1. Your new book is titled The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide. What initially drew you to ghost hunting and the paranormal?
When I was a teenager, I briefly lived in a home in Missouri that had a strange and subtle haunting; every night my bedroom closet door would open by itself. You could actually hear the door knob jiggle, then turn, and the door would swing up with a long groan. Though it didn’t happen at the same time each night, it never failed to occur. But nothing else happened in the entire home! The mystery of investigating the ongoing activity and trying to uncover why it was happening was my initial draw to the paranormal.
2. In recent years there has been a spate of ghost hunting shows on television. Do the investigators on these shows do the field of ghost hunting justice?
That’s a tough question. Not every investigator agrees on (or uses) the same types of ghost hunting techniques—though these days there’s probably a program that appeals to every style of ghost hunter. I believe that the actual investigators on the shows do their best to stay true to their own style of investigation. If there’s a flaw to the programs, it comes from the producers of the shows. Their need to provide "entertainment" to viewers often causes a lot of disingenuous moments, encourages the exploitation of controversial methods, and creates a lot of misconceptions about how an investigation is often conducted.
3. How does one become a ghost hunter? Are there any recommended "tools?"
For those who are simply interested in the paranormal and want to experience haunted places, there really are no requirements. Grab a copy of The Ghost Hunter's Field Guide, pick a location that’s close by, and go! Your best "tool" in this instance is yourself. Learn how to conduct a silent vigil and stay tuned to what’s going on around you. If you decide this is something you want to keep doing, you can then think about investing in some basic equipment (audio recorder, digital camera, EMF detector, etc.).
4. The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide includes haunted locations in all fifty states for ghost hunters to visit. Have you personally been to each location?
I wish! Honestly, I don’t know that it would be possible for anybody to visit every location in the book (there are over one thousand) unless they had the time and money to make it a full time vocation…though it sure would be fun trying! I have visited a fair amount of the listed locations, but I have relied on the expertise of numerous other reputable paranormal groups for verification of these hauntings, as well as the locations themselves.
5. Is there any one state or region that you would consider to be more haunted than any other?
Not at all. Over the course of my research, I quickly figured out that some states are better known for their hauntings than others. And, certainly, there’s more available information for some regions versus others. But once I started delving a bit deeper into each state, tales of the paranormal began to surface. Discovering these new ghost stories and learning about each area’s haunts was one of the best parts of writing this book.
6. What advice do you give to those who are just beginning as a ghost hunter?
Don’t believe the hype. Being a successful ghost hunter isn’t about being on television programs, buying an arsenal of gadgets, or even "becoming" a psychic of some sort. It’s about unraveling a mystery through solid research and investigation—and, hopefully, experiencing a bit of the paranormal for yourself. But then, this is all covered in my book Ghost Hunting for Beginners, which is being released by Llewellyn this September...