By Kathryn Lane
A week's’ worth of newspapers, yes, old-fashioned printed versions, beckoned me on the coffee table. I confess that in the midst of downsizing and moving, I’d been too busy to read them.
What was serendipitous about that? It covered a topic I’d mentioned in my May newsletter.
First, I should explain that I ask my newsletter readers to submit their favorite quote to me, promising that I will use it in a future newsletter.
This month’s quote was: “My friends are my estate”, submitted by Ann McKennis, a fabulously supportive fan of my work. Instead of analyzing why an introvert like Emily Dickinson would write these words to a friend in a letter, I explored the idea of friends.
So I wrote about the
lifelong friendship of inventors Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. In 1896, Ford
introduced his quadricycle. It ran on gasoline. Edison congratulated his
friend, but told him to “keep at it”, predicting electric cars were the wave of
the future. It also inspired Edison to work on an electric version.
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford
As a writer, why are cars important to me? Authors use them in novels all the time. Think getaway cars in a robbery, luxury vehicles villains use to impress women, and forensic investigators recovering evidence from cars involved in homicides. Vehicles often break down on dark, isolated roads in crime stories. The list goes on.
Cars are important in real life crime as well. John Dillinger, the infamous criminal, made the Model A Ford synonymous with a gangster’s choice in driving during the 1930s. Then Bonnie and Clyde used a 1934 Ford 730 Deluxe Sedan, a car later riddled with bullets when they were killed.
|The Bonnie and Clyde Car|
I marveled at the coincidences of stumbling upon a great article about electric and gasoline cars, especially since Edison and Ford were mentioned. Plus, I learned something new: in the early 1900s in New York City, there were more electric cars than those that ran on gasoline.
So what happened? According to Daniel Yergin, Edison put money, effort, and his personal prestige into developing an electric vehicle, but Ford’s gasoline Model T won the hearts of car buyers. Almost a century later, General Motors introduced a mass-market electric vehicle. In 2008, Tesla introduced the stylish Roadster.
Fiction writers will follow the trend. Electric cars are here to stay. The infrastructure to support self-driving vehicles is under construction. I’m anxious to see authors using self-driving cars for getaways. Of course, institutions that villains can rob may be all online, making the getaway car obsolete.
Are you using electric cars in your novels?
out as a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public
accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a major
multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate world to
plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn
draws deeply from
The Nikki Garcia Mystery Series: eBook Trilogy https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GZNF17G
Quadricycle: "1896 Ford Quadricycle Runabout, First Car Built by Henry Ford" by The Henry Ford is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford by Tom Raftery is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND-SA 2.0
Newspaper Article: Wall Street Journal, Weekend Edition ─ April 24-25, 2021; “The New World of AutoTech” by Daniel Yergin.
Kathryn’s books – designs by Bobbye Marrs