It only makes sense that an author from Naperville, who mixes terror and romance in her latest novel, “Unnerving,” would place it here. It is said that authors should write about what they know.
“I love Naperville, and I think that’s reflected in my book,” said author and Naperville resident Karen Gallahue.
Gallahue, 77, lived in Naperville from 1972 to 1977. She moved back in 1979 and hasn’t left since. She worked for Naperville School District 203, where she was employed as an occupational therapist until her retirement 10 years ago.
While she majored in occupational therapy in college, she minored in English. She always had an interest in reading and writing. In her later years, she found a passion for reading all kinds of books but primarily mysteries. She then decided to take on not only reading mysteries but writing them as well.
“Unnerving” is Gallahue’s third book, but the first she set in Naperville. It is self-published with the help of Bloomington, Ind.,-based AuthorHouse.
The others have taken place in locations she has visited. Her first book, which was never published, was set in Lake Geneva. Her second book, “Murder with a French Twist,” was set in France. She is working on a fourth that will take place primarily in Florida, with Naperville serving a small role.
In her latest novel, the heroine is a news broadcaster. Although the character is fictitious, her occupation gives Gallahue the opportunity to show Naperville in a positive light as the character interviews Naperville residents and promotes the city.
“Every place has its warts, but I’ve really enjoyed watching (Naperville) change over the years,” Gallahue said.
The plot of “Unnerving” focuses on the woman who helped send a man to prison for murder. Now that he has escaped, he has vowed to kill her.
“Hopefully people will want to keep turning pages to find out (what will happen next),” Gallahue said.
Throughout the book, readers will recognize restaurants and events, including a scene that takes place at the Civil War re-enactment at Naper Settlement. But, Gallahue admits that, while she accurately represents Naperville, she needed to take a bit of creative license with some of the details.
“As an author I use my ability to write fictitiously,” Gallahue said. “There’s a scene from an activity that the park district used to hold that no longer is, but I treat it as it is still being held.”
While Gallahue’s fictitious characters move about Naperville, Gallahue is appreciative of the resources available in the city to help her as an author. “Unnerving” is available at Anderson’s Bookshop and Oswald’s Pharmacy. And the Naperville Public Library has proven invaluable to her.
“We’ve lived in a number of different places,” Gallahue said. “And some don’t have nearly the resources that we have in Naperville.”
And for readers who like to support their local authors and enjoy a plot that takes place in a city they are familiar, books like “Unnerving” are welcome reads. Anderson’s has about 50 local authors on their shelves at any given time, according to Candy Purdom, who is in charge of publicity and events for Anderson’s.
“We always wish our local authors well, of course, and are pleased to offer their books on our shelves,” Purdom said.