Ghost Tours

Video trailer for Adam's new novel about a ghost tour guide who makes places more haunted by killing people at them:

Adam's night job is pretty cool: he's a ghost tour guide! He used to run about two or three hundred bus tours per year for comapnies in the city, and now works privately with his own company, Mysterious Chicago, and with Atlas Obscura.

When running the tours, Adam isn't just reading from cue cards. His stories are built from countless hours of research uncovering never-before-retold stories and finding primary sources to make sure his stories are as accurate as possible. First hand accounts of ghost sightings are notoriously hard to find, but Adam makes it a point to get the history behind the stories right, and to flag anything he has reason to doubt. The stories he finds go into his books and into The Mysterious Chicago Podcast and Blog, as well as the recent GHOSTS OF CHICAGO and GHOSTS OF LINCOLN books, and upcoming Mysterious Chicago book and HH Holmes: Myth and Mystery, which are due in 2016-17.

   He's a pro when it comes to research - Adam has published several books on Chicago history and ghostlore, and is a noted expert on many famous Chicago stories. He shows up on TV talking about them now and then, and has been on radio shows such as Coast to Coast AM. He's an expert on Chicago grave robbers, murderers, and hangings, and knows as much about most of the "haunted" spots as anyone and he's become a sought-after lecturer on the connection between ghost busting and historical research at libraries and schools. He often says "I'm not a ghost hunter, I'm a historian who specializes in places that are supposed to be haunted." But that doesn't usually fit in a photo caption!

Email for info on library talks and rates - book early for October!

And, no, he does not use a proton pack. The 4.0 versions of proton-stream shooters fit on a keychain, and we've been able to cross the streams since model 2.3 came out in 1994. In fact, there's an app for that now. Get with the times, folks. Do you use all the latest gear from 1984 at your job?

Adam's GHOSTS OF CHICAGO book(Llewelyn 2013)


Have you ever seen a ghost?
Adam: I've seen and heard enough weird stuff to keep me wondering, but I know that just because I can't explain things I see doesn't mean that they're necessarily dead people. I sometimes say that I believe just enough to let myself have fun with this stuff.

Can you verify that a picture I took is a ghost?
Probably not. The furthest I ever go is just saying "well, I can't explain it." If I didn't take the picutre myself, there's no way for me to know if it was "faked," and even if it wasn't (I usually take people's word for it), there's always another possible explanation besides "it's a dead person."  I always say "there is no good ghost evidence, only cool ghost evidence."

Which ghost hunting TV shows do you recommend?
I don't watch them. Some of them are out-and-out fakes. Some of them aren't fake but I don't think the people making them are very bright.

Don't you ever get scared?
Now and then - your imagination can really run away with you on a ghost hunt. Also, poking around basements in the dark isn't the safest thing in the world to do! The living people and physical stuff scare me more than anything else.

How do people become ghosts?
Hey, man, if I understood how the afterlife worked, I'd be out running a tent revival! There are some nifty theories going around about how a jolt of energy can "create" the things we perceive as ghosts, and I suspect there may be something to it, but it's still closer to science fiction than science. Even when we do see shadows that shouldn't be there, hear a little girl giggling in an empty hall, or even see a woman in white on top of the stairs, I don't think it's responsible to assume we understand the nature of these things.

What kind of gear do you use?
When I'm on an investigation, my real job is doing to historical research to make sure the stories check out. When we're on site, I mostly just want to go tromping around and exploring, though I usually have an audio recorder and camera handy, and sometimes I get cool stuff, like at the H.H. Holmes "Murder castle" site.  I'm kind of on the record as the anti-gear ghost guy. None of those gadgets people use will really tell you for sure that a ghost is in the room. They're fun to play with, but they're really "for entertainment purposes only." Most of them are really just ways to trick yourself into thinking you've seen a ghost. I

Is this app on my phone really a reliable way to tell if there's a ghost in the room?
Hell no.

Are "orbs" ghosts?
Orbs - little white balls of light in photos - are more of a parlor trick, really. If people on my tour are having fun with them, I tend to just let them go and not spoil it for them (they don't come on the tour for a lecture), but the last thing I want is for them to spread the picture around and say "Adam Selzer says this is a ghost." Most serious ghost hunters hate orbs. I'm old fashioned. I like my beer cold and my ghosts obvious.

So, do you believe in ghosts?
Good question! I'm afraid to say "yes" because "ghost" is such a broad term that I'm never sure what I'm signing up for. I find it best to work off a very, very broad definition of what counts as a ghost. Sometimes a "ghost" is just the way our brains perceive things. Some optical illusions may not be the souls of the departed up and floating around, or proof that the afterlife or "spirit realm" exists, but they count as "ghosts" for all practical purposes.

Has anyone ever seen a ghost on one of your ghost tours?
Weird things have DEFINITELY happened on my tours. And in the moment I like to have fun with it and let my imagination run wild. In the light of day, though, I usually convince myself it probably wasn't real. I'm kind of a killjoy like that. Now and then, though we do have things happen that never do get explained. 

For tours for private groups or to engage Adam as a lecturer, send an email for rates and arrangements.  Tours for student groups can also be arranged through Brightspark.

Adam's New Book: Sept 2013