I went to college in Lake Forest, which is two towns north of Highland Park. They’re both incredibly affluent communities, with Highwood, the town where the people who serve and clean up after LF and HP live, in between. My college days were marked by going to restaurants and coffee shops in HP. (The bars were all in Highwood.)
Immediately after college I moved from the Chicagoland area but returned a year or so later. I lived in the city, but I had a job in Highland Park. I made the one-hour commute up 94/41 every day in the dark to get to work on time and sat in traffic endlessly on my way home every afternoon.
When I wrote The Holiday Detour, I decided my main character Dana’s family should live in Highland Park for a couple of reasons. First, Dana comes from wealth, and Highland Park has plenty. Dana’s also Jewish, and unlike Lake Forest, a predominantly Christian town, Highland Park has a large, thriving Jewish population. (There’s a much longer story about why I wrote Dana to be Jewish and how HP came to have such a large Jewish population, but that’s not important right now.) HP was also a place I knew really well, so I felt I could give authentic details to the story.
I tell you all this to explain my relationship to HP and how much it shocked me to hear the news about the shooting on the 4th of July. Mass shootings are always abhorrent. They are violations of our social trust, making us afraid of the very places that are supposed to bring us together as community. This one hit me extra hard, since it happened in a place that was so important to my formative early adult years.
Recently, I rebranded my logo to say “romance for social change.” I’ve pledged to donate some royalties from The Queen Has a Cold to intersex advocacy, so the book helps the intersex community instead of profiting from it. I’ll do the same with my next book, The Haunted Heart (announcement on that in the coming weeks). I’ve been wondering if I should do the same with The Holiday Detour.
For the immediate future, until the campaign is closed, I will be donating 25% of any royalties earned from The Holiday Detour to VictimsFirst’s fund for survivors and families of the shooting. VictimsFirst is a national network that mobilizes in the wake of mass shooting to support survivors financially, physically, and emotionally with trauma and grief counseling. They’ve done campaigns for Buffalo and Uvalde. (Fuck the reality that they have to launch a campaign every day. Fuck the reality that this organization has to exist. But thank them for existing.) While their Highland Park campaign continues, I’ll be giving to that. After it closes, I’ll take stock of what the best options are and update everyone on how I’ll proceed from there.
If you want to donate directly to Highland Park survivors, you can donate here via PayPal, Zelle, etc.