Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil
Author Betsy Phillips has written and self-published a collection of 60 short stories featuring Nashville, Tennessee. The website, A City of Ghosts describes the book as follows:
In tales that range from spine-tingling to heartbreaking, A City of Ghosts brings to life an alternative, haunted history of Nashville.
Many have heard of the Bell Witch of Tennessee, a reportedly true story of a ghost in Tennessee but Phillips ghost stories are fictional although they include actual people and places in Nashville. Here is a review of the book from women’s health news:
I know I am enjoying a book when I catch myself forcing others to listen to me read snippets of it aloud. I have already repeatedly subjected the spouse to readings of snippets, and predict that I will be reading bits of A City of Ghosts to innocent bystanders until Halloween and beyond. The organization of the book into daily stories for both April and October make it perfect for the month-long read-aloud, so you’ll want to order it now to read throughout the coming month.
Phillips works for Vanderbilt University Press and writes a popular blog called, Tiny Cat Pants and blogs at an alt-weekly, the Nashville Scene. She began writing ghost stories she knew for her blog several years ago and when she ran out of them, she began to write her own. The stories she wrote were well received and she saw in them thematic similarities and decided to collect them within a book.
Here’s Phillips reading on of her short stories for Nashville Public Radio.
The press release for “A City of Ghosts” reads as follows:
Nashville Ghost Stories for Grown-Ups
Just in Time for Halloween, Local Author’s Short Story Collection Debuts
The idea of a haunted side to Nashville is nothing new. Sit in a honky-tonk downtown long enough and you’ll hear about how the ghost of Hank Williams still plays there. Take one of the popular ghost tours and you can hear all kinds of stories about Nashville’s famous dead.
But there are also a lot more places in Nashville that just feel like they should be haunted. In A City of Ghosts, her new book released in time for Halloween, Betsy Phillips tells the stories of ghosts that Nashville should have. From a friendly neighbor who, despite being dead, still cooks breakfast for his East Nashville neighbors, to the Devil himself, who still shows up every now and again to mourn the woman he lost to Timothy Demonbreun, Phillips populates her book with ordinary people and familiar places recast in an eerie light.
“They’re all made up,” Phillips explains, “but I tried to give each story enough basis in actual history that it would make the fantasy more delightful. For instance, instead of just being the result of haphazard city planning, I decided that the reason there are roads in town that change names a bunch of times or start and stop is to keep the Devil confused. It’s not true, but you kind of wish it was. I mean, if you drive around here, you wish there were some explanation, no matter how outlandish, right?”
Phillips, a well-known blogger, decided to keep in the same Do-It-Yourself spirit when it came to book publishing. She’s self-publishing through Amazon’s CreateSpace.
“It’s no secret that the publishing industry is going through interesting times,” Phillips says. “I submitted the manuscript a few places and got some very lovely rejection letters. But then I realized I could either continue down that uncertain path and, in a best case scenario, end up with a very Nashville-specific book being promoted by a publisher who didn’t know much about Nashville—or I could do it myself and see what happens. I hope it will get some good word of mouth and the people who might like it will find it.”
Listen to the story with author, Betsy Phillips: