Sunday, June 10, 2012

Printers Row Lit Fest 2012 and "I Hunt Killers" Giveaway

I must say I had an awesome time at Printers Row Lit Fest 2012, in downtown Chicago, just south of the Loop. Here's a bit of an impressionistic recollection of the event, from my admittedly skewed POV (especially off-kilter for a few minutes after that yummy frozen margarita from Flaco's Tacos!)

We set out, an intrepid four, from Downers Grove, some 25 miles or so west of Chicago, around 10 am. We might have gone earlier, but my son Jack qualified for the national speech tournament, being held in Indianapolis this year. We neeeded to get him packed, organized and out the door before we could leave. We hit the road with Mrs. Fred at the wheel, and my charming youngest daughter Eve riding shotgun. Here's a photo of her, I'm not quite sure why she was wearing a bowler hat and a Slytherin t-shirt, but to this old dad she looked pretty darn cute.

We arrived downtown and hit the Grant Park South parking garage around 10:45 or so. My "fire up your enthusiasm" pre-gaming involved the consumption of multiple cups of coffee, so finding a bathroom was a priority. We hit a Dunkin' Donuts on Michigan Avenue in hopes of scoring some quick relief, but no luck. So of course, I had to have more coffee, and in a tribute to the awesome Jessica Park and Flat-Out Love, I got a large Coolatta. Here I am, looking cheerful despite the desperation now seizing my bladder ever more intensely. .

Anyhoo, we made it to the fair, and the blessed precints of St. Pipi rather quickly. We browsed around for a bit at North End of the fair, where there were several event stages. I was not honestly that intent on purchasing additional books for the Bibliotheque LeBaron. That is Liz's obsessive quest. Instead, I was quite intent on seeing three authors: Barry Lyga, author of the amazeballs Boy Toy, which I have reviewed over at Goodreads; Lisa Wooten, author of Unforgivable (rats, we never did make a connection, I found out too late where she was :/; and Michelle Warren, author of Wanderdust, with whom I also failed to connect (hey, it was a big event with lots of authors, vendors and what-not).

Well, one out of three ain't bad, especially since Barry Lyga was so awesome! Here's a picture of the two of us, I felt totally cool hanging with Barry, he had a vibe sort of like Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are Alright, bohemian but down to earth, funny and warm. Barry was also one of the authors on a panel that Eve and I attended. He had some interesting insights into writing, the editing process and the future of YA and reading. I didn't really try to take notes (it was super hot in there!) but he mentioned a few memorable things. First, before the event I went up and swimfanned him about Boy Toy, which he called "the book that almost killed my career," telling me that sales back when it came out weren't that great, and that it wasn't considered a success by any measure. He said he's mildly puzzled by why it's taking off in popularity now. Since I was tongue-tied, as I usually am when speaking with an author I greatly admire, I didn't observe that it's a great book, word of mouth sometimes takes awhile (it was recommended to me by the awesome Jolene B. Perry, btw, thanks Jolene!), and that I Hunt Killers, his current book, is getting a lot of attention. He talked about the writing process, and mentioned that when he started Boy Toy (can you tell I liked this book!), he had a specific idea of where he wanted the story to go, but as he got into it, it veered in a different direction. He pondered whether to force it back to the original or go with the way it was developing and opted for the latter, which turned out vastly superior, in his view. He likened writing to riding a horse - you can guide it, but if it decides to go somewhere else, it doggone well will! Here's Barry making his points on the panel.

I had Barry sign a copy of I Hunt Killers, and he was also kind enough to give us t-shirts promoting it. I'm not gonna lie, I'm queasy about reading I Hunt Killers. I don't like Dexter, it's too gory. C.S.I. makes me I.L.L. and Bones makes mine ache. So I have a deal for y'all and an awesome giveaway via Rafflecopter, below. I'm giving away the autographed copy of I Hunt Killers, and the I Had a Killer Time with Barry Lyga t-shirt. There's an extended preview of IHK if you want to do a gut-check before entering, also over at Goodreads, so take a look, and only enter if you can hack it. I do have some contest limitations, so see the note by the entry form.

By now it was getting to be lunch time, and there was some drama. My beloved oldest daughter Ann insisted that we go inside to eat (did I mention it was hot?), and suggested Connie's Pizza. With all due respect to Connie's, that idea kinda turned my stomach, and we ended up at Flaco's Tacos, a fun Mexican place with several Chicago locations in hipster spots. Because it is a hipster spot - I even saw a guy sporting a hipster handlebar and matching muttonchops! We had an awesome lunch with the aforementioned Margarita, and fought our way to a table. After enjoying our lunch and time together we headed out. The girls were intent on making purchases, but me, I just wanted to soak up the vibe. As luck would have it, there was a vibe-storm heading my way. On exiting the restaurant, as the girls headed South, I heard a haunting, beautiful voice, singing in French. It sounded like "Les Feuilles Mortes," but was too far to tell, exactly. I made my way through the crowd to the source of the sounds, only to see this amazing gentleman, Michelet Innocent.

Now, I've mentioned before that I am a bit of a Francophile, but I don't think I've dwelt on the music that drew me into my love of the French language, especially the songs of Jacques Brel and Serge Reggiani. Ok, ok, I'll save that for another post then, I can see your eyes glazing over. But in any event, Michelet's voice and guitar playing transported me to the time in spent in Paris in the 70's and to my days in the French House at the University of Michigan, where we spent so many nights drinking red wine, and listening to these enormously poetic songs. When he sang "Ne Me Quitte Pas," I was gone, and I ain't back yet. Here's a video of Michelet singing at another street fair, in Florida, that gives an idea of his soulful and tender renditions of these classic songs.

But then it was getting to be time to head home, graduation parties to go to, anniversary dinners to enjoy (congratulations Ann and Harold!), and an overheated hamster to attend to (hope Nuchacho is ok, Eve!). As we made our way back to the car, we passed beneath the el tracks, where I couldn't help but remember the words of Howl, by Allen Ginsberg: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness ...who bared their brains to Heaven under the El," Whew, I thought to myself, lighten up Allen. Things are cool here now, under the El. Teenage poets at Polyphony H.S., hundreds of awesome authors and zillions of books, all being appreciated by those who love them!

OK, As promised, awesome "I Hunt Killers," by Barry Lyga giveaway here!I'm sorry, but in light of postal costs, entries are limited to the U.S. only, and the only t-shirt I have to give away is a men's large. Please enter below, and I'll notify you if you've won when the contest is over! Thanks for playing!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks Jolene, for your nice comment, and also for introducing me to the wonders of Barry Lyga!

  2. I'm a bit jealous. I want a lit fest down here in Florida :D

    And I recently read a review from a friend who was gushing so much about this book. No wonder it sounded so familiar.

    Awesome Giveaway, Fred :)

    1. Thanks Jen! It is always nice to hear from you, thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time! There are always trade-offs, and I'd be happy to trade lit-fest for no winter, I think :-)

  3. If you would like to experience a little of the event. Check out to watch our monthly "Authors Showcase" program. The July and August episodes are dedicated to the Chicago Lit Fest. See what you missed or review the fun you had.