Ice Cream Headache, which started off as a poem a few years ago, was bittersweet to write because of the journey the novella took me on, back to Oglesby, Illinois where I grew up as a child from 1966-1976. Although I would later call LaSalle my home, there’s always been a soft spot in my heart for those years in Oglesby and the memories I have carried with me all these years.
Ice Cream Headache is not the first time for me to take a literary journey back to Oglesby. My second book, Invaders from Mars and Other Tales of Youthful Angst, a collection of essays, was also about growing up in Oglesby in the sixties and seventies.
I started Ice Cream Headache in earnest when I was in Laos with my family earlier this year. Late at night, when everyone was asleep I would sit up and write out ideas and outline chapters. At the same time I was reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and the journey back in time the protagonist in the novel takes to 1958 was not unlike the one I took back to 1968 remembering the way things were back then. Although King made a name for himself with his tales of horror and the macabre, the way he often captures moments in the past has always been something I have admired most about his writing, the same way that I have admired Ray Bradbury and his depictions of Middle America (Dandelion Wine still ranks as one of my favorite all-time books).
When I look back at the writers who have influenced me the most, King and Bradbury would be at the top of the list. Although I went through my Pynchon-Delillo-Barth phase when I was in graduate school, as I get older and write more than at any time in my life, what matters most to me, is just telling a good story. I want to be a storyteller like King or Bradbury or other writers I admire like Clive Cussler or James Lee Burke. I’ve given up on trying to understand the intricacies of life, to explain the meta-physical mysteries of our universe.
I just want to tell a good story.