Please welcome Scott Nicholson, author of the new suspense novel, The Skull Ring!

Author Scott Nicholson and Amazon are also giving away two Kindles as part of his fall book blog tour from September through November! A Kindle DX will be given away through the participating blogs, and a Kindle 3 will be given away through the tour newsletter.  (more details at the bottom of this post)

How to Catch a Ghost, by Scott Nicholson

I know some people who like nothing better than to go to creepy places by themselves, spend the night with lots of equipment running, and inviting whatever spirits might be around to show themselves. Some even say things like “You can touch me if you want” or “You can draw power from me.”

And maybe that’s the point where I get uncomfortable with ghost hunting. I understand a scientific curiosity about our fate and the composition of our spirits, and while I don’t hang around dark, spooky places as a vacation getaway, I will go anywhere that has a history. But my favorite ghost hunters approach the field with a healthy respect for what they might be manifesting.

Whether the ghost is an intelligent haunt (one that responds to people and events), a residential haunt (an impression that seems more like a recurring loop on a film), or demonic activity (actual intent to disturb the balance and harmony of the living world), I believe the best investigators remove themselves from the mix as much as they can. They act more as observers and recorders. In true science, you can’t measure something without affecting it by the act of measuring, and there’s always the subjective impression of the observer.

Ghost hunters routinely measure electromagnetic fluctuations as evidence of supernatural activity, but what if truth is the opposite? Instead of ghosts disturbing EMF with their presence, what if it’s the fluctuating EMF that attracts ghosts in the first place?

That’s a concept used in my novel The Home (out in the UK as Troubled), where experiments at a group home for troubled children summon the spirits of the facility’s former inmates, from back when it was an insane asylum.

One of the more controversial tactics used by investigators is “provoking,” when you shout at ghosts and disturb them into action. That feels too much like “Dance for me or I’ll shoot you in the foot.” I also think people who invite a spirit to enter them or otherwise take energy is meddling in forces they don’t know anything about, and whether it’s merely psychological weakness or arrogance, the result is uncomfortable.

Group hunts, especially when randomly put together for a conference, can be risky because hunters have their own personalities and approaches, and what offends one person may seem like a perfectly legitimate research tactic. I’ve been in a group of hunters where one will say, “You can take power from us,” and I say, “No, I don’t grant that permission.” I explored those dynamics a little in Speed Dating with the Dead, where characters have varying ideas of the nature of inexplicable phenomena.

Then there’s the “sensitive,” a person who relies less on science and more on perception. A sensitive is likely to stop in the middle of a conversation and start talking to an invisible presence. And you can never be sure if the person is schizophrenic, especially when they are so certain of the existence of spirits. When someone says, “I’ve seen them all my life,” how can you prove otherwise?

I use a sensitive in The Manor (out in the revised UK edition as Creative Spirit), where Anna Galloway has a terminal illness and the closer she gets to her own death, the more vivid her connection with the spirit world.

In college, my roommate’s cousin was visiting and I was talking about Led Zeppelin and said something casual like “Satanism might be pretty cool,” one of those offhand things you say when you are seeking and wishing you could be a guitar hero. His eyebrows arched and truly evil features slid over his face, sending a chill up my spine. He said, “You don’t want to mess with that.”

Now, I happen to know he practiced his “evil face” in a mirror, had a little coven of nubile groupies while in high school, and liked to “hex” his stepmother, but still, what is evil but willingness? What is evil but choice? That’s not a choice I want to invite.

I’ve worked with serious hunters like Paranormal Scene Investigators and Barry Fitzgerald of Ghost Hunters International, and I’ve met a number of small, localized groups that mix researching and socializing. I’ve also seen groups short on the science and long on the hype, hoping to get their own television shows. While the fad has died down a little, I’ve been amazed at how many people will report some kind of mysterious encounter if you bring up the subject.

So I still don’t know whether ghosts exist or not, but I’m pretty confident there’s a lot more going on than we can see or measure or put in a book. Do you really want to find a ghost? What would you do with one if you had it?

And, as I like to say, possession works two ways.
Scott Nicholson is author of Drummer Boy and 11 other novels, five story collections, four comics series, and six screenplays. A journalist and freelance editor in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, he often uses local legends in his work. This tour is sponsored by Amazon, Kindle Nation Daily, and Dellaster Design.

To be eligible for the Kindle DX, simply post a comment below with contact info. Feel free to debate and discuss the topic, but you will only be entered once per blog. Visit all the blogs on the tour and increase your odds. I’m also giving away a Kindle 3 through the tour newsletter and a Pandora’s Box of free e-books to a follower of “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter. And, hey, buy The Red Church and put me in the Top 100 and I’ll throw in another random Kindle 3 giveaway.

Thanks for playing! Complete details at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/blogtour.htm