One of the reasons I'm not running into writer's block while writing novel number 2 is the subject matter. It's a crime thriller set in the 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 second only to Texas in oil production in the U.S.), 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 come with some 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.

 

However, North Dakota sure enjoys the money workers dig out of the ground. It boasts the lowest unemployment rate and fast job growth. A failed proposal last fall would've done away with property taxes.

 

After a trip into Minot, near the epicenter of the boom in Williston, 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.

 

The real world 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. The same man is also looking at charges for terroristic threats. A judge set a $1 million bond.

 

I'll be watching what happens 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.

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