Monday, October 18, 2010

The Austin Book Festival

So, this weekend I ventured to Austin to attend the Austin Book Festival.  I went with the intention of meeting David Dow, who wrote "Autobiography of an Execution."  The reason? Mr. Dow was Khristian Oliver's last attorney.  I had corresponded with him briefly and wanted to meet him in person.  I also wanted to attend the lecture, which had three writers discussing their various books that happened to deal with execution.
There was Dow, whose book I'd read, Thomas Cahill (A Saint on Death Row) and Robert Elder (The Last Words of the Executed).  The discussion was fascinating, but much too short.  Oddly, I knew the moderator from a writing conference I attended in Ouray, CO.  It is such a small world.  I have posted a link to the lecture and I encourage you to view it.  Capital Punishment in America

I am in the audience and at one point, the camera focuses on my grimaced face.  I of course look at the camera.  So, that alone should compel you to watch!

I bought Cahill's book and just finished it.  It is a short, but very powerful book.  I highly recommend it.  It came out last year and is now available in paperback. 

Well, that's all the news that's fit for print.  I'm busy working on my manuscript and one day maybe my book will be on the shelves of your local bookstore.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Letters to and from the not yet dead

There was a story in the news today about a man that was stranded in Joshua Tree National Park without food or water.  He wrote notes to his family, believing that he would die and he wanted to communicate with those he loved.  It got me thinking.  I contacted a man who knew he was going to die for my thesis because he knew the actual date and time.  It wasn't a terminal diagnosis that could last months or maybe years.  There was a timeline attached to his life.  Because of that ticking clock, he answered my questions about his impending death.  That experience changed my life.

Currently, I am communicating with another man on death row.  I'm not doing it for this project, but because I was asked to by the man's spiritual adviser.  I was hesitant at first because the man's crime scared me, whereas Khristian Oliver didn't.  But, I wanted to "be the change I wanted to see in the world."  Regardless of what this man did, he is still a human being.  He does not deserve to be treated like an animal.  If we want people to change their ways for the better, it helps to treat them like a human being first.  Most people live up to the expectations of others.  If you are constantly reminded of how bad you are, what's the point in trying to change your ways?  What if it didn't matter?  What if there was an expiration date tattooed on your forehead? 

This man I'm communicating with has chronicled every execution at the prison he is at.  He didn't know all of the men, but he felt it was important that there be some sort of writing about them that didn't involve their crime.  Yes, they've done horrible things, but think about this if you will...

Picture your worst day.  Maybe a day when you yelled at your kids or said something mean and spiteful to your spouse or your best friend or the cashier at the store.  Maybe you did something worse.  Now, imagine that that day will forever be broadcast to everyone you know and that's how you will be remembered.

Kind of sucks, huh?

Ever thought of being a pen pal to a death row inmate? Click Here.