I’m back in Virginia and emotionally exhausted from my book tour for Murder in Battle Creek – The Mysterious Death of Daisy Zick. It was an incredibly rewarding experience for me, but stressful. You have to remember at these events anyone can walk up to you and say anything. You have to be mentally on and focused. As much as I like the public, I was surprised by the number of people who were taking time out to come and listen to me.
My first event was at the Battle Creek Historical Society. I had been at a convention in Indianapolis Thursday-Sunday and had driven home to Virginia just in time to turn around and head back to Battle Creek on Monday. The society set me up in the Carriage House which held about 20-30 people. We quickly grew to overflow that building out into the parking lot! The folks there estimated about 100 people – though I think that was optimistic. I got to talk to some wonderful folks like Jim Hazel and the current owners of 100 Jono Street (who had me autograph a book to the new owners that would be purchasing their house soon.)
Bear in mind this week when I wasn’t doing book tour stuff or driving around, I was working my day job out of my mother’s house in Wattles Park.
On Tuesday I met with the Historical Society to talk about Pump Arnold, one of Battle Creek’s more colorful criminals – then I went to Schuler Books in Grand Rapids. The group was smaller but attentive. It is interesting that true crime books surpass the audience of the city where the crime took place. While there I got to connect with Dr. David Schock who wrote the forward to the book. If you have never met Mr. Schock you are missing a treat. One of his many talents is investigating cold cases. We are part of a small brotherhood that concentrate on these cases. His new book, Judicial Deceit is doing well – I recommend you pick it up.
Wednesday was Ann Arbor. I was interviewed by Cynthia Canty of Michigan Radio – NPR. She was quite polished – NPR never ceases to amaze me at the quality of their interviewers. I then was interviewed for a local cable access news program, then spoke at the Ann Arbor Library downtown. Daisy Zick’s newspaper girl was there, relaying stories of how she was nervous collecting from Floyd Zick because of his gruff attitude. Fantastic stuff – and moreover there was a good sized crowd there. \
Thursday was an evening event at Willard Library (at the Miller Stone building). I figured that a few people would show. We had between 140 and 150 attendees! There was a lot of great questions and interest in the case.
Friday I was in Kalamazoo at the Barnes & Noble. Good turnout there too.
Saturday was an early morning interview on Channel 3 in Kalamazoo about the book. I spent some time at Willard Library checking newspapers and old yearbooks, doing some preliminary research on next year’s potential project. People came up to me in the library with the greeting of, “You’re that author aren’t you?” Wow. A celebrity in Battle Creek. Apparently you have to move away to be recognized there.
The afternoon was consumed with the book signing at Barnes & Noble in Battle Creek. Generally speaking I’m not a fan of book signings. Usually there are bursts of activity and some slow times when you are sitting at a desk alone with a pile of books. Not this time. I showed up early and there were already eight people in line – and the line didn’t disappear for four hours.
A number of people tied to the book showed up. Daisy’s granddaughter Lori showed up, as did Jim King, Daisy’s son. Fred Ritchie came by too for a while. Detective Steinbacher’s daughter showed up to get an autograph on both Murder in Battle Creek and on Secret Witness. Numerous people came up and said, “We’re friends on Facebook!” and I’m sure we are…it’s just hard to juggle all of those friends and keep them straight. Michael Cooley, Albert Cooley’s son, showed up too. He had never really known his father. I told him he needed to talk to Roy Bechtol – and low and behold Roy showed up! The two of them talked for at least 45 minutes. It was one of those rare moments when things just seemed to come together.
Some former Harper Creek graduates came by as well…which was nice. I apologize if I didn’t recognize you folks at first – it has been a few decades. One of my best friends from those years, Greg Hartford, swung by with his new girlfriend who is having a very positive impact on his life.
For the most part people were incredible. They gave me advice on my writing, including a lot of support for my technique of including local history into the books. I was selling almost as many copies of Secret Witness as Murder. I even sold some copies of my new business management book: Business Rules: The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords. My wife was getting nervous with a few people that showed up at ALL of the events. “You’ve got stalkers honey!” Naa, I just had people that were fascinated, just like me, by this case. I welcome such enthusiasm. One person gave me a name to pass onto the police to look into, which I will do shortly.
Most that stopped by wanted one thing – to see the killer brought to justice. They wanted closure. Not so much for them – but for the King family. There was a sense of community that came out from this book that I had never anticipated.
A lot of people asked what I was working on next. I admit I am poking at the Maggie Hume murder for a possible book. If ever a crime felt like it needed to be closed (next to Daisy Zick) it is this one. I’m still considering if it is going to be practical or not. I have to admit, after a week back home, I’m kind of hooked on the case. No less than 26 people told me during the week that I needed to write this book. That folks, is something we call a subtle hint.
Thanks again Battle Creek. It was good to be home – and I will be back soon! If you have a tip or lead – I encourage you to contact the State Police directly. The truth is out there and I’m sure you folks will get to it before I do.