Kaneland grad publishes first novel

By on July 26, 2014

CRYSTAL LAKE, ILL.—Peter Gallanis, a 1980 Kaneland High School graduate, remembers the moment he knew he wanted to become a writer.

It happened while he was sitting in then-KHS teacher Laurie Erdmann’s journalism class.

Gallanis went on to take classes at Waubonsee Community College, the Loop College and Northern Illinois University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. After finishing his education, Gallanis worked for various newspapers in the Chicago area, including the Chicago Tribune.

“I have great memories of my high school years at Kaneland,” said Gallanis, who served as editorial page editor of the KHS newspaper during his senior year and was involved in school plays, cross country, track and wrestling.

In terms of writing inspiration, Gallanis said he became fascinated with the 1993 Brown’s Chicken Massacre, in which seven people were killed during a robbery at the Palatine, Ill., store location.

After a series of calendar-related coincidences, fascination turned to obsession and eventually led to the publication of Gallanis’ first novel, “The Reporter: Part 1—Rise and Fall.”

A fictionalized account of the Brown’s Chicken case and some of the people surrounding it, Gallanis’ tale is one of unrequited love, murder and betrayal that threaten to undo an ambitious, young reporter covering the story that could make his career.

“I had the distinct feeling someone was trying to tell me something,” Gallanis said of the process that went into writing the book. “I believe it’s God’s will that I tell this story.”

Weaving his story around the facts of the Brown’s case, Gallanis created characters based on people he’s known, including the real-life sister of one of the victims.

Gallanis saw the sister of one of the Brown’s Chicken Massacre victims in a TV interview and was impressed with her composure in the face of the horrific crime. Not long after that, he met the young woman—she happened to be a friend of the woman who is now his wife.

“My story, in part, is about a young woman who would volunteer to ‘throw the switch’ (enact the death penalty), and then comes back to ask for mercy for her brother’s murderer,” Gallanis said. “I was moved by her compassion.”

Originally conceived as one novel, Gallanis said it got too long so he split the story into two books. He said he is putting the final touches on book two.

Gallanis said many of his characters are based on people he knows. While his protagonist, Nic, shares some of his own background, Gallanis said the primary similarity is their Greek heritage.

“Nic is a combination of James Dean, Bob Woodward, Michael Corleone and Hawkeye Pierce,” he said. “He’s a figment of my imagination, but I wanted to pay homage to my Greek culture more than insert my own personality.”

Published by Abuzz Press in Bradenton, Fla., “The Reporter: Part 1 – Rise and Fall” is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle versions. Gallanis can be found on Facebook, where he also has created a page for the fictional Palatine Star newspaper.