Indiana authors Lori Rader-Day and Christopher Coake gave a reading of some their work at the University of Indianapolis on Oct. 23, as part of the Kellogg Writers Series. The readings and the question and answer session that followed took place in the basement of Schwitzer Student Center and was open to both the public and the UIndy community to attend.
The event began with Rader-Day doing a reading of the third chapter of her latest book, “The Day I Died.” According to Rader-Day, a mystery writer, the book’s main protagonist is Anna Winger, a handwriting analyst who lives in Indiana and is assisting the police with a murder investigation.
“The Day I Died” is Rader-Day’s third published novel, following behind her debut novel, ‘The Black Hour,’ and her second novel ‘Little Pretty Things,’according to her website.
When speaking of her novels, Rader-Day said that she does not have a favorite of her novels. Rader-Day described her reasoning as being similar to asking a mom which one of her kids is her favorite.
“What I like to do is figure out, for the reader—who is asking me the question usually—what kinds of books do they like because each of my books is a little different. So, they might like one better than the other. So, if you tell me that you really like dark stories, I might send you to “The Black Hour” and if you like more lighter stories, I might send you to “Little Pretty Things.””
Coake read the first couple of sections of his story, “You Would Have Told Me Not To,” after Rader-Day finished her reading. The story follows a mother confronting the fact that her son, who she has not seen in months, has been shot and that he is now married and expecting a child, according to amazon.com.
Although, Coake said that this was the first time that he and Rader-Day had done a reading of their works together, they had the same English teacher and went to the same high school.
Coake has written other pieces before “You Would Have Told Me Not To.” According to his website, Coake has published a collection of stories called “We’re In Trouble” and published his first novel, “You Came Back.” Some of his work has also been featured in several literary journals, according to his website.
When speaking of his past works, Coake said that his favorite is a short story titled “Cross Country.” Coake said that because of its mystery element, it is not a usually a favorite of his readers.
According to Coake, the story follows a man and a boy who are sitting in a car together whose relationship is never revealed.
“I played a game with myself to see how much I could write without revealing the relationship between the two of them,” Coake said. “I managed to go almost 30 pages and never reveal that.”
According to Coake, the lack of revelation allows the reader to interpret the story in two ways and becomes similar to a Rorschach test for the reader.
“In one version, the man is abducting the boy and in the other version, the man is the boy’s father and might have good intentions,” Coake said. “They can look at the story and read it and see this terrible version of things that are about to happen and this version where this boy and this man are coming together and like, kind of, you know, reconnecting after an absence.”
Coake said that writing the story in this manner was difficult to do and that this difficulty is the reason why it is one of his favorites.
“It took me a long time to get it right,” Coake said. “So, just from a technical perspective, it’s the one [story] that I feel is the most original.”
After Coake finished his reading, a Q&A session with both Coake and Rader-Day began. Rader-Day said during the Q&A that Coake being published pushed her to try to have one of her novels published as well. She also said that she wrote her latest published novel, “The Day I Died,” before her first published novel, “The Black Hour.”
After the Q&A session, attendees were able to purchase copies of some of the authors’ books and had the opportunity to have them signed. Attendees were also able to speak to the authors after the discussion.
Sara Perkins, a sophomore professional writing major, said that she initially did not know who was going to be speaking at this event.
“This was my first Kellogg Writers Series,” Perkins said. “I’m an editor on Etchings, so it was kind of required for me to go to at least one this…semester. So, I chose this one and it was really cool.”
Coake’s and Rader-Day’s Kellogg Writers Series event was the last one of the fall semester. According to UIndy’s events webpage, the university will have two poetry readings in the spring as part of the series. One on Feb. 28, featuring Kaveh Akbar and one on April 4, featuring David Tomas Martinez, according to UIndy’s website. Both events will take place in the Trustees Dining Room in Schwitzer Student Center.