Posts Categorized: Spectre Black

You’re writing, and suddenly, you get stuck. You’ve driven yourself into a ditch.

So. What do you do? You can quit for the day. You can skip ahead to another part that isn’t so hard to write (but many times, that turns out to be just as hard, because your sullen, uncooperative mind refuses to budge).

This isn't me out for a walk. It's cloaking technology from SPECTRE BLACK.

This isn’t me out for a walk. It’s an example of the cloaking technology featured in SPECTRE BLACK.

One thing you can do:

Go for a walk.

I do that a lot, and I think a lot of other authors do, too. As I set off on my walk, I tell myself: “Don’t think about the story. Just leave it alone. Forget about it and look at the trees, the squirrels, the mountains, whatever’s there. But don’t think about the plot. Fuggetaboudit.”

Sometimes, a walk is just a walk. But more often than not, you come back already thinking of another way forward in your story—a new plot point or a new scene—something really great that just came out of left field. It materializes out of your subconscious, which was trying to help you all along.

In the case of my new Cyril Landry thriller, Spectre Black, I had run into a dead end. I couldn’t think of anything that would move the story forward. So I went for my walk and told myself not to think about it. I walked through a patch of desert and looked around, letting my mind wander to whatever drifted through my transom.

Then suddenly it came to me—completely out of left field. An idea that at first didn’t seem to fit at all. The thought I had was this, two words: “property seizure.” Very quickly, the other pieces locked into place. Cops—bad cops (and I had a few already onstage)—often seize assets, especially expensive assets, like sports cars, boats, houses, and other property. And they divvy up the spoils. One sergeant might say, “I’m looking for a Corvette.” Or something like it. And then they go out looking for a Corvette. A simple traffic stop, a small transgression, and the Corvette’s on a flatbed truck headed for the sheriff’s impound lot.

After that, like a cascading house of cards, the other pieces filled in. That one small idea was the key to a major section of Spectre Black. All because I went for a nature walk, emptied my mind, smiled up at the deep blue sky and the words waiting at the door to my subconscious poured out: “property seizure.”

Categories: Cyril Landry Spectre Black The Writing Life

A thriller novel is long, so there’s plenty of room for many things to happen. I start with a premise, and I know the general direction of a story, although the trajectory might change as the story goes on. Spectre Black from New York Times Best Seller J. Carson Black

I don’t know how other writers write, but I write in a light trance. I just type what drifts through my transom, and this works well as long as I’m following a general trajectory. A few sentences become a couple of paragraphs, then they become a scene, which leads to another scene. Ahead, there’s a plot point I like and plan to hit. I know I’ll get there, because I always have before. Along the way, all sorts ideas will pop up.

In Spectre Black, an abandoned Circle K appears in the middle of the desert. There’s a militia checkpoint on an empty road. There’s a car that can barely be seen at night. And a grizzled rancher who hands out religious tracts….

Wait! Religious tracts? What does that have to do with my story in Spectre Black? Why’d this guy show up? To be honest, when he first appeared, I had no idea. After a while, it became clear. The guy was there to give my character a message. And he did it with a religious tract.

I’m not an outliner. I just follow the story. Sometimes I end up at a dead end and have to back out. But usually that doesn’t happen. For me, the story has already taken up residence in my mind. Like the Arabic word I love so much, Maktub:

“It is written.”

Categories: Cyril Landry Spectre Black

My third Cyril Landry thriller, SPECTRE BLACK, officially debuted this week. Spectre Black book cover

Every book I write is different, even if there are recurring characters. Every book has its own feel. This is not because I plan it that way, it’s just that by the time I get to a new book, in some ways I’ve changed, and so have my characters. I left Cyril Landry, Jolie Burke, and Eric Blackburn at the end of HARD RETURN, and when I finally caught up with them again, all of them had grown and changed.

Cyril Landry is a loner with friends. But his friends are loyal. He can count on them, and they can count on him. If they are in trouble, he will go and find them, as he did for his buddies when he was a Navy SEAL.

He won’t leave them on the field.

So when Tobosa County sheriff’s detective Jolie Burke disappears (and her one call for help is to him) Landry heeds that call. He travels to the corrupt New Mexico town of Branch, where, between the armed militia and the militant cops, it’s hard to know who is friend and who is foe.

All he knows is Jolie called him for help. Now she is gone.

He must find her. Hopefully, when he does, she will still be alive.

Categories: Cyril Landry Spectre Black