Friday, May 10, 2013

From the Crime Writer’s Library—How to Collect Illegal Debts

He leaned against the hood of my car. A lollipop dangled from his mouth like a he was modern Kojak, but the kid's treat didn’t take away from the fact he was there to collect what I owed. Jimmy the Rat had promised if I didn’t deliver what I owed, he would send Guido to break my knee caps. Guido came in a six foot two, a one hundred seventy pound, lollipop sucking brigand that stared me down on the rainy street. My kneecaps already ached in anticipation of what was to come . . ..

The above is fictional, but have you ever written or wanted to write a “knee breaker” into your story and wondered if you got it right and shook off the Hollywood clichés? There are two ways of doing the research. One is to talk to such a debt collector. That may not be most healthy way to go about your writing career. The other way is to read books like How to Collect Illegal Debts, by Harold S. Long.  If you read a previous entry on the Writer’s Lens (From the Crime Writer’s Library—Making Crime Pay—by Harold S. Long) you will remember that Mr. Long is a professional criminal.

In How to Collect Illegal Debts, Long goes into discussions on how to analyze the debtor, the best method of collecting the debt, conditioning the debtor and using fear as a weapon. The book, is out of print but is still available at various used bookstores. It is only 69 pages long, but is a great text book for both understanding the methods of these criminals but also their psychology.

Thank you for reading and please visit and You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.

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