Georgetown native captures small-town life

In the days before the Internet, young people had to create their own entertainment. Some of those misadventures were memorable enough to put into a book — with the names of people and places changed, however.

The result is Thomas Lopinski’s second book, “The Art of Raising Hell.” He will sign copies of his book from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Book World.

Lopinski, who lives in Burbank, Calif., based the coming-of-age book upon his youth in the 1970s in Georgetown. The name of the town has been changed to Bunsen Creek, located in fictional Kickapoo County, Illinois.

The book revolves around the adventures of four friends. The colorful characters in the book are compilations of different people, and aren’t meant to represent any one person, Lopinski said in a telephone interview.

“I took everything and threw it together, and created this fictitious world,” he said. “I took poetic license with most of it.”

People who are familiar with that area, however, will recognize places and events, and perhaps “bits and pieces” of people.

Chris Gleichman of Chicago, one of the four friends, grew up in Georgetown and critiqued the manuscript for his friend.

“It’s a wonderful book,” Gleichman, an architect, said. “It captures so much of the feeling of the early 1970s in Vermilion County.”

The book is based on facts and events from that time period, he said, including the fire that took down a corner of the Georgetown square and a lone streaker on the square who attracted a crowd. 

“There are tidbits of history intertwined with fiction,” said Gleichman, whose family owned Gleichman Drugs.

The book will appeal to anyone who appreciates the Midwest values of family and hard work, he said.

“It captures that time frame when we were unaware of the rest of the country,” he said, describing the towns as being “hermetically sealed.” For example, dating someone from Westville was a big deal.

Sue Woods of Catlin hasn’t read Lopinski’s latest book yet, but has recommended it for the Fun Book Club, which will discuss it Thursday. Lopinski is expected to be in Danville at that time, and will meet with the book members, who come from the Danville area and Urbana. (There’s also a No Fun Book Club, which reads nonfiction.)

Woods said the club read Lopinski’s first book, “Document 512,” and enjoyed it so much — especially the attention to detail — that she expects to like the second book, too.

“Document 512” is an adventure novel about a young female Indiana Jones-type character who’s chased through the hidden tunnels and ancient ruins of South America. Lopinski described it as Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series meets the “da Vinci Code.”

That book, published in 2012, won several awards and recognition in 2012-13 from Readers View Choice Awards, Best Indie Book Awards, IndieFab Awards, and the National Indie Excellence Book Awards.

When Lopinski visits the book club this week, Woods said, “We’ll pick his brain about his book. It’s always fun when the author can visit.”


Lopinski, son of the late Hank and Betty Lopinski, graduated from Georgetown High School in 1976 and attended the University of Illinois. His wife, Lisa Anders, grew up in the Ridge Farm area; her mother, Marie Anders, lives in Tilton.

Lopinski has other relatives in the area, including sisters, Barbara Carter of Westville and Debbie Potter of Georgetown. He also has brothers, John in Oregon, and Bob in Nashville, Tenn.

Lopinski, a musician, moved to southern California to work in the music industry, and ended up working at record, TV and film companies. He now does music licensing for TV shows and the Disney theme parks.

He said he and his three friends have stayed in touch. When discussing past adventures, they would tell him: You should write this down.

One morning, he woke up and “the opening line rolled off my tongue,” he said. He started writing, and six weeks later, he had the first draft of “Raising Hell.”

“I’m pretty proud of it,” Lopinski said. “I wanted to write something before the Internet — to remind people what it was like.”

He described it: “It’s an uplifting humorous coming-of-age story about first love, best friends and learning how to chase after life instead of being chased by it.”

Friendships, adolescent love and loyalties are put to the test as the teenagers face challenges that force them to decide what will define them and what will break them.

It’s published by Dark Alley Press.

Lopinski also is working on a sequel to “Document 512,” and plans to travel to Peru to do research.

He is a member of the Independent Writers of Southern California.

He and his wife have four daughters, including a set of triplets who are in college.


Thomas Lopinski will sign copies of his book, “The Art of Raising Hell,” from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 30, at Book World in the Village Mall. Learn more at

His books also are available on amazon and Barnes and Noble websites.

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