Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Turn Ghost Hunting Into A Novel

With us today is my friend, Dana Davis. Dana has  interests I think you'll find fascinating. Dana, I know you're involved in the paranormal and ghost hunting. Please tell us about what transpires when you're on a hunt and how your experiences helped shape your new release Desert Magick. Also please tell us about what kind of equipment you use and your most unusual ghost hunting experience.

Thanks for having me back, Sandra! I’ll start with a little background of how I got into the paranormal so I can better answer your questions.

Since I was a small child, I’ve been interested in the paranormal and science. That might seem like an odd mixture to some, but it was a perfectly normal way for me. My mother’s side of the family is very open to the paranormal and I had a great-great aunt who was a medium back in the early 1900s, so I heard a lot of fascinating stories growing up. My dad was a chemist, a scientist, and pretty much a skeptic about all things ghostly. I believe these opposite views gave me a nice balance in my beliefs and the ability to reason out the normal from the unexplained.

When I decided to write a paranormal fantasy series, I chose to focus on witches, mediums and psychics. With the first book, I pulled on some of those family stories, as well as personal experiences I’ve had over the years. In doing so, I found a new love for my family lineage. I’m not saying the family tales are true all the way down their nuggets, since oral stories get exaggerated over time, but they’re part of my family lore, true or not, and I embraced them. It’s kind of cool to tell people I had a practicing medium in the family back when the occult was at a peak in the early 1900s. I’ve also heard family members say that one of our ancestors was a witch in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s. I haven’t found links to any of the persecuted from that time, but I did find an ancestor cousin buried in Salem when hubby and I traveled there a couple of years ago. And I have several documented ancestors from the Boston area, so who knows. I just love a good family mystery!

But back to ghosts. A couple of years ago, when I was living in Arizona, a paranormal team heard I was writing about ghosts and invited me on one of their investigations. “Who ya gonna call?” immediately played inside my head and I got a tingly feeling in my tummy. I mean, how could I turn down such a grand opportunity? This was a chance to satiate my curiosity and expand my thirst for all things odd and unexplainable. Not to mention, get new fodder for my series.

The first investigation was at an old abandoned gold mine over an hour from my home. The place was closed and we spent several hours investigating with flashlights, cameras, digital video recorders and voice recorders. The whole thing reminded me a lot of my days in Hollywood when we would go on location for a shoot. You spend a lot of time setting up and getting things just so, and then there’s a lot of waiting. And more waiting. Sitting in the dark at wee hours of the night waiting for something to happen isn’t for everyone, but I love it.

The team’s director seemed impressed that I would ask questions to thin air and not feel self-conscious about it so I was question girl for the remainder of the night. It was very quiet out there at night and I didn’t hear any answers to my questions. But we did get visited by a couple of foxes. Not paranormal, but still cool. We also witnessed a rock bouncing in through an open window. Or rather a missing window. It was an abandoned site from the 1800s, after all. That was pretty much the most excitement we experienced. While the team and I weren’t overly impressed, a couple of guys who had won a contest to participate in the hunt looked like they might just ditch us and run all the way home. Needless to say, they were more entertaining than the mystery rock.

Over the next few weeks, I helped out with the evidence. I went through photos, audio recordings, and video, looking for anything unusual. That rock did show up on one of the audio files, which confirmed that it happened, but we got no other evidence so it was just labeled an unusual occurrence. After that experience, I decided I really wanted to do more of these types of investigations. I asked the director if I could join her team and she accepted me.  

Over the next couple of years, I participated in several investigations, ghost tours, and investigative training sessions with my team and with others. You have to be extremely patient because most of the time, you get nothing unusual. When you get a hit, it’s very exciting and tends to fuel the desire to dig even deeper into the mystery of the afterlife. I had heard fascinating stories from other investigators and I really wanted to experience something more than a single mystery rock. Fortunately, I got my wish a few investigations later.

While listening to hours and hours of digital files, I heard something strange. One came from an old hotel. I heard a male voice next to me when there was no one there at the time. It came in under the woman who was explaining a bit about the history of the place. The voice was a different frequency than the rest of the recording, little more than a harsh whisper, but it sounded irritated or maybe even angry. I didn’t hear the voice at the time, but it was pretty awesome to hear it in the recording.

Nothing showed up on the photos I took, so I had no other evidence. Since I don’t have the amount of experience some of my teammates have, I sent the unaltered file out to a couple of them for their opinions. Both investigators agreed that the audio clip was legitimate. It wasn’t something mechanical. It was a voice. And it didn’t belong to any humans present during the investigation. Imagine my excitement when I realized I caught an EVP - electronic voice phenomenon (a voice no one hears at the time but that shows up on a recording). Does this mean an actual dead person was standing next to me and I caught his voice on my recorder? Not necessarily. But it does mean that after many hours of investigating, I finally got something we couldn’t explain. I did a happy dance all around my house and couldn’t wait for the next investigation.

I’ll continue to incorporate my experiences and family stories into my Desert Magick series, which is set in the Arizona desert towns in and around Phoenix. The series is fantasy-based, so when you read the books, you might find yourself wondering which events are based on actual stories and which are made up. I’m certainly not telling.

Dana Davis is an award-winning and bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction and a paranormal investigator. She once worked for Hollywood and Disney. Genealogy fascinates her, and her ancestry includes Irish, Scottish, Dutch, British, and Mohawk Indian. Her great-great aunt is purported to have been a medium and a telekinetic. President Barack Obama is her seventh cousin once removed. And her grandfather was an engineer with NASA. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and uses her varied background, along with family stories, to aid in her writing.

Dana’s contest: Enter for a chance to win a free PDF or ePub copy of the newly released Desert Magick: Phoenix Lights (Bk 4). To enter, leave a comment and email addy (Use AT in place of @ to avoid spammers). The winner will be chosen at random and must have an email address that accepts attachments in order to receive the prize. Contest ends Wednesday, September 5th at 9 pm PST, and Dana will notify the winner within one week of that date. Dana’s family members are not eligible. Sorry about that. Good luck!

For information on the entire bestselling Desert Magick series, please visit Dana’s website

Dana’s Blah Blah blog


Daisy and Noah turned just in time to see a ball of light move toward them from one of the nearby peaks. It pulsated as it traveled at an amazing speed. Straight at Daisy. She yelped, and she and Noah both ducked as it flew past. Just as she stood and turned to see where it had gone, the thing came at her again. She backpedaled and lost her footing, landing hard on the rocky ground.
“Damnit. That hurt. I don’t think he wants to help me.” And I’m so not in the mood to fall off a mountain tonight. Noah helped her up and she dusted her throbbing hands on her jeans. The orb made another pass at her but she stayed on her feet this time. Barely. “Scarlet, do something!”
The medium stepped next to Daisy as the orb started toward her again. Daisy was about to duck out of the way, but the orb stopped abruptly about a foot in front of them. It flickered like a flame in a breeze. Before Daisy could move, the orb streaked toward her, slamming into her chest. She doubled over and cried out from the pain. The pain grew to agony as the thing now inside her started to expand. Someone near her called out but she couldn’t make out the words. Her body stiffened, refusing to obey her commands to run. White hot pain seared her muscles. She screamed but it sounded distant to her own ears. Her head felt like it was on fire. Her eyes burned and her breath caught.
Am I dying? She barely formed that thought when another wave of pain, this one tearing at her muscles, shot through her, and she pitched to the ground.


  1. Hi Dana,

    What a fascinating post. Although I find ghosts and ghost hunting interesting I'm not sure I'm brave enough to it around in the dark!!

    All the best with your release. It sounds awesome!

    shelleymunro AT gmail DOT com

  2. Thank you, Shelley. Ghost hunting can get the blood pumping sometimes. =) You've been entered in the contest. Good luck!

  3. Interesting stuff; thanks for letting me know about this, Dana! I have an ARC of this, so not entering, but best of luck to everyone else!

  4. enjoyed the read. i've never done any formal ghost hunting, but i've had a very interesting and frightening encounter. keep up the good and interesting work. loving the desert magick series, btw.

  5. Wow, the background information is really interesting. It's going to be hard to wait to read the rest of the book now that I've seen the attention getting "trailor." Hope you sell oodles!

    Sandra Carroll

  6. Thank you for stopping by, Katy. I really appreciate it. =)

    Karen - So glad you're enjoying the series. You're in the contest. Good luck! =D

  7. Thanks so much for having me Sandra! The Phoenix Lights eBook is now available for Kindle and Nook (as well as the others in the series), and readers can find links on my website that you posted above. =)

  8. Oh, and I'd love to hear about your personal experience, Karen. You can always pm me at Facebook.

    Here's the address for everyone -

  9. Very interesting, paranormal teams fascinate me. Great to read about your experiences.

    dobielove AT

  10. Thanks for stopping by, Kitty. =) You're entered in the contest. Good luck!

  11. Dana, my pleasure.

    Thanks everyone for stopping by and commenting.

  12. Wow, Dana, you have quite a family background and some interesting experiences!
    My hubby has just got me into watching Ghost Adventures and they seem to use a lot of equiptment like you described too. Fascinating!

  13. Thanks for stopping by and posting, Jennifer. You don't need a lot of equipment to ghost hunt but I think it's more fun with more toys. =)

  14. Why must authors write books like these!!! Plague the markets with all sorts of nonsense!!! Books like these are reasons my to-do list never gets done (because I'm reading them) and the reason I am 21 and still have issues with the dark yet at thesame time find
    it intriguing (because i have read so many of them.)

  15. Lol, thanks for commenting, Anonymous. You're entered in the contest. Good luck! =)

  16. Hi Dana!! I'm sorry I'm late - was on duty today and it was non-stop from 5 am to 7 pm my whole day!! I love reading your stories! Thanks for sharing. Jenn. Cruzski1 at gmail dot com

  17. Glad you made it, Jenn. You're in the contest. Good luck!

  18. Congratulations to Karen, winner of the Desert Magick: Phoenix Lights (Bk 4) eBook!

    Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by. I'll have more giveaways in the future so feel free to visit my website for updates and links to my Facebook and other pages.

    A special thanks to Sandra for having me as a guest blogger today.

    Happy reading, everyone!