With each book I’ve written it was always important to have that clear and center before I put the first words on paper. For me it’s like an ignition button. The thing that gets me started.
So what do I mean by a big idea? I’ll give an example. For THE BACK DOOR MAN, my big idea happened during the 2-week gas crisis in Georgia. A big storm hit the Gulf and had a ripple effect where refineries were affected, deliveries were put on pause, and suddenly gas stations were running out of gas in the entire Southeast. It was a minor blip in the scope of things, but it was crazy for those two weeks. There was a run on every gas station. Once people heard that gas supplies were getting low everybody suddenly had to go top off their tanks. Lines piled up at gas stations. People became crazy. My wife, while waiting in line in her car for a pump to get open, saw two people almost come to blows because one of them thought the other cut in line. It didn’t take much. Just eighteen hours into the gas shortage and this one guy was willing to kill this other guy because he thought the man cut in front of him. I saw similar craziness. Horns blaring. People on edge wondering if they were going to be able to get gas before the tanks went dry. And dry they went everywhere. Every gas station, including the one at Costco near me, went dry by the end of the day. The next day there were cars lined up at Costco at 8:00 a.m. just hoping that a gas delivery was going to happen. Four hours later some of those same cars were still there waiting.
It was that second day into the Great Gas Crisis, as coworkers of mine were wondering if they should join the car line at the Costco across the street, when I got my big idea. Not gas, though. My big idea was this: What if credit cards suddenly stopped working everywhere? I don’t know about you, but for me I’d be in trouble. I never carry cash in my wallet. Even when I do, it usually isn’t much. Definitely not enough to pay for a tank of gas or groceries. I figured I wouldn’t be the only one either. We live in a digital age. We expect those credit cards to work. What if they didn’t, though, just for a day? I could only imagine the panic that would ensue.
Once I had that big idea the juices started flowing. A story developed, took shape, and before I knew it I was writing as fast as I could.