These days, you can’t turn on the television or radio without hearing dramatic news about the rise in gas and oil prices. For Preston Hollow writer L.A. Starks, it’s the perfect subject for a thriller. “The stakes are huge,” she says. “There’s high emotion. It affects everything from the price you pay at the pump, the cost of groceries and getting on a plane. I like thrillers, and I hadn’t seen this topic reflected out there.” Drawing on her extensive knowledge on the subject — she studied chemical engineering and works in the oil industry — Starks wrote “13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy”, a story about a plot to sabotage an oil refinery and one woman’s struggle to stop it. The narrative takes place over 13 days, and Starks chose the Pythagoras reference not only because of his famous theorem but also because of the lesser-known conflict surrounding the Greek mathematician — he once murdered a student for disputing one of his theories. “One of [Pythagoras’] students questioned the existence of irrational numbers, and he was killed. For speaking the truth,” she says. Starks has always been a writer at heart but knew she couldn’t make a living from it. So she pursued another passion. “I grew up in a small Oklahoma town during the oil boom. Just like with Texas, it was all around me.” She graduated magna cum laude with a chemical engineering degree from Tulane University in New Orleans and later received her MBA in finance from the University of Chicago. Most people know that rising gas and oil prices directly relate to supply and demand — when oil prices rise, so do gas prices. But there’s a middle factor that’s often overlooked, Starks says. “It’s the refinery part — the cost of operating the equipment to turn that straw into gold.”

Learn More
“13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy” and the e-book edition is widely available. L.A. Starks donates a portion of sales to help rebuild New Orleans. Her website offers a map to finding the cheapest gas prices in the area.

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