Monday, June 9, 2008

Welcome To IlliNOIR

In the previous century, I had done my best to generate interest in a crime anthology with my state as the common denominator, the title posted above. The publishing world wasn't ready for it, just as they might have passed on a biography of 50s film star John Agar, who I stayed in contact with for a decade before his death (this was about the same time). Eventually, Roger Dale Trexler over at Annihilation Press followed through on the first, publishing HELL IN THE HEARTLAND late last year. This past weekend a few of us Chicago writers were guests of Sylvia Schults (whose site is linked to the left and down some)in Tazewell County. In the bottom photo, there's me, Josh, Larry, Sylvia, and Martel. We signed books at two independent stores in Pekin and Peoria Heights, and a Borders in Peoria proper. Northern Illinois is nothing but cut-out subdivisions that provide a buffer from the big, bad city and glorious towns along the Mississippi filled with old money and pretty pictures. Can't say anything good about northern Illinois, I don't roll that way. Give me everything south and west, where the towns are ready to fade away as the sunlight beats into the dirt. Where the living isn't easy. There was a fellow named David who came to the store with all of us posing, and he bought a copy of HELL IN THE HEARTLAND. He was quite curious as to how we could write what we do and I explained to him that its not about living with the memories of the story as much as living with the resolutions I have always tried to make. It used to be much easier to have the bad guy die at the end, but real life horror keeps staying three or five steps ahead of me. He listened to us all and was sincere in his gratitude, so much so that he gave the store owner twenty dollars to go towards our next meal, which happened to be a Mongolian BBQ joint. That sums up southern Illinois, folks, a guy who admits to not liking horror and yet allows us to persuade him to buy a book that I'm hoping will give him thoughts on how different events affect different lives. If I close my eyes tight, I like to think that I can hear a rocking chair on a front porch creaking as David sits there reading and nodding his head at what we gave him...Wayne