Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Jocelyn Green | Your Travel Guide to the Great Chicago Fire
Author Guest / February 19, 2020

After the Great Fire of 1871 destroyed Chicago’s business district and rendered 100,000 people homeless, the city lost no time in rebuilding. Within two years, the downtown area was completely reconstructed, and better than ever. But if you visit Chicago today, you’ll still be able to find glimpses of the Chicago my characters in Veiled in Smoke knew well. The Chicago Fire Academy The site of the blaze’s first sparks can be found at the Chicago Fire Academy, at the corner of DeKoven and Jefferson. Visitors are allowed inside to see the spot, and to see antique fire engines as well. Courthouse finial, Lincoln Park My characters, the Townsend family, lived across from Courthouse Square. The night of the fire, the bell in the Courthouse Cupola rang for five hours before it collapsed. Today, an urn-shaped finial from the courthouse’s roof can be seen in front of Lincoln Park Zoo. Thousands of Chicagoans fled north from the flames in October 8-9, 1871, many of them finally finding refuge in Lincoln Park. St. James Cathedral The Great Fire gutted St. James Cathedral at the corner of Wabash and Huron. All that was left were the stone walls, the bell tower, and…

Valerie Fraser Luesse | Dodging the Dreaded Coin
Author Guest / March 8, 2019

Spoiler alert: I’m about to seriously date myself. When I was in college, all my girlfriends were crazy about the movie Somewhere in Time, starring Jane Seymour and the late Christopher Reeve. In case that film was before your time, it’s about a modern-day playwright named Richard Collins, who travels back in time to meet, court, and win the heart of Elise McKenna, a turn-of-the-century actress whose image and mysterious story have captivated him. Just as it appears that love will win the day, Richard reaches into his pocket and pulls out a forgotten 1979 penny, which immediately yanks him out of the past, away from his soul mate, and literally “back to the future.” My own stories are set in my native South, and I feel as if I spend a big chunk of my writing time dodging The Dreaded Coin, working as hard as I can to skirt my way around anything and everything that might yank a reader out of the story. It doesn’t take much. One factual inaccuracy (like putting the Brazos River in Mississippi) or one line of dialogue that sounds nothing like authentic Southern speech (“I’m mad about you! Mad I say!”), and the…