This Fall, when people come up to me and ask me what I’ve been doing the past 2 years, I will finally have an answer for them: I’ve been working on a book. But not just any book: it’s the one I’ve been waiting my entire life to write!
Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Investigating The Paranormal in the Buckeye State will be released by Kent State University Press this October. That’s right: Kent State University Press is putting out a book on ghosts. How freakin’ cool is that? I honestly can’t think of any other time a university has backed a ghost book, so that in and of itself makes this pretty special. But there’s more to it than that.
You see, I have always believed that ghost stories and actual history go hand-in-hand. Regardless of whether or not a ghost story can be validated, those stories contain historical information that can help keep actual history alive. In essence, ghosts are history.
Sadly, today’s ghost reality shows have relegated history to the back seat, instead focusing on jump scares and nonsensical “equipment” in an attempt to entertain. In the process, they’ve made a mess of the field of paranormal research. It made me sad and I knew I needed to try and change things. And I wanted to start with Ohio.
So for Ohio’s Historic Haunts, I started with a short list of historically significant buildings in Ohio that had a reputation for being haunted. After spending countless hours (months, actually) researching the history of each location, I did something that far too many ghost books don’t: I personally visited each and every one.
Not only that, but I sat down and conducted dozens upon dozens of one-on-one interviews of owners, managers, and employees about their alleged ghost encounters–a grand total of 220 hours’ worth of interviews. I didn’t rely on the Internet or other books for my ghost stories; I went right to the source.
Not only is this something somewhat unique, but it provided me the ability to look across the table during the interviews, right into the eyes of the interviewees, to see if they were being truthful with me. But that’s not all. After that, I spent the night, sometimes alone, inside every single one of the locations to see if I could have my own ghostly encounter. Better yet, I brought along some of that fancy “ghost-hunting equipment” to see if any of it really works.
The result of all this is Ohio’s Historic Haunts. Here’s what the publisher has to say about it in their official press release:
Many of Ohio’s historically significant locations have developed a reputation for being haunted. While it might be almost impossible to prove the validity of the paranormal tales that surround them, one thing is clear: ghost stories help to keep history alive. But the questions remain: How did these stories get started? More important, are any of them tied directly to actual historic events? And do any facts support the ghost lore?
Rather than rely on second and third-person accounts, author and paranormal researcher James A. Willis sat down with the owners, employees, and patrons of Ohio locations that are said to be haunted; the Arts Castle in Delaware, the Fairport Harbor Marine Museum, the Haunted Hydro in Fremont, Loveland Castle, the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky, the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, the Zanesville Community Theatre, and many others. After conducting more than 200 hours of one-on-one interviews, Willis was able to piece together unique histories for each location, including eyewitness accounts from people who believed they experienced paranormal activity.
But Willis wasn’t content to stop with first-person accounts. He also brought high-tech ghost hunting equipment into each location and spent a night attempting to collect empirical data to see if he could experience a paranormal encounter himself. What were the results of these vigils? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Come along on a journey with Willis as he travels to the cross roads where history and folklore collide, and visit the fascinating Ohio locations where the past comes alive in more ways than one!
So there you have it; the ghostly cat’s out of the bag, so to speak. And I couldn’t be happier to finally be able to talk about this book! You don’t know how hard it’s been for me to keep this under wraps!
In the coming months, I will be posting more information about each of the locations that will be featured in the book. And this Fall, I will be touring the Buckeye state, giving everyone the inside scoop on what happened at each location, complete with audio, video, and photos. In some cases, I will be making appearances at the actual locations themselves, along with some special guests.
Of course, I will have plenty of copies of Ohio’s Historic Haunts with me to sell and scribble my name in for you (as well as copies of Weird Ohio, for the 4 of you that don’t already own a copy). But if you can’t wait that long, the book is already available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and of course, Kent State University Press. It will also be made available for preorder online at most major retail stores, but right now, Wal-mart is the only one who has it listed.
More as it develops. But get ready, Ohio, because this Fall, ghosts are history!