Eleanor Taylor Bland

Eleanor Taylor Bland contributed regularly and generously to her community, including the Waukegan Public Library. She served on the Friends of the Library board and freely donated her time over the years for writing classes and presenting awards for the Ray Bradbury Creative Writing Contest.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Ms. Bland moved to Illinois in 1972 and was a resident of Waukegan. She published 13 novels in the Marti MacAlister Mystery series: Dead Time, Slow Burn, Gone Quiet, Done Wrong, Keep Still, See No Evil, Tell No Tales, Scream in Silence, Whispers in the Dark, Windy City Dying, Fatal Remains, A Cold and Silent Dying, and A Dark and Deadly Deception. All are published by St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Gone Quiet is being adapted as a play by the Chicago Theater Company.

Lincoln Prairie, Ms. Bland’s fictional town is really a composite of Waukegan, North Chicago, and Zion, Illinois. When writing, she used a map of these cities, renamed the streets, and occasionally moved buildings and landmarks. Crime scenes include the old Waukegan Hotel, the Andrew Carnegie Library, the Genesee Theater, Bowen Park, Shimer College, the College of Lake County, and the ravines. Ms. Bland also wrote about the cultural community north of the city of Chicago, and dealt with issues of particular concern to women, children, the elderly, the homeless, and the mentally ill.

Ms. Bland recently edited the anthology Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors. Her short stories are also included in seven anthologies: Women on the Case , Sara Paretsky, Editor; Spooks, Spies and Private Eyes, Paula L. Woods, Editor; Malice Domestic 7, Sharon McCrumb, Editor; Murder on Route 66, Carolyn Wheat, Editor; The Night Awakens, Mary Higgins Clark, Editor; and The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, Ed Gorman, Editor.

Ms. Bland received the Chester A. Himes Mystery Fiction Award; the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award; the Illinois Outstanding Citizen Award, the College of Lake County Distinguished Alumni Award; the Most Influential African American of Lake County Award. She was a charter member, past secretary, and past chairperson for the Outreach to Authors of Color for Sisters in Crime and served on the Midwest Region and National Boards of Mystery Writers of America. She was on the Boards of Directors for LaCasa, the Lake County Council Against Sexual Assault; Staben House, a transitional housing facility for women and children, the Honorary Board for the Preservation of the Genesee Theater, and the Waukegan Friends of the Library. She also served on boards for the Theater of Sound Concert Chorus; the Waukegan Park District, and the Waukegan Symphony and Concert Chorus. She was a business partner for Waukegan School District 60; an Author in Residence for Warren Newport Township Library; Chicago Charles V. Woodson Regional Library. She was a member of St. Anastasia Church where she served on the Pastoral Council. She was a professed Lay Carmelite.

Ms. Bland graduated from Southern Illinois University and the College of Lake County with degrees in education and accounting. She was a cost accountant at Abbott Laboratories for seventeen years. She left two sons, two grandsons, two granddaughters, and a wonderful daughter-in-law.

Ms. Bland died on June 2, 2010.

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Read more about Eleanor Taylor Bland and other women writers and artists of color at “Voices from the Gaps”, University of Minnesota’s celebration of diversity in the arts and literature.