As our last book review for Haunted October, we feature another Thunder Bay Press Book! This one? Full of real-life ghost stories. The book? Haunted Michigan: recent encounters with active spirits, authored by Reverend Gerald S. Hunter. After October, we will donate these books to a local high school library, where they will inspire and haunt the next generation of researchers, writers, and storytellers!
Haunted Michigan is filled with true ghost stories in Michigan. I was completely amazed at the depth of research - and proof - that this book contains.
We were lucky enough to talk with Rev. Hunter...here's what he had to say...
WE: Please tell us about your book, Haunted Michigan...
GH: I wrote Haunted Michigan as the result of my interest in hauntings. I hadn't seen any new books about haunted places in Michigan, so I decided to visit haunted dwellings on my own. I made up my mind not to visit or write about any places which were already in print or part of urban legend.
I have visited well over 100 residences, businesses and pubic places, but not all of them met my criteria for a genuine haunting. My first book naturally led into a second book, creatively titled, "MORE" Haunted Michigan. How's that for creativity?
At any rate, both books offer some places which the general public can actually visit. What fun would it be to read about haunted places and not be able to experience some of them for yourself? Some of the places were rather benign in their hauntings, and others were downright frightening. I have enough material for several more books, and my publisher is after me to write them, but I just haven't had the time, although my investigations continue.
WE: How did you get interested in ghost stories and the paranormal?
GH: This is an easy question. I grew up in a haunted house in Brooklyn, Michigan. We'd see different ghosts at different times and never the same ones twice. When I say "we", I mean everyone in my family. The ghosts we'd see would be as solid and colorful as any human. They'd sometimes interact with us, sometimes try to scare us, and sometimes they were oblivious to us. They'd turn on lights, show up in mirrors, block our way on the stairs, scream, laugh and generally show up an inopportune moments. These sorts of things naturally led me to want to know more about paranormal activities.
WE: How do you conduct your research, for your books?
GH: I never make first contact with anyone. As the result of my first published article about a haunted dwelling, people began to contact me. I use email only, and let them tell me something about themselves and their haunting. Then I ask direct questions to try to determine if their experiences meet my criteria for a haunting. If they do, then I ask for a phone number and interview them over the phone, asking a lot of personal questions about their family history. If what they tell me resonates with my experiences, then I arrange for a visit.
At that visit there are more interviews, which are very relational and psychological in nature. Then, if I am reasonably convinced the place may be haunted, I take my crew in for a blind visit. A blind visit is when I don't tell my crew anything at all about the people or the nature of the haunting. We set up our equipment and do our investigation. If we determine the place is genuinely haunted, we return for more. Then, with the family's permission, I may include the story in a book.
WE: I imagine that the research for your book and website was quite extensive - did you find new and surprising things?
GH: The only thing I found surprising was the nature of a couple of the hauntings. They went far beyond what I thought a genuine haunting would be. For instance, I never put much trust in those who tried to convince me that their house had evil entities until I experienced it for myself at a home in Dearborn Heights. That was the single most terrifying home I've ever visited in terms of the spirits not being those of humans alone. Another interesting thing was that I discovered that only those people who believed in demons had a demonic experience. Catholics and Pentecostals experienced hauntings of this nature while other religious folks didn't.
WE: Are you inundated with speaking requests in the fall?
GH: I used to be inundated, but I've back off quite a bit on my own accord. I'm far too busy with many other things right now, but I enjoy the lectures and meeting people to talk about their experiences.
WE: What is your favorite paranormal/ghost story, of all the ones you've researched?
GH: My favorite is a story which has not gone into print in either of my books. It was a long investigation into a haunted home outside Wooster, Ohio. A great deal of research went into the haunting, and the personal experiences were severe. We finally managed to solve the haunting in terms of what happened and who the ghosts are, but it is one haunting which may have the best of me. I haven't written about it because of an agreement I've made with the nasty spirit inside that home. I won't go into detail because of the repurcussions if I do, but basically the deal is this: if I don't write or talk about him, and if I don't expose who he is and what he did, then he'll leave me alone. This is the only ghost I've locked horns with, and who made my life quite miserable on several occasions.
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
GH: Yes. There are far more hauntings out amongst us than people realize. If you believe you live in a haunted home, or if you are experiencing ghosts where you work or shop or dine, try to realize they are only people. They may be lost, they may not know they are dead, or they may have unfinished business. Don't be afraid of your haunting.
Try to communicate. The best way is to sit quietly -- and alone if possible -- and listen to your home for a while. Then ask permission to take photographs and ask them to show themselves. You can use any sort of camera, but I find a digital is best because of the instant results. Also take time to run a tape recorder with an external microphone. Let it record while no one is in the house and play the tape back at full volume. You'll get a lot of white noise, but often you will get voices as well. This is actually more successful than photography for me.
If you have the time, sit quietly with your recorder, and before you begin tell the spirits you are going to ask questions and ask them to give answers. I use the "one knock for yes and two knocks for no" technique, but some simply ask the questions and see what verbal answers they may get. I've had quite a lot of experience with this as well.
WE: Thanks so much, Rev. Hunter! What an incredible interview.
If you'd like to contact Rev. Hunter to explore paranormal experiences in your home, please email us at support [at] wanderingeducators dot com, and we'll forward your email.
To order the Haunted Michigan Titles, and to see our other books we've reviewed for Haunted October month, please click here: