Six regional authors and illustrators will hold a book signing Friday, Dec. 6, at the Carmi Public Library from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participating will be Jon Musgrave, Angela Mason, Bruce Cline, Susie Bishop, Deborah Reich and Robert Hays.
Regional historian Jon Musgrave has written a number of non-fiction books about the dramatic history of area including ones on the Old Slave House and the Shelton Gang. He’ll also have his first novel, “The Counterfeiter’s Son,” a mix of true crime and historical fantasy set at Cave-in-Rock in the days of the river pirates back in 1799.
The novel tells the story of Silas Hawkins, a character inspired by the folklore of the area, as he battles the worst the frontier has to offer in search of his family. The villains in the piece, Big Harpe and Little Harpe, have been research subjects of Musgrave who has appeared on both The History Channel and the Investigation Discovery programs discussing the pair of frontier serial killers.
Angela Mason will also be present to sign copies of her book, “Death Rides the Sky,” which tells the stories of the Tri-State Tornado that ripped through Southern Illinois and White County in March 1925. She conducted her research in the 1990s and was able to interview more than four dozen survivors whose stories cover the entire path of the tornado from where it started in southeast Missouri, across Southern Illinois and over past Princeton, Ind.
Bruce Cline, founder of the Little Egypt Ghost Society, will offer his ghostly guidebook to the region, “History, Mystery and Hauntings of Southern Illinois,” which covers sites of his group’s paranormal investigations as well as their research into the supernatural folklore of the region.
Susie Bishop and her illustrator Deborah Reich will be there with their series of children’s books as well as Bishop’s latest. Lastly the group will be joined by Carmi native and former University of Illinois professor Robert Hays who has written a number of non-fiction books and novels.
Musgrave will also have signed copies of his “Inside the Shelton Gang” co-author Ruthie Shelton’s “The Untold Story” novel inspired by her father’s experiences with the gang in the 1960s and beyond.
Besides the Shelton book, Musgrave has co-authored two more books on the Bloody Williamson history of the area, “The Bloody Vendetta of Southern Illinois,” which covers the outbreak of violence in the 1870s following the Civil War, and “Secrets of the Herrin Gangs,” which provides an insider account of the Sheltons and Charlie Birger when they fought the KKK in the Klan War and fought each other in the subsequent Gang War of the 1920s.
Musgrave’s work on the 19th Century history of the region includes his book on the Old Slave House, “Slaves, Salt, Sex & Mr. Crenshaw,” which he wrote as well as three books he edited, “Lincoln,” a collection of stories the 16th president told during his years in the White House, W. S. Blackman’s Civil War autobiography, “The Boy of Battle Ford,” and the reference book, “The Handbook of Old Gallatin County.”
Musgrave operates IllinoisHistory.com as his book publisher. Besides his and Mason’s book, he will also have Bruce Cline’s regional ghost guide, “History, Mystery and Hauntings of Southern Illinois,” and 98-year-old retired West Frankfort educator James T. Carrier’s books, “A Little Bit of Heaven and a Whole Lot of Hell,” about his time growing up during the Great Depression, his guide books, “Wilderness Survival” and “Them Good Old Wild Green,” as well as his books on the 1925 tornado “Killer Tornado,” where it hit West Frankfort and Caldwell and “Christmas Mine Disaster,” on the 1951 Orient 2 explosion.
Cline, Mason and Musgrave will also be signing books later Friday evening from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Wabash County Museum in Mount Carmel as part of the Christmas Open House and downtown holiday activities.