A couple of years ago, I met Corey Michael Dalton at Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company to hear his harebrained idea. “How about if we do a series of short stories in Punchnel’s that are sort of about all the place names around Indianapolis—and how they got their names. Like ‘Ransom Place’? And “Pogue’s Run’? And then we can publish an anthology and give all the money to Second Story?”

And I, being a sucker for nearly any harebrained idea that combines weird fiction and Indianapolis and helping kids learn about creative writing, said, “Sure.”

So we put out a call for entries. We expanded a bit on Corey’s original idea. The stories we sought didn’t have to be about how local places got their names. They just had to be set in a recognizable Indianapolis location.

And they had to be weird. Science fiction, fantasy, horror, slipstream, magic realism—it didn’t matter what kind of weird, as long as it was weird.

It got weird.

We got stories about ghosts. About aliens. Lovecraftian monsters. Indianapolis overrun with penguins. Singular meals. Living statues. Alternate universes. The past that never was. The future that just might be.

We got stories about Elvis. Dillinger. Gov. Mitch Daniels on his motorcycle. That one was especially weird.

We published them—more than 30 of them. And we’ve finally collected them in a book called Mythic Indy: New Legends, Fairytales, and Myths about Indianapolis. The series was edited lovingly by Corey, with lots of copyediting and proofreading help from Traci Cumbay, Alex Mattingly, and Robin Beery; a knockout cover by Amy McAdams Gonzales, with design help from Sarah Stewart and Stephanie Feller; and a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Ben H. Winters (who also has a story in the book).

And this coming Friday, February 5, we’re having a Mythic Indy book launch party at Well Done Marketing in Fountain Square. It’s your chance to buy the book, meet the authors, and make them autograph it. And since it’s First Friday in Fountain Square, there’ll be lots of interesting people-watching—and lots of great places to eat, drink, hear some great music, and hang out. The fun starts at 5 and will run ’til 7.

Best of all, every copy of Mythic Indy you buy will Second Story in its mission of helping kids learn to love creative writing. And who know what other weird stuff will happen?