Interview with John Gaffield

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in south-east Michigan and have lived here all my life. My one set of grandparents had an old house in Port Huron on Lake Huron. I loved visiting them, which we mostly did during the summer months, since there was much more to do with nice weather. We would watch the large ore carriers freighters pass by as the lake necked down before turning into the St. Clair River. I would learn many things about these ore carrier freighters. There was also a beach at the house where we would play. The basement in the house was kind of creepy and packed with stuff. There was also an old gravity furnace in the basement with the large round ducts that sprouted from it. I have used some of my memories and elements from the house and lake in some of my novels and short stories.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing ghost stories in 2005. I worked on and off on my first novel, "Heir to Winston Manor" for a few years. After it was completed, I struggled with how to approach having it published. I considered various options and in that time frame, e-books were beginning to be an option. I was able to publish "The Heir to Winston Manner" on Amazon first in 2010 and was lucky enough to find Smashwords a little while later.
What is your writing process?
I usually start with some basic setting and with some inspiration,and I develop a very rough idea of the plot. After that I determine who the main character or characters will be and what type of personality they will have along with what they do. I then develop additional characters needed for the story line. I then have some form of an outline or at least a good list of basic notes I can refer to when I need to keep characters and events straight. When I actually begin writing, I start from the beginning and try to follow the characters, dialogue and events as they would happen in the story. This sometimes can lead to some changes in my original story line, but I find it is a good way to keep things flowing as I write. Once done with the first draft, I will re-read it several times and make any corrections or changes I see fit as I go. I do this before I have others read it for content, etc. before it is published.
How do you approach cover design?
I have made all of my covers. Most are modified photos I have taken, with some having more modifications than others. For example, my latest cover for "The Haunting of the Charles F. Campton" was a composite of several photos, including one for the water, another for the boat, and one for the sky. It was all manipulated to be a stormy lake condition. I used a version of Photoshop to do this. This program can be used to add the text as well, though I have used Powerpoint in the past. I try to have a cover that will create a feel similar to how I want people to view the stories.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It has allowed me to have my books available on this site as well as many affiliate sites. Also, it allows me to have free short stories available for people to read. Both of these have helped me get my start as an independent author.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Since I realize I am not a traditional writer with formally training, I knew my chances of being accepted by a traditional publisher would be slim. I did some research and did not like the idea of the vanity press that would have been available. I have been very happy being an independent author with Smashwords and other e-book outlets.
Do you believe in ghosts?
As an engineer, I really need proof that they exist. I do watch shows like "Ghost Hunters" and other similar shows. From watching these shows and from talking with people I know about various encounters, I do think the definitely is a possibility that ghost do exist in some form. For the most part, if they exist they would mostly be passive with little interaction with us. Though I cannot rule out that more involved interaction could be occurring as well. From my personal view, I do not believe in demons or witches or similar entities. So I do not include them in my stories. For my stories, I try to keep the ghostly encounters to something that could at least be possible, even if things have to be stretched somewhat.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
What I believe has helped me the most is to have free short stories that people can read and if they like my style of writing, I have other novels or short stories available for sale. I have used some of the boards on Amazon or B & N, with only limited success. At this point, I have not really tried to anything locally.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is "The Haunting of the Charles F. Campton." It is a short story about a crew of a ore carrier freighter traveling late in the season across Lake Michigan, when a churning gale arises during the night. The captain struggles with his own fear, while the crew fights to keep the boat on track to make port.

My affinity for these boats is why I decided to write this story. I did have to do some research in an attempt to make elements of the story correct, even though it is fiction.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on several novels and short stories, which are at various stages of completion. My two short stories are nearing completion. One is about a lighthouse keeper and another is about a person who is at a family cottage when all external communication is lost. For the novels, one is about house which had a prior owner with a very troubled past. Another novel will be a children's ghost story about a group of elementary school students who sneak into an abandoned house. Since I have a full time job and a family, I am somewhat limited on how much time I have to write, but I do set aside some time to continue to work on all of these projects.
Published 2013-08-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Synthia
Price: Free! Words: 23,960. Language: English. Published: December 26, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » High tech, Fiction » Science fiction » General
While on a business trip, Derek befriended an android hotel assistant named Synthia. She had been tasked with helping to assure his stay was pleasant. Throughout his stay, he found himself getting more involved with her. When Derek observed Synthia being mistreated by a manager in the hotel, he could not just let it go. Even though she was an android, he started seeing her as something more.
Valerye
Price: Free! Words: 32,140. Language: American English. Published: March 31, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » High tech, Fiction » Science fiction » General
After his wife, Pam, had died, Tom’s virtual household assistant, Valerye, had adapted from just helping around the house to becoming more of a friend. She was also able to increase the interactions with him through Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Though this interaction was really helping him cope, some of Valerye’s actions caused Tom to question her intent.
In Remembrance
Price: Free! Words: 4,060. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » General
Jeremy mourned his dear Jenny, who had died tragically about a year earlier in an accident. While he continued to maintain a memorial at the site, something unseen started interfering. Who would disturb him as he dealt with his loss?
Disconnect - A Short Ghost Story
Price: Free! Words: 4,310. Language: English. Published: January 18, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
Will’s weekend retreat at his lake cottage was interrupted by an issue from work. His intent on remedying the situation was complicated by connection and power issues. Were the problems due to the remote location or was some unknown spirit with him in the cottage?
The Haunting of the Charles F. Campton
Price: Free! Words: 3,830. Language: English. Published: January 24, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » General
A ferocious storm in late November 1953 on Lake Michigan tossed and contorted the steamer Charles F. Campton to its limits. The captain and first mate struggled to keep the crew safe in the turbulent waters. They were not alone. Ghosts from the freighter's troubled past emerged, which made the crew’s task in the perilous situation graver.
Denning Swamp - A Ghost Story
Price: Free! Words: 2,800. Language: English. Published: November 22, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » General
(4.50)
Strange sounds emanating from the swamp startled Jack during the night. Alone in the house, he wondered what was outside. Would he determine what was tormenting him before it was too late?
Alone Again
You set the price! Words: 41,530. Language: English. Published: September 25, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » General
Emily Sutton had been an outgoing happy person. Her husband, David struggled to understand what changed once they moved into the old suburban house. Emily was only a shadow of her former self. With her health suffering, tragedy was inevitable. A coworker of David's helped him cope. Increasing occurrences caused him to question the cause of Emily's death. Some mature content. Updated June 2014.
Winter Visitor
Price: Free! Words: 2,500. Language: English. Published: March 19, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » General
(2.00)
Darren was awakened by a strange sound within his bedroom with a blizzard and subzero temperatures outside. He realized he was no longer alone in his room. Was someone or something after him? Will he be able to evade the visitor? Second Edition - April 2011.
The Ghost of Birch River Cabin
Price: Free! Words: 5,170. Language: English. Published: January 15, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
Staying at a dark secluded cabin along the Birch River that his uncle owned seemed like the perfect fly fishing weekend getaway for Paul. Strange occurrences began happening. Would it be enough to prevent the history of the cabin from being repeated? (A short story). Fourth Edition - June 10, 2011.
The Wahl House Curse
You set the price! Words: 59,830. Language: English. Published: January 5, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » General
(2.00)
Peter Corbin was in need of a change in his job as a realtor in a busy suburban community. A chance to transfer to a small town seemed to be what he and his wife Sarah needed. They purchased an old house for a bargain price, but with a troubled past. This proved to be something he would soon regret. The restless ghosts quickly made their presence known. 3rd Edition - July 7, 2011.
Heir to Winston Manor
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 44,510. Language: English. Published: December 10, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » General
Tim Weir is stunned to learn that he will inherit the estate of his great aunt and uncle. Wanting to see what needs to be done in order to sell the house and the property, he takes time off from work to visit the large estate. Strange things begin happening which he struggles to explain. Tim searches for answers to understand why the restless spirits remain in the manor. 2nd Edition - April 2015.
Slow Down
Price: Free! Words: 2,350. Language: English. Published: December 10, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
(4.40)
A short story about a careless driver, named Scott, who caused a tragedy. Scott was haunted by his actions. Would it cause him to change his ways?