Tag Archive | ghost hunting

Island of the Forbidden is Here – Come for the Three Hour Tour!

It’s been almost 2 years since Jessica Backman’s last foray into the world of the unknown, but she’s finally back. ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN has been officially released. Jessica is in her early twenties now and completely disenfranchised with the entire concept of ghost hunting. Knowing that she draws the dead to her, empowering those with less than noble intentions, she’s distanced herself from her family, friends and uber psychic, Eddie Home. Instead of running to the dead, she’s now running from them.

Eddie is now a shell of his former self. The power surge he had to employ to save Jessica and the family they were helping in SINISTER ENTITY has left him drained. He’s plagued by the cries of the dead, unable to help them.

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Despite their weakness, Eddie and Jessica are both drawn to haunted Ormsby Island off the South Carolina coast. There’s an old mansion there and a secret so taboo, so terrifying, the world has done its best to wipe it from its collective memory. To save the living, they must face their deepest fears.

Early reviews have been great!

When I’m ready to reconsider my views of the afterlife, of the nature and motivations of individuals, of the meanings of life and purpose, I look to Hunter Shea. He brings to the early 21st century the kind of thought-provoking literary horror that Ambrose Bierce gave to the 19th century.” Mallory Heart Reviews

“Island of the Forbidden” is the ultimate haunted house story.  There are all of the elements for an explosive story in which everything goes wrong. And in “Island of the Forbidden,” everything goes wrong.” Examiner.com

“The story is a non-stop rush from the first chapter to the satisfying, terrifying end. This is 2015’s first must-read for the horror fan.” Russell James, author of Dark Vengeance and Dreamwalker

“Island of the Forbidden has it all, ghosts, an evil presence, psychics, creepy dead children, an old haunted house, the list goes on. I couldn’t put it down!” – Scarlet’s Web reviews

If ghost stories are you thing, I wrote this book just for you. This isn’t your momma’s ghost tale. Oh no.

You can order a copy of ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN (ebook or trade paperback) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Publishing and wherever books are sold. If you get it, give me a shout and let me know what you think of it.

We’re also kicking off a HUGE blog tour, thanks to Hook of a Book Media. Click on the graphic below to see all the stops. Special thanks to Tim Busbey for his graphics expertise. I’ll be giving away lots o books along the way!

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The Real People Behind The Character – Jessica Backman Revealed

With only 5 days until the release of my next book, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, I thought it was time to talk a little about my brave ghost warrior, Jessica Backman. This is her third book and it’s strange how life is starting to imitate art, years after art was created to imitate life.

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It all started with my very first book, FOREST OF SHADOWSWhen I wrote FOS, my two girls were toddlers. My oldest was just about the same age as Jessica in the book, 6. Naturally, characteristic traits of both girls were woven into the fiber of Jessica – curious, precocious, at times braves, other times unsure and afraid. My wife and I back then talked about having 4 kids, all girls if possible. Jessica had long been a frontrunner on our list of baby names. When my wife’s sister had a baby and named her Jessica, even before she knew I was writing about a little girl with the same name, well, it kind of seemed as if this little character had come to life and joined the family. I ended FOS on a pretty definitive note and thought, that’s that. Ain’t it cool that we now have an actual little Jessica in the family?

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The book was done, years later it was published and I suddenly couldn’t stop thinking about Jessica. What would become of a little girl who’d seen so much? Where was she now? How would she look? How does she hide her scars? (and I was quietly happy that my niece Jessica had led a normal, uneventful life) When my editor asked me for my next project, I said I was going to write one where Jessica was the main character. I moved the story ahead 13 years so she was now 19, smart, witty, foul mouthed and following in her deceased father’s ghost (or as she says, EB) hunting footsteps. A person could go two ways after experiencing what she had in Alaska. They could never think or speak of the supernatural again, or they could press on, armed with the feeling that lightning never strikes twice. In SINISTER ENTITY, Jessica is pretty much a know-it-all badass with proof that there’s a whole new life after death and she isn’t afraid to chase down its secrets. And like all teens, she doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does. Staring into the abyss without hesitation, something glares right back and it rocks her.

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When I wrote SE, I had one girl in her teens and the other right behind her. My youngest was starting to gain an interest in the paranormal, just like Jessica. Both were unafraid of ghosts, mainly because we live with one. I don’t presume to know what it behind the unofficial fifth member of our family, but he’s here, just the same. As Jessica grew, so did they, and their personalities had started to meld.

With more tales to tell, I’ve brought Jessica back in ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN.  Now in her early 20’s, she’s scared of herself and for the first time is afraid of both the worlds of the living and the dead. A grown woman now, she can’t just plow forward without thinking of the consequences. Once youth is lost, there is no getting it back. With that loss comes the flowering of fear.

And with age comes the complications of relationships with family, friends and for Jessica, a man. I see those girl-boy complications all the times with my girls. It makes me glad I’m not single!

In a strange way, Jessica has become a third daughter to us – albeit one who doesn’t need new clothes every season or leaves dirty dishes all around the house. She’s growing right along with my kids, though a little faster. I may have to slow her down so they call catch up. The best and most complicated parts of Jessica come from my own girls. And I do see them adopting some of her traits, even though they haven’t read the books (saving that for a couple of years from now). It’s fascinating to witness, and an honor to write. These 3 particular books have been the most personal to me. Art always intersects with life in some fashion. I’m excited to see where the family goes next.

Forest of Shadows Coming to Audio

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Great news. I was just informed that Forest of Shadows, the book that started it all, will be made into an audiobook! It will be available in 2015 – no definite date set yet. For you ghost fanatics out there, this is where the legend of ghost hunter Jessica Backman begins – a tale about her father staring into the abyss, searching for truths better left unsaid. This led to Sinister Entity and next year’s Island of the Forbidden.

I wish I could be the one to select who does the narration. Here are my top choices :

  • Christopher Walken
  • William Shatner
  • Jef Bridges
  • The Aflac duck

Who would you like to hear narrate the book?

If audio’s not your thing but you want to stock up on some spooky reading for Halloween, here’s what Forest of Shadows has in store for you –

The dead still hate!

John Backman specializes in inexplicable phenomena. The weirder the better. So when he gets a letter from a terrified man describing an old log home with odd whisperings, shadows that come alive, and rooms that disappear, he can’t resist the call. But the violence only escalates as soon as John arrives in the remote Alaskan village of Shida. Something dreadful happened there. Something monstrous. The shadows are closing in…and they’re out for blood.

Pick up a copy today at Amazon!

The Ghosts Of Eastern State Penitentiary & The Scariest Places In The World

I’ve been saving this post for Halloween, and for good reason. Halloween, or better still, Samhain, is the time when the dead truly walk among us. Who doesn’t love a ghost story? Arguably, the best part of John Carpenter’s classic, The Fog, is the very beginning when John Houseman tells ‘one more story‘ on the beach just before midnight.

Even better are the true tales of hauntings and wayward spirits.

Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is on just about every paranormal enthusiast’s bucket list, including my own. Ghosts aside, the enormous, crumbling prison is a living piece of history, some of those aspects carrying on through time. It’s been featured on many of the ParaTV shows, and my own daughter, the future Monster Woman, Ivy Shea, has been there twice – on school trips of all things!

The first time she went several years ago, she said it was just an old, empty building and she didn’t think it was scary at all. Pretty brave for an 11 year old. This year, they went back to Philly and once again walked the haunted halls. Ivy said the vibe this time around was very, very different. The atmosphere was heavy and it felt like they were being watched everywhere they went. She snapped pictures constantly. Two of them are interesting.

This first one shows Al Capone’s cell. If you look at the left arm of the chair, you can make out a face. Is it just the pattern of the paint on the wall? A case of Pareidoliathe mind’s way of putting a face to seemingly random shapes? Or is it the lingering image of an inmate long, long gone, at least from this world? I don’t pretend to know. It is fascinating to me how many views one can take on a simple, single image.

Take a look a the armchair at the rear of the cell and decide for yourself.

Take a look a the armchair at the rear of the cell and decide for yourself.

The second picture was taken down one of the empty wings of the prison. The area was roped off. Ivy was at the front of the line and snapped a couple of pictures. She saw nothing at the time but a long, lighted, empty hall. When we looked at the pictures later, we discovered a large, black mass a the bottom of the picture. It appears to be in the distance, as the light on the far wall shines past it. Again, I don’t know what this is other than highly interesting. No one was in that wing. No one was in front of her. Yet there is a black mass. Strange.

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I wish I could spin a spine tingling tale about poor Ivy coming face-to-face with the wraith of an executed prisoner, but I can’t. The rich, haunted history of the penitentiary and these and other photos from hundreds of visitors will have to suffice.

Speaking of haunted places, Priority One Jets just posted a list of 7 Terrifying Haunted Attractions. Naturally, Eastern State Penitentiary is on the list. If you’re looking to really get your scare on this Halloween, you need to pick your favorite from the list and just go. The catacombs in Paris is tops on my list. Honestly, if  and when I do go to France, that and a few of Hemingway’s favorite writing/drinking spots may be the only places I check out. Who needs to see that tower thingy and those museums?

My question is, what famous haunted spots have you been to? Were you one of the lucky few to see and/or hear something that can’t be explained? Come sit by the fire. There’s time for one more story….

A Very Sinister Entity

With the Halloween season creeping up on us like Jason with a new hockey mask, it’s time to start getting our scare on. I figured I’d kick things off with an excerpt from my terrifying ghost novel, Sinister Entity. Read on, but keep the light switch nearby and make sure to keep your foot tucked in the covers. Oh, and don’t fear going to the bathroom in the dead of night…too much.

Let me know what you think of the excerpt (or the book) and I’ll give away a free signed copy to a random person who posts a comment.

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The small bathroom was just off the kitchen and was her father’s sanctuary. A magazine basket filled with well-thumbed copies of Sports Illustrated and Newsweek sat between the toilet and sink. She took a moment to lean against the sink and calm her nerves. Even if Jessica and Eddie somehow managed to make everything go away, she wasn’t sure she could ever spend another night in this house.

Being scared or anxious always made her have to pee, and she was surprised she had lasted this long without letting off the mounting pressure on her bladder. She unbuttoned her shorts and pulled them down with her panties.

“Oh my God that feels good.”

It felt as if she hadn’t gone to the bathroom in weeks and the stream came out in a never-ending rush.

As she went to pick up a Newsweek, the light suddenly went out, immersing her in total darkness. The bathroom had no window, so she didn’t even have the weak glow of twilight to see by. SinisterEntity_v3

There was a soft tap on the tile floor, and she gasped when air in the cramped room changed, becoming icy and thick. It was like trying to draw a breath through a cold, wet towel. Her heartbeat burst into high gear until she could hear the pounding of its overworked valves in her ears.

She bent down to pull up her shorts and shrieked when a pair of arctic hands clutched her wrists, pinning them to her sides.

She barely managed to cry out, “No!”

The rest of her words were cut off. She was being suffocated. Something blocked her nose and mouth and she struggled to draw a breath while the cold, invisible hands moved to her thighs, slowly creeping inward.

A SEPS Paranormal Interview

Over the last year, I’ve become a huge fan of the SEPS Paranormal podcast. Host Paul Cagle has a very similar sensibility to my own when it comes to the paranormal, plus he’s a funny dude.

I was thrilled to be on  his show. The episode is now up. We talk about the ghost experiences I’ve had, my books and the Monster Men podcast. Come join the fun! If you catch it on iTunes, I hope you subscribe (it’s free) and drop some reviews/comments.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST.

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Dying To Meet You

This article first appeared on Jonathan Janz’s awesome website.

As you read this, know that I’m one day closer to my death.

I’m dying, little by little, day by day.

Then again, so are you. It’s as inevitable as death in Texas. Or something with taxes. Or Wesley Snipes.

Of all the uncertainties that we face in our lives, from wondering where you’ll get your next job to hoping that cute girl in accounting won’t call HR if you ask her out, there is only one thing that’s a surefire, foregone conclusion. We’re all going tits-up one day.

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When the 2012 mania was in full swing and I talked to people who actually believed that the world was going to end, I told them I looked forward to the apocalypse. You see, with my way of thinking, it’s better to slip off this plane with billions of people than alone while mowing my lawn. I honestly felt that some of these folks wanted the Mayans to be right. My New Year’s vow was to spend less time talking to them.

I’m amazed by how little we devote to contemplating our death. I used to study with a Buddhist monk. I’ve never been more relaxed in my life than when I was in his presence. He once gave me a meditation contemplative to use and I’ll never forget it. As I let my breathing flow, I would say, over and over, “I could die today.” It was really powerful and took my mind to some strange, but enlightening places.

Most people want to live while they’re alive because there’s plenty of time to think about death when you’re shaking hands with rigor mortis. Me, I have to know more. I want to see what’s waiting for us on the other side. I’m loving life, but I’m damn interested in what happens when life has played itself out. Ballgame over. Or is it?

This explains my fascination with ghosts. Of all the supernatural experiences recorded throughout human history, none is more prevalent and far reaching as sightings of ghosts, or spirits, or phantoms. What are they? Who are they? Are they proof of an afterlife, or an extension of the untapped powers of the living mind? Or glimpses of very much alive people caught in an inter-dimensional slip?

I don’t know. I’ve seen ghosts. We have one living in our house. He’s as much a part of the family as our vindictive cat. But I have no idea what he actually is. I just know that he shows up from time to time, only scaring my wife once when he wouldn’t let her pass by him in the kitchen. It’s creepy when you say it out loud, but when you live it, you get used to it. He’s far less annoying than my neighbors who think  10:00 at night is a great time to start a house party that will go on until the sun comes up – or the cops arrive.

So, I write about ghosts. I get invited to come to haunted places. I’ll even tag along with a professional paranormal team this year. Maybe I’ll find my answers. Maybe I’ll just find more questions. And maybe my neighbors will move. Dare to dream.

My latest novel, Sinister Entity, is, naturally, about ghosts. Or more specifically, about a 19 year old ghost hunter named Jessica who’s taken up the family business and still has a lot to learn. If you’re into ghosts, poltergeists and doppelgangers, take the plunge. Jessica’s quest is very much my own. She’s just a hell of a lot cooler than me.

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