James Paddock Banner Follow James on FaceBook   Follow James on Twitter   Join James on Linkedin   Follow James on Pinterest

The Musings of James Paddock

Who Remembers The Montauk Monster?   

Posted August 12, 2018 (Revised from original post August 29, 2011)

The Montauk Monster
The Montauk Monster – Photo: Courtesy of Alanna Nevitski

One question I am sure to get anytime I do a reading or happen into a conversation with a non-writer about writing is, “Where are your sources of story ideas?” I ask you this: “What was that Montauk Monster that washed up on the Long Island beach back in 2008?” If you’re a writer of fiction or someone who often sits around and contemplates the “What if?”—much like what I did in junior high school which the teachers labeled daydreaming—you would probably be coming up with all kinds of ideas. Before you know it a short story or a novel would be brewing. Back around 2000 or 2001 I was watching the Discovery Channel. It was a piece on the 11,000-year-old sabre-toothed cat remains that had been found in southern California. At the end of the program there was speculation as to whether there was any viable DNA. At the time I lived in Montana. I began thinking about sabre-toothed cat DNA and Montana wilderness and how the two together could make a story. I daydreamed about 800 pound sabre-toothed cats bringing down elk, grizzly bears and, of course, man. That’s all I had in mind when I sat down at my laptop and began writing. I had no idea yet how this DNA would be discovered; nor did I know that it would fall into the hands of a wealthy entrepreneur with good intentions, good intentions that go awry. What I did have was faith, faith that once I created the first scene with the first character, that that character would lead to the next character, and the next, and that before I know it I would be sitting on the edge of my seat, eager to find out what was going to happen next. It led to the publication of my third novel, Smilodon. It has since led to a full-fledged trilogy, adding Sabre City and The Last Sabre.

Sources of story ideas are everywhere

Here are a couple of examples . . . I’m creating (day-dreaming) these as I write this blog.

#1 – My wife and I often go out for a walk in the desert not far from our southern Arizona home. In the middle of a dusty jeep track is a thirty-foot saguaro. (pronounced sa-war-o) The track—could be called a road—virtually splits around it. We wonder about this because a saguaro of this size is hundreds of years old; it was likely a youngster when the locally famous Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino (Jesuit Missionary who traveled from Italy to the Americas in 1689) left his footprints in our Pimeria Alta region (today’s southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico). Maybe he walked around this very cactus when it was knee high. Maybe he created the dirt track that we walk on. Maybe Padre Kino wasn’t the first Jesuit Missionary. Maybe he was preceded by another, Padre Romano, who discovered the lost city of gold and gave up his mission for riches. Maybe Padre Kino also found this lost city, and Padre Romano on his deathbed. Maybe . . .

#2 – True story: our neighbor was driving in Utah this summer when in the dark a bear jumped in front of her. She wasn’t hurt but needless to say the bear didn’t survive and her car required extensive repairs. End of true story. Now the what if. What if after she got out of the car and while waiting for the response to her 911 call, she heard an animal’s cry and with her flashlight spotted two young bear cubs in the trees? What if she comes back later with her son, who she has previously not been getting along well with because of his stand on the environment and animal rights, finds the cubs and brings them home? What if she is a state congresswoman against everything that her son stands for? What if . . . ?

#3 – There is an exit off of I-19 between Green Valley and Tucson, Arizona that goes nowhere. Both directions lead about fifty yards into the desert. What is the story behind this? What could one make up? Could it involve sex, money and death?

The point I’m trying to make is that story ideas are all around us.

They just need a daydreamer to turn them into a page-turner, edge-of-your-seat novel.

By the way, if you publish a novel based on any of these three ideas, don’t forget me in the dedication.

1 comment

Leave a comment

December 20, 2015 at 6:25 am
Maureen Turner wrote...

Ohh, the mind of a writer. The possibilities are endless. Good Luck James with any future blockbusters.


Leave a Comment

Thanks for visiting Dusty Book's blog. Your comments are appreciated.


City:         State:    or   Country:     


Comment: (limit 500 words)

Please enter here:     

Return to the top

Need only name & email

Who is
James Paddock?
James Paddock
James Paddock is author, novelist, playwright and stage actor, not to mention husband, father, proud grandfather and very proud great-grandfather of many beautiful and intelligent children. Still calling Montana his home, James spends his twilight years writing novels, short stories and plays, in between walking Florida beaches, playing pool and hanging out with his wonderful wife, Penny.


April 2021

>Resources for Writers

March 2021

>Sloth Shifter

February 2021

>Angels of Maureen Turner

November 2020

>Angels & Mortals

>Monti Gets Shot

July 2020


>First Breath

January 2020

>The Puzzle

March 2019

>I Hate Typos

September 2018

>Saving Ebony: Page-Turner

August 2018

>Smilodon - The Trilogy

>Cool Characters in Butte

>Resources for Writers

>Characters & Timelines

>Itchy Fingers

>The Montauk Monster?

>Who is Dusty Books?