Tuesday, August 12, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Sam Baltrusis

This is the most difficult intro I have had to write in my time as a blogger.  This is usually where I talk about the author, how we met, their book - something to get you interested in reading the interview that follows - but I have never met him and I am, in all honesty, not very happy or impressed with this author.
          Let me explain: I think this author is an amazing writer and loved his book (you can see my review of his book Ghosts of Salem: Haunts of the Witch City HERE).  I think he did a tremendous job on the book and, except for a small issue, thoroughly enjoyed it.  
          However, the interview that I have to post here is not my interview.  He told the person running this tour that he had rewritten a few of the questions, but what he actually did was change all of my questions completely (except one that he only changed a part of, which he asked himself twice and gave two very different answers to).
          After some inner turmoil (and some advice from fellow book bloggers - you can read more HERE), I decided that I would still post the interview - it is interesting - but with the disclaimer that this is, in fact, not my interview.  (This interview is posted exactly as it was sent to me.)


Q: Where are you from?
I'm originally from Pensacola, Florida, an extremely old American city dating back to 1698 and, based on my childhood experiences, extremely haunted.  I moved to Boston in 1990 for college and returned in 2007 as a freelance journalist.  It was then that I started working on the research for what was my first book, Ghosts of Salem: Haunts of the Hub.

Q: Tell us your latest news?
My third book, Ghosts of Salem: Haunts of the Witch City, is slotted for release on August 12, 2014.  In addition to writing historical-based ghost books, I'm a freelance journalist and ghost tour producer. I have two walking tours, Boston Haunts and Cambridge Haunts, and I'm working on additional tours for Salem and Provincetown.  I'm currently researching my fourth book, Haunted Provincetown, slotted for release in 2016.

Q: When and why did you begin writing?
I have been a working journalist for 20 years.  After spending years working for online, TV and radio media organizations, the written word is my calling.

Q: When and why did you begin writing?
I was the Andrea Zuckerman (character from Beverly Hills 90210) of my high school in Florida and have been writing since the late '80s.  My high school journalism teacher was my mentor and she inspired me at a young age to pursue a career in writing.

Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I published my first article in college.  My first big-time interview ever was with author Cameille Paglia after her book Sexual Personae.  She devoured me during our discussion, but the article turned out fantastic.  After 20 years, I still consider that interview my hardest ever.

Q: What initially inspired you to write your first book, Ghosts of Boston?
As a journalist, it has always been my job to give a voice to those without a voice.  However, I had no clue that I would eventually be giving a voice to those who have passed long ago.  For years, I was afraid of the supernatural.  I had a few experiences as a child and then one event in the early '90s while living in Ball Square in Somerville that terrified me.  I had what is known as "paranormal blinders," or an intense fear of the spirit realm and I completely shrugged off anything that could be viewed as paranormal.  I had a change of heart last year while researching a Halloween-themed story for STUFF magazine on haunted nightlife hot spots in Boston.  I saw what looked like a full-bodied apparition of a girl in the Central Burying Ground in the Boston Common.  I had no idea that others have had a similar encounter with the teen spirit dating back to a sighting by a Dr. Matthew Rutger in the 1970s.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing/researching Ghosts of Salem?
There's so much disinformation out there regarding the historical back story to many of the alleged haunted sites in the book.  Ghosts of Salem: Haunts of the Witch City is a history book with ghost stories.  It's not a typical paranormal book with regurgitated tales.  People who have read the book get that it's about giving a voice to many of the victims of the Witch Trials - like Giles Corey and Bridget Bishop - who were terrorized in 1692.  However, Salem is more than the witch trials.  Many of the "ghosts" featured in the book are more contemporary, but 1692 did leave what paranormal researchers call an "aura of disaster."

Q: Is there anything that makes a location more likely to host ghosts than another?
If there was a fire or an extremely-stressful event like a murder or suicide, the building has potential for paranormal activity.  Many of the sites featured in Ghosts of Salem: Haunts of the Witch City, ranging from Ropes Mansion or the Lyceum building, have ties to some sort of major injustice or disaster.  Obviously, the 1692 witch trials in Salem are a major player in my book.  However, the Great Fire of 1914, which annihilated Salem, is extremely important as well.

Q: Is there a message in Ghosts of Salem that you want your readers to grasp?
Tourists flock to Salem because of the 1692 witch trials hysteria.  Locals want to focus on other aspects of the city's history, like its golden maritime age.  What's great about my book is that it's not just about 1692.

What book have most influenced your life?
Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Stephen King's The Shining and Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I have revisited Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, while writing Ghosts of Salem.  I'm also smitten with H.P. Lovecraft, who created a fictional city called Arkham based on Salem.

What would you like your readers to know?
When I write my historical-based books, I spend months and sometimes years researching the ghost lore associated with a city before I even pitch the book to my publisher.  I also let the "ghosts" guide me, so I let my intuition guide me at first.  Sometimes my intuition leads me into extremely scary situations which was the case with Ghosts of Salem.

2 comments:

Sam Baltrusis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Archer Devil said...

" I didn't rewrite your questions ... I never received them."

"After requesting them from Tia, I answered them immediately and sent to your email."

So which is it? You didn't receive them or you did? Fact remains, Meg still posted your "interview" and a review of your book, which she liked.

It doesn't matter that you do not understand, you're bordering on harassment. In the words of Elsa, LET IT GO. You wrote a book, she enjoyed it, be happy.