My Books


Coming September 2017

Douglas has grown up around the business of death at his family's funeral home and is good at death...until the basement morgue starts filling with murder victims. On the cusp of Halloween, Douglas enlists his friends to help him solve the mystery. With sumptuous descriptions of a bucolic town and it’s quirky people, fascinating yet middle grade–appropriate information about the funeral process, and a crackling mystery with a heart-pounding conclusion―Death and Douglas has something for readers young and old.




A Season with the Witch: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts 

"Ocker moves easily among the archivists, historians, and performers he interviews, and he describes the carnival atmosphere that descends upon “Witch City” with enthusiasm and vividness." —Publishers Weekly Starred Review

A single event in Salem's 400 years of history―the Witch Trials of 1692―started a strange alchemy that transformed the city into the Capital of Creepy. Every October, this city of 40,000 swells to more than a quarter million as witches, goblins, ghouls, and ghosts descend for its month-long Haunted Happenings festival. J.W. Ocker moved his family of four to downtown Salem for the full 31 days to experience it firsthand, visiting all of its historical sites and macabre attractions and interviewing its leaders, citizens, entrepreneurs, visitors, street performers, critics, and Witches to conjure a unique picture of this unique place.

Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe 

Winner of the 2015 Edgar Award for Best Critical/Bio from the Mystery Writers of America.

For Poe-Land, J.W. Ocker visited almost 100 sites connected to Edgar Allan Poe along the East Coast and in England, from the top of a 170-year-old church bell tower to see what inspired Poe's poem The Bells to the dark depths of a strip club to find the newspaper building that launched his literary career. Along the way, Ocker comes across such relics as Poe's hair and pieces of his coffin and talks dozens of people who maintain Poe's physical legacy, including collectors, actors, museum managers, and so many more.





"A droll and gruesome Baedeker...readers might die laughing, gag on its tasteless subject matter or even shed a tear or two." —Sam Roberts, New York Times

Winner of a 2013 Lowell Thomas Gold Award from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation.

Part personal travelogue, part guidebook, this book covers hundreds of macabre sites, attractions, and artifacts, all drawn from the firsthand experiences of J.W. Ocker, who covered 9,000 miles of New York roadway to visit such sites as a 19th-century brain collection to the home of an artist whose muses are serial killers to a ship graveyard, and many other of New York's creepier parts.


"A travelogue for those who revel in the glory of their  nightmares." —Max Weinstein, Fangoria

Winner of a 2011 Lowell Thomas Silver Award from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation.

New England is full of the grim and the ghastly, and this book catalogs hundreds of macabre sites, attractions, and artifacts, all drawn from the firsthand experiences of J.W. Ocker, who covered 7,000 miles of New England roadway venturing to these eerie locations. From the private collection of a demonologist to a midnight jaunt at an insane asylum cemetery, Ocker leaves no gravestone unturned in his quest to chronicle the dark heart of New England.