This is a tough blog post to write without giving away spoilers in The Closeout Kings, so if you haven’t read the book, you may want to stop reading now. I’m going to vamp a little here with an unnecessary sentence or two to give you time to turn back and save your virginal eyes from the spoilers that are to follow. Still here? Okay, I’ll assume you’ve either read the book, or spoilers don’t ruin your enjoyment of a story. Whatever the case, the spoilers start now.
I faced a lot of self-doubt as I was writing The Closeout Kings. My main issue was the human trafficking aspect of the story. I know globally that it is a horrific reality, but naively I thought the problem isn’t that pervasive in the United States. Still I carried on, and I wrote a story about a human trafficking ring in rural America that involved the police and politicians, both local and federal. It was, I thought, pure twisted fantasy. As it turns out, it is closer to reality than I thought.
My friend Jean recently brought the Franklin child prostitution ring to my attention. Now, it’s a long and complicated tale of alleged sexual abuse of children in the foster care system in Nebraska, and the federal courts actually found the allegations to be false, and they tossed some of the people making the allegations into jail. There are a significant number of people who think there is a cover up going on since the allegations involved prominent politicians with ties that go all the way to the top of the federal government, At this point, I know very little about the case, but it is hard to not see the similarities between my fictional tale and this true story. It’s almost eerily similar.
Part of my job as a writer is to come up with conspiracies. They make for great tools of conflict that drive both plot and character development. Conspiracies are easy to invent, but I’m of the belief they are almost impossible to pull off. The story of The Closeout Kings came to me “out of the blue.” I had no prior knowledge of the Franklin case, but you can bet I’m going to be obsessively looking into it over the next weeks and months. In fact, I found this documentary on YouTube that I plan to watch.