Darren Callahan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Darren Callahan 

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Self-publishing is a great way for the poor and obscure to lose their shirts and go nowhere, but there are exceptions. Take local musician and mystery writer Darren Callahan. When I interviewed him in 2003, Callahan had sold several hundred novels through his Web site (www.darrencallahan.com) and he was trying to get a trade publisher interested in his trilogy, "The Audrey Green Chronicles." A year later nobody's inked a contract, but he has an agent, and Visions and Voices has optioned a Callahan play for its 2005 season. Meanwhile, the trilogy--the seductive, melancholy saga of a little girl in mid-20th-century England who's sucked into a fantastical network of subterranean tunnels--has sold 2,186 copies, including single books and bound volumes, and now Callahan's written a spin-off. The Vanishing of Archie Grey recounts the stateside adventures of a boy who was once in love with Audrey's older sister. Archie follows a wealthy aunt to New York City, where he befriends a more stable lass after stumbling into an argument among three traveling magicians who may have discovered the secret to becoming invisible. The nicest thing you can say about many self-published authors is that they need an editor; Callahan just needs a sympathetic copy editor to clean up a few slips. Archie stands alone well, sharing the trilogy's mix of rounded characters to draw the reader in and stock types who keep the story moving. Callahan will read from The Search for Audrey Green and from the new book, with Ed Ferrara, who was a senior writer for the USA sitcom Weird Science, Rachel Flynn, and Matt Hart. Mon 11/8, 7:30 PM, Red Lion Pub, 2446 N. Lincoln, 773-348-2695. $4, 18+.

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