Today we're talking with Amy Lignor, author of The Charlatan’s Crown: Tallent & Lowery, Book Four
FQ: First of all, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to read The Charlatan’s Crown. I’m having so much fun with this series. I was wondering, as the series progresses, do you find yourself getting more and more attached to various characters?
LIGNOR: I have to say that I have been hooked on Leah since day one, and the more I explore her background, the more I truly understand her vices and how they change over time. Leah’s always going to be that naysayer – that one who wants proof. But, unlike a CSI technician, she is also open to new things like faith and belief but only because of the role Gareth Lowery is now playing in her life. He is really the one who opens her up in the first book, and has the sense of humor and intelligence to help her understand – and eventually accept – that there is far more in the world than what you can see. This is one couple I am completely hooked on writing about, and I have a feeling letting them go will be a funeral I will not want to attend.
FQ: I noticed that Gareth referred to Leah at one point as his wife. At first I thought ‘What???!!! Did I miss something???’ So, tell me, will he ever be able to REALLY refer to Leah as his wife?
LIGNOR: Gareth likes to shock Leah; he also likes to side with her very loud mother regarding the fact that she should be married with kids by now. That’s why I gave her the cell phone at Christmas as a gift from her mother that rang out ‘Here Comes the Bride,’ which made Leah practically jump off a plane. Leah has always shied away from marriage, choosing to go it alone. And now that you have seen her past unfold a bit, you now know why she has those trust issues and has a hard time dropping the walls she’s built. Will they get married before the series ends? Come on! I can’t tell you that!
FQ: Many authors tell me that their characters invade their dreams. Have you had that happen? And I must ask, if this has happened, since this book dealt heavily with Nazis and the lore surrounding them/their beliefs, did you have some creepy dreams?
LIGNOR: Oh, gosh...dreams. I have actually been bombarded with dreams – some pretty horrific – since the age of 13. And that’s not from having a bad life, or anything; that is from having an imagination that seriously doesn’t seem to stop. Yes, I have most definitely toured Himmler’s Castle; I have most definitely been to Knossos, Petra; and everywhere else in between inside my mind. I am a true research buff, and now I am headed down the Rasputin path, so you can imagine what the dreams are like now. The scariest time periods were when I found myself going to sleep and ending up in Loch Ness, and when I was on the streets of Whitechapel with The Ripper. The dreams are Technicolor, so they do bring up the heart rate. I do love it, though. You have to take the bad with the good; so if nightmares are what it takes to continue to write and explore these adventures – fine with me.
FQ: As I mentioned in my review, I love the character of Daniel Bauer. Please tell me we will see him again!
LIGNOR: Ah...Daniel. Is Daniel dead? Is there a new bad guy in town? LOL. I love Daniel because of the dynamic he has with Leah and the true machismo he invokes in Gareth Lowery – a person who doesn’t really lean in that direction because he is so self-assured. Daniel Bauer has a mission…that I can tell you. I can also tell you and fans that the 7 book series of ‘Tallent & Lowery’ will bring back characters you thought were gone in ways you will never assume could actually happen. And, no, we’re not talking supernatural ghosts – we’re talking real, live, heartless people. So…chances are Bauer will be back (just like Jack Bauer, who was kind enough to come back to TV). :)
FQ: Like the other titles in this series, there are a lot of historical facts intertwined with the action. How much research did it require to get it right, or do you have a card catalogue mind like Leah?
LIGNOR: Both, actually. My mother is a retired lifelong research librarian. When my sister and I were kids we had books, not TV, texting, Facebook, etc. I was in love with libraries and I loved heading back to the past and finding details and pictures of what really happened in these places. However, when it comes to the intricacies of each puzzle, I do extra research to make sure I do not do something dumb. In other words, I want any room or street I choose to look exactly the way it looked then...and now.
FQ: One of the things I truly enjoy about the Tallent & Lowery series are all the historical references. Most people have heard of Nuremberg, but may not be familiar with the Zeppelintribüne. I did look it up to learn more. Is that one of the goals of your books, to get people interested in various historical events and places?
LIGNOR: One of my absolute favorite things is when fans write to me and say: “I rushed to my computer to find out.” I love that! That, to me, is a brain that is not only interested and having a ball with the story, but absolutely excited to either learn about it, or prove that I am completely wrong – depending on what their goal is. LOL. So...although I’m not sure it was an original goal of mine, I am thrilled that readers are having as much fun finding out the real history of our world as I am.
FQ: Wolf, Hansen and Williams – three very sinister guys. Where did the idea for these men come from?
LIGNOR: Believe it or not, like the rest of the very small details in these books, they are real men from long ago. I named them differently, however, but these three men did meet with Himmler right there where I put them; a fact I found in one of those trillions of books in the library.
FQ: I also love the way you insert light-hearted moments into a very intense story. The absolute BEST line of the book came from Leah, “Oh, please…you probably haven’t dated a woman since Jesus was a boy.” I snarfed on my soda on that one! Do these barbs just come out naturally as you’re writing or do you have to work on them?
LIGNOR: Well...unlike the perfect card catalogue of a mind – sarcasm is something that Leah and I definitely have in common. LOL. I love offering that dry tone, and I can hear Leah and me talking about these things basically over coffee in the basement of the NYPL. I have a feeling our humor would gel perfectly.
FQ: I really enjoy how the story is intertwining with past books in the series. Did you have the whole series, plots, etc., worked out before you began writing the first book? How do you keep all the facts, events, characters straight in your head?
LIGNOR: I was surprised by how it happened. The idea came from nowhere – just a small conversation a co-worker and I were having on a boring day at work about her astrological sign, believe it or not. But when I was halfway through writing 13, I could see The Sapphire Storm coming on. The Hero’s Companion, The Charlatan’s Crown, etc., basically were like a waterfall effect. And the events, places, dates – I am extremely lucky because I have that photographic memory that keeps everything it reads. (Trust me, it was the only way I made it through school).
FQ: Finally, would you give our readers a little tease about book 5?
Book 5 is going to be difficult, because it is much darker and there are more than a few surprises that are unexpected considering the series thus far. The Double-Edged Sword will bring back characters you thought were gone, and end with a ‘bang’ that will, like I said above, cause some screaming emails, I have a feeling. We will head to the Palace at Knossos, and enter a room with a very familiar friend…and go below the historic site to prove an old legend true AND false. Leah and Gareth will be apart for a brief bit, but long enough for something out of the blue to happen to both of them before coming back together. We will find people who only existed in Gareth’s mind, and we will walk into a location that once healed people by having them lie out on floors, lift small doors in the walls, and send snakes crawling all over them while they slept. (Not kidding, totally true). And…the location where the 13th sign originated will be a place Leah and Gareth have to find a way to escape from. Emmanuel has a large part in this one because he knows a secret about Leah even Gareth doesn’t know..., and a bloody head will REALLY ruin a good day. In other words, where ‘Tallent & Lowery’ are concerned, nothing is done yet and nothing is set in stone.