I’ve been a writer all my life, but Chicago is where I became an author.
When I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, I’d been living in Chicago about 3 years. Moving here was the fulfillment of a dream I’d had since my small-town Ohio childhood, and it’s completely lived up to my expectations. This is my favorite city in the world, and I feel unbelievably lucky to live and write here.
My first-ever manuscript was set in a future dystopian Chicago, and I had a lot of fun (okay maybe too much fun) wandering around thinking about creative ways to distress and demolish this city I love so dearly. Several of my other unfinished (for now) projects took place in Chicago too, but it wasn’t until I started Temper that I really wrote about the city where I live—the gorgeous, messy, often frustrating but still awe-inspiring Midwestern metropolis full of hardworking people trying to make their mark on the world.
Chicago is a great place to be a writer—to be an artist of any kind, really. The cost of living is low for a city of this size, but there’s a vibrant arts community, and it’s overwhelmingly supportive in my experience. We’re ambitious here, but not cutthroat (despite the impression you may get from some of the characters in Temper…). The literary community here is welcoming to newcomers, whatever their background or experience level. No one gives a damn if you have an MFA, or what awards you’ve won. We’re all about the work here, and we know we can succeed better by working together than by stepping over each other.
Chicago also boasts lots of amazing independent bookstores, book-related events like Murder and Mayhem and Printers Row Lit Fest – hell, we even have a whole museum about writers! I know the bulk of the publishing industry is in New York City, but I’m quite satisfied with the little slice of it we have here in the Midwest. I can’t wait to see Temper on a “Local Authors” shelf one day – maybe even next to some other Chicago authors I admire like Gillian Flynn, Julia Fine, Lori Rader-Day, Audrey Niffenegger, Samira Ahmed, Rebecca Makkai… I could go on! Obviously I feel lucky to be a published author at all, but it’s even more special to me to be a Chicago author.