Tuesday, October 19, 2010

True Crime/When Opportunity Strikes

JAN - I don't mean to be dumping on Wisconsin two blog weeks in a row, but this is just too good an opportunity for anyone contemplating writing a thriller.

In Madison, the electronic monitoring system tracking sex offenders, parolees and other bad guys went on the fritz. When some sort of computerized system in Boulder Colorado, unexpectedly hit its "data storage" capacity one Tuesday, authorities in 49 states were left in the dark about 16,000 of these bad guys whereabouts for twelve hours.

The tracking devices still tracked. But the good guys couldn't read the data. Why this affected Wisconsin more than the other states is unclear. The only thing I know is that in Wisconsin, most of these untracked bad guys were sexual offenders.

So there you go: You have your bad guy free at large, you have your ticking clock, twelve hours and you probably need some good guy who is the first to figure it out. Et VOILA. A thriller is born.

Or conversely, you could have a good guy, convicted unfairly, who now has twelve hours to go to the one place in the world he's not allowed to go -- by his parole rules - and find the proof that will get him a new trial.

Or you have the victim, the abused girlfriend/wife/gay lover who receives notice from her/his boyfriend at the data company in Boulder what just went down and knows her tormenter could be after her for the next twelve hours....

In real life, this appeared to be a technology snafu - but in YOUR novel, you also have the option of making it sabotage.

OKAY everyone, put on your thinking caps. I want to hear some great PLOT scenarios out of this one.

And come back tomorrow, when I interview Leslie Wheeler about Native Americans, seafarers, and New England Living History.

Thursday, I'll be interviewing our own Roberta Isleib about her new Key West mystery series featuring Food Critic Hayley Snow as sleuth.

And Friday, we have a special guest, debut author Allison Leotta. Her novel is "Law of Attraction."


  1. Jan, you are so clever! I swear I would look at that news article and have absolutely nothing come to mind...

  2. Sounds like a plot I could have used in my new novel (Come and Find Me) where the protagonist is a hacker. With the Internet, he says, "They always know where you are." Not something he considers laudable. Too late...

  3. Roberta,
    I just loved that there was a built in TICKING CLOCK. I could actually see it as a film.

    Too late, it's mine now.



  4. OH, what a GREAT idea.

    And interesting--it's one of those things that in a book, someone might say, oh, that could NEVER happen. You know?

  5. Interesting, Jan. An electronic tracking system goes on the blink for a day or so. Wonderful story starter!

  6. Hi Nancy,

    And I was teasing Hallie, its actually not mine..... that's what's so great about the news.....