By BRANDON LaCHANCE
MENDOTA – When Kari Pohar (Lemmer) was going through the Mendota school system, she thought being a writer was something she wanted to do.
Although it was fun and she could write, Mendota High School (Class of 1999), Illinois Valley Community College, and Northern Illinois University brought her a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a minor in sociology, and a master’s degree in counseling.
Even her current job as a community connections grant coordinator at a Catholic charity in Round Lake where she plans programs and events for adults older than 60, doesn’t scream writer.
Now, Pohar is presenting her first published novel, “Chateau Merlot” at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 17 at Graves-Hume Public Library in Mendota and at 3 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 17 at the Peru Public Library.
“My dream was to always be a writer. When I was in seventh grade, Mrs. (Kelly) Poremba at Northbrook introduced me to creative writing and I loved it,” said Pohar, who has lived in Grayslake for 15 years with her husband Nick Pohar (1999 La Salle-Peru High School graduate) and their two children, Nolan (8) and Kaiya (6). “At the time, I said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ But, I did absolutely nothing to actually get me to that point. I didn’t get an English degree or take creative writing classes. I didn’t help myself in anyway going into college.
“Once I got into grad school, I wrote a ton, but it was essays and thesis. Once I graduated grad school, the Grayslake Library had a writer’s group. I joined it in 2011. I was writing primarily short stories.”
Pohar continued to write stories for library groups.
In 2018, she submitted her first short story to be considered for an anthology.
“The Horror Siblings” was accepted in the anthology, “Window: The Inner Circle Writer’s Group Children Anthology 2018.”
“It was a play on our last name. When I was pregnant with my son, we came up with funny nicknames for him that we knew we would never use,” Pohar said. “My husband had come up with Jebediah Isiah, so his name would be Jedi. So, I came up with Edgar Allan Pohar.
“I thought mine was a much better funny name. People told me, ‘That really works, you should use it.’ I could not do that to my child, so instead I wrote a short story about three, 6-year-old Pohar children named after classic horror authors or creators.
“There was Edgar Allan Pohar, Braham Harker Pohar, and Mary Shelly Pohar.”
Since 2018, Pohar has had eight stories published in anthologies and her last short story tied for third at a writer’s contest in Mundelein.
The new novel artist is extremely proud of her newest creation, “Chateau Merlot.”
“I wrote it in June of 2019 as a short story. It was 1,700 words start to finish. The library group said, ‘You need to expand this story. We know you can write a short story but challenge yourself and make this longer.’
“Every November is National Novel Writing Month. It’s a non-profit website that encourages writers to write their first draft in a month. The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month so that you have your first draft. You can edit, cut, and rewrite, but it gives you a starting point. I wrote 50,000 words of Chateau in November of 2019.”
With having two young children, Pohar wrote the majority of the book, edited, and rewrote from 5-6 a.m. in the morning before they would wake up.
And maybe she didn’t want to confuse what Nolan and Kaiya would eat compared to her novel characters.
“I enjoy writing in the paranormal genre. It is a vampire book because there are vampires in it, but it primarily surrounds the humans in the story,” Pohar said. “The point of view is from the main human and how he gets into the Chateau.
“The Chateau Merlot is a luxury apartment building that is owned by a vampire named Angelica. That’s where she houses her humans like a wine cellar. There is a blood type hierarchy. The most common blood types are going to be less desirable, like O positive. AB negative is the least common, so they would get the penthouse apartment, they get paid more and all of the other perks.”
Pohar’s creativity and imagination also led to the creation of a vampire phone application in the story called, Once Bitten.
The vampires use the app to find people to feed off of and to come stay in the chateau.
When the novel was finished, Pohar sent it in for traditional publishing, but she was rejected.
Rejecting future negativity, the new author self-published “Chateau Merlot” through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and it can be found and purchased on Amazon as a paperback, E-book, or for Kindle Unlimited, and it’s also available on the Barnes and Noble and Target websites.
Currently, approximately 500 copies of Pohar’s first novel are in people’s hands or on their kindles.
Pohar is excited to share her vampire tale with the town where her dream to write was first sparked.
“I don’t think it was ever something I could do. When I reached out to the library, I said, ‘I’d love to come,’” Pohar said. “My dad, Dan Lemmer, still lives in Mendota and not too far away from the library. The email I got back was saying how Graves-Hume was so excited to have me. I instantly said, ‘Holy cow, this is actually happening.’
“I’m not in Mendota all that frequently. Every time I’m there, I never see people I know. This time will be different because people have already told me, ‘I’m coming to this.’
“I’m excited to come to my hometown and show off my book.”