THC Reading Series Presents John McNally, Saturday, October 17 @ 7 PM

McNally book coverWhen a book has a title like Lord of the Ralphs, how can you resist?

This month, we’re delighted to welcome author John McNally back to Tamale Hut Cafe Presents. McNally, a former resident of Burbank, Illinois, made his daring escape from the Great Midwest years ago. Currently, he resides in Louisiana and teaches as the Writer in Residence at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette. We’re not quite sure if it’s the Italian beef or the Chicago-style hot dogs that have pulled him back here (or, you know, his friends and professional contacts); either way, we’re quite happy that Tamale Hut Cafe will be one of his stops on his fall book tour as he promotes his new young adult novel, Lord of the Ralphs.

The reading will start at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 17, with McNally’s presentation; an open mic will follow. As always, the event is free, with food and drink available for purchase. And for those who have never joined us (It’s a great month! Bring a ghost story!), Tamale Hut Cafe is located at 8300 W. Cermak Road in North Riverside.

See you on October 17!

Author John McNally
Author John McNally

Author’s Bio: John McNally is the author of three novels (The Book of Ralph, America’s Report Card, and After the Workshop), two story collections (Troublemakers and Ghosts of Chicago), and two books on writing (The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide and Vivid and Continuous). His fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in over a hundred magazines, anthologies, textbooks, and newspapers, including Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. His new book, Lord of the Ralphs, is his first Young Adult novel. A native of Burbank, Illinois, he is Professor and Writer in Residence at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, where he now lives.


Save the Date(s)! THC Reading Series Events for 2015

The Tamale Hut Cafe Reading Series may have taken a break for the month of July, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have great readings planned for the rest of the year. Here’s our schedule for the rest of 2015:

Check back here close to each date for more information about the featured reader (or readers!). All readings are on Saturdays and will start at 7 p.m; as always, we’ll hold an open mic for the second half of the show.

We look forward to seeing you!

THC Reading Series Presents Lauren Jankowski, Saturday, July 26 @ 7 PM

Author Lauren Jankowski
Author Lauren Jankowski

We’re always incredibly excited when we get to present an emerging author as part of the Tamale Hut Cafe Reading Series. This month, it’s our pleasure to welcome fantasy author and activist Lauren Jankowski as our featured reader.

If you’ve attended a Tamale Hut reading before, you know that a lot of our regular readers are pretty darn big on the idea of writing fantasy and sci-fi stories that feature strong female characters. Given that Lauren has made it her mission to populate fantasy fiction with believable, interesting heroines (because as she says on her website, “there are never enough”), we’re happy to have her join us on the 26th. She’ll be reading from and selling the books that are part of her series The Shape Shifter Chronicles, including her debut novel, Sere from the Green.

As always, we’ll be starting off with our featured reader’s presentation at 7 p.m.; an open mic will follow. Head on out to Tamale Hut Cafe at 8300 W. Cermak Road in North Riverside, grab some of the food and drink that will be available for purchase, and join us for an evening of fantasy and fun. See you on July 26th!

Author’s Bio: Lauren Jankowski has been an avid reader and a genre feminist for most of her life. She holds a B.A. in Women and Genders Studies from Beloit College. Aside from fiction, she has also dabbled in non-fiction, writing for sites like “The Next Family” and “Planet Fury.” She has been writing fiction since high school, when she noticed a lack of strong women in the popular genre books. When she’s not writing or researching, she enjoys reading (particularly anything relating to ancient myths) or playing with her pets. She also participates in activism for asexual visibility and feminist causes. She enjoys speaking about genre feminism, a topic she is quite passionate about, and hopes to bring more strong heroines to literature. Her debut novel was “Sere from the Green,” the first volume in her ongoing series “The Shape Shifter Chronicles.”

A Tamale Hut Doubleheader on February 8: Reading Event with Michael Matula + Writers Group Meeting

What can we say? We like to pile it on.

On Saturday, February 8, Tamale Hut Cafe will be hosting two writing-related events. First of all, the THC Writers Group will be gathering at 2PM at Tamale Hut Cafe for fun conversation, camaraderie, and a little constructive criticism of each others’ work. All are welcome, no matter what genre you write in. Please e-mail thcwritersgroup[at]gmail[dot]com for more information or to get on the distribution list. Or you can just drop by on the 11th at 2PM.

Then, at 7 PM, the THC Reading Series will be holding its regular event for the month of February. Our featured reader for the evening will be Michael Matula, a suspense and horror writer who has been entertaining us during the Reading Series open mics for the past several months. Join us as Michael reads from his published works! Stay for the open mic!

As always, both the Writers Group meeting and the Reading Series event are free to attend, with food and drink available for purchase. Tamale Hut Cafe is located at 8300 W. Cermak Road in North Riverside. Whether you visit at 2 PM or at 7 PM or just hang out for the whole day, we’ll see you on February 8!

Author Michael Matula
Author Michael Matula

Featured Reader Bio: Michael Matula is a thriller novelist and story writer from just outside of Chicago, IL. He once dreamed of being a comic book artist, sketching pictures and caption bubbles in class when he really should have been studying. Unable to draw fast enough to keep up with all the ideas and storylines he came up with, he wrote out a side story for one of his characters. He ended up falling in love with writing and never really looked back. His first novel, Try Not to Burn, was published by Post Mortem Press, and has been called a “mash-up of The Matrix and Dante’s Inferno.” His short fiction has been published by Sci-Fi Short Story Magazine and DarkFuse, and also appeared in Wrapped in Red, an anthology from Sekhmet Press.

Pictures from the November 16th Reading

Featured presenter Matt Bieniek reading the thrilling conclusion to
The Sleep Detectives

Thank you so much to everyone who came out for our reading last Saturday! We had a blast presenting excerpts from Matt Bieniek’s latest published work, The Sleep Detectives. If you happened to miss it, or if you’d like to enjoy our dramatic group performance of Chapter 2 again, Matt has posted an audio recording of the reading on his website,, where you can listen to it via a handy media player (Flash required) or download it for later.

And that brings us to the end of our 2013 season! It’s been a pleasure to bring you works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama for yet another year. We take the month of the December off, but we’re ready to start again in 2014 with the following featured readers:

  • Janet Wondra — January 25
  • Michael Matula — February 8
  • Rod Piechowski — March 22 (tentative)

Hope to see you next year! Until then, I believe I promised pictures…

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THC Reading Series Presents Christian Larsen, Saturday, October 12 @ 7 PM

Author Christian Larsen
Author Christian Larsen

Our featured reader for the month of October is a fitting one. Local author Christian Larsen has had several short stories published in horror anthologies and is joining us on Saturday, October 12, to promote his debut novel, Losing Touch, a book that has been called “frightening, touching, and all-too-human” and a “fun, dark, refreshingly-original science fiction tale.” Come join us for a night of the twisted and the terrifying!

As always, the event begins at 7 p.m., with an open mic to follow. Admission is free; food and drink will be available for purchase. Tamale Hut Cafe is located at 8300 W. Cermak Road in North Riverside. See you on the 12th!

923499_649563028402849_1360809984_nAuthor’s Bio:

Christian grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois and graduated from Maine South High School in 1993. He has worked as an English teacher, radio personality, newspaper reporter, and a printer’s devil.

His short stories have appeared in such anthologies as Chiral Mad (Written Backwards), Shadow Masters (Imajin Books), Zippered Flesh 2 (Smart Rhino), and So It Goes: A Tribute to Kurt Vonnegut (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing).

Christian’s debut novel, Losing Touch features a foreword by NY Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, and joins the works of Clive Barker, Joe Hill, Harlan Ellison, Jonathan Maberry, Tim Waggoner, F. Paul Wilson, and Jack Ketchum on the Post Mortem Press frontlist.

He lives with his wife and two sons in the fictional town of Northport, Illinois. Follow him on Twitter @exlibrislarsen or visit

THC Reading Series Presents Midwestern Gothic Contributors, Saturday, July 27 @ 7 pm

Wow, the THC Reading Series has a lot of literary goodness to offer you in the coming weeks! Not only is our next reading coming up on Saturday, July 27, but we’ll be having our monthly reading for August the weekend immediately after that, on Saturday, August 3. Phew!

And, and, not only that, but for our July 27th reading, we’ll have not one, not two, but three featured readers! On July 27, the THC Reading Series will be showcasing the work of three contributors to Midwestern Gothic, a literary journal that also houses a newly launched small-press division. To give you a taste of what Midwestern Gothic offers, we’ll have authors Alex Luft, Jess Charest, and Richard Thomas reading their work. Please see their bios below to learn more about the entertainment in store for the evening.

More information on the August 3 reading will be posted within the next week or so. Until then, please plan on joining us and these three wonderful authors on July 27 at Tamale Hut Cafe, 8300 W. Cermak Road, North Riverside. The reading will begin at 7 pm, and an open mic will follow the featured readers’ presentation. As with all of our monthly events, it’s a BYOB night, and food and drink will be available for purchase as well. Hope to see you there!

Alex Luft

Author’s Bio: Alex Luft’s fiction has appeared in The Adirondack Review, Midwestern Gothic, The Barely South Review and elsewhere.  He holds an M.A. in creative writing from the University of Missouri and is pursuing a doctorate at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His journalistic work has taken him to rural county jails, into burning buildings and in search of sex toys at Wal-Mart.

DSC03795 - Copy
Jess Charest

Author’s Bio: Jess Charest was born and raised in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York. She received her MFA from Chatham University in Pittsburgh. She currently lives in a basement apartment in Chicago, scoops ice cream for a living and sings in a community choir. Her work has been published in the anthologies Flash Fiction Funny and Stripped: A Collection of Anonymous Flash Fiction.

Richard Thomas

Author’s Bio: Richard Thomas is the author of three books—Transubstantiate, Herniated Roots and Staring Into the Abyss. His over 75 publications include Shivers VI (Cemetery Dance) with Stephen King and Peter Straub, PANK, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, and Pear Noir. He is also the editor of two anthologies, both out in 2014: The Lineup (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time he writes for The Nervous Breakdown, LitReactor, and is Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. For more information visit or contact Paula Munier at Talcott Notch.