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Real murder case inspires alum to write novel

July 17, 2014
Peter Gallanis

Peter Gallanis

NIU alumnus Peter Gallanis has published his first novel, “The Reporter: Part 1 – Rise and Fall,” which was inspired by events connected to the 1993 massacre at a Brown’s Chicken restaurant in suburban Palatine.

The story features Nic Pappas, a young investigative reporter, who is assigned the first day on the job to cover a cold murder case, called The Brown’s Chicken Massacre. He meets and falls in love with Mary Jane Santos, who lost her brother in the tragedy.

Their relationship becomes one of unrequited love because the ethical standards of his profession prevent him from getting personally involved. But he ends up deciding that the only way to end his ethical dilemma is to solve the case, and Pappas and Santos make a pledge to catch the killers.

Through his girlfriend (now his wife) six months after the real massacre, Gallanis met Mary Jane Castro, whose 16-year-old brother was one of the seven workers murdered at Brown’s Chicken. He was struck by the personality similarities that he shared with her and was inspired by her eventual forgiveness of the man found responsible for her brother’s death.

He also noticed coincidences in dates, such as a birthday and death in his family that occurred on the same date of the massacre.

“In the novel, I offer the reader a choice of why all these odd things happen to our hero and his love,” Gallanis said. “The Father, son, holy spirit? Karma, fate, destiny? Or are we seeing nothing more than random acts that occur within a man’s life?”

The ReporterThe 52-year-old author of Crystal Lake said he enjoys writing about everyday people who are suddenly put in an extraordinary situation.

“To me, the most heroic people out there are the everyday Joes,” Gallanis said, “the ones who somehow find the strength to rise up and become greater than the sum of their parts.”

In the acknowledgments of the book, he thanks John Schaeffer, an NIU English professor, for his instruction, friendship and constructive criticism.

“I leaned heavily on his instruction when I wrote my novel,” said Gallanis, who is working on his second book in the two-part series.

He will hold a book signing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 10 at Three Oaks Recreation Area, 5517 Northwest Highway, Crystal Lake. Guests are asked to bring a copy of the book for the signing since extra copies will not be available.

The book was published by Abuzz Press last month and is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble and Goodreads.

In 1993, Gallanis received a bachelor’s degree in English from NIU. He has worked as a reporter for weekly newspapers and has freelanced for daily newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune. He also spent years in the trade magazine business.