LuAnn Locke: Owner
As a child, LuAnn often heard “Get your nose out of that book and go outside and play!” A tenacious bookworm, she studied literature, poetry, and creative writing and earned her B.A. in English from SIUE. While trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up, she’s had aspirations to pursue a MLS with the dream of being a children’s librarian, to continue her studies and earn a MFA in creative writing with the intent to teach and maybe even write a little, and to be an event planner offering her own delectable baked goodies to potential clients and flair for decorating. The problem was that she just couldn’t figure out a way to put all that together into one career choice until she was offered the opportunity to buy Afterwords Bookstore. Ta-da! Here was a way to bake, um, have, her cake and eat it too! She enjoys story time, writing the monthly newsletter, and if you visit the store on Friday, you’ll be offered something freshly baked and by all counts, delicious.
Now that she’s found her calling, she spends her free time dreaming about free time. Whenever she can tear herself away from the bookstore, she enjoys camping and hiking with her husband, Scott, and spending time with family. Some of her favorite authors are Toni Morrison, the poetry of E.E. Cummings, children’s authors Cynthia Rylant and Mo Willems. Her all time favorite books include Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier,The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, and the Little House books. Her guilty pleasures include reading cookbooks, magazines, and Pinterest.
Cara Zuzu Bates: Sales Associate
Zuzu is our newest staff member, and she is thrilled to be working at Afterwords Books! Zuzu has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember, and spent most of her childhood immersed in the world of books and movies. She has passed her love of reading and creative writing on to her two grown children. When she is not reading or working, she likes to attend conventions and trivia nights, ride her bike, and work in her burgeoning garden. Some of her favorite contemporary authors are Julia Glass, Maya Angelou, Octavia Butler, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Dennis Lehane.
Sue Leopold: Storyteller Extraordinaire
We’re so happy to have Ms. Sue share stories with our story time crew whenever her busy schedule allows.
Sue is a life-long educator of students from preschool through eighth grade. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, a bilingual certification, and a Master’s of Science in Reading. Sharing the love of literacy with children is near and dear to her heart.
She is an avid reader, writer, painter, cyclist, and creative crafter who enjoys spending time with her husband Perry, their five sons, and their seven grandchildren who reside in Texas. Sue and Perry are organic gardeners on the Illinois prairie who enjoy cooking and baking with family and friends.
Nieccole Hilliard: Storyteller Extraordinaire and Book Club Moderator
As a friend and adored member of our bookstore community, we’re thrilled to have Nieccole host two of our children’s book clubs, Readers Roundup and Chapter Chatter!
Nieccole is certified educator of students from birth through eighth grade. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Theater Performance with a Music Minor, a Master’s of Science of Education in Elementary Education, and a Master’s of Art in Theatre Education. She loves reading to children and sharing a love of learning. Nieccole is a mother to two young girls, Grace and Ethel. She loves spending time with them and her husband, Tony. She is also the webmaster and secretary for Clayton Community Theatre, a dog walker and pet sitter, vocalist, and recently started playing the tambourine.
Kaleigh Lane: The Book Whisperer, Customer Service, Social Media Junkie
Kaleigh is an extraordinary writer, artist, photographer, and musician. When not working as a Teacher’s Assistant at the Metro East Montessori School, you can find her painting, drawing, writing poetry and music, taking photos, or singing her heart out. She has an uncanny penchant for coordinating her hair color with her cosmetics.
Some of her all time favorite books include The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Kaleigh’s guilty pleasure is her addiction to Netflix and a weird obsession with baby goats.
Jordan is a graduate of the Metro East Montessori School, Valedictorian of Althoff Catholic High School, and student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She’s a talented writer, artist, actress, dancer, fashionista, lover of all animals, and big sister extraordinaire.
Some of Jordan’s favorite authors include Carolyn Mackler and Veronica Roth, . Her favorite all time books include Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Divergent series by Veronica Roth, and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Jordan’s guilty pleasures include shopping, and collecting swimsuits & nail polish.
Ollie has grown up in the bookstore, keeping busy organizing the picture book shelf or trying out the new Melissa & Doug products. When friends stop by, he can often be overheard explaining, “This is my bookstore; I live here.” He has a very busy schedule that includes attending second grade at Metro East Montessori School and organizing and playing with his LEGO collection and can only work with us a few afternoons during the week. Some beloved authors include Jeff Kinney of Wimpy Kid fame, Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series, and he adores Calvin and Hobbes. Ollie’s guilty pleasures include reading comics, watching Netflix, and snacking on Pirate Booty and Sour Patch Kids.