People are excited about this one, I can feel it. Gillian Gabriel was kindly enough to interview me for the Champaign-Urbana art & culture blog Smile Politely. I hope this will draw a larger crowd on Saturday, but we will have a great time no matter what. I can’t wait to meet all my past and future friends in Champaign. I’ve missed the place ever since I left EIU…
Michael Kleen has a great fondness for the Midwest, a Master’s degree in History, and an insatiable thirst for ghost stories. Lucky for us, he has been able to skillfully combine all of his passions in his new book, Paranormal Illinois.
Painstakingly and lovingly compiled, Kleen’s books will be sure to become indispensable primers for both Midwestern ghost hunters and local folklore buffs alike. Michael will be appearing at Barnes and Noble this Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. to discuss and sign copies of Paranormal Illinois. He was kind enough to answer some of our questions:
Smile Politely: Your book, Paranormal Illinois, came out recently, but it looks like you have written several others on the topic. Where does your interest in the paranormal come from? Did you have an experience that motivated you to learn more?
Michael Kleen: You know, people ask me this question all the time, and I’m never quite sure of the answer. I’ve often thought about why I’m interested in this subject, but the fact is, I always have been. When I learned to read, some of the first books I sought out on my own were about ghosts. I must have read every single collection of ghost stories that was at the library when I was in elementary school. World’s Most Spine-Tingling “True” Ghost Stories, World’s Weirdest “True” Ghost Stories, and of course, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, were all favorites. What I like most about Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is that the author took common folktales and rewrote them in a way that kids of my generation would love. That’s what I try to do with my books: I want to tell the stories, but I also want to show that they are tied to history and culture. They are windows into a side of history that is usually ignored or covered-up. Ghosts are, after all, remnants of past generations that linger long after they are physically gone. Perhaps they have something to tell us.