Writing trails take me where I’ve never been before.


A number of years back, I decided I wanted to write a book where the protagonist was involved in information retrieval.  I had done a little research in that area while working on a Ph.D. and have a son who is a professor directing research in the area of information retrieval. I thought it might be fun to incorporate some of that in a novel. But, nothing came of it.

Then a couple of years ago, I read an old Texas folktale about a wagon load of precious metal being pushed into a lake to avoid having it captured by the Mexican army.  I began to wonder how an old folktale could affect the lives of people today.

James R. Callan
James R. Callan

Eventually, I connected these two ideas and the result was a 95,000 word mystery/suspense, which I called A Ton of Gold.  It is a contemporary novel, although the prologue brings in the old folktale dated around 1834.

Of course, I added a subplot so that the heroine, Crystal Moore, has not one but two big problems to deal with.  It was a fun novel to write because I introduce three interesting characters who, in different ways, help Crystal.  One is a former bull rider, now owner of the informational retrieval company where Crystal works.  One is a streetwise housemate for Crystal.  So, while Crystal is brilliant in her field, her housemate is wise in other areas, and often is teaching Crystal about the real world.  And last, but certainly not the least, is Crystal’s 76 year-old grandmother, Crystal’s only remaining family.  The grandmother lives alone on a 320 acre tract in the middle of a forest, has a will of steel and sees things very clearly.

While Crystal learns a lot from these three, so did I.  In developing these characters, I found myself immersed in their view of the world. Each of the three has a different point of reference, a different attitude, a different reaction to the events occurring. I got a clear view from what I saw through Crystal’s eyes.  But in looking at the situations from varying angles, I broadened my personal view.  So, I learned as I wrote.

This often happens.  One writes about a subject and in doing so, learns more about it.  It is seldom, and probably never, that I write a book and don’t learn, or develop a different feeling, about something.  That’s one of the advantages of writing, one that is often overlooked.  Not only does writing keep the mind sharp, but it expands the range of knowledge or understanding.  That’s just another benefit, which goes with the joy, of writing.

Please click the book cover image to read more about James R. Callan and his novels.

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