|Posted on August 30, 2012 at 6:00 AM|
I'm about a third of the way through writing novel number 2. That's a little inaccurate time-wise, since writing and editing are two different things. But this first draft is rolling along anyway.
One of the reasons I'm not running into writer's block is the subject matter. It's a crime thriller set in the present day oil boom of North Dakota. There's plenty of first-hand research to draw from, as well as scores of news articles.
Other than the oil itself (North Dakota is now second only to Texas in oil production), the "Man Camps" are a hot issue. The huge influx of oil workers around 2008 resulted in a severe housing shortage. As a result, oil companies quickly organized Man Camps. These can range from proper dormitories and apartments on down to trailers and campers. No matter the type, they're assembled as quickly as possible.
These camps aren't without controversy. North Dakota officials, overwhelmed by the population explosion, have concerns about security and the demand for services. Some local governments even took measures to discourage workers and camps in their areas.
On the other hand, North Dakota sure enjoys the money workers dig out of the ground. It boasts the lowest unemployment rate and fastest job growth in the United States. A failed proposal last fall would've done away with property taxes.
After a trip to Minot, near the epicenter of the boom, I knew this was the perfect setting for a crime novel. The workers run the gamut from regular Joes supporting families to the roughest guys you'll ever meet. They all have lots of money and not much to do with it in town. Throw in some anxious locals, a major flood, mountains of cash and people from all over North America mixing it up in Man Camps, and you've got the start of a great crime story.
Reality seems to think so, too. Murder charges have been leveled against a man for a series of alleged incidents near a Man Camp in Tioga. He's also being charged with making terroristic threats. A judge set a $1 million bail.
I'll be watching the proceedings carefully. North Dakota locals are already leery of the Man Camps. There's a lot of money on the line. This is sure to be interesting.