Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Adam Selzer  

Pen Name: William Griffith, S.J. Adams

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult; Young Adult; Children;

Born: 1980 in Des Moines, Iowa


-- Adam Selzer on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=adam++selzer


Illinois Connection

Selzer lives in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Adam Selzer became a professional ghostbuster and founded ''Weird Chicago Tours'' in 2006 with Troy Taylor and Ken Melvoin-Berg. He writes humorous books for children and young adults and non-fiction for adults about forgotten bits of Chicago history, myths, legends and ghost lore. At night, he still gives ghost tours in Chicago.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

How to Get Suspended and Influence People
ISBN: 0440421608

Laurel Leaf. 2008

It all starts with an assignment. Leon's "gifted and talented" class has to make educational videos for the sixth and seventh graders. Leon originally chooses "sex ed" as his subject in the hopes of showing a flash of boob. But as time goes on, his project starts to mean something. He wants to tell the younger kids that puberty is tough, but what they're going through is normal.

After researching the avant-garde movement, Leon crafts his video in the style of Fellini: La Dolce Pubert. It's deeply disturbing yet comforting.

But when the gifted program's director sees it, she suspends Leon—and he finds himself at the center of a townwide debate over censorship. Who gets to decide how far is too far?


From the Hardcover edition.

Pirates of the Retail Wasteland
ISBN: 0385734824

Delacorte Books for Young Readers. 2008

Leon and his miscreant buddies from the gifted pool are mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore! Their favorite downtown coffeeshop, Sip–the only survivor in the barren moonscape of decrepit Old Downtown–is in danger of being run out of business by the ubiquitous and oh-so-corporate coffee chain, Wackford’s. Wackford’s doesn’t host readings or smell funky or support the arts the way Sip does–it’s basically a glorified office. With the help of the Wackford’s manager–a self-described “McHobo” who’s worked for every chain along the strip–Leon and his friends decide to protest by taking over the Wackford’s and making it into a middle-management office. Meanwhile, Leon deals with an unwanted crush, a Mohawked father, and his friend Dustin’s ongoing quest to take down the gym teacher via depressing poems. Nothing quite goes as expected, but that’s the great thing about life in the gifted pool.

I Put a Spell on You: From the Files of Chrissie Woodward, Spelling Bee Detective
ISBN: 0385735049

Delacorte Books for Young Readers. 2008

COME SPELLING BEE season, the tiny town of Preston erupts in excitement: the bee is televised, and the hottest ticket in town. This year, an assortment of sixth-grade miscreants is going for the top prize: Jennifer, an overscheduled free spirit whose parents are obsessed with her college applications Mutual, a previously home-schooled outsider who's enrolled in public school for the first time in order to participate in the bee Harlan, the class clown who has spectacular plans for making the most of his time in the spotlight and Chrissie, the constant observer, who suspects something is off at the bee and will stop at nothing to get to the truth. Principal Floren is acting shady to everyone—but, as he insists, “I am not a crook.”

Weird Chicago (Haunted Illinois)
ISBN: 1892523590

Whitechapel Productions. 2008

The city of Chicago is unquestionably the weirdest and most haunted city in America! With a history dating back to the early 1800s that is filled with violent events, mysterious happenings and a lot of very strange characters, there is no other place like it in the country. Now, in the most complete book ever written on Chicago ghosts and strange history, the creators of the Weird Chicago Tours reveal just how that homegrown weirdness has shaped the city that we know today - and shows that Chicago iw weirder than any city should legally be allowed to be! With notebooks and cameras in hand, the Weird Chicago crew has scoured the city in search of the haunted, the odd and the offbeat. They have tracked down bizarre history, unusual people, weird roadside attractions, forgotten remnants of the past, unexplained happenings and more ghost stories than have appeared in any other book before, plus the truth behind many Chicago hauntings that you only thought you knew! From Hull House to Resurrection Mary, to Dillinger to Al Capone, this book showcases the most unusual aspects of Chicago - and just what makes it so haunted, weird & unique! Packed full of stuff that you aren't going to find anywhere else, this is a journey that you're never going to forget!

Your Neighborhood Gives Me the Creeps: True Tales of an Accidental Ghost Hunter
ISBN: 0738715573

Llewellyn Publications. 2009

Do ghosts really exist, or is "ghostly phenomena" just strange stuff that gets blamed on dead people? Giving you the real story, professional ghostbuster and skeptic Adam Selzer of Weird Chicago Tours delves into a mysterious death at a former funeral parlor, nightly ghost sightings at Hull House, and more. Proving that not all ghost hunters are kooks (some are just geeks gone wild), Selzer showcases true spooky tales worldwide, a history of hauntings, the art of ghost hunting, and cool evidence of paranormal phenomena and the supernatural. These ghost stories will make you want to investigate that cemetery down the road to see if it's haunted―or just dark and creepy.

Fatal Drop
ISBN: 1892523620

Whitechapel Productions. 2008

The Weirdest Tales of Chicago Crime! Discover a book of Chicago crime like no other you have ever seen before as Weird Chicago historian Bill Griffith presents the first volume ever produced about the true tales of the Windy City's gallows! Journey back in time to the days of public hangings and then discover the history of the city's old jail, the gruesome executions, the bizarre events, the terrible criminals, the cold-blooded killers, the strange Frankenstein-like experiments on the corpses of the dead - and even some of the ghosts that lingered behind! There is no other book like this one in the annals of Chicago crime literature and it's one that only the creators of the Weird Chicago Tours can bring you! Filled with remarkable anecdotes, strange history, dark deeds and plenty of contemporary photographs, this is the most chilling and gut-wrenching collection of Windy City crime stories ever put to paper. You'll be turning the pages of this one long into the night!

The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History
ISBN: 0385736509

Delacorte Books for Young Readers. 2009

Do you know America? No, I mean, do you REALLY know America? Would you recognize John Adams in a lineup? Can you identify any presidents between Lincoln and Roosevelt?

Hmmm. I thought so.

Well, you really need this book.

Not only will it improve your sorry historical knowledge, it will crack you up, and give you material to throw your teachers off-balance for entire class periods. Identify their lies! Point out their half-truths! And possibly, just possibly, gain some extra credit for yourself.

Andrew North Blows Up the World
ISBN: 0385736487

Delacorte Books for Young Readers. 2009

A dynamic and hilarious new hero for early middle-grade.

Andrew "Danger" North is no ordinary third-grader. He, his brother, Jack, and his father are spies. That is what Jack has always told him, and everything Andrew has learned from his dad’s favorite spy movies tells him it must be true. When Andrew comes across his brother’s graphing calculator, he’s sure it’s a communication device that will put him in touch with the secret spy headquarters. But instead of punching in a greeting to the spy society, Andrew accidentally punches in a code that might blow up the world! And if that isn’t bad enough, his math teacher then confiscates the top secret communication device and takes it to the mysterious Storage Room B. Now Andrew is on a spy mission to find his brother’s communicator and save the world from mass destruction. Will he be able to save the world?

I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It
ISBN: 0385735030

Delacorte Books for Young Readers. 2010

Algonquin “Ali” Rhodes, the high school newspaper’s music critic, meets an intriguing singer, Doug, while reviewing a gig. He’s a weird-looking guy—goth, but he seems sincere about it, like maybe he was into it back before it was cool. She introduces herself after the set, asking if he lives in Cornersville, and he replies, in his slow, quiet murmur, “Well, I don’t really live there, exactly. . . .”

When Ali and Doug start dating, Ali is falling so hard she doesn’t notice a few odd signs: he never changes clothes, his head is a funny shape, and he says practically nothing out loud. Finally Marie, the school paper’s fashion editor, points out the obvious: Doug isn’t just a really sincere goth. He’s a zombie. Horrified that her feelings could have allowed her to overlook such a flaw, Ali breaks up with Doug, but learns that zombies are awfully hard to get rid of—at the same time she learns that vampires, a group as tightly-knit as the mafia, don’t think much of music critics who make fun of vampires in reviews. . . .

Extraordinary*: *The True Story of My Fairygodparent, Who Almost Killed Me, and Certainly Never Made Me a Princess
ISBN: 0385736495

Delacorte Books for Young Readers. 2011

Jennifer Van Der Berg would like you to know that the book ostensibly written about her—Born to Be Extraordinary by Eileen Codlin—is a bunch of bunk. Yes, she had a fairy godparent mess with her life, but no, she was not made into a princess or given the gift of self-confidence, and she sure as hell didn't get a hot boyfriend out of it.
Here's the REAL scoop . . .

Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Chicago History (Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Histo)
ISBN: 0762772913

Globe Pequot Press. 2012

The lives of notorious bad guys, perpetrators of mischief, visionary--if misunderstood--thinkers, and other colorful antiheroes, jerks, and evil doers from history all get their due in the short essays featured in these enlightening, informative books. Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Chicago History features 15 short biographies of nefarious characters.

The Ghosts of Chicago: The Windy City's Most Famous Haunts
ISBN: 0738736112

Llewellyn Publications. 2013

Behind the crumbling walls, under the ancient bricks and the nearly forgotten streetcar tracks, the ghosts of Chicago live on.

From Resurrection Mary and Al Capone to the Murder Castle of H. H. Holmes and the funeral train of Abraham Lincoln, the spine-tingling sights and sounds of Chicago's yesteryear are still with us...and so are its ghosts.

Seeking to find out what we really know about the ghastly past of this famously haunted metropolis, professional ghost hunter and historian Adam Selzer pieces together the truth behind Chicago's ghosts, and brings to light dozens of never-before-told firsthand accounts. Take a historical tour of the famous and not-so-famous haunts around town, from the Alley of Death and Mutilation to Satan's Mile and beyond. Sometimes the real story is far different from the urban legend―and most of the time it's even gorier.

Play Me Backwards
ISBN: 1481401025

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 2014

A committed slacker enlists the help of his best friend (who may or may not be the devil) to get his act together in this novel filled with humor, awkwardness, and honesty, ideal for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Leon Harris isn’t exceptional and he isn’t popular. He’s the kind of guy that peaked in middle school, when once upon a time he was in the “gifted” program and on the fast track to Ivy League glory.

Now, a high school senior, he’s a complete slacker who spends his time hanging out in a third-rate ice cream parlor with his best friend, Stan, a guy who (jokingly, Leon thinks) claims to be Satan. Committed to his sloth, Leon panics when he finds out that Anna, the love of his life aka middle school girlfriend, might be moving back to town.

Determined to get his act together, Leon asks Stan for help. Stan gives him a few seemingly random and mysterious assignments. Date a popular girl. Listen to Moby-Dick, the audiobook. Find the elusive white grape slushee. Join the yearbook committee.

As each task brings Leon one step away from slacker city and one step closer to Anna, he starts to wonder if maybe he shouldn’t have promised Stan his soul after all…

Ghosts of Lincoln: Discovering His Paranormal Legacy
ISBN: 0738741531

Llewellyn Publications. 2015

Abraham Lincoln is one of the most haunted―and haunting―presidents in US history. Sightings of Lincoln’s ghost, as well as the ghost of his assassin, have been reported for more than 150 years. Visited by eerie premonitions, morbid dreams, and unusual events that seem too bizarre to be coincidence, Lincoln has become the source of dozens of myths and paranormal mysteries.

Investigating everything from obscure séance transcripts and nearly forgotten newspaper articles to the most peculiar paranormal claims, Ghosts of Lincoln digs deep into the annals of history and reveals the fascinating true stories behind the tales, rumors, and lore.

Praise:

"A fascinating read."―NEXUS Magazine

H. H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil
ISBN: 1510713433

Skyhorse Publishing. 2017

  • Shares with readers America’s first and most infamous serial killer and his diabolical killing spree during the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago
  • The first comprehensive book following the life and career of H. H. Holmes
  • A fascinating true story about a dark moment in Chicago’s history

H. H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil uncovers not only the true story of Holmes but also how the legend evolved. It uses hundreds of primary sources that have never been studied before. This includes letters, articles, legal documents, and records that have been tucked away in archives for more than 100 years.

While H. H. Holmes is now as famous as he was in 1895, a thorough analysis of modern materials clarifies how much of the story as we know it came from reports who were far from the action, an incredibly unqualified new police chief, and lies from Holmes himself.

This book is a tale of an outlaw. It covers Holmes’s own story with new insights. The author, Adam Selzer, has uncovered stunning new data about Holmes. He combines turn-of-the-century America, the crazy group of characters who were in and around the famous “castle” building, and the killer’s own background. This book is the first fully accurate account of what truly happened in Holmes’s horror castle.

H. H. Holmes, with its exhaustive research and careful detail, is an irreplaceable partner to the upcoming Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese movie about Holmes’s murder spree based on Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City.


Awards

The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History

  • ILLINOIS READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2013
  • Play Me Backwards

  • Starred Review, VOYA
  • ILLINOIS READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2017

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)