People have been reporting ghostly phenomena for centuries–millennia, even–but are these reports the results of bad digestion or good whisky?
OR is there something out there?
Author Randy Overbeck provides context for the debate along with info about his Haunted Shores Mystery series. Meet Randy and grab your own copies of his books–if you DARE.
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Do You Believe?
by Randy Overbeck
“Do you really believe it ghosts?”
During my author talks and book signings for my new ghost story/mystery, BLOOD ON THE CHEASAPEAKE—at least, before the pandemic—this is the most common question I’d receive from participants, sometimes offered with an inflection that conveyed the speakers’ incredulity. It was almost as if the person were saying, “Only children and idiots believe in ghosts.”
The short answer to that question is yes, but I prefer Shakespeare’s eloquence, “There is more to heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.” (That’s from Hamlet, by the way.) For those not fluent in Shakespearian English, he is simply saying there are just a great many things we simply can’t explain…and ghosts are one of these.
My skeptics are surprised to learn that the belief in ghosts is quite widespread among Americans. According to two studies conducted in the last few years (Harris Poll,2003 and Huntington Post, 2017) approximately half of Americans report that they believe in ghosts (48%).
And an amazing one in five confirm they’ve experienced an actual encounter with a spirit from the other side. BTW, the percentage of believers worldwide is even greater.
In fact, if you are born into a faith community anywhere across the globe, your belief system includes a belief in ghosts and spirits of the dead. For example, Catholics preach that ghosts are “evil spirits that lead you to sin.” Judaism includes the belief in several ghosts including the “dybbuk,” a ghost of a dead person who can possess another for malevolent reasons. Muslims believe in mischievous ghosts called “jinns”—which are better known in the Western world as genies.
Buddhists subscribe to the belief in “hungry ghosts” who exist on another plane, and should be treated with compassion rather than feared. The religions of all Native American tribes include the belief in ghosts such as the evil “Skinwalkers” of Navaho mythology. Of course, this is a partial list, but you get the idea.
These skeptics are even more surprised to learn that a number of famous scientists, inventors, statesmen and celebrities openly profess their belief in ghosts. Marie Curie, the only woman to win two Nobel prizes for her work with radioactive elements—and was the subject of the recent Netflix film, Radioactive—also believed in ghosts and attended seances.
Thomas Edison, who holds more patents than any other American, confided to a reporter he was working on a “spirit phone” so he could talk to the dead. Dale Earnhardt, Jr, (known in racing circles as simply Junior) has won more NASCAR races than I could name, but almost died more than fifteen years ago. In 2004, he wrecked in the LeMans Race in Sonoma, CA and was trapped inside a burning car. He says a ghost pulled him from the wreck and saved his life. Also, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan were very candid about their belief in ghosts.
These are merely a few examples.
Overall, I’d say I was in pretty good company.
So as I imagined, drafted, and created the novels in my new series, the Haunted Shores Mysteries, I was intrigued enough about the possibilities of the spirit world to wrap each cold case murder mystery inside an eerie ghost story. Of course, readers don’t need to believe in ghosts to enjoy these narratives as there is so much more to savor. In each novel, they encounter a perplexing whodunit, a captivating romance, spectacular scenery and a compelling social issue—all this in addition to an eerie ghost story. The first entry in the series, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE, was published last year by the Wild Rose Press and earned rave reviews and even picked up two national awards.
Wilshire, Maryland seems like the perfect shore town on the Chesapeake Bay—quiet, scenic, charming—and promises Darrell Henshaw a new start in life and a second chance at love. That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office. Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world—with the OCD scars to prove it—he does NOT want to get involved. But when the desperate ghost hounds him, Darrell concedes. Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.
No matter how far you run, you can never really escape a haunted past.
The second installment in the series, CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY, was released last fall and it has garnered several ★★★★★ reviews and two national awards, the Gold Award from Literary Titan and the Silver Award for Mystery of the Year from ReadersView.com. CRIMSON follows our hero, Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach and paranormal sensitive—to the incredible resort town at the tip of New Jersey. There, he is stalked by the Haunted Bride, who is desperate for him to seek justice for her, and many more victimized girls.
Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive—learned this lesson the hard way. With his job gone and few options, he heads for Cape May to coach a summer football camp. The resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might just be the getaway he needs. Only, no one told him Cape May is the most haunted seaport on the East Coast. One resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks Darrell, begging for his help.
He can’t refuse.
Joining forces with Cassie, a street-wise teen and another sensitive, he investigates the bride’s death and discovers her murder is connected to a far greater horror. But can Darrell and Cassie expose those behind the crimes before they end up being the killer’s next victims?
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Meet Randy Overbeck
Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker, capturing state and national accolades for his work. As an educator, he served children for more than three decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, Blood on the Chesapeake (2019) and Crimson at Cape May (2020) have earned five star reviews and garnered top awards and recognition from sites such as Literary Titan, ReadersFavorite.com, ReaderViews.com and N. N. Lights Bookheaven. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.
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1 thought on “Novel Magic: Do You Really Believe in Ghosts?”
Thanks for letting me share your Haunted Shores series with my readers, Randy. I do believe in ghosts (which will surprise no one) though I tend to think most of the hauntings people report are some kind of residual. When I shuffle off this mortal coil, I plan to haunt my house to make sure nobody paints over all my woodwork! Thanks for your post!