Lisa Unger Ink and Bone: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781501101700

Ink and Bone: A Novel

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9781501101700: Ink and Bone: A Novel

Read the stunning bestseller voted a Best Book finalist in the Goodreads Choice Awards! 

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger "builds a sense of place for The Hollows that rivals Stephen King's Castle Rock for continuity and creepiness." (The News & Observer - Raleigh)

"For fans of dark and twisty psychological suspense, Ink and Bone is not to be missed." (Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author of Most Wanted)


Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is rarely alone. Visited by people whom others can't see and haunted by prophetic dreams she has never been able to control or understand, Finley is terrified by the things that happen to her. When Finley's abilities start to become too strong for her to handle--and even the roar of her motorcycle or another dazzling tattoo can't drown out the voices--she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York.

Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a ten-month-long search for her missing daughter, Abbey. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with psychic Eloise Montgomery. Merri's not a believer, but she's just desperate enough to go down that road, praying that she's not too late. Time, she knows, is running out.

As a harsh white winter moves into The Hollows, Finley and Eloise are drawn into the investigation, which proves to have much more at stake than even the fate of a missing girl. As Finley digs deeper into the town and its endless layers, she is forced to examine the past, even as she tries to look into the future. Only one thing is clear: The Hollows gets what it wants, no matter what.

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Review:

Tess Gerritsen and Lisa Unger in Conversation

Photo Credit: Leonardo Cendamo Photo Credit: Jeff Unger

Tess Gerritsen: How did you come up with your main character in INK AND BONE, Finley Montgomery?

Lisa Unger: When I was writing FRAGILE, I ran into a character I wasn’t expecting, psychic Eloise Montgomery. I thought: Oh! A psychic! Even if she’s a fraud, that’s still interesting. But my characters have minds of their own and she only had a small part to play in that book — yet she stayed with me. She’s had a couple of books since then, three short stories, and in my upcoming INK AND BONE we meet her granddaughter Finley, who has powers of her own. Eloise’s story has told itself in a way that I wouldn’t have expected, and it has led me down some roads I didn’t imagine I'd go as a writer. This is, of course, the joy and the magic of writing. So I was struck while reading PLAYING WITH FIRE that you, too, had walked into some of the same territory. Was it a character, or a story, or curiosity about something else that led you there?

Tess Gerritsen: It was a nightmare! I was in Venice for my birthday, and after a night drinking a bit too much wine, I had a freaky dream. I dreamt I was playing my violin. A baby was sitting nearby, and as I played a dark and disturbing melody, the baby's eyes suddenly glowed red and she turned into a monster. I woke up wondering what it meant -- and knowing there was a story here. Something about the power of music to haunt and to transform people. That day I wandered around Venice and ended up in the old Jewish quarter. There I saw memorial plaques dedicated to the Venice Jews who were deported to death camps during WWII. That's when both parts of the novel came to me -- a story about a 1930s Jewish composer whose haunting melody will nearly destroy the life of a woman violinist 70 years later. I'm already a violinist (strictly amateur) with a lifelong love of music, and that knowledge helped inform the musical aspects of the story.

Was there anything from your own life that worked its way into INK AND BONE? Some part of yourself that slipped into the character or plot?

Lisa Unger: I have an enduring fascination with the idea of psychic phenomena in the Jungian sense, that it might be considered a natural extension of normal human ability. In my other life in publishing, I had a chance to work with psychic John Edwards. In a weird way, though this was many years ago, he was the inspiration for Eloise Montgomery. The fictional town in which INK AND BONE is set, The Hollows, first showed up in FRAGILE, which was very loosely based on a real event from my past. Though I didn’t see it at the time, The Hollows shares certain similarities with the place where I grew up. So, in a lot of ways I suppose I’m dreaming on the page, the real and the imagined get twisted into fiction.

Tess Gerritsen: I’m intrigued by the fact your character in INK AND BONE was inspired by your work with psychic John Edwards. I love hearing about the research. It is the part I enjoy most about writing, because I can delve into new worlds. As a writer I've attended autopsies, watched the CT scan of a mummy, and scouted Boston for the best places to dump a body. What lengths have you gone to get the details right?

Lisa Unger: Most writers are explorers. I like to think of myself as a spelunker, shimming into the dark spaces between things I don’t understand to try finding answers. So, yes, research (and life) is an important part of the process.

I’ve taken a concealed weapons course (and absolutely hated the feeling of firing a gun). I’ve interviewed a woman who claimed to be a ghost hunter. One of my closest friends is a retired Federal Agent who, if he doesn’t know the answers to my million questions, can always find someone who does. I lived with a New York City police officer for eight years – okay, so that was a relationship, and a pretty bad one at that. But in the end I just wound up with a good knowledge of police work and fantastic recipe for roast pork -- which I guess is something. I’ve been lava tubing in Iceland (not sure where that’s going to turn up, but I’m guessing it will). Recently, I’ve become obsessed with birds. I’m an information junkie. I’m constantly reading non-fiction in all areas with a special focus on psychology, addiction, trauma, biology and the brain. For me, more than the nuts and bolts of procedure, its human nature and the mind, and where those things intersect with nurture and spirituality, that fascinate me. Much of INK AND BONE is laced through with those themes.

What themes do you find come up again and again in your novels? Have you ever been surprised by a recurring question or idea that surfaces without your realizing it?

Tess Gerritsen: I too hated firing a gun. I was painfully aware that if I was the slightest bit careless and didn't stay in control of where it was pointed, someone could die.

When I'm writing, I'm thinking primarily about characters and plot, and it's only in retrospect that I understand what the theme might be. You asked whether I've been surprised by recurring questions that seem to surface in my books, and the answer is: yes, absolutely.

When I was a child, I adored a family friend named Uncle Mike, who served very much as a father figure for me. He was a gentle soul who counseled me about school, life, and love. Then when I turned eighteen, Uncle Mike was arrested for murdering his sister-in-law. I was stunned because I never saw that violent side of him, and it led me to question whether anyone is who they seem to be. That's the theme I return to again and again -- which smiling face hides the monster? In a way, it's a universal theme for crime writers, the evil that lurks in the hearts of seemingly ordinary human beings.

Lisa Unger: When I was fifteen, a girl I knew was abducted and murdered. We lived in a small, supposedly safe town, the kind of place you move to give your kids a happy, suburban upbringing. And then, on a day like any other day, a girl walking home from school fell victim to a monster. I never saw the world the same way again. The theme of the lost girl runs through almost all of my novels in one way or another, never with my intending it and always obvious to me only after the book is done. I think most of us are metabolizing fear on the page, and looking to put order to the chaos we perceive in the world. Maybe that’s why people read crime fiction, as well — because there’s a beginning, middle, and an end where some kind of justice is served. Not always so in the real world.

I’m writing pretty close to the bone. I follow the voices in my head, and so far they’ve all been pretty dark and twisted, wrestling with questions of identity, struggling with everything from addiction to body dysmorphic disorder to hauntings. I have a voracious curiosity about people and all the different things that make us who we are. If someone else turns up with something different to explore, I’ll certainly honor that. For me that’s the joy of writing, following character voice wherever it takes me.

About the Author:

Lisa Unger is an award-winning New York Times and internationally bestselling author. Her novels have sold more than two million copies and have been translated into twenty-six languages. She lives in Florida. Visit LisaUnger.com.

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