Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Jay Amberg  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Born: 1949 in Chicago, Illinois

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Amberg lives in Evanston, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Jay Amberg is the author of eleven books. He received a BA from Georgetown University and a PhD from Northwestern University. He has taught high school and college students since 1972.His latest book, Bone Box, is now available from Amika Press. Amberg has also published Cycle, America’s Fool, Whale Song, and compiled 52 Poems for Men. Prior to Amika Press, Amberg published thriller novels Doubloon (Forge), Blackbird Singing (Forge) and Deep Gold (Warner Books).Among his books on teaching are School Smarts and The Study Skills Handbook, published by Good Year. Amberg wrote The Creative Writing Handbook (Good Year) with Mark Henry Larson and Verbal Review and Workbook for the SAT (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) with Robert S Boone.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Verbal Review and Workbook for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (TEST PREPARATION SERIES)
ISBN: 0156000881

Harcourt. 1982

Deep Gold
ISBN: 0446360570

Grand Central Pub. 1991

Creative Writing Handbook
ISBN: 067336013X

Good Year Books. 1996

"Here's a personal creative writing course with 5 self -contained instructional units for learning to write narrative, short fiction, and poetry. Students can work independently at home or school. Includes real student writing samples."

Study Skills Handbook (Studying Skills)
ISBN: 1596472308

Good Year Books. 1993

By Jay Amberg. The author's experience with Boy's Hope, a program for tutoring inner-city students, led to this easy-to-read summary of the key skills needed to "study smart." First and foremost, advises the book: take control. Understand your strengths, establish a study spot, set goals, and plan your time. Subsequent chapters address managing time, improving memory, reading textbooks (a specialized skill!), listening effectively, taking useful notes, building vocabulary, taking objective tests, and writing essays. Grades 6–12. Good Year Books. 135 pages. ©1993. GDY528.

Study Skills Handbook
ISBN: 0673360989

Good Year Books. 1997

"This motivating handbook shows students how to study smart. Proven learning hints and activities for improving time management, memory, textbook reading, listening, note taking, and test taking helps students take control and become active learners."

School Smarts
ISBN: 0673361365

Good Year Books. 1996

Here's an invaluable desk reference with over 2,000 words students need to know for school. Alphabetically arranged entries answer such questions as "What does B.C. mean?" quickly and concisely. Resource is indexed and cross-referenced. Grades 5+

Blackbird Singing
ISBN: 0312865546

Forge Books. 1998

Everyone thinks that Robert "Sky" Walker has it all. And they're right. He's the world's most famous athlete and the darling of the Chicago Bulls

his wife is an internationally adored and beautiful anchorwoman

his nine-year-old daughter, Tonya, is the apple of his eye. He has money, fame, awards, and a picture-perfect family. Sky Walker has everything. And he loses it in a twinkling.

Sky Walker's world comes crashing down when Tonya is kidnapped. At first, there is no ransom demand-only deranged e-mail messages, incendiary faxes, and provocative photographs sent to the media. As the world watches on television, lead after lead evaporates. Tom Hopkins, the head investigator is rapidly caught in the middle of what is fast becoming an out-of-control media circus when he realizes that he's dealing with an insane hacker whose motives are highly complex-having more to do with revenge and megalomania than with money.

As the story unfolds, Hopkins and Walker discover they're caught up in an increasingly dangerous web of escalating violence, media mania, massive egos, computer wizardry, and high-tech madness. Inevitably, Hopkins becomes a target of the warped genius who abducted Tonya Walker-a genius who has concocted a climax designed to stun the world and link his name forever with the crime of the century.

52 Poems for Men
ISBN: 0970841604

Amika Press. 2001

Every poem in this collection speaks deeply and directly to men, capturing precious moments, powerful insights, and honest glimpses of life. The themes are universal: birth, death, love, loss, war, beauty, and family. Both classic and contemporary poetic masters are represented, including William Shakespeare, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Pinsky, Langston Hughes, and Dylan Thomas. Each poet speaks to men in voices and language they trust and understand, without using contrived poetic forms, avant-garde imagery, or esoteric references. This powerful anthology will leave no reader unmoved.

Doubloon
ISBN: 0765301008

Forge Books. 2003

Nick Gallagher was a farmer in a small Iowa town for many years, but all the while, as he and his wife raised their son, Nick dreamed of treasure-sunken treasure that lay at the bottom of the sea off the Florida coast, millions of dollars in gold and silver, waiting to be discovered. His dreams focused on a rumored trove of gold and silver lost when the Spanish silver fleet's flagship, Santa Maria Magdalena, sank in the Florida Straits in 1642.

Unable to resist the lure of treasure any longer, he finally abandoned his wife and left Iowa for Key West, where he founded Doubloon, Inc., and began a twenty-year obsession with a mysterious Gobernador Carga on the Magadalena's . . . he knew he would ultimately find the cargo out beyond the sites where all other treasure hunters were convinced it lay.

Through good times and bad, finding small fortunes and losing them, he kept searching for what he called the "mother lode." He was so close he could taste it . . . and then he was killed.

Now Jack, his estranged son, will have to redeem the promise that the sea offered, to yield up the riches of the Santa Maria Magdalena's treasure chests. If Jack can survive whoever-or whatever-killed his father before him . . .

Passion, greed, and the allure of sunken treasure fuel this masterful thriller set in the Florida Keys. In 1642, the galleon Santa Maria Magdalena, flagship of the Spanish silver fleet, set sail from the Americans to Seville loaded with a trove of gold, sliver and an unidentified Gobernador Carga. It never reached Spain. Caught in a hurricane, Magdalena sank off the southern Florida Coast, its vast treasure lost in the depths of the sea.

Now, more than three hundred years later, the treasure has become Nick Gallagher's obsession. But one night when Nick is sleeping on one of Doubloon, Inc.'s boats, it sinks. His last thoughts before water fills his lungs are of the treasure-the mother lode he is sure is within his grasp.

Enter Nick's estranged son, Jack, a recently retired Navy fighter pilot. After his father's funeral, Jack suspects that this father may have been murdered. With a pivotal inherited stake in Doubloon, Jack teams up with his father's second wife, his half-brother, and Doubloon partners to begin his search for the truth the only way he knows how—to pick up his father's quest where he left off.

But as Jack enters his father's world, he discovers the corrupting lure of sunken treasure and uncovers a dangerous maze of treachery and greed. A beautiful reporter seems to have a personal vendetta against Doubloon

a former partner is trying to beat them to the prize

a government official seems bent on putting them out of business. Jack nearly perishes on a dive when someone tampers with his air tank. When the Doubloon, Inc., office is broken into and ransacked, Jack is slashed by the fleeing burglar. Determined to learn the truth about his father's death, Jack continues his search, knowing the closer he gets to the treasure, the more deadly his mission becomes. And just when he thinks he's found the object of his father's quest, the sea itself rises to challenge his claim . . . testing his courage and endurance to the limit.

Whale Song
ISBN: 0970841655

Amika Press. 2011

Each of our lives is a voyage of discovery. In Whale Song, we hear the voice of a fellow traveler, an albino sperm whale. We hear of life in his words—the joys of family, the pain of loss, the confusion and frustrations of a changing environment—familiar aspects of life even in the ocean. His observations and insights give us much to consider. If we listen, we may better understand how we affect the global society, and what we now need to do.

Twenty percent of all proceeds will be donated to The Nature Conservancy.

America's Fool: Las Vegas & The End of the World
ISBN: 0970841671

Amika Press. 2011

The most lethal poison ever concocted is about to be loosed on Las Vegas. TV reporter Andrew Wright is the only one who can stop the apocalypse. Confronted by madness on all sides, he stumbles into a conspiracy of racial, religious and military fanatics. His only allies are a beautiful Iranian doctor and a mysterious desert wanderer. But who can he really trust? While lunatics on the fringes receive so much media attention, Wright must resist the spotlight and somehow do the right thing. He must make the decisions that truly patriotic Americans now face.

Cycle
ISBN: 1937484009

Amika Press. 2012

Gold Medal Winner, Environmental Issues, 2014 Literary Classics Awards
Bronze Medal Winner, Nature Conservation, 2013 Living Now Evergreen Book Awards


Redwoods thrive for centuries in the coastal regions of America’s Pacific Northwest. A monarch butterfly takes the amazing journey from the Northern meadow of its birth to its winter roost in the mountains of Central Mexico. The mother of four wolf pups leads her family through the Arctic’s stark terrain and bitter storms. One of the greatest seagoing mammals roams the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of Alaska to the Galapagos. All of these voices speak to us of the meaning we seek in our lives.

Jennifer Huffman, Independent Publisher Review: “Finally, a book about nature written by nature. In a collection of four short stories, author Jay Amberg chronicles the lives and journeys of four life forms by giving them each a voice. In their own words, an Arctic wolf, a migrating monarch butterfly, a lone sperm whale, and a Pacific Northwest redwood tree paint a picture of how they interact with their environment, emphasizing their daily fight to survive.

“As the book unfolds, a reoccurring life cycle theme emerges. Throughout each story, the reader’s frame of mind is transformed to that of the organism because Amberg presents the struggle to survive from its point of view. To complicate the fight for survival, each story also contains ominous hints about the presence of man and evidence of his impact on the organism’s life and habitat.

“The first story revolves around the life cycle of a redwood grove. The redwood describes what physical processes affect the growth of the stand and how it thrives in a stable cycle of birth, growth, death, decay, and rebirth. But it is troubling when the redwood describes how, over time, the air has become drier, temperatures have increased, the river floods more frequently, the floods are more severe, and the rainy season is shorter.

“The themes of the remaining stories are similar. A monarch butterfly details the stages of his short life and basic needs. After succumbing to his urge to migrate, he takes his final journey but is not able to find the forested winter roosting area. An Arctic wolf courageously leads her pack in the fight against starvation, rival wolves, and brutal cold while she raises her litter of pups with tenderness and care. However, she is set on edge due to brief encounters with an unfamiliar creature that lurks about near the edge of her pack. Finally, a mature male sperm whale tells of his life experiences from birth to maturity and the never ending migration he must make between northern and southern oceans. His story is distressing as he recalls details of man’s historical slaughtering of his species along with the effects of global warming and environmental pollution on the oceans.

“In the end, by having the plants and animals tell their own stories about their fight for survival in delicately balanced ecosystems, Amberg effectively persuades the reader that protection of these systems is essential. By framing the stories from the creature’s point of view, he provides a sometimes warm, yet sometimes tragic, read which engages the reader from start to finish.”

Bone Box
ISBN: 1937484270

Amika Press. 2015

On a hill overlooking the Aegean Sea in Turkey, an international team of archeologists discovers a stone box that first-century Jews used to rebury their dead. The box’s Aramaic inscription: Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Sophia Altay, the beautiful French-Turkish archeologist who heads the team, tries to keep the discovery secret until she can authenticate the ossuary. She knows that people will kill to obtain the relics—and to suppress the box’s other contents, documents that could alter Western history.

Joseph Travers, an American sent to Turkey to evaluate the archeological dig, soon finds himself pulled into the web of betrayal, reprisal, and violence. In his journey through Istanbul’s mosques and palaces, the archeological sites around ancient Ephesus, and, ultimately, the strange and mystical terrain of Cappadocia, he comes to understand the epochal meaning of the bone box.

Readers’ Favorite: “This story takes you on an incredible and dusty journey from Istanbul to ancient Ephesus, Izmir, and Cappadocia, blended with Christianity, archaeology and Islam, described with accurate detail to bring the story alive.…Jay Amberg is a master of description and intrigue…the plot and characters are believable and interesting.…keeps you guessing through each and every chapter. A cross between The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) and The Sign of the Cross (Chris Kuzneski) this is an ‘un-put-downable’ book of the highest quality.”

San Francisco Book Review: “A mystery of biblical proportions right down to the very last page. As the story unfolds, the characters’ histories, weaknesses, and ambitions are brought to light through their interactions with one another: the lies they tell, the crimes they are willing to commit, and the truths they are willing to confide only to the right person at the right time. And yet, as Joseph and Abrahim put themselves in harm’s way to protect what has become so precious to them, we wonder: What truths are some people willing to die for?”

Self-Publishing Review: “A fast-paced religious thriller that will make many question not just their religious beliefs, but their personal beliefs as well.…

“What helps this story hit all the right spots, is Amberg’s ability to bring not just the characters to life, but Turkey as well. His descriptions make it easy to visualize, smell, and almost touch the objects in question.…Amberg not only sets the scenes, he does it with ease making the reader nearly feel at home in an exotic land.

“Of course the reader can’t feel completely at ease since this is a thriller. It would ruin the fun to know right from the beginning all the good and bad guys. All the characters are nuanced, and at times, everyone’s motives are questioned.…the characters are battling their own personal demons. Most of the turmoil is boiling under the surface, adding to the tension. Who and what will explode creates anxiety adding layer upon layer of intrigue and suspense.

“The lingering questions of what’s real and what isn’t keeps the reader invested in the story. It’s not just the mystery about what’s inside the ossuary and if the artifacts are authentic. There are other factors that play a huge role…Politics, religion, sexuality, culture, deceit, greed, and prejudices turn this thriller into a page-turner. There’s a need to find out what will happen with the bones and letters, but there’s also a desire to know what will happen to the characters.

“…By the end of the novel, one feels that maybe the contents of the ossuary weren’t the most important aspect of the story. They get the ball rolling, but it’s the actions that they set in motion that are integral…The stories within the story demand attention and remind us that one event can be perceived rightly or wrongly from several perspectives.”


Awards

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