Where did Unremarkable Circumstances start? How'd the book come to life?

I passed the bar and went into practice with the Federal Defender's Office in '06. It didn't take long to see that just about every presentence investigation report (the report the judge gets from the probation office to help them make sentencing decisions) presents a pretty compelling story. Child-pornography offenders are far more complicated than I think people generally realize. It's such a horrific-sounding crime. But there's almost always more to the story. I got to thinking someone should write a book to better explain the complicated, sometimes heartbreaking, nature of these offenses and offenders. 

At the start of 2017, I found myself bored and just opened up my laptop and started typing. Next thing I knew, I was in a sandwich shop with a wounded kid who was struggling to stay afloat, and by the start of summer, that kid had told me his whole story and the story of his friendship with some "boatpeople" he met along the way. I figured it'd be hard to sell a book about a sympathetic sex offender, but Martin Brown took a chance on it, and for that I am ever so grateful! 

Inmate 17656-090 is not a real person. At all. But he represents the kind of offender many, many cases capture. His circumstances are not far fetched and the legal details are authentic. 

Why Kemah? Why Galveston Bay? Why West Michigan? Why boats?

I've lived a lot of places. People have linked me with Blair, but I think I identify the most with Grayson and his wanderings. He and I have a lot in common, not the least of which is the way I know I've disappointed a few people I love. We all have our "stuff."

 

But like Inmate 17656-090, I moved from West Michigan to Galveston Bay. I love both places and both offer beauty, amazing people, and good adventures. But I didn't choose the settings just because of my move. I chose that path for Inmate 17656-090 because I think it underscores the life change he was trying to make. It's a huge swing from Michigan to Texas: cultural differences, weather (of course!), recreational opportunities, cost of living, employment options. The two places are pretty different and I wanted to show his personal change as reflected in his geographical change.

Let me make this clear: I LOVE Michigan. While Inmate 17656-090 suffered abuse in Michigan, that part of the story in no way reflects on the charm and beauty of that amazing state. It's a magnificent place and Inmate 17656-090 enjoyed a little time on P.J. Hoffmaster Beach.

I used Galveston Bay and boats to give the magical quality that, for me, only the water and boats have. Some people rub the noses of horses and feel that deep kinship and mystery of a connection with another being. I rub anchors hanging off boat bows and feel that. 

What would be the ultimate compliment you could receive as an author? What would you most like to read in a review?

Well, I've resolved not to read reviews. Too much potential roller coaster there.

 

But if someone came up to me and said my story had made them think about their world in a new light and that they had "taken a journey" on my pages, well, that'd be a pretty stellar thing indeed.  

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