Chillermania & Author Quest
Indian River is the home to Chillermania, the world headquarters for books by Johnathan Rand. Books at Chillermania are from the American Chillers, Michigan Chillers, Freddie Fernortner Fearless First Grader, the new Nightmare Nation series, and a brand new illustrated book series for beginning readers - Dollar $tore Danny.
Chillermania opened in 2006. It's on S. Straits Highway just north of Indian River, visible from I-75 just a short drive south off of Exit 313.
Rand, who lives in the area with his wife, said people were coming to their house so he opened Chillermania to serve as the office, warehouse and retail store for his writing and his publishing business, AudioCraft Publishing Inc.
He says it's worked out well. "In the summer time it's really busy."
Rand said people come in cars and buses from all over. People traveling up I-75 on their way to Mackinaw City see the shop and stop in.
While Chillermania serves as the operation headquarters, Rand also travels and does speaking engagements at schools and also is the founder and director of Author Quest writing camps. Rand said that in the speaking engagements and the Author Quest camps his primary goal is to help young people understand the importance of and benefits of reading and writing.
The Author Quest camps are something Rand started in 2007. Author Quest are camps for kids ages 10 to 13 who enjoy writing and want to get better at it. Kids who enjoy sports, science or other activities have camps they can go to, so Rand felt kids who like to write should also have a camp where they can go to learn and meet other people who share their interest in writing.
"This gives writing kids a family. It gives them their own tribe. We have an application process because we really want to get kids who love to write. We had a kid who flew down from Kodiak Island, Alaska. We get kids from all across the country. Every camp fills up."
The kids who attend the camp are interested in various forms of writing: science fiction, journaling, newspapers, books. The camps allow them to receive guidance and pursue those interests in a remote and quiet setting with other people who love to write.
After more than 10 years, Rand is now seeing former campers come back as counselors and seeing the friendships that campers share.
He says of Author Quest, "This whole thing has become an animal on its own. I just thought it would be fun. I didn't realize how important it would become to others and thus it's become important to me."
For more information about books available at Chillermania, or an application for Author Quest, look ONLINE