Local author releases 'The Nearly Departed'
Michael Norman, a retired University of Wisconsin River Falls (UWRF) professor, has completed writing his eighth book for publication to be released in September.
Norman co-authored the series Haunted America with Beth Scott, as well as co-authoring two grammar books and writing several plays.
Norman's new book, The Nearly Departed, is a collection of ghost stories from all over Minnesota.
Norman, originally from Illinois, first came to River Falls in the mid 1960's to attend UW-RF as an undergraduate student studying journalism and speech.
After graduating Norman returned to Illinois to attend graduate school at Northern Illinois University. Norman worked for a couple years as a radio news director and high school teacher before returning to River Falls.
Norman accepted a teaching position at UW-RF as a journalism professor, where he taught journalism and mass communication for nearly 30 years. Norman was the journalism department chair for 18 years of his career at the university.
Norman wrote his first book, Haunted Wisconsin, in 1980 with co-author Beth Scott. The book is a compilation of ghost stories from several different regions in the state.
Norman said he chose to write about ghost stories in Wisconsin because no one had ever done it before. Many of the stories in the book come from first hand accounts of people who claim to have experienced a supernatural encounter. Other stories in the book come from diaries, journals and other second hand sources.
Haunted Wisconsin was successful and inspired the Haunted America series, which Norman and Scott continued to author books of true ghost stories. The series includes the books Haunted Heritage, Historic Haunted America, Haunted America and Haunted Homeland.
The books Haunted Heritage and Haunted Heartland include two ghost stories from River Falls. One ghost story being of a house built in the 19th The other story is of a theatre director encountering a ghost at the UW-RF theatre during a play dress rehearsal. century, which is now haunted by a benevolent spirit and a "negative spector" with a weak presence in the house.
Norman also co-authored two grammar books with Carol Roecklein, both designed for people ages 12+ to enhance their vocabulary.
Norman is also an accomplished play write having written several plays. His play Entering the Circle: The Lives of Pioneer Farm Women was written for the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial celebration.
The Nearly Departed is Norman's latest book to be released in September. The book is a collection of over 30 ghost stories from Minnesota, that took nearly three years to write.
Norman gathered these ghost stories in the same manner as his previous works, through interviews with people who had a ghost story to share or second hand sources like diaries and newspaper articles.
Norman's journalism and mass communication experience show in the writing all of his books. He collects the information as a reporter would for a news article and does not try to convince the reader that ghosts exist, but reports factual information from people who have a ghost story to share.
Norman has been writing ghost stories for nearly thirty years and maintains the objectivity of a good journalist.
"I'm an open-minded skeptic," Norman said. "[Ghost stories] raise profound questions that no one really knows the answer to."
Norman plans to do book signings for his new book in the fall. A schedule of these upcoming dates and other general information about Norman can be found on his Web site www.michaelnorman.us.
Norman's books can be purchased on the Web site www.amazon.com, and can be found in most public libraries.