Marcus Sakey “Afterlife”

In his dream, Marcus Sakey found himself walking the streets of Chicago, everything is much the same but also different—in the way that dreams often are.marcus

“At first, I think that everyone is gone but then realize it’s me that’s gone–not anyone else– and that I was dead,” says Sakey, who seconds after this realization woke up in his own bed, next to his wife. But the import of the dream remained.

“In the dream, I wasn’t scared but when I woke up, it seemed like a nightmare when I imagined being in those same circumstances of wandering around, being dead and not being able to speak to her,” says Sakey, whose bestselling Brilliance, the first in a trilogy, has sold over a million copies.

This dream became what Sakey calls a “seed crystal,” the catalyst to write Afterlife (Thomas & Mercer 2017; $24.95) a supernatural thriller featuring Brody and Claire McCoy, FBI colleagues and lovers. Killed in the line of duty, both are reunited in an after world where they must battle an ancient satanic entity.

It was a story Sakey felt compelled to write but one that was frightening as well.

“This one scared me from the very beginning and it scared me every time I sat at the keyboard,” he says. “I never looked up and saw ghosts. Like any of my books, when I’m writing I’m working on it all the time not just when I’m at the keyboard. When I’m having dinner with my wife or playing with my daughter on the swing, I’m thinking about the characters and what they are doing. I was also afraid I might not be able to pull it off.”

Fascinated by mythology since he was very young and striving to bring an almost mythical quality to his book, Sakey rewrote the first 100 pages nine times, each revision adding new layers, clarifications and bringing the characters into sharper focus.

“It was my ninth book and by far the hardest I’ve written,” he says.

But the rewards of all that hard work have been great. Imagine Entertainment, an American film and television production company founded by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, won an auction for the screen rights to Afterlife.  Grazer and Howard are producing the movie with Sakey writing the screenplay.

“To be perfectly honest, none of this has sunk in,” says Sakey when asked how he feels about all this heady success. “My job up until now has been to hang out with my daughter in the morning and then go into the basement and make stuff up.”

The World Is Awake, A Celebration of Everyday Blessings by Linsey Davis

Though she often reports on what’s worst in our world (the Las Vegas massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing and the sexual predator assertions against Harvey Weinstein), Linsey Davis, an Emmy award winning news correspondent for ABC News, wants us to look at the world in a more positive way, enjoying its delights with a sense of childlike wonderment and excitement.

“As adults we put on our blinders and just go about our day,” says Davis, author of the recently released children’s book, The World Is Awake, A Celebration of Everyday Blessings: (Zonderkidz 2018; $17.99). “Children are able to remind us about the beauty and joy of so many little things we often overlook.”davis, linsey_portrait

Her inspiration, says Davis, comes from watching her four-year-old son Ayden interact with nature, saying it gives her a buoyant and spiritual perspective.

“My son’s excitement when he asks me who opens the flowers or laughs when he sees a butterfly is contagious,” says Davis, who files reports for shows such as “World News,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20” and “Nightline.” “He sees with a child’s heart. I think children are able to remind us of that.”

With colorful and lively illustrations, Davis’s says she hopes the book stimulates parents to regain that childlike outlook. But even more so, Davis wanted to write a children’s book where the main character is a person of color.

“The characters in children’s books are not in sync with where we are as a country,” says Davis, who is African American. “More than 90% of protagonists in books for children are white. We’re at a time in our country where we’re becoming more colorful at the same time we’re becoming more divisive. Children need to find themselves in books and to see children in books who look like them. I think that is essential particularly now.”

Ifyougo:

What: Linsey Davis will discuss and sign copies of her book and participate in a Q & A.  at

When: Sunday, July 22 at 2:00 p.m.

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 W. Jefferson Ave. Naperville, IL

Cost: This event is free and open to the public. To join the book signing line, purchase the book at Anderson’s Bookshop.

FYI: (630) 355-2665; andersonsbookshop.com.

 

 

Chicago’s Only Castle

 

It’s been more than 40 years since Errol Magidson first saw The Castle with its crenelated towers, stone walls, parapets and arched doorways and windows. Only this castle, rising on top of a hill with even, we’re not kidding here, slit-like windows perfect for archers to fire at marauders, wasn’t located in Europe but instead had been built by an Irishman named Robert Givens back in the 1880s in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago.1551581_640122486049460_1036349268_n

“My wife and I were looking for a place to live and a friend told us to come out to Beverly as it’s a great place,” recalls Magidson, author of Chicago’s Only Castle: The History of Givins’ Irish Castle and Its Keepers and its companion DVD. “So we did and we were driving down Longwood Avenue, looking at the homes including one that’s a Frank Lloyd Wright and were stopped at a light. We looked up and saw the castle.”

Enchanted by what they saw, Magidson and his wife, since deceased, moved to Beverly.  It didn’t matter that she was Catholic and he was Jewish, he joined the Men of the Castle, a group dedicated to the preservation of Chicago’s only castle, which in 1942 had become a Unitarian Church.

“We worked at raising money and when I retired and was looking for something to do, I volunteered to make a documentary about the castle,” says Magidson.

Over the decades, Magidson read everything he could about The Castle’s origins, trying to get beyond repetitious material based on faulty sources.164347_142585029136544_4388143_n

“One reporter would write it and everyone else would quote it as if it were true, but often it wasn’t,” he says.

When he first started, old newspapers were on microfiche if available at all. But he was able to reach out to historians who helped him learn how to sift through information including how in 1909 the addresses in Chicago changed.

“It wasn’t like you could open a book or get on line and there was all that history,” he says.

Legend has it, says Magidson, that Givens, a real estate developer, popular novelist, purposed mayoral candidate, world traveler who wrote travel reviews for the Chicago Evening Post, built his castle in 1877-1878 after seeing one he liked on the River Dee in County Louth, Ireland and sketching it so he could return home and build it for his Irish fiancée.

181559_142585012469879_5721985_n       “My children went to pre-school at the castle, so it felt almost like an extension of home when they were young,” says Mike Flannery, a political reporter for Fox 32 News in Chicago who lives near the castle on Longwood Drive. “Sitting stop the limestone ridge above Longwood Drive, it’s one of the neighborhood’s most prominent landmarks. Returning from a long trip, it’s always good to see the Givens Castle. Means we’re almost home!”

After Givens, the Castle was home, from 1895 until 1897, to the Chicago Female College. From 1909 until 1921, the property was owned by the Burdett family.

“J.B. Burdett was an inventor and manufacturer,  whose company still exists but under a different name,” says Magdison.  “He was also an early automobilists who won the first race to Chicago to Joliet in 1901.  Siemens bought it in 1921 and kept it until 1942. he was a medical doctor of Ukrainian descent and his wife was the founder of the Ukrainian National Museum.”579100_492735217454855_1525667273_n.jpg

Despite all these changes, much of the original interior remains including the  ornate woodwork, a skylight on the third floor as well as a stained glass window with the Givens family coat of arms and fireplaces on each floor.

“The Castle was built by stones quarried in Joliet that were taken by the railroad to 103rd and Vincennes,” says Magidson. “There a builder cut them to size and then they were shipped by horse and wagon to the house.”

Things change as well. The property where it is located is only about the half size of the original lot. But still, it is a castle.

Ifyougo:

What: Presentation, Book Signing, and Tour at The Castle

When: July 21 at 11 a.m.

Where: 10244 South Longwood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

FYI: chicagosonlycastle.org or send a message on their Facebook page

 

 

Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend

Deirdre Bair wasn’t that familiar with Al Capone. Beyond the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, she’d been more focused on literary biographies, racking up numerous awards including the National Book Award. But when she was contacted by a friend who had a friend who knew someone (yes, it went like that) who wanted help in solving some family mysteries about Al Capone she was intrigued.

“I asked what does he want, a private investigator or a ghost writer?”

The man was a relative of the infamous gangster and after they talked, Bair received phone calls from other Capone relatives.

“They called me and said we’re getting old, we want our story to be told,” recalls Bair.

And so began years of interviews, extensive research and writing as Blair learned from Capone’s surviving family members about the Capone they knew—a devoted father, a loved husband, a kindly caretaker of his relatives.

“There are so many legends about him,” says Blair, noting more than 100 books have been written about Capone. Her book, “Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend” (Nan A. Talese 2016; $30) is the first to have the cooperation of his family who provided her with exclusive access to personal testimony and archival documents.

Of course there’s the Jazz Age, bootlegging Capone. But in his brief arc of fame and success—Bair points out that he took control of his gang at 25 and by 31 was ill, broke and in prison, he became a role model for, of all things, business management.

“The Harvard Business School did a case study of how he ran his business,” says Bair. “Today the Bulgarian Mafia say they study Capone. So many people tell me a generation or two later, he could have been a CEO.”

His family saw him as loving. His wife May, says Bair, said she knew every bad thing he’d done (and we know he did a whole lot of bad stuff) but she still loved him. His son remembered him as a great dad.

“Every day was a revelation,” says Bair. “But I don’t think anyone will ever have the final answer as to who he really was. He’s a riddle, a conundrum and an enigma.”

 

 

 

 

 

Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from A Bootlegger’s Manual

When I was writing my book, A Jazz Age Murder in Northwest Indiana (History Press), about Nettie Diamond, a wealthy widow and pharmacist who was murdered by her fifth husband, a much younger bootlegger named Harry in Indiana Harbor on Valentine’s Day 1923, one of the things I learned was that it was relatively easy to get a permit during Prohibition to buy medicinal alcohol and distribute it.

That may be why I’m finding a new book, Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from A Bootlegger’s Manual by Matthew Rowley (The Countryman Press 2015; $27.95) to be a fascinating read.

Rowley, who describes himself as specializing in folk distilling and the manufacture and distribution of illicit spirits, was given an old book titled The Candle and The Flame, The Work of George Sylvester Viereck. The interior didn’t contain any poems by Viereck, a popular poet up until his pro-German sensibilities during World War I made him a pariah in the U.S. Instead, the book’s once blank pages contained a plethora of handwritten distilled spirit recipes procured and preserved by a New York pharmacist named Victor Alfred Lyon.

As for Harry, he wasn’t supposed to sell alcohol for non-medicinal purposes like he did—by adding real spirit company labels to his own bottles…but that was Harry who also.  According to Rowley, many pharmacists made alcoholic concoctions to help ailing (or just plain thirsty) customers and many distilleries were allowed to continue to operate to provide product. Rowley points out that during Prohibition, the sale of sacramental wine went sky high as people suddenly became much more religious.

Lyon’s recipes were collected from a variety of sources and at the time he was gathering them, some were a century or so old. Rowley organized the recipes in chapters such as Absinthe, Cordials, and Bitters and Gin; Compounding Spirits and Gin, Whiskey and Rum.

Less a cookbook than a history and how-to of spirit making, Rowley does include many of Lyon’s recipes from a simple cocktail that silent screen movie star Mary Pickford enjoyed to the complex (and supersized) such as one for Rumessenz which calls for gallons of ingredients and was used by wholesalers, barkeepers, importers and exporters to make an essence of rum they could use for adding the aroma and tastes of rum to a batch of plain alcohol creating a higher profit margin.  That’s similar to what Harry Diamond did as well and at his trial he told the court he made about $20,000 a month from bootlegging.

Here’s one of the book’s recipes.

Lanizet: Sour Mash Cajun Anisette

3 quarts water

25 ounces sugar

½ teaspoon anise oil

½ tablespoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon red food coloring

3 cups bourbon or Tennessee whiskey

5 to 7 pounds ice

Pour 1 ½ quarts of the water in a medium stockpot. Note the depth of the liquid. Later, you will boil the syrup to this height. For now, pour in the remaining water and all the sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer until the liquid reduces to 1 ½ quarts, 50 or 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

While the syrup is simmering, sterilize five new or well-scrubbed 1-pint canning jars in a deep pot or canning pot. Leave the jars in the hot water until you’re ready to use them. Wash and boil the lids and rings according to the manufacturer’s directions.

When the syrup reaches that 1.5-lquart mark, turn off the heat and remove the pot from heat. Stir in the anise oil, vanilla and food coloring until thoroughly mixed, then stir in the whiskey. Remove the jars from their hot water bath with tongs. Place the jars (don’t touch with your bare hands) on a wooden surface or folded towels and immediately pour the crimson liquid into the jars up to 1⁄2 inch from the tops. Wipe any dribbles or spills from the rims with a clean, damp cloth and place hot lids on top with sealing compound down; screw on the metal rings firmly but not too tightly.

Line your sink with a damp dish towel; it will prevent the hot jars from breaking when they touch the cool surface. Immediately place the jars upright in the sink, then slowly fill it with cool tap water so it covers the jars. As the jars cool, you’ll hear a series of metallic pops and pings; that’s a vacuum forming in each jar. When the jars are cool to the touch, after 5 to 10 minutes, place them upright in a tub of ice, with ice to top off the jars, to cool the anisette as quickly as possible. Once contents of jars are well chilled, about 1 hour, remove the jars from the ice. Label and date the jars, then store upright in a cool, dark place.

Yield: 5 pints

From Lost Recipes of Prohibition.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway: A New Psychological Thriller by Ruth Ware

Tarot cards, a threatening stranger and a mysterious will propel Hal, a young vulnerable orphan to spend her remaining cash for a railway ticket to the funeral of a woman who solicitors believe is her grandmother. Hal, who makes her precarious living reading Tarot cards, a skill she learned from her mother who was killed in a hit-and-run a few years earlier, thinks she knows better. But still, when she receives a letter indicating she is an heir to the moneyed estate, she decides to see if the same skills she uses to tell fortunes can help obtain part of her “inheritance.”

Atmospheric and compelling, The Death of Mrs. Westaway (Gallery/Scout Press $26.99; 2018), is the fourth novel of English author Ruth Ware, author of the best- selling The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game.

Ware, who is on a book tour throughout the  United States, took time out to answer the following questions.Author Photo - Ruth Ware c Gemma Day

What inspired you to write The Death of Mrs. Westaway?

I can’t put my finger on one single inspiration, but probably the key thing that defines the book for me is Hal. Having written three books about women who stumble into events more or less through no fault of their own, I wanted to write a very different kind of main character this time round – one who brings the events of the novel down upon themselves. Hal sets out to commit a crime – and in doing so sets of a nightmarish set of dominoes. That was a very conscious choice on my part!

Were you familiar with Tarot cards before you wrote this book or did you have to learn about them? And why did you decide to make them part of the story? In that vein, have you always had an interest in fortune telling?

I’m super skeptical and don’t really believe in any kind of supernatural forces so I had never had my cards read, though of course I was familiar with some of the images on tarot cards and found them very beautiful and inspiring as visual images. I had to research the meanings from scratch as I knew nothing about fortune telling, or the different kinds of tarot spreads. I really enjoyed the research though and found myself quite swept up in the different meanings. I suppose I made them part of the story because I wanted Hal to be someone who was practiced in reading people and telling them what they wanted to hear. So I tried to give her a job that fitted with that and was in some way a preparation. Making her a cynical tarot reader – one who doesn’t believe in the power of the cards but uses her skills to deceive – seemed fitting.

Your books create such a sense of foreboding–do you ever get caught up in that and experience those feelings?

Of course! Writing is like reading – you get just as caught up in the atmosphere you’re creating. But I find it’s quite hard to scare myself when I’m writing, because I know when the jump scares are going to come. I get immersed in the atmosphere, but the sense of terror I get sometimes reading other writers’ work just isn’t there, because I’m in control.

Do you plot your novels and your characters or do they evolve?

A mix of the two – I usually have a skeleton structure in my head, and I think about the characters for a long time before I start writing, so they are usually quite evolved by the time I put pen to paper. But I write very little down – they exist mainly in my head so they tend to be quite fluid and evolve as things develop on the page.

What writers have influenced you?

For this book, particularly Daphne du Maurier. I love her work.

What’s next for you? 

Another book of course! I’m writing it now, but it’s too early to tell you what it’s about…

Ifyougo:

What: Ruth Ware

When: Monday, June 4th at 7 p.m.

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop, 26 S La Grange Rd., La Grange, IL

FYI: This event is free and open to the public. To join the signing line, please purchase the author’s latest book, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, from Anderson’s Bookshop. To purchase please stop into or call Anderson’s Bookshop La Grange (708) 582-6353.

 

 

 

Jon Meacham’s The Soul of America

For those who are worried that we have entered dark days as country and are uncertain what the future might hold, Pulitzer Prize–winning author and presidential historian Jon Meacham explores other eras in America’s history, pointing out that in the end, by following “our better angels” we became a stronger and better America.

“Lincoln got it wrong before he got it right,” says Meacham whose most recent book, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels (Random House 2018; $30). “Woodrow Wilson supported women’s suffrage but got a lot of other things wrong.”Meacham_author photo_(c) Heidi Ross

Meacham points out that Lyndon Johnson had a very mixed record but when it came to Civil Rights he was the one who convinced Governor George Wallace, a virulent segregationist, to ask federal troops to come in to integrate the public schools by playing on how he wanted to be remembered. To do so, Johnson asked him, “George, when you’re gone, do you want there to be a scrawny pine saying ‘George, what do you want left behind? Do you want a great big marble monument that says ‘George Wallace: He Built’? Or do you want a little piece of scrawny pine lying there along that hot caliche soil that says ‘George Wallace: He Hated’?”

“Johnson understood something that I hope our incumbent president comes to realize,” says Meacham, whose previous books include biographies of George H.W. Bush, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. “What will people say when they look at my portrait?”

Meacham’s hope is we tweet “hate” less and “like” more.

Using history as a guide, Meacham is hopeful.

“There are forces in our country like the press, the courts, the rule of law, Congress, the president and the people that control the outcome and if we can get three or so of the forces to come together, we’ll be okay,” he says. “Right now the press is doing a great job, I think we can take the presidency off the table and Congress is falling off the edge but the courts are doing a good job, the rule of law is holding and we need people to come together. We have to listen to the people we don’t agree with on the chance they might be 1% right about something that we can work on together. We have to resist tribalism. There’s room in the American soul for Martin Luther King and the KKK but  the question is which one do we celebrate.”

Ifyougo

What: Jon Meacham talk and book signing with former Assistant US Attorney Dan Purdom moderating.

When: Sunday, May 27 at 2:30 p.m.

Where: Ratio Hall (Wentz Science Center), 131 S. Loomis St. on the campus of North Central College, Naperville IL

FYI: Event tickets are available at www.andersonsbookshop.com, at the store or by (630) 355-2665.

 

 

Michael Koryta in Chicago to Talk About His New Book

Michael Koryta, the New York Times-bestselling author of 12 suspense novels of including Those Who Wish Me Dead and Rise the Dark talks with writer Jane Simon Ammeson about his just released “How It Happened” (Little Brown 2018; $27).Michael Koryta

“How It Happened” starts off with the so chilling confession and then suddenly we’re wondering okay, was it true? Is your book based on one specific case or did statistics from Project Innocence help shape the story for you or what shaped the story in your mind?

The confession in the book was inspired by a false confession that was given during the investigation of the disappearance and murder of Jill Behrman, who was a 19-year-old Indiana University freshman when she vanished on a bike ride on a beautiful spring morning in a small college town. Her bike was found near my childhood home, and I was 17 when that happened, and then I was 19 when I began to write some police beat articles about the case for the local newspaper. There was a search going on at that time based on a confession. Those memories are profound and tragic to me.

“How It Happened” is complex just like all your novels, do you plot everything in advance or does it more just flow? 

I don’t know how to outline, but I do know how to rewrite! I do many, many drafts.

And do you ever find yourself caught up in the feel of it all so that you’re where your characters are and experiencing what they’re experiencing rather than sitting at a desk writing about it? And do your characters take on a life of their own or are you in control of them?

If you don’t feel caught up in it, then it won’t be any good. If the desk doesn’t vanish, and if you don’t disappear into the story to join your characters, then how will the reader be able to have that experience? I don’t want to have any control over my characters so much as I want them to explain the story to me, and for them to surprise me. That’s the joy of it.

You’re books are so atmospheric, your characters haunted in many ways and there’s often a combination of the natural—caves, mountains, rivers, now Maine and the ghostly or the unknown. I’m familiar with Bloomington as that’s where I went to Indiana University and I love French Lick/West Baden, those marvelously restored early 20th century resorts in Southern Indiana. All this makes me  curious about how you look at these places and what makes them so haunting as if they’re characters themselves? And how/why did you choose Maine for this book?

I respond to places that have a combination of visual and emotional impact. Sometimes, that might be in an eerie or creepy way — the surreal experience of walking into another time in the West Baden Springs Hotel, or riding a boat on an underground river. In other cases, it is found in the collision of beauty and danger. This would be the Maine coast to me. I love a place that can be astonishingly beautiful in one moment, and turn threatening in the next. It allows me to bring the setting to life like a character.

Did you ever find  a book written by your female relative who was a published author back in the 1800s? What was her name?

I still haven’t been able to track one down, sadly. Jane Parker was her name. She wrote novels in the late 1800s, and was apparently well-regarded in her era, which is even more special because she was a woman writing in an age when not many women had the chance, let alone earned that critical respect. I am afraid none of her books have survived, but I will remain on the hunt!   

Will we ever get another novel set in French Lick and West Baden like “So Cold the River?

I think you will! I finally got the film rights back on SO COLD THE RIVER after it went stagnant with the studio that optioned it originally, and I am exploring ways to get that done with an independent filmmaker, and as I work on that, I keep thinking of new ideas in that area, and with those characters. I am very drawn to that area, and to the stories that abound there. I am feeling the call down there again, louder and louder.

Ifyougo:

What: Michael Koryta book signing

When: Tuesday, May 22 at 7 p.m.

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville, 123 W Jefferson Ave., Naperville, IL

Cost: This event is free and open to the public.

FYI: To join the signing line, please purchase the author’s latest book, How It Happened, from Anderson’s Bookshop. To purchase please stop into or call Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville (630) 355-2665 or order online at andersonsbookshop.com/event/michael-koryta-0

 

 

Chasing Helicity by Ginger Zee

In the time it takes to create a waterspout, Ginger Zee was hooked on weather.

GINGER ZEE

ABC NEWS – Ginger Zee )ABC/Heidi Gutman)

“My mom kept shouting at me to get out of the way,” says Zee, who was eight years old at the time. “I thought it was the coolest thing, I was mesmerized. That’s when I decided that when I grew up I wanted to become a meteorologist on national TV.”

Fast forward a decade or so. After attending Valparaiso University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology as well as majors in both mathematics and Spanish, Zee worked as a meteorologist for several stations including WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids (she was born and raised in nearby Rockford, Michigan), WYIN-TV in Merrillville and

WMAQ-TV in Chicago before making her debut on Good Morning America in 2011 as the show’s first woman meteorologist. She now is their chief meteorologist and hosts an ABC News original digital series “Food Forecast,” focused on climate and its impact on agriculture. Added to all this and in keeping with her interest in science, she also recently authored Chasing Helicity (Disney-Hyperion 2018; $16.99), the first in a series of three children’s book for ages 8 to 12 about a girl named Helicity—a physics term meaning “to spin.”

“Helicity is a character I’ve been dreaming about for years,” the Emmy Award-winning Zee tweeted earlier this year, noting the book is semi-autobiographical.

Indeed, Helicity is an adventurous weather aficionado who barely escapes a tornado barreling through her home town because she’s so caught up in capturing it on film. Also like Zee, who describes herself as being “different” from the other kids when she was growing up, Helicity sometimes has trouble fitting in.

“Helicity lives in a hyper-reality where so much is happening to her all the time—which at times is very much like my own life,” says Zee who since joining ABC News has covered most major weather events. She’s broadcasted from the Jersey Shore during Hurricane Sandy and Colorado at a time of both horrendous floods and wildfires. She’s also been on the ground following tornados in Moore and El Reno, Oklahoma.

“I fly to the storm, I’m always chasing the storm and I’m in the storm,” she says. “Helicity has lots of adventures too.”

Even the name, Helicity, has long been a favorite.

““I chose that name because it’s one of my favorites,” says Zee. “If I had a daughter I thought about naming her Helicity.

My husband asked if was crazy when I told him that.”

The couple has two boys; neither is named after a weather event.

Zee had another reason to write her book.

“I want to encourage students to take an interest in science and technology,” she says, noting that she often speaks about weather at schools. “I want to let them know what’s out there in terms of science and I have the platform to do just that.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cecile Richards: “Make Trouble”

“How much time do you have?” Cecile Richards laughs when I ask how her mother, the late Ann Richards and the first woman governor of Texas, influenced her.

“She taught me so much,” continues Richards, the outgoing president of Planned Parenthood who will be in Chicago next week to talk about her new book, Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead — My Life Story (Touchstone, 2018; $27). “There were the practical lessons, like never wear patterns on TV, or before you name your child, think about how it will look on a bumper sticker. And then there were the life lessons I think about constantly: People don’t do things for your reasons, they do things for their reasons. You only get one life, and this is it – there are no second chances, and no do-overs. And most of all, that there is no higher calling or better way to spend your time than public service and making people’s lives better.”Cecile Richards portrait

Richards recalls how, when eight months pregnant with twins and campaigning for her mother, she had to figure out what to wear to such events as the Luling Watermelon Thump parade and how  despite all polls to contrary, Ann Richards won the governor’s race. All of these experiences developed in Richards a resiliency and an ability to persevere no matter what.

“To me, that’s one of the ultimate lessons for activists today: Never let practicality stand in the way of doing the impossible,” says Richards. “Whenever you’re working for social change, there are going to be people who disagree with what you’re doing. If there aren’t, you probably need to set your sights higher. Anything worth doing has its challenges, and I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to be able to choose to do the work I do.”

Calling herself a troublemaker, she encourages others to take that role as well.

“Activism and working for social justice are not a chore – they’re fun, inspiring, powerful, and introduce you to people who will change your life and change the world,” says Richards.

She’s also excited that there are currently 35,000 women in America running for office.

“They’re not waiting for permission or an invitation,” she says. “They’re looking around at the people – especially the men – who are supposed to represent them and thinking, ‘I could do better than that.’ Women are leading the resistance, and that is one of the most hopeful, encouraging signs I’ve seen in my life. The number of people in this country who believe politicians should be able to interfere in women’s personal health decisions, who want to go back to the days when women didn’t have the opportunities they do today – that’s a small iceberg, and it’s floating out to sea.”

Ifyougo:

What: David Axelrod, Chief Strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and current Director of University of Chicago Institute of Politics and a Senior Political Commentator @CNN, will be in conversation with Cecile Richards:

When: Saturday, April 14 at 4pm

Where: Nicholas Senn High School, 5900 N. Glenwood Avenue, Chicago, IL

FYI: Tickets are for sale by Women & Children’s First and can be ordered at brownpapertickets.com/event/3335756. The price includes a pre-signed copy of the book.