I write a lot of books. This year alone I will have 4+ books out in a number of different genres. I’ve also been a writing for many years, so I’ve seen some books explode in sales, some fizzle. They are all special to me in some form. Despite this experience, I have been surprised by the public intake and reaction to my book on the Daisy Zick killing, Murder in Battle Creek.
A lot of people are reading the book. I’ve heard stories of bookstores being out of the book – which is mixed news of course. My own publisher, the History Press, said that Murder in Battle Creek was their number five bestseller last month. Wow. Usually when you write a book you don’t really have a good idea of sales for six months when the royalty reports come – not so with this book. Radio programs and TV shows have lined up interviews with me. I’ll be doing a segment on Kalamazoo’s Channel 3 on August 24 on the crime – and on NPR earlier that week.
I’ve been surprised as well at the number of people that have reached out to me via email or social media to engage on the crime. People want to talk about this book – and about Mrs. Zick. I have heard so many stories in the last few weeks about Daisy’s life, her bubbling personality, her warmth. The memories, for the most part, seem to be positive but so are bits of her life regarding her infidelities. Everyone seems to agree that no matter what, she did not live a life that warranted the kind of brutal murder she suffered. Many of those that have contacted me echo the same sentiment – “So many of these names and places are familiar to me!”
It was a difficult decision to use the real names. Some true crime authors don’t, and in my first book in his genre, Secret Witness, I used this approach. The most compelling reason to use the real names however was that this case remains unsolved. You never know when a name may trigger some long-lost memory that might help this case get resolved. I made a good effort to reach out to many of the key parties to let them know in advance that the book was coming out and offer them a chance to discuss their experiences tied to the investigation in 1963. Finding some people after all of those years can be challenging as I’m sure you can imagine. Many didn’t respond to my letters, understandably.
Social networking has proven to be the biggest surprise of all to me as a writer. A lot of people are engaging me about what was in the case file, why didn’t the police do X, etc. Some of the family members of persons of interest have reached out to me, exploring their own family histories in the process. Who knows, they may surface some clues that might help close this case once and for all. A lot of friend requests have come in via Facebook. From what one person messaged me, I’m sure this book will be popular at the Kelloggs reunion in Florida next year…and with good reason.
I have also been reached out to by a number of people with suggestions for future books. These are greatly appreciated. I don’t go looking for ideas, they seem to find me. I had been planning on doing a few other Michigan history books, but there have been some crimes that people have sent me info on that definitely gotten my attention.
I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of my new virtual friends for real when I come to Michigan the week of August 19 for book signings and speaking events. Keep those comments coming…and if you have a legitimate lead regarding this case, please contact the Michigan State Police.