Nick Groff's Chasing Spirits

Read an excerpt from Nick Groff's new book, Chasing Spirits.

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Take a look behind the scenes of the Travel Channel’s hit show Ghost Adventures with paranormal investigator Nick Groff as he shares his favorite explorations of the supernatural. From recording strange voices during his dusk-to-dawn lockdowns at "haunted" places to a face-to-face encounter with a spirit at Linda Vista Hospital in Los Angeles, Nick reveals an inside perspective of some of the most mind-blowing incidents caught on-camera, a closer look at some of the gadgets and gear used in the show, and the friendly and competitive camaraderie between the Ghost Adventures crew—on the set and off.

Read the introduction to Nick Groff's new book, Chasing Spirits, and then head over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to order your copy!
Two seconds. Big, life-changing experiences don’t take months or years to happen. The game changers occur in a flash of time. My life changed forever when I locked eyes with a spirit at Linda Vista Hospital in East Los Angeles during a Ghost Adventures lockdown. That moment—what she was wearing, the color of her eyes, her clothing, and the expression on her face—are all cut into my permanent memory like the deep scar that circles my left biceps. If I close my eyes right now, I can relive the experience just as it happened in that dark surgical suite, where the only light came from the LCD screen of my video camera.

Amid the now empty glass cabinets, the old tile walls, and the no longer used surgery lighting equipment, a woman now stood. She shouldn’t have been there . . . and another second later, she was gone.

Since childhood my life has been full of paranormal experiences—yet I’ve always had questions. But those two sec¬onds at Linda Vista changed me in every way. The way I deal with other people, how I think about the universe around me, and what I know about the spirit world all became clear in that moment of raw fear and shock.

My name is Nick Groff, and this is my story—how this para¬normal investigator was made from the cradle to the TV screen. These are my own ghost adventures.

I’m writing this book because we can’t cover all of the story in a television show. There are things the camera misses, and things the camera was never meant to see. You’re about to get all of it—the successes, the fights, the challenges, and the paranormal encounters that have played a big role in making me who I am today. I want to tell you about some of my favorite cases and give you more history on the haunts that have left a mark on me.

Over the years, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about the paranormal, about being on a television show, and about my life. I’m going to try to answer everything I can about how I got to this point right here. I’m at a good place right now, but it can be frightening too.

I was born on April 19, 1980, in San Jose, California. Though I was born on the West Coast, I feel like more of a New England guy because my family moved to a small town in southern New Hampshire when I was one. I grew up surrounded by woods. It was awesome. I was a hyperactive kid, and I got into a lot of trouble. Running around the woods and exploring helped me burn off some of that energy, but not all of it. There were plenty of times my adventures ended in blood.

One of my earliest memories involves my older sister, Dianna. We were jumping on the couches in the living room of our Nashua, New Hampshire, house, when all of a sudden Dianna missed and slammed her chin against the coffee table. Her chin split open and blood was everywhere. She was rushed to the hospital, where she got stitches . . . but I’ll never forget the blood. The scene slowed down for me, almost the way a movie might show a tragic event in slow motion. I can still see her blood on the floor, on her hands, running down her chin and neck. I felt like a video camera capturing this scene: my sister crying, my parents frantic to comfort her and stop the bleeding. Some scenes never leave your head.
My parents, Maureen and David, tried to encourage me to be very athletic because I was always running around anyway. I was on the swim team by age four and got used to swim practice before and after school. I was a great swimmer and traveled all over the place for tournaments and meets. Looking back, I’m sure that’s where I got the urge to see the world and travel to different places. When you spend a lot of time on the road, you get a sense of adventure early on. Locations have an identity and personality of their own. Some towns are depressed, others are quiet, and still others burst with energy. The people who live in such places create that energy and feed off of it at the same time.

After Nashua, my family moved to Salem, New Hampshire. That was an amazing place to live. My dad built a house on a cul-de-sac in an area surrounded by forest. Trees and streams and hills were everywhere around me. I was six years old and spent hours exploring the woods and building forts. Sometimes I’d be out there with my friends, but I also spent plenty of time exploring on my own. I loved the woods, loved the mystery of it, the sounds you’d hear in the distance, the strange shadows cast by the trees. An underlying sense of fear got into my blood. Every shadow was a place for something to hide or for me to explore. Like any town, the woods have a life and personality too. Looking back, I can see this was a time when the paranor¬mal was oozing into my bloodstream.

New England is full of ghost stories and paranormal tradi¬tions. With so much history, with tales of Old World witchcraft in nearby Salem, Massachusetts, and with a population that speaks pretty openly about its haunts, how could I not become who I am today?

Sports and friends were the two biggest parts of my life as a kid. I was an adrenaline junkie even back then. I was such a strong swimmer that I broke a national record for the fifty-yard freestyle when I was ten years old. I also played soccer and bas¬ketball. I was a rowdy athlete, and that sometimes got me into trouble in school and in town. I was ultracompetitive and always wanted to win, but I loved to have a good time too.

I loved making people laugh, because that made me the cen¬ter of attention . . . and it usually meant my teachers would be pissed off at me for the disruption. My parents got a lot of phone calls and had plenty of meetings with the school. My dad was a lawyer, so he had to deal with people’s shit all day long, and then he’d have to come home and deal with me. Sometimes I don’t know how he and my mom did it.

Don’t get me wrong—I was a good student when I wanted to be. I got C’s and B’s. I could be smart when I was interested in something. I was lucky to have a few teachers who helped me find my way and get focused.
When I was at St. Patrick School in Pelham, New Hampshire, I had one teacher who really got through to me. Mrs. Moran saw that I was always daydreaming and making up stories. I didn’t want to listen in class; I wanted to do my own thing. She helped me to develop my storytelling.

I had just seen Cujo, the movie about the rabid dog based on Stephen King’s book. In my head I was imagining a story about a three-legged dog that followed me and my friends home. Instead of dismissing me for having crazy ideas, Mrs. Moran sat with me and helped me put them down on paper. She helped me find something I really like to do: tell stories. I think I still have that story of the three-legged dog sitting around somewhere . . . and no, you can’t see it! (Just kidding . . . I will try to find it and post it on my Web site someday.) I’ve been a storyteller since a very young age. I still am. I always will be.

Movies were a huge influence on me too. I remember watch¬ing E.T. as a kid. Both the movie and the subject left a huge impact. I was blown away by the idea that UFOs could visit us, and by the incredible characters and the experiences everyone went through. Paranormal themes spoke to me even as a wide-eyed kid munching popcorn in a dark theater while watching a Steven Spielberg masterpiece.

In fact, I can’t think about my childhood without also think¬ing about movies. I was in love with every part of the moviegoing experience. When I sat down to watch a movie, I escaped every¬thing. Everyday activities, anything that was frustrating about home or school was gone when the movie rolled. I would put myself in the movie—I was right there with the characters hav¬ing an adventure. And when I left the theater, those adventures would continue, in the woods and in my head.

Growing up, we had only one TV with big rabbit-ear anten¬nae, so we didn’t get many channels, but of course we could rent movies. I was about six years old when I walked in on my sister watching Alien. I joined her, and it scared the crap out of me.

Every time I’d watch a horror movie, it would give me night¬mares. I’ll never forget Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street and the character Freddy Krueger. Cat’s Eye, Pet Sematary, Chil¬dren of the Corn, It, Twilight Zone—all these movies scared the shit out of me. I was a huge Stephen King fan back then. I loved the adrenaline rush that only fear can bring—although some¬times that made it tough for a kid to sleep. My parents would sometimes wake up in the morning and find me sleeping on the floor in their bedroom near the foot of their bed. I didn’t care. I still wanted to see more horror movies. Fear made me feel alive.

I’d do anything to get my hands on more scary movies. One time I was at the video rental store trying to rent Dr. Giggles. It was rated R and I was just a kid. The video clerk told me that I couldn’t rent it without a parent’s permission. I pointed to a woman across the store and convinced the clerk that she was my mother. When I got home, my real mother was pissed that I had rented the slasher film.

Maybe it was the horror movies combined with my overactive imagination, but even my room frightened me. I was scared of what might be under the bed. Some nights there was nothing and I slept fine, but on other nights I had this sense that I wasn’t alone in there. It could have been just in my head, but danger lurks in funny places. By looking for ghosts and monsters, I would learn to face fear, to control it within myself.

I know children are more sensitive to the supernatural. Over time we learn to forget what we feel because adults tell us it can’t be real. But what if you don’t believe that? I know we say ghosts aren’t real because we want to protect our children, because we want them to feel safe. Knowing what I know now, I can see I was sensitive as a kid. I’ve lost most of that sensitivity over the years, but not all. I don’t feel I’m psychic, which can be a good thing when you’re looking for ghosts. I know that if I see some¬thing it’s not some psychic sense. It’s real and right there. And if I can see it, my camera can see it too. I can tell the difference between my own psychic impression and what’s physically in the room with me, but that skill took dozens of investigations to develop. An impression is almost like a memory, even though the event is happening in the present moment. If the spirit is manifesting in the room right now, then I’m using my regular senses to experience the entity.

My childhood was not one paranormal event after the other, but I can look back now and see that there were events that couldn’t be explained. There were connections between adven¬tures, accidents, and life experiences that molded me into who I am today. The same could be said for all of us—we are all a product of every moment of our lives up to this point. But this is how I was drawn into the paranormal and how I launched a career on television. It wasn’t a single event, but a bunch of small moments that steered me to this. Two seconds here, two seconds there, and you end up exactly where you are now.

Throughout these pages I’m going to answer some of the most common questions you’ve asked me on Facebook, Twitter, and in person, and I’ll bare it all. We’ll go behind the scenes and into my own life because I want you to see the world through my eyes. I want you to know more about the history of the locations I’ve investigated, and I want you to understand why I’m chasing spirits.

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