Carter Wilson | Thriller Author

Last month I promised to tell you a stupid thing I did. Time to make good on that.

I’ve had a handful of embarrassing moments in  my life, most notably the time I feel asleep on a plane, had a nightmare, then woke up mid-flight screaming and scaring the holy hell out of the entire cabin of fellow passengers. This one is better.

I was asked by a book festival to moderate an evening panel of authors. This panel consisted of the hugely talented writers David Heska Wanbli Weiden and Ramona Emerson, both of whom have written books that collected more awards than I can count (and I can count pretty high). My job was to show up at 6:30pm for a 7pm start at a brewery about an hour north of where I live.

I went up early, grabbed some dinner nearby, then headed to the event. Ever the punctual person, I timed it to arrive right at 6:30. Now, this is where I do my best to make excuses. IT WAS DARK OUT, the brewery was located tucked off a frontage road, and I was unfamiliar with the location. I will also note, for what it’s worth, I hadn’t been drinking, having given up booze a year ago.

So I see the brewery from a distance, turn right to head to the parking lot, and for some reason my mind convinced me I had to keep pulling to the right to get to where I needed to go. I don’t know why I thought this, and even though my headlights were on, I didn’t see that instead of a clear driving path there was a curb in front of me. I hit the curb, going maybe eight miles an hour. Jolting, sure. Stupid, yes. But really not that big of a deal.

Until seconds later, when suddenly my Honda CR-V was pointed downward at a 45-degree angle. Turns out this was no simple little sidewalk curb that I hit, but a barrier beyond which was a 15-foot drop off into a concrete culvert carrying rushing water. My front left tire thankfully wedged into a slope of earth, keeping me from flipping over into the ravine. I sat there for a few seconds, totally stunned, straining against my seatbelt, at which point I calmly muttered “oh my god” twice (yes, I have watched my dashcam video).

I then shame-climbed out of my car and onto the road, at which point I could step back and behold the horror of my car. Then, out of the darkness, I hear, “You okay?” To which I shouted back, “I think so.” I see two figures approaching, and then one of them days, “Carter?”

Yup. It was David and Ramona. I know David, who recognized me, but I’d never met Ramona. It was awkward. Like, yeah, hey, I’m the guy who’s interviewing you in less than thirty minutes, nice to meet you, and no, I’m not drunk, but I’m clearly stupid.

David and Ramona very nicely volunteered to do the event without me, but there was no way I was going to destroy my car and bail on the event. It was then I realized my script for the evening was on the front passenger-side floorboard. Which meant I had to fucking crawl back into my car and snatch the paper, all the while praying my weight didn’t plunge the CR-V into the water.

It worked, but now the clock was ticking. I was shaken but fine, but had to figure out how I was going to get my car back on earth before the event started. Oh, and mind you, every person who was coming to the event had to drive past my car, most of whom stopped and asked what the hell happened. There was a contagious shaking of heads.

I first called Jessica, because I just wanted to hear her voice. She told me I wasn’t an idiot and was happy I was okay (I believed one of those things). Then I called the first tow-truck company I could find on my phone. The very nice and helpful tow-truck driver arrived ten minutes before my event, then told me to go in and have a good time since he was “going to be there for a while.”

The event started, and I announced to the fifty or so in the crowd that yes, it was in fact my car teetering over the edge of a culvert out there. I got some laughs, which is all that really mattered. I was able to successfully interview David and Ramona, and toward the end of the event I saw the tow-truck driver saunter into the brewery. During Q&A I snuck back to talk to him, and he revealed he was able to get the car back on all four tires and, to both our surprise, it still ran. He then stayed for the remainder of the event, I gave him a huge shout out to the crowd, and he then purchased books from David and Ramona and got them signed.

In the end, I managed to get home, then took the car in the shop the next day to have the undercarriage looked at. It’s never a good sign when the mechanic simply shakes their head at you. I’m now in a rental car as my sweet little Honda is undergoing $6,500 in repairs, and to this day I have no idea why my brain thought it was a good idea to make a right-hand turn into a ravine.

All this to say The Father She Went To Find releases in a couple of weeks and you should buy it.

New episodes of Making It Up are out! This month I chatted with #1 NYT bestselling author Boyd Morrison and his sister Beth (The Last True Templar), NYT bestselling historian and novelist Katherine Howe (A True Account: Hannah Masury’s Sojourn Amongst the Pyrates, Written by Herself), novelist Audrey Gale (The Human Trial), and bestselling crime author Matt Coyle (the Rick Cahill crime series).

All episodes are available on my website, my YouTube channel, and wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

What’s Entertaining Me

TV Show

The Night Agent (Netflix, 2023)

This shouldn’t really be filed under “what’s entertaining me”, because this show sucked. Well, I suppose pointing out the endless string of implausible scenarios was a bit entertaining, though I’m sure Jessica got sick of me pausing the show every two minutes to point them out.

I won’t bore you with the plot (Netflix took care of that), but this is basically a “bad people in the White House, FBI agent and sidekick have to save the world” kind of thing. And the setup was good enough that we remained captivated for the first couple of episodes. And then it all started to go sideways.

The key issue wasn’t the difficulty in suspending disbelief, but rather the flatness and lack of growth of the two main characters. That’s the thing, if your characters are boring, no one cares what happens to them, and then you’re bored, and then all those unbelievable scenarios become glaringly obvious. The trick in writing a semi-absurd plot is having the characters be so compelling that you’re willing to go anywhere with them.

Please don’t confuse this with The Night Manager. That show is fantastic.


The Last Murder at the End of the World: A Novel, Stuart Turton (Sourcebooks, 2024)

Fair disclosure, I’m only halfway into this book, but I’m loving it. Stuart is a fellow Sourcebooks author and I’ll be interviewing him at the Boulder Book Store as part of his 2024 U.S. tour, so I got a sneak peek at his upcoming (March 28) release. You might have read some of his earlier books, including The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and The Devil and the Dark Water

The Last Murder at the End of the World is a high-concept murder mystery set sometime in the future as the entire world has been destroyed by a mysterious fog, leaving only 122 villagers and three scientists left to live out their days in peaceful harmony on a fog-protected island. Then one of the scientists is murdered, and the ensuring rush to find the truth of what happened is the only thing that may save the survivors when the fog finally breeches their protective barrier.

Stuart’s a great guy and a helluva writer, and most importantly he’s totally original. I highly recommend this outstanding book. Unless it turns out to have a crappy ending, which I don’t believe for a second it will.

Photo of the Month

What, the picture of my car wasn’t enough for you? Okay. Here’s my spooky house after receiving a fresh coat of paint in January.

Update from my Kids
My daughter (middle of the pic) went with her boyfriend and another schoolmate to Chicago for spring break. I don’t know how they afforded anything, but they had a good time.

Update from my Pets

She found a new place to nap.

Humor of the Month sent to me by a friend


Unbound Writer 2024 retreats – registration now open! I’m offering two in-person retreats in Boulder, Colorado this year, each with a maximum of ten people. Come spend 2.5-days finding community, inspiration, motivation, and confidence in your writing.

May 2-4
October 17-19

All details and testimonials can be found here:
Early-bird discounts and scholarships available. No more excuses, no more idle dreaming. Time to make your writing dreams happen.

In addition to retreats, Unbound Writer also offers one-on-one writing coaching. I can work with you on projects of all sizes, from full-manuscript developmental editing down to weekly check-in and motivation calls.

That’s it for now! Just a reminder to subscribe to my newsletter for more content and access to contests and giveaways. Oh, and if you follow me on social media you’ll see a lot more pictures of my goddamn pets. Until next month…


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