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21 Jun 2013

Indie author blog tour. Guest post by Joseph Spencer author of Grim

Great paranormal places to visit for ideas

When they open a book, readers love to be transported to places they’ve never visited or could never dream to visit in real life. Even the most talented writers can’t fully rely on their imaginations alone all the time to dream up these otherworldly settings for their fiction work. Sometimes, there’s nothing like real life experiences to spur the creative juices when you sit down to start a project.

With that in mind, I’d like to suggest places to visit if possible which could inspire you to create the perfect place for a project being stalled by an uncertainty of where to place the action. Since I write thriller fiction with a paranormal slant, I’ve come up with a list of place close to where I live in the Midwest for you to check out if you’re also an adventurer who doesn’t mind a good scare once in a while.

1.     Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Reston, West Va.)
This mental illness facility opened in 1864 and housed 2,400 patients in its peak in the 1950s. This National Historic Landmark is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in the United States, and reportedly second-largest in the world to the Kremlin in Moscow. SyFy’s Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters Academy and Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures have investigated reported sightings of apparitions, unexplainable sounds, and other paranormal activity. Daytime tours of all four floors are available and cost $35. For info, visit http://trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com.

2.    The Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Louisville, Ky.)
Construction of this building started in 1908, but the current massive, gothic-style, collegiate structure didn’t open for business until 1926. The facility could house up to 400 patients and served as a tuberculosis hospital until 1961, when the vaccine which cured TB rendered the hospital obsolete. SyFy’s Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters Academy and Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures have also investigated reports of paranormal activity. Daily public tours cost $22 and private tours are available. For info, visit http://therealwaverlyhills.com.

3.    Ohio State Reformatory (Mansfield, Ohio)
Fans of the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption may want to visit this haunted prison where it was filmed. The prison opened in September of 1896, housing its first 150 offenders. More than 155,000 men called the prison home for various stretches before it closed on December 31, 1990. There are both historical and ghost tours available for visitors and a tour related to the movie as well. For info, visit www.mrps.org.

4.    Abraham Lincoln’s Ghost Walk (Springfield, Ill.)
For those who like to mix historical and paranormal sites, consider visiting Illinois’ state capital to go on a 10-block, 90-minute walking which uses President Lincoln’s sites as the backdrop for the scoop on Honest Abe’s paranormal tales. The tour covers his last visit to his law office,  his funeral in the capitol, his haunted home, Mary Lincoln’s séances, and the attempted grave robbery. There are other tours including a haunted dead walk which includes alleged paranormal activity in the old Virgil Hickox House and a more traditional historical tour of Lincoln’s life in Springfield. For more info, visit www.springfieldwalks.com.

5.    Missouri State Penitentiary (Jefferson City, Mo.)
This historic prison received its first inmate in 1836, just 14 years after Jefferson City became the state capital. Only five years later, an officer died during a prison escape. Executions were conducted on site. When the prison closed in 2004, it had served as the oldest prison (168 years) west of the Mississippi River. A guided public tour which ventures through dungeon cells and a gas chamber costs $95. Private tours also are available.  For more info, visit www.missouripentours.com.

About the Author:

As a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.

Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.

Joseph was married Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph and Amy look forward to their honeymoon in Paris in September 2012. Murphy, a 15-year-old orange tabby, is perhaps the most vocal member of the family. The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space”.

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