Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Story guidelines for the haunted cities book

When I am working on a book, whether it is nonfiction or fiction, I try to figure out the best way to write it. With the haunted cities book, I knew right away that I wanted the stories included to share first-person accounts of haunted encounters. This is what readers of the paranormal are used to reading: Eyewitness accounts. I thought this was especially important since I am unable to travel to the locations myself or recount everything that happened to somebody else as well as the person it actually happened to. I want stories from people who were actually THERE. But, specifically, the paranormal investigators handling these cases. And I knew if I wanted to do that, I would have to establish certain guidelines regarding these stories.

A lot of the paranormal investigators I have been in contact with have asked me what exactly I am looking for. I couldn’t say, “Oh, just…whatever.” That would not make for a very good book to read. So, after some thought and consideration, I narrowed my guidelines down to these factors:


I want paranormal investigations that took place specifically set in the city I have included in the book. Some investigators have mentioned neighboring cities or a city that is not THAT city by name but only by proximity (for example, calling a city in the Los Angeles area “L.A.” or “Boston” for cities not in Boston proper. For the latter, I didn’t know people actually did that until AFTER I started talking with a bunch of Boston-area investigators.)


The investigation must contain events which are good examples of paranormal activity, such as voices from EVP recordings, psychic input, physical contact (feeling a hand on the back, for example), activity in a room that is otherwise empty, video proof of a haunting, visual evidence, etc. Just, anything that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is/was paranormal activity and/or proof of a haunting at that location. If an investigation is called off even when these factors are present, that is okay, too. I’m not interested in stories of a “ghost” that turned out to be a jacket hanging from a hook or sounds of movement in an attic that turned out to be rats.


If the investigation takes place on private property and the owner wishes to keep the names private, I need to be apprised of this. I am fine with it and totally respect such a request. I'm willing to use "Anonymous Inn" or "Private Residence" in place of anything that would reveal a location's address. However, for public places, I'd like to know the name of the place and if it has a web site, so that I can include a little background on it in the book. I am also okay with keeping names of owners and civilians involved in the investigation private and/or using a pseudonym, if they wish.


Ideally, I want the investigators to tell their stories in first person, as though they were sharing it with a friend. How did they hear about this place? Why did they choose to investigate it? What happened during the investigation itself? I am hoping the story can be told where they share everything they see, hear, feel and do. Take me along on a step-by-step process of the investigation. Just share with me what happened during the investigation.


All stories will remain the property of the storyteller. I am only asking for permission to reprint them in the book. I will not assume any rights to the stories and they will only be used for the purpose of this book, nothing more.


In the event that investigators are unable to write out their stories themselves, I would be happy to interview them, as well as anyone else involved in the case, to put their story together. I can interview either by phone or email, though email is preferred. Please let me know which method and day would work best.


I am willing to look at as many stories and photos as the investigators are willing to share. I enjoy reading about these kinds of experiences, so even if I decide not to include a story, I’m still open to reading anything the investigator would like to send my way.

For the purpose of clarification, this is my wish list of cities to include in the book. Some of these chapters have already been written, though I am open to more stories for them. In the event I do not get any stories for a particular city, it will not be included. Cities in bold are definitely a go. I am accepting stories until September.

Hollywood, California
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Bristol, Connecticut
Washington, D.C.
Key West, Florida
Miami/Orlando, Florida (not sure yet which one)
Savannah, Georgia
Decatur, Illinois
Galena, Illinois
Greencastle, Indiana
Atchison, Kansas
Topeka, Kansas
Louisville, Kentucky
New Orleans, Louisiana
Boston, Massachusetts
Ishpeming, Michigan
Sleepy Hollow, New York
Athens, Ohio
Portland, Oregon
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Providence, Rhode Island
Charleston, South Carolina
Deadwood, South Dakota
Jonesborough, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Jefferson, Texas
Parkersburg, West Virginia
Glenrock, Wyoming

I hope these guidelines have cleared up any confusion. I also hope that they have given other writers of nonfiction books ideas on what kind of guidelines to establish when they themselves are working on similar kinds of books.

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