Photograph by Pierre Hauser

Photograph by Pierre Hauser

Like the real estate ad says, “You want what you want.” I wanted to dine at this mysterious restaurant, Alimentary on Canal, with its unnamed prices and its clientele sworn to secrecy. Their motto was, “We serve your dreams. Consume them with gusto.”  I also wanted Tom Watson, our new political reporter. He didn’t want me, Allison Mintz – yet. But he would. I’d heard rumors about Alimentary – even if people wouldn’t talk openly, there were random postings on blogs, whispers at clubs. Word got out. You had to make a reservation giving them your credit data. They decided what you could afford. If they took your reservation, you also had to give them a hair sample. Dinner included a DNA test – they found out your ancestral signature. 

Which animal’s bones did your sub-Saharan progenitors crack their molars on? What berries and nuts did they pluck from bushes in Eurasia? Did they steep their brain cells in honey wine, or stronger brews made from the roots of trees? Somehow, it all counted, though I couldn’t see how. I mean, I took a genetics course at Penn – whatever your ancestors ate couldn’t possibly be a heritable trait. Could it?

When you got there, I’d heard, someone tested your saliva for the hormones of the moment: How much cortisol? Estrogen? They registered your sodium levels, your blood sugar, checked your heart rate. Someone said they read your aura before they decided on your meal. Someone else said they’d only take people whose personal histories they could find out via the Internet. They really crafted it, this unique dining experience. That’s why it cost so much, whatever it did cost. “Don’t dine there frivolously,” someone had posted at Under the City’s Skin. “Remember what someone said about having your dreams come true? Be sure you can handle it, afterwards.” The poster called himself Owen Wister; he was untrackable or I’d have sent him an e-mail asking for more details.

If I’ve got a few love life problems – like being obsessed with Tom, whose radar I am clearly not on – at least I can pretty much get what I want when I want it when it comes to my career. So I asked Bryan, my boss at High End, if I could review Alimentary for the magazine. “What, you think I won the lottery?” he said.  His blond hair flopped around his tiger-orange eyes. The custom contacts didn’t do him any favors. With his black t-shirt and jeans, he just looked like a skinny geek. But he was rich, and smart. I knew what his dream was.

“It would be a coup for us,” I said. “We’d be the first Philly magazine to actually review the place.”

“Except they don’t allow reviews. You’re not allowed to tell people about the meal, I heard. If they catch you, they punish you in some way. Financially, I think. You have to sign something. I do know someone, a friend of my dad’s, who went there….” His voice trailed off. He scratched the corn tassel on his chin and his probing fingers sent molecules of Versace cologne into the air. He was gazing off to one side, his habitual way of figuring something out. Bryan does have a nice nose – large, but very finely cut, aristocratic. Then he moved, shaking the peroxided quiff out of his face decisively, and the tiger eyes lasered me. “We haven’t done a review of Parc in awhile. Why don’t you go there? Hell, combine it with Vetri and Alma de Cuba. A triple play. And we’ll expense you, Allison. Hey, I’ll even go with you as a dinner companion.” He smiled, too hopefully.

I shook my head, crossed my arms. Studied the floor, so he could look at my cleavage without embarrassment. “Anyone can go to those restaurants,” I said. “Anyone can go to Rouge, Buddhakan, or the Continental. I want to go to the place that everyone knows about but no one can talk about. Remember Martin Luther King? Well, I’m like him. I have a dream.”

Bryan frowned, as I knew he would. He’d been the only white member of the Malcolm X Club at Haverford. “I find that rather offensive,” he said. “King dreamed of a better life for African Americans. You’re dreaming of a scoop for the magazine. Of a meal we can’t afford – because we don’t even know how much it will cost!”

Tom walked in, iPod wires hanging from his ears, a worn leather bag banging against his hip. Real musk poured off of him. My loins quivered beneath my tiny black skirt. Tom’s dark hair, slick against the sharp angles of his head. Cheekbones, temples, jaw. Hard lines and masculine stubble. Blue, blue, blue eyes.

“I hear all the city politicians go there,” I said. “They get their dreams catered. They say things they would never say in City Hall.”

Tom and Bryan were both staring at me. “Where?” Tom asked. “I want to go.”

Some rivalry between male dinosaurs stirred the air. “Alimentary, my dear Watson,” Bryan quipped in a British accent. Tom didn’t get it; score one for Bryan. He glanced at me to make sure I noticed Tom’s lack of literary knowledge about his own name.  “If we go, I’m going too,” Bryan said. “A threesome at Alimentary will probably break the bank of Daddy,” he said. Then he stared very pointedly at me, “But you can’t say I’m not willing to risk my inheritance. And it better be for more than a mess of pottage.”

Tom had been working something out. “Do they give them sodium pentothal?” he asked.

“Who?” For once, Tom was really meeting my eyes. He looked interested.

“The politicians,” he said. “To make them talk.”

“They feed them full on dreams,” Bryan sighed.

Bryan was as good as his word: He put his nest egg on the line and got us the reservation. We mailed hair samples. Filled out questionnaires. A factotum at the restaurant e-mailed a time, and a place. We converged there, one evening in early fall, at 7 p.m.

Manayunk. It was an old loft in Manayunk – and on a canal, of course. I pulled out my digital recorder and whispered my first impressions into its metal ear: Pocked, world-weary bricks; the last light of day reflecting off the water; a very subtle, art-deco “A” made of twisted metal, painted red, hanging above the heavy double-doors. I gazed out over a dozen or so Beamers, Jags, Hummers, and Porsches angled into spaces on the cobblestoned street.  A couple of stretch limos were crammed along the curb. Whatever guests were here for the evening must be already inside. Just as I was beginning to wonder if the guys had arrived ahead of me, Bryan’s old Honda pulled into the lot. His family is old money, which means low profile – no fancy cars, no conspicuous displays of wealth.    

Bryan’s door and the passenger door creaked open at the same moment. Bryan’s chalk-striped, dark suit improved his appearance tremendously. He had a black shirt on beneath it and nice shoes. For once, he looked old enough to drink. Tom unfolded himself from the other side of the car. He had dressed more casually than he does at the office – expensive jeans riding low on his hips, a dark striped shirt with the cuffs unbuttoned, thick-soled Italian shoes. “Ready?” I asked, when they reached the base of the steps. I stood up on the porch, the door behind me. Bryan’s gaze traveled up my bare legs to my low-cut red dress. He licked his lips.

Photograph by Pierre Hauser

Photograph by Pierre Hauser

“Doesn’t look like a restaurant,” Tom said. “There’s no one here.”

Bryan took the steps, two at a time. “I feel like I’m in a Hawthorne novel,” he quipped, nodding at the red ‘A’ above the door.

Tom kept glancing around. “Where is everyone?” he asked.

Then the door opened and savory smells curled out of it. “Welcome,” said a silver-haired man in a black tuxedo, “to Alimentary on Canal.”

He ushered us down a hallway punctuated with doors. He selected a blue one, opened it and led us in. The room reminded me of a very expensive California spa I’d visited once with my mother. Comfortable Scandinavian furniture in leather and wood, low glass tables, exposed brick walls and maple-wood floors. Lavender and sage mixed with the smell of fresh-grilled meats, wine sauces, fruity chutneys. My mouth watered and neither I nor the guys could speak. Instead we stood gaping as lovely women in green silky outfits came through the door to take swabs of our cheek cells. They had us put our hands on electric sensors while a computer took pictures of our auras. Throughout all this, they brought us crystal flutes of champagne with a ruby-hued cordial swirling inside the golden bubbles.

A few sips of the champagne and my body relaxed.

“Delicious,” Bryan said, next to me. Someone had set a tray of canapés on the table in front of us.

“This mushroom thing is amazing,” Tom said.

I could see the black pupils crowded out the blue of his irises when he turned to me. “I feel great,” he said. “But where is everyone else? And this isn’t a dining room. I don’t think….”

Our host, the silver-haired man, returned. We heard murmuring beyond the door when he stepped in. Tom tilted his head to see who might be in the hall beyond, but the maitre d’ closed the door behind him. He smiled at us. “Happy?” he asked. We all nodded.

“Good, good.” He laced long, impossibly beautiful fingers before him. “We are preparing your menus specially,” he explained. “We do that for everyone, for each person has a different definition of the perfect meal. This takes a little while. Some ingredients are more difficult than others to find and prepare. But enjoy your cocktails. There will be more refreshments in the limo en route to the dining room.”

“This isn’t the restaurant?” I asked, a bit surprised.

He smiled. “It’s the first part of it,” he explained. “The cocktail lounge. The beginning of the journey. Where you’ll eat your meal – consume your dream – is a very special place. We’d prefer to keep that place a secret. Just as your dearest dreams are kept secret, known only to you.”

Bryan seemed to be blushing; he’d turned a bit away from me, but I could see the pinkness of his cheekbone. Tom, on the other hand, seemed almost angry. He stuffed a small sausage wrapped in biscuit into his open mouth, chewing so noisily I could see his tongue thrashing around.    


Our ride in the limo was edifying: The windows were tinted dark and we couldn’t see out. Bryan sat beside me on the wide leather seat. His knee brushed my thigh and I moved my leg away.

Tom, across from us, had pulled a bottle of Dom Perignon out of an ice bucket. He held three crystal flutes in his long fingers. “Bubbly?” he asked me.

“Better slow down, big guy,” Bryan said. “You’re not going to make it to the main course at this rate.”

Tom grinned. “I used to outdrink every guy at the frat house, back in college. I don’t think a couple of bottles of French soda water is going to do me in.”

Bryan raised an eyebrow; I took a flute and let Tom pour. Nothing spilled. Through his jeans, I admired the musculature of his legs, widespread, on the seat across from me. Hot, hot, hottie.


We were led into some place that could have been an old mansion on the Delaware. Eighteenth-century furnishings. Candlelit. Lots of halls and rooms. Clumps of guests standing around them. Even in the dim light, I could see our city’s biggest celebrities – rap stars, movie directors, athletes, politicians. “This is unbelievable,” I whispered.

Tom had glimpsed one of our state senators – a very young, handsome one – chatting with a famous basketball star. As he stared, the politico turned and their eyes locked. One of the hostesses had given a sheet of paper to Bryan, which he was waving under Tom’s nose. “Hey,” he said. “Space shot. You have to sign this. And you, too, Allison.”

It was an agreement that we wouldn’t talk about our evening’s experiences.

“It doesn’t say we can’t write about it,” I whispered to Bryan.

“We’ll see how well that argument holds up next month,” he said. Poor Bryan. He was nervous, but willing. Braver than I thought. Tom was still enraptured with the senator and his basketball bud. You can dress a political reporter up, but you can’t take him out in public. Not to a place where his prey hangs out, anyway.

“You’re not allowed to talk to the other guests,” I told Tom, hoping he’d start paying attention to me.


By the time we were seated, in a small dining room with just one other table and a fire burning in a grate nearby, candles in sconces on the walls, I said what I figured we’d all been thinking: “We’re on drugs.”

“Speak for yourself,” Tom said. He seemed very annoyed, and more interested in the young pol and his tall dinner companion a Persian rug away from us.

“You can’t interview him tonight.” Bryan tapped his fingers lightly on the table’s edge until Tom looked at him. “And also I think Allison is right. There’s definitely something in that champagne. I feel…euphoric. Maybe it’s a set-up for the meal.”

“Yeah,” I said, glad to have Bryan second my opinion. “Even if they serve us dead fish, we’ll think it’s a dream come true.”

“If they serve us fish, I sure hope it’s dead,” Bryan said. “I’m not up for swallowing something alive.”

“See? I’m drunk. No more of their champagne.” I took the menu handed to me by a smartly dressed young man. He said my name as he gave it to me, or I imagined he did.

“Fizzy vampires,” Tom muttered.

“This is for you, Tom,” the waiter said, giving my muffin man a long, toothy grin as he handed him the menu. Tom barely noticed.

“What’s that, ‘fuzzy vampire’?” Bryan wanted to know.

“You don’t get out much, do you?” I found myself touching the back of Bryan’s absurdly pale hand, realizing that his white skin reinforced my words. The thought seemed very deep, for about a nanosecond. “I’ll take you to Swanky Bubbles sometime,” I told his gently waving corn tassel, the soft lips, his intelligent brown eyes, gazing steadily into mine. “You look so much better without the contacts,” I added.

“Champagne, chambord, and raspberry liqueur,” Tom explained; his head was bent over his menu.

“Blood. But fuzzy? I still don’t get it.”

I laughed. It was too much effort to correct him. Besides, I was distracted: Bryan had arched his fingers to cage my own.

He only let go when the waiter handed him his own menu. “Choose carefully, Bryan,” the man advised him.

At that point, I only hoped to stay awake enough to remember it all and, more importantly, get it into my digital recorder.

A young woman brought us bread; we each got our own basket, own butter. “Mm,” I gushed. “My butter has honey in it.”

Tom chewed with his mouth open, again. “Mine has big chunks of salt in it. But it’s good.”

“I’d rather not say,” Bryan said, as he munched a dark brown slice. It looked dense, unleavened. He kept his mouth closed, which I appreciated.

By this time, we’d all been given large goblets of wine – specially selected, apparently, based on our physical attributes. Mine darkened the goblet with a red so deep it was almost black; it tasted of berries and apple orchards. Bryan got a white wine, which he sniffed deeply before he sipped it. Tom’s wine was a rosé, which he held close to the candles on our table. “They gave me the cheap stuff,” he said. But he took a mouthful and smiled, his lips glistening in the flickering light.

When the waiter came to take our orders, it was clear we all had different menus. Tom ordered something that wasn’t even on mine: “Nero’s Balls.” The waiter recited a spiel about them: Ram’s testicles poached in white wine and shallots, then set ablaze at one’s table.

“What he’s having, obviously,” Bryan said, indicating the golden-haired senator across the room who had a flaming platter set before him.

“It’s a powerful choice,” the waiter acknowledged.

“And it’s not even on my menu,” Bryan complained.

“Or mine,” I said.

“Women rarely get that choice on their menus,” the waiter consoled me.

I was about to go all Ms. Magazine on him, but changed my mind. I ordered free ranging lovebirds in a nest of summer-harvest field greens. A wild-hare compote with Irish potatoes came as the side dish.

Bryan ordered gefilte fish stuffed with bitter herbs.

“Who are you, Super Jew?” I asked when I heard his order.

“Ah, you chose The Last Supper,” the waiter observed, gazing at Bryan with approval. “I wondered if that was what you’d pick, or the other choice.”

“What other choice?” I tried to wrest Bryan’s menu from his hand, but he wouldn’t give it up. “Tell me, Bryan Mossman, before I bite you in frustration.”

“Frizzy vampire,” Tom sneered at me. “Leave the man alone.”

The waiter plucked the menu from Bryan’s fingers. “Now, now,” he chided me. “Everyone’s meal is different and specific to them. You had your choices, too.”

“Did not,” I pouted. “I got love birds or Trieste eels. What kind of choice is that?”

Bryan said, “How weird. I just read a book about Sigmund Freud and do you know he spent a year in Trieste dissecting eels? He couldn’t find their sexual organs, no matter how hard he tried.”

“Really?” I tugged Bryan’s sleeve. “I told you, now you tell me. What was the other order? And why are you having Rosh Hashanah food? That was so last month.”

Bryan sipped his wine. “I can’t tell you, Allison. Guess I’m thinking about the review you’re planning to write. How I’m going to get crucified, and my dad, too. He’s underwriting all of this.”

“You worry too much about what your father thinks,” Tom burped. His balls were on the table now and the smoke rising off of them smelled like singed hair. “Don’t get mad,” he added, seeing Bryan’s frown. “I’m the same way. We fool ourselves that we don’t care what they think, but we do. We try to do what we think they want us to, even if it’s killing us.”

My birds came with the heads on. Their eyes had been removed, which gave me the creeps. Someone had put dressing on the greens and sculpted them into a nest. The birds were inside and, beneath them, three small onions lay like eggs.

“Love is blind,” Bryan said. He winced at the bitterness of the herbs.

I felt something slipping away from me. I was drunk enough now to speak my mind to Tom, though I knew it would be a mistake. He would never want to put little onions in my nest. To keep myself from blurting, I staggered up to find a bathroom instead.

“Looking for the Ladies’?” The host from Manayunk materialized beside me.

His long fingers cupped my elbow and guided me out of the dining room into a narrow hallway. “How did you get here?” I asked stupidly.

“I’m a guide,” he said. “You saw me at the portal, and now you need me to take you deeper.”

“Who are you, Virgil or something?” My stomach was cramping as he led me down some steps and the walls felt like they were closing in on us. A strong smell came up from the floor below; what I’d thought was dark-roast coffee was clearly a sewage problem.

“I think you need a plumber,” I said to my silver-haired companion. He just smiled.

“Have you ever wondered why we only celebrate one end of the alimentary canal?” He had stopped and I felt like I was in one of my bad dreams where I have to find a toilet but they’re all overflowing with shit, the floors covered, the walls spattered.

“The other end is just as important,” he said. “More so, really, but no one likes to talk about it or write about it. How many novels can you think of where a character takes a dump?  David Mitchell is the only contemporary writer willing to describe the experience, yet all of us defecate. Daily.”

I clutched my abdomen. “In your gut you know I’m right,” he said. “You’ve always known.”

A door with both a male and a female symbol on it glimmered at the end of the hall. A unisex restroom – so be it. I left Virgil and sprinted to the end of the hall. Shoving it open, I nearly tripped over a man squatting on a toilet. “It feels so good to finally get rid of the shit that’s been holding me back,” he said to me. He groaned and I could hear the contents of his colon sluicing into the toilet.

Unlike the strange man, I could not release my bowels in public and I scanned the room for a more private toilet.  A half dozen men and women, pants around their ankles or skirts bunched at their hips, were squatting on the public toilets. A few of them held cigarettes or wine glasses, sipping or puffing as they did their business. All wore expressions of intense concentration; all were bearing down with a vengeance.

In the middle of the room I recognized a former news anchor, a woman famous for outing her sexual liaison with a fellow newsman. It destroyed her career and the reporter to whom she broke the story asked why she’d bothered to come clean. “It was gnawing at me,” she’d said. “I felt poisoned by what I’d done and just needed to get it out of my system.”

At last I’d found an empty stall and hastened to get my own panties down. The cramps had reached a crescendo and when I could finally give in and release the pressure, I felt a surge of pure relief. The ache I’d been feeling for an hour – forever it seemed —  left me. It was behind me and suddenly I knew everything would come out alright.

I washed my hands, eager to leave the furious stench in the depths of Alimentary on Canal. Virgil was waiting for me near the staircase and led me up.

“Feel better?” he asked.

“I do, but this is the weirdest dining experience I’ve ever had. I’d like to know how you’ve served me my dream. I think you just gave me a purgative.”

“Good word choice,” said Virgil. “Sometimes the worst thing that can happen to you is to have your dream come true. If you could know how the end of the day would turn out at the beginning, don’t you think you’d live it differently?”

He left me with a last dark smile at the door to the dining room. When I squinted to see our table, I realized the boys had been as busy as I had been. Somehow, the handsome senator had left his table for ours; he leaned over Tom, beaming and burbling.

“We ordered the same thing,” the senator was saying to Tom when I got within ear shot. Both had Nero’s Balls, a realization that seemed to seal their friendship. They clasped hands and Tom stood to gaze squarely into the face of our future governor. “You have no idea how much I admire you,” Tom told him.

“And I you,” the senator said. “I read your columns regularly.” He licked his lips as he spoke and I was astonished to observe, at my eye level, that both he and Tom were intensely sexually aroused; their trousers strained to hold in two mighty erections.

 “Join us?” the slick young politico tugged at Tom’s sleeve. The point guard, back at their table, grinned at Tom, though he hardly looked thrilled at the new threesome. Still, he stood and politely pulled out a chair. What choice did he have? Tom left us, leaving only his musky aroma behind. He crossed the Persian gulf, its red and cream patterns swirling on my stinging retinas.

Bryan had stopped chewing. He sat perfectly still, watching my face. “If I could have given him to you, I would have,” he said. “It’s why I let him come tonight.”

I pushed the dead lovebird around on my plate with the tines of my long fork. “We’ve still got the scoop,” I said. “That’s something.”

Bryan’s expression was almost pitying. “Maybe,” he said. “I’m taking the risk that you’ll be able to write it up and ruin us. But I talked to my father’s friend, the one who came here the first year the place was open. He told me we won’t remember anything that happened after the place we had the appetizers in Manayunk. There’ll be a drug in something we’re eating, or drinking” — he held up his glass of wine, only a sip of which remained – “that will make us forget.”

“I won’t forget,” I vowed. I tried not to watch Tom Watson and the senator, their animated conversation. Tom’s fingers brushed the man’s wrist as they talked. The basketball player seemed to have lost a few inches of his height as he sat close-mouthed beside them. What was his dream?

“We all forget,” Bryan said. “And so we’re doomed to learn the same lessons over and over again.”

The waiter reappeared. “Don’t you like the birds?” he asked, an expression of concern suffusing his handsome face when he saw how little I’d eaten.

“I guess I’m not as hungry as I thought I was,” I murmured.

“And you, sir?” the waiter asked, turning to Bryan.

“The meal is fine,” he said. “Just what I was expecting.”


Photograph by Pierre Hauser

Photograph by Pierre Hauser

Eliza Drake Auth

Eliza Drake Auth

Eliza Drake Auth

See other contributors.

Eliza Drake Auth is a painter who lives and works in the Philadelphia area. She is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. Primarily a landscape painter, her work can be seen at Sherry French Gallery, New York City and Richard Rosenfeld Gallery, Philadelphia.

Works by Eliza Drake Auth

Natural Beauty

Laura Martin Bacon


Laura Martin Bacon

See other contributors.

Laura Martin Bacon is a longtime writer and creative consultant for Williams-Sonoma and other well-known entities. She’s also the Culinary Creative Director of DooF (“food” backwards), an organization that uses multi-media entertainment, education and live events to help kids and families discover the magic of food. DooF explores every aspect of food – from flavors, history, science and cultural traditions to the exciting journey from source-to-table. Laura’s mission: to make good food fun – at home, in the classroom and beyond.


Works by Laura Martin Bacon


Adventures of a Truffle Dog

Bumps in the Soup

Farmer Alf Bexfield, Age 100: Harvesting a Century of Memories

Chef Justice: A Neighborhood Chef Cooks Up Dreams

Ned Bachus

Author and teacher Ned Bachus earned multiple teaching awards during his 38-year career at Community College of Philadelphia, including the Christian and Mary Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. His book of short stories, City of Brotherly Love, received the 2013 IPPY Gold Medal for Literary Fiction. His memoir, Open Admissions: What Teaching at Community College Taught Me About Learning, will be published by Wild River Books in 2017.

Lauren Baker

Lauren Baker studied at Rider University, studying English and Elementary Education. She has strong interests in and passions for literature, creative writing, and sidewalk-chalking. She spends her free time coffee-drinking and shoe-shopping.

Elizabeth Bako

Elizabeth Bako

Elizabeth Bako

See other contributors.

Elizabeth Bako lives between Center City, Philadelphia and New Hope, Pennsylvania. She acts as contributing editor and writer for Wild River Review, published in fiction and non-fiction. She has just finished her first YA novel and is working on her second. She has a background in editing, writing and social media, and works as a private consultant and content editor for writers. Her most recent projects include Anatolian Days and Nights by Wild River Review editor-in-chief, Joy E. Stocke and, The Last Daughter of Prussia by Marina Gottlieb-Sarles.

In partnership with Wild River Review, Elizabeth and colleague, Fran Metzman, will be hosting Writing Beyond the Paradigm; a series of dynamic workshops providing a new approach to creative writing and memoir.

Kate Baldwin

Katie Baldwin migrated to Montana, the Big Sky Country, from California. She attended Montana State University studying History, German and Spanish. Baldwin’s father is a pilot for Northwest Airlines, and she spends all of her school breaks traveling. In Montana, she skis, hikes, and volunteers for numerous organizations. Her energy to affect social change spans issues from Habitat for Humanity to land mine eradication, political campaigning, or raising the minimum wage for Montanans. Katie hopes to work for an international development organization after graduating, taking a position abroad, of course.


No. 56 Good Fortune

Susan Balée

Susan Balée regularly contributes essays on literature and culture to The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Hudson Review. Her work has also appeared in many other journals including The Times Literary Supplement, The Women’s Review of Books, The Weekly Standard, and Wild River Review (“Memoir of a Ghost”). Years ago she edited a literary magazine, Northeast Corridor, where parts of Dana Gioia’s libretto for Nosferatu originally appeared.

Works by Susan Balee




Dana Gioia: An Acknowledged Legislator of the Word


Memoir of a Ghost

L. A. Banks

The late Leslie Esdaile Banks, (1959-2011) was an African American writer. She wrote in various genres, including African American literature, romance, women’s fiction, crime suspense, dark fantasy/horror and non-fiction. Leslie wrote under the pseudonyms L. A.  Banks, Leslie Esdaile, Leslie Banks and Leslie Esdaile Banks. She won several literary awards, including the 2008 Essence Literary Awards Storyteller of the Year.

Banks was born and raised in Philadelphia.

Banks contributed to magazines, newspaper columns, and has written commercial fiction for five major publishers: St. Martin’s Press (NYC), Simon and Schuster (NYC), Kensington Publishing (NYC), BET/Arabesque (NYC), and Genesis Press (MS). Books one and two of The Vampire Huntress Legend Series (Minion and The Awakening, respectively), were optioned for Hollywood films by GothamBeach Entertainment and Griot Entertainment. Originally a nine book series, The Vampire Huntress Legend Series was expanded to twelve books.

Leslie Esdaile Banks was a founding partner of The Liars Club, a networking group of professional in publishing and other aspects of entertainment.

Alex Barriger

Alex Barriger

Alex Barriger

See other contributors.

An avid reader and budding writer, Alex lives and works in Washington, DC. He graduated from American University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in International Studies in 2007 and has worked for the J. William and Harriet Fulbright Center since graduation. Besides being a political junkie, he is a volunteer at the Washington Animal Rescue League. Alex rides the Metro to work every day.



FIRST BYLINE: Public Transportation: Twelve Rules for Riding the Bus, Subway, Plane, or Train