Welcome to the first of many in our Writer's Block series!
Ann Massey is interviewing her fellow Beul Aithris Publishing writers and artists giving you a chance to get to know them and their work.
First up is our favourite Chicago paranormal author, RICK HALE who has just released Bullets, Booze and Babes, The Haunted History of Chicago and Illinois.
ANN MASSEY: You've been around the block in the field of the paranormal, tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the eerie side of life!
RICK HALE: I first became interested in the paranormal in 1982 when I was 8. I witnessed and interacted with an apparition in my grandparent's house in Franklin Park, Illinois a town just outside of Chicago. I've been hooked ever since. My first investigation was a private home in September 1991, I was 17.
AM: Long before you put pen to paper for your own books, you were involved in paranormal investigating in Chicago, as an investigator, guide and paranormal media. Which did you prefer and why?
RH: To be honest I love them all. I've focused more on writing the last four years after being diagnosed with cancer and losing my left leg. But I'm much stronger now and I'm looking forward to contributing more to the field.
AM: What made you decide to write books on the weird and wonderful world of the paranormal and why do people love reading about it so much?
RH: Writing is something that always came very naturally to me. I guess I have an aptitude for it. I got my start as a writer with Paranormal Underground Magazine. After that everything just fell into place.
AM: As a paranormal investigator what would be your most terrifying and most strange experiences seeking the supernatural in Chicago?
RH: I can't say I've ever experienced anything truly terrifying. It's like Hans Holzer said, "Ghosts are just people in trouble" and I really do believe that. If anything, my first investigation was maybe a bit more than I was expecting. To this day, I still believe I dealt with a legitimate poltergeist and a thoughtform created by the focus who was a 16 year old girl.
AM: Your book Bullets, Booze and Babes, The Haunted History of Chicago and Illinois focuses on a dark and chequered history that have led to hauntings. What is it about Chicago that brings us some of the most infamous tales including Bloody Mary, John Wayne Gacy and Dillinger?
RH: Chicago has a turbulent history going all the way back to it's very beginnings. Not to mention all the violence caused by organized crime. Hell, we can even boast the country's first serial killer, HH Holmes. This mixed with the great fire, the Eastland Disaster and the inequality of the late 19th and early 20th centuries created a perfect storm for hauntings.
AM: You've also widened the net to include other parts of Illinois - what haunted gem stands out for you?
RH: Definitely Bachelor's Grove Cemetery in South suburban Midlothian. Bachelor's Grove never ceases to impress with its myriad of hauntings. It would be easy to dismiss it as urban legend, but I assure you, Bachelor's Grove Cemetery is extraordinarily haunted.
AM: What are personally your top three locations in your book and why?
RH: You want me to pick 3? Frankly, that's damn near impossible. Read the book and see them all.
AM: In your own words "Welcome to Illinois, come for the hospitality, stay for the weirdness - What advice would you give to someone who wishes to explore the locations in your book when better times allow?
RH: Always be respectful of both the dead and the living. We Chicagoans take a great deal of pride in our ghosts and will be less then thrilled if these haunted places are used like a personal playground.