Beyond the dark alleyways and gothic architecture of Hyde Park resides the Cadogan House. Established in 1883, this house is one of four registered by the North American Vampire Registry (NAVR) to house their own political subunit of vampires. The question whether this house really exists is not the issue, but within which reality it is. Chloe Neill took inspiration for the Cadogan House from Chicago’s Kimball House for her main character’s headquarters in her vampire series—balancing the imaginary and paranormal with the real and familiar. In fact, Neill’s series revolves around the neighborhoods of Chicago, including Hyde Park, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village and River North. She explains, “The best way to ground a place in a city is to give context and make it real.”
Beyond the architecture, Neill found inspiration in the history, politics and food that made Chicago an obvious choice to “give people a city that people would be familiar with.” Although she includes some tourist attractions, like Wrigley Field and Navy Pier, Neill wanted to make sure the vampires in her novels weren’t tourists, but real Chicagoans. She accomplishes this by teasing out characters by using their opinions on food, weather, parking, and other such Chicagoan sensibilities—what does it say about a vampire who’s lived in Chicago for centuries that has never had a Red Hot?
While not hailing from Chicago herself—she lives a couple hours away—Neill chose a mixture of internet research and trips into the city to get a sense of the Chicago neighborhood’s personalities and take some pictures she could escape into while writing. It was this sense of escape that paranormal romances provide that first appealed to Neill—that “escape from normal day-to-day problems” into the paranormal.
Chloe Neill’s fourth book in the Chicagoland Vampires series is “Hard Bitten,” released today. For more information, visit chloeneill.com. (Elizabeth Kossnar)