By Thomas Pluck
Amy Lignor is the author of historical romance and the YA series THE ANGEL CHRONICLES. Her latest novel is the thriller THIRTEEN, first in the Tallent & Lowery series. THIRTEEN teams Leah Tallent, the head of research at the New York Public Library, with artifact seeker Gareth Lowery on a wild hunt through history as they unravel the deceptions of a secret society from 1902 New York to the haunts of Jack the Ripper and Aleister Crowley.
I did my best to describe the story, but let’s hear it from the source. What is 13 about?
13 is all about thrills, adventure and red herrings galore. Leah is a very intelligent woman with a dry sense of humor who loves her job, but when she discovers Gareth Lowery in the basement of her beloved library, her life changes. He has found a book in the cornerstone of the NYPL that was put there by Andrew Carnegie and a group he was the head of in the 1900’s, and Gareth must convince Leah to help him even though she very much wants to throw him in prison. But when she sees one of the clues in the book, she joins Gareth to solve a puzzle he’s desperate to solve. With his determination and her encyclopedic brain, they travel to very real locations, and each one is a new link in this amazing puzzle. From the Winchester House to a famous location where Jack the Ripper made his ultimate kill, they will find themselves looking over Loch Ness as well as Glastonbury, which is the home of everything from the King Arthur legend to the ‘real’ story of the Egyptians and astrology. So, it’s a lot of fun, to say the least.
I love hidden and forgotten history. Without giving too much away, tell us a bit about the notorious Winchester house and some of the other locales.
Winchester House is absolutely mesmerizing. For those who haven’t been lucky enough to stand inside that structure, it’s ALL about the number 13. In fact, Sarah Winchester was obsessed with that number; from 13 faucets in the sinks to 13 window panes to 13 fireplaces. It was said that Sarah (being the wife of the famous Winchester rifle creator) was a little bit on the eerie side after losing her child and following the advice of a ‘therapist.’ Because of the ghosts she saw, Sarah believed that when the construction of her house ended she would die, so she paid construction workers to build add-ons, new floors, staircases that went nowhere – just so the noise would never stop. And construction continued until the day she died. When it comes to the Ripper, there is one piece of ground that now holds a regular building where the Ripper made his most famous kill, and something is buried on that spot. And the locale of the Glastonbury Tor is also very real and has a set of clues that historians and archaeologists still fight about…which Leah figures out for the reader. And for anyone who is interested in Aleister Crowley, his home at Loch Ness is a huge and very cool part of the story.
You mention that the New York library lions—Patience and Fortitude—are your heroes. Does Leah Tallent have your dream job? Share a bit of the magic of the New York Public Library with folks who haven’t been able to visit it.
Yes she does! My mother is a career librarian, and when I walked into the NYPL for the first time I just wanted to ask them if I could live in the basement. I would be no trouble and wouldn’t make a sound but, apparently, I can’t live there. From the furnishings to the exhibits to the endless wealth of history and imagination, this is definitely my Wonderland. The Rose Main Reading Room with the oak tables lined with bronze lamps, and that fantastic mural high above the visitor’s head – everything is pure magic. And to know that some of the greatest literary minds have walked through those doors since 1911 – like Norman Mailer, E. L. Doctorow – it is just breathtaking. AND those lions play an intricate part in the story of 13.
The blurb hints at grander forces at work than two treasure hunters when you say that if there is a Heaven, there is most assuredly a Hell. And Aleister Crowley, that mysterious old occultist, is involved. Will this appeal to fans of INDIANA JONES and supernatural thrillers alike?
This is definitely a combination of an Indiana Jones adventure with an in-depth puzzle that no one has ever heard about. (Such as, there is no reference to any Knights Templar.) So anyone who is into thrills, more than a little history and more than a little excitement are the readers who will love this. I am already so humbled because the reviewers and letters I’ve received from readers just in the last three weeks since this appeared have been so great, that I cannot wait for them to see the rest of the series. It is so much fun to know that the readers are running to their computers and looking up these places to see if I was telling the truth (and, most often, I am.)
Tell us a bit more about Tallent & Lowery. We know Leah’s job, but Gareth is a bit more mysterious.
Unfortunately, I can’t really get into the mystery of Gareth because, as you will see, his ‘part’ grows a great deal as the story moves along. So, for now, let’s call him an adventurer who is most definitely on a quest that will surprise even the smartest librarian in the world.
You have several novels planned for them; care to tease us a bit about their future adventures?
Hmmm….well, there are six more coming in the series and readers will have a very engaging puzzle per book. From the catacombs below Petra to an old monastery that is still in use today at the bottom of Mount Ararat to the acropolis in Athens and a building that still stands there that not many visitors ever see to an old medical facility that was once used for athletes in ancient Egypt to a ‘gift’ created by the frightening Rasputin – there’s a whole lot more coming. And with each book, what you thought you knew about Leah and Gareth will change. So I hope more and more readers join the adventure!
As the daughter of a career librarian Amy grew up loving books; ‘Patience & Fortitude’ at the NYPL were her heroes. Beginning with Amy’s first book of historical romance, her career flourished when her YA series THE ANGEL CHRONICLES arrived on the scene. She began developing the storyline for this new seven-book series which moved her into the world of action, adventure and romantic suspense. Working as an editor in the publishing industry for decades, Amy is now the Owner/Operator of The Write Companion, as well as a contributor to various literary publications and websites.