Oak Park Creates: Spotlight on local creators in 2023

Each week through June, we’re celebrating a different local creator from the Oak Park Creates collection on our social media pages. We’re highlighting just some of the novelists, nonfiction authors, comics creators, and more right here in our community. We hope you find inspiration in their accomplishments, or simply find some new books to check out!

The unique Oak Park Creates program and collection features local creators’ original books, movies, and music. Find it both in the catalog and at the Main Library on the third floor.

Mark Allen Boone: Candle in the Dark & Other Stories

In Candle in the Dark & Other Stories, West Side native Mark Allen Boone tells 10 heavy, yet light short stories that bring into sharp relief the common humanity shared by residents of a part of Chicago that has largely gone unchronicled in its fiction.

Boone wrote these stories during the 25 years he lived in Oak Park, from 1975 to 1995.

The anthology takes its name from the short story “Candle in the Dark,” which won the 1975 Triton College New Writer’s Workshop Award for best short story. Check out this story and more winners in the collection!

Christine Poreba: Rough Knowledge

A former teacher and current Environmental Programming Specialist for our library, Christine Poreba is currently working on a manuscript for a fourth book of poetry.

Poreba’s poems have an accessible narrative style and examine emotions beneath the surface of the everyday.

Her work examines the intersection of memory and language.

But don’t take our word for it! Check out her first book of poetry, Rough Knowledge, in the Oak Park Creates collection.

Robin Bartley: Crimson

Robin Bartley is a recent graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School and the author of Crimson.

Here’s how Bartley describes this medieval fantasy novel:

“Ohata is an immortal warrior out of time, brought back into the world of Kyto haunted by a past of failure and bloodshed. Cursed to live forever with only faint memories of his past life, he follows the one person that ignites a spark of hope within him. Sinnu, a woman of magic, who fights for Flame’s Legion and something even more.”

Although the book was just published this year, Bartley says he has big plans for it, including a series of sequels. He’s working on the first sequel now.

Vit Vanicek: Divine Tyranny

Vit Vanicek published his epic fantasy novel Divine Tyranny as a tetralogy: four parts, one for each season of the year.

Together, the four books—spring, summer, autumn, and winter—tell the story of an aging commander who must unite four different realms to fight monstrous guardians, only to become one himself.

It’s a “pourquoi story,” Vanicek says—an origin story, or “a fable about why a world works the way it does.”

Check out the four books:

Kasey Iris: Red, BuriDemon & Nurse Rania

Kasey Iris with book covers and illustrations

A visual storyteller and comics creator, Kasey Iris says her whimsical art and spooky books reflect her daydreams and personal life.

Growing up, she spent most of her free time at the Oak Park Public Library. After studying and working in Asia, Iris moved back to Oak Park and is working toward a full-time illustration career.

Three of her projects are in the Oak Park Creates collection. She wrote and illustrated Red, a graphic adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood featuring skeletons, and BuriDemon, in which an art student and fast food employee battles a monster burrito with her friends. Iris also illustrated Nurse Rania: Vaccines with Jasmine and Aniya. Written by Rania Al-Najjar, the book is part of a children’s series that teaches kids about the medical field.

Carolyn Torkelson and Catherine Marienau: Beyond Menopause

Carolyn Torkelson and Catherine Marienau and book Beyond Menopause on a bookshelf

Carolyn Torkelson, MD, is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota who writes and consults on women’s health issues. Catherine Marienau, PhD, is Professor Emerita at DePaul University, and cohost of the weekly podcast Women Over 70: Aging Reimagined.

Together, they wrote Beyond Menopause, which highlights the unique healthcare needs of postmenopausal women. Written for women, it features approaches that integrate conventional medicine with holistic healing systems.

Learn more at their website, Women Aging Well.

Deborah Shapiro: Consolation

Deborah Shapiro and book Consolation

“I’m a novelist whose work tends to center on women at crossroads, struggling with grief, identity, and the specter of new beginnings,” says Deborah Shapiro. “It’s writing that offers wit and atmosphere, reflection, and escape.”

Shapiro’s book Consolation is in the Oak Park Creates collection. She’s also written two other books that are available through the library, The Summer Demands and The Sun in Your Eyes.

Learn more about Shapiro and Consolation at her website.

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