Behind the Book

Behind the Book | Just Kill Me & The Hull House

August 15, 2016
Adam Selzer
Author of Just Kill Me

Get a behind the scenes look at Adam Selzer’s, Just Kill Me as he gives you a look at a real life ghost tour stop featured in his new book!

Take a look:


One time I did a radio appearance where we went to a Hooters that’s supposed to be haunted—employees have been talking about it for years, and I’d recently discovered that there was a barn used as a storage-area for grave robbers on the site back in the 1870s, which at least gave them a backstory to work with and spared them having to make up something about an Indian burial ground, which is what businesses usually go with if they think their place is haunted and they can’t find anything better. The wings were good, but we all felt a bit awkward being at Hooters, really, and I got the impression that the people doing the show wanted me to be a lot more of a freak. When we went out to the alley, an interviewer held up a microphone and asked me, “Who’s with us right now?”

“Well, hell, man, I don’t know!” I said. “I’ve got things growing in my fridge with more psychic powers than I have.”

I suppose he could be forgiven that the guy who wrote a book about ghost lore would be a bit of a nut—ghost hunting is certainly an industry that attracts its share of those, and people who think they can see, hear, sense, or talk to spirits are in no short supply. They come in all types—stereotypical “dad” types, nursing students, old ladies named Gladys, construction workers….at least once a month, someone on my ghost tours would be eager to explain who was with us right then at any given tour stop.

Now and then they’d make a show out of helping spirits “cross over,” loudly calling out for the ghosts to “go into the light.”  In this case, I’d have to pick between three logical responses:

1. “Uh, don’t tell them to leave. I’m trying to run a ghost tour here.”
2. “You really think they’ve been roaming up and down the alley thinking ‘hey, there’s a big light here radiating love and peace…I’d better steer clear of that?’”
3. “Dude,  you’re an adult.”

But, most of the time, my policy is simply to give everyone the benefit of enormous doubt and let them tell me what they’re picking up on.

This is particularly common at Hull House, the 1850s mansion on Halsted that Jane Addams turned into a settlement house in 1889. It was already said to be haunted when Jane moved in; stories weren’t clear about who haunted it, but plenty of people have been eager to tell me.

The trouble is, no two psychics ever told me quite the same thing. One told me that Mrs. Hull waited on the stairs to say hello every night. Another said that there was a “fiend” in the courtyard. Another said there was no old woman, but there was a little girl who’d lost her mother.

I sort of wish all these people would come on the same tour – I like to imagine them getting into a really battle royale. But I know already that when you get more than one of them together, they just think all the OTHER psychics are nuts.


Adam Selzer lived in Des Moines back before it was cool, then tried out a series of small Georgia towns that will probably never be cool before settling in Chicago. In addition to several books on Chicago history and ghostlore, he’s the author of several young adult and middle grade novels, including How To Get Suspended and Influence People (which is part of the ALA’s Banned Books Week packet), I Kissed a Zombie and I liked It, and Sparks (under the name SJ Adams, a Stonewall Honor book for 2013). He has seen Bob Dylan in concert more than forty times, holds a world record for “Most Richard Nixon jokes in a Children’s Book,” and often performs music, both solo and with various bands, at science fiction conventions. Visit him online at

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