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Carolyn Crane kicks off Chicago week with a story and contest!

Submitted by on June 21, 2010 – 6:00 am29 Comments
The super-gnarly Chicago of my childhood imagination

Hey, Happy Monday, everybody! And thanks to the Paperback Dolls for having me over to their happening blog!

So, I’m guessing when the lovely Dolls learned that Midcity, the city featured in my Justine Jones: Disillusionist trilogy, is a blend of Chicago and Milwaukee, it seemed logical that I would be perfect for the Chicago edition of Passport, where writers provide an insider’s view of the cities they write about, discussing the foods of a place, daily life, must-see sights and more.

Confession: I am completely unqualified to provide an insider’s view of Chicago. I have no clue what the people of Chicago do or eat, though I understand hot dogs are popular. In fact, until about a year ago, 99% of what I thought about Chicago was imagined. Nevertheless, it was a hugely formative place for me.

As a child, you see, I lived in Lombard, which is a suburb of Chicago, so my experience of Chicago was limited to rides in a station wagon to the museums there, and sometimes getting lost in that station wagon with a frantic mother at the wheel. I always loved the parts when we would get lost—I loved them as much as when we would stop at a McDonald’s.

Chicago completely consumed my mind—not the lovely elegant museum section by the lake, but the inside-the-city sections, the steely and rusty and magical and threatening part, the dark, urban ruins places. The underpasses and overpasses, the gigantic decrepit buildings that shadowed the roads.

To me, Chicago was the city version of an enchanted forest. All these crazy-ass giant machines everywhere, and everything seemed like it was made of metal, and bolted together. We had nothing like this stuff in Lombard, which, in my childhood mind, was composed entirely of houses, swing sets, and family dogs.

After that, we moved to a suburb of Milwaukee. So instead of Chicago, we would drive into the hulking behemoth of Milwaukee in search of museums. But even though the two started merging in my mind, I knew Chicago was huger and more gnarly than Milwaukee.

So, Midcity is a city created off those impressions out of a car window. From an artistic point of view, I’m glad I never lived in Chicago, because it allowed Chicago to stay strange and magical in my mind, all rusty wilds and hulking highways. (I never lived in Milwaukee, either, though as I got older, we’d go there more, so it wasn’t quite as fantastical, and I now live in Minneapolis, while it’s a lovely place, it’s no Chicago.).

Actually, after I wrote book one, Mind Games, I spent a weekend walking around Chicago, and part of me was like, WTF was I thinking, not moving there? While it didn’t seem as darkly, nightmarishly glorious, I didn’t realize quite how awesome it was, on the level of architecture as well as excellent stuff to do and see, neat little places, and all the smells and the people.

So, that’s my Chicago. I hope I haven’t insulted the people of Chicago by basing my decrepit, crime-ridden, mutant-filled Midcity partly on it, but I love Midcity, if anything, it’s meant it as a compliment. Yay Chicago!

 ~Carolyn Crane

Carolyn Crane is the author of (Spectra/Ballantine) and the forthcoming (book #2 of the trilogy, coming September, 2010).You can visit her at her website or her blog

Paperback Dolls simply adore Carolyn and her writing! We would like to send the BIGGEST thanks to Carolyn for participating in our Passport to Chicago feature this week! THANK YOU Carolyn!


Want to have your very own SIGNED copy of Carolyn Crane’s ““? Well, here is your chance!

Mind Games heroine Justine Jones isn’t your typical kick-ass type – she’s a hopeless hypochondriac whose life is run by fear.

She’s lured into a restaurant, Mongolian Delites, by tortured mastermind Sterling Packard, who promises he can teach her to channel her fears. In exchange, she must join his team of disillusionists – vigilantes hired by crime victims to zing their anxieties into criminals, resulting in collapse and transformation.

Justine isn’t interested in Packard’s troupe until she gets a taste of the peace he can promise. Soon she enters the thrilling world of neurotic crime fighters who battle Midcity’s depraved and paranormal criminals.

Eventually, though, she starts wondering why Packard hasn’t set foot outside the Mongolian Delites restaurant for eight years. And about the true nature of the disillusionists.

Leave a comment for Carolyn and tell her how awesome she is for sharing with us today and tell us about the city where you grew up and if it had any impact on you.

This contest is for U.S. and Canadian residents only.

There are more ways to win:

+1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your comment.

+1 subscribe to Paperback Dolls – either via a reader or email (see the RSS button at the top of the right sidebar or the entry form to the left sidebar.) Please leave your email without the @ {dot} com. Nobody needs to know your email address.

We ask the winners to post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.

The contest will stay open until July 10th, at which time, we’ll determine the winner with help from and announce them on July 11th.

Also, we will try to contact the winners, but we ask that you check back to see if you’ve won.

Day is a dreamer who has never met a stranger. She is fearless and will talk to anyone and read anything! She taught music and dance and was a singer/actress for years, performing on stages both nationally and overseas. Now married with children, she spends less time singing on stage and more time writing songs at home. But, family life has not completely slowed this chick down. She still loves an adventure and learning new things. She resides in Texas with her family, Great Dane (Sophie), Labradoodles (George & Cosmo) and Chihuahua (Juan Carlos).
Doll Day
View all posts by Doll Day
Days website


  • Swinka says:

    Great interview over a cup of coffee!!! Thanks, Carolyn!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Day says:

    Carolyn is awesome! I want her to be my new BFF;)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Katie says:


    Thanks for the insight into Chicago and Milwaukee. Very nice!


    +1 bigferret on reader

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  • Italia Marie says:

    Great post.

    +1 follower

    +1 i tweeted

    Reply to this comment »
  • Tia says:

    Loved it! When I first got married my hubby moved us to Chicago to live with the in-laws :(

    Though AZ heat is torture, those IL winters I think are worse.


    Reply to this comment »
  • G.G says:

    I grew up in a small town in NE and now I live in an even smaller town in IA. totally shaped my way of life!

    +1 I follow
    +1 I twitter
    +1 I blog

    Reply to this comment »
  • Hey! Thanks so much for having me for Passport week. You guys are the best!!

    Reply to this comment »
  • I have never read your books, but I will put them on my "to Read" list. I am from Chicago and I am not put-off in the least by your portrayal of Chicago. I think everyone realizes you are writing fiction! ;)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Noa says:

    Carolyn, thank you so much! Great interview!

    I am already loving Chicago week!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Barbara E. says:

    I enjoyed Carolyn's post, and her descriptions of Chicago. I didn't grow up in a city, I grew up in several small towns in California – the first was a beach town outside San Diego and the other was a town in Orange County, midway between LA and San Diego. Occasionally I'd drive to San Diego to the zoo or SeaWorld, or up to LA to visit a museum, but never stayed long. Neither LA or San Diego had much of an impact on me because they weren't part of my world and I liked it that way. Now I live in Orlando, really in a suburb, but it doesn't feel like a big city to me, it's really sprawled out and comfortable.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Dr J says:

    I LOVE Chicago!! Met and married the ole Hubby there, lived in Wheaton for several years, grew upon the West side–well for about five years anyway, near Garfield Park Conservatory and Humboldt Park, and had my fourth child in Elmhurts. We'll be returning there in July — haven't been back in years. But what a great city and just fun to be back at some of the old haunts that, thank God, still exist and welcome us travelers. Love your blog and your posts. Am looking forward to your new books.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Becky says:

    Nice interview, now I really want to read this book:)

    I grew up/still live in Omaha, NE and yeah the neighborhood/city does have an impact on me. The impact is true weather wise(just about anything can happen from snow in April to today rain showers all morning and then 86 degrees and sunny)and how you think about everything from where you shop and the wide range of people you meet.

    Reply to this comment »
  • JenM says:

    Thanks for the insight into Chicago. I so want to read this book! I lived in a relatively small town in New Jersey until I was 12 and even though I rarely go back, I can't help it, I'm still a Jersey girl. My accent has mainly disappeared except when I'm around others from that area when it reappears so strongly that my husband swears he can't understand a word I'm saying.

    +1 I subscribe to this blog through Google reader.

    jen at delux dot com

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  • tetewa says:

    I'm a follower +1 I'm always looking for new authors to read, sounds good!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Nicole says:

    Great interview! I've heard nothing but great things about Mind Games, and it is currently sitting in my TBR pile!
    +1 for Twitting & Updateing Facebook (@MinnChica & Nicole Snyder)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Thanks for the great interview.

    Can't wait to read you book.


    Reply to this comment »
  • Subscribe to Paperback Dolls by email


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  • Adelina says:

    Hi Carolyn! Mind Games sounds awesome!

    I grew up and still live in a small town in California. Not a very exciting place but I like the weather and family is close by.

    +1 Subscribed by email to Paperback Dolls

    Reply to this comment »
  • i can't wait to read this….i love flawed hero/heroines! thank you for the wonderful interview!

    i grew up in several cities in florida, so i would say that the state itself had impacted me more. i love the warm tropical weather, the palm trees, the beach, the oranges, the gators, and everything else about this crazy state!

    +1 subscribe thru google reader and networked blogs

    k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

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  • Dana says:

    I was born in and grew up in Detroit Michigan. I hate the winter and snow.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Elizabeth says:

    Her book sounds awesome cant wait to read it!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Sara says:

    Thanks for sharing, Carolyn! :) As a child, I moved around a lot…from England, all the way across Canada to Ontario and then back the other way to Vancouver and then Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Subsequently, I HATE moving! I really put down roots where I live and find it quite traumatic to have to move. I have to say, though, that I love Victoria and feel lucky to have ended up here! :)

    +1 – I shared a link to this Paperback Dolls contest on my facebook page, at the following link:
    +1 – I subscribe to Paperback Dolls via my email address. I'm @ sweetbrier, etc.

    Thanks so much for the chance to win a most interesting book! :)

    Reply to this comment »
  • stacey says:

    Looks like a entresting city.But to big for me.I live meny places growing up but all ways end up back in Ca. but i like small city.Has to have a B&N; of coures that is a must.
    I'm a new Follower
    +1 Posted on my blog on my myspace

    +1Sub via e-mail

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  • Sarah N Fisk says:

    I grew up in 18 different cities – so yeah, that had an impact on me. I can't say what exactly, but there's something more mobile, more adaptive because of it.

    I blogged:

    Reply to this comment »
  • Katie says:

    Thanks for the giveaway! Can't wait to read!

    Reply to this comment »
  • debbie says:

    I loved the interview. My son loves going to Chicago. I grew up in a very small town in the middle of michigan. I never even saw a mcdonalds until we moved when I was 14. The nice thing was that everyone knew you, the bad thing was everyone knew you. If you did anything, it was the talk of the town.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Julie S says:

    I've never been to Chicago so this was a pretty cool read.

    I'm a follower.


    Reply to this comment »
  • heatwave16 says:

    Loved the post. I'm a bbig fan of Chicago. We only live a few hours away, and I always enjoy an adventure into the city. I grew up in Pittsburgh, and for me the city represents family and all the fun I had growing up. :)

    +1 for subscribing via e-mail heatwave96(at)

    +1 for tweeting –

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  • KittNLuv says:

    This contest is now closed. Thank you to Carolyn for guest posting with us. ;) and thanks to everyone who entered. Please stop by tomorrow to see if you've won.

    Reply to this comment »