Posts Categorized: The Shop

Books do one thing that television and movies can’t do:

They give you your own personal experience. Reading calls upon you to see what YOU see, and while it might be similar to the author’s intention, what you see comes from where you live, who your family is, how you see the world, the experiences you’ve had. If you lived in Greenland, you would experience a different world than a person who lives, say, in Tucson, Arizona.

I’ve never been to Greenland, so if someone describes it, I still see it my way: a vast platform of ice, populated by polar bears. Or maybe it’s taken from a TV show I saw as a child—Eskimos fishing. It comes from everything I’ve learned up to this point.

Childhood, school, the area where I live, what the people are like in my neighborhood, if I live way out on a ranch somewhere or cheek-to-jowl in a crowded city. People have mutual experiences, like school, learning to drive a car, your job. Your car might be an expensive beauty, and mine might be falling apart.

So we see everything through the prism of our own minds and experiences—and books give us the freedom to do just that.
Do you see what I see graphic
MY view of a cabin in the woods, depending on the area you or I live in, would look different from YOUR cabin in the woods. My picture of a strong female cop might be different from your idea of a strong female cop. She could be massive and strong. She could look like the cop on Criminal Minds. She could be red-haired, freckled, model-thin, with a whip-smart mind and a smart mouth to go with it. Whoever she is, she’s YOUR person. You made up your half of her.

If my character is driving on a lonesome winding highway in the middle of the night, YOU’RE driving on a road that might be like it, but it’s all your own—it’s your road. You fill in the pieces of the puzzle. That, in a nutshell, is the wonder of reading.

And because you hold the other piece of the jigsaw puzzle, I respect you and I respect what you add to the story. It takes two to tango. And I can’t help but wonder: what do YOU see?

Show me how you see it

Here are five subjects that have appeared in my books. I’m going to furnish you with a short description of each scene, and it’s up to you to fill in the blank. What does it LOOK LIKE?

Please post those pictures here on my Pinterest Page. Choose as many as you’d like. I’m really curious how you see these places and people.

1. A cabin in the woods near Aspen, Colorado—the opening scene of my thriller, The Shop.

2. A guy out in the boonies with a camper and a dog on a chain—from The Survivors Club.

3. A bombed-out house in Iraq with a secret stash of incredible riches—from Hard Return.

4. A bandshell in a western town—from Darkness on the Edge of Town.

5. A horsewoman teaching a riding class—from The Survivors Club.

I wonder how different your photos will be from other peoples’ photos, or what I saw as I wrote these scenes. I really want to know what YOU see. Go to

Categories: Books Darkness on the Edge of Town Hard Return The Shop The Survivors Club

When a murder happens, the ramifications of that act affect everyone in its immediate circle. It spreads out like concentric circles in a pond, touching people who never even knew the victim. You see it every day on television. The little boy kidnapped on a walk home from school. The wife and mother who inexplicably disappears. The beautiful model killed, left in a dumpster and burned beyond recognition.

Murder changes everything. It is an assault to the system.

And sometimes, there is murder that seems to have no motive. But we know there’s always some kind of motive, if we look hard enough.

There are some in this world who cast a cold, hard eye on the innocent, and use them for their own aims.

Think about JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, which flourished under Vice President Dick Cheney, where CIA operatives, in conjunction with Blackwater LLC, trained assassins to kill al-Qaida operatives–the ultimate outsourcing. Who cares about al-Qaida? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see them all dead. So why should that give us pause?

Maybe because once you start down that road, it’s hard to get back off. Maybe, if you can take care of certain problems, cleanly and efficiently, you begin to extrapolate the desired results to other situations, and before you know it—

The Shop by J. Carson Black

There’s a domestic version of JSOC.

My political crime thriller, The Shop–about a group of young people killed in a house in Aspen–is, I hope, a rollicking good story. But it serves another purpose. I see it as the canary in the coal mine.

There are people who will do you harm at the drop of a hat. They don’t even need the hat. And there are unseen forces behind governments that seek only greater riches, greater power, and to consolidate what power they have so it will never be threatened. So much of what is happening in the world today is the result of the Unseen. The oil pipeline nobody hears about on the news. A secret pact between two countries–and suddenly hundreds are dead. The undermining of a legitimate government. Backroom deals with Wall Street firms. And money–billions of it—lubricating it all like a fine machine.

There’s the increasing feeling in this country, that no matter what he does, the Average Joe is getting nowhere. Because, he feels, the game is fixed.

Brienne Cross and the young people with her in the house in Aspen had no idea what was coming for them, and they would never have guessed why they were slated to die. They were as lambs to the slaughter.

While their story as told in The Shop is fictional, it reflects larger truths.

For my part, I felt compelled to return to the story after I wrote it, and explore their lives–the lives of the victims. So now I give you the Story behind the Story.

— J. Carson Black

Categories: Cyril Landry The Shop

I admit it: I thought ebooks were a fad. In 2010 I had been beating my head against the wall for three or four years after my last book deal with a New York publisher. I couldn’t sell a book to save my life.

So my husband and I began putting up all the books we’d gotten the rights back to. I thought it wouldn’t work out. But I liked designing the covers with him.

And it didn’t work out. At least not at first. My best bud and fellow New York Times Bestselling author, Carol Davis Luce, was also putting up a book. We launched our first books on Amazon in the fall. And I promptly sold about one book a month for three or four months. One. Not a very good business model, right? Eventually, Carol and I started selling about seven books apiece. It was an arms race, sort of.

With very few arms.

Everything changed the following February. I was looking at my numbers and all of a sudden I had sold 300-plus books in the course of an hour! What was that all about?
Laura Cardinal Series by J. Carson Black
And it didn’t end there. My books started selling like hotcakes—if hotcakes were on the internet and were strapped to a rocket. By June I sold 10,000 books in the Laura Cardinal series. I got up to 300,000+ before I stopped counting. My friend Carol was doing just as well. It was the Wild West and we were like those homesteaders who put up stakes in rich bottom land and ran cattle on the range, ready to build a dynasty.

And it lasted a long time. I joined other authors in various promotions. And we all sold like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

But the thing was, for most of that wild and crazy time, I didn’t write at all. It was like watching the stock market. I sat around eating cheese crisps for lunch, my face ten inches from the computer, hitting refresh on the browser, watching as my numbers went up and up and up.

I wasn’t an author anymore. I was an e-trader.

After a while (a good LONG while) the numbers started to fall off and it wasn’t as much fun anymore. Nobody likes to go downhill, and there was no way I could sustain those kinds of numbers.
The Shop by J. Carson Black
Then I sold The Shop in a two-book deal to Thomas & Mercer. But that meant I needed to write another book. It was a tough one to write, because I really missed sitting on my ass eating cheese crisps and watching my numbers. But finally I got into the story and wrote the best book I could. Icon was born.
Icon from NYT thriller author J. Carson Black
I look back on those days and think of it as a haze. As if I’d been swallowed down the rabbithole.

But I have to admit, those cheese crisps tasted darn good at the time.

Categories: Publishing Hub-Bub The Laura Cardinal Project The Shop The Writing Life