I began my story in Brooklyn...

I began my story in Brooklyn, the place I was born, a place that has always held a certain fascination for me. Brooklyn, a city with a gritty, industrial past, a historically diverse population, and the Brooklyn Bridge, an architectural wonder of the world.

My research uncovered not only a real prison called the Tombs in lower Manhattan (no longer there), that I was immediately drawn to, but the pervasive racial tension of the post Civil War era. The Tombs, built on a pond used by slaughterhouses to dump blood and entrails, was a place of nightmares—not the least of which was an architect’s worst fear: the building was completed in 1838, and almost immediately began to sink into its fetid ground. I could not imagine a better place to stage the turmoil of my YA novel. And the appalling racism led me to create my antagonist, Dr. Ignatius Spector, and his evil plan to use people like Avery, that can see energy, to turn society against the newly freed black slaves. Some of the real history behind this book is stranger than the fictional story I created, but I thoroughly enjoyed grafting the two.