The paranormal author is an unusual brand of writer. When researching and discovering about historic locations, many paranormal writers also take into account local stories, legends and experiences and examine them side by side. The real test of a historic writer and a ghost story writer is how the material is researched and presented.
For the most part, paranormal investigators also have a big interest in history and unearthing stories of people and places from the past (and sometimes even the present). I also noticed that there are those that simply collect the stories and legends and call them 'ghost stories.' They don't really research what is fact and what is fiction, they simply tell the tales as they are relayed to them or passed down from the past (or those still alive to tell them). They rely on memories from those they meet and encounter, those that indicate they were there and witnessed the events of the story, or know somebody who knew somebody who was involved.
Without research and facts to back those stories up, they are simply to remain as such; stories. They are fun to read and marvel at the possibilities, but without facts, we can never really be sure that we are getting the full story.
I can honestly see the benefits of both kinds of authors. With the author who collects the 'ghost stories', they are capturing important social folklore of geographical regions, states, towns, and buildings. They showcase often a period of time for that location or people who live there, and maybe the ideals of the time leading to the specifics of the 'ghost story.' In a way, they are capturing the social history of the paranormal, whether the events actually occurred or not.
Authors who do the research, looking for dates, property records, waterline maps, probate records, and old maps, not to mention local newspaper articles, they are even more important to the paranormal investigator. With this type of information, we can fact check with investigation evidence, correlate names and experiences, and see if we can make concrete connections between them.
The novice investigator is excited to learn of the stories and often accepts whatever is found, simply because they are excited to investigate and discover. The seasoned, veteran investigator looks for the historical facts and local stories, and using both of these lines of research, can come to a variable and often revealing outcome.
There are paranormal authors who collect and research, and those are the books I look for and wish to add to my own library. Ghost stories can be re-written and re-cycled, but research and fact finding is the real hard work for paranormal authors.
I myself have a few books in the cooker, while researching them I have found it’s not always easy to locate the answers for the questions that arise. When digging you also find surprises along the way and this also encourages you to dig deeper and find out the outcome of situations and events that transpire.
When I was writing my "Alcatraz: 200 Years of Historyin 3D," I had numerous, well-written books on Alcatraz so information was bountiful, but I also gathered facts from both prisoners and former guards that I didn't find in other books, and added them as well. My book is sectioned on a timeline over 200 years of the islands history (not just the Federal Prison) and was written as 'True' or 'False' questions,
featuring color, 3D photos on every page. I also included photos of places on the island the public can never visit due to the dangers and regulations of the National Park Service.
Writing paranormal books, can be one of the more difficult than other history books, you really have to question your sources, and make determinations if the facts you find, line up with those that you already have. In this field, making that important distinction between what was legend and what 'really' happened is a tough road, even against popular folklore.
As I work on a current paranormal book project, I have also found that newspaper articles are not always factual, and that you should check the findings against other articles and newspapers to be sure they are accurate. You might even find facts that nobody else has even considered while working on a project. Paranormal research can be important historical fact the same as conventional historic records.