At the age of 16, I was arrested for a crime I didn't commit, ultimately spending 18 years of my life in prison before finally being released in 2011.
During the past two years, I have had the amazing opportunity to speak about the case to people all across the country. One of the questions I've most often been asked is when I would write a book. Until now, my answer has been that I would pen my memoir when I reach the ripe old age of 90 and have lived a long and full life.
But the more I share my story, and the more questions that I am asked about my life's experiences, the more I have come to realize this story needs to be told not later, but now. There is much more than I can possibly share on a stage with a microphone in hand, try as I might. Time just always seems to run short, someone's questions do not get answered, and I am often rushed past the parts of the story that give it weight. Now, two years into this wonderful whirlwind of freedom, the whole idea of penning my memoir makes a bit more sense to me, and I am eager to share with you my life's stories.
Since I was released, I have traveled the country advocating for criminal justice reform. I also earned my Associate of Arts degree, during which time I took creative writing classes that I feel have equipped me with the tools I need to write effectively and completely. I'm launching this project now because I would like to take a year off from traveling, to devote the time and energy that it will take to share my story. Your generosity will afford me that time, as well as help cover the costs associated with publishing and producing a book.
I hope to have at least a digital copy of this book in your hands within a year. Of course, that timeline may shift, but I will update you monthly with my progress, including a snippet of what I've been working on, and perhaps a poem or photo of something that has been inspiring me lately. I view this as a journey I'll take with you, with those of you who are new to the case, and especially those of you who shared your lives with me throughout my 18 years in prison.
My life has been one filled mostly with heartache, pain, injustice and the worst people have to offer. But it is also one of perseverance, hope, love and our capacity to rise above--I have seen, too, the best humanity has to offer. The truth is, without the kindness of others, I would still be in prison today.
Four documentaries and a narrative feature have been made about this case, and my friend Damien has written two books. Now I'm looking forward to sharing with you my story in my own words.
I take this task on with great humility. I have met many people during my life, and I hope to treat each of my memories of them with dignity and respect.
Thank you, everyone, for helping me make this memoir a reality.
Risks and challenges
I am pursuing this project through Kickstarter to afford myself more freedom during the creative process. After the book is completed, I will explore various publishing options, from self-publishing to meeting with publishing houses. I understand the editing and publishing processes will be arduous, but I am confident I will find the right editor and outlet for this work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)