July 3, 2013 • 09:52:51 a.m.

Chit Chat: Writer draws inspiration from St. Charles for latest novel


The setting for author Lynn Kear’s latest crime novel, “Relative Innocence,” was inspired by St. Charles, where Kear lived for 20 years. She graduated from St. Charles High School in 1975. (Photo provided by K. V. Herndon)

ST. CHARLES – For some St. Charles residents, the setting of Lynn Kear’s latest crime fiction novel might feel eerily familiar.

That’s because the fictional city in Kear’s novel, “Relative Innocence,” is loosely based on St. Charles, where Kear lived for about 20 years. She graduated from St. Charles High School in 1975, and her third novel hit bookshelves in February and is available online.

The story takes place in a small Illinois suburb called St. James, a fictional city that, much like St. Charles, also  is situated on the banks of a river. It follows a spree killer’s son, a suspected serial killer’s daughter and an attorney who befriends them. Kear said she references St. Charles street names, the cold northern Illinois weather and the river.

“The river plays a huge part,” she said, noting that it’s called the St. James River in her novel. “When you grow up in that area, the river is huge. It’s a big part of life.”

Kear said her previous novel, “Tighter Tighter,” also was based on a city much like St. Charles. Her first novel, “Murder in a Buckhead Garden,” is based on Atlanta. Kear lived in St. Charles from the late 1960s to the early 1980s and now lives in Stone Mountain, Ga.

Kear – a novelist, playwright and biographer – earned degrees from Aurora College and Northern Illinois University. She earned her Ph.D. while living in Georgia and spent almost 25 years teaching various courses, such as creative writing, film, history and public speaking, at colleges and universities. But she credits a lot of her success to the education she received while growing up in St. Charles.

“I do want to say that I had great teachers at St. Charles High School. I honestly think that my success, whatever that has been, has been largely because of that,” she said. “In teaching, I’ve been around people without a good education, and I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to attend school in District 303.”

Kear has written a few biographies, as well as two books on reincarnation, but her novels have centered on crime fiction.

She said actual crimes sometimes inspire the plots of her novels. She noted that she drew her inspiration for “Relative Innocence” from a crime that was committed in Athens, Ga., and also is loosely based on the Drew Peterson case in Chicago. Peterson is a former police officer who was convicted in February of killing his ex-wife.

“I wondered, what would it be like to be the child of somebody accused of that?” Kear said. “There’s something about crime fiction that is very tantalizing for writers, and I think for readers.”

“Relative Innocence” is available to buy online at and for $13 to $15, and on Kindle for about $5.

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