From the Register-Mail:
In his recently published book â€œSnakewoman of Little Egypt,â€ Robert Hellenga sticks to the authorâ€™s adage of â€œWrite what you know.â€
Local readers will smile while reading references to a natural food store named Cornucopia and a grocery store called Hy-Vee. And one of the novelâ€™s central characters, Jackson Carter Jones, seems to be a lot like Hellenga.
Jackson is an associate professor of anthropology at Thomas Ford University in west-central Illinois while Hellenga is an English literature professor at Knox College (also in west-central Illinois.)
â€œI put a lot of myself in Jackson, of course,â€ Hellenga said last week, sitting on his apartment porch surrounded by potted plants and flowers. â€œBut Iâ€™ve never had Lyme disease, never been to Africa.â€
The sixth novel of Hellengaâ€™s career, â€œSnakewoman of Little Egypt,â€ describes what happens when Jackson becomes intertwined with Sunny, a woman recently released from prison in Little Egypt, a non-fiction locale in southern Illinois. Unlike most of his books which have Italian connections â€” Hellenga lived in Florence with his family for a year â€” this book mostly takes place in Illinois, where heâ€™s resided since the late 1960s.