Sunday, June 10, 2012

Secret Witness Book Tour – Part 1:

I toyed with daily blogging about the book tour in Michigan last week but honestly, I needed the downtime.  Overall I was pleased and found the events engaging.  It was good to be back in Marshall, Battle Creek, and Kalamazoo again. 

First stop – Be Scene TV with Sherii Sherban.  We had a very engaging discussion about the book.  Here’s a link if you want to watch it. Be Scene TV Interview on Secret Witness  Sherii's always a bundle of energy and a lot of fun to sit and have a discussion with. 

Monday evening I was at a packed (50+) crowd at the Marshall District Library.  I’ve done speaking engagements at the National Archives, the US Navy Museum, and on national TV and radio shows.  Oddly enough I was most nervous about this event.  The reason is simple, if I didn’t do a good job as a researcher and historian – I would be insulting and enraging a lot of locals.  The good news was the book was very well received (with one exception – I’ll talk about that later). 

In the crowd were a number of the key players – Fred Ritchie, former Calhoun County Sheriff’s Deputy and one of the key investigators.  Ron DeGraw, the secret witness that broke the case was there as well as others.  People who had read the book felt it was accurate.  Those that hadn’t were excited about reading it. 

There was one dissenting opinion.  A relative (by marriage) to the family of the victim that felt I didn’t reach out to the victim’s family.  For the record I did.  I didn’t track down every relative out there, that much I can assure you.  When you are writing a book like this you can’t spend hours trying to track down everyone born since 1967 to have them weigh in on it.

In this case she told me that one of the relatives wanted to, “Kick your ass.”  I did a quick check to make sure I had not time-warped to the sixth grade back at Wattles Park Junior High.  The real issue here was that the family had not shared the full truth with the children.  My book put them all in an uncomfortable place.  There’s a lesson to be learned here, don’t keep all of the family secrets from the kids.  In this day and age, some are bound to get out.  Clearly it was not my intention to embarrass anyone, hence I had done a reach out to the key people who were still alive at the time of the crime.  Strangely enough, she purchased two books...

I met with the Battle Creek Enquirer reporter Trace Christenson who interviewed me for a short time.  Trace is a neat guy and we are at opposite ends of the same spectrum.  He covers true crime for the paper – things as they happen.  I delve into them after the fact.  We may not agree on everything but it is great to talk to someone who understands the system and key players now.  We even managed to get in a few minutes on the subject of one of my upcoming books – the Daisy Zick murder in 1963. 

On Tuesday I had lunch with the wife of Detective Kenney, her daughter, and granddaughter.  I was able to provide them a limited glimpse into their husband/father/grandfather through the research I did in my book.  She kept thanking me but it was me that owed them the thanks. 

That evening I did a small event with the Battle Creek Heritage (Historical Society).  I always enjoy meeting with members of this group.

More to follow…right now I need to finish unpacking. 

1 comment:

  1. You can't please everyone!

    I have to say, I normally don't read true crime novels. However, hearing about how you've meet the people involved in the case has piqued my interest. I'm going to have to give it a look now.