Where Did That Come From? — James Callan

Today I’m excited to welcome author James Callan as he shares his insight into generating ideas.

I’m often asked where I get the ideas for a book.  My latest, A Silver Medallion, is a good example.

I read a five paragraph article in the Los Angeles Times telling of a woman held a virtual slave in Los Angeles.  My first reaction was not to believe such.  This is the United States and the twenty-first century.  We don’t have slaves here.

But, it got my curiosity up. On the Internet I entered the topic “slaves.”  Google immediately extended my search criteria from “slaves” to “slaves in the U.S. today. ” That surprised me. So I began to read articles.  The more I read, the more shocked I became.

Today’s slaves are not bound by chains, but by fear. Some fear for their lives, some for the lives of family members.  Many come to the U.S. in hopes of a better life, but find the people who brought them turn them into slaves, confiscating any papers they might have and threatening to kill family members.

I felt I should write a book on this.  I talked with an editor about it. She suggested I write a non-fiction piece, talk with ICE officials and victims and expose this great tragedy.  It sounded good. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew I could not write such a piece. It would be too emotional for me to every finish the research.  I would spend years in depression and never write the book.

I put the idea aside.  But, it wouldn’t go away. Finally, I decided I would write a completely fiction book which would highlight the issue. I would have a mother in Mexico, whose husband died. She finds she cannot make enough money to support her two young girls. She meets a man who offers to get her a high paying job in Texas. She can save money and bring her girls to live with her in Texas.  He would let the girls stay on his large hacienda until she can make the money, which should not take long because of the high pay.

Once in Texas, reality sets in.  She is paid next to nothing.  And the man she works for makes it clear if she leaves, or even tells anybody of her situation, her two girls in Mexico will be killed.

When Crystal Moore finds out about this, she realizes that the woman will never leave, will never admit her predicament as long as her children are threatened. So Crystal goes to Mexico to see if she can rescue the girls. There she meets a mysterious  man who agrees to help her.  If they succeed, the mother and children can be reunited and free. But Crystal will have two powerful and ruthless men who want her dead.

The Silver Medallion, 2016, tells this story. It was still very emotional for me to write. But it exposes a frightening practice widespread in the U.S. today. Some colorful and funny characters make it a fun read, in spite of the serious situation.

 

What is your favorite vacation spot?

We have traveled to all fifty states of the U.S . and six continents, but if I have to pick one favorite it is Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  It is a beautiful place on a large bay opening out to the Pacific ocean. The weather is wonderful, and the Mexicans are  happy a people and just plain nice.  It is always a pleasure to be here.

What can people who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

There are two simple things that help make a book successful.  A brief review on Amazon, and possibly GoodReads, is a great help.  I say brief because some people think writing a review is difficult.  Three sentences saying why you enjoyed the book is all that is necessary.  And of course the other very important thing is to tell friends you enjoyed the  book and recommend it to them.  Readers should understand that those two things are essential  to writers, and all writers will be very appreciative.

What can readers expect from you next?

I am about half way through with the next Crystal Moore Suspense book, number three in the series, following A Ton of Gold and A Silver Medallion.  My goal is to finish it by midyear, and to have it published before the end of 2017.

About James:

James R. Callan had a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA.  He left the technology field to pursue his real love, writing.  He has had four non-fiction books published, but his passion is mystery and suspense novels.  His eleventh book was published in June, 2016.

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