Thursday, October 28, 2010

Guest Author Interview: Betsy Phillips

Please welcome today's guest author Betsy Phillips!  Betsy is the author of A City of Ghosts: Stories.

EJ:  When did you begin writing?

I don't know, honestly. I think I probably started writing stories shortly after I learned to write sentences. I know I was writing elaborate alternative histories of middle school for my friends while we were in said middle school, so definitely by then, I was writing to entertain other people.

EJ:  What brought you to the paranormal genre?

  I had an unusual upbringing--I'm the daughter of a Methodist minister. So, in a way, what brought me to the paranormal genre is that I was born into it. I don't mean that to be flip. I learned a great deal about language and ritual and symbolism that I think serves me well in my writing. But it's also true that my earliest and most prolonged exposure to not just stories, but to a world-view, was one in which paranormal happenings were a matter of course and paranormal stories were told and retold as Truth or ways to get at the truth.

I've wandered pretty far from the way I was raised, but I still think the world is a strange and mysterious place, where things happen we don't always understand. And I still think that stories--fiction--are a great way to tell the truth about the world.

EJ:  If you could be any paranormal or have any one supernatural talent, what would it be? Why?

Betsy:   I would love to be able to shape-shift into a dog. I wonder all the time about my dog. I mean, one of the great things about owning a dog is spending a lot of time with an animal that wants to spend time with you and is nothing like you. Yes, we can communicate, at some basic level. But there are so many times when I can tell she sniffs something on the air or when she is running through the yard, when I know she is experiencing something I will never know. I just wonder what it would be like to smell or hear like she does, to know the world like she does.

EJ:  Tell us why readers will enjoy your new release.

Betsy:   Who doesn't love a good ghost story? Some people have been a little off-put when they hear that A City of Ghosts  is a collection ghost stories set in and around Nashville, because they worry all the stories will have to do with country music. And, it's true that, if you come to Nashville and take one of the ghost tours, you're going to hear a lot about ghosts that have to do with country music.  But the thing is, if you live in Nashville, the music industry is just one more place people work. It's important to the city, but it's not the only thing going on here. So, I figured, well, okay, we have those ghosts, but what kinds of ghosts should we have?

Just asking that question got me thinking a lot about why people tell ghost stories, what the act of telling those stories does for a person, what those stories are trying to convey. I think, in most cases, ghost stories are ways for us to talk about things we can't otherwise talk about. So, I spent a lot of time thinking about the things the city doesn't really talk about, the parts of its past it seems to be actively trying to forget.  And those were the things I built my stories around.

So, I think my book will appeal to history buffs and people who know Nashville, but it is, first and foremost, a collection of ghost stories. And I think anyone who likes to be creeped out is going to like them.

EJ:  If your book(s) were being made into a movie, who would you cast for the leading roles? Why?

This was not an easy question, since A City of Ghosts is a collection of short stories and there’s really only one recurring character—the Devil. So, who could play an incredibly charismatic, incredibly sexy, violent rat bastard whose age is hard to pin down? I don’t know if he’s the greatest actor, but I would kind like to see Brian Austin Green in the role. I think he has the right mix of charm and hardness.

A City of Ghosts: Stories by Betsy Phillips.

No one knows for sure why Nashville has so many ghosts. Maybe it's because the place has been inhabited for 13,000 years. Maybe it's the lingering memories of the Civil War. Or maybe it's just because this is where the Devil keeps a summer home. Whatever the reason, this is the place where the living and the dead linger too long in each others' company. Babies long since dead still cry in church parking lots only to be comforted by current parishioners. A friendly neighbor continues to cook breakfast years after his body is under ground. And something, not animal, not human, not alive, stalks living prey in the old tunnels underneath the downtown. In tales that range from spine-tingling to heart-breaking, A CITY OF GHOSTS brings to life an alternative, haunted history of Nashville. 

Thank you Betsy for joining us here today at From the Shadows!

To learn more about Betsy Phillips and her books, please visit her website.


  1. Hi E.J. & Betsy!
    Thank you for the great interview & introducing me to Betsy Phillips and her novel.
    All the best,

  2. Excellent interview Betsy! I love ghost stories.

    Vianka Van Bokkem

  3. I love stories based on local legends. Thanks I will be adding this book to my tbr list. :)

  4. Great. I hope you guys enjoy them.