Thursday, January 30, 2014

When I read an old Texas folk tale about a wagon load of precious metal being pushed in a lake to hide it from the pursuing Mexican army, I knew I had to use that in a book.  But how?  I don’t write historical novels. What effect could an old folk tale have on people today? 

I had worked on an information retrieval as part of my dissertation in graduate school.  And that would be my link to get people in trouble today because of a long forgotten fold tale. And that would be the main conflict in the suspense novel which was eventually named A Ton of Gold.

When we are young, certain people can have an enormous influence on us. Sometimes this is for the good, but not always.  Our self esteem is, perhaps, most vulnerable. People can be made to think they are much better than they actually are. And they can be made to feel worthless.

We all know the power of the family. When the family is reduced because of untimely accidents, this power over our feelings of self worth can be heightened.

I took these three elements, and wove them together in developing the plot for A Ton of Gold.  An information retrieval program would recover the old folk tale regarding the treasure. Greedy and unscrupulous people would find out that a computer had found this and believe it must be true – the computer said it was. The protagonist, Crystal Moore, had lost her parents when she was seven. Now, someone is trying to kill her only living relative, the grandmother who had raised her. And in the midst of this, the man who had almost destroyed Crystal emotionally is coming back into her life. This time, he can ruin her career.

These provide plenty of problems for Crystal, a brilliant researcher in information retrieval. But just as steel must be subjected to immense heat to harden it, Crystal finds that life-threatening situations can make her stronger.  And sometimes things that seemed very important are just fly specks.

Crystal is helped in her journey by three very different and important persons.  Her boss is a former bull rider whose free spirit helps Crystal  take chances.  Brandi Brewer, Crystal’s street-wise housemate, has only a high school education. But she teaches Crystal many realities of today that one doesn’t learn in the universities. Most important for Crystal is her 76 year-old grandmother, who is not cowed by anyone, who clears the smoke and sees the true nature of things.

While A Ton of Gold involves murder, arson and kidnapping, it is the growth of Crystal that will cause
A Ton of Gold, (Oak Tree Press, 2013)
On Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions
the reader to cheer. Crystal goes through fire and the fire has released her true strength.

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years and published several non-fiction books.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his sixth book releasing in Spring, 2014.

Check out his website, blog, and Amazon author page. While you're at it, you can connect with him on Twitter.

And, of course, don't forget to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of A Ton of Gold! 


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