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Jim Harold's Campfire: True Ghost Stories by Jim HaroldJim Harold’s Campfire: True Ghost Stories
By Jim Harold
Publisher: New Page Books (September 2011)
Pages: 256 – Price: $14.99

Official Interview grabbed a bag of marshmallows, some firewood, and caught up with podcaster extraordinaire Jim Harold recently to talk about his new book, Jim Harold’s Campfire: True Ghost Stories.

Since 2005 you’ve been producing and hosting The Paranormal Podcast. During that time you’ve interviewed hundreds of guests on various fringe topics. At what point do you realize that there are enough people out there who have a story to share that this must be a book?

Jim Harold: I got the idea for the show after doing a special for The Paranormal Podcast where we featured listener stories of the supernatural. The reaction was so strong, that I thought it warranted its own show. After all, almost everyone has a creepy story or two they love to tell. Why not share them with the world? I love stories of the paranormal and I think that anyone else who does will enjoy the book It was a natural extension because not everyone listens to podcasts and I wanted to make the best stories as accessible to as many people as possible.

How did you collect your stories for your Campfire: True Ghost Stories?

I went through the archives of the Campfire podcast series and picked my favorite stories from listeners. I wanted to check the most spine tingling tales we’d featured. I tried to mix it up and include ghosts, premonitions, after death communication plus even some crypto and UFO stuff. The stories are gently edited for pacing and grammar but I really wanted to keep the tone and personality of our listeners so I took a light hand with the stories in the process.

Do you occasionally hear about ghost encounters that don’t sound quite right or believable to you? What are the signs you look for?

Occasionally, but I must say the vast majority of our callers seem very sincere to me. I tend to be a little more skeptical with stories that come from people who have their encounters when they are specifically seeking them out. That being said, I do believe that there can be legitimacy to ghost hunting.

A red flag for me is when someone has a, “Dude, I saw a ghost…awesome” mentality but then again everyone reacts differently to these things.

But, that is rare on the show. Mainly these people have experienced something really weird in the course of their everyday lives. I am surprised how many people share stories from their childhood that they remember 20, 30 years later. These people have had their run in with the supernatural when least expecting it and it has stuck with them. That’s why I believe the stories they tell.

Are some people more prone to this experience than others?

I absolutely believe that. We get a lot of repeat callers, and some people certainly are more sensitive than others.

What is one of the funnier ghost experiences you include in your book?

Since it is a family story I include in the book, I love this one. It is funny to me at least. My Dad and Uncle lived together in an apartment in the early 60’s. Long story short, my Dad saw a ghost in the apartment and my Uncle blew him off. Let’s just say a few weeks later that my Uncle wasn’t laughing anymore. He still gives my Uncle a hard time over that almost 50 years later!

There are few connections as touching as profound as we have with our pets. You share many experiences with the spirits of departed animals. This raises questions that can offend some religious sensibilities. Have you experienced any backlash from these stories or any others in your book for that matter?

Actually, none that I can remember. Maybe it is because I am always very respectful of religious faith and I do not think that belief in the existence of paranormal phenomena necessarily runs against the idea of religious faith. I am definitely not anti-religion in my beliefs or attitudes, personally or on the programs.

I am of the Christian faith and still believe but hold open the possibility that there are other things out there that we do not understand. After all, I can’t think of anything more supernatural than the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let me be clear, I do not mean that in an insulting way, I mean just that…these occurrences are not in the normal scope of human experience, by definition they are supernatural!

You include a few of your personal stories that aren’t exactly ghost stories, but do demonstrate how we all get feelings, maybe even premonitions that are beyond everyday understanding. Your own gut feeling may have saved your life from a drive-by shooting. If we include all of those gut feelings and premonitions into the discussion, do you think anyone on earth is exempt from experiencing the paranormal in some way?

In short, no. I believe every living human who reaches a certain age experiences something paranormal even if they discount it or refuse to acknowledge it because of their belief systems, be they of skeptical or religious origin.

What is one of the more frightening experiences you heard about in your research for the book?

The one story concerning a young girl’s experience with a Ouija board. It remains my favorite spooky story in the book and I won’t spoil it but it will send chills down your spine. I hear a lot of these stories and that one along with quite a few others you’ll read freaked me out! I really tried to hone in on the wildest stories we’ve had and include them in the book.

Why do you feel this subject continues to grow in popularity?

People are no longer as afraid to share their own experiences. The questions are universal and timeless. The increase in outlets both online and on-air have perpetuated an interest that has always been out there but suppressed in the past. I think it will only grow, it is not a fad. These questions will be asked as long as there are people to ask them.

If you could go camping and swap stories with one figure from history, who would it be and why? Well, if you are talking about general figures in history without a paranormal connection it would be a different answer. But, I will assume that we are going for a paranormal connection. It would be interesting to have a beer with Abraham Lincoln and see if he really had those premonitions of his death, and to talk about his interest in the supernatural. I’d probably also sneak in a question or two about that whole Civil War thing.

Before we close here, Jeff, I just want to say its been an honor to be interviewed by you. You are one of the shining lights in the field, I admire your work and your attitude toward the field. Thanks again for the opportunity!

Awww shucks. Thanks!

Click here to buy this book now.

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