Max’s Story: A Dog’s Purpose Puppy Tale

Tucker and Bruce 2011 black - c. Ute Ville (1)

Author W. Bruce Cameron wasn’t planning on writing a series of books about dogs. Instead, he was wooing his future wife into letting another dog into her life.

Wondering if that was going to be a deal breaker, Cameron, whose had dogs since he was young, decided to tell her a story while they were driving.

“I just made up a story about how her dog would want her to have another puppy and that I really believe we’ll see our true friends again,” says Cameron, author of the recently released Max’s Story: A Dog’s Purpose Puppy Tale (Tor Books 2018; $16.99), acknowledging that when we adopt a canine, we’re setting ourselves up for a very bad day sometime in the future. “She liked the story so  much she not only married me but told me I needed to make turn the story into a book.”

The result was A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans which spent 52 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, became the first in the Dog’s Purpose series and was made into a movie. Currently, Cameron’s A Dog’s Way Home, another best seller, is being filmed.

Though Cameron writes other novels including a mystery series about a repo man who lives in Michigan (the novelist is from Petoskey, Michigan) which have been well-received, it’s the way he portrays animals that seems to win the most readers from young to old. Max’s Story  features a New York canine cutie, who “adopts” a naïve young woman and shows her how to handle big city life. The puppy purpose series are for young readers and though they’re written to be easily readable, writing them is the challenge says Cameron.

“When I’m writing these puppy tales, I start off with a real challenge for myself—I need to think like a dog would think,” he says. “Dogs don’t think in words but they know the difference between a ball, chair or tree. I made a mistake in an earlier book when I mentioned a red light. A dog doesn’t see colors. But dogs are very in-tune with feelings—I’ve witnesses that—and for a story to advance you have to show it through what the dog knows and doesn’t know and how they see the world.”

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.

Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide

 

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All illustrations © Jessie Kanelos Weiner

Imagine strolling through Paris with a friend, one who knows the greatest little patisseries, cafes, outdoor markets and shops tucked along winding cobbled streets. Together the two of us try on amazingly chic designer dresses at La boutique Didier Ludot and amble through the courtyard gardens and gaze at the Swedish art work at Institut Suedois located in the Hôtel de Marle, a 16th century mansion in the heart of the central Marais district. We order small plates of fantastic food amidst 19th century murals of clowns at the appropriately named Clown Bar, considered one of the city’s finest restaurants. After stopping to admire the Eiffel Tower, we trek even more before stopping to reward ourselves with ice cream at Berthillon Glacier. We are, definitely, Parisian insiders.

17. Clown bar

Wait—don’t have a friend in Paris? Don’t even have tickets or plans to go sometime soon? Well, Rick of Casablanca told Else they’d always have Paris and for the rest of us, before we get there, we’ll have the recently released Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide (Rizzoli 2018; $27.50), co-authored by Jessie Kanelos Weiner, a Chicago gal who grew up on the Northside and Sarah Moroz both of whom have lived in Paris for the last decade. Charmingly illustrated with over 150 of Weiner’s delicate watercolors, the book curates walking itineraries the authors put together to go beyond the typical guidebooks.

“We wanted to put together walking tours of a timeless Paris, the type of Paris that will always be the same,” says Weiner who will be back in Chicago on April 6 & 7 for book events. “We wanted something that wasn’t too text heavy, a book that was a jumping off point to see what you want to see, one that wasn’t prescriptive but takes you down the side streets.”

Paris is Weiner’s passion and wandering its streets is what she loves to do. ParisinStride_p134-135

“It’s a city based on pleasure,” she says, “and one with many beguiling things along the way.”

Ifyougo:

What: Jessie Kanelos Weiner will talk about her book and teach a water color class during the conversation at Read It & Eat, 2142 North Halsted Street, Chicago, IL, Friday April 6 @ 6:30. Wine and a cheese will be available during the event, as well. (773) 661-6158; readitandeatstore.com

On Saturday, April 7 from 3:00pm – 4:30pm, Weiner will be in conversation with photographer Rebecca Plotnick talking about Paris and her book at 57th Street Books, 1301 E 57th St., Chicago, IL.  (773) 684-1300; 57th.semcoop.com

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Leslie Odom Jr.’s Inspiring New Book: Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning

Leslie Odom, Jr. originated the role of Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical phenomenon Hamilton. Since then, he has performed for sold-out audiences, sung for the Obamas at the White House, and won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. But before he landed the role of a lifetime in one of the biggest musicals of all time, Odom put in years of hard work as a singer and an actor.

With personal stories from his life, Odom asks the questions that will help you unlock your true potential and achieve your goals even when they seem impossible. What work did you put in today that will help you improve tomorrow? How do you surround yourself with people who will care about your dreams as much as you do? How do you know when to play it safe and when to risk it all for something bigger and better?

These stories will inspire you, motivate you, and empower you for the greatness that lies ahead, whether you’re graduating from college, starting a new job, or just looking to live each day to the fullest.

Odom was most recently seen in the blockbuster Broadway musical Hamilton, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for the role of “Aaron Burr.” He is a Grammy Award winner as a principal soloist on Hamilton’s Original Broadway Cast Recording, which won the 2015 award for Best Musical Theater Album. Odom, Jr. originated the role of “Burr” in a sold-out run at The Public Theater in 2015, earning a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical and a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical.

As a recording artist, his self-titled debut album was part-funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign which raised $40,971. The album was released in 2014 by Borderlight Entertainment, Inc. Odom has appeared on “Smash,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Gotham,” “Person of Interest,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House of Lies,” “Vanished” and “CSI: Miami.” He also starred in the feature film Murder on the Orient Express.

Leslie Odom, Jr.’s upcoming visit is part of Anderson’s Bookshops’ calendar of special author events. Anderson’s Bookshops specialize in book sales, author events, book signings, and building a sense of community, learning and fun. The store has been helping Naperville readers for six generations. Additional locations include Downers Grove, at 5112 Main Street (630)-963-2665 and La Grange, at 26 S. La Grange Rd. (708) 582-6353. A toy shop, Anderson’s Toyshop, at 111 W. Jefferson Ave., in Naperville, opened in 2016. Key to Anderson’s success has been special author events, like the March 31 program with Leslie Odom, Jr.

Valerie’s Home Cooking: More than 100 Delicious Recipes to Share with Friends and Family

I had the chance to chat with Valerie Bertinelli when she was in Chicago a few weeks ago to sign copies of her new cookbook, Valerie’s Home Cooking: More than 100 Delicious Recipes to Share with Friends and Family (Oxmoor House 2017; $30). It’s always interesting to meet someone in real time that you’ve, in a way, grown up with. Not saying Bertinelli and I were from the same neighborhood or belonged to the same Girl Scout troop, but I was about her age when I watched her play the role of Barbara on “One Day at a Time,” which ran from 1975-1984. The sitcom was rather revolutionary for its time because it was about a divorced single mom raising two kids at a time where most family shows were about households with a mom, dad and a couple of kids.

“Barbara” was adorably cute, bubbly and, in my memory, almost always smiling. Flash forward 30 some years, numerous movies and a starring role on the TV series, “Hot in Cleveland” for which she won her second Golden Globe award (the first was for “One Day at a Time”) and Bertinelli could still be channeling Barbara. She’s warm and friendly and totally enthusiastic about cooking. Currently she has two Food Network shows, “Valerie’s Home Cooking” and “Kids Baking Championship,” the latter which she co-hosts with pastry chef Duff Goldman.

Her cooking style, she says, is all about simplicity and ease.

“Who wants to complicate their life any more than they have to?” she says.  “We all have enough complications going on in our life, so let’s make it easy in the kitchen. The last thing I want is for people to feel intimidated by my recipes so I work at making them easy to follow and delicious as well.”

Each of the 100-plus recipes in her book not only tell how long they take to make from start to finish but also the “hands-on” time. For example, hands-on time for her Spicy Arrabiata Penne is five minutes, total cooking time is 20 minutes. She also prefaces the recipes with a personalized anecdote about its importance to her and offers variations of the dish.

Describing herself as a Food Network addict, Bertinelli says it’s “crazy” to find herself starring in two shows on the channel and writing a cookbook, the title of the first being a take on her original TV series and called “One Dish at a Time.”

When asked how cooking at home differs from preparing dishes on her show, Bertinelli says she finds it challenging because when she’s cooking in her own kitchen she’s cooking alone.

“I don’t have to look up and talk and explain how and why I’m doing something,” she says. “It’s a little bit different of a muscle. It’s like cooking two Thanksgiving dinners every day as we shoot each show. You’re on your feet a lot and I’m exhausted everyday shooting the show. But it’s also invigorating as well because it’s so much fun to share something I love.”

 

Gretchen Carlson’s “Be Fierce: Stop Sexual Harassment and Take Your Power Back”

Gretchen Carlson started a tsunami when she sued Roger Ailes, the all- powerful mogul CEO and Chairman of Fox News and Fox Television for sexual harassment after she lost her long-term job as a Fox anchor for refusing his advances.  Now, with the release of her latest book, Be Fierce: Stop Sexual Harassment and Take Your Power Back (Center Street 2017; $27) she is garnering the stories of women—and men—who have been sexually harassed and showing them how to fight back.

“When one person says no to sexual harassment, they inspire others to step forward as well,” Carlson tells me when we meet at Books by the Banks, Cincinnati’s annual and very popular regional book festival. Like me, she is there to sign copies of her books. Unlike me, she has a large table right by the entrance and a huge sign overhead with her name on it. I am in the center of the barn-sized room, crowded together with other writers who are at my level in the food chain. We have no oversized banners with our names on them just little placards on our shared tables. Nor will we have, as the morning goes on, lines of up to an hour waiting to have us autograph our books.

Those long lines show how much Carlson’s message has resonated. She’s been inundated with the stories of those who’ve also experienced sexual harassment and, to a much lesser degree, hateful comments about being a gold digger and just out for the money, advice on how women should dress to avoid being harassed and those who believe there is no such thing as sexual harassment, just lying women. Carlson blithely posts these pearls of wisdom on her Facebook page. We’re looking at you “baychevy” who posted “…most of the time women claim they were sexually harassed and make a big deal out of it simply to broadcast to other women that they are irresistible.”

“Thank you,” I say to Carlson. Hey, I’ve been through it, who hasn’t? And, of course, I thought that’s one more thing you have to deal with.

Not so, says Carlson, who had to withstand a barrage of negative publicity loosened on her by Ailes and his allies.

“That’s also to be expected,” says Carlson.

It’s one reason why she says we need to be fierce. And smart. The lawsuit would have been just another she-said, he-said situation but Carlson had the recordings. Ailes settled for $20 million. And in the following cascade of women coming forward to tell their horror stories about his penchant for sexual harassment, he eventually was fired from his job—albeit it with a $40 million payout.

“You were so smart to record all those conversations,” I say. Carlson replies with a smile.

She is indeed, very intelligent. An honors graduate of Stanford University who also studied at Oxford University, she was the first classical violinist to win the title of Miss America. Carlson is also fierce. She didn’t just take her money and go home. Angered not only by what happened to her but what happens to so many others, she determined to empower them to become fierce. It is her mission and the purpose of her book.

“I had worked 25 years in the business–working my way up from local to national news and discovering I was going to lose all that made me determined to speak out,” she says.

Her book doesn’t dwell on her own travails but instead is a guide for those who experience sexual harassment and what they should expect and how they can navigate confronting a system that has until recently taken a “boys will be boys attitude.”

“Coming forward isn’t fun,” she tells me. “Women aren’t looking for fame or money when they take the step of reporting harassment because there’s nothing rewarding about being demeaned.”

One her Facebook page, she writes, “It’s easy to be disgusted. It’s easy to be outraged. But we need more – we need a movement. It’s time to be fierce.”Be Fierce:

I’ll repeat what I said to her that day in Cincinnati, “Go, Gretchen, go.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

If These Walls Could Talk: Chicago Bears: Stories from the Chicago Bears Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box

How hard was it to transition from football super-stardom to everyday life? I ask Otis Wilson, #55 of the Super Bowl XX
winning Chicago Bears and front row performer in the famed Super Bowl Shuffle which even now trends high on You Tube with 21,238 views in the last three months alone.

“You have to have a goal, a plan,” says Wilson who seems to have accomplished many goals since the Bears won in 1985 including a film career and his founding of the Otis Wilson Charitable Foundation which focuses on health, education, fitness and after school programs for children in disadvantaged neighborhoods, similar to the one where he was raised. Now Wilson can add author to his list of post-football career achievements with the recent release of If These Walls Could Talk: Chicago Bears: Stories from the Chicago Bears Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box (Triumph Books 2017; $16.95).

Co-authored with Chet Coppock, an Emmy Award winning sportscaster who was inducted into the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame, Wilson, a natural born storyteller, is both philosophical and humorous in telling stories about his former teammates including those they called the Marquee Players such as Walter Payton and Jim McMahon.

Wilson, an outside linebacker was known as one of the most feared pass-rusher on the grid-iron but his demeanor off the field is genial and full of the homilies that helped shape him.

“My grandmother and mother told me to treat people as you’d want to be treated,” says Wilson. “If you give people respect, they’ll respect you.”

Another driving force for Wilson is to set a good example for his own children. But none of this means that Wilson can’t tell a good story including insight into the stars of the 1980s team, his upbringing and his insight into the changes of professional football since he played. He also likes to share his interactions with Mike Ditka, Buddy Ryan, Mike Singletary and William “Refrigerator” Perry.

The book, written as a conversation between Coppock and Wilson, has an authentic voice. Crediting his mother who worked and raised six kids and a grandmother who was an entrepreneur and owned her own record store, with helping him achieve his success by teaching common sense and an appreciation for hard work and discipline.

Though initially Wilson says he blew a lot of money on expensive cars, big homes and $800 pairs of shoes, he now has learned simplicity (though there’s still that addiction to $3000 suits). He doesn’t need a two-million-dollar house, he’s happy living on the South Side of Chicago where he’s near his foundation where he spends five days a week or more.

“We’ve reached over 10,000 kids,” he says. “That’s success.”

Ifyougo:

What: Meet former Bears player Otis Wilson. Otis will sign autographs and pose for pictures.

When: October 12, 6-8PM

Where: Binny’s Beverage Depot, 3437 W. 95th, Evergreen Park, Il

Cost: Free

FYI: 708-237-7660; evergreenpark@binnys.com

The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home

More than just a lovely French Renaissance chateau set in amazing landscape of forests, formal gardens and mountains, Biltmore, the home of George and Edith Vanderbilt as told by Denise Kiernan in her latest book, The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home, is also a main character in this account of one of this country’s most amazing homes.

Comprised of four acres of floor space, Biltmore dwarfs even the most opulent McMansion of today. The numbers tell all. The home, the largest privately owned house in the U.S., has 250 rooms including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, three kitchens, 65 fireplaces and a library.

But beyond the immense magnificence of the house, Kiernan, whose previous book, The Girls of Atomic City, was a New York Times best seller, brings the house alive with stories of its owners. Meticulously detailed, Kiernan is someone who loves to immerse herself in research. But the Vanderbilt mansion in Ashville, North Carolina is also very personal. A resident of this mountain town for the last 11 years, Kiernan’s connection to the mansion goes back even further when she first visited when in high school.

“This place is unique in that it is still standing and all the original things are still in it,” says Kiernan who describes her book as asking people to go for a walk back in time.  “Many of the great mansions are gone. That’s one more reason why Biltmore is one of the main characters. Those that lived there were just passing through.”

Besides its sumptuousness as well as being a perfect example of how the very rich lived in the Gilded Age (before all those nasty income taxes made the rich just a little less rich), George Vanderbilt also was ahead of his time in that he bought up large tracks of the failing farms surrounding the estate. Then, he hired landscaping genius Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York and the University of Chicago campus, to create America’s first managed forest.

When asked what she would like readers to take away from The Last Castle, Kiernan says she’d like to instill a curiosity of our own history and that people read the book and take away a new appreciation for historic preservation.

“Everyone brings a little bit of themselves to stories they read and I hope the story of The Last Castle is relatable enough that readers will be able to engage with it in their own unique way,” says Kiernan who marvels how interconnected many of the events from the sinking of the Titanic to the invention of the Teddy Bear touch upon the home.  “I also find that no matter how much money you have, there is no protection from harrowing tragedy and personal loss. What is impressive to me is how people handle those kinds of situations.”

Ifyougo:

What: Denise Kiernan Chicago book events.

Where & When:

Anderson’s Bookshop,

123 W Jefferson Ave., Naperville, IL

Wednesday, September 27 at 7pm

(630) 355-2665

The University Club of Chicago

76 E. Monroe St. Chicago, IL

Thursday, September 28 at noon

Tickets available at 847-446-8880

Woman’s Athletic Club

626 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL

Thursday, September 28 at 6-8 pm

312-944-6123