I never thought I would have written four prison-related books. That was not my intention some 15 years ago while traveling a beaten-down, two-lane highway to the Dwight Correctional Center. I was about to have my first interview with a female inmate, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. What I thought would be a one-time interview, turned into a two-year journey and my first book — “The Rita Nitz Story: Life Without Parole.”
While working on Rita’s book I met another inmate who was incarcerated for killing her five-year old stepdaughter. The inmate, Becca, suffered from a bipolar disorder, unable to recall the murder. After obtaining copies of her mental health record, I began another two-year journey that turned into a second book — “Cherry Blossoms & Barren Plains: A woman’s journey from mental illness to a prison cell.”
A memoir based on my experiences as a victim of childhood sexual abuse — Mnemosyne: A love affair with memory,” was my third book. “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals,” and “Dark Days in Chicago: The Rehabilitation of an Urban Street Terrorist,” brought my total to five. My role in “Dark Days” was that of an editor, writing coach, and supporter. Point being, I never know where my writing opportunities might lead. A curious mind allows me to explore experiences I never imagined.
Now I’m stepping into the world of Urban Novels. This is a genre quite foreign to me, but popular among readers interested in raw, violent stories associated with urban culture, crime syndicates, etc… The stories can be page-turners, emulating some of the darker movies and television shows we sometimes see.
I met an inmate, a friend of Adolfo Davis who helped me with the research for the Supermax Prison book. The new inmate shared a manuscript of an urban novel he is working on. I have to say, his imagination is without boundaries. His writing is good, but his story telling is outstanding; a real page turner. I have agreed to offer my assistance in his project. It should be interesting to watch the collaboration of an urban novel writer with myself, an author of creative nonfiction. Creative experiences are what keeps me going; a reason to get up in the morning; a writers high without the hangover.