J. Carson Black “Where Do I Get My Ideas?”

J. Carson Black @ jcarsonblack.com

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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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