Posted in Book Stuff

*Monday Dec 14/09

Chicago from a Chopper, originally uploaded by Stuck in Customs.

Chicago. At around draft 3, half of The Singing Fire took place there, during the world’s fair and then the Pullman strike. The research was fun and I visited Chicago, gawking at fin de siecle skyscrapers and Marshall Fields (department store), the tiffany ceiling in the public library, thinking of architects and the settlement slums and Jane Addams. It all ended up cut. I invented a new story line and arc for the Chicago character in the west end of London, to fit better with the east end London story. It was hard to do, but it worked. I still miss my Chicago piece. Maybe someday I’ll use it or maybe not…



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

9 thoughts on “*Monday Dec 14/09

  1. My husband’s been to Chicago and loved it. Untravelled me has only ever visited New York and Los Angeles. It sounds like a fascinating city and I hope it will appear in one of your novels some day, Lilian. Perhaps now it’s isolated from the rest it might suggest a storyline of its own…?

  2. Oh yes, Lilian, please do find a use for it – a storyline of its own sounds wonderful. I’ve only seen the inside of O’Hare en route to Toronto, but a school friend has lived there since 2000 and I do plan to get there one day. I wonder how long it’s been since you looked at your Chicago pages? Perhaps it’s time to pull them out and ponder them anew.

  3. Greetings Lillian,

    I have just now come across your website. My interest was really piqued in the Dec 14th entry once I saw that all familiar photo of Chicago. The “Windy City” was the cradle of my birth and the trundle bed of my youth. I left her behind in my early 20’s and ventured off to the East Coast.
    When I did go back for visits to Chicago, I returned as a tourista. It was through these sightseeing tours, that I learned to appreciate the origin of my roots. I signed up for the Architectural tour made oh so popular by the Eric Larson book, “The Devil in the White City”. I marveled at the fireworks of Navy Pier at night while riding high in the reproduction Ferris wheel first introduced at the Columbian Exposition of 1893.

    I took in the city and all its wonders from a wide eyed perspective, as though viewing it all for the first time.
    From the celebrity graveyards to the grimy ghettos to the glamorous Miracle Mile, Chicago encompasses several strata of society, all lofted high on her “big shoulders”. At one time I was part of that strata, and now decades later, I have reconnected with her once again.

    After reading your research on the East End of London in 1903, I am intrigued to hear your experiences with investigating that same era of Chicago history. Can you give us a snippet of what you saw and where you went and the impressions you left with?

    1. Welcome here and thanks for your memories of Chicago. That book came out around the time I had decided to cut the Chicago section, but was thinking someone ought to write about it, such a fascinating contradictory time and place. I love your suggestion and I’m going to dig out the notes from my Chicago trip and post about it.

  4. I have to agree wholeheartedly with your statement, “someone ought to write about it”. I might receive some flack for what I’m about to say, but that someone was not the author of the before mentioned book about Chicago and the Columbian Exposition era. As popular a novel as it seemed to become, I found, “The Devil in the White City” to be a lackluster compilation of historical facts mixed with a sorry attempt at mystery writing with sprinklings of dull, unimaginative dialogue from the star characters.

    I’m betting that your notes, even in the format of a travelogue, will be a much more interesting read and spot on in capturing the true essence of the city. She has many stories to tell, as varied as the waves formed by the winds that blow off of Lake Michigan.

    I hope you do have time to let us share in your Chi-town adventure.

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