to wonder where Fay went. No other lights had come on. The door upstairs didn't open. So I went to check. No one else was downstairs. I went up and checked. The kids were in bed. Her dad was in bed. I finally stopped in our room. Fay was dead asleep in a white nightgown.
It was then I remembered her mom died wearing a blue nightgown.
Which are your three favourite tales in the book, and why?
My three favorites. That's a tough one. Kind of like asking who your favorite kid is. There were some real standouts in this collection though. One would the story of The Six Diablos. This was told and recorded as the first ghost story related to The Alamo. Soldiers sent to burn the mission and all the bodies there were driven away by six defending soldiers who rose from the dead of the battlefield. Another would be Stop the Train. This is a really cool story, and the only case of a company (in this case, Illinois Central Railroad) conducting an investigation, and actually finding a place to be haunted, and taking further steps. All recorded in company notes and archives. Another would be The Lost Nun who haunts a mall in Des Moines, Iowa. Turns out the mall was built on the site of an old convent. One of the nuns was said to be pregnant and aborted the baby. Now she walks the halls weeping and carrying her crying child.
What sort of feedback have you had from readers?
I've had people stop me at work, and in different stores in the area and tell me how much they love my ghost books. At least once a month, I've had folks ask when the next ghost book is coming out, and where they can buy it. So, for those who have been waiting for the next installment, after five long years, here it is.