wherein I answer 2 of Barry’s 5 questions.

Barry Lyga has written several books for children and young adults, including The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Gothgirl, Hero-type, and Boy Toy. Barry  is coming to Chicago soon, so I thought I’d welcome him warmly (and satisfy my own curiosity) by answering five questions he had about Chicago and asking him five questions about his writing. As my guest, Barry gets some of his questions answered first:

What is the one thing that I — as a visitor to your city — should be sure to do/experience while in Chicago?

Chicago is a city with something for everyone, so it really depends on what you’re interested in. If you like whackadoodle sculptures with goofy names, you should definitely go to Millenium Park and take a picture of your reflection in the “cloud gate“–what we Chicagoans affectioderisively call “the bean”. I like to think of it as a space fetus/egg, and wait patiently for the day Valentine Michael Smith or some other such space creature will emerge and teach us about love and grokking.

As a writer for children and young adults, you might want to stop by Oz park and loudly sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” while holding onto one of the sculptures of Oz’s most famous citizens. This will also help you experience and participate in one of Chicago’s oldest and best loved traditions (second only to setting things on fire via farm animal), the public exhibition of weirdness. We have an entire public space dedicated to it, called Bughouse Square; although, really, any place in Chicago is perfect for railing against the guvmint, space aliens, and the eff bee eye.

If you like meat-y type things, you’ll want to get in line at Hot Doug’s to enjoy some delicious encased meats with themed names. If you’re impatient like I am, you might forego the line and go to Super Dawg instead, which makes up in anthropomorphic hot dogs what it lacks in cute, topical names for its food. It also has a slogan, “From the bottom of my pure beef heart,” that makes absolutely no sense, yet it still makes you feel all warm and beefy inside. There’s also Kuma’s Corner, land of the heavy metal burgers. They make you wait in line, too, which I don’t care for; but if you’re the kind of person who can eat hamburgers for breakfast/brunch, you might not have to wait terribly long.

You asked for ONE thing, though (have I mentioned before that I am really, really bad at math?) In that  case, go to the Gallery Cabaret in Bucktown. You’ll get the public weirdness, sculptures & art (there’s a six foot long pencil adorning one wall, as well as a portrait of Ringo Starr made entirely of stars), home-grown music of every genre, and the owner, Kenny, can tell you more tales of historic Chicago than you can shake a stick at (and I don’t suggest shaking a stick at Kenny; he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, unless they tip really, really well).

Yet even with all that rambling, we haven’t even touched upon a quarter of what Chicago has to offer the intrepid explorer. When planning future visits (which you really should, because Chicago is also a hell of a town for writers), I’d suggest using the Not For Tourists guide to Chicago, as well as Walking Chicago, to walk off all of the meat you’ll be indulging in.

Chicago is known for sausage, so I must ask: Links or patties?

See above, and you’ll realize we don’t truck much in those pansy breakfast sausages. We prefer our sausages big and on a bun and buried under many toppings.

In our next installment I’ll post Barry’s response to my comparing him to Stephen King and a [there will be a ] discussion of villains (the bad guys, not the poetry).

it’s no easy feat, getting that telephone smell just right.

Did you know there is a YA author who is the second coming of John Kennedy O’Toole?

Read this post, and tell me I am wrong.

He also rather reminds me of Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Further, his description of librarians is spot on:

One is naturally hesitant to associate with librarians. One may be as “tolerant” as one likes in the settled security of one’s own drawing-room, but as soon as one ventures into the street and comes face-to-face with an actual librarian—with their telltale supernumerary fingers, their unnaturally sharp teeth, the giggling shrieks they use to “communicate,” their chronic dishonesty, their inability to distinguish right from wrong, their conniving sidelong lope whenever they sense danger, the infuriatingly affected way they presume to wear human clothes, their unappetizing habit, wherever they go, of smelling public telephones—well, one finds one’s armchair liberalism rather strained.

Funny stuff to make your Thursday more chuckleful, and to, you know, explain that…odor.

more from ain’t love a kick in the head.

Blake stared at Lisette from across the room. He was mesmerized by the long, graceful curve of her neck, the way her nostrils flared as she worked, the way her lips moved as she read a passage in her book silently to herself…

He desperately wanted to be alone with her, but after the scene at the stables he was reluctant to stir up any trouble. What if she never spoke to him again? He would sooner die than go without hearing the sound of her voice. Oh, how its tones spurred his heart into throes of joy. He stamped his foot in frustration, causing the teacher to look at him askance. What had Lisette said to him–that she would never date someone so flighty?

“I want to fall in love with someone grounded–someone stable,” she had said. “I’ve spent my entire life moving around because of my Dad’s jobs. I want to be with someone that I can depend on.”

He tossed his head, trying to cast her voice out of her mind.

excerpt from Ain’t Love a Kick in the Head

Lisette’s nostrils were suddenly filled with the rich odor of apples and hay, with a sharp, sweet undertone of sugar. The scent made her heart clip clop in her chest. It took her back to her childhood on her Uncle Schaffer’s farm, to those long, summer days spent riding horses, mucking their stalls, braiding their manes and tails.

She felt warm breath on her neck, and the whiskery muzzle of a horse lipping at her…she turned quickly, but instead of a horse she found herself looking into the huge brown eyes of Blake B’eauty, the Belgian exchange student with the long flowing hair and tight, tight pants.

“What are you doing here?” she asked breathlessly.

“Sorry,” he murmured. “You smell so sweet…like sugar.”

“My mother gave me a brown sugar scrub for Christmas,” she said.

“Ah…it’s delicious,” he said, and laughed, stomping his foot on the ground as he did.

Anyone want to add more to the story? Please do so in the comments!*

*Note: some comments may not be suitable for work…or home…or anywhere, really. So read at your own peril.

I’d read it.

Pulled this from the comments on my Liar post. I’d read it. In fact, I asked Ian* for a sample chapter. Let’s see if it happens!

Dear Sir or Madam:

I would like to offer for your consideration my book “Kicked in the Head by Love”, a historical romance featuring centaurs, the hot new heirs to werewolves and their oh-so-last-week cousins, vampires.

The epic sweep encompassed by my novel dwarfs that of … well, The Catcher in the Rye, for example. The mood set by the brooding, socially maladjusted, seemingly emotionally vulnerable (but actually detached and unavailable because of several incidents in his childhood involving getting shod) main character is … I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten where this sentence was going.

In conclusion, let me also say that I am quite versatile as a writer, and could easily change the centaurs to aliens or harpies at a moment’s notice, in case the centaur wave has already passed.

A Real Writer
(No, really)

*On an unrelated note, we’re blog template buddies!