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Do you know why people toot in the Mount Victoria Tunnel?

It is said that her ghost still haunts the Mt. Victoria Tunnel. These are the stories she was denied.

Local history meets urban fantasy in Andi C. Buchanan’s upcoming novella, From a Shadow Grave, which tells the story behind the Mount Victoria Ghost for the first time and explores the routes her life could have taken.

In 1931, Phyllis Symons’s body was found buried in the construction site of the Mount Victoria Tunnel. Today, Wellingtonians toot as they drive through the tunnel – though urban legend disagrees on whether they do it to pay tribute to the murdered teenager, or to scare off her ghost. From a Shadow Grave picks up the threads of history and explores three alternate ways Phyllis’s story might have ended, weaving together historical fiction, urban fantasy and time travel.

“My overarching belief is the importance of survivor narratives over gratuitous death stories, and that Phyllis Symons derserved a future, which could have gone in so many different ways.” – Andi C. Buchanan

Buchanan was inspired partly by Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls to write about Phyllis Symons to challenge the fascination the world has with killers. Their focus never lingers on Phyllis’s murder. Instead, From a Shadow Grave, written in second person and addressed to Phyllis, is an intimate, compassionate exploration of one young woman’s life, death, and the other lives she might have lived. It is an anthem for hope in a world that too often silences the voices of victims. It’s the story of a young woman reclaiming her life rather than letting her murder be her legacy.

About the author

Wellington author Andi C. Buchanan’s first novella, This Other World, was described by Publishers Weekly as “especially breathtaking”. Their short story, Girls Who Do Not Drown, won the 2018 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Short Story, and will feature in the first Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy, coming later this year. Buchanan also edits Capricious magazine and has work forthcoming in Apex, Kaleidotrope and Glittership.

Andi uses they/them pronouns.

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