I signed on this morning to finish up the last 50 pages of tweaks to The Kill when this headline caught my attention: Death Row Escape
You can read the story if you want — it shows that human error can be deadly — but it’s also fascinating. I mean, this guy who murdered his ex-girlfriend nearly 20 years ago managed to get his handcuffs off, don civilian clothes, obtain a ID badge, and talked his way out of Harris County Jail in Texas.
We just can’t make this stuff up! Who would believe me?
Well, I do have a vaguely similar plot line in The Prey . . . and while I wrote it, though it seemed far fetched, I knew it was plausible based on what I learned about prisoner tracking. But there were still this niggle of doubt in the back of my mind that people wouldn’t buy into the plot twist.
No more! I’m vindicated! This real life prisoner escape is far more implausible than what MY villain did in The Prey. If I’d written that my villain just “got out” of his handcuffs (the cops STILL haven’t figured out how), “found” civilian clothes and changed, and TALKED his way out of jail, my editor would have laughed herself silly.
But this story also illustrates how writers think. While reading, I came up with ideas. Nothing fully formed, but little kernels of ideas that usually germinate in my cluttered head until one of them pops into place. In the article, the jurors are scared the guy is going to come after him. (Hello, you just escaped from prison, is revenge the first thing on your mind? Maybe freedom . . . but no, in The Kill revenge is very important to one of my villains . . . so we got the standard “revenge” theme going on.
But what if the guy was innocent (not THIS guy, mind you, but a generic fictional guy.) What if he was innocent and escaped to prove it . . . whoops, that’s The Fugitive.
Okay, back to the what if game . . . what if a woman was writing him love letters in prison (yes, they do that, isn’t it sick? “Hi, convicted mass murderer who gets off on torturing women, wanna meet for a drink?” Really, get a life.) Being a psychopath, he thinks only she understands him. But when he gets there, she never wrote them (whoops, done that — JA Jance).
Then, I got to thinking about a thread I read about on one of the chick lit loops. Apparently, prisoners read romance novels. The guy gets fixated on a writer, escapes, and wants his own happily-ever-after, which for him means she’s dead and he’s free. But I’m sure even THAT has been done before.
Maybe we CAN make this stuff up.