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Bill Rancic, still best known as the handsome Chicagoan who won the first season of "The Apprentice" and later worked for that show's host, Donald Trump, is no stranger to the world of books.Rancic has written a memoir/self-help book, "You're...

Bill Rancic sheds 'Light' on first novel

Bill Rancic, still best known as the handsome Chicagoan who won the first season of "The Apprentice" and later worked for that show's host, Donald Trump, is no stranger to the world of books.Rancic has written a memoir/self-help book, "You're...

Bill Rancic sheds 'Light' on first novel

Bill Rancic, still best known as the handsome Chicagoan who won the first season of "The Apprentice" and later worked for that show's host, Donald Trump, is no stranger to the world of books.

Rancic has written a memoir/self-help book, "You're Hired: How to Succeed in Business and Life From the Winner of 'The Apprentice'" (2004), "Beyond the Lemonade Stand" (2005) and, with his wife, Giuliana Rancic of the E! network, "I Do, Now What?: Secrets, Stories and Advice From a Madly-in-Love Couple" (2010).

Now the author has taken on his biggest literary challenge yet: a novel. "First Light," to be published by Putnam on Tuesday, follows the adventures of Daniel and Kerry, a young couple from Chicago whose plane crashes into a snowy mountainside in the Yukon Territory of Alaska.

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Daniel ventures out to find help for his injured wife and the rest of the surviving passengers, but his efforts are complicated by his boss, described as "a stubborn man more interested in results than taking care of people." (Hmm.) The Chicago-based Booklist has offered an early rave, calling the novel "a captivating and harrowing debut . . . (that) is, at its core, a story of love and family, told within an engrossing page-turner about endurance and hope."

The idea for "First Light" came to Rancic on a return flight from Alaska.

"I started thinking, 'What would happen if this plane went down?'" he said in an interview. "In my mind, I outlined the whole scenario for what turned out to be 'First Light.' I think people will definitely connect with the subject matter."

Writing a novel, of course, is far different — most would say far more difficult — than writing a memoir or self-help book. But Rancic, who also works as a motivational speaker and restaurateur (he owns RPM Steak and RPM Italian in Chicago), had always wanted to give the genre a shot.

"I fell in love with fictional writing in high school when I had a teacher who encouraged me to push myself creatively," he says. "My mom always had a novel in her hand and projected her love of reading on my sisters and me. I like to challenge myself, and writing a novel was a stretch from the other books I've written."

With stretching comes pressure. "I think I felt more pressure because I knew going in that people didn't expect this from me and I was well-aware that some may be more critical in their critique. So, yes, it was more difficult because this type of writing did not come as naturally for me. And this being my first novel, I felt some pressure to get it right — so that it wouldn't be my last one."

Rancic is preparing for an eight-city book tour, with two local stops at 7 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Chicago Marriott Naperville and noon Nov. 16 at Books-a-Million in the Loop.

A dream assignment

The Windy City features prominently in Kevin Baker's new popular history, "America the Ingenious: How a Nation of Dreamers, Immigrants and Tinkerers Changed the World," published this month by Artisan.

Among the chapters highlighting 76 inventions that made America the world leader in technological innovation, Baker includes a section called "Building the Big Onion from Scratch," about the "invention" of the city of Chicago.

The chapter focuses on William Ogden, the city's first mayor, whose hard-charging advocacy made it possible to build the 96-mile Illinois & Michigan Canal connecting the city to the Mississippi, "with as much potential for transforming the new city's fortunes as the Erie Canal had done for New York."

For more, check out the book at your local bookstore or library.

Kevin Nance is a freelance writer and photographer.

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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