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Jack Chaps, Dog Who Beat Cancer, Stars in Old Town Writer's Children's Book

By Paul Biasco | November 19, 2013 6:24am
 First-time author Marya Lucas, an attorney for the Illinois Appellate Court, is trying to raise $20,000 through Kickstarter to self-publish a children's book featuring her dog Jack Chaps.
Jack Chaps
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OLD TOWN — An Old Town attorney is hoping a Kickstarter campaign will help make her cancer-fighting Papillon, Jack Chaps, a star of children's literature.

Marya Lucas, an attorney for the Illinois Appellate Court, has spent the last six years dreaming of publishing a children's book that features her dog as the main character.

Lucas' book, "Jack Chaps, Dog Detective: The Curious Case of the Cow and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871," follows Jack as he travels throughout the city to solve the mystery of the great fire.

The book has been an escape for Lucas, who normally writes about crime and criminals as a research attorney for the state.

As of Monday evening, backers on Kickstarter had pledged more than $15,000 to help fund the 2,000-copy print run of the book. The goal is $20,000 and the deadline is 11:38 a.m. Friday.

Lucas bought Jack Chaps right before moving to Chicago in 2005 from Missouri.

Last year, as the book was beginning to take shape, Jack Chaps was diagnosed with lymphoma and went through seven months of chemotherapy.

He's now in remission.

That health scare pushed Lucas into overdrive to make sure the book gets printed.

She tried to go the traditional publishing route by sending a rough copy to publishers, but didn't hear back and decided to self-publish.

"I could have gotten an agent and looked for a legitimate publisher but my dog is getting older," she said.

So far, 150 people have backed the project on Kickstarter.

Local pet shops such as Barker and Meowski and Sam & Willy's have supported the effort and pledged to buy books, according to Lucas.

In the book, Jack Chaps travels throughout Chicago from the Green City Market in Lincoln Park to the historic Water Tower to Millennium Park and  Wrigley Field.

"I thought what kind of mystery can he solve?" Lucas said. "It had to be something really Chicago."

The funds raised through Kickstarter will go toward printing the books, filing for trademarks, incorporating the publishing company and other related expenses.

The do-it-yourself nature of the book even included making Jack Chaps' detective outfit consisting of a hand-sewn hat, cape and bow tie.

If all goes according to plan, Lucas hopes to follow up "The Curious Case of the Cow & the Great Chicago Fire of 1871" with a story of Jack Chaps's bout with cancer.

"The is the beginning of the Jacksonian-era," she said.