Jerry Boam shows up in Spectre Black

J. Carson Black @

While I know the general direction of a story, I don’t know everything.

In Spectre Black, Cyril Landry is parked under a big tree that hides his car, waiting to meet up with his friend and former lover, Tobosa County Sheriff’s detective Jolie Burke.

Jolie used the pay phone there--yes, it still worked.

Jolie used the pay phone there–yes, it still worked.

Jolie disappeared a few days ago, and the last phone call she made was to Landry, asking for his help. She gives him the place to meet: an abandoned Circle K convenience store along a lonely highway in New Mexico.

Landry waits there, but Jolie is a no-show.

Someone does show up, however.

When I write, I have a general idea of the scene and where I think it will go, and then I just … go. I write in a sort of trance, but I’m cognizant of the actual writing, the story, and how the words sound.

So I’m typing away on Spectre Black, and Jolie still doesn’t show up, and then an old rancher pulls in to the empty lot. I have no idea why he showed up. He says a couple of things to Landry, nothing that would be helpful, then drives off. His name? Jerry Boam. I just typed whatever drifted in through my transom. Which, in my trancelike state, became a big bottle of wine called a Jeroboam.

I get to about a third of the way through the book and it still bothers me that this old rancher type said a few words to Landry and drove away. What good did THAT do Landry? Or me, for that matter?

Much later, I realized that Jerry Boam was no accident. His name was no accident, either.

I had to change this character in Spectre Black from a walk-on part to someone more important in the scheme of things. I had to go back and change a bunch of stuff, but then it all trued up.

So I have to raise a glass to Jerry Boam, for showing up.

And sticking around.