Hard-Boiled or Cozy

I’ve just completed my tenth book. All of them have been mysteries with graphic language. The first book was a treasure hunt centered on a family’s unusual history; and how that search, and the mystery behind it, changed the main characters. All of the other books have been murder mysteries. The Bootlegger’s Legacy was the building block for the other books in style, if not substance. I have described all of the books as being about unique (I hope) characters who are flawed but likable, experiencing some kind of conflict with bad or very troubled, people. The character development and dialogue between characters is an emphasis—there is humor, romance (no sex scenes) and no graphic violence-although, there are murders.

Except for the language choice, some people have described the stories as “cozy mysteries”. I think this may be due in part to my newsletter where I discuss cooking and my favorite recipes. I like cooking—so sue me. And, of course, the Vincent Malone books feature a B&B prominently in the story. So, hey, maybe these are cozy mysteries with a few f-bombs.

In an on-line interview I was asked why I used gritty language in TBL.

My goal was to tell a story about people. Some good ones and some bad ones. Many of the characters in this book are definitely “gritty” and the language they use is part of their character. This book has bootleggers, gangsters, drug dealers and, of course, some nice people. Even the nice people, under stress, can be very expressive.

The Bootlegger’s Legacy definitely set the tone for the other books. The language in all of the books was about authenticity. The characters were real to me (okay I know that is strange) and that was how they would talk, at least on occasion. Bad guys use bad words—it’s part of being bad. Good guys use bad words if someone is trying to kill them—it’s part of being very stressed and unhappy that someone is trying to kill you.

Much of the language is attributed to the personality of the character. In the Muckraker series, Joe Louongo never stops cussing—he is a foul mouth, street smart lawyer who works the under-side of society. Foul language is language to Joe. He doesn’t even notice the words might not be appropriate.

The Governor of New Mexico, Jerimiah Johnson, in the Pacheco & Chino series is a direct speaking no BS type of guy who has forgotten how to moderate his speech. He is direct and foul—so what! That is who he is, and he will not change.

The tenth book Four Corners War will be released September 3rd. All ten books share many aspects; with gritty language being one. The shocking part to me is that it all happens without much forethought. I just start writing and this is what happens.

I had an outline of TBL which did not include the bootlegger back story. It was going to be a misadventure by two “normal” guys trying to accomplish a drug deal in Mexico to fix their financial problems; and how it all went bad. It was going to be a humorous look at how two “good” guys got involved with a bunch of bad guys and didn’t get killed. I thought it was an original story idea—but, of course, we have all seen a ton of movies more or less with that same plot line—only different. I thought it was original because I knew those two guys—really. But the guys I knew never actually did anything—they just talked about it.

I wrote several chapters and realized it just didn’t flow. It was my book and I was already tired of it. It was flat, uninteresting story telling. But something happened. I introduced the bad guys; and wow, the whole story took on a new life. The bad guys were a hell of lot more interesting than my bland, clean speaking Okies. I was inspired. I tore up the chapters I had done and started over with a new vision. I opened with a prologue of the evil gangsters talking in a bar. Foul language, foul people, foul topics—it all seemed a lot more interesting to me and I hoped, my future readers (if there were ever any). The story took off, I enjoyed writing it—and more importantly I enjoyed reading it.

That experience with TBL led to the Pacheco & Chino books; and, yes, some foul language. It just seemed right to me. I know I get criticism from some reviewers who think I should be able to write without using words that offend them—and to them, I apologize that they were offended. But for me, the characters and circumstances dictate the language. All of the books involve very stressful situations and some very bad (or amoral) people. The language becomes part of the story to convey the stress, anger, disappointment, fear, love, hate and even joy that high tension situations can bring about.

Without those evil gangsters and their foul language introduced in The Bootlegger’s Legacy, all of the books could have been G-rated cozy mysteries. I guess that might have been better, but somehow that would not have been me, and I don’t think those characters would have felt as authentic.


Pre-orders of books allow the book to be promoted before being released-obviously. I’m sure the people who know what they are doing, no doubt, already have the book ready long before the release date. Those people also would have advanced copies out to potential reviewers. Not me. My small working group use the release date as a target date to get the damn thing finished. Yes, it’s no way to run a railroad. But so far we have always gotten everything in place on time—although under pressure. The next release is Four Corners War on September 3rd. And we are pleased with ourselves in that everything is ready to go on September 3rd—we are done.

If you haven’t already consider checking out the pre-order on Amazon for the e-book, please do. The pre-orders give me a nice boost at the beginning of the launch and helps with various Amazon programs. If you are more interested in the paperback, it will not be available to order until the 3rd.

Thanks for being a reader!

Wyatt Earp rides again?

This blog is focused on writing in general, indie books in particular and the overall process of publishing and marketing fiction books. On occasion I have gone off on tangents, not directly tied to that focus; but primarily my intent with the blog is to talk about the challenges faced by the indie author.

Maybe this is obvious, but I will state it anyway—the first and most important challenge for an author is writing a book. It begins with that first step in the journey; when you just have a hint of an idea for a book, way before you have written anything—when everything seems so clear.

I have this idea for a book. The primary character will be a retired city bus driver who has experienced a severe brain injury in an accident and now believes he’s Wyatt Earp. He goes from town to town driving his own small bus and becomes entangled in numerous intriguing plots, all due to the fact that the government has mistakenly identified him as a Russian foreign agent. The actual Russian spy was his room-mate at the hospital after his brain injury. The real Russian is also looking for the man, now known as Wyatt Earp, because he had overheard the secret plans that involved the capture of the President of the United States and replacing him with a body double.

That’s the synopsis and it sounds brilliant, don’t you agree, mom?

Yes, the original idea is always brilliant—an instant best-seller. Hello fame and fortune, I’m over here just waiting. Then you start to write. After some time; when you still have not finished chapter 1, you start to wonder about the story, maybe it needs a little fleshing out—or maybe, it should just be a short-story?

Writing is hard. Most of my books will run 65,000 to 75,000 words. That’s not a short-story. If it is a bad story, that’s way, way too long. When everything is going well for me, it seems the story almost writes itself—two, three even four thousand words a day; and I’m waking up early the next day because I can’t wait to get to it. If it is not going well—well, it just doesn’t go. Zero words per day for many, many days. But no matter your mood or how your mind is functioning (or not) that day, you’ve got to try to do something. I know when everything is going smoothly, writing is a joy, when it is going the opposite of smoothly, it is hell. Oddly, for some reason my best stuff happens when it’s going badly. Could be it’s because the story is at a challenging point, so the pressure and tension come into play creating stress, but also creative energy and focus. Probably nonsense, but I write my best when it feels like I’m full of doubt about my writing. Writing is a creative experience, and I think we know very little about how the creative process works.

Four Corners War has just been finished. This is the third book in the Pacheco and Chino series. I began this book in 2015. Got started and quickly became stuck. It was years before I returned. But during that time I never stopped thinking about the story. For years it was on my mind. I wrote other books during that time, but Four Corners War was always there—nagging me to come back. That is part of the creative process—the mind never lets you rest until you have finished.

Not all books are great or even good. With the huge number of Indie Authors writing books today; some of those books might even be bad—but every one of those books took effort. And in most cases it was a work of commitment, passion and love that generated that less than perfect masterpiece. I have great respect for people who are willing to put their creative efforts on display for others—not knowing what those others will have to say.

I’ve complained about the process of publishing, editing, cover design and, of course, advertising/marketing because those are things that have great impact on success or failure. And like most things in life, writing a book incorporates who you are and how you think about yourself—so failure is devastating. But the truth is—none of that matters. There is only one thing that matters; writing the book.

To finish Four Corners War, after many years of frustration and doubt, took only one thing—effort. All I had to do was write the book—which is what I did. Four years later.

Thanks everyone for being a reader!

Truth in Fiction

There are general themes to most fiction books—sex, greed, hate, love, sadness, happiness. These and other attributes get mixed together to form the basis of a fictionalized story. It could be a murder mystery, like most of my books, but basically it’s about human beings; their faults and their strengths—for me it’s usually emphasizing faults (after all it’s a murder mystery). My stories are made up; fiction not fact. For sure, I didn’t personally experience all of these murders first hand, just so I could chronicle them for you to read about. No, I created the characters, the plot and the conclusion from nothing but thin air. Well almost.

All of my books have an element of truth. This may be a character based on someone I knew, could be a location where I lived, or maybe an event that actually happen. Each book has a kernel of truth which grew into a story of complete fiction.

Some of those truths are small, insignificant little facts; some are very important and major to the story. But for me, each seems vital to being able to tell the story. In Four Corners War, my latest book, one of the main characters (Grimes) was based on someone I had met. The book takes place in Farmington, New Mexico, the place I had encountered this real person. The story is made-up but loosely based on things that did occur, or were suspected.

There was a scene in Four Corners War where Grimes’s girlfriend shoots at him with her pistol while he’s in a swimming pool, causing him to swim back and forth as she shot just ahead of him; like it was a strange, deadly arcade game. That actually happened; or at least the real person told the story that it happened. He was a bizarre man but I don’t think he would have made that up. There was also a scene in his airplane where he demonstrates a hard landing like on an aircraft carrier while landing in Albuquerque—I know that actually happened; because I was in the plane– silently screaming.

The Muckraker series of three books I co-authored with Stanley Nelson were based on actual events–a newspaper war in Oklahoma City in the 1960s. In the story a key character, Albright, was inspired by a real person I knew. He was a political columnist for one of the actual newspapers described in the books. At the time, I owned a printing business (yes, one of many businesses I have owned) when I met the Albright character. And, just as occurred in the fictional story, he talked me into publishing a political gossip rag for him, at no cost. Why did I do that? It was a stupid business decision (one of many) but Albright was an amazingly talented and brilliant man who fought each day of his life against corruption and lies—he was a truth teller; and the world needs every truth teller it can get. That sounds like a noble reason on my part; but the truth is probably I just did it on a lark, and had trouble getting rid of him once it started. But he sure was entertaining and I still think he was brilliant.

All of my books occur in places where I have been or lived, and each location has special memories.

The Bootlegger’s Legacy was the story of two rather ordinary and not so happy guys trying to solve their life issues and fix their money problems. The story began and ended in Oklahoma City, where I was born and lived for a big chunk of my life. Not an exotic location but it had its own uniqueness. The characters were based on people I had known and maybe ever so slightly, myself. The idea of the backstory about a bootlegger was based on a childhood memory when the kids in my neighborhood would talk about the bootlegger who live on the next block over. For one summer it was the major excitement for us to know that there was a bootlegger right in our neighborhood. I remember wondering what it actually meant to be a bootlegger (I was very young). This was kid gossip about something forbidden, and it was very enticing.

Vincent Malone and Ray Pacheco do not represent anyone I have ever met. However, those series do take place in locations that I know well. Las Cruces, Truth or Consequences, Cloudcroft, Ruidoso, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Farmington, Durango, El Paso and Denver. Each book, hopefully, captures some of the charm and uniqueness of these locations. While my books are definitely character driven with a strong emphasis on dialogue; the locations provide a backdrop of authenticity that I believe adds to each book.

Lots of stuff floating around the internet about how to write a book. Seven steps to a successful book. Step by Step process in creating your first book. Most of these will mention creating an outline, developing character details, brainstorming story ideas, create your ideal work environment—none of that has much to do with writing a story; a fiction book—at least not for me. At the core of every one of my books is some personal experience I had. I will take that experience and stretch it, mold it, exaggerate it, throw it against the wall and finally, decide on what I want to write. Not very scientific or even akin to common sense, but it works for me.

Incorporating something familiar, whether a person or a location, can be a good way to add yourself to the story. My best work, I believe, comes from these personal connections. It gives the story a sense of truth—even though it’s only fiction.

Thanks for being a reader!

Ignorance and Fear

While the children follow Jack. The kids
all do the “rain dance” chanting “Kill the beast,
slit her throat, bash her in”. Simon, not knowing what is going on, runs to alarm the other kids of a finding of his, the kids mistake him for the beast because his rustle through the tree scares them.

This is a departure from what I had planned to post today. The mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, was so upsetting I had to comment. I lived and worked for many years in Las Curces, New Mexico, which is a few miles north of El Paso. I moved to Las Cruces to take a Controller’s job with a large propane supplier which had dealings in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. Plus, this company did significant business within Mexico through Juarez. Prior to this experience I had spent my entire life in Oklahoma, with all of the middle America bias that would suggest.

My experience in a multi-cultural, multi-language border community was an amazing awaking for me. One of my joys in life had been painting, but it had been dormant for a long time. Almost immediately this seemingly barren desert land and its colorful culture inspired me. Everywhere I looked there was something wonderful that I wanted to paint. The awareness of texture, color and beauty that I had felt, when I was young and thinking I wanted to be an artist, returned. I didn’t see a barren desert– it was alive with color and contrast. I have never painted as much as I did while living in this radiant part of the world. I fell in love with cacti—okay maybe it wasn’t love, how about fascination.

Many of my books take place in this part of the world. The Bootlegger’s Legacy has key scenes in Juarez and El Paso. The center of the mystery in the book begins to unravel in Las Cruces. Dog Gone Lies starts in Las Cruces and moves to T or C, New Mexico. Vincent Malone finds his mojo in Santa Fe. Yes, no question, that part of the country had great impact on me.

I attended numerous business meetings in El Paso and Juarez both as the Controller of the large propane company and then later as a self-employed financial consultant. There was one constant over those many years. The kindness and friendliness of the people I dealt with. Often these were Mexicans or Mexican descent Americans who more comfortably spoke Spanish than English. I was always treated with great respect and never did my lack of knowing their language cause any issues. They were bi-lingual and often some of the smartest people I have ever met in business and yet they accommodated me. If they ever thought what a dumb yokel I was, they never showed it.

Over the years I learned that graciousness was not something they did to accommodate a fish-out-of-water Okie, it was who they were; it was part of their culture to treat people in this wonderful manner. Now don’t get me wrong there are plenty of bad people who live in this area, but a lot fewer than most imagine. Over a very long business career I can assure you my most horrific experiences with people happen in places other than these border towns. One of the worst business meetings I ever had was in a high rise in LA with some of the biggest jerks on this planet—but that’s another story.

My experiences in Juarez were especially surprising to me. The business people I met in Juarez were some of the most sophisticated and knowledgeable people I’d ever been around. They were often running huge companies with international dealings and yet were polite and accommodating. I never went into a business meeting that did not feel warm and comfortable—even if we were negotiating difficult issues. Every meeting was conducted in perfect English to accommodate me—with no remarks about my inability to speak Spanish.

Some of this good feeling I experienced started to change before I left the region and definitely changed a lot after I left; due to the increased drug traffic. That change harmed both sides of the border and I believe was mishandled as much by us as the Mexicans. But even with increased violence due to the drug gangs these communities along the border are connected in ways it is hard for outsiders to understand. It was not that long ago that most of this area was Mexico. Many of the people who live here have grandparents or great grandparents who were born here when it was Mexico. Calling these people immigrants is the height of ignorance.

Our relationship with Mexico is a complicated mixture of joy, mistakes, misery and national treasure. But it is not foreign. We have great historical links that provide a wonderful cultural gift to everyone who lives in this country. We should celebrate our good fortune every day that we have this diversity. The hate we see from a few is based on ignorance and fear.

The human race has a long and troubling history with ignorance and fear—but we can’t seem to move away and embrace the goodness that exists all around us. Let’s hope someday we can.

Thanks for being a reader!

New and Innovative

I’ve mentioned before that I get requests to do written interviews. This usually comes from blogs and web sites focused on indie authors–often sites hawking something themselves. They send me a list of questions that I do my best to answer in thoughtful, honest and even funny ways.

Recently as part of a long list of questions from a web site, they asked: What are some things that haven’t been done in the mystery genre that you hope to introduce through your books?

What an interesting question. Things that haven’t been done in the mystery genre? What the hell would that be? How about divulge who did it at the beginning? Have the good guy commit the crime? Have no mystery at all? It was such an interesting question that I could not stop thinking about it. Then it occurred to me; why would that even be important?

Why screw around with something that works? It’s our addiction to new, innovative—different. As consumers, we want the latest thing there is; so that must mean as readers, we want something different, right? I stumbled across an article where some people (none known to me) were predicting the future trend in book genres; they mentioned—Urban Fantasy, Science Fantasy, Utopian stories, and Cyberpunk. Maybe this is new and innovative; but I write mysteries—I don’t think I’m going to end up on anyone’s trend list.

Many of my books follow a rather predictable path. An introduction, character development, a crime is committed (usually murder), investigation, a few twists, discovery of the truth and the conclusion; which must address all of the details that have not been fully explained before. Hey, it is a mystery novel –what were you expecting.

I’ve seen way too many movies that just end. Did they run out of money and this was all they could finish? Or maybe that is being creative. In the middle of a scene the movie just ends. What happened to the characters in the movie—how did it really end. I definitely would not want to read a mystery book that ended before the mystery was solved—or is that something new; let the reader solve the mystery however they want! I would think most readers would not be pleased with an abrupt ending without knowing who did what.

My answer to the question from the web site was: Wow, I have no idea. If I knew I might not tell you—something that hasn’t been done in a mystery after a billion mystery books—I’m going to think about that.

So, now I’ve thought about it, and I’m going to stick to the classic format of mystery books. For innovation I will work on better, more in-depth characters, improved realistic dialogue, unique settings and more surprises in each book. Nothing really different than a thousand other mystery books, but do it better.

This brings me to a confession of sorts. The Hightower series was an attempt to break my pattern. Hightower is someone who, mostly by accident, has discovered how to extend life. The book starts in 2020 and at that time Hightower is 120 but still looks as if he is in his 50s. The murders that are at the heart of the story took place in the 1930s and Hightower knows (and the reader knows) who committed the crime. This book will fit into several genres including mystery; but it’s different. So maybe I do want to write something innovative. Now for the confession part—I’ve hit a brick wall. Yep, not sure what to do next. Approaching the half-way point in the book and not sure where to take the story. I’ve been here before.

That time it was Four Corners War. I got stuck in 2016 and it took three years to get back to the book and finish it. During that time, I wrote five other books—but FCW just laid there; waiting for inspiration. When I returned, it all came to me how I wanted the story to go and quickly finished the book. It had never left my mind. It will be published Sept 3rd, 2019.

Pre Order Now!

My cure for my Hightower blues will be the 4th Vincent Malone book, Durango Two Step. While Hightower rests I will complete DTS. In the next few weeks I will give you a peek at the first few chapters of DTS. This will be Vincent’s most challenging adventure, putting all of his new life at risk.

What’s in a Name?

What’s In A Title?

Currently writing the first Hightower series book. Working title has been A Doctor Hightower Novel: The Case of the False Prophet. Maybe as a consequence of the writing going slower than I would like I’ve decided the series name and the title of the book are wrong. Yes, this may be akin to shuffling the chairs on the Titanic—but I’m going with a different name. For the series it will now be Hightower Chronicles and this first book will be False Miracle.

Could this possible matter at all? Okay, maybe this is just a smoke screen to hide the current delay in progress, but my honest answer is yes, it does matter. The second Vincent Malone novel was going to be about artists and the art business in Santa Fe. I envisioned some unique or possibly even odd characters populating this story of greed, lust and murder. I was looking for a clever title and decided on Blue Flower Red Thorns. Okay, nice words; but what the hell does it mean. Maybe it is allegorical referencing beauty and pain. Maybe it has no meaning and was designed to confuse and irate readers? Of course, that would be very stupid thing to do. Or would it?

The name could be a reference to a Shrek movie where the donkey is sent to search for a blue flower with red thorns—which he bemoans would be easier if he was not color-blind. Searching for a healing flower while you cannot see the difference does sound like something with lots of hidden meanings. Maybe it relates to the beauty of the great art produced by less than perfect people. The characters were seeking beauty but not seeing the ugliness in their midst. Could be.

Another possibility is from the Urban Dictionary: “a way of saying you don’t care about someone else’s current situation, or what they are trying to do, because you have shit of your own to take care of.”

That attitude would definitely fit the story line of some very egotistical self-absorbed characters. So there is the answer– it is a vague reference to something most people do not know that reflects the overall attitudes of several of the main characters.

The metaphor with the flower and contrasting thorn (no matter the color) fits the contrast between the beauty created by a talented artist and the challenge of a troubled person who is creating that art.

Now the question is; was that a good idea to name the book something that is at best confusing? I think the answer is no. If I had it to do over again I would choose something else. But I’m not changing the title—it is what it is. While I think my logic about the title had merit it was just to obscure to have general meaning to most people. I could have made the title Elephants and Rats and it would have meant as much to most.

I thought Blue Flower Red Thorns had some of the most interesting characters I have written about. Some of this inspiration came from my short-lived desire to be an artist. When I was young my ambition was to be an artist. I was talented but not exceptionally so—as a result I could have the dream, but the reality stayed far away. But my experience in the art world introduced me to people who more often than not saw the world through a different lens. The main character in BFRT is Ilse De Vries, one of the most talented contemporary artists in the world—all at an incredibly young age. She swoops into Santa Fe and creates a storm of not only artist expression but mayhem.

In ways maybe not obvious, all of the characters in Blue Flower Red Thorns referenced the contradiction in the title; sometimes nice, sometimes very nasty. Much like the art world in general.


Pre-Order Now!

The latest (and maybe last) Pacheco & Chino book, Four Corners War, is now available for preorder on Amazon. This book is definitely inspired by my personal experiences in Farmington, New Mexico. Much of my working career as a financial adviser was related to business acquisitions. One such experience in Farmington was especially memorable, and much of what I saw many years ago is the basis for FCW—although in the book it is enhanced to make it more interesting. Plus, a large portion of the story is just made up out-of-whole-cloth. It was great fun to write because of that past connection—but this book took forever; for various reasons. I enjoyed writing FCW but am also glad that it is done.

Lies and True Lies

Where do story ideas come from? My first book, The Bootlegger’s Legacy, story idea was to have a couple of “normal” guys try to make a drug deal to help them with their financial problems. It was going to be about how they managed to screw everything up—since they were not criminals, just people with money problems looking for an out. As much as anything, I think at the beginning I saw the book as a comedy with some stupid crooks making all kinds of lethal mistakes. This idea came from my own experience in Oklahoma City in the 1980s.

This was a difficult time for most people in Oklahoma with a sudden and dramatic collapse of the oil industry. This was especially true for small business owners. Of course, with the local economy in the toilet, business was bad for most everyone. But there was an ugly ripple effect related to banks. All of the local banks were heavily involved in the oil industry, and when that industry tumbled, it brought down banks. The bank failures led to small business loans being called by the FDIC. Even a healthy business usually cannot pay-off a loan immediately that was not expected to be due. And, of course, there was no way to get another bank loan because the whole banking industry was on the ropes.

One such business was owned by a friend of mine and he sought my advice. As you may or may not know my background is financial—CPA and financial consultant. I helped him analyze his situation and basically told him there was no hope. Not what he wanted to hear. He had to come up with a boat load of cash or he faced bankruptcy. This actually is the first part of The Bootlegger’s Legacy story.

I did not know it at the time, but heard later, that he and another fellow developed a scheme to make a drug deal with some people from Mexico to solve their money woes. Fortunately, for my friend, his plans fell through. He never executed his absurd idea—where more than likely he would have been killed. He brought a partner into his business who had some cash and they were able to refinance the debt with an out-of-state bank. As the economy recovered his business grew and thrived.

So the actual story I based my idea on was basically boring. Nothing much happened and with a little luck the business owner survived. He never had a wild, dangerous adventure in Mexico, never got shot, never did much of anything except refinance his debt. Not exactly a book anyone would read.

But from that kernel of an idea came an adventure involving a bootlegger, a vast hidden fortune, a gorgeous mistress, divorce, romance, new life paths, family mysteries solved, great wealth and new loves.

Why did the story change? Because the actual story was not very interesting; the original idea was okay but the real story was just plain boring. So, I did what writers do; I made up a bunch of stuff. Hopefully fun, interesting, exciting stuff—a story you would want to read. Much of the story I made up as I wrote. Obviously this is not the best way to write, but it seems to work for me. I just get started and it seems to take on its own life, going from one thing to the next based on what seems right in the world I have created.

The Bootlegger’s Legacy became an entirely different story than what I thought at the beginning. In retrospect that was very good.

My next book, Dog Gone Lies, was a direct result of The Bootlegger’s Legacy. There was a small part in that book for a local sheriff who helped the TBL guys while they were in Las Cruces, New Mexico; Sheriff Ray Pacheco. I liked this character a lot and decided I wanted to know more about him—so I wrote a book where he was the main character. In a way TBL and the Pacheco & Chino books are a result of a bad idea a friend had on how to solve his financial problems that he never really attempted. Ideas for books come from all sorts of things– even out of thin air or some past experience.

The third Pacheco & Chino book, Four Corners War, will be available for pre-order July 1st. This story also was due to one of my own experiences. While not a true story by any means, many of the events in FCW did actually happen; but none of the murders. Maybe that is what novels are—real life stories exaggerated and contorted to make them more interesting to read. After all; it is fiction.