When I was an undergrad at Columbia College in Chicago a million years ago majoring in journalism, I remember one day visiting the Chicago Tribune with my class. I remember looking around at the people working there and thinking ‘I’m never going to work at a fancy paper like this.’
Of course, I wished I could. I had managed to get interviews at WTTW, WBEZ (never got hired at either) and a newspaper in Indiana. I declined moving forward with the Indiana newspaper job. It was too far to drive back and forth each day and I was too scared to move away. Instead, I worked for Extra Community Newspaper and occasionally wrote some fun articles for Time Out Chicago and other local magazines and papers. The Chicago Tribune though always sat in the back of my head as a place I wish I could work.
Growing up we always had the Chicago Sun-Times in our house. My father could read that paper, but not the Chicago Tribune, unfortunately. The Chicago Tribune cost more and the reading level was higher than the Chicago Sun-Times. The Chicago Tribune, my dad would say, was for fancy people, and my dad would remind me…we were not fancy people.
Being mentioned in The New York Times was an utter dream come true, but this past weekend, getting mentioned in the Chicago Tribune seemed like an impossibility.
How could someone like me – who used to rotate her two pair of jeans and search vending machines to collect four quarters for a grilled cheese sandwich get noticed in the Chicago Tribune? Well, it happened.
Children of Chicago made it on the Chicago Tribune’s list of 38 must-read books before Labor Day.
The article says:
“Cynthia Pelayo’s wonderfully eerie “Children of Chicago” (Agora, $26), an ode to Humboldt Park and fairy tales and crime novels and Chicago’s Latinx community, has ambition to spare: It tells of a Pied Piper luring children to their deaths, but lands somewhere between Sara Paretsky and folklore.”
Look, I’m still not fancy. I forget a comma here or there. I misspell things. I mess up. I’m not perfect, but I try. I fall down a lot, but it’s nice to know that my trying has gotten me somewhere.
Do I recognize that had I been born with a different name and different parents, and raised in a different zip code that life would have been much easier for me? Yes, I believe that, but this is the life I’ve been given. It’s been hard. Wait, it IS hard, and sometimes I wonder if that’s the point. I probably would not care about the things I care about had I not grown up the way I did and faced the struggles I faced, and continue to face.
Every day I have constant reminders online, in reviews, elsewhere of people with a burning distaste for me and what I write and who I am. I try to ignore it at each and every step, but I feel it breathing down on me every second. I feel people’s eyes on me at every turn just waiting for me to crash and burn. As always, it says more about them than me.
Anyway, thank you so much to the Chicago Tribune. You made a girl from the West side feel seen and loved by her hometown, and I really needed that. It means more to me than you’ll ever know. Thank you.
Snow White’s Shattered Coffin received this lovely review in Horrorbound. I love this story. Limited signed copies are available via It Came From Beyond Pulp. You can purchase them here. They are a micro press. Super tiny but super mighty.
More things –
My name and bio seems to have popped up on Stygian Sky Media authors page here. Interesting. We’ll see what that’s about. It’s a great team over there. Send them support.
I’m reviewing edits today for my novella Funeral At Clark Street Bridge. That will be going someplace for review shortly. More on that soon.
I will be doing a mini reading and interview for Dead Head Space podcast. I will likely read some poetry and a short story. I’m not yet sure what we will discuss, but –
I refuse to talk about social media controversies now and in the future. It’s not my business what people say or do. What is my business is what I say or do, and from here on I’m only talking about my work.
I’ve got opinions for days. If you’re a media organization and you want to pay me to write a column / opinion piece / essay then I will consider the topic and what value it has to me and my professional career. Otherwise, I’m not divulging my opinion publicly on anything because you’re wild internet and quick to tear down a Puerto Rican woman, and if these are the types of protections I need in place to protect my professional career from you internet, then so be it.
What else –
I’ve got tons of writing to do. I have a lot of short stories to write, poetry, and this novel. So, I’m having a nice time working on things and looking forward to discussions about other upcoming things. That’s all about that.
I went camping where I often go, and unless you recognize the pictures I’m not saying where, but it’s where my husband and I used to go for years and years with my mentor. My mentor would have these amazing parties up there with reporters and anchors from Chicago and at them I got to meet Studs Terkel and others. I don’t want to say too much, but it’s a special place. My mentor died a long time ago, but I feel like this place feels like home when I return. We took the boys up there in an RV, took a ferry to a nearby island, saw some lighthouses, and enjoyed being forced to go without cell phone and internet since some places we stayed just had spotty connection. We would have stayed longer, but the kids were ready to come home and they run things.
Overall, it was a nice reset to be away and to remember who and what is the most important.
Here are some pictures. All of these photos were taken by me. Please don’t use them or I’ll put a generational curse on you and your family.