For some time, I had wanted to include in a novel something on information retrieval. I had done some research in that area while working on my dissertation. I thought it could be interesting to have that play a role in a mystery. Then, I read an old Texas folk tale about a wagon load of precious metal being pushed into a lake to hide it from the pursuing Mexican army. It was never recovered.
These two ideas wandered around in my mind for months. Ultimately they collided, and the germ for A Ton of Gold was formed. How could a long forgotten folk tale affect the lives of people today?
I chose a heroine, Crystal Moore, who lost both her parents when she was seven years old and was raised by her grandparents. With her grandfather now dead, her only living relative was the grandmother, Eula Moore, who raised her. When Eula is attacked, Crystal must come to her defense.
To complicate matters, Crystal had been emotionally brutalized in graduate school and, though brilliant in information retrieval, she has no self-confidence. Just the mention of the man’s name causes Crystal to crumble.
I gave Crystal a housemate, Brandi, who barely made it out of high school. Clearly these two are opposites. But Brandi is very streetwise, and often it is Brandi who teaches Crystal about life.
Eula is a feisty, seventy-four year old who is not intimidated by anyone or anything. For a slight romantic interest, I introduced a former bull rider, who is now president of the information retrieval company in Dallas where Crystal works. And of course, the powerful man who had damaged Crystal in the past is coming back. This time, he can destroy her career.
With this basic cast, the story took shape and these characters led the way. Eula’s role increased. Brandi demanded more space and ultimately became a favorite with many readers.
The plot evolves as the old folk tale is discovered at the information retrieval company where Crystal works. Through a series of events, the story gets into the hands of the thugs. Since it came from a computer, they believe it must be true. The treasure is waiting for them. Through threats, they force a staff member to use the company’s powerful programs to narrow down the possible location of the lake which hides the precious metal, now believed to be a ton of gold.
As attempts are made on the Eula’s life, Crystal has no clue who or why anybody would attack an old woman who lives alone in the middle of 320 acres of forest – with a lake. Even when the motive eventually comes out, there is no clue who the thugs are. The criminals resort to murder, arson, and kidnapping in their quest for the treasure.
The former bull rider and Eula herself are instrumental in helping Crystal deal with the attacks. But when the man from Crystal’s past enters the picture, it is Brandi who can provide the help Crystal needs.
Set between Dallas and east Texas, A Ton of Gold shows the growth of Crystal as she slowly regains her self-confidence, deals with criminals who would destroy her only living relative, and with the help of Brandi, learns how to stand up to the powerful man who would destroy her.
After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing. He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books. He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his sixth book releasing in Spring, 2014.
You can learn more about Jim Callan at the following sites:
Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/1eeykvG
A Ton of Gold is available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions: http://amzn.to/UQrqsZ