>Carolyn Crane kicks off Chicago week with a story and contest!


The super-gnarly Chicago of my childhood imagination

Hey, Happy Monday, everybody! And thanks to the Paperback Dolls for having me over to their happening blog!

So, I’m guessing when the lovely Dolls learned that Midcity, the city featured in my Justine Jones: Disillusionist trilogy, is a blend of Chicago and Milwaukee, it seemed logical that I would be perfect for the Chicago edition of Passport, where writers provide an insider’s view of the cities they write about, discussing the foods of a place, daily life, must-see sights and more.

Confession: I am completely unqualified to provide an insider’s view of Chicago. I have no clue what the people of Chicago do or eat, though I understand hot dogs are popular. In fact, until about a year ago, 99% of what I thought about Chicago was imagined. Nevertheless, it was a hugely formative place for me.

As a child, you see, I lived in Lombard, which is a suburb of Chicago, so my experience of Chicago was limited to rides in a station wagon to the museums there, and sometimes getting lost in that station wagon with a frantic mother at the wheel. I always loved the parts when we would get lost—I loved them as much as when we would stop at a McDonald’s.

Chicago completely consumed my mind—not the lovely elegant museum section by the lake, but the inside-the-city sections, the steely and rusty and magical and threatening part, the dark, urban ruins places. The underpasses and overpasses, the gigantic decrepit buildings that shadowed the roads.

To me, Chicago was the city version of an enchanted forest. All these crazy-ass giant machines everywhere, and everything seemed like it was made of metal, and bolted together. We had nothing like this stuff in Lombard, which, in my childhood mind, was composed entirely of houses, swing sets, and family dogs.

After that, we moved to a suburb of Milwaukee. So instead of Chicago, we would drive into the hulking behemoth of Milwaukee in search of museums. But even though the two started merging in my mind, I knew Chicago was huger and more gnarly than Milwaukee.

So, Midcity is a city created off those impressions out of a car window. From an artistic point of view, I’m glad I never lived in Chicago, because it allowed Chicago to stay strange and magical in my mind, all rusty wilds and hulking highways. (I never lived in Milwaukee, either, though as I got older, we’d go there more, so it wasn’t quite as fantastical, and I now live in Minneapolis, while it’s a lovely place, it’s no Chicago.).

Actually, after I wrote book one, Mind Games, I spent a weekend walking around Chicago, and part of me was like, WTF was I thinking, not moving there? While it didn’t seem as darkly, nightmarishly glorious, I didn’t realize quite how awesome it was, on the level of architecture as well as excellent stuff to do and see, neat little places, and all the smells and the people.

So, that’s my Chicago. I hope I haven’t insulted the people of Chicago by basing my decrepit, crime-ridden, mutant-filled Midcity partly on it, but I love Midcity, if anything, it’s meant it as a compliment. Yay Chicago!

 ~Carolyn Crane

Carolyn Crane is the author of MIND GAMES (Spectra/Ballantine) and the forthcoming DOUBLE CROSS (book #2 of the trilogy, coming September, 2010).You can visit her at her website http://authorcarolyncrane.com/ or her blog http://thethrillionthpage.blogspot.com/

Paperback Dolls simply adore Carolyn and her writing! We would like to send the BIGGEST thanks to Carolyn for participating in our Passport to Chicago feature this week! THANK YOU Carolyn!


Want to have your very own SIGNED copy of Carolyn Crane’s “Mind Games“? Well, here is your chance!

Mind Games heroine Justine Jones isn’t your typical kick-ass type – she’s a hopeless hypochondriac whose life is run by fear.

She’s lured into a restaurant, Mongolian Delites, by tortured mastermind Sterling Packard, who promises he can teach her to channel her fears. In exchange, she must join his team of disillusionists – vigilantes hired by crime victims to zing their anxieties into criminals, resulting in collapse and transformation.

Justine isn’t interested in Packard’s troupe until she gets a taste of the peace he can promise. Soon she enters the thrilling world of neurotic crime fighters who battle Midcity’s depraved and paranormal criminals.

Eventually, though, she starts wondering why Packard hasn’t set foot outside the Mongolian Delites restaurant for eight years. And about the true nature of the disillusionists.

Leave a comment for Carolyn and tell her how awesome she is for sharing with us today and tell us about the city where you grew up and if it had any impact on you.

This contest is for U.S. and Canadian residents only.

There are more ways to win:

+1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your comment.

+1 subscribe to Paperback Dolls – either via a reader or email (see the RSS button at the top of the right sidebar or the entry form to the left sidebar.) Please leave your email without the @ {dot} com. Nobody needs to know your email address.

We ask the winners to post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.

The contest will stay open until July 10th, at which time, we’ll determine the winner with help from Random.org and announce them on July 11th.

Also, we will try to contact the winners, but we ask that you check back to see if you’ve won.


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