Monday, March 9, 2009

Valerie Laken, Author of Dream House appearing Saturday March 14

Come meet Valerie Laken, the highly acclaimed author of Dream House (HarperCollins), a novel the New York Times Book Review calls "the perfect haunted house story." She will be appearing at The Bookstore on Saturday, March 14th at 1pm, where she will sign copies of her new book.

Valerie Laken is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the UW-Milwaukee, and just happens to be the niece of Glen Ellyn's own Jessica Pekny, owner of Renaissance Art Studio, just a few doors down from The Bookstore on Main Street in Glen Ellyn. Clearly, creative talent runs in the family! Come give Valerie Laken a real Glen Ellyn welcome. E-mail us at or call us at (630) 469-2891 to reserve a copy of the book.

Valerie's new book has received terrific reviews from both the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. Click here to see what the New York Times had to say just this past Sunday: Anybody who already saw the NYT review is probably wondering about the cool faux mug shot photo of Valerie featured in the article. I had a chance to interview Valerie recently about this mug shot, and this is what she said:

Q: Are you a little worried about your photo in the NYT Book Review that makes you look like a criminal? Is there anything you'd like to disclose?

A: Yea, it's surreal! I always dreamed of getting a good review in the New York Times, but who knew they would also include a sort of mugshot of me? I love it. Especially because I look so carefree and unfazed by my apparent arrest.

Valerie Laken is a true midwesterner and a Big 10 gal. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Iowa and received an MFA from the University of Michigan. In fact, Dream House is based on a fixer-upper house she and her husband bought in Ann Arbor. Even more interesting, I thought, was the fact that she'd studied Russian as an undergrad, so I asked her the following question:

Q: I notice you have a background in Russian and Slavic languages. Any chance you'll be utilizing these talents in a future book? Did you ever think about joining the CIA and doing covert ops in Eastern Europe?

A: Ha! When I was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, the CIA actually used to come to our building trying to recruit people. But we ignored them (as far as you know). I have used that background to write a few short stories set in Eastern Europe, which are included in my next book, a story collection called Separate Kingdoms. The collection deals with characters whose bodies are failing them, and the ways that people attempt to cope with disability and loss.

So, there you go. The tabloids could read as follows: Acclaimed author Valerie Laken, once recruited by the CIA, is unfazed by her apparent arrest! Come to The Bookstore on Saturday and meet this fascinating person!

Slightly more serious Q and A's about her book can be found here:

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