#20: On The Beach

26 Pickup-The Half-Ton

Randy Murphy: Will there be a book about Walt on a December vacation with Vic on the Caribbean Island and getting drawn into something? Maybe include a little voodoo …
Do you have an “idea folder” where you jot down little ideas, sayings, quotes that may (or may not) fit some future story? If so, how full is it?

#20: On The Beach

Hi Randy,
Walt on a beach, huh? It does seem like the sheriff has earned a vacation, doesn’t it?

It seems to me that the greatest philosophical question is the mountains or the beach—a long time ago I went with the mountains, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss a little sand between my toes occasionally. It’s odd, but as I roam around Wyoming I run into a lot of veterans, and I’ll be darned if the majority aren’t Navy… I guess it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise in a land-locked place that there were young men who wanted to see the sea. Walt didn’t get much of a choice since he was drafted by the Marines, but I figure he spent enough time with the anchor-clankers.

​That brief little excerpt where Vic spent some time alone in Belize, had an amazing resonance with readers, but I guess that’s to be expected, wondering what the characters do in their time off. It’s tempting, I have to admit, but I have a sneaking suspicion the next beach time Walt will have will be back on Johnston Atoll after Vietnam. Possibly a story that combines the two?

Yep, I’ve got folders full of ideas, because if I didn’t have those folders, I’d forget the ideas. Usually, I start off with a number of things such as what’s the message I’m trying to get across in a novel, or an interesting story or situation that might provide a background or plot, and then what kind of effect is this particular story going to have on the characters? It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle and all the parts have to fall into place. I’m pretty sure that if somebody were to go through the files, they wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails concerning what’s in there.

​The story file is pretty sizeable, probably because of my concerns about running out of ideas when I agreed to continue the characters as a series after the first book, The Cold Dish. The big thing for me was to not become repetitious or formulaic, so I started collecting ideas—did I ever. Some of them stay pertinent, but some of them fall away or become of less interest. The key to writing a novel is choosing an idea that’s not only going to hold the reader’s attention but also hold the writers for the year that you’ll be working on a project. I’ve never found myself in a situation where I’ve gotten bored or wanted to give up on a project, thank goodness.

​The Johnston Atoll story has held my attention over the years. Maybe it’s the idea of Walt on some rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with long hair, a beard, flip-flops, cargo shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, wandering around and trying to decide if he’s going to rejoin humanity or not.

I think we all sometimes know how that feels.

See you on the trail,


2 thoughts on “#20: On The Beach

  1. Fully enjoy Craig’s musings – a window into the mind of an author whom I both enjoy and respect. Rare combination some days.


  2. Please don’t send Walt out to a desert island. Your wonderful Wyoming surroundings are a big part
    of the charm of your books.


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