1. Your new book, America's Haunted Universities, has stories of some of the most haunted locations in the country—college campuses. What inspiration led you to write a book about these locations?
I've been weird ever since.
But, the real idea for this book started when I worked for a local newspaper in central Pennsylvania. When you have a Halloween birthday, you tend to gravitate toward Halloween assignments. One year I decided to research local ghost stories for a feature article, but came up short. However, I found a lot of material at nearby Penn State and its branch campuses.
Over time, I continued to research university ghost stories and found that just about every campus has its share of creepy tales; the book really germinated from this interest and research.
2. Do you think there is a certain reason (or reasons) that college campuses tend to be more haunted than other locations?
Paranormal investigators and ghost hunters have another explanation. Many believe that such a concentrated, creative pool of minds create a lot of psychic energy. This can, they say, be released in the form of paranormal activity, like spirits and poltergeists.
I try to present both sides and let the reader decide.
3. Have you personally encountered any of these paranormal entities through your research?
4. In your opinion, what was the most haunted campus you encountered?
If I were to place bets on the most haunted campuses in the country, I would put the University of Ohio on the top of the list. There are just reams and reams of material about this campus—and a lot of these accounts go beyond the typical campus ghost story material. Penn State, my alma mater, would come a close second. (But, then again, maybe I'm a little biased.) My favorite haunted campuses, though, are the southern ones, like the University of Alabama and the University of Tennessee. I don't know whether it's the spiritual activity spawned by the Civil War, or the exquisite literary tradition of the South that is responsible for the formulation of these stories and legends, but they are perhaps the most interesting haunted campuses.
5. Do you have any advice for students and faculty at these and other haunted learning institutions?
And, obviously, my other piece of advice would be that if you encounter something a little strange on campus—well, maybe I should say, "something a little paranormal on campus," because there's always something strange happening on campus—please, please let me know about it! I'd love to work on a follow-up to this book with more first-hand accounts.
Matthew L. Swayne (State College, PA) is a journalist who currently works as a research writer at Penn State. He has also worked on writing projects with Paranormal State's Eilfie Music. Matthew is the author of five books, ...