Thursday, January 24, 2013

Supernatural Friday: Great Paranormal Places to Visit for Ideas

Welcome author Joe Spencer as he talks about paranormal places that one can visit and get great ideas for Supernatural Friday today. He has a giveaway for those who check out his blog tour: 

GIVEAWAY: It is tour wide for 10 eBook copies of Grim. Ends 02/18/2013. Just click on the link for the rafflecopter.

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

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

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

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

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

Joe Spencer is the author of Grim, a paranormal crime thriller released by Damnation Books in September 2012. It’s the first in the planned Sons of Darkness series. His second book, Wrage, is due out in 2013. He can be reached at

Joe Spencer
Twitter: josephspencer00


When bodies start showing up again at an abandoned mental hospital with a notorious past, Detective Adam White fears Prairieville's most prolific slasher, The Reaper, has returned.

Dubbed the White Knight for his one-man crusade against corruption and crime, White searches for answers as Prairieville reels in fear during its worst blood bath. But maintaining his hero facade becomes difficult the more he obsesses about the one case he's never solved – his wife's murder. White’s investigation into Grim gets sidetracked when a group of college students and a bartender are slain in a downtown bar. The nature of the crimes and the evidence leads White to believe he’s tracking two killers rather than one.

The blood trail leads to eccentric millionaire Heath Grim, a recluse with a face so scarred he never leaves home without his mask. Consumed with seeking vengeance for his murdered father, Grim agrees to be possessed by a mysterious supernatural entity, Abaddon, which harvests the souls of murderers. As Grim descends further into madness, he’s haunted by spirits of victims of violent murders who demand him to hunt their killers so their souls can be freed from spiritual limbo. Abaddon’s pact with Grim is simple. If Grim vindicates enough souls bound to limbo, he’ll get a chance to bring his father’s murderer to justice. Grim ultimately finds out his father was the original Reaper and was murdered by organized crime kingpin Cyrus Black. 

Both White and Grim wind up with targets on their backs when organized crime kingpin Cyrus Black hatches a scheme to bring a race track to Prairieville. White’s investigations have always called into question Black’s charade as a legitimate businessman. Grim owns the ground where Black wants to build the race track. Black coerces a woman from White’s past, who is a dead ringer for his slain wife, and a dirty cop to frame White for drug trafficking and murder. Black also attempts to force Grim into selling his land by kidnapping one of Grim’s closest friends.
White’s framed before he can bring some key evidence into light. Disgraced and ashamed, the last shreds of White’s sanity begin to unravel in prison. He longs for one last chance to bring his wife’s murderer to justice. Grim affords him that chance. He bails out White and tries to use Abaddon’s influence to convince White that they must team up to avenge their slain loved ones.
When Grim provides White with the identity of his wife’s killer, he must choose whether to try to rebuild his reputation or give in to his vigilante impulses and help Grim in a plot to murder a common enemy. 

Grim is a complex, gritty, and often gory tale which follows a series of grisly murders in Prairieville. The blood trail leads to a reclusive millionaire Heath Grim, who wears a mask to hide his war scars from the world, but he harbors a darker secret on the inside. Virtuous detective Adam White almost always gets his man, but he's haunted by the one case he's never closed - his wife's murder. When White is pushed to the limits of his sanity from a rising body count and a criminal kingpin who has turned crooked cops and corrupt politicians against him, will he be able to collar the killer? Or will a plot to tarnish his image and the killer's information on a common enemy turn White into the type of man he's hunted throughout his law enforcement career?

Excerpt from Grim:
Adam heard a few sounds of Velcro peeling from its straps. Suddenly, Black Mask shed the mystery and ambiguity of his head gear. He became another mystery altogether. What happened to this guy? He looked like he’d seen hell, escaped, and doctored his face to give everyone else on Earth a preview.
Black Mask obviously suffered from rosacea because his skin was inflamed, swollen, and the angriest shade of red Adam had ever seen. A jagged circular scar similar to a clock face ran from Black Mask’s forehead down his cheeks to his chin. A vertical scar ran straight down the middle of his forehead and along the bridge of his nose. Two horizontal scars extended from the side of his nose and curved upward toward the temples. Two additional scars extended outward at angles from just under his nose, across his lips and ended on either side of his chin. All of the scars connected to the outer circular one like spokes to resemble a starfish shape. Adam struggled not to have any reaction, but failed to keep the corner of his mouth from inching up into a grimace.
Black Mask smirked and put his right hand up to his face. He pretended to be admiring himself in the mirror. “It’s okay, Detective. Your reaction is fairly common and a lot more subdued than most. Of course, I bet you’ve seen a lot of horrors in your line of work.
“So, you want to know the tale of Heath Grim, do you?”

About Joe Spencer:
Joseph Spencer is the author of the Sons of Darkness series launched by his debut novel, Grim, on September 1, 2012. Work on his second book of the series, Wrage, is already underway and is expected to be released some time in 2013.
The Sons of Darkness is a series of paranormal crime thrillers following investigations into mysterious deaths in the central Illinois city of Prairieville. Home of the notorious serial killer, The Reaper, Prairieville has had a history of violence centered on an ongoing feud between the Marino and Black organized crime families. When bodies start showing up again at the abandoned Marino State Hospital, many fear the Reaper has returned. The people of Prairieville are about to find out their problems stem from a supernatural source which has lurked in secret for decades.
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 with honors from Clinton (IL) High School in 1996 and summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2000. 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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for hosting me. If anyone liked great dark fiction, is offering 28 percent off purchases of ebooks with promo code 289snake.

Pamela K. Kinney said...

You're welcome, Joe. Please do leave Joe a comment.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

What is it about abandoned prisons ans asylums that sends chills down our spines? Shoot, they scare me just looking at them.
Grim sounds intense. I like that Detective White has a personal history with a killer.
All the best to you.

Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving some feedback. It's an exciting time for me. Being able to have my first fiction project picked up by a publisher was a thrill.

Janice Seagraves said...

I saw some of those haunted institution on YouTube. *shudder*

I live in California where we have the Winchester Mystery house, Alcatraz prison which many believe is haunted, and the spooky Queen Mary.

Good luck with your new release.


Anonymous said...


I'd love to visit California some day. I've never been out there. Arizona is my furthest trek west. I actually neighbored a booth with the folks from Trans-Allegheny folks at Scarefest in Lexington, Kentucky, and everyone who'd been there already came up to the booth and spoke about how scary it was.

Thanks for the well wishes on the book. My sophomore effort will come out this summer or fall.

Mary Frances Roya said...

Grim sounds really interesting. Did you go to any of the haunted places for research? I went to Myrtle Plantation in Louisiana. I got a photo of someone looking at me that wasn't there. Or just read and watch what others did? Do you like HEA endings? Do your stories have strong romantical elements? I really liked your tease about Grim. I am putting this on my TBR list. Keep writing so I can keep reading.

Anonymous said...

Mary Frances,

I have been to the Abe Lincoln sites near my home. There is also an abandoned mental hospital in the town of Bartonville, Illinois. It inspired me. My follow up Wrage has more romance than Grim, which has a few hit scenes but not a lot. Women are bigger power players in Wrage which comes out later this summer or fall.