Posts Categorized: How Do I Get My Ideas?

Donald Trump wants to build a wall on the border between Mexico and the United States. That’s a big project, since the border between the U.S. and Mexico is 1,989 miles with more than 600 miles already fenced.
In SPECTRE BLACK, I needed to have a big scene set on the border. I spent a lot of time researching three towns/cities on the border between Mexico and New Mexico, and the nature of the fences and barriers there. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, I needed the one that was just right. I found it in Columbus, New Mexico.

For my story, I had to learn how to breach the border fence so that semi trucks containing contraband could drive through.

Fortunately, I have a guy.

My guy told me exactly how to do it. It included a blowtorch, precise timing, teamwork, and know-how.

I was able to breach the fence in Spectre Black in the course of three minutes, thanks to the crew and some precision tools (virtually, of course). I populated the scene with two guys who knew what they were doing, someone to drive the semi trucks through the border fence, and a precise way to return the fence back to its original position—

So that no one would be the wiser.

I don’t ask how my guy knows these things. But I am so glad.

I am so glad that I have a guy.

Categories: How Do I Get My Ideas? Spectre Black


By J. Carson Black

One night Glenn and I had cable news on while we were cooking—standard operating procedure. I was jonesing to write a big thriller with a high concept, but had yet to hit on a good premise.The Shop by J. Carson Black

This was a while ago—2006: The Year of the Celebrity. The “news” was clogged by spoiled young ladies who carried dogs around in their purses, and other spoiled young ladies who drove over paparazzis’ feet.

During that hot summer, a suspect named John Mark Karr confessed to killing Jon Benet Ramsey. Prosecutors flew him back from Bangkok, Thailand. He was transferred to a sheriff’s plane and flown to Boulder, Colorado. The paparazzi were there to film the plane coming in. A long long line of them, cameras at the ready.

It was so over the top, I got an idea right then and there. What if the government could distract the media and press with a sensational mass murder to cover up a much more nefarious act? Glenn and I started brainstorming. That idea—that sensationalism can suck up all the air in the room–became the premise for my first Cyril Landry thriller, THE SHOP.

Thanks, cable news!

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Categories: How Do I Get My Ideas?


By J. Carson Black

As you know, stories can come from anywhere. TV, newspapers, news aggregates, or just something a friend mentions.

I think everything out there is grist for the mill, like ingredients for my Salad Shooter. Anything can add to a story, if it can be used in the right way. It can be a plot point, or plot enhancement, or even change the story in an important way. When I set SPECTRE BLACK largely in New Mexico, Glenn and I had driven through many times, and stayed there often. Every time I saw a little snippet about New Mexico, it resonated with me.

For one thing, there was the brutality of the Albuquerque police force. This made national news. And another story drifted through my transom: a man stopped in Las Cruces on suspicion of secreting drugs in his, uh, body. Not only did they strip search him, they gave him TWO colonoscopies! (The good news? He didn’t have to have another one for ten years.) And then there was something else NewSpectre Black Small reflective(1) (1) Mexico cops did: they’d confiscate big-ticket items from offenders: cars, boats, even estates. When it comes to seizures, you can’t beat the rich. So what happens when a new-on-the-job sheriff’s deputy confiscates the sports car of the wealthiest man in town? The man whose father owns the sheriff’s office? Bad things can happen to the deputy who dares confiscate the son’s expensive and very special Camaro. That’s one scenario in my Cyril Landry thriller, SPECTRE BLACK.

This year, New Mexico cracked down on the confiscation of high-ticket items and also Albuquerque’s hard-ass cops. Not sure about the colonoscopies.

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Categories: How Do I Get My Ideas?


By J. Carson Black

Like many people, I read about the discovery of two cars pulled up from the muck of an Oklahoma lake after fifty-some-odd years. According to one account, three bodies were recovered from a 1952 Chevy lying in the muck of Foss Lake: 42-year-old Cleburn Hammack, 69-year-old John Porter, and 58-year-old Nora Duncan. Stranger yet, right beside their car was a 1969 Chevy Camaro holding the remains of three teenagers: 16-year-old Jimmy Allen Williams and 18-year-olds Leah Gail Johnson and Thomas Michael Rios. The kids disappeared in 1970. The vehicles were recovered by Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers during a sonar training exercises. (Looks to me like the sonar training worked.)

j-carson-black-new-york-times-best-selling-thriller-authorTurns out, there was a long pier out to a short drop into a muck-filled lake—so murky you couldn’t see the bottom. Two distinct accidents, years apart. The cars were found side-by-side. And all that time, people were fishing and sunbathing and tying up boats off that dock. Spooky.

The scene resonated with me. So when I had a chance to use something like it, I did: in FLIGHT 12: A Laura Cardinal Thriller. Only the car didn’t crash into a lake, but down a mountain, where it might very well have languished unseen for years.

The story of a missing car and driver was only half the equation.

Long ago, my friends and I took two cars and drove up to a mountain cabin for Thanksgiving Dinner. One of the drivers wanted to take the “back way” down the mountain—a twisty, steep, one-lane washboard road. It was night and the snow was coming down. So the rest of us piled into the other tiny (clown) car and drove down the good road. The other guy made it down in one piece, although he got hung up on the road in places. But it gave me an idea: What if the headstrong guy from my past DIDN’T make it? What if his car went off one of the curves and down into the forest?

I took the two incidents and put them together. Two cars, separated over time, crash off the same dangerous point on the road. The first one is never seen. The driver and the car just… disappeared. But after a Thanksgiving dinner during a snowstorm when a head-strong guy (writer’s revenge!) decides to drive the back way, the second car goes off the same curve and crashes on top of the other car. And this time, since people are actively looking for the guy, searchers find him and they find the other car—underneath. And now there’s a new question:

Who does that car belong to?

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Categories: How Do I Get My Ideas?