Theresa Schwegel
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Theresa Schwegel

When I write, I'm always trying to show stuff to the reader. No doubt it's because of my film background ("show, don't tell")—a screenwriter's job is to get filmmakers to *see* what she means. For me, every novel starts there, too: putting what I see on the page.

Chicago is my backdrop. And here are some of the things I've seen—the places that have compelled me to write, and the places that have become mise-en-scène of my characters' lives.

Monday, December 23, 2013

During a thorough pre-holiday cleaning, I came across the article that inspired OFFICER DOWN’s ending. Because this story can’t be entirely true. 

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

From Mystery Scene Magazine: “The most sensible character in [THE GOOD BOY] is Butchie, who breaks your heart just because he’s a dog and can’t make his recalcitrant humans behave as they should.”

Pictured: the most sensible characters I know.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pictured: Roberto Clemente High playground.


The jungle gym is painted aquamarine, a peculiar color that clashes with the drab surroundings. Joel climbs a set of rungs to the drawbridge, crosses the wobbly planks, and steps up to the slide platform. 

Beneath him, the black rubber mat is warped and split, weeds growing through in places. Someone’s scratched graffiti along the slide bed and at the end, the paint is worn through to metal.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shown here: Tara Poremba and her partner Brix, who taught me how a K9 team works. You may recognize Tara from the TV show TOP SHOT. She’s now a certified K9 trainer. She is also awesome. 

Thank you Tara, and good boy Brix!

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

When I researched THE GOOD BOY I followed my go-to K9 officer Tara Poremba and her dog Brix while they did a mock-search here at the California Clipper. A beauty of a bar. No *real* drugs found.

THE GOOD BOY’S first chapter used to include a version of the search. Want a sneak peek? You can read the deleted scene– find it on my or here


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Saturday, October 12, 2013

We live in a loft, and our ‘yard’ is a 4x8 porch four floors up. (Don’t the dogs look thrilled?)

It wasn’t hard to imagine Pete Murphy’s disappointment when he wound up with a Shepherd/Malanois mix and no place to play fetch. Here, from THE GOOD BOY:

“…the higher-ups moved him over to K9—what would be a cush detail for a patroller till pension, a family man, a dog lover. For Pete, it was a merit job for a cop who would never get a promotion, might not stay married, and no longer had a yard.”

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Goose Island, where Samantha Mack (OFFICER DOWN) and Pete Murphy (THE GOOD BOY) go for beer. 

I suppose the bar recurs because I’m partial to it: this location used to be called Weeghman Park– also the former name for Wrigley Field, down the block– and my dad had a hand in the place. 

A losing hand, obviously. But he still bets on the Cubs…

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thank you, Gillian Flynn:

“The Good Boy is a terrific piece of crime writing—propulsive action paired with the authentic sounds of a city on the make. Schwegel’s ear for dialogue is pitch-perfect—from the station house to the streets, from cops to robbers to teens, Schwegel serves up fully-realized characters who pop off the page. An essential read for lovers of crime fiction.”

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My best detective-friend and inspiration.

There would be no LAST KNOWN ADDRESS without him.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Thank you, Michael Koryta:

“Theresa Schwegel returns with another powerhouse of a crime novel, and it is her finest work to date. THE GOOD BOY is a vivid, nuanced, and emotional tale told in prose that crackles with electricity. The characters are real, their world is our own, and their stories the kind that linger long after the last page is turned. At once a thriller and a beautifully rendered family story, it simply won’t disappoint.”

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

My first award-winning ‘book.’  

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

While researching The Good Boy, Wynne and Wiley and I walked Joel’s route (in segments) from Bowmanville to 26th and California. It was a really cool way to experience the city… and not so cool to realize few people say hello anymore.

This photo is from my neighborhood. Yes, the dogs walk themselves most days.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I’ve been thinking about ‘bad’ guys. I don’t write them well. Maybe because I try too hard to grasp plausible motivation. Or maybe because I imagine characters like this one: Jack Fiore from PROBABLE CAUSE was, in my mind, an evil Cliff Clavin.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Vermont Studio Center, where I wrote the first draft of OFFICER DOWN.

I didn’t really fit in (though we were all trying to write something great, and American, and novel-like). Thank the stars for Peter Ho Davies, the kind and *real* writer who encouraged me to stick it out. 

You can find him here:

He’s teaching, now. I hope he’s still writing. 

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Monday, July 1, 2013

When I wrote LAST KNOWN ADDRESS, I *thought* I pictured Sanaa Lathan in Sloane’s role… but recently I realized I was actually thinking of Renee Jones. (Yes, I was raised on DAYS.)

They look similar though, don’t they?

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wiley is nearly as enthusiastic about plotting as I am. 

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I read MANY more kids’ books than I do novels these days. Here’s a page from a favorite– THE LITTLE YELLOW LEAF. Carin Berger’s art is stunning and her prose is poetry.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chicago, as captured by the inestimable and multi-talented Scott Phillips. (I wish, someday, he’d tell me how to write a believable antihero.) His newest, in RAKE, is a real charm. Check out the book here:

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This used to be my neighborhood library. 

It hurts.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Wynne: ball-driven, fetch-obsessed and here, finally passed out.

She’s the inspiration for my first chapter with Butch in The Good Boy…

Butch brings the ball back to Ralla and he throws it low and fast, a worm burner. Butch goes full-throttle to get on top of it, nose in the dirt. His return is a wide, proud canter, the ball held high.

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