Fiona Broome has been a professional ghost hunter for over 20 years. Today, she describes herself as a “blip analyst.” She’s fascinated by unexplained events and everyday anomalies. Often, this takes her into paranormal realms, especially haunted places.
Fiona’s paranormal research was first published in Fate magazine in 1989. Since then, she’s been a reliable resource for paranormal researchers in a variety of fields.
She’s written or contributed to over a dozen best-selling books, and she’s a consultant for paranormal TV shows and the stars on them. Fiona is the founder of one of the Internet’s oldest ghost-related websites, HollowHill.com, and she’s written more than 500 articles for magazines and websites.
What inspires you to write?
Every day, I discover fascinating paranormal mysteries, and I want to share them with others, especially in books. Books give me an opportunity to share my interests in depth, with lots of information so others can discover things that are weird, startling, or downright eerie.
Though I also write articles and record podcasts, books are my first love.
For me, each book is a conversation with my readers. I want to engage readers so they catch some of my enthusiasm, and take it into other areas of their lives, as well.
In addition, because I’ve had the good fortune to be in the “right place at the right time” to witness extraordinary things, I’m committed to sharing my experiences with others. Through my writing, they can understand even more about paranormal phenomena — what it’s like to be right there, witnessing astonishing things — and sometimes experience it more intensely than TV shows and movies can convey.
And, more than anything, feedback I receive from friends, fans, and readers of my books inspires me to research and write more.
Tell us about your writing process
My books usually begin with a few notes. It might be an idea, triggered by a reader’s question, or something I read in a book. It might be a response to something I see on TV. Or, it might be a “what if?” question that I want to research, and document that process in a book.
From there, the growing idea becomes an opening paragraph or two, or a summary. Quite often, that becomes my book’s introduction.
Then, I write a quick list of topics — sometimes as an actual list, and sometimes as a mindmap — so I remember to include everything important in the book.
After that, I start writing. Usually, I alternately write at the keyboard and use voice-recognition software. Weirdly, the spoken words usually need more editing. When I talk, it’s easy for me to get too technical. I need to take it down a notch and explain the mental steps that led me to that concept or conclusion.
Sometimes, I write in WordPress. For some books, it’s easier to think of the chapters as a series of blog posts (sometimes really long ones). The WordPress context helps me avoid writer’s block or the dreaded mid-book slump.
Then, I assemble those posts into a book — lately, that’s Kindle before the printed version — and edit as I go along.
For me, editing is a tricky process. I’d rather send out a book that has some awkward phrasing in it, but retains my original “voice” — my energy and enthusiasm — than lose that in finicky editing. On the other hand, I sometimes look back at my books and wince, because some passages could have been better phrased.
It’s a tricky balance.
As the book nears publication, I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas. (There’s also some “first day of school” anxiety in the mix.) I can hardly wait for feedback from my readers, as they share their remarkable experiences, in conversations in social media, emails, and in real life.
All in all, I don’t think of myself as a writer. I’m simply someone with interesting things to share, and books are a great way to do that.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first books were self-published, back in the day when that involved 11″ x 14″ paper, folded in half, and all the pages stapled in a folded cardstock cover. Today, they’d probably be called zines.
My first traditional book was the result of a publisher contacting me directly, because the editor knew my reputation. I was kind of stunned. After getting over the shock — someone actually wanted to publish me — I signed the contract without hesitation.
My audience grew in several nonfiction genres, and I began publishing books with other publishers.
Then, print-on-demand happened, in a big way. I discovered CreateSpace a couple of years ago. I had control over my covers. I decided the font. And, my per-book royalties were often 10x more than I was used to. I liked that!
Now, with the additional option of ebooks, including Kindle, I can get an idea, write a book, and have it published a week later. That’s so exhilarating, I almost have to pinch myself to be sure I’m not dreaming.
I still publish with traditional publishers, now and then, usually as part of an anthology of articles.
I’d urge new authors to look at self-publishing, first. Try a few books under pen names, while you get used to the book writing and publishing process. And, once you have more confidence, start improving your work — including the writing, editing, and cover designs — so you build an audience and respect as a professional.
With the tools available to writers today, the process — going from, “I’d like to write a book,” to being a successful, full-time author — can be wonderfully short.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Some people — including me — will always want some books in print. We love the tactile quality of books… holding them in our hands, feeling the paper, turning the pages, and jotting notes in the margins. A well-loved book becomes an old friend, complete with a slightly curled cover, and pages soft from being in our hands.
I think that self-publishing (PoD… print on demand) will continue to grow, and traditional publishers will need to offer far more incentives for writers to accept lower royalties in exchange for better editing, distribution, and so on.
The advantage of ebooks is, of course, tremendous. Speed of delivery, low cost, and immediate feedback make this a great option for readers and writers.
I believe that we’ll see far more digital options, such as the ability to click and listen to the author read his or her book, aloud, as the reader turns the pages. And, I think there will be extra sound tracks — sort of “author’s commentary” options — that digital book owners can select, for even more insights.
I think novels will include clickable image links, so digital book owners can see the settings, and perhaps short scenes with actors, to make it a more multi-media experience. Eventually, I believe we’ll see collaborative products, mixing books and big-budget movies.
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print