Secret Library – Secret to me at least

Hey, I just discovered that all I have to do is hit the search button, and the record your voice thingie pops up and I can just hit record. How cool is that? It’s like it knows I always search for the app, and it’s actually making my life easier. So I guess that means it’s time to organize my phone. Add it to the list.

Let’s see what should I talk about while I get some steps in. Looks like everyone’s doing their lawn today, including our guys, so it might be a little loud. It’s also chilly. Maybe I should have brought a jacket. We’ll see. I mean, it’s beautiful out. Sun’s out. Sky’s blue. Maybe I’ll warm up as I go along.

Anyway, so that’s not what I’m here for. I think today I want to talk about the library.

For all of you fans of The Collector and the Emergence series as a whole who are eagerly awaiting book four, I’m almost done! The draft is flowing nicely and the mystery is unfolding rather smoothly. Well, for me the author, not so much for Fauna the character experiencing the horrible stuff happening around her and to her. Once The Specter heads off to the editor, I have just one more book in this five-book series.

One of the unique aspects of this series, as the fans know, is Houston, Texas. My city is basically a character in the book. I use real landmarks; I use real restaurants; I use real festivals. Some are protected with gentle name changes, because you know there’s murder involved in these books, but many places I keep exactly as they exist in real life.

And this one begins at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s BBQ Cook-Off. It’s the event that kicks off the whole thing. My husband and I are big fans and have been a few times. Hence, I could use my personal experience to enhance the scene. It’s so much fun. But I didn’t get to attend this year, so I didn’t get to do fresh research. (You have to know someone to get tickets or sponsor a team.) What I did get to do research on was a library downtown.

Houston has a pretty robust library system with many branches, because our city is so spread out. Have you heard that saying Houston is an hour away from itself? It’s pretty accurate. Now Fauna lives in the Heights and Tucker lives in Midtown. Flores’s office is downtown at 1200 Travis. With all of these locations, I wanted to hit the main library downtown as the location for a secret library established by this secret organization you’re going to learn about in The Specter. But I live on the north side and visit the Barbara Bush Library Branch most often. I was unfamiliar with the downtown locations.

Field trip!

After the hot chocolate race that I talked about a few months ago–you can see it here if you missed it–Tammy, Henry, Kevin, and I hit up the library. The Jesse Jones building, which is the big library, the one you see online if you look up Houston Public Library. And it’s beautiful. They have like a special kids room, which is like an entire wing and a special teen room, which was my favorite. If I lived downtown, which is the eventual plan, I’d hang out and write there all the time.

The building as a whole was very modern. They have a cute little playground outside. Lots of it’s very kid friendly. It’s also used as a heating and cooling center for the unhoused in Houston. So, it serves multiple aspects of the community. But it’s not exactly the place I picture hiding a secret library. I start to wonder if I need to change the plot and put it somewhere else. I just so like the symmetry of a secret library in an actual library.

As you should always do when you have a question in your library, I stopped and talked to a librarian. There were two kind librarians behind one of the desks, and I asked them if they were going to hide a secret room in this library where would they put it. One librarian said they wouldn’t hide it here at all. They’d put it in the one next door, the Julia Ideson Building. I was like “the what now?” Turns out right next door to this modern marvel is a historical library, the first Houston library. I had no idea. We thanked the helpful librarians and scooted back out to the courtyard. (After checking out the AstroWorld model.)

Built in the 1800s, the Julia Ideson Building didn’t look like a library. Compared to the modern white walls and decor we’d just left, this old library felt like entering a whole other world. The floors were old clay tiles, and there were murals painted on every wall. I’ve become more and more fond of history as I’ve gotten older, which meant I relished the detailed murals.

The outside didn’t scream Greek revival, but the inside certainly did, especially on the second floor. In a foyer between two venue spaces where they hold weddings and such was a row of windows with busts in each alcove. I’m assuming they represented people important to the founding or funding of the library, but there were no names or dates so I couldn’t even look it up. Which is too bad, because there was one of a woman with the most interesting necklace around her neck. As a writer using this place to inspire the next section of my book, I could totally make her one of the founders who hid this secret library here. But with no info, I’m not sure where to start. I suppose I could make it all up–that is my primary occupation after all.

One way or another, this place is ideal for my purposes. It definitely had that gravitas that there probably was some kind of secret room with hidden documents. Plus, it’s a research library. So it does have really cool old documents that you have to like apply to peruse and that kind of thing. So I was like, yeah, this place is perfect. But where should the hidden entrance be?

Still on the lookout for a place to hide said secret library, Tammy and I walked beyond the foyer to a small hallway with an elevator. Off a balcony with cast iron furniture, there was this huge wooden cabinet. Now the shelves were empty on the outside, and I wasn’t bold enough to attempt to open the door. It looked like this wardrobe could transport me to Narnia. I’m sure it had a purpose at some time or another. But at this point, it’s probably just too darn big to move. That thing must weigh a trillion pounds. So it’s just sitting there.

It’s also perfect. It’s braced against a wall, but this is a secret library I’m creating. I can make it believable that if you open the door, you’ll see stairs that go down. I’ve just finished the scene where Fauna senses the secret library but has no idea what she’s found. I can’t wait to write the chapter where she gets to enter and explore.

What this entire experience should teach anyone, not just the writers out there, is to explore your city, your town, your country. Who knows what you’ll discover when you open your mind and your time to exploration. I love, love, love the opportunity that writing this series has given me to discover more about my city. Have you found any cool places in your city to explore? Is there something hidden that you haven’t thought to look at?

If y’all are curious about Fauna and what the heck this secret organization is all about, The Specter is set for release in October 2024. If you haven’t started the series yet, this is your change. Pick up book one, The Collector, and follow Fauna Young as she discovers her empathic gift she calls a curse might actually be a gift.

You may also like...