Writers of all stripes walk on the wild side, though wordscapes teeming with python wranglers, Confederate spies, medieval siege weapons and even the occasional Ferrari. This blog celebrates all the weirdly wonderful facts and confabulations that flavor both our stories and our lives.
Car Theft and Other Dangerous Research — a Guest Post by J. H. Bográn
Did I really steal a
Partly because I write
about thieves—or because I can be a frustrated locksmith—I know how door locks
operate. The knowledge came in handy for my boss one time he was locked out of
The main antagonist of
my new novel Firefall runs a small
car theft operation. The M.O. is quite simple; they target, acquire, and then
deliver the cars to yet another link in the chain.
However, I drew the
line at stealing cars. Going to jail in the name of veracity for a story is not
my idea of fun. Driving a fast car is, though, but that’s another blog entry.
While doing the
research, I did approach the local law enforcement agencies and reviewed the
statistics: how many cars stolen per year, how many found, etc. Also an ad in
the newspaper offered to install a GPS tracking device, as incentive, they
guaranteed that in case of loss, the insurance would cover 99% of the car’s value
as opposed to the industry standard 80%. That bit piqued my curiosity.
I called the place,
made an appointment, visited and asked questions but stopped short of signing a
contract—hey, I drive such an old model that the robbers would be doing me a
favor by stealing it.
Anyway, all this new
knowledge sparked a daring car chase midway through the novel. You see, the
character didn’t really care for the car, but he had sensitive documents in the
backseat that he simply could not afford to lose, so he brought out the big
guns and tracked the robbers with the GPS.
Other source of
information came from interviews with people who had gone through the
misfortune of witnessing the robbery. Their experiences added depth to the
reactions of my characters when faced with similar circumstances.
Now, before you go
away with the notion that my book is a rehash of Nicholas Cage’s action flick
Gone in Sixty Seconds, let me tell you that the robberies, while exciting, are
playing second fiddle to the main purpose of finding a missing person.
After losing his wife and son in an air crash, former NYC firefighter
Sebastian Martin is spiraling downward into alcoholic oblivion. Then his
brother sets him up with a last-chance job investigating insurance fraud, but
his first case takes a deadly turn as he crosses path with an international
ring of car thieves. Sebastian ends up strapped to a chair facing torture at the hands of a
former KGB trainee who enjoys playing with fire on his victims to get answers.