The TripFiction Book Club July/August ’19 reads ‘A Summer Reunion’ by Fanny Blake
Talking Location with author Steve Wiley – Chicago
1st May 2017
#TalkingLocationWith…. author Steve Wiley, who shares his Chicago with us today, showing the location from his fantasy novel: The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan
This newly released fantasy from author Steve Wiley, takes readers on an incredible tour through the windy city, complete with gravity-defying first kisses, spectral cocktails, fabled Ferris wheels and more. The characters within the novel travel aboard a fictional L train called “Lavender Line” which stops throughout the city at many locations readers will likely be familiar with, and at other locations readers will have most certainly never heard of, but which are truly worth a visit.
An example of one of these lesser known Chicago landmarks highlighted within the book is the infamous Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. The Green Mill, pictured in an illustration from novel and photograph, is a jazz club and bar located on the North Side of Chicago, in the Uptown neighborhood. The Green Mill has a rich and storied history, once being a favorite hangout of Al Capone. Al Capone’s favorite booth is still there, just off the end of the main bar. Rumor has it a secret tunnel still runs underneath the bar, for Capone to escape in the event of a raid. In the novel, The Green Mill is transformed into an estuary between the real and fantasy world of Chicago, complete with ghosts, magic, and of course, Al Capone himself.
Another lesser known Chicago landmark from the novel is the Aragon Ballroom. The Aragon Ballroom, pictured from the stage, is a
famed concert hall designed in the Moorish architectural style, complete with a beautiful mural of stars painted into the ceiling. While the venue has a small capacity, it still hosts some great acts, and in recent years has hosted Lana Del Ray, Sting, Fitz and The Tantrums, and many others. In the novel, the Aragon is turned into a medieval castle, with real stars for a ceiling, which hosts an extraordinary ball, where the characters in the story converge.
There are several other interesting tour stops in the book, including the old Riverview Amusement Park, Dunning Mental Asylum, and Buckingham Fountain. At each stop, the author presents an alternative, magical history of the location, blowing the entire city up to high fantasy for the reader.
The story includes not just locations, but also local customs, one of which is the notorious local drink, called Malört. Malört, pictured, is a type of bitter schnapps, only available in Chicago, which has been called the most disgusting drink ever concocted. The drink can be found in Chicago bars, and is often ordered as a rite of passage for locals, and as a joke to visitors. In the book, an alcoholic elf carrying a bottle of Malört travels together with the main characters, requiring them to have a taste of the foul drink. Hilarity ensues.
For those already familiar with Chicago, the book will make you appreciate the city in a new, fantastical way. If you’re planning on visiting Chicago, this book will give you some excellent ideas for landmarks to visit, drinks to drink, and sights to see. And, if you have no plans for a trip to Chicago, this book just might change your mind.
Half the proceeds from the book are donated to Chicago Public Schools.
Thanks so much to Steve for sharing some wonderful insights into Chicago! You can find out more via his website and of course purchase the book here (and remember half the proceeds from the book go to Chicago Public Schools)
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