As I announced yesterday, the first draft of C. Hoyt Caldwell’s latest book is… well, in the books. It’s done. Finished. I put a literal and figurative period at the end of it and shut it down, but only for a week or two while I decompress and gain some perspective.
The book, The Closeout Kings, focuses on a female deputy and some backwoods hit men for a hillbilly crime family. Without giving away too much information, they discover a human trafficking ring in their mountains and set out to do something about it.
As I wrote this book, I would frequently step away from it because I thought it was either too unbelievable, or because it was just too depressing to think about all the time. Every time I would take a break, the issue of human trafficking would rear its ugly head in a news story on radio or TV. It was almost like this story was chasing me down.
Last night before I went off to bed, I decided to watch Letterman for a laugh. Much to my surprise Jimmy Carter was his guest and he was talking about… human trafficking. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had just wrapped up my backwoods tale of young girls being abducted and sold for profit, and here was the former leader of the free world saying it’s the worst humanitarian issue we are facing today.
This happens to me frequently when I write, and I have no explanation for it. Elements of a story will just pop up in the real world and give me a little nudge, a reminder that my characters are anxiously waiting for to me get on with it and finish. This go around I even got the flu, and it prevented me from writing for about two weeks. My head hurt too badly to form a coherent thought. During the worst part of the flu, I constantly smelled cigarettes. We don’t smoke in our family. I’ve never seen any of our neighbors smoke. Who does smoke? Step Crawford, one of the hit men in my story. Every time I smelled the burning menthol, I could imagine him standing next to me in disgust because I had let something as silly as the flu keep me from telling his story.
Well, it’s done now, Step. You can stop blowing smoke in my face.
Here’s Letterman’s full interview with Jimmy Carter last night. The human trafficking bit starts at about the 10 minute mark. I was surprised to discover that Atlanta has become an important hub of the modern slavery trade: