Welcome to Bob Freeman’s occultdetective.com

Posted in Alba Gu Brath, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on April 18, 2016 by Occult Detective

01 sigil magickBob Freeman is an artist, game designer, paranormal adventurer, and author of two book series — The Cairnwood Manor series ( Shadows Over Somerset  & Keepers of the Dead) and Tales of the Liber Monstrorum (First Born).

A lifelong student of mythology, folklore, magic, and religion, Freeman has written numerous short stories, articles, and reviews for various online and print publications and is a respected lecturer on the occult and paranormal phenomena.

He lives in rural Indiana with his wife Kim and son Connor.

In addition to occultdetective.com, Mr. Freeman can be found online on twitter and facebook.

cairnwood series

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My thoughts on Varla Ventura’s Paranormal Parlor: Ghosts, Seances, & Tales of True Hauntings

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on June 18, 2018 by Occult Detective
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I am, as you’re most likely well aware, a seasoned paranormal investigator. I have always had an interest, and prowled graveyards and abandoned houses when I still measured my years in single digits. I devoured what few books on the subject my local library offered. I co-founded a “ghost hunting group” called the Monster Club we put together in 1974 when I was eight years old. We held seances with candles, read fortunes with playing cards, and tempted fate with the occasional Ouija board session. We tracked UFO and Bigfoot sightings on a huge map of the continental United States. We clipped articles from the National Enquirer and Weekly World News. It was one helluva lot of fun.
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In ’83 I formed the Nightstalkers, putting a more “grown-up” spin on our childhood endeavors. Off to college, I majored in anthropology with a focus on witchcraft, magic, and religion. My occult pursuits intensified, but I never lost the sense of wonder or excitement for investigating the strange and unusual occurrences that were brought to me from people of all walks of life.
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I do not investigate as regularly as I used to. Para-Entertainment Television saw to that. Ghost Hunters and shows of that ilk brought in a new style of investigation, a pseudo-scientific approach that was quickly mirrored and imitated. Suddenly there were dozens upon dozens of thrill seekers, all calling themselves professionals. These would-be “paranormal experts” flooded the field and sparked an explosion of “haunted” locations brokering outlandish fees to “hunt” their properties.
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varlaIt’s all gotten to be a bit much, but I have never lost my passion for things that go bump in the proverbial night which is why I found Varla Ventura’s Paranormal Parlor: Ghosts, Seances, and Tales of True Hauntings such a treat.

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I have read and enjoyed several other books by Varla Ventura, including Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires & Other Creatures of the Night and Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings: A Complete Guide to the Wild and Wicked Enchanted Realm.
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Paranormal Parlor is a perfect companion to her previous works.
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I just love the way the publisher puts these books together.
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Paranormal Parlor boasts a gorgeous, heavy stock cover with newsprint interiors (no glare making for unpleasant reading ). You’ll find it lavishly illustrated with woodcut reproductions and clip-art as well. Weiser Books has done a wonderful job with it.
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That said, a pretty package is wasted without content to back it up, and Varla Ventura has delivered a fun and entertaining book that focuses on the sensational and spine-tingling. It really takes me back to the sort of books I read and coveted as a child, capturing that thrilling aspect of the paranormal that fueled the fire so long ago.
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Ventura has a terrific, conversational writing voice in her retelling of these paranormal encounters. She states, “I have never met a ghost story I didn’t like.” I have to agree with the sentiment. Human beings have been sharing otherworldly tales since the invention of language. It is part and parcel of who we are as a species. Our complex brains churn over the complexities of what transpires once we shuffle off this mortal coil. The ghost story preys on those insecurities and fears. Sometimes this is done with menace and dread, and sometimes with tongue-in-cheek.
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We are fascinated by the paranormal, with the here-after, with haints and haunts and all manner of spookiness. If you’re one who likes to embrace these sort of ghastly chills and thrills, then I assure you, Varla Ventura’s Paranormal Parlor scratches that itch quite nicely.
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You can purchase Paranormal Parlor wherever books are sold.

 

Robert E Howard

Posted in Archive on June 11, 2018 by Occult Detective

Oak Hill RPG Club

“All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre;
The feast is over and the lamps expire.”

Robert E Howard passed away 82 years ago today on June 11, 1936. He has been my inspiration for more than 40 years. He built living, breathing worlds with his words. He was more than just a master of action & adventure. He imbued every story with atmosphere & presence.

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The enduring legacy of Howard’s characters are a testament to the wondrous talent he possessed — Conan of Cimmeria, Solomon Kane, Kull of Atlantis, Dark Agnes de Chastillon, and so many more.

For having only lived 30 years, only twelve of those as a professional author, his literary output was nothing short of prolific. He, arguably, created the sword and sorcery genre, made brilliant contributions to Lovecraft’s Mythos, and churned out an incredible array of heroic fiction in an even more incredible…

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My Review of the Little Book of Saturn

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error with tags , , on June 8, 2018 by Occult Detective

saturnI am, admittedly, not an expert on astrology. Oh, I’ve studied the subject, to be sure, and I’ve constructed charts for myself, loved ones, and friends over the years. I have been deeply interested in the subject, but view astrology as a complex science that requires the sort of dedication that I am, unfortunately, unable to give.

I do read quite a bit on the subject, as you can imagine. I have a deep respect for Liz Greene’s Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil. Visiting the latest Weiser Books release, The Little Book of Saturn by Aliza Einhorn, brought back fond memories of devouring Greene’s work, but I believe Ms. Einhorn has delivered a worthy successor.

What you’ll find in The Little Book of Saturn is a whimsical examination of Saturn’s role in our astrological make-up. I adore the author’s voice. She is warm, exuberant, and knowledgeable.

einhornMagicians all need a wee bit astrology in their bag of tricks and Einhorn’s examination of Saturn’s place in our charts offers a deeper understanding that strips away some of the fear and anxiety so often associated with its celestial appearance.

This is, I feel, a great book to broaden your knowledge of Saturn in your life, especially for novices, but for the more advanced astrologer, there’s something here for you too. Aliza Einhorn has delivered a passionate examination of this taskmaster of the heavens.

I recommend the book, wholeheartedly.

The Little Book of Saturn: Astrological Gifts, Challenges, and Returns by Aliza Einhorn is available wherever books are sold.

Author Brian Keene could use a little help from his friends

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives on June 6, 2018 by Occult Detective

brianBrian Keene needs your help. An accident has left him with first, second, and third degree burns on his face and arm and, being a popular mid-list author, unfortunately, does come with the perk of health insurance. To take some of the sting out of mounting medical bills, author Stephen Kozeniewski has set up a gofundme to benefit Brian in his time of need.

On June 5, 2018, author, podcaster, philanthropist, and father Brian Keene was badly burned in an accident. At this time he is conscious and in good spirits but has first degree burns on his face and second degree burns on his body.

As a freelance author, Brian does not have health insurance. We’re not sure at this time how long he’ll be in treatment, or how much the bill will be, but any visit to the hospital is expensive, and will only be compounded by lost wages from not being able to work.

We’re asking the community of writers, horror fans, and just decent human beings in general to chip in a few dollars to help get Brian back on his feet and spending time with his loving girlfriend and sons. We’d be very grateful for anything you can afford to contribute.

DONATE HERE

I’ve known Brian for something like fifteen years. The first time I sat down with him and had a chat (at Maurice Broaddus’ house in Indy) I felt an instant kinship, bonding over our mutual love of Manly Wade Wellman and folk magic.

levi_smBrian’s Dark Hollow series (Dark Hollow, Ghost Walk, A Gathering of Crows, Last of the Albatwitches) is a brilliant take on the occult detective genre. I assure you, any fan of the genre will be enthralled by the adventures of ex-Amish magus Levi Stoltzfus.

Of course, I’m a little biased. The dedication page of Last of the Albatwitches, in part, reads:

The second half of this book — Last of the Albatwitches — is dedicated to Bob Freeman, my favorite real-life occult detective.

Needless to say, my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. He has always been a good friend to me and I have seen firsthand what he has given back to this community of fans and fellow authors. It’s well past time we give a little something back.

 

If you can’t donate to the gofundme campaign, maybe instead you could pick up one of his books. Every little bit helps.

My Top Ten Essential Occult Detective Tales

Posted in Occult Detectives on June 4, 2018 by Occult Detective

On twitter yesterday, author Peter Bebergal ( Too Much to Dream, Season of the Witch) asked “What are your top ten essential stories/novels of the (occult detective) genre?”

This was in response to two tweets:

Occult detective fiction has always struck that perfect balance for me. There’s nothing quite like a metaphysical whodunit. Seabury Quinn’s Jules de Grandin stories are a great place to start. Not my favorite, but a fine representation of the genre.

Another great example would be Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris’ The Adept series. Adam Sinclair is the quintessential occult detective. These five books, six if you count Lammas Night, are among my most treasured.

Compiling a list of my Top Ten Essential Occult Detective Tales is no mean feat. It’s like being asked to choose a favorite child. At least in this instance you get to pick ten of your favorite kids. So let’s to it then, in alphabetical order…

The Adept
Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris
Sir Adam Sinclair

Ancient Sorceries
Algernon Blackwood
Dr. John Silence

Brood of the Witch-Queen
Sax Rohmer
Robert Cairn

The Devil Rides Out
Dennis Wheatley
Duc de Richleau

Falling Angel
William Hjortsberg
Harry Angel

Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits
Garth Ennis and Will Simpson
John Constantine

The Last Illusion
Clive Barker
Harry D’Amour

Moonchild
Aleister Crowley
Simon Iff

The School of Darkness
Manly Wade Wellman
John Thunstone

Spectre
Robert Weverka
William Sebastian

Book - SpectreAdmittedly, Spectre, a novelization of the failed Gene Roddenberry tv pilot, is difficult to track down. It’s listed on amazon for over $1000, just under $100 used. I add it to this list because it’s near perfect as an occult detective novel and superior to the source material  Considering my fondness for Robert Culp’s performance in the show, that’s saying a lot.

I had wanted the book for years, being a huge fan of the pilot from the moment I received the Lincoln Enterprises newsletter announcing its May 21, 1977 airdate.

Unfortunately, I missed out on the book, but a couple of years ago, my lovely wife Kim snagged me a secondhand copy (paying way too much for it, some $40 I believe), but it was everything I wanted it to be and more.

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If you happen upon it at a reasonable price, do not hesitate to buy it. It’s well written and a loads of fun. It’s not worth three or more digits, mind you, unless money is no object to you.

Of the list I compiled above, if I were to choose a single short story that best represented what an occult detective is, or should be, I might lead you to The Last Illusion by Clive Barker, originally published in Volume Six of The Books of Blood. It has that hard-boiled feel, and early Barker was magically delicious. If you just can’t wait, another Harry D’Amour tale is available online for free at the following link: LOST SOULS.

If I were going to direct someone to a single anthology, the Weiser Book of Occult Detectives, edited by Judika Illes is a no-brainer.

The best occult detective collection is Manly Wade Wellman’s Complete John Thunstone.

As for the best occult detective series, I would argue that The Adept series by Kurtz and Harris would surely be the books to turn to.

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All are easy enough to track down on amazon. Katherine Kurtz is certainly one of my favorite authors and I reread Lammas Night frequently. Prolific comic scribe Cullen Bunn tweeted, in response to my Adept post, “It’s been so long since I read them. I should probably revisit them.” I couldn’t agree more.

 

My interview with Depths of Night author Stephen Zimmer

Posted in Sword & Sorcery with tags , on May 23, 2018 by Occult Detective

I had a chance to chat with my friend, author Stephen Zimmer, about writing, inspiration, and his latest release, the novella Depths of Night. You can read my review of the book here.

For me, the one place I would love to visit before I shuffle off this mortal coil is Robert E. Howard’s house in Cross Plains. Tell me, have you ever undertaken a literary pilgrimage?

Though I have traveled quite a bit over the years, I have not been able to make too many trips that I could deem as literary pilgrimages, with the exception of a trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland that I made a few years back in the company of my mother and sister.   Many of the sites and lands I had studied when writing the first few titles of my epic fantasy Fires in Eden series were finally able to be experienced in person.  Seeing those places carried with it a surreal feeling.

I soaked up everything that I possibly could, to the point I made a bus of folks wait so I could walk around the base of one of my favorite castles of all time, located in Wales,Caernarfon.   Going to the Viking museum in York, and the Viking section of the history museum in Dublin, Ireland, seeing the Book of Kells, Westminster Abbey, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, the White Tower in London.

I could go on and on about individual highlights,but suffice it to say that it put added depth and a deeper appreciation to everything that I had studied from afar.  It was a very profound personal experience that I will never forget.

DepthsofNight_CoverArt_1200X800I think your travels are reflected in your writing. It’s obvious that worldbuilding is very important to you. In that sense, do you see each book as its own thing, or are those connections intricate to the narrative you’re creating?

In regard to the releases like Depths of Night, these novellas are intended to be stand-alone tales that build a body of work centering around the Ragnar Stormbringer character.  Some of the tales will have expansions on things referenced in others (and in future novel sets that I have in mind), but any reader can enjoy them in any order that they would like.  Eventually, I would love to see the body of work collectively tell the Ragnar Stormbringer story, in the same way that I’m building a body of work for Rayden Valkyrie.

As each of us gets a wee bit longer in the truth, a certain amount of wisdom comes with that. Are there any hard earned lessons you wish you could have imparted to your younger self?

Run … run fast, and take the broadcasting job out of college, haha!  OR, stock up on bourbon, lots of it, and take the path that I chose to take!  In all seriousness, I would definitely tell my younger self to gird for the long haul and be prepared for the seismic changes in the industry that have made it very challenging for writers to raise awareness of their work today.  It can be very frustrating at times to consider the amount of work that is put into being a writer (all aspects, including marketing/PR tasks and everything else beyond writing itself) in relation to the often painstaking progress made on one’s career path.

Some friends and I, all fellow writers, were chewing on this one the other day — what was the best money you ever spent as a writer? For me, it goes all the way back to my first word processor. What do you think?

The best money I ever spent was setting up a separate office space from where I do my writing.  Having a dedicated writing space has been invaluable to me over the years.  It has kept a host of possible distractions away from my writing sessions and has also been of great benefit in keeping me in the right mindset, or zone, when creating written works.  Sometimes I joke that I have developed my own Pavlovian response, in that when I sit down in my writing space, my brain kicks into writing mode immediately!

Whenever you ask someone what their favorite novel is, you tend to see certain books turn up over and over again, is there a book you love that you feel is maybe under-appreciated?

legendI would have to say David Gemmell’s Legend.  I think it is a heroic fantasy masterpiece that has not gotten near the recognition that it deserves.  It features a great hero at a more vulnerable stage of his life, a fantastic supporting cast, and a great “against all odds” kind of plotline.  Beyond the action, twists, and turns, there is a big heart behind it all, and the glimpses of life’s bigger picture shine through in a way that few authors are able to do.  Gemmell walks this fine line in a brilliant way and I truly would love to see this novel adapted to the big screen to gain more awareness for Gemmell’s work.

Aleister Crowley famously said, “To me a book is a message from the gods to mankind; or, if not, should never be published at all….” I have always viewed writing as a very spiritual exercise? Do you feel the same?

I definitely do.  Writing to me is an active engagement in subcreation and envisioning different possible realities.  It can also be, if you let it, be a deeply meditative and self-reflective kind of practice.  I do allow myself to immerse into those kinds of things, to the point that I feel renewed and often reinvigorated when I walk out of the room after a writing session.

Writing allows me to constantly examine and think the flaws, virtues, values, and attributes of various characters, which can be used to gain further understanding of morality.  Being a speculative fiction writer, I am also able to explore themes regarding the spirit and spiritual realms, in an abundance of forms.

Writing offers a wonderful avenue for spiritual practice, if you let it.

StephenZImmer_AuthorPhotoI have a particular fondness for Easter Eggs and liberally sprinkle them throughout my stories. Does your fiction have any tucked away fro devoted fans to ferret out?

They end up being there whether I intend for them or not, I believe.  There have been several times when those who know me well, who have read my work, will comment on a certain character’s outlook and values, their actions, or other elements that have a connection with something powerful in my own life.

Consciously, I do enjoy leaving some subtle things here and there for the keen-eyed reader, especially those who have read all of my work in a given series or franchise.

Thanks for stopping by, Stephen. It was a pleasure to get a chance to touch base with you. And for those of you who joined us, be sure to check out my review of Stephen’s Ragnar Stormbringer tale, Depths of Night, for sale now wherever ebooks are sold.

Now Available — Occult Detective Quarterly (Spring 2018)

Posted in Occult Detectives on May 9, 2018 by Occult Detective

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OCCULT DETECTIVE QUARTERLY returns with it’s 4th issue and is available via Amazon. I was honored to offer up an illustration for Aaron Vlek’s tale (as well as performing a bit of graphic design assistance). Editors John Linwood Grant and Dave Brzeski continue to do God’s work (just don’t ask which one). It’s another issue of the best in Occult Detective fiction and not to be missed!

Freeman, ODQ Vlek

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