by Claire Lang
What could possibly be more appropriate for Halloween than a book about an actual ghost hunter! Check out our review of the book Chasing Spirits: The Building of the Ghost Adventures Crew by Nick Groff who has a ghost hunting show on the Travel Channel called Ghost Adventures. We also interview Nick & you have a chance to win a copy of the book-details at the end of this post.
Nick Groff, with the help Jeff Belanger, has a very strong personal voice in Chasing Spirits: The Building Of The Ghost Adventure Crew. In fact such a strong voice that it is easy to imagine hearing him tell you his story. As a reader, I like a good story teller’s voice. When someone is writing their personal stories, it’s nice to “hear” their voice as you read. In spite, or perhaps because, of Nick’s salty language you feel as if his narrative is live. Reading his story is much like sitting at dinner with a friend as he tells you about his day.
If you are a fan of Ghost Adventures I think this will give you some fun tidbits of information about Nick. There is a story about a doll at his grandmother’s house that is just creepy and the picture of the doll (found in the middle of the book) is even creepier. It’s not at all hard to believe that doll was running around a house, or, that a little boy was so disturbed by it that he imagined it running around the house in the middle of the night.
Until I began reading Chasing Spirits I had never seen an episode of Ghost Adventures, so I was entering the idea blind. About halfway through the book I wanted to see what he was describing and I was happily accommodated by Netflix in being able to watch the pilot episode and some of the first season while I read about the particulars in the book. In fact, after reading about the brick flying across the room, I nearly jumped out of my chair when I saw it happen.
The book is true to the episodes it covers and reading what was going through Nick’s mind while watching him experience anomalies was interesting. Often, due to editing and time constraints, we only see part of the picture. I think Nick gives us a little insight into what we miss, which is the raw emotions of a seemingly quiet guy with a camera.
Something else I enjoyed about the book was the more in depth stories behind some of the places the team has investigated. These paragraphs of information are placed within Nick’s narrative of the investigation.
In the book, Nick, also answers questions posed by fans of the show. Unfortunately, this is where the book loses much momentum. The question and answer portions are peppered throughout the book and in, seemingly, random order. In adding random questions and answers in the middle of chapters the flow of the story is lost. If the fan questions were somehow connected with the topic of the moment or if they were in the beginning or end of chapters it would be much less distracting. As is, I found myself skipping over the fan questions and ultimately the behind the scenes stories just so I wouldn’t lose the flow of Nick’s story. I did go back, later and read the fan questions and found them interesting, but they should have stood on their own or been incorporated into the narrative.
For those who are interested in the technical details of ghost hunting, Nick ends the book with information about the equipment the team uses. He also adds a list of web links for those who are interested in discussing the paranormal or the amateur ghost hunters wishing for more insight.
I do wish that Nick had revealed more about his partners, Zac and Aaron. The title of the book led me to believe that it would have been more about the creation of the team and the details behind that. The actual coming together of the team felt skimmed over.
The construction of the book is choppy but the information given is interesting. Nick isn’t a great writer, but he has a great story telling voice in print. I thoroughly enjoyed learning the mixed emotions of the man who comes across as the quiet one on the show.
The book cultivated an interest in a show that has not previously been on my radar. I think, for fans of the show, this insight will give them a more personal feel. For those who are unfamiliar with Ghost Adventures this narrative may change any ideas they may have that these stories are scripted.
Interview with Nick Groff
Claire: You mentioned that you are a film maker at heart, have you considered doing a feature film based on the hauntings you’ve investigated? Or will your next project be more removed?
Nick: I have a ton of different ideas always going through my mind. I am a film fanatic, and watch every movie I can when I have the time. I do want to pursue producing movies in the near future. I have a couple in the works…stay tuned!
Claire: Have you considered your own mortality and whether or not you could or would tie yourself to this world in order to communicate further than the constraints of your life?
Nick: Every day I think about what’s next after we leave this body and this world. If I go soon, then I would definitely want to stick around to look out for my little girl and guide her. I am very content in my life, so when it is my time, I am ready for that next place.
Claire: Do you, personally, believe that only those who suffered, are angry, or dabbled in darker activities are tied to this world? Have you ever experienced a comforting entity?
Nick: I have experienced both kinds of spirits. Just like in this world we have good and bad people. I have been to a lot of evil locations with lingering negative energies. The bad energies seem to be more active and aggressive. I have also come across positive energies that are comforting.
Claire: In your book you have interesting bits of history about the places you investigate and the people there. Has this peeked your interest in history of the place in general or do you focus just on what might be causing the haunting?
Nick: Both. You have to learn the history first before you can understand why spirits might still be lingering at these locations. I have been very fascinated with the history of locations, as it’s a big part of any paranormal investigation.
Claire: Do you ever fear that in researching the place/facility first you might be projecting too much meaning into what is being shown/said to you by the spirits?
Nick: No, because I am trying to understand what happened and what spirits could possibly be there. For example, if there was a death that took place in a location and paranormal activity is happening around this particular spot, it could be that the spirit who passed is still active there in the afterlife.
Claire: Have you ever been surprised to find that the research doesn’t give away anything in way of who the entity is, after all? Would you ever investigate a place completely blind? Simply going off reports of a haunting, but no specifics?
Nick: In paranormal investigations you need to be ready for anything. I have been in the situation where I was trying to learn the history of a prison that just closed. No one would talk to us because they were still active as police officers and couldn’t go on camera. After asking around and conducting some interviews off-camera, we were told stories of the location, but I still had to go in not knowing a whole lot. Still, it was one of the most active locations we’ve ever been in and we captured some amazing paranormal evidence.
Claire: So you believe that possession is done by demons and not spirits who were once human? What effect does this have on your psyche when you consider something like a séance?
Nick: It is a very scary thing when facing an entity that’s trying to take over your body or mind. These are dangers that I know all too well. Negative and demonic entities can have an awful effect on one’s self. That scares me more than coming face-to-face with a spirit. I’m very cautious now after experiencing these negative effects.
Claire: On that same note, poltergeist activity is often attributed to a live person…Do you notice more poltergeist activity present with certain people more than others? Do you notice it increased with your or another investigator’s heightened emotional state?
Nick: We haven’t done a lot of experiments with living people. Because we investigate some dark haunts, we typically don’t bring in others. So the poltergeist thing is really interesting, but it’s not where I’ve focused my research. Capturing or experiencing paranormal evidence is like finding a needle in a hay stack. Whether unexplained knocks or footsteps are coming from living people or spirits, it deserves our attention. When I’m investigating, I don’t see a difference in heightened emotions, or just calm collected emotions when unexplainable things happen.
Claire: The original documentary is very raw, which keeps it authentic. As the series continued, did you worry that the network would step in and ask for a more slick production?
Nick: I absolutely did. That is why from the get-go we stood our ground and didn’t want to change the chemistry, or rawness of our investigations. To this day we have maintained that credibility.
Claire: Since the birth of your daughter, do you question what you do more? Do you have a renewed sense of purpose, or has little changed in your investigative life?
Nick: I am more cautious and not as extreme while investigating, and I worry a little more about bringing spirits home with me when I leave a location. I am a very positive person in my life now and motivated more than ever. I think bringing life (my little girl) into this world, which is a part of me, changed my mentality for the better. My little girl, Annabelle is the best thing that ever happen to me.
Claire: For anyone considering doing paranormal investigation, what would be your three top pieces of advice?
Nick: Experience is key. Go with a group of people who have done this type of work before, who you can trust. Remember to ask simple questions and give pauses for the spirits to talk back and answer when conducting a digital recorder session. Be careful of negative energies, as they can have a very bad affect on you and linger for a long time.
To enter to win a copy of Chasing Spirits, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Spirits”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 27, 2012. U.S. residents only.
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