Meet Chicago Children’s Author Lindsay Currie

I've always been a fan of supernatural fiction. Especially when there's just enough of the creepy factor to give you chills. When I read about Lindsay Currie's debut book I couldn't wait to get my hands on it! It had all the things I love: horror, mystery and friendship.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, set in Chicago, follows Tessa as she not only navigates a new city and friendships, but also all the weird and eerie things happening in her new home. It was a plus to also learn some of our city's history as she searched for answers.

Welcome Lindsay to the world of children's novels. Get to know Lindsay and read more about what inspired her to write this story.

Author Q&A

Where did you get the idea for this book?

The idea for The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street originated in part from my fascination with Graceland cemetery. Graceland is a Victorian-style graveyard that boasts over one-hundred acres of solitude in the middle of a chaotic city. If you've ever explored its winding paths, you know that Graceland hearkens back to the days when graveyards were intended to be comforting places. Many of them had picnic tables, ponds, and beautiful landscaping for afternoon walks. Families visited cemeteries in their spare time and appreciated them as a place to honor their deceased loved ones, rather than simply holding their breath as they walked past or telling scary stories about them at Halloween. Graceland is no exception. I've spent hours wandering around the intricate headstones, stately mausoleums and carefully manicured pond. In addition, Graceland's role during the dismantling of the original Chicago city cemetery (located where Lincoln Park now sits) makes it all the more interesting. While I'm unsure as to the exact number of bodies that were re-interred within Graceland's walls, I know it's enough to fuel my fascination in the changing landscape of nineteenth century Chicago.

Although Graceland cemetery played a large part in how Peculiar Incident came about, it wasn't my only muse. I also drew a lot of inspiration from my interest in ghost legends! We have a lot of supposedly haunted places here in Chicago, some of them scary, but all of them fascinating. One legend (can’t tell you which one though…you’ll have to read to find out!) has always interested me, so I decided to do a little ghost hunting myself. I spent time wandering through graveyards, taking ghost tours, exploring local legends and pretty much scaring myself silly. Then, voila! Peculiar Incident was born!

What was your favorite book when you were growing up?

My favorite book growing up was Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. That book was everything to me. In fact, I had one copy I read so many times that the cover eventually fell off! The beauty of Where the Red Fern Grows is that on the surface, it appears to be a book about a boy and some dogs, but there are so many complex and wonderful themes at play: family, friendship, determination, love . . . it really tugged at my heartstrings and to this day, has not let go.

How old were you when you started writing?

I've been writing for as long as I can remember! As a child, I spent a lot of time journaling. At the time, it was a fun way to document my day and talk about my feelings, but looking back I realize it was also a wonderful writing exercise! I also experimented with writing all kinds of different things for fun—I tried my hand at poetry, short stories, fiction, non-fiction and everything in between. A great book has always seemed magical to me, and the idea that I might one day be able to create stories that make people feel definitely inspired me to keep writing as a child.

What is your favorite word?

Wow! I've never been asked this question in an interview before and I love it! I'd have to say my favorite word is "vivid". It isn't the most beautiful sounding word in the English language, but if you think about it from a writing standpoint, the meaning is wonderful. Vivid means "producing powerful feelings or strong, clear images in the mind" —something I aspire to do with everything I write! Setting is incredibly important to me and since my books are often set in Chicago, I try very hard to use all five of my senses to make sure that our elegant, historic and ghostly city is vivid for the reader!

What is your favorite book about Chicago?

There are so many wonderful fiction books about Chicago (like The House on Mango Street), but I'd like to share a non-fiction title that was not only helpful to me while I was researching for Peculiar Incident, but is also fascinating! It's called Graveyards of Chicago and it's all about famous Chicago residents, history, art and legends of Cook county cemeteries. If you're into Chicago history like I am, or if you're curious about some of the big, old headstones you see peeking up over the top of our cities graveyard walls, pick up a copy! The authors are Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski.

Readalikes

If you want to read more eerie novels make sure to check out one of these readalikes.

Spirit Hunters: When Harper's family moves into their new home and her little brother starts to become violent, Harper believes that he's possessed. Determined to discover why, she sets out on a path that will answer questions going back to a past she doesn't remember involving her family's history. This terrifying read was selected as one of CPL's Best Fiction for Older Readers in 2017.

The Haunting of Falcon House: This historical ghost story follows Prince Lev into Falcon House as he takes his place as the heir of the estate. He'll soon discover his family is full of haunting secrets.

Dying to Meet You: In the first book of the 43 Cemetery Road series, you'll find a ghostly tale a little more on the humorous side. Told entirely in interactions via letters, drawings and other similar items from the character I.B. Grumply (a children's author who isn't fond of children) and his ghostly kid companions.

Welcome to Dead House: Is the first book from the original Goosebumps series written by author R.L. Stine. No surprise that you'll dive right in to the town of Dark Falls and of course an old creepy house. No one believes siblings, Amanda and Josh when they claim their new house is haunted. Is it haunted or is there something else going on?

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library