I’ve been encouraged by the enthusiastic reception my announcement of a new edition of Tales of Coles County has received. When I started updating the book’s Facebook page again after over a year of inactivity, I never imagined this explosion of popularity. The page has gone from around 120 likes on Wednesday June 13, to 1,516 this afternoon. A picture I posted of Airtight Bridge (Photoshopped to look antique) has been shared 331 times and viewed over 18,000 times. This has to be, by far, the most viral of anything I have ever posted on Facebook.
I decided to send out a press release about this outburst of enthusiasm and it was printed in the Journal Gazette/Times-Courier, which is published in Mattoon and Charleston. That kept the ball rolling.
The book itself is almost finished. I’m just waiting to get a few more pictures and I’ll be able to send it to the printer. In the meantime, I’m going to offer preorders – that will give me a better sense of how much of this enthusiasm is hype and how much is actual interest. I have a good feeling about this, but experience has taught me not to count my chickens before they hatch.
I’m setting an official release date in August, and will be planning several book signings and events. Stay tuned for details!
Since announcing the upcoming release of a new edition on Friday, the Facebook page for the book Tales of Coles County, Illinois
has gone viral, garnering over 900 new likes in five days. That is an
average of 180 new likes per day. The first in a series of antique ‘postcards’ promoting the book, uploaded on Monday, has been shared 175 times and viewed by nearly 9,000 people.
First released in 2004, Tales of Coles County, Illinois follows the journey of four students from Eastern Illinois University who are stranded in an old cabin during a storm. The elderly couple who live there tell the students four stories, each related to Coles County history: a battle with Indians near Blakeman’s Mill, the Charleston Riot, the Coles County Poor Farm, and the body found at Airtight Bridge. After one night, these students will never look at Coles County the same way.
The 10th Anniversary Edition of Tales of Coles County will
also feature a section on the legends and lore of Coles County. With
everything from haunted houses, to the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, ghost
towns, and buried treasure, this book will leave no stone unturned. The
new edition will include four new places not appearing in any previous
edition, as well as nearly a dozen photos.
As many of my readers know, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Over the years, I’ve been privileged to be featured in and interviewed for a number of articles on haunted places all over Illinois. From a historian’s point of view, newspaper articles never lose their value over time, even though most people simply read them and throw them out that same day. Let’s take a look back at some of these articles from recent years.
“‘Tales of Coles County’ features spooky stories,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 28 October 2010.
“Sunset Haven: the Asylum That Never Was,” Volunteer News (Carterville) 7 October 2010.
“Sunset Haven: A Rich, Mysterious History,” Daily Egyptian (Carbondale) 11 August 2010.
“Local Haunts — Author explores ghostly tales across Illinois,” Streator Times (Streator) 24 June 2010.
“Three Coles County legends are detailed in book,” Journal Gazette (Mattoon) 27 April 2010.
“Grad student masters the macabre,” Western Courier (Macomb) 15 February 2010.
“Charleston is Haunted,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 30 October 2009.
“The Science of Spirit-Sleuthing Part III: Local Lore,” Rock River Times (Rockford) October 28, 2009.
“Publication highlights Moon Point Cemetery,” Times (Streator) 1 June 2009.
“Real Folklore,” Daily News (Effingham) 21 February 2009.
“Pemberton’s legend, Mary,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 31 October 2008.
“Twisted tales,” Times-Courier (Charleston) 23 October 2007.
“Ghost Club hunts for haunts,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 8 October 2007.
“Student author gets creative with Coles history,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 28 October 2005.
“Strange Occurrences,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 28 October 2005.
“Haunting Club,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 29 October 2004.
Kayleigh Zyskowski of Eastern Illinois University’s Daily Eastern News has written an engaging article published in today’s edition about Tales of Coles County (2010).
‘Tales of Coles County’ features spooky stories
By Kayleigh Zyskowski
Michael Kleen, a  history graduate of Eastern, found these places when he was a student and began to write short stories about the places that intrigued him. Always having an interest in the paranormal and history, Kleen began to scour the county for interesting places beginning with the Airtight Bridge.
“No one I had talked to knew much about what had happened there, so it took a long time to go through the newspaper archives,” Kleen said. “It was really the first place I had to investigate with such extent.”
Kleen’s book “Tales of Coles County,” the 2010 edition, is a two-part book filled with a mixture of fact and fiction about the lesser-known areas of the county.
“I came up with the concept when I was still at Eastern over a summer break,” Kleen said. “I was working at the park district (in Prospect Heights) and had a lot of time on my hands while I was mowing. I thought of the stories to pass the time.”
Read the entire article!
Beth Heldebrandt from the Journal Gazette/Times-Courier has written a fine feature on my new book Paranormal Illinois, which includes three chapters on places in Coles County: Pemberton Hall, Airtight Bridge, and Ashmore Estates. I have a long history in Coles County. I lived in Charleston for nearly eight years, and it was where I first began writing about local ghost stories and legends. It was where I published Tales of Coles County, Illinois, my first work of historical fiction, in 2004. Copies of that book, in its various incarnations, are probably still floating around out there.
Nowhere else have any of the legends and lore of Coles County been documented so thoroughly. Nowhere else has the history of Airtight Bridge or Ashmore Estates been so completely written or well-researched. As a whole, Paranormal Illinois is the culmination of years of research, and it is accessible both to casual fans of the paranormal and anyone interested in Illinois history and folklore (or, what I like to call “folk history”). It’s fun, informative, and greatly entertaining.
I promise you, you have never seen most of this information before! If you think you’ve read everything there is to know about Airtight Bridge from my previous writing, you are mistaken. Paranormal Illinois is the first and only book to contain the complete story, featuring interviews and first hand accounts by people who were involved with the case.
Paranormal Illinois is available at several fine retailers, as well as a local bookstore near you. If you don’t find it there, ask them to order it! The book is also available online at the following websites:
Amazon.com ($12.74 – a really good deal!)
Schiffer Books ($16.99)
So what are you waiting for? Order it today!