Dan Chaon's New Thriller 'Ill Will' Set in Cleveland

[photo: Ulf Andersen]
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Award-winning writer Dan Chaon's new thriller 'Ill Will' which comes out this week, is set in Northeast Ohio.  But rather than choosing touristy spots like the Rock Hall or Playhouse Square as settings, Chaon's chosen the seedier spots of Cleveland.

"There are areas on the east side that look as if they've gone post-apocalyptic.  That is not necessarily a portrait of Cleveland, but it's a portrait of the mood I wanted to get at in this book," Chaon said.

The novel tells the intertwining stories of two murder mysteries spanning multiple decades and has been described as a "dark Möbius strip of a thriller," by fellow Cleveland writer Celeste Ng.

Chaon is the director of creative writing at Oberlin College, and he discovered one of the themes of the new novel during discussions with his students.

"I started hearing stories from my students at Oberlin, and these are upper-middle class kids, where they're talking about friends who've had a heroin overdose," Chaon said.

Despite being known for writing tight thrillers that constantly pull the wool over his readers' eyes, Chaon never outlines his stories.  So he's as clueless to the ending while writing it as his many fans will be when they read it.

"I didn't know who the killer was until they kind of revealed themselves, to my surprise," he said.

Dan Chaon appears at Brews and Prose at Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City Tuesday (March 7) at 7 p.m. and at Coventry Library in Cleveland Heights Wednesday (March 8) at 7 p.m.

Listen to Dan Polletta's interview with Dan Chaon Tuesday, March 7 at 12:33pm and 1:40pm during Here and Now featuring The Sound of Applause on 90.3.

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